Thursday, November 29, 2007

Verbal Remedy


In the movie, The Last Samurai, Nathan Algren is captured by a group of Samurai, led by Katsumoto. Once the dust has settled from the lopsided battle, Katsumoto proceeds to question Algren.
Katsumoto: I wish to learn.
Algren : Read a book.
Katsumoto : I would rather have a good conversation.
A bit later, with Algren frustrated at knowing nothing about his adversary, Katsumoto dismisses him, saying, "I have introduced myself. You have introduced yourself. This is a very good conversation."

I've never felt like I was a very gifted conversationalist. (Though this may seem like an attempt at self-deprecation, or a ploy for external validation, it's not. It's truly how I feel.) While I greatly enjoy listening to others talk, I don't much like hearing my own voice - my diction is worthless; I have a weird Midwestern accent; I'm not melodic; and I find myself thinking faster than I can talk, or talking faster than I can think - either of which leaves me groping for words and/or apologizing to my conversant partner(s) in crime, saying something lame like, "Ugh, sorry, that isn't quite what I meant." Or, "Dammit... I forgot where I was going with this point." It is, quite simply, a facet of communication in which I've never fully felt like a participant, even with those I've been closest too. (I acknowledge that there are some folks out there who are reading this and thinking, "What?! Are you kidding, Barb? How could you think that?" But, in fact, I do think that.)

In recent weeks, I've had the pleasure of several very good conversations, with several different people (some of whom, mere months ago, I'd have had a difficult time talking to for more than 5 minutes) - conversations wherein I actually felt like I contributed something worthwhile to the mix - held up my end of the bargain, so to speak. Of course, in my classic introspective, self-dissecting style, I've been trying to figure out what has changed - obviously, it's something within myself. Is it a new willingness to be more open? Is it a sudden burst of newly found intelligence (or an acceptance of intelligence that was there all along)? Is it that my full on plunge into the written word has my thoughts spilling over in such a fashion that I've actually found a vocal outlet as well? Is it, simply, that I don't give a rat's ass what anyone thinks about me anymore, thereby freeing myself to be myself, and say what's on my mind? Or is it all of the above? All, I think. But... where the hell did it come from?! Because, for sure, that ain't me, kid.
“A single conversation across the table with a wise person is worth a month's study of books.”~Chinese Proverb

As with any worthwhile gift, this one comes with wonderful richness and texture. I feel as though I've been given deeper insight, not only into myself, but into the people I care about. I've also learned a great deal about many different topics. It's broadened me in a way that my near constant perusal of books has never done. It's a connection with another soul, and that's always a beautiful thing. It's a gift I gratefully, albeit bewilderedly, accept, and promise to use my powers for good only, never ever for evil.
“Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.”

~Anne Morrow Lindbergh

A few months ago, I bowed to the Universe and asked for the freedom to live up to whatever potential I have. As John used to say, "Careful what you wish for; it is surely comin' your way... in your lane, high beams on, and it's drivin' fast." What's next? Who knows? I sure don't - stay tuned. But, I'll tell you this much; you'd be astounded at how good the rain feels once you've tossed the umbrella aside.

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