About Conversation Kindling

The purpose of this blog is to share stories, metaphors, quotes, songs, humor, etc. in hopes they'll be used to spark authentic and rewarding conversations about working and living fruitfully. There are at least three things you can gain by getting involved in these conversations. First, you'll discover new and important things about yourself through the process of thinking out loud. Second, you'll deepen your relationships with others who participate by swapping thoughts, feelings, and stories with them. Finally, you'll learn that robust dialogue centered on stories and experiences is the best way to build new knowledge and generate innovative answers to the questions that both life and work ask.

I write another blog called My Spare Brain. This is where I am "storing" ideas for use in future books, articles, blog posts, speeches, and workshops. There is little rhyme or reason for what I post there. I do this to encourage visitors to come as treasure hunters looking for new ways of seeing and thinking vs. researchers looking for new or better answers to questions they already know how to ask.

07 May 2010

A Sense of Place

According to a Russian Proverb:
"Every peasant is proud of the pond in his village because from it he measures the sea."
That old saw is a reminder of how important it is to reach back every now and then to touch both the place we were first rooted, and the people who did so much to shape us. And, while it's not always possible to make the physical journey back home, it's very possible to travel there mentally. What follows is a vehicle for making the trip, and bringing some others along for the ride.
  • Get together with two other people
  • Think back to the house you lived in between the ages of 3 and 9. If there was more than one, pick the one that holds the fondest memories for you.
  • Draw a floor plan - blueprint - of the house, labeling the rooms and positioning furniture, wall hangings, etc. as you can best recall.
  • Take turns. Use the floor plan to take the others on a tour of the house. Go through each room. Share some of the things you associate with particular rooms or places in the house: people, events, conversations, feelings, colors, smells, etc. Encourage them to ask questions to fully understand what you're remembering and why.

When you have finished touring, you will most likely be back in touch with some of the most important and deep-seated lessons you ever learned. You can bring them into sharper focus by sharing your answers to the following questions:
  • What did you learn in that house about expressing love? Anger? Sadness? Joy?
  • About trust? Honesty? Loyalty? Deceit? Cheating?
  • About how women are? Men? Children? Old folks?
  • About how good you are? Smart? Athletic? Musical? Creative? Likable? Lovable?
  • About family? Other relatives? Neighbors? Friends? Teachers? Merchants? Law enforcement officers? Strangers? Others?
  • About God? Religion? Church? Spirituality?
"Each pond with its blazing lilies is a prayer heard and answered lavishly, every morning, whether or not you have ever dared to be happy, whether or not you have ever dared to pray." - Mary Oliver
"In New York City, especially in Greenwich Village, down among the cranks and the misfits and the one-lungers and the has-beens and the might've-beens and the would-bes and the never-wills and the God-knows-whats, I have always felt at home." - Joseph Mitchell, Up in the Old Hotel
"And all of it is as it has always been: again, again, I turn, and find again the things I have always known: the cool sweet magic of starred mountain night, the huge attentiveness of dark, the slope, the street, the trees, the living silence of the houses waiting, and the fact that April has come back again. And again, in the old house I feel beneath my tread the creak of the old stair, the worn rail, the whitewashed walls, the feel of darkness and the house asleep, and think, 'I was a child here; here the stairs, and here was darkness; this was I, and here is Time.'" - Thomas Wolfe, Return
"The thought was banal, and yet somehow, as happened every now and then, it took him by surprise and profoundly disappointed him. It was absurd, but underlying his experience of the world, at some deep Precambrian stratum, was the expectation that someday – but when? – he would return to the earliest chapters of his life. It was all there – somewhere – waiting for him. He would return to the scenes of his childhood, to the breakfast table of the apartment of the Graben." - Michael Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
"A city man has a home anywhere, for all big cities are much alike. But a country man has a place where he belongs, where he always returns, and where, when the time comes, he is willing to die." - Edward Abbey, A Voice Crying in the Wilderness
Video: A great performance by the Irish group Celtic Thunder

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