The Importance of "Random Piffle" Conversations

Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash

Thanks to my friend Carolyn for inspiring this article and my friend Rosanne for snapping the pics with the captain and driving the boat.

One day I was chatting through Messenger with my friend Carolyn,  like we do most mornings, and the subject came up of conversations. There were times that we talked to people and all that seemed to get shared were the things they were involved with and/or the feats they were accomplishing. I am sure in the excitement of a new project I have been that person, so it is normal.  I do love hearing what people are doing and discussing intelligent topics. Where it starts to rub is when every single conversation is simply that. 

Carolyn and I went on to discuss how important it was to share not simply the big things, but the small parts of our daily lives - what were we doing that day, how did we sleep, what our plans were, what we were making for supper, a problem that arose, a bad dream, a good moment, a sorrow, our kids.  Over time these small conversations somehow connected us on a deeper level and we came to know each other better.  She unexpectedly christened it "random piffle."  First I couldn't stop laughing and then I decided I would one day write about it. Today is the day.

"Random piffle" is just small talk about our lives instead of our work, world issues, pandemic fallout fires, famine, floods, death,...and now war.  Those are all important topics that should be talked about, and I do talk about them, but we also need to make time for the small talk that lifts us up, distracts us and brings us closer.  

Over my years of interviewing I have come to realize the importance of "random piffle" with not only my close friends and family, but with random strangers.  The most interesting experiences I have had lately involved simply asking a question.  This happened twice on my recent vacation in Kauai and both times, a memory was created that will last a lifetime. 

The first happened on the Smith's Fern Grotto Tour, a river cruise filled with lore, music and dance as well as a walk through the tropical jungle to the Fern Grotto. On the way up the river, the captain had someone else steering the boat while he spoke. He shared about the history of the Kauai people, about his ancestor who created this business as well as designed the unique barge boat with separate motor that pushed it.  I loved it all and could hear his pride at the fact his ancestor designed and built this one of a kind motor.  When he asked if there were any questions, no one had any.  

I knew my husband who wasn't on this trip would be interested in the motor and so, as people were unloading at the pier, I took a few minutes to express my interest in knowing more. The captain beamed and shared with pride the details about his grandfather's invention. My heart warmed listening even though I didn't understand a lot of the technical stuff.  I was one of the first back from the Grotto walk/presentation, and the captain pulled me aside again to share more.  I took notes. We connected.

I would so love to go back and interview him one-on-one about his life, to give his story wings.  Hopefully that can happen in the future.  His appreciation for my genuine interest was repaid beautifully. He called me up on the ride back to take pics with him at the front and even steer the boat around a bend.  I gave him a hug as I left and told him how thankful I was for his generosity. As I walked away I heard someone, "Who was that?"  His response. "My girlfriend." I don't know for sure that was about me but I laughed anyway.

As this is already quite long, I will save the second amazing story for a new article another day.  I hope my sharing this experience helps you see the joy of "random piffle" conversations in our daily life. Sharing those small bits of our lives that seem unimportant with someone, and asking a question that lets another talk about something they are excited about that may seem unimportant to us, can deepen friendships, open doors and enrich our lives in unexpected ways.