Our civil conversation was taking a course towards anything but civility. The intensity was clearly building. Everything was changing. The physical space between us was disappearing. The volume on both sides was increasing. What had started in harmony had morphed into clashing and overlapping statements. Even the way we pronounced words; our usual accents that were different were moving to a shared staccato way of saying our piece. This had the potential to get ugly.
I caught myself in the mirror. I could hear myself clearly. Even though I was convinced of the correctness of my view, the fight at hand was not pretty. As an accusation landed, we caught ourselves thinking out loud.
“Where are we trying to go with this conversation? Do we really have a disagreement?”
“Good question. I was told…”
“Really? Can we start at the beginning?”
As we started from where we were yesterday, we both realized we held a similar view. While our perspectives were very different, our objectives and priorities were in sync. In this conversation we could not find any point of disagreement.
“I was told.”
It seems as if each had been informed. As we looked for the instigators on both sides, I realized they had slipped away from the conversation. It felt like David’s description; “Cowards, my enemies disappear. Disgraced, they turn tail and run.” (Psalm 6.10)
As I think of the progress we made from that point forward, I wondered how many other conversation had skipped the rhetorical questioning. Usually I remember the ones that end ugly. I look back, wondering what might have been. If only. If…something, somehow had occurred to break the building momentum. Oddly, I forget that breaking the cycle is never enough. One must reach for something better. Life vacuums are never unfilled.
This conversation went from bad to good. I was fortunate to be in the presence of one bold enough to ask the obvious and willing to share the answer. I am left with a note to self and an opportunity to do something with it today.