Sunday, December 20, 2009

Hyderabad, December 15

Life is good here. The Bund (which I realized was just Hindi for ‘closed’; hit self on head, I knew that…) stopped and normal life resumed. (Also one of the other elders reminded me yesterday at zone conference that there’s a more concise way to say ‘hit self on head’, namely '::palmface::'. Just in case you need it.)

I don’t really have a lot of exciting stuff to report this week. I’m slowly growing to understand Elder Stephen and work together well with him. From my experience, the evidence is the planning and companionship study sessions that we have every day. If our relationship is good, like it is now, where we’ll sit at a desk across from each other, and our conversation will be back-and-forth like a good tennis point – I’ll throw one idea out, explain it for 15 seconds, Elder Stephen will modify it, complete it, volley it back over the net, we’ll agree move on to the next step, and I’ll be back talking and pitching another idea in a few seconds.

If the relationship isn’t working, if the trust or unity isn’t there – that’s been the case before – we end up haggling over the same small detail for endless amounts of time, or one person, usually me, is talking on and on and the other person isn’t saying anything, probably because they feel like the first person won’t listen.

I’ve been mulling over this for the last month of so, and it’s making me devote a lot of conscious attention to developing a good relationship with my companion. Not blowing up at small stuff, genuinely listening, being aware that my way of reasoning out problems in a discussion can be seen as intellectual bullying and self-justification, thinking before opening my mouth.

On careful consideration and reflection, all of these things are things I haven’t ever really learned to do well, so it’s really good that I’m learning now. It’s nearer to the surface now especially; we’re in peoples’ homes all the time, and it’s usually pretty apparent in watching their communication with each other what many problems in all the family members’ inter-relationships.

I can think of one family in Vizag we were visiting; the daughter was doing her Ph.D. equivalent on English literature written by Sri Lankan diaspora; the son and father ran some sort of a biochemical products business together and engaged in several social-entrepreneurial side projects; but the family seemed unable to communicate properly with us or each other because of their individual tendency to go on and on about the many things they knew and not listening.

I’m human. That tendency, and many others I’ve seen, I find in myself also. If I reproduce these in my companionships now, it’s unfortunate, but if I reproduce them in the family I will have one day, it would be tragic. I started paying attention to that matter about a month and a half ago; though I had no idea what to do. Slowly, I’m learning what to do and then doing it.

(I realized recently that the comparison of companionships to relationships is fairly close. For example, you refuse to admit a lot of the problems you have until it’s over, when you can look back with a greater degree of peace on the matter.)

With love,

1 comment:

Nohemi said...

Hi Sam,

I think you are wise in learning these listening skills now. You will certainly need them when you get married.
One of my mission companions told me once, that a mission companion serves as training for marriage. I did not understand then, I do now. :)

Nohemi Passey