A conversation lets you be fluid in who you are, touch another person briefly and allow yourself to be touched. Words are like liquid, flowing, overlapping, merging with each other. That’s why it’s often hard to remember who said what in a true conversation.
The self is shaped & maintained in conversation. When we aren’t talking to others, we’re talking to ourselves. So we can’t actually do without conversations.
When you converse with another person – not just take turns to talk – you operate from a place of vulnerability, openness, of willingness to be shaped. You also enter their space of vulnerability, not an experience that leaves you untouched. There’s no way to enter someone’s being & transform their life without being transformed youself.
Every conversation holds the chance of transforming your life. You come away changed, with new thoughts, feelings, fresh perspective. And sometimes these are not pleasant experiences. Change is hard for most of us.
Some of us do not enjoy sharing. We carry our traumas & wield them as weapons, burying our identities. So it’s one set of traumas jostling with the other because traumas don’t share; they only fight. And we mistake this acrimony for conversation.
The digital life set us adrift in an open sea of conversations, as polluted as the real waters of the world. To survive we attempt boundaries. We use artifices like time to measure how long we allow this sharing, as if it’s punishment to endure. We confine it to certain topics as if it’s possible to isolate some inhabitants of water. Conversations can’t be nets.
But if we are vigilant, there are treasures to be unearthed. Treasures like intimacy, empathy, trust, affection, learning. The things you learn about people in the reactions they slip in, to your sharing? “Same here”, “I know that feeling”. These are keys to people’s insides. We must remember to listen even as we speak.
And thus we navigate this biggest of human adventures.