Talking is something I do incredibly well, if I do say so myself. I have such a hard time holding my thoughts prisoner inside the silent penitentiary of my mind. They get lonely and bored; poor things. Needless to say, this characteristic gets me into trouble on occasion… okay maybe more than ‘on occasion.’ I’m quick to form opinions and even quicker to express them. Debating is as natural to me as breathing; unfortunately, some people would rather I asphyxiate. Although my teachers might not appreciate the constant distractions I present during class, I’ve learned that my addiction to expression isn’t really all that bad. It actually comes in handy when speaking becomes the only way to cross a chasm. I know, I know, my cryptic metaphors are making pretty much no sense at the moment, but I promise if you bear with me they’ll polish up nicely for you.
Silence doesn’t always express indifference. Tension, I’ve learned, is as silent as the grave, and behaves similarly to a volcano in addition. This combination produces a whole new set of concerns surrounding the phrase “silent but deadly.” Recently, I’ve experienced this first hand. And by recently I mean today. And by today I mean literally five hours ago. This wasn’t just your average, run of the mill friend to friend chat session, this was the culmination of nearly six months of tension. Now imagine a volcanic explosion six months in the making… terrifying right? That was my expectation, too, when my friend and I sat down on my shamefully unmade bed and grappled for a way to approach the topic without triggering an explosion. The chasm I referenced earlier was the topic at hand. A rift had formed between us, and isolated otherwise innocent bystanders on one of the two cliffs formed. We were, unknowingly and unintentionally, creating topography that didn’t need to exist in our otherwise Oklahoman eleven-year friendship. Yes folks you read right! We met in first grade, and this was our first big fight. Shocking it didn’t come sooner considering we’re both strong-willed and opinionated individuals. When it rains, it pours I suppose.
I promise there’s a point to all this, a life lesson if you please.
I very strongly believe in confrontation; rarely will I exhibit passive aggressive tendencies due to my absolute and utter lack of confidence in their ability to fix even something as simple as a paper cut… even though those really hurt. Now I know what you’re thinking, “If you’re such a confrontational person, why would you wait six months to sit down and talk to said lifelong comrade?” Valid point my friend, and I do have an answer! I’m an idiot. Merely five minutes into the conversation it became blindingly evident to me that I was a dunce for not trying such a tactic sooner! All was going splendidly. A few tears, some heartfelt words, and two hours later, we’d bulldozed the mountain and sewn up the fissure. While all my reasons for being violently pissed off and hers for being vengeful were accurate, we had both failed to see the other’s side in the war. So we decided to take a tour of the battlefield.
Perspective makes all the difference in the world. I don’t really think the content of the chat was as important as its outcome; after all, the outcome will affect us far longer than the oxygen we converted into carbon dioxide in the name of discussion will even remain in our short term memory. (if you haven’t figure this out by now, run-on sentences are my jam). I believe that people are slowly losing, if not the ability then the desire, to view a situation from a new perspective. Isn’t that what problem solving is all about in essence? While I was firm in defending my right to be upset, I was fully aware that that right didn’t make me…well…right. Letting go of pride and the desire to subordinate my adversary caused her to metamorphose into an ally. Instead of fighting each other to decide who was right or more scarred because of the other, we teamed up in the hopes of working together to find a solution. That is infinitely more productive.
Confrontation isn’t about winning, it’s about progressing. People need to stop viewing each other as opponents and antagonists. Instead we should all see our fellow human beings as just that, fellow human beings because, let’s be honest, no one really knows what they’re doing. It’s everyone’s first time around; life is a test run. We should be coming up alongside each other, as allies, and working in tandem toward betterment. Letting go of the need to be right was the most freeing thing I’ve done in a long time. Not only did it take the pressure of needing a solid justification for some unjustifiable acts off my shoulders, but it also saved a friendship. There was no need to be defensive, because no one was on the offensive; this provided an incredible amount of room for understanding, an essential part of problem solving.
In the end the whole ordeal was a cyclical issue. Circles are infinite, and so would have been our problems had we not sat down to sever the ring. I guess my point simply boils down to talk. Don’t get me wrong, listening is important to! But what’s there to listen to if no one says a word. The best (and by best I mean quality not quantity) talkers in this world are the best listeners, how else would one have anything substantial elaborate on? So talk it out. Words are the only way to pacify the mute volcano that is ‘tension.’ Be raw and real. Just don’t forget to survey the other side of the battle field before you take aim.