From full immersion into a mystery to treading purposefully through a poem . . . an inspiring or ludicrous bumper sticker to a Dilbert cartoon, I am changed by words. I savor that moment when something resonates equally in my mind and in my heart and I stop. And those words are transformed into a new idea, an action, a resolution, a widening world-view, laughter, tears.
And one step further: words leading to discussion. Recently Sophie provided me with a book list and I’ve been reading her suggestions. What joy to bond over the stories she loves!
That’s one of the beauties of a book group or a college classroom full of engaged students. I miss those debates, the opinions, the passion and the desire to understand. The experience of having a topic broadened right in front of me, glimpsing something new, that “by God, that makes better sense” moment.
So, perhaps it’s time for something like this in my life again . . . that exchange of ideas on topics we’re not supposed to broach in polite conversation: religion and politics being two of my favorites. I like to know why people think what they think, what they’ve experienced and where their personal conviction comes from.
I think I’ve mentioned that Doug and I are presently obsessed with West Wing. We are in the 7th (and final) season and are anticipating withdrawal. Why do I love it so much? There are a lot of reasons, but this one is central: the main characters believe that the world can be better and they want to help make it better and so they invite people equally passionate about doing the right thing, perhaps with a different point of view, into a battle of ideas.
It’s not about gathering a group that agrees (although this can also be fun), but gathering a group of intelligent people with informed, and different, opinions. Iron sharpening iron and all of that, with the goal of getting to a better place, a transcendent spot you couldn’t get to on your own, moving from a telephoto to a wide-angle lens. Taking it all in, sifting through and reaching something, perhaps, a little more innovative. I’m not sure how often this happens in our modern, political (or religious) landscape, but there’s nothing stopping me from opening my mind. I like this unattributed quote I pinned the other day: Don’t believe everything you think. Seems like a good place to start . . .
So, let’s talk about some things, the things that are on your mind and my mind. Those things that bring you joy and that keep you up at night. I’m drawing some inspiration from one of my favorite poets:
An excerpt from Silence by Billy Collins
Now it is time to say what you have to say.
The room is quiet.
The whirring fan has been unplugged,
and the girl who was tapping
a pencil on her desktop has been removed.
So tell us what is on your mind.
We want to hear the sound of your foliage,
the unraveling of your tool kit,
your songs of loneliness,
your songs of hurt.
The trains are motionless on the tracks,
the ships are at rest in the harbor.
The dogs are cocking their heads
and the gods are peering down from their balloons.
The town is hushed, . . .