“The Magic of Meeting.”
Like the title of a music album by the poet Vinicius De Moraes and his colleague Ungaretti, performed by Toquino.
A meeting is made of three fundamental steps: the introduction, the exchange, and the goodbye.
It’s similar to life’s structure, and all the three parts have the same importance and complexity.
Meeting people has always had a great importance in my life.
Human beings have had my full attention ever since I was a teenager. I’ve always found something interesting in everybody: just sitting in a crossroads of a big city where you have the chance to see a large amount of different faces, you might start to appreciate the uniqueness of anyone, ugly and beautiful, regular and peculiar, masterpieces of nature each in their own unique way.
This observation, and some experience, pull me into the curiosity of meeting people and get to know a little more about them, their life, their point of views.
Sometimes you learn something new, hopefully almost always; sometimes your views are confirmed or maybe you find out that everyone shares similar struggles, fears, and difficulties, which helps you finding your own position.
A few times you realize that your expectations of a person were higher than the reality, a little dissatisfying, but always useful; discovering that underneath a façade of strength, originality, or special features, rests a common person - that can help building your confidence; people can give you parameters to understand yourself.
I’m so curious about people that I’ve focused my work as a filmmaker on documentaries about their lives. The conversation (I don’t like to call it interview, I’m no journalist) is the main thing, and it has to be conducted in complete, relaxed freedom. To achieve this, you need trust from the person, and the only way, I find, is to let the person talk freely. I never try to push the conversation towards the topic I had in mind. I can actually completely abandon it for a while until it comes back. You need to really listen and ask questions to build a personal relation, even if a temporary one.
Everbody likes to be listened to and understood, everybody likes to share experiences and memories.
Even the most normal experience can sound very important and special if projected in an honest and passionate way.
One of the best compliments I have received in my life (professionally) has been: “When I sat down here I had never thought that I would tell you all this… I don’t know what happened.”
What happened was that we met. We connected.
This is what human beings look for since childhood: to be understood, to be heard in their daily life struggle, to be cared for, to be recognized. We need this, we need to feel that we are not alone. We are social animals, and we need to be together. We don’t need judgements, but understanding.
When I studied acting we used to help our pals who had monologues; the help consisted in listening, really listening to the monologue, and believe me it helped! One of my best teachers surprised me by saying: “Very good work, Gianluca! It’s not easy to just listen but you did it perfectly!” Surprising, no? But also very true.
I’ve spent a few years in New York as a student, and I remember the casual conversations in the subway, just sharing a few words about whatever topic with a stranger. Some people have this talent, to open up for a very brief conversation and close it naturally without putting the two in any awkward situation of fake confidence; I’ve always admired this capacity of opening with people, reaching a good level of confidence just to communicate strongly enough, to then been able to close it politely leaving a feeling of having actually met someone.
To be able to share something significant on different levels, not always dramatic or important, but a sign, a touch, for that limited amount of time, enough to create a shared experience.
Listening, you can’t fake it.
Curiosity, you can’t learn it, but you can train it.
Will to share your thoughts, feeling and experiences as to receive them in an honest way.
Those are the ingredients for the magic of meeting.