3 Life Lessons from a Gathering of Strangers
We sometimes learn–or relearn–life lessons in unexpected places.
I recently joined 14 women creatives at a gathering hosted by award-winning writer and filmmaker Rebekah Iliff at Free Dreaming Farm in Springfield, TN. The gathering followed the tragic shooting in March at Covenant School in Nashville. In addition to healing, the purpose was to foster connections and creative collaborations.
A natural introvert, I was there with a dozen strangers. I knew Rebekah but no one else.
Luckily, the conversation went swiftly from basic introductions to deep sharing and robust engagement, with lots of laughter along the way. This was a no-judgement zone. Support was spontaneous and genuine.
I left musing on 3 life lessons:
Community = good energy
When I left Free Dreaming Farm, I felt lighter, more buoyant, more supported. Those few hours of community interaction were an emotional tonic.
We didn’t change the world but we generated some seriously positive energy shared by all.
Pointing out the crucial need for community and a sense of belonging, marketing guru Mark Schaefer wrote that “People have a deep need to belong, but there is a belonging gap in the world, a profound unmet human need, a need that is escalating to crisis proportions.” https://businessesgrow.com/2020/09/28/customer-community/
The New York Times offers statistics to demonstrate rising rates of loneliness and depression. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/16/opinion/facebook-social-wealth.html
Basically, when we don’t connect to community, we suffer.
There is power in transition
Many of us were on the way to or in the middle of or finding our way and taking it one day at a time. I’d just wrapped a 2-year research and writing project, the Galliano Club historical fiction series, and admittedly felt adrift. One woman was recovering from breast cancer, another was building a career as a musician, still another just opened a gallery and performance space, etc.
No life is static. Basically everyone was experiencing some measure of transition.
And excited about it, once we got past the nervous notion that we aren’t there yet.
As the conversation went on, it was clear that there is power in transition. It’s the time to gather information and assess options. Transition means not being locked in. We have freedom to revise and restart and explore.
Being on the way is a good thing.
We can learn to be resilient
The word “triggered” got tossed out a few times, which made me put on my ex-CIA intelligence officer hat and make an observation.
“If you can be triggered,” I said. “Then you can also be manipulated. Someone just has to know what triggers you into losing your self-control, then use it against you.”
A great conversation ensued about being self-aware, the popularity of fake victimhood, and not handing over your power.
The bottom line is that if you know what triggers you and develop coping techniques to stay in control, you’re Teflon. You now hold the upper hand in the relationship. Also, no embarrassing knee-jerk reactions, no belated regrets over words you can’t take back. Don’t indulge in the over-hyped martyrdom of being triggered.
We all have the power to be resilient.
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