I am indebted to Katryn Jehane Price who inspired this conversation.
I am the possibility of truth for you. You are the possibility of truth
for me. We are the possibility of truth for each other. We
are the possibility of truth.
To be the possibility of truth for me, you speak and share the ordinary
events of your life truthfully, authentically, and fearlessly. To be
the possibility of truth for you, I listen you sharing the ordinary
events of your life truthfully, authentically, and fearlessly. For the
most part, we get what it is to speak truthfully, authentically, and
fearlessly. But what is the access to truthful, authentic, and fearless
listening? Arguably, since we love to be heard, speaking
truthfully, authentically, and fearlessly is passe. The steeper part of
the equation is to listen truthfully, authentically, and
In both speaking and listening there's an element of automaticity as
well as an element of intention. In an untransformed relationship
speaking as sharing is almost all automaticity. In an untransformed
relationship listening is almost never intentional. The world grinds
into us from a very early age that the truth shouldn't be spoken, and
by speaking the truth here I am referring to sharing the ordinary
events of our lives truthfully, authentically, and fearlessly.
with speaking the truth per se. Rather, there's a conspiracy not to
speak it lest we embarrass ourselves and each other. At least that's
the tacit superstition keeping the conspiracy in place. But
embarrassment and the conspiracy not to speak the truth isn't a
function of speaking, nor is it a function of what we speak about.
Embarrassment is a function of how we listen each other. In the space
of generous listening, embarrassment is at best a temporary pause in
self expression, the breaking through of which literally transforms
In an untransformed relationship no space is ever safe enough to share
how we are with the ordinary events of life. There's never a space safe
enough and there's never a time opportune enough to say what's really
going on, what feelings are really running rampant, or what concerns
are really driving our everyday actions. Actually it's worse than that:
we are that if we don't say anything about our concerns at all, maybe
they'll just go away and leave us alone, leaving us freed from the onus
of having to be responsible.
So what then is the access to truthful, authentic, and
fearless listening? First I notice I never listen
truthfully, authentically, and fearlessly. When I notice that, I can be
willing to listen the unvarnished and unembellished truth. Then, in
responding dispassionately, I forgo manipulating the outcome. I forgo
listening with no other ulterior motive other than to listen. I
forgo my concern about looking bad (as well as my concern, by the way,
about looking good).
What speaking and listening like that provides is the space for
something to show up that would ordinarily not be possible without that
kind of courage. What shows up is true affinity - not merely
familiarity with another but rich, thrilling, nurturing affinity which
is the recognition of and reveling in another's humanity, not because
they're special, different, or have an interesting story to tell, but
rather because as human beings, the issues and concerns of our lives on
a personal level are pretty much the same for everyone. And until
transformation is rehabilitated in that domain, we develop being
special, we develop being different, and we embellish our stories in
order to hide our ordinariness. In fact, it could be said the only
really special ones among us are those who are willing to share their
from a foundation of being ordinary comes the miracle of inventing who
we are, not like an identity nor like a set of concerns or even like a
finely tuned scripted story but rather like a possibility, a stand for
the future, an intention to be.
Transformed Friendship is the possibility of you and I being together
out of the possibilities we've invented ourselves to be rather than out
of our tired old complaints, stories, and rackets.
Transformed Friendship is the possibility of honoring our tired old
complaints, stories, and rackets so that they transform and disappear
rather than become exchanged for who we really are.
Transformed Friendship is the possibility of who we really are being
all that's required to be in relationship. We qualify to be in
relationship simply because we're alive. There's no other agenda, no
other requirement, no other admission ticket.