Everyone has an idea of what it takes or of what it would be
like to be wonderful with people.
I assert every person who walks
today, who's ever walked
in the past, and who'll ever walk
in the future has an idea of what it takes or of what it would be like
to be wonderful with people.
Our weaknesses and our strengths, our challenges and our gifts, our
vices and our virtues in their combinations and permutations, being
almost infinite, render each person unique. So it's conceivable each
person may have a unique outlook on just about anything. But if
you asked each person (and when I say each person, I'm
speaking about the entire population of
past, present, and future) what human qualities it takes to be
wonderful with people, I suspect the consensus would fall
within the same predictable very small set of parameters for everyone,
the billions and billions and billions of us human beings.
You're wonderful with people. Period. If you go to the dictionary and
you look up "wonderful with people", your photograph should appear
there - right beside the entry for "wonderful with people". Really.
There's no chit-chat or
with you. Neither is there any (pardon my French) bullshit
with you. Most if not all the conversations I'm ever in lapse into
at some point - sometimes more than once, sometimes many
times. And what I notice about the point at which they lapse into
is it occurs exactly when I stop being
While it's not true
talk per se is
we human beings are certainly adept at
because in the ordinary course of events, we don't have it that talk
But with you, it's not merely that talk counts. With you, every
single word counts. No, it's more than that actually: every
syllable counts with you. The entire conversation with you
is on purpose, and it's in the wake of (or, better, in the
face of) its on-purpose-ness that I discover
(I mean, really discover)
who I really am.
I get to be authentic when I'm around you not even because I be
authentic as a way of being around you, but rather because that's how
I'm called to be when I'm around you. I'm called to
be authentic when I'm around you because that's how you are
with me, because that's how you are with people. You're
wonderful with people.
Is this what it means to be? I wonder. You're forthcoming
with your answer. You suggest some people identify with their mental
state, with their emotions, with their thoughts. For them,
feeling and thinking is what it means to be. They view
themselves, with respect to their body, as "in here".
That's very generous, I think. No, not your suggestion that some people
view themselves, with respect to their body, as "in here" per
se. By generous I'm referring to you saying only some
people identify with their mental state, with their emotions, with
their thoughts. If it were me, I'd say you've pegged me perfectly
accurately for starters, along with about another 99.999% of the human
Yet for you, there's no being "in here". That's not what it
means for you to be. For you, there's only being "in the
world". For you, there's no separation between "being"
and "the world". "Being", and the world we respond to,
the world we react to, are correlated, to the degree that there's not
really any "me and the world" - there's only "me
in the world". There's not really any being "in
here". There's only being in the world "out there". You
suggest when I'm being "out there" in the world, I'm being
in which all the world
And this is what it means to be!
I pause to let what you're saying sink in. Then I ask you "If I'm the
in which all the world
how do I make myself available ie how do I make the
available? In other words, how do I interact at the level of
That's when you remind me of something I've known for a while now, yet
because of the distinction's short
I suddenly discover I'm not still currently facile with
it, although I once was. What you remind me of is this: what occurs in
in fact what occurs as the
is accessible through language.
The silence is thick. I don't want it to end.
If I say "You're right", that suggests I'm saying it's your
point of view
you're being right about.
But you're not being right about your
point of view.
You're simply speaking what you're seeing. And I concur with the
accuracy of what you speak you're seeing - at least, after a few
moments of consideration, I concur.
I could also harumph to myself "I could have spoken
that.". Except I didn't speak it. You did. And I'm totally OK with
acknowledging that. About you. The spirit wants only that there be
speaking. As for who happens to actually speak, in that he has only a
passing interest (as Rainer Maria Rilke may have said).
The conversation ranges through and touches on a broad array of topics
in a context of being both very serious, yet also as if I'm flying
alone with you in a Piper Cherokee 6 over gorgeous
countryside with nothing pressing, nothing interfering, nothing getting
in the way of us simply being together and enjoying the view.
Sometimes, transformation aside, I'm awkward and uncomfortable in
social situations, and I request your coaching. I expect you'll have
something to say about it, and you do. What I don't expect
is you'll have something to say about being awkward and uncomfortable
in social situations from your own experience of being
awkward and uncomfortable in social situations. Your coaching isn't,
shall we say, traditional. You suggest I consider the
I think I am, the
who says he's awkward and uncomfortable in social situations, isn't
who I really am
anyway. You suggest I consider being a
I think I am in social situations, to
rather than being the
"I" I think I am
who says he's awkward and uncomfortable in social situations. Smiling,
I say "Of course ..." to myself, and pencil an
x in the left margin of the item on my list.
Being around you, as people have been around you in great numbers now
for nearly forty years, many things you've said have been heard, whose
value may not immediately be apparent, Then, when gotten perhaps years
or even decades later, a lightbulb comes on. I share two
of them for me with you.
One is the notion of
I got from you.
are, on many occasions, innocuous ways of being, like joking around or
making flip comments, or perhaps more devious ways of
being, like trading transformation for success. They're
deadly because the cost, in the expediency of the moment,
is compromised. The other is your way of looking at
your way of looking at
rather than as an answer, your way of looking at
as a possibility rather than as a thing. It's the
kind of extraordinary
point of view
which inspires both lay people and the clergy. You say "Laurence, I
said both of those a long time ago.". It's true. You did.
But this isn't testimony to my good memory. Rather, it's testimony to
how long the validity of your conversation(s) endures.
But just as surely, when I ask you to clarify something you said a
while back, if you didn't say it, you say you didn't say it. I ask you
about a quote attributed to you on a popular website. You say you
didn't say it. You say it seems like it was made up using things
sounding like what you might have said. I agree. Like a
counterfeit banknote, it has some accurate attributes. But it's not the
real deal. Close, but no cigar. And it'll only cause trouble if it's
not taken out of circulation.
I share the
future I'm living into
given by the space of our relationship. I share commitments and
responsibilities I've taken on in my private life for the next two
years, after which the future is wide open, and I don't know what I'll
be doing then, but whatever it is, I want the future to be with you,
and I have literally no idea what it will look like.
There's a pregnant pause in our conversation. Then you say "Let's see
what it looks like when we get there.".