Posted on 25th April 2020 at 10:07
Over the years of running groups, whether they be women’s groups, men’s groups, creative spaces or learning forums - one common thread prevails.
It arrives like a quiet dinosaur, footsteps palpable, threat imminent, silent dagger cutting through every single conversation.
Not diversity - that exciting melt in the mouth ice cream of novelty and intrigue. Difference, the betrayal of each other’s opinions just by meeting someone who doesn’t agree with you. Difference, the wall that begins to be built the moment someone utters... “well actually”. Difference, the basket of opportunity that we humans seem only to be able to unpack via rage and threat.
Over here in sunny UK, we have been besieged by the silent dinosaur, Brexit, eco planet issues (extinction rebellion, Greta to name but a few), elections, Boris, and now corona. We are becoming more and more accustomed to the morning news displayed not on paper that will wrap chips, but on a screen aired, shared and blared out of the finger tips of our friends and family.
I am caught up by the silent dinosaur too, my sister pointing out cheekily to me the other day that I have a habit of talking over people to get my point heard. It’s an old habit that I thought I had kicked, but sure enough - I realize I’ve stopped listening - truly listening to you in the moment that I cut across with my own narrative. I’ve asked the dinosaur to leave, I realize how unhelpful it is.
Away from screen time, away from the debates and the lectures and the shared statistics is another world - if only we weren’t so terrified to re-join it. A world of quiet butterflies. Distinct in their ability to acknowledge difference in the most magical way. From out of brick built cocoons, emerge kind hearts and gentle hands - shopping bought, knocks on doors, smiles, birthday drive pasts, community embraces. These butterflies do not emerge for the Thursday night claps, or the gift of a title so large as “key worker”. They do so because they love deeply and profoundly.
I was deeply touched yesterday when a small child walking on one side of the pavement saw an old man drop his wallet. He hunched over with stick, struggled to bend down to pick it up and I was just about to go outside and get it for him. I needn’t have been the rescuer - the little girl beamed at the opportunity to help, and rushing over she went for the wallet.
In panic he shouted his opinion -“we need to keep our distance lovely” at which point she just smiled and declared hers “I have a safety bubble”.
We cannot avoid having opinions, human beings are intrinsically curious problem solvers, out to discover new things to worry about and old things to learn from. It’s absolutely ok to want to make statements, to yearn to be heard, to strive to be important - I’ll completely own that desire too ! However when we draw our conclusions, when we aim it towards others - let it be defined by love and not by threat. You are much more likely to be heard
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