In the second half of July 2018 I went to England.
The ostensible reason for the trip was to reunite with people who I worked with 30 years ago.
We worked for an organisation that changed name three times in the 4+ years I worked there. It went from Werner Erhardt & Associates, to Centres Network, to Landmark Education.
Spawned by Werner Erhardt’s iconic Est Training, from early 70’s California – Landmark Education has gone on to become an international educational organisation specialising in personal transformational programmes based on the primordial soup of several phenomenal concepts/theories, from Existentialism, to Buddhism, to Heidegger’s “house of being” that is language. (And so much more………)
Amongst a plethora of delicious servings, a symphony of connection all night long, one stanza stands out for me from the night. Jeremy took the mic and told the story of how he and his wife (now of 30 years) hit rock bottom on a journey back to London, and decided to come and talk to me, at our offices in Macklin Street, off Drury Lane. They told me what was wrong between them, and whatever I did/said/did not say, something shifted that had them turn up 30 years later, still married, wanting to tell the tale.
My participation in these programmes was life-altering indeed, for me, and I know it has been so for many.
Off the back of what I learned there, I worked in many different environments, from corporate teams, to NGO’s to public workshops for interested individuals, to educational establishments, to churches. I worked with communication, with justice, with conflict resolution, with self-expression, with breaking through, with having compassion, with truth-telling, responsibility-taking, with taking a stand, with living out loud.
What I learned there, and the relationship foundations I laid there, are still the bedrock of my life.
Such is the nature of a truly good reunion…….a proper remembering.
The first hour, 90 minutes, two hours, were overwhelming. I kept trying to take it in, people who I hadn’t seen for 30 years, who looked just the same as they always had done, who were themselves, in an environment that supported being human as a way of being in the world.
I finally found my feet and my voice. I managed to take the mic and say a few things. And what I most remember saying is that the work I do now is about how we treat each other, how to treat each other, how to treat each other as human beings, how to treat each other kindly, with respect, with awe, with love, with genuine interest. And it is about noticing how, when we treat each other in this way, people show up, they self-express, they be who they are.
And when people be who they are……… they are, for the most part, so damn yummy! Honestly!
I know not everyone out there wants to believe me – but people really are………yummy. Don’t get me wrong. I am not a Polly-Anna at all, despite the fact that I am deeply optimistic! There is so much in life that is profoundly scary, deeply worrying, astronomically overwhelming, jeez – just plain, way out there, downright nuts!!! This is where the Component of Information becomes so essential. And – honestly, folks! – I believe we are not coping with how essential it is and how little of it we are operating with………… Talk about needing to face what needs facing about what we are not facing! Information is no namby-pamby Component – not at all! But we are also exposed to viewpoints – seemingly backed up by research – in other words, information – that tells us that never before in the history of human-kind have we been so well off! Never before has there been less war, or less people dying of starvation. I know! I’m also struggling with whether that’s true – but that’s the nature of the Component of Information – what IS fact?
Polarities, these days, seem to be something that we need to get good at navigating.
Because I think that “never before better off” narrative probably does have some facts to back it up. Nevertheless, the overpowering gap between the haves and the have-nots, world-wide, is mind-boggling, mind-blowing, mind-nullifying.
My beautiful, anxiety-prone husband has taken to sounding like a 12 Steps Meeting lately. His anti-dote is “one day at a time”. Live it with grace, with precision, with an appreciation for how precious it is.
The Golden Rule abides, in the spirit of Ubuntu – treat others as you would like to be treated: go back to your roots.