When I was seven and in Mrs Davies’s class at St John’s primary school, I wrote a story about our family caravan holiday. I mentioned the sand sculptures on Weymouth beach, and I got a really low mark. I asked Mrs Davies if she did not like the sand sculptures. Her “what-on-earth-are-you-talking-about” face suggested to me that she might not have read my story very carefully. I wonder now if this was the first time, but almost certainly not the last, when something I have written has been read by precisely no one at all.
If you are reading these words, even if you are here entirely by accident, thank you for coming. On Twitter or Linked-in a few hundred people might see this post, but here there will be just a handful of us, perhaps enough to sit around one small, imagined coffee table. My words and your hot drink of choice.
I like the thought very much that I am talking just to you and that we are in a quieter space where a gentle thought can linger.
I love how something can become less important, but at the same time become more special. The smallness of the moment, if it is carried on a kind thought, matters so much more than a grand gesture or rhetorical flourish carried on a need to be noticed.
We seem to live in a world where being seen has become more important than being together. I want to push back against that idea. I would prefer, for example, to have a mentoring conversation where we can sit close and focus on being present and listening, than to make an amplified presentation to hundreds of people in the grand ballroom of another identikit conference hotel. In a mentoring conversation I can hope to help you in a way that is personal and meaningful to you, but in the ballroom presentation I can only hope not to bore you, as I look out upon row after row of mostly anonymous faces with half an eye on their phones in any event.
I would like my writing to be more like a mentoring conversation. I want to write small, so that it is just me talking to you and no one else. Writing for an audience is not what I set out to do, because it becomes something else; it becomes about projecting onto a perceived expectation and in doing so the quiet intimacy of a fragile thought is lost.
In a mentoring conversation there is a sense of calm and of truly valuing the thoughts we might share because only we will hear them. While I cannot recreate that feeling in a blog, I hope my words this Sunday morning might encourage you to pause and to find a peaceful place to be with the sound of your own true thoughts. If we can tune into their rhythm and cadence, and allow our thoughts to rest and breathe, I am certain we will find all the wisdom that we need.
Then we must hope for the courage to listen to our wisdom.
I hope it is a courage we will love finding and will never lose. It is an empowering feeling that is far away from the din, far away from the performative and far away from the look-at-me culture that is all around us. It is in this courage, found by listening to our wisdom, that we can value the soulfulness and meaning of our needs.
We all know that we cannot succeed on our own for long, however if we are to find the people who can help us on our way, we must step away from what others expect of us and project on to us. Then, when we are truly comfortable with what matters to us most, kindness will find us and it will be easier to accept.
Take care and thank you for being here with me now.