1) The action of living or having one’s being in, among.
2) Consorting (with); intimacy.
3) Behavior, mode of life.
– Oxford English Dictionary
“Your highlighted quotes on your most recent blog post seem to suggest a failure of people to enter into what you call ‘the real conversation of life,’ and also an unhealthy attachment to information and the search for insight. Isn’t the exchange of insightful information the conversation itself? I don’t get what you’re after here. Also, ‘all forms of personal evolution and growth in all schools of thought are built pretty much exclusively on this’ (conversation) seems to conflict with what I know of those schools. Isn’t serene stillness, the contented being in the moment, the destination and ultimate sign of ‘satisfying, relieving, healing and fun’ as you put it?”
I like your critical exigence. I’ll try to respond in kind…
“Isn’t the exchange of insightful information the conversation itself?”
You can look through social media posts or blogs for five minutes and collect enough insightful information for at least that day if not much longer. Then what happens? Qualitatively, how is your day different? Do you feel satisfied, relieved, healed and having just had a ball? And with a clearer, more resolved sense of direction and meaning, like, “Okay, it all makes sense now and life is great!”?
I think a real conversation (read authentic, more completely invested in) is one that evolves by entering into unknown territory very quickly. And that territory is noticeable through direct sensation of full-bodied “illuminations,” compelling experiences of mystery that don’t just sit in the head as two-dimensional bits and pieces of interpreted reality. Versions that can lead to this in the schools of thought I mentioned include, for example, piercing compassion in all forms of therapy, attentive non-judgmental presence, confession or expression of gratitude in religious rituals, bursts of creative inspiration, unique appreciation and care in intimate communion, and forms of meditation, prayer and contemplation.
These frames or platforms are for the most part formal, synthesized versions of what can take place organically within any good, spontaneous personal conversation. There are many different moods or colors to such conversations, but they all produce real discovery, relief and resolution — visceral fulfillment — often completely transcendent of any specific information.
I almost want to say that a great conversation is one that you don’t even recall what was specifically said, just the excellence of the company kept.
A side note to the above… It’s sometimes suggested that all the above is too “deep,” which, frankly, directly contradicts the consistent experiences others and I have in such conversations, which almost always includes more fun, joy and laughter than anywhere else. The point is, I’m not arguing for more depth to make a conversation real. One only needs familiarity with depth so as to access more of the person or project in front of you. Once that’s accessed, you can put whatever you want in there — “a smile, a song, a tender kiss…” — and it will get in more completely. That is, entering into some kind of exchange with someone, something or oneself such that there is discovery of previously unknown freedom. Getting out of the inward-spiraling ordinariness into the experience of being closer to a child again in a universe of wonder with infinite possibility.
Information and intellectual insight don’t lead to that. Take any one piece of insightful information, any one, and craft it linearly into something that is itself the actualization of that insight, and now we’re onto something. A great writer and dear friend recently wrote me as part of a long conversation we’ve been having over decades,
“it takes both proclivity and application to look beyond what is given into where it came from and where it might be taken…”
Simply, yes. Practice this in conversation and eventually one becomes capable of being a source of freedom for others in their aching.
“Isn’t serene stillness, the contented being in the moment, the destination and ultimate sign of ‘satisfying, relieving, healing and fun’ as you put it?”
Probably. But as that’s been described in all kinds of mystical writings by those who suggest they’re there, this is communing in conversation with the divine or what one considers to be sacred. The ultimate real conversation, as it were.
But, even so and in any case, isn’t the point and purpose of finding “contented being in the moment” so that we can expand it out to include those around us who could use it…lean whatever exchange a bit further toward something sacred? That’s the real conversation I’m suggesting. And one has to listen and look very carefully to make sure that something truly satisfying, relieving, healing and fun is being had in that conversation.