The whole of this last century the study of the importance of conversation has been ignored except for the work of Harvey Sacks and those who followed him. Without Sacks’ work we haven’t been able to focus enough on helping people to think for themselves and to discover what are their own particular qualities that they can get enthusiastic about.
If you have had an excess of people telling you things, beliefs and attitudes and lists of rules that you must obey, most of them contrary to your well being, you can easily lose your enthusiasm and it is hard to retrieve. Enthusiasm is a Greek word and it means inspired by the gods. All creative people have this quality and there is plenty of room for many more if children were given enough freedom to focus on what they like doing best. I love the Indian word ‘namaste’ which means “I honour the god within you.”
All children are enthusiasts otherwise they wouldn’t want to do anything. I go to my favourite supermarket, Waitrose, at least three times a week, not only to shop but also to sit down with a cup of coffee and enjoy looking at all the people around me. It is a big part of my ongoing research, watching people and families. When children have good parents who care for them it is a joy to see them running around looking at and touching all sorts of things, enjoying themselves. It is inevitable that we all must learn to find a place for ourselves in whatever society we were born into. We don’t seem to be very good at it. Why do so many people lose their lust for life as they grow older?
I dislike the whole idea of gurus and experts because it doesn’t matter how much any of us know we never know it all. We can learn something new from a child or any person we happen to meet if we want to. We all have something to give and so when a psychotherapist and a client are working together they cannot help to learn something from each other regardless of the outcome. All transactions in conversations are, one way or another, educative.