A mini sabbatical
38 days or 5½ weeks, 4 countries, 1 conference, 5 workshops, 2 open spaces, 1 Stephen Fry event, 7 flights, 12 train trips (not counting countless London Tube trips), 6 taxis, 5 hotel rooms, 4 home-stays, 1 lost suitcase, umpteen meetings for coffee, lunch and dinner, 2 massages, 1 London Eye ride, 1 museum, 1 art gallery, 3 churches, 3 movies, lots of new contacts, and probably too many G & Ts. Those are the numbers.
I’ve been home a week now. Long enough to get over jet-lag, get back to the gym, catch up with a few friends, have a hairdresser cut way too much of my hair off (I wonder what part of ‘please don’t cut it too short’ she didn’t understand?), go through that very large pile of receipts, pay some bills, schedule an ankle reconstruction – and start planning another trip!
Life really is about the mundane. Everyday routines interrupted by small and large adventures. It’s sometimes hard to know where the joyful moments will come from. This is a Facebook update from my niece living in London: “I really do love my life. Went for a walk today in Bushy Park, went through the gates to find about 50 deer all chilling out together on the cricket pitch. Amazing.”
I too love my life – naturally, some days more than others. Since coming home I’ve been thrilled to find a sun orchid in full bloom. I was disappointed to miss out on some challenging work in New Zealand. I was chuffed to be invited to do some work in the Philippines next year. I am frustrated by some unformed ideas that are at the edge of my consciousness. I felt empty and sad walking in the Ironbark Basin near where I live where much of the under-storey vegetation has been removed for fire protection, and where I used to walk my dogs each morning. I’m determined to find ways to work more with my friends, and to do work that excites and challenges and is even fun.
While I was away I rediscovered that I can actually enjoy my own company. I realised how inexorably I am drawn to water – rivers, lakes, the sea, canals. I realised how much I spend time in my head, thinking and analysing, and how liberating it is to just experience without having to make sense. I was reminded how good it is to play games, and to laugh. I rediscovered the art of listening (even had a new acquaintance comment that I ‘listen with my eyes, as well as my ears’ – I think that’s good).
Most of all, I know how important it is to spend real time with real people, sharing a drink or a meal, travelling together, getting lost in the back streets of an unfamiliar city, talking about everyday things one moment and how to change the world the next – that’s where my energy comes from. I learnt to allow ideas and inspiration to emerge in their own time.
If that’s all true for me, I wonder what the implications are for facilitation?
I bang on a lot about disruptive facilitation. This was a way of disrupting my own patterns and habits to see what might emerge. I don’t yet know exactly what that might be, but I’m excited and curious. And oh so grateful to everyone who made it possible and connected one way or another (with a very special call out to Johnnie Moore, Trish Stevenson, David Matthew Prior, Sam Bell, Simo Routarinne and Nadarajah Sriskandarajah).