Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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The Five-Minute Rule

It's right up there in the pantheon of the good things that life gives us, along with good food, good sex, and good ritual.

Good conversation.

Singer-songwriter Sparky T. Rabbit (1954-2014) was one of the most brilliant conversationalists that I've ever met.

He strictly adhered to what I'll call the Five-Minute Rule.

If you've been talking for five minutes, it's time to shut up and listen.

One of the things that made Sparky such a supple and engaging conversationalist is that he was an active listener. While you were talking, he gave you his full attention, and he was thinking about what you said.

I try to be a good listener. Gods help me, I try.

That's how I've come to realize that much of what passes for conversation isn't actually conversation at all.

It's concurrent monologue.

Real conversation = an exchange of ideas on a topic of mutual interest.

A bore = someone who would say the same thing to anyone.

Hence, the Five-Minute Rule.

Rhetoric is the art of effective communication. Rhetorically speaking, the Five Minute Rule is a singularly effective strategy for getting your point across. Because after five minutes, by the time you eventually reach your point—after the whole, winding story, with not one single, juicy detail (no matter how irrelevant) left out—you might as well not have bothered opening your mouth at all in the first place. No one is listening to you any more anyway. I can guarantee it.

So, I've had my say, and you've patiently given me the gift of your attention.

I've had my five minutes.

It's time for me to shut up and listen.




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Tagged in: Sparky T. Rabbit time
Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.


  • WiseCrone
    WiseCrone Monday, 31 July 2017

    I love this! Makes me want to look up more about Sparky T. Rabbit. Thanks for sharing about him.

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