Mother always told me that I came out of the womb talking. This is a trait that I have carried quite proudly throughout my entire life. I have always loved telling stories and have used it to the best of my ability at every opportunity.
I pretty much stayed in trouble for talking in class, but I distinctly remember the moment it hit me that I was making a living by talking. I was on stage speaking to a large audience one day early in my career and said to myself, “Hey, Mark, you have turned your constant chatter into a career”
I also talk to myself. I’m not necessarily proud of this but now that I’ve made the first step in admitting it, I’ll even go a step further. I actually enjoy having a good little chat with myself. At times, there are so many words blowing around in my mind that I feel as though they are caught up in a blizzard. The older I become the harder it is to reach in my brain and catch certain thoughts.
These days, unless I immediately jot down a thought that pops into my mind, it seems to purposely hide from me. Sometimes it may be two or three days later before it surfaces. Other times, it never returns but drops into a vast hole never to be seen or heard from again. This is one of the main subjects I talk to myself about.
“Mark, what was it you were going to say a few minutes ago?” I ask myself politely at first and, if I don’t respond, I don’t hesitate to ask myself again. Sometimes I tell myself to go do something in another room. Yet, when I get there, I can’t remember what I told myself to do. My thoughts are like a game of hide-and-seek I play with myself on a daily basis.
The other day I picked up my phone to check on something only to end up staring at it with a blank look on my face because, in just a split second, the task I wanted to perform just vanished into thin air. It will drive you crazy if you let it, so I have to quite often say to myself, “Mark, let it go!”
I used to keep my talks to myself , but as I age I find it easier just to say them out loud. It used to be just when I was by myself but now it is pretty much all the time. “Mark, you need to go water the plants.” I will mumble aloud. “Mark, you need to speed things up because you have to be ready to leave in just a few minutes.”
When our little dog, Georgie, was alive, I constantly talked to him as well. He would look up at me with the most bewildered look on his face, wouldn’t say a word and then just turn and walk away. I truly expected him to answer most of the time and, when he didn’t, my feelings were a little hurt. Don’t tell me I’m the only one who has complete conversations with their companion animal.
The other night, we were dining with some friends and catching up on what had happened since the last time we gathered. Story after story came to the surface at such a fast pace that my mind was a blur. Sometimes I have a comment to share but, if I don’t just blurt it out, it leaves my mind completely. So many times I say to myself, “Mark, just say a keyword out loud and that will remind you of what you wanted to say.” It works. but busting in right in the middle of someone else’s story comes across as a little rude. It even spills out in my stage performances. In the middle of one of my stories another thought will play peek-a-boo with me only to chuckle when I can’t remember it later.
I just mumbled out loud that I probably need to wrap this column up but there are so many more things I need to tell you. I literally just jotted down some notes to remind me of subjects for future columns. “Mark, will you remember this from the few words you just wrote down?” I ask myself out loud. “I certainly hope so,” I reply to myself because I have a lot more to say. I guess I’ll just have to continue to talk.
Mark Ballard’s column runs each week in The Telegraph. Send your questions or comments to P.O. Box 4232, Macon, GA 31208; call 478-757-6877; email firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him at instagram.com/mark creates; or become a subscriber to Mark’s Facebook page.