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This I Believe: The Greatest Superpower

Spencer Hoehl midshot
Beatrice Bonner
/
NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS
Spencer Hoehl - Litchfield High School

It can happen anywhere. In the school cafeteria, in the car with friends, during holidays with your family, or even over the phone; conversation strikes at any time and under any circumstance. It comes naturally and most always with positive outcomes. It is one of our greatest gifts as humans, allowing us to form relationships and exchange ideas and emotions. It is the closest thing we have to a superpower. I believe in the power of conversation.

I have always been a talkative individual. This characteristic has allowed me to develop close friendships, take up leadership roles in my community, and shamelessly express my opinion on matters, but it has also caused some trouble for me when I speak over teachers, share a secret I wasn’t supposed to, or voice those thoughts that are supposed to stay inside my head. Regardless of the benefits or pitfalls of this characteristic, I believe this quality was one I was destined to possess. Being talkative is simply in my DNA.

My shameless speaking habits can be attributed to my grandfather, who you couldn’t truly find a moment of silence around. His talkativeness was never overbearing, but rather created an environment of comfort. This allowed him to make friends everywhere he went. May it be at the local gas station where he picked up donuts or even on the street in a foreign country. Not even the language barrier posed a challenge to him.

I had never quite realized the impact that my grandfather’s talkativeness had until three years ago. For 10 hours, the line of people waiting to pay respect to my grandfather had stretched far out the door of the funeral home. Every person that arrived through those doors brought with them a story about my grandfather that I had never heard before. Some being entirely on character, some off the wall, some funny, some tragic, but every one of them sharing a common thread: each memory was created from the conversations those people had with my grandpa. From only his words, he was able to form lifelong connections with more people than I thought it was possible to even meet. The thousands of conversations he had over the course of his life had created thousands of friendships.

As with any passing of a loved one, life continues. The grieving process occurs, and after it’s over, you begin to accept the reality of the tragedy. The most significant thing I now notice in his absence, and the most difficult aspect to accept, is the seeming quietness the world now has. Without him here, the world lacks the conversations he could’ve had, and thus the memories he could’ve created and the joy that accompanied those moments. I believe that it is now my responsibility to make up for that loss; to never allow a potential connection with somebody to be lost in a moment of awkward silence; to simply have a conversation.

This I Believe Illinois is NPR Illinois' annual essay program for Illinois high school seniors. An expression of where their minds are as they prepare to enter the adult world. This I Believe was started by radio journalist Edward R. Murrow in 1951 to allow anyone able to distil the guiding principles by which they lived. Special thank you to our sponsors: The Rotary Club of Springfield Sunrise, State Journal-Register, BLH Computers, KEB, Marine Bank, and Roni Mohan of RE/MAX Professionals Springfield.

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