I have a friend who can talk endlessly for hours and hours. She literally never gets tired of talking. It freaks me out a little to be honest (and yes, it is tiring at times.) Sometimes I wonder what her endurance limit for talking is, or if she even has one. I’m afraid to find out. I wonder if someone didn’t stop her, as they invariably do, if she would ever stop talking.
Don’t get me wrong. I can talk, too. When I’m on a roll, it could take an act of God to shut me up. As I get older, though, I do find myself growing weary of talking more quickly than I did when I was in my twenties or thirties. Like most people, after I’ve had a particularly heavy conversation, I feel an urgent need to really understand what’s been said and sometimes, more importantly, what has not been said.
If I analyze a conversation into the ground, replaying it over and over in my mind, and I still don’t understand what’s been said or find that what’s been said is causing me pain, then I find it easier not to think about it all. I’m very good at pushing the tough subjects deep down into the recesses of my brain where I think they can’t hurt me. If a conversation hurts me, I try like hell to simply not think about it at all.
I've learned, however, that often, whatever I am most determined not to think about, someone somewhere will find a way to bring it into the conversation. That’s the thing about conversation - it so rarely stays where we want it to stay. A conversation is like an evolving organism that has a mind of its own. It is a living thing that has the potential to go in any direction regardless of the intentions of the participants.
As participants in a conversation we begin under the illusion that we are controlling the conversation. The conversation then does one of three things: it evolves into a beautiful, independent creature with infinite possibility for engendering new ideas or new, positive feelings; it becomes a monstrous, independent force of nature, a manipulative creature that wreaks havoc and cannot be contained; or it becomes just another one of billions of mundane conversations that appear to mean absolutely nothing. I fear it sometimes, this enigmatic creature - the conversation.
Life and the world are ruled almost completely by this phenomenon of the conversation. Trillions of conversations are going on right now as I type. Some of them will evolve in such a way as to strengthen the relationship of the participants over time. There are many in our lifetime with whom we will have but one single conversation and never speak again - the man in line at the registry, the woman who checked your coat at the theatre, the taxi driver, the man on the elevator.