The other day, a friend and I created space for conversation and met at a park – one that had swings – the type that go on a front porch, only are not on a front porch but attached to a metal frame. It is amazing how sitting in a swing, moving your legs, and feeling the gentle sway opens new space. We talked about what was going on our lives, our children and families, and our new ideas for life.
I talked about writing – this blog – and my first book. The ideas are still percolating and going on pages of my journals. I’m finding a pattern: the essence that continues to speak to me is to connect concepts to experience. We have all read the “How to” books and the ones that delineate insights and steps. What really sings to me is how the steps feel when we are going through them and seeing the new possibilities every step illuminates.
In the midst of this, my friend posed the question about how I might view and write about my experiences while they were still fresh versus when I had more distance and wrote about them at some point in the future. He posited that one view would be more “honest” than the other. Kaboom! This stopped me in my tracks – which meant, that I was speechless. It was the word “honest”.
Miriam-Webster dictionary defines “honest” as “genuine, real”. I had not thought about time being the arbiter of whether an insight or conclusion was genuine or real. Would time have changed the experience or my story of the experience? Would one story have more truth or honesty as a result?
The questions led me down a path of first understanding perspective and second, discovering how it changes with time, new facts, new feelings, and new understandings. I realized that new experiences, new perspectives change our interpretations of past experiences.
I wasn’t sure about all of this – whether I was on an imaginary journey of playing in my mind or whether I could come up with examples.
The first example that came to mind is what I wrote about in an earlier blog – that 3 lefts make a right. That means that I can look my experiences through a number of lens and see how they feel.
Then, it still being summer in Atlanta, I thought “Ice Cream”. Every time I get ice cream, I think I know what flavor I want until I see all of the choices. I never say to myself that I have to go with my 1st choice – I always reserve the opening to change my mind. We don’t often think about the “more serious” aspects of life in this way, but what if we did and then felt the freedom of choice and experience?
Going onto to more serious situations, my third example was how some of my past relationships worked (or didn’t). The story is familiar – we met, we hung out and had fun, we started not having fun, we broke up and went our separate ways. Each phase had its perspective and feelings as I was going through it. Later, I could see the patterns and what I learned. This reminded me that I am happy to be writing as things happen so I capture what the experience feels like in that moment and then I can also create the perspective of time and distance. Each story and perspective would have its own truth of experience.
Where has this led, other than a few more paragraphs of writing? For me, it is simple, really. All roads lead to awareness. Perspectives change. Our truths may or may not change. The awareness brings an edge to our lives – where what was once certain, feels different. Awareness brings an intimacy to life. As it David Whyte suggests in his book, Crossing the Unknown Sea, with this intimacy “we necessarily put our very identities to hazard”.
How would I have known an afternoon with a friend, in the soft, gentle swing, with a seemingly simple question held such deepness. Here I go. Intimacy beckons.