Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Meaningful Conversation

I started to write a long post about one of the most meaningful conversations I've had in my life. It truly is rare to recognize in the midst of a great exchange that it will resound for years to come. Yet I had such a conversation yesterday, and I hate to write about it and diminish it. It's almost too personal - and certainly too boastful because of what was said about me - to want to share it here. Just know I had a great campus visit.

-- Robert


C.Flower said...

I hear ya. I often set out on the same path with certain posts. Writing for a newspaper, I've found this especially troubling. Once, in an editorial meeting, someone suggested I write about a specific ice cream shop. I flat-out refused to do it because the place is too uber special. I'd just eff it up in print.

The most meaningful things are often the most exhausting to put it into words.

Having said that, if you do decide to diminish the conversation, I would totally enjoy reading it.

C.Flower said...

Oh, and the ice cream shop story is probably the least meaningful story filed in my Too-Meaningful-To-Write story repertoire.

Robert said...

I might be willing to share some snippets, but it was communication beyond words - we connected in a powerful way - and so even if I could relate the exact words, it wouldn't make as much sense as it did to me when I experienced it.

I have a few stories I hate to put into words because it seems to diminish their reality, almost making them into fables. I try to avoid doing that when I can.

Okay, I will share one snippet that might highlight some of what he said:

This man met me briefly a total of maybe three times (more likely just two) for a total of maybe three minutes conversation (which is pushing it). So for him to say these words just floored me. If I did not know - and I mean KNOW - he was being completely genuine, it might seem like a charlatan's trick. But he said to me, "Robert, you've spent your whole life trying to communicate with people and not being understood. You have to find their level and explain yourself to them in words they can understand." I nodded and agreed he was right, I do that all the time. He went on to say, "That just shows the type of person you are." which was followed by a compliment I won't type. He said all this to help me understand what he meant when he said, "I will make you a promise that as fast as you want to go, I will keep up with you." Basically, I don't need to explain a lot if I want to talk about my thoughts with him, he is able to comprehend. He also meant he won't hold me back, as he said, "You are a rocket, and what we hope to do here is to guide your path so you can achieve your highest success."

Even now, as I write these words, I marvel that a man of such reknown - he is well known and respected in his field, and indeed deservedly so - would pay me such complete respect. I was truly humbled, almost to the point of being choked up. I won't say I could not believe his words - I knew he was not being at all phony, so that would be the wrong choice of words. I was simply floored. I had no expectation that I would have such a conversation that day.

I had many great conversations with other professors and students throughout the course of that day. I enjoyed most if not all of them. This one, though... it just transcended. We had one of the most open, heartfelt, collaborative conversations I have experienced. And it all happened within about forty-five minutes.