Conversation and Scotch


This weekend I had the pleasure of enjoying a variety of single malt Scotch from my collection, as seen on the left, with a friend after a long work week. You know it’s a good night when the Chivas 12 year blended Scotch is the one with the “most bite” of everything you’ve had. Standards were set high when you start with Royal Lachnagar Select Reserve.

As my friend and I went from one Scotch to the next discussing nuances and characteristics of each bottle’s contents, our conversation flowed from the drinks before us to fun stories with our coworkers to more serious topics and things about ourselves we rarely have a chance to discuss in the midst of a work week at the office. But there was one thing we both agreed upon in the midst of our conversation: a lot of people today don’t do conversation right.

I’ve touched upon this topic a few times in the past in various posts. In fact, I’m realizing the topics of relationship and interpersonal communication are a growing trend on this blog. The fact of the matter is still true and others are finding the same thing. Having an honest to goodness conversation where the other person actually hears what you’re saying and responds to it in a manner where you know they understood you is slowly becoming a lost skill. Instead, we have our response ready for when the other person stops talking and too frequently it’s not a response to what you just heard.

There’s always something about a good drink, especially a nice single malt Scotch, that can fuel a good time and good conversation. I look forward to more of both in the near future.

Pictured (Top: Lagavulin 16 year, Royal Lachnagar Select Reserve;Middle: Glenfiddich Cask of Dreams 2011, Glenfiddich 15 year; Bottom: Oban 14 year, MacAllan 18 year, Chivas Regal 12 year)

Negative Space

I find myself with what we’ll call enough spare time between face to face social interactions. That time is certainly giving me a lot of time to think (perhaps too much) and occasionally do chores. In the midst of this, the term “negative space” kept popping up in my thoughts. As defined by Wikipedia, it’s “… the space around and between the subject(s) of an image”.

While this is mainly used in the context of art, it’s still fitting for me. However, the subject of an image are life events, interactions, moments. The in-between, the downtime, the solitude is my negative space. It’s where I am able to process whatever it was I just experienced and took in. It lets me focus on those specific points and understand as much as I can about them. Too much “stuff” and it gets harder to appreciate everything I have around me. Like many art galleries, each piece needs its room to stand alone and be appreciated for what it is without being imposed on by its surrounding works.

Yet all that space in between is anything but empty. The Japanese term “Ma” also fits in that its an “…experiential place understood with emphasis on interval”. It gives proper weight to the space between and how it shapes those intervals and moments. Reminds me of an early blog post that referenced Imogen Heap’s song “Wait it Out” that says “But what of the wretched hollow, the endless in between?Are we just going to wait it out?” Perhaps it isn’t about waiting it out, but about leaving time to be formed and changed.

It’s a continuous challenge to not overbook myself and to also not take the negative space between moments for granted. They have their purpose, too. Let’s just hope that it is being put to good use.



What’s Your Ideal Space to Work In?

I was rereading the chapter “When Collaboration Kills Creativity” in Quiet by Susan Cain and I wondered what readers thought their preferred work environment is. The chapter focuses on ideas like brainstorming sessions and open concept offices (don’t get me started on open concept and entertaining again) and their impact on our productivity. The fact is private space to work is beneficial to just about everybody, introverts and extroverts alike, regardless of our occupations.

Lately, I’ve been finding enjoyment to get out of the house and find a new space to read, write, etc. I oftentimes still plug in my headphones and isolate myself from the audible distractions around me, but the separation from home is quite helpful in clearing my head lately. I don’t have dishes calling my name from the kitchen or a comfy couch begging me to lay down to take a nap on. But perhaps most importantly, no TV or movies to suck away my time.

Even though I have had my own office at work for some years, for which I am grateful, there is still something about that time at the end of the day when just about everyone else has gone home and I’m finally able to spend time focusing on my tasks I’m truly productive. While I truly enjoy interacting with my coworkers, that space where I know I won’t be bothered is incredibly freeing. It’s that similar setting a coffee shop somehow provides for me by being away from home. I noticed this as well when I traveled on sabbatical last fall. Knowing you’re in a space that you won’t be intentionally interrupted gives the mind room to dive into subject matter it normally cannot properly give attention to.

Where do you go to be your most productive? Where do you do your best thinking? Share in the comments below!