At a recent meeting, the participants were asked to go around the table and share a little bit about what was going on in their lives.
This was a business meeting, so most of the folks talked about their organizations. Grants they’d received, challenges they were facing, staffing, budgeting, etc.
A couple of people did offer some big personal news. A woman announced that she had just become a grandmother and a guy bragged that his wife was healthy after an extended illness. That type of thing.
Then there was this one woman.
She told us about her grandchildren, where they lived, when they were coming to visit, what they were going to do on that visit.
She told us about the “meat goats” she raised, what they looked like, how they don’t like to be petted.
She told us about her horse, how she hadn’t ridden her outside since the fall, how they were starting to get ready for fox hunts.
She told us that they had burned a wood called “hardtack” all winter and that was small enough that they didn’t have to split it.
And then she told us that her husband bought her an electric chainsaw for her birthday.
I walked away knowing more about that woman than I do my own brother.
Not being an over-sharer (unless it’s in blog form), I was slightly horrified and embarrassed for her. While maybe a portion of this information was interesting and worth sharing, it wasn’t the right venue.
It baffles me why would anyone think their business associates — not co-workers who they see every day or even every week, but casual industry acquaintances — would be interested in their goats or chainsaw.
Of course, I’m the opposite. When someone, even a friend, asks me what’s new or what I’ve been doing with my time, I struggle for an answer.
Most often I’ll say nothing’s new, that I’ve just been working.
Is that really all I’ve been doing? No. I’ve been writing, reading, gardening, walking, cleaning, serving on the condo board, attending book talks, seeing shows, shopping, going out to dinner.
I can’t summon all that up at a moments notice, though. And even if I could, I would still choose not to bore everyone with the details.
As fascinating as her goats might be, I wish the woman today was as guarded with personal details as I am.
Although maybe I should just be happy that she didn’t elaborate on why exactly they’re called “meat goats.”