This week, my supervisor, our Director, suggested that I reach out to a colleague who we have worked with for quite some time. In my case, eighteen years. There were maybe one or two suggestions for the call but it was really meant to be a catch up. As soon as I heard the words “catch up” I almost found a small piece of anxiety float around in my mind. I automatically thought of the need to have a reason for a chat. Had I lost the art of conversation through lockdown and from reduced contact hours with colleagues? How would I start or end the conversation and how long would we talk for? This surprised me as I have always loved to talk but decided to sit with this and proceed with the “reach out” email. In this day and age, it would be unusual not to schedule the exact time and date for the call so that is what I did.
Our call happened 24 hours later and I wanted to share what happened. Well firstly it was extremely refreshing for this not to be zoom call. It was in the words of my colleague “ a good old fashioned traditional phone call”. It would happen during his journey to a meeting in the morning and it was afternoon tea time for me. The timing was perfect. As soon as I heard my colleague’s voice I felt at ease. We didn’t need a reason for a call and as soon as we connected, we did the “catch up” about the important things such as family and returning to schools, etc. Back in circa 2003-2010 when we had regular contact, this is how we would chat. Sometimes, in all honesty, it wasn’t about work at all but it always created a space for connection, empathy and trust. Not through gchat or blue jeans or zoom or even skype, just on the phone. I would answer to the sound of “hey Miss Hand” and each and every time, it would lift my soul and brighten my day. Today was really no different, except this time I wasn’t talking about my nieces well being but that of my own son! Today in the space of 30 minutes something shifted energy wise in my body. I felt connected, more connected to my work, to my purpose and to the hope of a brighter day. We spoke about gratitude these days and I can truly say that I felt very grateful for this call.
We talk to students about the value of small talk with people they may be in contact with in Ireland. It might be on a bus or a train or in a shop buying some milk but there is value in this. Over the years, I have usually had a “reason” to contact a student by phone. To check on a lost passport, to ask about an outstanding signed form or in extreme cases, to console or be there in an emergency. Today reminded me that maybe we don’t need a reason to have a random check in call with our community of students in Ireland. Maybe a question will be born in the conversation or maybe it would take someone out of a space they just didn’t need or want to be in at that time.
With everyone living in a remote virtual world during continued strange times, I feel that there has never been a better time to reach out to someone for no particular reason at all. Even if there is nothing to say, asking the simple question of “how are you” can move mountains.