Sunday, December 13, 2015

Coffee House Conversations And A Year of Leaning In Lessons

Love – and the leaning in that goes with it (or comes of it) by nature, can teach us almost more than anything else. 

A wise old saying from the I Ching, ancient oracle of Taoism, reminds me, again and again, that whereas an end may never be realized, we are often able to trace back to the beginning of a given circumstance. 
Love taught me a
lot this year.

With this understanding in mind I have long appreciated that my Jewish upbringing has so well attuned me to pay attention to cycles; of a year, of certain periods of growth, to journeys and adventures, as well as the cycles inherent in significant endeavors, especially those of an anticipated long term.

The Jewish High Holidays call Jews to review the year past with a studied eye and an open mind and heart to guide one in making amends and fresh starts where needed.  The traditional New Year of the Gregorian Calendar, as followed by Western cultures, also invites out this kind of appraisal with an emphasis on making resolutions to pave a path to personal betterment.

I have noticed, however, that the seeking of individual and relationship improvement, or perhaps even weight loss and financial gain, are not necessarily the only aspects to evaluate at these peak times, nor is a definitive action plan necessarily called for.  Sometimes, I have come to see, standing back from a situation to simply gain perspective on a given circumstance or set of conditions is enough; a time for merely taking inventory of what one has gained, or lost or possibly learned.

I began 2015 with a love story on my mind that soon became the Coffee House Conversations Project. You can hear the story and the many levels of significance it had for me on my podcast titled “Leaning Into Conversations on Race Relations: A Love Story."  This morning, as 2015 nears its end, I revisited the tale I told on my Possible Society In Motion Radio Show with the added flavoring of input from my co-host, Jack Slattery.

I don’t know what I specifically hoped to find. But certainly I was looking to it as a means of tracing back to something from the beginnings of the New Horizons Coffee House Conversations project I had designed along with my collaborator of all things, Sue deVeer. I believe I have a wish to discover something new in reviewing the initial stages; a yearning, perhaps, to uncover something previously unrevealed or not quite as vivid yet as might be valuable. 

Valuable for what, I hear myself asking myself as I write this. No immediate answer offers itself. So I sit and ponder what I am seeking. Possibly I am seeking objective perspectives that I was “too close to the forest to see the trees” back then, as we presented Coffee House Conversation event after event, and I am hoping for inner guidance to help me know where to go next, sometime in the future.

For now, I think I will just let my answer hang awhile, allowing new insights to come to me as “I do nothing and everything gets done,” as the sagacity of the ancient stones known as Runes suggests, lighting my way with guidance from the Great Beyond.

One thing I am certain of from this past year of Coffee House Conversations, nine presented in all, with many new faces and friends brought into my life and back story adventures experienced, love played an enormous role for me in it all. Also I am wondering, did love play a part, large or small, for the others who shared the adventures we had?

Following my own advice about leaning in to others, especially those who are at least a shade different than me in race, ethnicity or values otherwise, I have learned a great deal by following the prescriptions of my home brewed medicine. I do hope that others are with me in this.

With the holiday season unfolding and an extensive break time ahead for me, well-earned and designated into next year, I am going to take the time now to do a lot of standing back to discover just exactly what it is I have learned this past year that has perhaps been more momentous for me than any other since 1998 when I lost my eyesight. 

Though I can’t quite understand “how” or even begin to tell you “what” I’ve learned in the process –eventually I will, at least part of it.

This much I do know, always in my heart
it is for the "kinder," the next generation
that fuels my determination and my passion.

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