Tons of conversations happen within a day – business conversations, family conversations, friendly conversations, stranger conversations, elevator talk, pillow talk, discriminatory talk, self-doubt talk, coworker conversation, social conversations. You name it and there is a conversation going on about it at this very moment. In fact, I’m having a conversation at this very moment, with you.
I have many conversations going on at once that I wonder if the quality of my conversations have suffered because of quantity?
Inspired conversations, a mutual exchange, haven’t been around here for some time. Sure, I stand around the soap box and listen to the megaphone-wielding digital evangelist. I walk away – like you – intrigued with the nugget of information, the point of view, or the language that tickled my funny bone. Sometimes, I even get riled up enough by what they have said that I engage in their solicitation to bring me onto their platform so that they can try to sell me their encyclopedia. I’ll tell you one thing, though, very rarely will an evangelist keep the conversation going on with me long enough for a conversion. You see the main difference between an inspired conversation and a social conversation is altruism. While the point-of-view in all good intentions and the voice unique, the main motive is conversion (purchase a book, a product, traffic increases, popularity contests). An inspired conversation is a direct connection between two very present people that, without motive, have a life-changing conversation.
I’ll tell you, of all the conversations I’ve had in the past year, I’ve had very few inspired one. Conversations that really get to the heart of who I am and make me invest in myself, which is where the social conversations leave (after the purchase).
Many moons ago in Truckee, California, in my early twenties I met a guy named Dustin Sabo – he was a rock climber (some claim notorious but that never came from him). In a societal space, we were placed in a hotel in which we both worked. His lifestyle, granola and minimalist, I admired. My lifestyle, chaotic and grandiose, he didn’t admire. While I spoke of lofty dreams (of which I accomplished, mind you) and my super-charged ego spouted off all the things I was going to do once I reached this place of achievement, he listened. He had not one thing to gain from listening other than seeing a little deeper into the human condition. When it was my turn to listen I couldn’t hear through the pressure-cooker of my own goals. However, the low hanging fruit of his journey stuck with me and as I was going somewhere else he gave me a book – the very book he was reading. It was Thich Nhat Hanh’s “The Miracle of Mindfulness” and as I packed up my Honda Civic to head to the city that never sleeps to catapult a band into stardom – which I did – I opened it briefly to find he had scrawled “Have fun on life’s travels and remember not to sweat the small stuff because everything is the small stuff.”
One day, when I was sweating the small stuff I opened the book – one day in the privacy of my own time – and that book changed my life. It was the mindfulness of Dustin’s listening to me, not selling anything, but engaging in the basic human condition in which got me to pick up the book. I’m thankful I did because Thich Nhat Hanh has been a catalyst to my own mindfulness and I have Dustin to thank for that. Inadvertently, I bought what Dustin was selling – mindfulness.
I had many conversations like that before everyone was peddling something. I would follow you anywhere, buy into whatever you were selling, if you inspired me. But, who has the time to cut into selling for a little meaningful human connection?
“Without mindfulness, however, you will quickly lose count.” (Thich Nhat Hanh)