Sunday afternoon we were off on an adventure with our good friends, all six adults crammed into one SUV. The men in the group have this knack for grabbing onto the most innocuous thing I say and teasing me unmercifully. Exasperated, I fumed, “I don’t know how I manage to talk myself into these predicaments every time!” From the seat behind me came my husband’s voice, “Maybe it’s because you can’t write both sides of this conversation.”
How correct he is! That is the privilege of being a storyteller. I get to write and re-write both sides of the conversation until I get it right. My character might have a clever comeback or she might interject a word of wisdom. Or he might just keep his mouth shut. Whatever the response, it will be appropriate for the occasion, and it will advance the story toward its satisfying conclusion.
Not so in real life, huh? We don’t get to re-write our conversations.
Here are a few examples of times when re-writing might have come in handy:
The blunt comeback. In my role as chief communicator for my husband’s woodworking business, I had been in an email conversation with a woman concerning a complicated custom coffee table she was considering. This had been going on for over three month. Yesterday I received a succinct email from the woman’s husband stating that he couldn’t tell any difference between the last two designs I had sent her. I didn’t like his tone. In fact, I concluded that if he was that displeased, after all the hours I had put into this potential project, then by golly, he could make a decision today or forget the whole thing. I didn’t quite answer his email that bluntly, but I was pretty blunt.
In a few minutes, here came another email from the man—an humble apology. He had intended that email for his wife. He was not displeased, apparently, with our designs; he was aggravated with his wife’s indecision.
Ho, boy. Yeap, that’s one conversation I would like to re-write. Can you relate?
Closed mouth. Not only was yesterday a hectic day, but I’d been on antibiotics for a week and was generally draggy and achy. Not in the mood for my yoga class last night. I entered the room closed off, in my own little world, not really interested in interacting with anyone else. While sitting on my mat in that non-yogic frame of mind, a sweet fellow student approached. In her hand she held a copy of A Higher Voice, asking for my autograph. I was able to make grateful words come out of my mouth, but honestly, would it have killed me to enter the room in a grateful frame of mind? Just having a body that is capable of breathing and moving is enough to make me weep with gratitude.
If I could re-write most of my conversations, I wouldn’t keep my mouth shut as much. I would open it more, and pour out words of hope and gratitude and encouragement. Wouldn’t you?
And finally, there’s the late word. I learned just this morning that a friend’s mother had passed away last month. In my defense, it happened while we were on vacation with no internet. I’ll have to find a way to express an appropriate late word of comfort.
In A Higher Voice, communication, or the lack thereof, is a major issue between Britt and Dena. They both keep important information to themselves until their late word is almost too late. Have you ever put off a conversation until it’s almost too late?
In our conversations this week, let’s write our stories well as we go along. Let’s tell our stories with the best, most timely, words possible!