There is nothing better than good conversation. To sit with another and share ideas, thoughts without the dictatorial calibrations of time or any secondary agenda is rare and precious. I have noticed of late that we are often better at talking than listening, sometimes eager to unleash our own concerns like rice out of a sack without a spit of hesitation. And that's a shame. It's a shame because we are cheating ourselves out of the sacred experience of getting to know ourselves, of recognizing the soul that is ours in its naked truth responding to another, sheltered only by our belief and the intrinsic desire to be authentic. The thing is, this kind of discovery takes guts. Not everyone is ready, but when you are, and you go through it, you are keen to run into others. There is little else but the hope of this to summon the strength to throw back the sheets and test your shadow in the new day's sun. Everything else is tedious.
When I was a kid, we had large groups of people out to our farm. Few came from my father's corporate world. Most came from the Quaker part of our family life and were made up of myriad personalities seemingly separated by minute and monumental differences as the day is long. As a kid, many of the people in our meeting made me want to yawn and roll my eyes. There was, however, one man who always stood out, whom I was always glad to see. His name was Leroy, emphasis on the second syllable. He was married to a lovely woman named Pearl, and the pair, though humble, had more class and spice than any other couple I could name. Leroy was absolutely authentic, the real deal, and if you were in a conversation with him, you were too. He wore a straw hat in the summer, less to keep the sun off of his head than to prevent, I think, the sun from being outshone by his smile. Such a smile he had! To him, I was not a bother. He was interested in what I was up to. We would talk and he would laugh the most delightful laugh. Not a big belly laugh, but something lighter, as if he was a conduit of joy from the heavens. We would discuss all kinds of things, and when we parted, I felt special. I felt seen. I'm not sure how we would have met outside of the strangeness that was our farm. Whatever the machinations behind it, I am grateful for our bond. He was like an angel sent to rescue me from losing my mind, from feeling invisible, like a spectre.
You don't have to connect deeply with everyone in the world. You can't. Some humans are sleepwalking, hardly aware of the tender heart beating inside of them. The grander swath, hopefully, is learning, growing, and stretching toward the goal of openness and the ability to sense the rich poetry of life: the deepest love, the most vibrant consideration of humanity, and the fired desire to care and caress. The hard part, the risk, is committing to being open and vulnerable, but then knocking against another's armour: the closed body language, the words of defence and distance, and a self-righteous air worn like fancy tack on a parade horse. There is no grace in whittling away someone's worth. There is no power in declining an offer to be present and truthful. But it is hurtful. Traumatic, even. Behaviour likened to a bully. It's disappointing to have such an experience, especially from someone you've known for some time, but when you think back, you realize that you have stretched so much further. You have outgrown them and the need for armour. You have nothing to hide and everything to give. According to the way this poetry works, you DO have the difficult task of seeking out new souls in similar step. Hard to find this late in life, but the option to settle is, well, it's not an option. I do have a few good friends, helpful and supportive, but busy in their own lives. I look forward to running into that special one, that person who lights me up, where neither of us want to rush off to anything more important, because what is there that could be?
I am grateful to have known Leroy. He bookended the start of the most charged parts of my life, strewn with beauty, hopeful narrative, and tragedy enough. Surprisingly, now, I am grateful to have gone through the challenge of the past years, as dark and insurmountable as they seemed at different times. I couldn't be who I am with what I have to offer in any other way. So, when you're ready, you with your sacred soul, whomever you are, wherever you are, send up a flare! I'll make tea and we will have ourselves a long, luxuriously rambling conversation out in the sunshine.