Conversations With Ourselves

From Arnold W. Zeman’s blog

One of the telling phrases that sums up the practice of transformative mediation is ‘turning conflict into conversation’. We believe that conflict is essentially a crisis in interaction, that the crisis can be addressed through interaction, specifically conversation, with the support of a trained intervenor. One of the key ways support is given is through interventions with the aim of having the speaker hear their words and having the listener hear the speaker’s words.

Often mirroring this conversation with the other is a conversation that we have with ourselves.

Naomi Shihab Nye

Naomi Shihab Nye, an American poet, refers to poetry as a “conversation with the world, conversation with those words on the page allowing them to speak back to you– conversation with yourself” in an interview with Bill Moyers of PBS recorded in 2002.

I’d like to share with you the first poem of hers I came across. I think it echoes very well this sense of a conversation with ourselves:

Missing the Boat

It is not so much that the boat passed
and you failed to notice it.
It is more like the boat stopping
directly outside your bedroom window,

the captain blowing the signal-horn,
the band playing a rousing march.

The boat shouted, waving bright flags,
its silver hull blinding in the sunlight.

But you had this idea you were going by train.

You kept checking the time-table,
digging for tracks.

And the boat got tired of you,
so tired it pulled up the anchor
and raised the ramp.

The boat bobbed into the distance,
shrinking like a toy–
at which point you probably realized
you had always loved the sea.


Arnold W. Zeman

After over 33 years in the public service of Canada, the last 20 of which as an executive, I retired from government in 2006 to pursue my passion to help people resolve their differences non-adversarially. I have been trained by the best in the field in both the public and… MORE >

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