The amazing Rebelle Society recently published another article by my favourite blogger of all time. Jeremy Goldberg (of Long Distance Love Bomb fame) challenged readers to deepen their conversations … to side-step the usual suspect questions that keep things comfortably (but uninspiringly) on the surface. As I read his post, I found myself getting kind of anxious. I loved his suggestions, but I realized that I would have no idea how to respond to some of them myself. There were even a couple on his list that made my heart stop for a couple of beats at the very thought of answering honestly. So … this is my homework. I am getting ready just in case anybody plans to sneak attack me with these specific questions.
Read the article (here’s the link – 5 Potent Conversation-Starting Questions). Read my response. And then … answer them yourself in the comments below. I dare you. 🙂 Answer them all or pick your favourite. Even better … pick your least favourite.
#1 The question you are most afraid to ask and why? What truth are you afraid of knowing?
Although this question is first on the list, it’s the one I answered last … maybe because I am most afraid to admit that I have things I am afraid of … not sure. Partly true. The question perplexes me somewhat because when I am at my absolute best … strong, healthy, and confident with lightness in my heart, curiosity in my mind, and a sense of adventure in my soul … I like to think that I’m afraid of nothing. I can accept what is without it jeopardizing my sense of self, my world view, or the solidity of the ground beneath my feet. On the flip side … when I am vulnerable on many levels … I would hesitate to answer that question as I would be afraid that the truth could be my undoing. There’s a reason I tattooed the sanskrit word for “fearlessness” on my right forearm where it regularly flashes into my vision as I move thorugh my days. It’s because I do get scared sometimes and I need to remind myself to take a deep breath, be brave, and either stand my ground or jump into the next open space. So I guess I have circumnavigated the question long enough … time to answer. (Long pause at my keyboard … wait … should probably check facebook RIGHT NOW or answer a couple of texts … stall stall stall … I seriously do need a fresh cup of coffee … will be right back.)
Okay it’s time. I suppose the question that my heart would hesitate to whisper quietly into a dark room is this … “do you like me … will I be okay in this relationship … can I trust you to hold me with both strength and lightness?” And I know that’s tecnically three questions but they interconnect and anchor to the same theme. Relationships give me life … I can barely define myself in a non-relational way. I tend to throw my full self into them. This is true of all my relationships, but especially so in my romantic relationships. Love super charges my life and super charges all of my favourite qualities about myself. So I treat it respectfully. I approach it cautiously and always listen to my gut. I am slow to choose, but when I notice something there (something different, something interesting, something exciting, something that makes my head dance with possibility) I do go all in so the stakes get pretty high pretty quick.
The reason I would be afraid to ask that question (those questions) is for the obvious reason that the answer might be “no”. In all of my relationships, I put my whole self on the line with the hope (and optimistic belief) that I will be liked, that I will be okay, and that I will be held with both strength and lightness. Because … from that place … such amazing things can happen. The answer of “no” would not only be sad. It would also be unexpected and that’s where the real scariness happens. The answer of “no” would have the potential to shake my belief about myself and my outlook on life and the universe … an outlook in which I truly believe that good things will happen if I put my whole, most authentic self into them. It’s why I have a hard time letting go when relationships start to fade (more on that later). So … there you go. That was a tricky one.
#2 What would you truly lose if you lost what you were afraid of losing? What would it mean for you? How would your life change?
Yikes! I have two things that come immediately to my mind but I am nervous about putting either answer out into the world (which shows the power of narrative … the telling of something gives it life … which is liberating and terrifying). Gulp. Here it goes. The two things I am most afraid of losing at this point in my life are my parents and my health. I’ll try to unpack those a tiny bit but I have to warn you … I don’t think I can go too deep yet. My breath has already become shallower just because I put both of those things out there.
My parents are the most solid place in my universe. They are where I go when earthiness leaves my life … when I become too airy (when I feel parts of myself deconstructing and blowing away on the gentlest breeze) or too watery (when I am overwhelmed with the desire I regularly get to uproot everything and just allow the waves to take me to the next interesting spot). They ground me with their own solidity. Without them, I don’t know what I would do. I worry that I would unanchor and float endlessly on currents of air and water … never landing. Full on terrifying.
As for my health … the core of my identity is being a strong, healthy person. I secretly view myself as pretty invincible. I’ve had a couple of times in my life where that belief was challenged … most recently my summer pneumonia battle where I was flat on my back fighting off the virus and the stupid antibiotics that were poisoning my body. I was at the weakest I’ve ever been. It caught me off guard and I hated everything about the experience … not just the sickness … but also how it forced me to live. It only lasted a couple of weeks (at its worst), but I was beyond depressed. I couldn’t exercise. I couldn’t be around people. I couldn’t really leave my house. It was awful and terrifying. But … it was motivational. It did encourage me to begin to make some changes that I hope will help me maintain my strength and health for the next chapter of my life. I’m not sure I’m getting them all right yet but I’ll play around with it over the next couple of months.
#3 If you could go back in history, where would you go and why?
Okay … I suck at history. I’m blond and pretty ADD … pretty focused on living in the present. Reading is hard because I get distracted by all that sparkles and shines around me. (As a related aside … I also suck at current affairs and pop culture … I rely on my friends to keep me up-to-date and often have to kind of fake those conversations people are having about world events and celebrity gossip … I’m not proud of that but it’s just the way it is.) So … this question is my least fave on the list. In fact … I am so unintersted in answering it that I’m going to skip it. Yup. Deal with it. However, I will propose a reframing that is at least in keeping with that idea of going back in time. My alternate question is this … “if you could go back and intervene to change the course of your life, what moment would you choose and what would you say to your earlier self?” You get to pick just one moment so choose wisely.
My answer to my own question is a hard one to write (god dammit … I had the power to propose something easy … I should have just asked “what’s your favourite colour and why?”). I have very few regrets in my life. It’s not that things have been perfect. It’s just that I believe things generally work out as they are meant to work out and I have actually loved my life thus far (in the big picture of it all and even most of the tiny moments). When you keep landing in a place that is fundamentally good and in a place that you can accept … it’s hard to have regrets. But … I have one very specific incident in my life that continues to haunt me … largely because I have not yet found a way to make ammends. I won’t go into detail, but it involves the ending of a relationship that I had been in for several years. I did not exit gracefully and I did more damage than I can even stand to acknowledge. If I could go back to that period of my life, I would tell myself to behave with integrity and to leave in a manner that was compassionate and kind and honest. I would challenge myself to rise above my own sense of claustrophobia and dread and panic and desperation so that I could take the time to do things properly. I would remind myself that the person I am leaving is lovely and good and that he deserves an ending that acknowledges all of the amazing things we shared … even though our paths need to diverge. I would tell myself not to shy away from the hard conversation … to find a way to say words that will hurt but in a way that will allow the other person to make some sense of what is happening. I was not brave. I was not kind. I will always regret that moment.
#4 How do you make love stay?
I’m going to kind of cop out on answering this one too because Jeremy Goldberg already has the answers. Read his brilliant articles – How to Make Love Stay When Love is a Man and How to Make Love Stay: 6 Endless Tips (assuming love is a woman) – RIGHT NOW. I promise that your life will change instantly. However, I do have a response that I am working on (at least in my head). Making love stay is one thing, but letting it go when it has obviously run its course is a whole other thing. So … stay tuned. I’m kicking that one around and hope to have something to share soon. (PS … I don’t know if it’s become obvious to you but I’m suddenly having to acknowledge that I don’t know how to do endings very well. YUCK! Dagger to the heart. Damn you unsolicited self-awareness!)
#5 What are you most passionate about?
This one was the easiest question for me of all … it’s the first one I answered. It is ever-evolving but … at this point in my life I would answer this way (using no capital letters because capital letters are somewhat patriarchal and slightly attention-seeky) … big blue oceans, golden sunshine, words, music that seeps into your cells, ☮, rollerskates, vampire films, coffee, chocolate, family, friends, handstands, flip-flops, tanlines, cut-offs, and a dog named sid . Oh … I also want to add kissing to the list. I love kissing. And right now I’m super passionate about eggs benny … like just at this very second … I blame the 3-day juice cleanse I’ve been on … I think that one will subside.
Alright my friends. Your turn. Be BRAVE. xoxoxo