Small talk: The mouth is running and the mind is idling, otherwise engaged


This is a lion’s claw set in silver. I’ve had it for six years and had the setting redone by a couple of friends who are jewelers. The lion it belonged to lived over 100 years ago. I wear it to honor all cats. I’m not going to debate the animal products use arguments any further than that.

Sometime last year I went to a meeting of spiritualists. There was a guided meditation at the end of the session. For probably 20 minutes after the meeting was over there was the usual milling around, non-relevant banter, chatty-ness, mindless mouth running that we call small talk, and that sometimes gets called “afterglow.” Anyone who knows me knows I hate small talk. I’ll do it for a very brief period and at the same time I’m usually looking for an exit. So I’m standing there going through the usual motions chatting with a with a couple of people there and one sees this pendant and asks if it’s a chili pepper.


You read that right.

A chili pepper.

As someone who isn’t comfortable with this kind of communication, I have learned to listen for trigger phrases. These are stupid things that people say that signal to me that it’s time to end the encounter. At work I put on my headphones and start trying to drown them out.

I told them what it was and started slowly working my way towards the door. I don’t know what sort of mental connections one has to make to think that this pendant is a replica of a chili pepper. They have a similar shape, kinda, but it absolutely stops there. There’s not any intuitive meaning to be derived to link the two any further than that. So we’re left with saying that she was just making small talk, and I say “right.” I look at the watch I’m not wearing, and I’m out.

A meditative moment

zen rox

Some days the chatter in the office gets a bit irritating. Yesterday it reached the point where I just couldn’t concentrate on what I was doing. So I got up and went outside. The edge out front between the sidewalk immediately in front of the office and the curb is filled with river stones. When I walked out I had intended to go to my car and just sit for my break and just reset from the cocktail party that was going on among my coworkers. When I’m around any group that is getting increasingly loud and chatty I have to do this sometimes. When I stepped out the rocks caught my eye and I decided to select five or six to build a miniature version of the rock balancing “cairn” sculptures. The display out front is mostly flat white-ish stones of the skipping variety. I bent down to pick one up and the security guard who was close by asked, “Is there something wrong with the rocks?” I looked at him and shook my head and went back to scanning the rocks. I spent the next fifteen minutes going over most of what’s there and the sense of agitation that I was feeling went away. I found these five that would work and I took them inside and placed them on my desk next to the Mac.


single too long

This describes me almost perfectly. I’m hard to know, and there are a variety of reasons for that. I have people in my life who occasionally express concern over the fact that I’m single and have mostly been single all my adult life. They’re not offering to introduce romance into our friendship. Sometimes they suggest I talk to some disaffected relative or other friend of theirs. There is a small spark of a desire to change my lifestyle and find a lasting relationship, but I don’t often act on it. So I live life as a single man. I’ve prided myself on being self-sufficient and taking care of myself. I don’t need anyone, nor do I want to, and it may be that I give off that vibe when I’m talking to a woman. Therefore I probably go into a relationship subconsciously sabotaging it. I’ll have to dig into that further.

13 Things mentally strong people don't do

by Amy Morin, LCSW


Mentally strong people have healthy habits. They manage their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in ways that set them up for success in life. Check out these things that mentally strong people don’t do so that you too can become more mentally strong.

  1. 13-Things-Mentally-Strong-People-Dont-Do 300They Don’t Waste Time Feeling Sorry for Themselves
    Mentally strong people don’t sit around feeling sorry about their circumstances or how others have treated them. Instead, they take responsibility for their role in life and understand that life isn’t always easy or fair.
  2. They Don’t Give Away Their Power
    They don’t allow others to control them, and they don’t give someone else power over them. They don’t say things like, “My boss makes me feel bad,” because they understand that they are in control over their own emotions and they have a choice in how they respond.
  3. They Don’t Shy Away from Change
    Mentally strong people don’t try to avoid change. Instead, they welcome positive change and are willing to be flexible. They understand that change is inevitable and believe in their abilities to adapt.
  4. They Don’t Waste Energy on Things They Can’t Control
    You won’t hear a mentally strong person complaining over lost luggage or traffic jams. Instead, they focus on what they can control in their lives. They recognize that sometimes, the only thing they can control is their attitude.
  5. They Don’t Worry About Pleasing Everyone
    Mentally strong people recognize that they don’t need to please everyone all the time. They’re not afraid to say no or speak up when necessary. They strive to be kind and fair, but can handle other people being upset if they didn’t make them happy.
  6. They Don’t Fear Taking Calculated Risks
    They don’t take reckless or foolish risks, but don’t mind taking calculated risks. Mentally strong people spend time weighing the risks and benefits before making a big decision, and they’re fully informed of the potential downsides before they take action.
  7. They Don’t Dwell on the Past
    Mentally strong people don’t waste time dwelling on the past and wishing things could be different. They acknowledge their past and can say what they’ve learned from it. However, they don’t constantly relive bad experiences or fantasize about the glory days. Instead, they live for the present and plan for the future.
  8. They Don’t Make the Same Mistakes Over and Over
    They accept responsibility for their behavior and learn from their past mistakes. As a result, they don’t keep repeating those mistakes over and over. Instead, they move on and make better decisions in the future.
  9. They Don’t Resent Other People’s Success
    Mentally strong people can appreciate and celebrate other people’s success in life. They don’t grow jealous or feel cheated when others surpass them. Instead, they recognize that success comes with hard work, and they are willing to work hard for their own chance at success.
  10. They Don’t Give Up After the First Failure
    They don’t view failure as a reason to give up. Instead, they use failure as an opportunity to grow and improve. They are willing to keep trying until they get it right.
  11. They Don’t Fear Alone Time
    Mentally strong people can tolerate being alone and they don’t fear silence. They aren’t afraid to be alone with their thoughts and they can use downtime to be productive. They enjoy their own company and aren’t dependent on others for companionship and entertainment all the time but instead can be happy alone.
  12. They Don’t Feel the World Owes Them Anything
    They don’t feel entitled to things in life. They weren’t born with a mentality that others would take care of them or that the world must give them something. Instead, they look for opportunities based on their own merits.
  13. They Don’t Expect Immediate Results
    Whether they are working on improving their health or getting a new business off the ground, mentally strong people don’t expect immediate results. Instead, they apply their skills and time to the best of their ability and understand that real change takes time.

Click here for a printable version of the “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do”