Over the past few weeks I have been engaging in honest discussion with friends and family. For the most part this has been an intentional decision to focus on having meaningful interactions with these good people. And you know, wonderful things have come out of these interactions. Not all the conversations have been easy, and not all of them went in directions I thought they would, but I learned by being present in each of these moments. I learned by listening as well as speaking.
Ultimate (frisbee) is a self-refereed sport. Sometimes this facet of the sport is incorrectly described as, “ultimate has no referees.” This is false. Every player is a referee, responsible for their own behaviour and conduct on and off the field, as well as speaking up when they think something has gone wrong. A rule being infringed, accidentally or on purpose, by someone else, their teammates included, and themselves. Every player will have their own perspective on a particular play, and sometimes these will differ. There is no obligation for players to agree with others’ perspectives, but each must believe the others act in good faith and give their honest belief of what they think happened. Ultimate works – and I stress that it does work most of the time – when communication is assertive and clear.
In a few games recently there have been conversations which had the potential to negatively impact the overall feeling of the game. Calls were made, and the discussions which followed them were not productive. I was involved in a few of these discussions, and thought most players communicated clearly and calmly. But for some reason things got out of control one way or the other. It is never my goal to make a call solely to benefit my team for the purpose of winning. My aim is for any discussion to be resolved in a way that describes best what is most likely to have happened.
Sometimes, even though I felt a rule had been infringed, it may not have impacted the play. Sometimes. At these times it may be best to stay silent. If something needs to be said later, I can always have the conversation on the sideline, after taking a breath and thinking more clearly about it.
After each of these discussions I took action. First, if necessary, I re-read any particular rule to better inform myself. Then I passed on any useful information to others who would benefit from that knowledge. I then talked about the interactions with someone I trusted, to try and understand what the best course of action might have been. Though I thought I acted in a productive way, evaluation helped come up with alternative solutions if I find myself in the same situations again.
On a slightly different tack, at church we are currently watching a four part documentary called “Why are we here?” Every fortnight we watch one part and then have a discussion in smaller groups about what resonated with us. I missed the first part, but tonight’s second session was great. It was thought provoking and our group’s conversation really got me thinking about the world around us, about what is beautiful about it, and how we see this through different lenses. In particular this part of the documentary looked at the avenues of scientific discovery and creative thought, and how narrative and story play a role – or don’t – in shaping these processes. I love sharing stories, but can get so carried away in conversation I forget to attentively pay attention to what others are saying, let alone process my own thoughts. I’m working on it.
Communication is a big part of life. Words can’t say all of what we mean, and often show themselves to be a limitation. Actions, sharing our life with others, this can show what we think and feel. Though talking can be a good place to start.
Sometimes we have important things to say. Sometimes it’s just not the right time to say them.
It is always the right time to listen.
* * *
Have there been difficult interactions in your life this past week?
How do you engage with these difficult conversations? Do you find yourself avoiding them?
* * *
Getting together for a good ol’ conversation is one of the joys in life. I pray you find the time to have a hot beverage, or a cold one depending on the season, and settle into some good natter.
Keep on keeping on being awesome. PEACE.