When do we stop being able to have real conversations? Ironically, I would submit, just as we are learning to speak. As we become able to verbalize our thoughts and feelings, we become aware of ourselves, aware that we exist separate from the world around us. We become a curiosity to ourselves, a thing of mystery, as does everyone around us. We realize we are no longer one with everything around us. We are different. We are distinct. With this knowledge comes the realization that we are responsible for ourselves. Our survival becomes something we can no longer take for granted, but rather something that requires our deliberate effort and the cooperation of others. While we may be separate from others, we cannot survive without them. We learn who we can move toward and who we must avoid. We learn what others will accept and what they will reject. We quickly, almost imperceptibly, mold ourselves to fit into the environment we live in. We reveal what draws people close and conceal what pushes them away. And so begins the end of the real conversation, lost before it was ever found.
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