I’ve felt frustrated lately; I want to accomplish things that don’t seem to come fast enough. I want things to happen that…haven’t. I talk with people who I want to respond in a certain way that…don’t. I’ve felt this building feeling of stressed impatience. And so, last night I watched a french swashbuckling movie, in which a swordmaster, instructing his students said:
Fencing is a conversation between arms.
My ears perked up, and I came back to myself a little bit.
This feeling of conversation – and I do mean “feeling”, like the feelings of softness, or hardness, or a swaying motion, or tension, or relaxed calm, for me “conversation” describes a real feeling – carries such an enlivening power.
I can sense back-and-forth in there, an exchange, but even more so – a sensitivity. What you say, I allow it to change me. And what I say, you allow it to change you. I feel interested and open, as do you. When aggression, or a loss of sensitivity, or a loss of generosity, enters the picture, the conversation transforms to discussion, or a debate, or even an argument.
This reminds me of Martín Prechtel’s discrimination between courtship and seduction – one has no agenda except experiencing a relationship, the other has a strongly felt agenda.
How many conversations happen in political life nowadays? I see none. Zero. They’ve completely left.
And therefore, how many politicians that I know of, knowing their current behavior, would I freely allow in my living room? Maybe 1. Probably none.
But what about me? Have I kept close to this commitment of conversation?
I begin to go down the list of everything in my life – did I make that a conversation? Did I make this a conversation? I’m hearing a lot of “no’s” in response.
This reminds me of becoming traditional. I keep needing to come back to the world as a conversation, because I’m never done with the conversation, and the human-made modern landscape contains a lot of well-crafted distraction from it. Conversations don’t increase profits, I suppose.
Everything honest feels like a conversation. Why “honest”? I don’t mean a valuation of “good” or “bad”, but I suppose I mean, with full awareness, perceiving the other’s personhood, with no hidden agendas, no deflection of responsibility. Or, in any case, to the extent that a humble adult can do such a thing nowadays.
I bless your conversations, all of you.