Whit’s End: Conversations worth having | PostIndependent.com
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Whit’s End: Conversations worth having

Carla Jean Whitley
cj@postindependent.com

How often do you engage in intellectually stimulating conversation with a near-stranger?

If it’s regularly, well, color me jealous.

People connect in different ways. Some prefer to share experiences together, perhaps physical activities. I can relate to that; after all, hiking is part of the glue that unites my friend Kelly and me. But the thing that truly deepens a friendship, in my mind, is the exchange of ideas, opinions and kindness.

The first two are near-worthless if kindness isn’t part of the conversation.

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My hikes with Kelly were filled with all three. We would walk through the Alabama woods for hours at a time, sharing philosophies, our experiences and, sometimes, making up stories as we went. (What else are you supposed to talk about on a seven-hour hike? I should tell you sometime about the trio of magical hiking dogs …)

We knew each other from work, so we already had common ground. But the miles we covered cemented our bond.

Those sorts of conversations are rare, and they’re a treasure. So I was delighted to find myself immersed in one earlier this week.

I didn’t know this woman, who I would now gladly call friend, prior to our coffee meeting. We’d exchanged a handful of emails, so I anticipated a cheerful conversation. But quickly we launched into a two-hour discussion about confirmation bias, speaking truth with grace and learning from others. We shared our different experiences, eager to learn from one another. I left uplifted, hopeful about the world around me.

I’m an introvert, and I am generally nervous around people I don’t know. That can be an occupational hazard; I’ll admit to putting off phone calls to strangers and nearly missing deadlines as a result. Conversations like these, however, remind me why it’s worth opening up to others.

After all, in my world, no one remains a stranger for long.

Carla Jean Whitley is the Post Independent’s features editor. Reach her at cj@postindependent.com.


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