“What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
We communicate more about ourselves in play than in conversation. Every preschooler understands this.
Which is why I mourn the state of adult socialization, so centered around talking, endless talking. Talking over potato bisque. Talking over New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Talking over Rihanna. Pairs or small groups, asking questions they won’t remember the answers to, making jokes they heard somebody else tell. How else will we make friends in the big city, if we don’t talk to our coworkers about our favorite bands and strong opinions about Uber?
So we talk and talk (and drink) and talk, even while we suspect it is the least efficient, most misleading form of expression.
The common exception is dance. We dance together.
To dance together is to create together; after hours of taking shots and yelling into each others’ ears, we stop talking and express ourselves in an honest and direct way. Acts of creativity need no explanation; watch a person dance and you instantly understand something about them that is beyond words.
Even then, many people (especially Americans) miss the point altogether by confusing social dancing with a sales pitch for their genitals. As charming as a guy on Tinder trying to sell you life insurance.
Should you want to turn strangers into friends, friends into family, or family into friends, plan your next gathering over watercolor and paper. Fill your dinner party with bongos and guitars and Casio keyboards. There is, in fact, a great reason to play golf with your boss.
You’ll learn more about your date making dinner with them than eating dinner with them.