On Monday night, my mom, my brother, and I were on the highway next to the hidden mountains that were silhouetted by the cover of night. As we headed back to our condo at SF, my mom brought up a conversation topic that had great potential for depth. My mom mentioned she feels alone and away from society as she drives back home after dropping us off. Being the only car on the road for stretches at a time, and the darkness of the night on the highway with the only source of light emanating from the headlights and moonlight, she feels a momentary yet noticeable loneliness. As my brother responded, I sat back in my seat, observing the dynamics of the conversation and determining the level of depth being achieved in the conversation. About 10 minutes into the conversation, I could tell a certain amount of depth was lost. There was a small annoyance occurring that, prior to observing that tonight, made me feel uncertain whether it would be considered a major distraction. I have come to the conclusion, now being back at the condo, that driving itself is a distraction from deep conversation and the sharing of more intimate thoughts and feelings. The noise on the freeway is too loud. We were sitting and talking, but there was noise. The act of driving also acts as a distraction from expressing our more inner thoughts and feelings. Although driving on the road by ourselves can become a passive activity without requiring an immense amount of focus, it is still a distraction. I have come to the conclusion that deep level conversation in its deepest form can only be achieved by doing nothing but sitting and talking.
What about walking and talking? I went on a hike with a friend where I attempted to take it deeper, and I wasn’t satisfied with the amount of depth I had achieved. I’ve thought about it. The power of a story or revelation of intimate thoughts and feelings are partly lost due to the distraction of walking. We were walking at a decently fast pace. Perhaps if we were walking side by side instead of me in the front and him in the back, and if we walked slower and took our time, we could have discussed and shared that moment more intimately. Our energy level could have made a difference as well. Let me explain. Throughout different times of the hike, we had different energy levels. In the beginning of the hike, we were energized and ready to go, therefore affecting the depth of the conversation. Higher body energy results in lighter and upbeat conversation. Higher energy level is also impacted by the time of day. Imagine hiking in the early afternoon. It’s going to have decently-high energy and thus lighter conversation, especially if we are also walking fast. Earlier times of the day, such as early morning to early-mid afternoon does not yield deep conversation as easily because the time of day affects our mood. While late-mid afternoon to hours late at night or early AM hours yield deeper conversation more easily in a quiet environment free of major distractions. The energy level of the day has gone and the atmosphere and mood matches one of deeper level conversations. What about getting up real early to watch a sunrise on the horizon? Does that yield a good time and place for deeper conversation? Although the time is early and for early birds, it may seem perfect, for night owls, we might be a bit too tired for deeper conversation. Then again, it depends on the amount of energy present overall. The thought and prospect of seeing a beautiful sunrise may boost that low energy of night owls at early morning hours, making deep conversation more of a possibility. To conclude from what I’ve learned regarding energy levels and its relationship to having deeper level conversations, high energy level situations do not yield good opportunities for deep conversation. Whereas, lower energy situations have a high chance of deeper level conversation as long as there are no significant physical, visual, or auditory distractions. Mid-level energy will most likely result in conversations with relative depth. It may go towards lighter and deeper at different parts of the conversation, but is not as likely to swing too far in either direction, although it is still possible if the topic of the conversation can sway the energy towards more depth. A good example of a mid-level energy situation that can go deep is one of being alone, one on one, while sitting down somewhere on a quiet mountain, overlooking a field of yellow grass in a spacious area with the sun radiating its warmth down on us. I know the description sounds a little romantic, but in my imagination it’s with close friends in this situation, and no homosexuality intended. The energy level is not too high and not as low as night time, but just enough for deeper conversation to take place.
Throughout the drive, I felt myself becoming irritated. My mom was making assumptions about things my brother or I were saying. I expressed how I viewed something, and she went on to make assumptions on what she believed I would say, but in reality, it was not how I felt and I would not have agreed with what she was claiming. This is a lesson to be learned: ask the other person what they think and come to understand holistically, instead of assuming what they would be thinking. And definitely, do not, state for them, what you think they will say based on your assumption. If your assumption is wrong, they will know that you do not understand them. When we feel we are not understood, we can’t feel accepted, and therefore, not connected. Acceptance must come before connection. When someone reveals something about themselves, they must be understood, accepted, and finally, connection will be made.
I want to address a few things I did well when it came to speaking and expressing myself. In this case, the noise from driving on the freeway didn’t allow the listener to be clearly present in the conversation. It’s best to vary our tone of voice, the volume of our speech (at times, speak softer and at other times, speak with more emphasis; this is something my friend does really well when expressing himself), and the rhythm and speed of our speech. These differences in voice tone, volume, and speed of our speech all communicate how we feel. In times of intimate, quiet discussion, a soft, quieter, and slower speech is what naturally occurs, due to the lower energy level. When speaking, it’s also best to enunciate our speech. To speak clearly, place your hands above your waist, express what you want to say, and naturally allow your hand gestures to flow. I know it also helps for me to briefly close my eyes when speaking to get the right words out. Avoid using filler words such as, “like, uummm, you know”, to fill the gap in between our speech. While thinking about the proper word choice to express ourselves with, by not using filler words, our communication will seem much more eloquent.
Two thirds into the drive to SF, we began to bicker more than discuss, the love we get from family and how that compares to the love we get from close friends. From our discussion, it’s clear to me that spending time away from each other is necessary in a relationship to prevent feeling fatigued from seeing each other. We may not all admit it initially, but for me, when I see the same people every day, deep down, there’s a part of me that is tired of them, and needs time away from them. Unfortunately, family members see each other every day. That’s part of what a family is. The more time we spend with each other without time spent away, will eventually accumulate and manifest itself into an inner desire to get away. It’s absolutely nothing personal about the individuals. I care about my family members deep down, but with many families, the love is shown through constant worrisome behavior, usually shown by the Mom. Brothers and Sisters bicker many times, so that only leaves Dad who I don’t feel the inner desire to have as much away time from since I don’t see him too much. And with the majority of families, they are all dysfunctional. We treat friends much better than we treat family because we don’t see them as often. Therefore, time spent connecting with them is valuable and important to us. At the same time, it’s partly because we spend time away from friends, so that we desire and value the times when we are together. I guess too much of anything, truly becomes overbearing.