Soul talk: Deep, intimate, vulnerable, safe.
I’m not a natural talker. By this, I mean talking is absolutely an effort. I mean EFFORT.
I do not remember the precise moment I started feeling this way, but sometimes when I’m forced to speak up, I can hear the tiredness in my voice, the anxiety of saying one word too many, the tension between wanting to be heard but not wanting to speak.
I’m pretty sure I was a talkative child. The type of child who had stories for days, the kind who pretended every object was a phone just to be able to share a story to some non-existent person on the other end. Or maybe I was shy initially, but non-stop words flowed once the comfort set in.
The sense, though, when remembering my youth is that talking was not exertion or a struggle. It was not something that required too much prompting; it happened naturally.
Observation is key, though. Maybe it was all the moments I stopped talking mid-sentence because I’d notice the other person not paying attention. Maybe it was all the times I’d have to speak louder than preferred. Maybe it was just this concept of growing older and learning that most people prefer being listened to than listening. Maybe it was a combination of all these actions that transpired over and over again that convinced me that talking wasn’t the effort. The effort came from the constant need to believe that people were truly interested in what I had to say. This was too much effort, so I learned that silence spoke louder than words ever could.
At whatever stage this realization took place, it was clear that my life was way easier to get through being the listener than the talker. Listening, I discovered, was a skill and one that I was going to conquer. Learning to listen became the focus, and as the new skill developed, the silence grew. It became a comfort, a crutch, an accessory to be worn at all times. Talking became the poison, the action to avoid.
But during certain moments in life, surprises transpire. Invaluable surprises. These surprises take the form of effortless talking, effortless exchanges of words that happen from the soul.
These conversations remind me that talking is a beautiful communication tool that can touch people in many ways. Emotionally, mentally, or even at a soul level. They happen in such a way that the feeling of safety is all-encompassing. There are no questions about whether or not the other person is listening. There’s just a deep belief that they are. They’re more than deep. They’re intimate, and in this all-encompassing safety, vulnerability is the norm; intimacy is a second language so well-spoken it could be a first. A common understanding of giving and taking, giving without hesitation and taking without shame.
Sometimes we have conversations that we will never forget, no matter how many days or years pass. They affect us so deeply and in such a positive manner that we cannot shake the feeling that we’ve been changed in some wonderful way. A change that we might not be able to immediately see or understand, but we can feel it in our core. It’s made an impression that’s everlasting and won’t disappear. It lingers for what seems to be evermore.
Remembering the soulful conversations doesn’t remove the crutch to the silence. It doesn’t take away the anxiety of future conversations or the tiredness in the voice. But it does help in knowing that those kinds of conversations exist and can happen at any time.
Putting the crutch down and taking one small step at a time is the way towards more talking, more soulful conversations, more safety. Simply more.