Wondering Why I Blog

This blog is still such a mystery to me. I wish I knew what I was doing. I wish I knew WHY I write it.

I think one way I try to look at blog content is through the lens of: What can I help you with today? What is a problem you are currently having with your work or with relationships that I can help you with?

(Because Freud was right. There are only 2 universal concerns: love and work.)

Then I have to look at my particular skill set. What do I know about work/vocation/purpose that might help you? If your problem is that you don’t know what kind of work will sustain you fiscally and spiritually, I can suggest the strategy that worked for me.

What do I know about love and relationships that might help you mend or deepen yours? What worked for me was writing my manifesto, listening more than talking, and learning non-violent communication skills.

Now that’s all well and good, but I don’t want to just tell people what they should do. I want to show them what might happen if they tried it out.

But  I don’t want to be an advice blogger, or a “How To” blogger. Nor am I much of a story teller.

I want to figure out where my personal life and the personal life of my reader overlap, and then focus on that place in the Venn diagram.

Here’s an easy example: my yoga students. We all value yoga. We might value it for different reasons, but at the very least we share an interest in this practice.

And a big part of what I think yoga is, and what I try to teach, and what they come to my classes for, is to learn how to fall in love with their own life. However it shows up. The hard, the impossible, the intolerable, the frustrating, and the exasperating.

Life is disappointment and heartache and cancer and loss and grief.

Life is also  success and elation and good health and abundance and joy.

The trick is to learn how to fall in love—or at least in like—with all of it, or at least tolerate, with some amount of grace, the struggle.

Now if I could tell, or better yet, show the people who read my blog how I manage to do that, that might make writing this blog a helpful, and worthy endeavor.

When I am with people, in the flesh, I think I help. I listen more than I talk, for one thing, and I think listening is one of the lost arts.

I think people really need to say their life out loud. Then they need to be heard, and to hear themselves articulate their own thoughts. This cuts a very quick route to clarity and self-knowledge.

The listener is not there to advise or fix, but only to receive and reflect back to the speaker their own words.

Most of the time, even the reflecting back is not necessary. Just being an empty vessel into which another person can pour their soul is to be of service.

If I can be a big enough container to hold my own struggles and joys, and also have enough room left over to hold yours too, well, that is the definition of a big life.

When I am with other people physically I can be that vessel. And I strive to keep my own life clean and struggle-free, so that I have that kind of room.

The problem with writing a blog is that it is an act of  “speaking” rather than listening.

Nature listens, that’s why nature heals and consoles. Nature just receives, it doesn’t advise or even reflect. It simply receives.

Trees and mountains and oceans receive. Flowers receive and rocks receive. We can pour our hearts into them and their sturdiness and their constancy console us. I sit on an outcropping in Yosemite and feel the immensity of what I witness, and that immensity dwarfs my own struggle, and amplifies my own joy.

I can run along the beach and howl my pain into the surf, but the waves just continue to crest and trough, the seagulls  continue to soar and dip.

I think the question I want to answer is:

How can I receive on the blog? How can I translate what I do in person, into blog writing? And is this even possible? Is it possible to write in such a way that the writing becomes a place where the reader feels heard?

The Art of the Conversation

Today I spent a bunch of hours talking to one of the best conversationalists I know, Tim Schlitzer.

I am actually really lucky because I know so many people who have taken the dialogue to an art form. Zee Zahava is a  pure master and a virtuoso, as is Anthony David Adams.

Here is what I think it takes to be a world-class conversationalist:

1. Be engaged with the world. If you are not out in the world, doing things, and having new experiences all the time you will have nothing to talk about. But it is not enough to simply have experiences. You must also…

2. Reflect on your experiences.  You can ponder your experiences of course, but I really think it helps if, from time to time, you write down what you learn and how you are personally affected by the people you meet, the places you visit and the experiences you have.  (Most of my favorite conversationalists are also really good writers.)

3. Master the art of listening.  When you listen to someone else with rapt attention, you not only show respect for that person, but you more quickly locate common ground, where you can then begin to interweave your shared interests and create a beautiful new tapestry of ideas and stories.

4. Be funny. In order to be engaging you must be witty, upbeat and charming. No one wants to hear tales of woe and disaster unless you can spin disaster into a great story. Don Miller’s book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years should be  a primer for all budding conversationalists.

5.Know what a True Dialogue is. A dialogue is not just a matter of taking turns talking. It’s not just me telling you about my vacation, and then I stop talking so you can tell me about your vacation.

No.

There’s no artistry in that. That’s just blabbing and it’s boring. When a dialogue reaches the stage of an art form I can tell you about my vacation and manage to weave you into it. That takes perspicacity, intimate knowledge of the other person, and the ability to to distill the universal essence  of a human experience so that both speaker and listener feel that they have had the same experience.

Lately I have been reading research about how the over-reliance on texting is destroying the art of the conversation. I don’t know anything about that because I simply refuse to  talk —at least for very long, to people who can’t hold a conversation, or who don’t know how to dialogue.

A good conversation involves timing, listening, weaving, and charming storytelling. If you have ever experienced one, you know that it is breath-taking in its effect. And you can’t wait to do it again.

I am lucky. I know some great conversational masters.  I love it when I get to sit down with them and co-create, as I did today, a beautiful tapestry of connection.

Thanks, Tim.