I was at a gathering of of about 125 folk last evening.  It was a social time and I was new to the group.  I came as a guest of a friend but other than my friend I knew very few of the folk.  That was okay.  I am not usually intimidated by a crowd and this was a friendly group.

The pattern was predictable.  I grabbed a beverage to remove the feelings of empty-handedness, then set out to make conversation.  I made eye contact, sidled up, commented on the sweetness of the party, extended my hand and announced my name, picked up his/hers/theirs, then followed up with “so, what do you do for a living?”  Things then either took off…or deteriorated.  Some people like to talk others find it more difficult.  Me?  I like to get others
talking and then spend more time listening. 

One guy was an IT guy which I thought would be “geekish”.  The truth is he was hilariously funny.  His sense of humour reminded me of John Candy.  I don’t know if his workplace is as wacky as he made it out to be but if it is, I want to work there.

Another was a businessman from China.  He’d moved there a few years back to establish himself and make his fortune.  I’ve done a ton of cross cultural work in my life so I entered into hearty conversation comparing notes about culture, and communication, and miscommunication.

The young couple I next met had just bought their first home.  Their feelings of accomplishment were evident.  It’s a huge step to transact a move like that and you could tell they were feeling good.  And you know–their feeling good made me feel good!  As a middle age male with kids of my own similar to their age, I was proud of them and glad for them.

And then I chatted with an older couple who were really young looking.  A year ago they had literally “sold the farm” and moved to town.  For 40 years he had planted and harvested crops and this was the first fall he didn’t have the opportunity to pull in a harvest.  He missed it.  I get it.  It’s hard to not do what you have always loved to do.   They are too young to be old yet.  I think there is something left in that tank.

Then finally I met a couple my age who let out that their 21  year old daughter was going to be married this upcoming spring.  They called her over and I congratulated her on her next step.  Inside I am thinking, “21” and getting married.  That’s too young.  Then I realized I was “23” when married and my wife was “22”.  Yeah, but we were more mature than young people today.  Really?

Finally we go to the point of the gathering.  It was an anniversary celebration for my friend.  He and his wife were enjoying a significant milestone with friends. There was even a program put on by another friend.  The “toasts” were there but there were also a few “roasts”.

You know we experienced some serious joy last night.

Here’s a thought…what brings you joy?  How do you find people, especially new people?  If you and I met up and started talking, where do you think the conversation would go?   What part of your life would you delight to talk about with me?