conversation is an engine

A lot can happen in a conversation

A Road Trip May Just Unspool Your Secrets and Hopes and Fears

with 2 comments

What Sidetracks These Conversations?

Is there a shortcut to those conversations that happen toward the middle of a five day canoe trip in the Boundary Waters?  Is there a quicker way to those moments of insight that happen after camping together for two weeks? Is it possible that the drive itself, from Wisconsin to New York City, actually played a starring role in the kind of conversations we had all along the way—plus all that happened after?

No. And Yes.

No, there is no shortcut and Yes there are other ways and Yes those conversations play pivotal roles in our lives.

I was reminded of this during a weekend drive to that hotspot of the Midwest— Decatur, Illinois. Eight + hours in the car has a way of unspooling topics as the miles pass. Topics you were never even thinking of—until you realized you actually had something to say about them.

This is one reason Mrs. ConversationIsAnEngine and I like those long drives. Enormous  strips of time laid out lengthwise where you talk about anything and everything as landscapes pass. Are you with me? You’ve had these conversations. Maybe you’ve had with your then future spouse. Or college buddies. Or people you didn’t know from Eve before the trip.

But in daily life? Forget it. I’m too busy social-media-ing and texting and Netflixing to let those topics unspool.  Plus—I’m not ready. You’ll judge me. Amazingly, simply spending a lot of time (and I mean a lot of time) with someone breaks down these questions and fears. It happens on a car trip. And it happens as you run the craft room at the summer camp. Or when you show up yet again to stand side-by-side gutting a 100 year old house. And amazingly, it can also happen when working cubicle-by-cubicle with work colleagues—but the key is the small open windows of insight we give each other over time. Those small windows can add up to real insight and relationship building.

So—a Monday resolution: resolve to not waste this week complaining and gossiping again about the director or your boss or the arses in accounting. That talk just slams windows shut and puts nails through the sill. There’s nothing expansive or unspooling about it.


Image Credit: Stiknord

Written by kirkistan

July 9, 2012 at 5:00 am

2 Responses

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  1. I can relate! I’ve spent a lot of time lately wishing I could have more of the important conversations right when I wanted to have them, but it seems like profundity can’t be forced. I appreciate your idea of not wasting time complaining–I never stopped to think that I should cut out some of the negative communication in order to make more room for useful conversation to occur naturally. Thanks for your thoughts!

    Elizabeth Kay

    July 9, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    • Thanks for the comment, Elizabeth. It’s also funny that we can’t often identify the most important conversations until long after they’ve occurred. Thanks for reading.


      July 9, 2012 at 8:11 pm

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