The Riches of Cross-Gender Conversation

Conversation_with_Opposite_GenderWhenever the entire family got together to celebrate holidays someone would inevitably mention the matriarch we all lived under. The women in the family predetermined my childhood activities and there were so few men that no one argued for alternate experiences.

In Cub Scouts I was labeled a “mama’s boy” and by the time I entered Boy Scouts the words, “Mama’s little cherry tart,” rang in my ears weekly. The repetitive degradation limited my dialogue with guys, but thankfully the women in my life supplied an ample amount of conversation for a young boy.

Not only did I learn to be a good listener, but I also got pretty good at jumping back and forth between non-linear simultaneous banter. My dad’s ability to carrying a conversation exceeded that of most men too, especially when filled with his unending list of stories that captivated everyone in the room. I’m not sure if our skills developed to help us survive living within the matriarch or we were hardwired to communicate from birth.

By the time I received my drivers license, I realized that few men were able to chat for any length of time. I unconsciously developed more female than male friendships. This was probably due to my comfort level conversing with women, but also because I understood that the more people shared, the more fascinating their life story.

Finding a good conversationalist was like discovering a hidden treasure filled with heartfelt pieces of gold. As trust developed through a series of chats, the information shared became more profound and admirable. The level of vulnerability increased and the waves of delight and amazement for the person’s life achievements commanded respect. Meeting a man or a woman capable of carrying on a vulnerable conversation inspired my life and blessed me with great intangible wealth.

But a few days ago, I read a Focus on the Family article that if heeded takes away that treasure. The words were a warning to married men about conversing with women. The thought of not having in depth chats with women to placate someone’s fears was absurd.

The article referenced the “Billy Graham’s Rules” and suggested all men need to follow it to protect their marriages. But the piece wasn’t clear that the rules, actually called the “Modesto Manifesto,” were put together by a group of guys wanting to protect their ministries from any appearance of controversy. It had little to do with their wives.

Vice President Pence’s choice to never be alone in a room with a woman who isn’t his wife was also mentioned. Based on what I’ve read about Pence, he is a man of integrity and does not yield to what he knows is wrong. Surely his wife knows of his integrity too, so why does he avoid being in a room with another woman? Is it because he doesn’t trust himself or women?

Being a man of good character and integrity should give you access to conversations with women, not force you to sever the possibility from life. I’ve learned more from women in my life than I have from men. I can’t even begin to comprehend how little knowledge I would’ve amassed using the alleged protection rule.

Integrity to me means that I will live my life in the same way in public and behind closed doors. I will endeavor to be honest at all times, sustain my moral principles through example, and live uprightly according to godly standards, not man’s. I will also live a holistic life and not present a divided self. I will be a creative person in public and in private.

As for being goofy, since it’s a side effect of my imagination, I will choose when to reveal it and to whom. After all, few people would want me to act goofy at a funeral. But, in keeping with integrity, I have no problem with people learning that I can be down right goofy. Or, as my kids put it—Weird.

So if I were married, I would hope my relationship with my wife reveals who I am. I’d want her to see into the deepest part of my soul where life long trust is built. With that kind of access to my heart, I believe she would trust my integrity and our marriage. This state of partnership would then allow for conversations with anyone I meet.

Now, this is not to say that I’m not careful. I am. I’d be a fool to continue an in depth conversation with any person, man or woman, which does not live by similar standards. If a person is trying to win or persuade me away from what I know is true and right, then I immediately lose respect for them and see no need to continue the conversation. I politely walk away.

A few years after my divorce, I remember meeting a woman that was super hot and equally as sweet. My integrity told me to walk away, not because she wasn’t of value, she was, but there was something about her that stopped me from being me. I had to continue living an integrated life based on the principles that I adhere to and her presentation was hindering my moral success internally. Left unchecked, it could eventually dampen my morals externally.

I do not want to be a moral failure. Nor do I want to cut out the riches in my life because some men were fearful they might do wrong without a pact. I do not make fear-based decisions. I do not answer to how an organization, author or a group of men think I should live. I answer to only one person—the creator and protector of my soul.

© 2017 by CJ Powers

The Creative Non-Linear Conversation

Creatives_share_Meal

Last night I got together with a group of artists that all share a similar heart for the arts. The combined creativity of the group was enough to solve world hunger, had it been a topic of discussion. But conversational subject matters with a team of imagination filled brains rarely settles on a single subject long enough to make any significant changes in the world.

That’s not to say the group was made up of people who flit from one topic to another without understanding. Our conversations actually got quite deep, emotionally stimulating and were inspirational. The time was well spent with heartfelt information that’ll bond even the most skeptical.

The goal of the evening was not to solve humanities issues, nor was it to develop a life-changing story that would be pumped through the media to capture the attention of those hungry for life fulfilling adventures. The time was just a gathering of like-minded artists that wanted to share a meal, relate to the awkwardness of creatives trying to fit into society, and encourage each other through emotional and spiritual support.

I once read that 1 in 1,000 people use their creativity and 1 in 10,000 people live a creative lifestyle. That means there are thousands of people who find the creative a bit on the odd side. They love the creations, but find it weird relating to the creative.

Most of this comes from societal “norms” about what life should look like. Some of it comes down to a person’s fear of what they don’t understand. I even find most people wanting to change the creative to fit into our society, rather than allowing him to create the next renaissance.

One of the little things I enjoyed about last night was how rapid the conversation moved from topic to topic in a non-linear fashion, all while keeping everyone invested and focused. No one got lost in the conversation.

Had there been a more linear thinker in the room, I’m confident they would’ve been lost more than once. Not because they wouldn’t have been able to keep up with the subject matter and the rapid changes of topic, but because they might not have understood how the vast variety of conversation points all related to the emerging theme that rose from the group.

While we all had differing vantage points, we were all in agreement with the overall theme. Our choices in how to move forward were different, but we all held to the same goal to encourage each other to work through the things holding us back. Our differences were celebrated and encouraged; yet we were unified in the theme that held the ideas to task.

Each one of us agreed to continue the good fight in producing art that will touch someone’s life with hope. We also agreed to support each other by helping them be the best them they can be within the arts.

Unfortunately, conversations like this should be on Friday nights so we have the weekend to recover from the figurative stimulus pumping through our veins. Monday morning came too quickly for those of us whose minds were running at full pace into the wee hours of the night.

But it was fun.

By the way, if you’ve never had a chance to spend a complete evening with a bunch of crazy artistic types, you should invite yourself to their next get together and witness something that few have ever seen. There’s always too much passion and a lot of weird moments, like when the heart stirring video we watched was accompanied by the host’s dog snoring. Certainly a dog snoring loudly during a touching scene is humorous, but the reaction of creatives is far more entertaining.

Copyright © 2016 by CJ Powers