I am sitting in a circle, the soft cushion of my chair a welcome separation between my body and the hard metal frame upon which I sit. I am listening intently as our facilitator, Dr. John Pentland, weaves the art of story-telling into his presentation.
When C.C. learned I was going to a course on story-telling, his first comment was, “Don’t you usually teach that?”
There’s always more to learn and discover I told him and the only way I know to do that is to keep deepening what I know through the wisdom of others.
I am a life long learner. Learning feeds my whole body, mind, spirit. It fills me up with joy. It keeps me humble. I keeps me passionately engaged in living wide-open to possibility.
The morning session of this two-day course began with John inviting each of us to wander about the room, examining the photographs that were laid out on the floor. “Pick one that speaks to you about what gives your work meaning,” he instructed. “Do it in whatever way you feel called. Pick up the first one you see. Examine them all. Pick up several and then decide. It is your choice, but find one photo that speaks to you about the work you do and/or your organization does in the world.”
I was amazed at how quiet an exercise it was. No one spoke as they wandered amongst the photographs, carefully moving around each other. We were all intent on finding the right photo.
I moved into the mess of photos strewn all about and immediately one of them called to me. I bent down to examine it, wondering what it’s meaning was, why it resonated. I picked it up. Looked at it carefully, let my mind go blank so that I could see it from the inside out. It was a photo of an old master’s painting. An artist at his easel, a woman in a severe black dress standing at the wall. The painter’s assistant mixing paints to the far right, a large window casting long rays of light across the floor from the left. It spoke to my artist’s heart. To my desire to understand, to know, to see through all perspectives.
I waited. Felt its call and put it back down. It might be the one but I wanted to look at all the others to ensure I wasn’t picking to get the game over with versus choosing it for the meaning it represented. (Yup. The critter was active as he likes to be in exercises where I fear ‘not getting it right’. LOL. He truly is a pesky fellow).
I kept wandering amidst the photos.
A picture of stars.
A photo of a man praying.
A photo of a mosque door, its intricate blue tiles calling my senses.
A photo of a child smiling.
An astronaut floating in space.
And then I found it. A coloured in painting of a woodcut (unnamed) by the 19th Century astronomer, Flammarion (1842-1945).
It calls to me. Excites my senses. Pushes my thinking beyond the edges of my knowing. Lean into it, I hear my inner guide calling. Lean in and discover its meaning.
I pick it up. Stand quietly peering into the photo.
Slowly I walk back through the photos to the one I originally picked. It is still there. It still has meaning. But it is not the one.
This one is.
I take my seat and when asked to talk about the relevance of the photo I talk about how I live in the known of what I know. How everything I do is based on my perceptions of what appears as real and actual before me. This photo calls to me to look beyond. To breathe into my fears. To lean into the unknown. To explore and in my explorations, to share what I see and learn and discover — not because I know it all, but rather, because there is always something new to learn, always something new to discover. Because, there is always possibility of better. Of more.
I am excited by my finding. Excited by how one photo has taken my mind beyond what I know about what I do, into seeing more deeply into what brings meaning to what I do, for me, for the world around me.
“We are all in search of meaning,” John tells us.
And then, he gives us a statement to complete. “At my workplace, [in my life] meaning happens when….? Finish the sentence,” he says.
And I do.
In my workplace, meaning happens when people say YES! to doing whatever it takes to ending homelessness.
In my life, meaning happens when people say YES! to living life beyond the edges of their comfort zones.
I am excited. Day 2 is about to begin. Here’s to saying YES! to stepping into the unknown of what is possible when I let go of believing all I know is all there is to know.