“Nobody wants to talk about the weather,” declares a flashing blurb for a TED talk online. I love TED talks or at least some of the less technical talks (which do not include the words mathematics, satellites, or brain tissue). If you do not know what a TED talk is, here is a definition from WhatIs.com derived from the TEDx website: “A TED talk is a video created from a presentation at the main TED (technology, entertainment, design) conference or one of its many satellite events around the world.” The first TED talk was held in 1984 and it became an annual event in 1990. I discovered TED a couple of years ago. No one can ever fault me for being on the cutting edge.
TED talks usually range from about two minutes to twenty and can be on any topic under the sun (or moon depending on the time of day you tune in). How are the talks selected? According to WhatIs.com, “TED looks for engaging, charismatic speakers whose talks expose new ideas that are supported by concrete evidence and are relevant to a broad, international audience.” Some of the talks have included such diverse topics as the anatomy of a New Yorker cartoon, why we should build wooden skyscrapers, and why we sleep.
The talks that I find most fascinating usually deal with the human psyche in all its convoluted glory and the quirks of the human condition. But I must admit I have never run across a TED talk that dwells on the mundane everyday event of the weather. Sure, hurricanes and tornadoes and floods are great food for talk, but never the everyday weather that affects our everyday routines.
I think the assessment that people do not really want to talk about the weather is wrong. Asserting that “nobody really wants to talk about the weather” is meant to draw us in to talks that are deemed more interesting—but if you get to the root of the matter, weather is really one of the most interesting phenomena we have to deal with on a day to day basis.
Talking about the weather can be a warm-up for a more in-depth conversation. But on its own it is something we all have in common. If it rains, we get wet. If it is humid, our hair goes frizzy. If it is cold, we all sport coats and hats and boots. And if the weather is perfect then we love to comment on it. If it is not, then we get to complain about it. It is a common element in all our lives. So, to say that people do not really want to talk about the weather is just wrong-headed on so many different levels.
Often, the weather dictates our activities. Too much rain and the farmers cannot get their fields planted. Too little rain and our green earth turns brown. We invite snow into our lives happily for the first, and maybe the second snowfall. Then we are tired of it. And we do not like too much cold, especially in this area as it affects our grapes and fruit trees and all manner of horticultural activity.
We all have our own opinion as to what makes up the perfect weather. I particularly enjoy the fall when it is at first still warm and sunny, then cool and crisp. But the weather I love the most is when you cannot really feel it. You are neither too warm nor too cold. You can go outside in shirt sleeves and be perfectly comfortable. You need neither to shed your garments nor shield yourself from the elements.
I have often wondered what it would be like to live in a climate that does not change significantly from season to season. Would it become boring? Would I miss the snow and the cold? Would I miss seeing the bare branches of the trees flourish again in the spring? Would I miss the fall colours? Would I miss snow? I have always lived in a climate that changes sometimes on a daily basis, but more radically on a seasonal basis, and I love the variation our climate affords us.
Weather is our common language. And as such, it opens the doors to further conversation, or just the important acknowledgment that “we are all in this together”.