“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
― Maya Angelou
Perhaps the rubric should read: 'Meaning-full conversation'.
I'll leave you to decide.
But one thing I'm certain of — from first-hand experience — is the dearth of deep, reverent and (often) important conversations.
Of course, it could be me.
No, no. It is me!
Very few people want to engage in anything other than superficial, often banal conversation for fear of getting into a heated debate or, worse still, a drag-down, vitriolic argument.
I see that.
I honestly do.
In fact, it's happened too many times where I've been so passionate to persuade the other person of something meaningful I've not bothered:
a) to listen to them;
b) to shut up on cue; and
c) I've raised my voice and used profanity, thinking I might make myself heard.
It got me nowhere.
How stupid, eh!
Perhaps I'm learning the hard way that to have a meaningful conversation requires not just empathy but deep grace, love and affection not only for the other person but for my own delicate soul.
Yes, that's in the mix as well — my soul.
I need to listen to what it's trying to tell me, which means keeping quiet and not always being troubled out loud.
Put it this way. There isn't a day that goes by where I don't wake up with some burning issue attacking my senses. Yesterday, it was the absence of faith; heaven knows what it will be today.
Oh, I forget, it's meaningful conversation(s)!
What am I trying to say?
Simply this. There are many areas of life that I feel never or rarely get addressed. Examples include love, money, relationships, work, faith, the earth and elderhood. Previously I might have said that people aren't interested in these subjects — and there's still some evidence of that — but I think the more important point is the absence or inability to engage meaningfully in conversation.
Why? (This is my experience.)
The absence of a safe space.
Not giving ourselves enough time to speak and be heard — on both sides.
Trying to cover too much ground. If we made things simpler — i.e. we refined those things that were genuinely important to us — then there wouldn't be a need to rush everything.
A genuine sense of anger that needs to be given its proper place and not be snuffed out by a countervailing argument.
Hopelessness. By this, I mean, people having tried and failed so many times that they've simply given up.
Ad lastly, an absence of trust
But, perhaps, most of all, being held — and I mean held in loving embrace — in a way that makes the conversation feel meaningful.
Yes, that's it.
It's a lived experience, not one that can be copied from a book or even from a set of arid instructions.
In this regard, perhaps we need people to help us — e.g. third parties. These people can help us communicate in a new way, nurturing a new kind of space to facilitate better, more fluent and, yes, more meaningful conversations.
Do these people exist?
Of course they do. Not in abundance but as I'm discovering there are some wonderful people who can hold a space for us all to be heard and to share in a way that I never dreamt possible.
For the record, if you were to ask me one area of my life which means more to me than anything else, then it's this. And I don't just mean in a way that I can always share my burning list of issues, but to hear others into speech in a way that I've always thought possible but rarely witnessed in action.
What about you?
How do you feel about the art of conversation — meaningful or otherwise? I'd love to know.
Deep bows, and thank you for reading.
Much love, Ju
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