|A small section of my mom's massive collection |
of yarn and thread. I'm not a weaver, like she is,
but I think I could pass the basic knowledge test.
My friend K, his wife is one of those women who likes to quilt and sew and do craft projects. K's favorite craft may be beer-making. But he's given himself the husband's class in textiles; he knows the difference between teal and turquoise, and if she asks him to pass the scalpel (or the quilter's equivalent of it), he recognizes the word and is happy to oblige. He doesn't say, "Quilting is her thing. I don't know the first thing about it. Gotta go. The game's on." They have different skills and interests, but neither of them has written off the other's world.
Have you discovered how much more fun the world can be when you take a little interest in other people's interests? It comes more naturally to me than most, and after spending enough time doing cross-cultural anthropology projects it's almost automatic. It's been my job "to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations" as they say on Star Trek.
Someday I'm going to have to write that book, the one about how to learn another language - how to ask good questions about stuff you know nothing about and get people to open up their worlds to you. Engaging ways to invite people to teach you the basics, to show them you want to learn; that would be an early chapter. How to pick up and use "native terms" to discover how other people tick, that would be another. I want to take those cross-cultural skills and put them in the hands of people who never go overseas but could use a few tools to better engage with the world around them.
On the other hand, whether this book would sell, whether it would change things for people who read it, might still really depend on the question of motivation. Do you care? Do you want to know what's going on in that person's head or why they do what they do? If that motivation is there, maybe that's more important than all the learning skills I could give you. You may not need to take the class or read the book.
- I have to admit, I don't know anything about that. I'd like to know more.
- Tell me about a project you're working on now.
- How did you get into this? How did you learn about it?
- What are some of the things you've discovered along the way?
- What's that called? How do you use it? What's the difference between ____ and ____?
- So a ______ is for ______. Right? What else can you do with it?
- Can you show me how it works?