With Friends Like These

Today on Author2Author I will be chatting with Laura Munson (This is Not the Story You Think it is). It is easy to talk to Laura because she is a friend – by which I mean like my wife, and my brother, and my old pal Chris K., and (fortunately) many others, Laura and I have tuned the frequency of our attention to very similar channels. This translates to the sorts of conversations where I am understood even when I speak casually and am a bit unclear; like all my friends, she is able to fill in what I mean. Which is why it’s easy to talk to her. It is nice sometimes to be understood without bringing your full attention to bear. And so we seek out people of like minds, surrounding ourselves with people we understand and who understand us. It would take me many years to see the real value in those people who didn’t understand me. In fact, for years I quite resented their misinterpretation. Chris understood me, why can’t you?

I have a friend, I will call him Fred, with whom I would frequently find myself in conflict. These conflicts grew so consistent and so unpleasant that I began looking for reasons to leave a room when Fred entered it. And then one day I made a deal with myself to bring my full attention to our next conversation. I would speak slowly, being as deliberate with him as I am with my readers, doing all I could to say precisely what I mean. It was the best conversation we had ever had.

Fred, I saw, was doing precisely what my close friends were doing: filling in those gaps I had left when speaking casually. Unlike my friends, who were closely tuned to my frequency, Fred filled in those gaps with the exact opposite of what I had meant. And so the arguments would ensue.

This was not the easiest conversation I have ever had, but in certain ways it was more satisfying than those I have had with closer friends. I had to show up completely for him to see me, and when I did, I saw myself. I would still rather talk to my wife, who sees me completely even when I say nothing, but the value in friends like Fred is the awareness that, if I am willing, the bridge between us can always be me.

Remember to catch Bill every Tuesday at 2:00 PM PST/5:00 EST on his live Blogtalk Radio program Author2Author!

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