Many times throughout my life, I’d find myself listening to others having a conversation. Either at school or work, my friends or coworkers would be talking about something. Perhaps a hot topic in the news, for instance, Donald Trump running for president. They might be having a political argument about Trump’s merits as a candidate. Or they might simply be making jokes about him. Then, after noticing that I’d been silent throughout the conversation, they would want to include me. They’d ask me what I think about Donald Trump. And I’d freeze.
I’d feel under the spotlight. Like everyone was staring at me, waiting for my response. I’d feel pressure and wouldn’t be able to think of anything clever to say. So I’d shrug my shoulders and say, “I don’t know,” just to get out from under the spotlight as soon as possible.
Then, maybe a couple of minutes later, when the spotlight was no longer on me, I would think of something clever to say. But the conversation had moved on, and they were talking about something else, like sports. In my mind, I would think that it was too late to say my Donald Trump joke. I missed my chance. The moment had passed. So I would keep the joke to myself and say nothing.
But the excuse that it’s too late to say something is just that— an excuse. It’s a rationalization made out of fear. Fear that our friends or co-workers might not think our joke is funny. Or that our opinion is not intelligent. Or fear that they might be offended by our joke or opinion. Or, simply fear that they will think it’s odd for us to return to a conversation topic from a few minutes ago.
In reality, there are no time restrictions on conversations. There is no special “moment” in a conversation, so it’s impossible for it to have passed. The only moment is the present moment, and the present never passes. It always is. Therefore, it is both always the moment and never the moment.
The reason we can’t think of anything to say in the moment is because we aren’t present in the moment. We are thinking about what others are thinking and what they will think about what we might say. And if we think of something to say, we are still out of the moment, too busy thinking about how others will react to what we will say, before we even say it.
All that thinking and worrying is unnecessary, however. Who cares if we say something that refers to something from two minutes ago? What we have to say might actually be worthwhile, and the other people might be grateful to hear it. Our jokes might actually be funny. They won’t not laugh because the joke is “too late.” And if we have a piece of information to share that could help someone, they won’t care when in a conversation they heard the helpful information, so long as they heard it.
It doesn’t matter if everyone is talking about last night’s Yankee game right now. That doesn’t mean I can’t say Donald Trump would make a better president of the Hair Club for Men than the United States of America. Or that the other candidates should bring him into a board room and tell him, “You’re fired.”
No… It’s never too late to make fun of Donald Trump… Or to say anything. Ever.