The physical hiccups were finally over on Wednesday, but metaphorical ones continued. They’re all related and connected, but how?
Wednesday morning was peaceful, a time to catch up with responses to participants in the online professional development course. Their summer session ends this weekend, but just over half of them have already finished everything. They’ve been exceptionally productive, and they’ve done excellent work; very few hiccups there, and lots of joyful learning community. Yes, I like helping teachers take steps away from factory-thinking; no, I’m not quite sure how to incorporate that in the Next Step for me.
Early in the afternoon, we ventured out to get lunch, then returned to our restful summer schedule. Around 5:00, The Girl planned to meet with a friend of hers, to practice a song they’ll be using in an upcoming audition.
“Thump,” went the car as we backed out of the garage. “Thump, thump, thump.” I stopped, checked the rear where the sounds sometimes start, saw nothing. Thump, thump, thump. I stopped again … and there it was. A completely flat front tire. Time for a big decision: change the tire myself, or use the ever-helpful AAA benefit? A quick look at the tiny, frozen jack, plus five minutes in the sweltering heat, answered that question easily. If you’re a AAA member, you should know about the mobile apps! Theyautomatically determine your precise location, using the phone’s GPS features, and transmit the information directly to the towing company.
In just over an hour, the spare tire was on, the old tire (with the huge gash that something on the way to lunch caused) safely in the cargo area. I’ll be calling the tire store soon, grateful once again for the repair-and-replacement warranty I “just happened” to buy the last time I bought tires.
Fortunately for The Girl, her friend’s mom was glad to pick her up. The Boy, having no plans to go anywhere, was unaffected, as were The Dog and The Cat.
But in the midst of The Waiting, there came a text message from a friend … a friend who desperately wants a Particular Thing to be over and done. That wanting, plus stress of life and lack of food, had led her down a dark, unhappy path, one I know quite well. Do you? It starts with one little thing, and then you remember the other bad stuff. And then (if conditions are just right, or just wrong) self-yelling and self-labeling start. All those images of not being worthy, of being abandoned and ending up with nothing … the fears we try to ward off with literal and metaphorical castles and factories.
Thankfully some other friends were physically there! It wasn’t long before happier messages arrived. Food and community are closely connected; when you put them together, you tend to get perspective. Is it significant that the day’s hiccups started when we decided to get factory-style fast food, but ended with a home-cooked meal?
Before the hiccups, when I was writing yesterday’s post, I kept struggling with themes of relationships (especially abusive ones) and matchmakers. How did they connect with threads, hiccups, factories, and castles? Obviously, if you’re a matchmaker, the goal is to prevent abusive relationships, to create positive, lasting ones; your reputation as a matchmaker depends on it. You get to know your clients, their families, their situations … or in a very traditional society, you already know them … and you use your intangible, un-quantifiable knowledge and wisdom to make the best possible match. You can’t automate the heart of traditional matchmaking; it’s not about the kinds of things you can quantify.
Neither is teaching, nor learning, nor friendship. But did factory-thinking make us forget?
In the 20th-century industrial paradigm, you’re supposed to find the One Right Person (or the One Right College or One Right Job) by yourself, through a standardized process. When it happens, you”ll magically know, and then you’ll live (or study or work) happily ever after … and if things get rough, you’ll know you were wrong. Oops! Struggles of any kind, in that model, mean it clearly wasn’t the One Right person, college, job … so get rid of it! Move on! Try again! You’ll certainly find the One Right Thing this time, after yet another standardized, isolated quest.
Has that ever really worked?
Lasting, successful relationships emerge from community, not isolation. You may or may not need a professional matchmaker, but friends help each other find other friends, potential romantic partners, educational and professional opportunities all the time. Even as part of the AAA-member community, I know they’ll make the match with a towing company when I need one; they’ll also help me find a good-quality hotel or an interesting restaurant if I happen to be somewhere new. So will the community of participants in Expedia or AirBnB. And years ago, when I was feeling stifled and unhappy at the Former School, it was a friend who said, “”Close the door and listen. We need you here!” That led to a long, productive time at the Next Right Place.
In the phrase that”s been guiding me over the past few months, the team comes first, then the place, then the time to build the dream. For a friend who’s working on a different project with very different constraints and resources, the order is different: time, team, place. Regardless of the order, all three elements are vital when you’re building something new … even if that something is a new factory or an improved castle. They’re even more vital when you’re building a new joyful community, when that community is so different from the expected factories and castles.
Debbie put it this way yesterday:
All things are connected, if we look at them closely enough. And sometimes the connection jumps right out at us when we least expect it. Those “ah-ha” moments when the lightbulb goes off and we gain a piece of Wisdom are extraordinary moments and guideposts in our lives.
You are right re own timeline. We each walk our own paths. We each have our own histories, our own challenges, and our own possibilities. And when the time is right and we are aware and open to the possibilities it will come together.
I am reminded of a book that I bought years ago. When I started reading it, it was blah, blah, blah and I put it on the shelf. Six months later I looked at the book and thought, “I paid a lot of money for this. I should read it. There must be something in it worthwhile.” And this time, right from the first paragraph I was amazed at the brilliance of the writer and the words of wisdom. Same book, same me, but a different time and different experiences going into it.
Timelines are tricky, of course. See Brendan’s comment, just below Debbie’s on Google+. Sometimes, when you’re stuck, you need a friendly push to move on … to make a big decision, or just to eat when your blood sugar is low. A community, the long-term kind, is especially important. Casual acquaintances can help, but they don’t know you well enough to know if you need pushing or processing time; that’s why, in the end, my volunteer time with the crisis line became frustrating. So, once the community is really in place, is that when you know what to do? Is that when the place, the time, and the dream itself come into focus?
I wonder what new adventures and insights await today!