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.

01 October 2010

A Page of Lost Questions

John O'Donohue was an Irish poet and philosopher who lived in a small cottage in the West of Ireland. He wrote several books including Anam Cara: The Book of Celtic Wisdom and Eternal Echoes: Celtic Reflections on Our Yearning to Belong. John passed away on January 3, 2008. He was 52 years old. You can access his website to learn more about John and his work.

John appeared in the 2004 Masters Forum. He spoke of many things, including his view on the thrill of being involved in a great conversation.
"When is the last time you had a great conversation? A conversation which wasn’t just two intersecting monologues, which is what passes for conversation in this culture. When have you had a great conversation in which: you overheard yourself saying things you never knew you knew; you heard yourself receiving from somebody words that absolutely found places within you that you had thought you had lost; you and your partner ascended to a different plane; memories of the exchange continued to sing in your mind for weeks afterward?"

O'Donohue left us with these questions from what he called a page of lost questions. He said each would lead to a great conversation.
  • Is there someone walking home this evening through the streets of Leningrad that you have never met and never will meet, but whose life had an incredible interest on yours?
  • At the angel bar, what stories does your angel tell about you?
  • Supposin' you were to take your heart away on your own for a day out, and that you really decided to listen to your heart, what do you think your heart would say to you?
  • If you were in conversation with your heart, and you told it how actually, factually short your life is, what would your heart make you stop from doing right now?
  • If it is true that nothing good is ever truly lost, what would you like to have back?
"Our time is hungry in spirit. In some unnoticed way we have managed to inflict severe surgery on ourselves. We have separated soul from experience, become utterly taken up with the outside world and allowed the interior life to shrink. Like a stream that disappears underground, there remains on the surface only the slightest trickle. When we devote no time to the inner life, we lose the habit of soul. We become accustomed to keeping things at surface level. The deeper questions about who we are and what we are here for visit us less and less. If we allow time for soul, we will come to sense its dark and luminous depth. If we fail to acquaint ourselves with soul, we will remain strangers in our own lives." - John O'Donohue, from his book Beauty

A link to a slide show of O'Donohue narrating a blessing he wrote called Beannacht.