“The value of oneself is the cornerstone of mental health” – quote provided by the most inspirational taxi driver I have had the pleasure of sharing a journey with (Aberdeen)
“Our sense of our own inner character is just an illusion” – unknown, but source as above
You know you’re going to have a phenomenal conversation with someone when, within 2 minutes of getting into their taxi, cognitive behaviour has been thrown in as a discussion point.
Welcome to an inspired blog from the passenger seat.
I love taxi journeys, particularly in Scotland. There is never a boring journey and there is never a repeat conversation.
It’s strange because, put me on the train to London and I can’t get my headphones in quick enough. Even if they’re not plugged into my iPod. The facial expression and body language say ‘conversation forbidden’.
But taxis are different. You can learn so much about people. If, of course, you are ready to listen.
So many people get into the back seat of the taxi and attach themselves to their mobile phone to talk to someone they have spoken to a thousand times. In my humble opinion, that is a wasted opportunity to learn. Jump in the front passenger seat and get ready to learn.
In this crazy world that we inhabit, we seem to allow ourselves to live in this bubble of chaos. Certainly in the UK, we make ourselves work – both through employment and what we do at home – what feels like 24 / 7. No rest; little break in routine. And little consideration to just listen.
Having said that, as #TeamDurky we have our meals at the dining room table so do take time to talk. But what I’m getting at is, when we get chance to hear a different perspective on life, we sometimes fail to take the opportunity to listen.
It’s not just on a taxi journey. How many of us take time to talk to and listen to the person on the check out at the supermarket? When we drop into the local take away for our Friday night dinner, do we chat to the person dealing with our order? Over the years, I’ve learned so much by listening.
As we all know, there’s a whole lot of anger in the world today. Be it incited by certain world leaders; be it provoked by the inabilities of our elected governments to recognise and respond to inequality and misappropriation of wealth; be it through intolerance of our fellow human being and an unwillingness to accept that we are all beautifully different (although, I accept I am just different) – we are in the depths of angry times. But, we can change it. Can’t we?
But, a chat with, and a listen to, your taxi driver is a starting point to learning. A recent drive through the chaos of London was a prime example. A tube train delay, caused by some poor soul deciding they’d had enough of what life had dealt them, meant a panicked stride outside Aldgate tube station. Poor me! Sometimes I need to think more about that. Poor me my ar5e. I should think more about the cause of the tube delay and less about me.
Anyway, up drove a taxi and I still had time to catch my train. Within minutes, I had heard about and discussed the magic of the architecture in London, York, Cambridge, and a few other places. I love architecture and there’s not many people better placed to discuss the local structures than your friendly taxi driver.
As many will know, my home base is Leeds (Yorkshire, England, Europe, the world). The taxi rides there and discussions have been many and varied. From the drunken ‘When you do finish?’; ‘Busy tonight?’; ‘What’s this cr@p music?’ type questions, to talks of holiday and, well, holidays. There are early morning drives – usually to the airport with sedate conversations, and later – back home – drives when there could be a bit of religious diversity thrown in.
It’s all good for learning. It’s good for understanding the wider community and the breadth of knowledge that can be gained. If we just listened.
This year, I would have to say my most interesting journeys have been centred on Aberdeen. I’d never been before but have always been intrigued by the city. So, my first taxi ride was built on snippets of information I had gleaned from the web, therefore I had a few questions and then the magic starts. The conversation weaves around the oil industry, football, the local economy and so forth. That information then meant I could connect better with the people I was meeting – just through a bit on interest, talking, and listening.
Since then I’ve learned more about the oil industry, about the local wealth, the tobacco industry, the decline of the paper mill industry and which school Annie Lennox went to.
But, then, as mentioned right at the start of the blog, the most recent taxi ride from Aberdeen Airport was the game changer.
My flight was delayed by an hour and, when I arrived, there was an unusually long queue for taxis. So, when I fell into my eventual ride, I was focussed on getting to the office. But fate tapped me on the shoulder and the next 30 minutes, including sitting outside the office for 10 minutes, was thought provoking and inspiring. The end result including me scrambling onto Amazon to preorder Nick Chater’s book – The Mind Is Flat: The Illusion Of Mental Depth and The Improvised Mind. Reading the review blurb, it should be a thought provoking read.
However, the conversation that morning really was fascinating – based around what we do and who we think we are is not necessarily who we actually are. What we are is not a creation from the depths of our consciousness or subconsciousness. We become who were are through life experiences and, sometimes, as a protection due to life events. However, by opening our minds through discussion and listening we can become who ever or whatever we want to be.
It was also interesting to share my thoughts on certain matters with a stranger and to find we were aligned in our thinking around things that have disturbed me for some time.
An incredible person to meet and I truly believe I will take a lot of our discussion and use it in my continued quest to learn.
Sometimes, fate does give you the opportunity to learn. It’s our responsibility take the chances we are given. We can then take that learning and share it. Let’s spread the knowledge and allow others to decide whether that knowledge will help them to grow.
And, so, the taxi ride for #Duke has reached its destination………….. for now. I hope you enjoyed the journey. I paid a tip. It was worth it.