Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Day 19: On Conversation 

From Chris Corrigan today:

Not just any talk is conversation

"Just back from an amazing Art of Hosting in rural Pennsylvania. Found this in my email box upon my return, send to me by my friend Toke:

Not just any talk is conversation
Not any talk raises consciousness
good conversation has an edge
It opens your eyes to something
It quickens your ears

And good conversation reverberates
It keeps on talking in your mind later in the day;
The next day, you find yourself still conversing with what was said
The reverberation afterward is the very raising of consciousness
Your mind and heart have been moved
Your are at another level with your reflections.

– James Hillman

This is what it is all about."

I really miss that kind of conversation. I recognise it, I can remember the truth represented by every line above, but… but it doesn’t happen that way any more. Not for me.

“It doesn’t happen…” – how passive can you get? Am I just waiting for a ‘good’ conversation to drop out of the ether and inspire me? Isn’t conversation a two-person thing? Didn’t I once conclude that the one thing I wanted in my work, above all else, was to be able to build the kind of connections with other people which inspire, uplift, energise?

So why “doesn’t it happen?”

What does it take for this kind of conversation to happen? Time, space, freedom, trust, openness, compassion, a willingness to put self on one side and be open to the other; and also a real need, a hunger and thirst for this kind of connection. Perhaps only that latter; if you have that, wouldn’t it drive a path through all those other factors which get in the way? Wouldn’t it find a way to negate all those things which are the inverse of the preceding conditions above – time pressure, other activities and needs crowding in, mistrust, a felt need to be circumspect, fear?

But still, it doesn’t happen. I don’t make it happen. And I think the reason for that is that there’s a further condition I haven’t listed above – it needs a context, a reason beyond mere desire. It needs to be a means to an end, not just an end in itself (although David Bohm might have disagreed).

This is where it starts to get scary, starts to touch on things I’ve been shying away from. That kind of context – the kind in which real dialogue is both an end and a means - is something which grows out of vision, enthusiasm, passion; out of a sense of drive, of purpose.

Being brutally honest with myself, the reason I don’t get engaged in good conversation is that I have no purpose which needs it. Mere pleasure is not enough.

Like I said; scary.

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