so i have been having these amazing work outs...well, to be honest...some days are less working out physically and more working out mentally because my body refuses to run, but that is a-okay with me. i am all about listening to my *older* body and moving at a new pace and not trying to impress anyone...and sometimes i need to process and pray and think more than i need to burn calories. i had this amazing morning the other day during a "run" that turned into a walk and a great time with myself and my thoughts. i began thinking about sword swallowing...for some reason.
you see...i used to see people swallow swords and not be too impressed because it must be some sort of trick sword or some illusion-ish trick. well...one day i watched some special about it for whatever reason (i think it was a guiness book of world records thing?) and learned that actually it is not a trick and it takes years and years for the person to train their body to ignore their gag reflex and to get the sword down and *nudge* their heart out of the way and it is actually a trick that takes years and years of training...and by the way is super dangerous and not to be taken lightly.
i think all these non-connected thoughts came about because my husband and i last month celebrated 10 years of marriage and that will get anyone reminiscing and thinking about what all we have been through and where we are now and all that.
i think that when we were first married and going through a difficult first year of learning how to live together i would look at older couples and think they must have some "magic" trick...some code...some thing that we don't have. i guess looking at it now only 10 years in, i realize...NO...they are sword swallowers and they learned how to tame their gag reflexes.
i began thinking about my own "gag reflex". its definitely my selfishness. my value over "my time" and "my feelings". i dont enter into a discussion about the other...i start a discussion about ME.
which is where all kinds of nonsense happens.
in college i was a communication major and i happened to have an amazing professor that taught Rhetoric. there has been a lot that he taught that has stuck with me through the past (10!!) years and one of those nuggets is all about dialogue. the act of dialogue. the act of "knowing the other". i think at one point in discussion it was noted that most problems in the world could be solved if only we entered "true dialogue". if only our agenda was to truly enter into conversation with the pure agenda of "knowing the other". instead of "let me tell them exactly where I am coming from" (and that is "I" capitalized and bolded in case you missed it the first time)
so...you get to any point in a relationship - even with your mother or sister or best friend - where you find yourself having the same argument...the same mis-communication...the same whatever and you realize that you aren't seeing eye to eye. my gag reflex is to get frustrated...is to give up...is to go to bed.
i wish i could instead train myself to try to "know the other". to truly stop trying to explain myself and try to figure where the other person is coming from. this takes time...obviously. it takes years. its sword swallowing in a relational sense.
i think the biggest hurdle to this "training" is our culture. our independent, post-modern, feminist culture (to throw out all kinds of buzz words). our culture tells us that OUR thoughts and feelings are what is important. humility is not an inherent American idyll. which is sad. to try to be supportive and catering to your husband is somehow considered "weak"...i think this is what i have been battling lately.
i thought during my walk about Jesus. i thought about one of the most intellectual atheists i ever met in college and even he admitted how wise Jesus was. so...even if you don't believe that He is the Messiah, lets just start with the assumption that He was a very wise and revolutionary man. can we start there? good...thanks...oh goodness - Jesus will rock your world with the things He said. Especially if you study the context in which He said everything He did...holy stuff...amazing. The humility and love he preaches. can you imagine a world that followed that? earth-rocking.
i was ending my walk with a mission to be a better "sword swallower". to train my selfish gag reflex to try to enter dialogue. thats the problem with being a "talker" is that to make people feel more comfortable i tend to talk about myself...and i think i could stand to learn a bit more about the world if i only ask...i only listen better...i only try to truly learn about the other...
it may not look as cool as swallowing a sword, but hopefully to the other person, it will feel that cool!