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Archive for wisdom

Happy Birthday Anne!

Today is Anne Dosher’s 95th birthday.

Anne is the ground beneath my feet as I do the work I do with the World Cafe community. I often think of her.

When I am stuck, I ask myself, “What would Anne do?”, and hear her lovely voice in my heart inviting me to breathe, appreciate the blessings of the moment, remember all the powers and spirits who are holding & guiding me, and then take the simple, minimal, elegant next step, whatever that is.

All the time I have spent in her presence has been a precious gift, a blessing I carry with me always.

. . . o0O0o . . .

This is one of a series of blog posts to honor our Elder Anne Dosher, who has been a wonderful guide and steward since the World Cafe was born in 1995. To celebrate Anne’s 95th birthday, we are collecting stories and greetings from the global World Cafe community.

 


World Cafe is “Stepping In” on a new level – increasing our capacity to engage most effectively with the challenging issues of our times. Here’s an overview of what we’re envisioning and some of the priorities we’ve identified to start. Please join us and contribute what you can to support this important work.

This blog post is one response to an open invitation to our global community – to step up & express what the gift of the World Cafe means to YOU. We welcome your posts, as well as your comments and shares on this post.

Talking it Through

photoAnneWe often refer to our beloved Anne Dosher as the “Guardian of the Soul of the World Café”.

Anne, who is now in her 90s, doesn’t travel as much as she once did and we don’t get to see her as often as we’d like these days.

But her spirit is always with us, and never more so than now when we’re about to embark on Impact Cafés all over the world to help celebrate the 20th Anniversary of World Café.

Anne’s story of how she came to her life’s work, and what compels her to “talk it through” whenever there are difficulties and challenges, is one that she wrote for this blog back in 2007.

Every time I hear it, I gain new insight and awareness about the depth and power of this work we’re all engaged in. So it’s with gratitude for Anne, her guidance, and wisdom, and love, that I share it with you all here on this special day in the life of the World Café: Talking it Through.

What’s in a Name, or Label

A "Wiser Together" contribution from guest blogger Tom Beech:

A little while ago, I received an email that caught me up short.  It was from a young, 20’s-something, friend of mine.  He and I are working on a project together and he sent me a copy of a note he had written to another friend of his, a young guy he wanted me to meet.  In this email he said, “I’d like you to meet an elderly man I know…..”

OK. Well, first let’s get some facts on the table.  I’m 74 years old, in pretty good mental and physical health, retired from a long career but still active in my community. I can string several strands of thought together and keep track of most of them without losing my way or boring others. “Elderly,” is not a word I’d use to describe myself.

I don’t think I’ve earned the status of “elder” and when you add a “-ly” on, I get a little defensive.  To be fully honest, I get defensive in the face of judgement and criticism more easily than I should, but that’s another story… I think. I don’t label others or lump them into arbitrary groups.  For example, I don’t refer to someone who’s young and then automatically add on the word, “whippersnapper!” Adding this on wouldn’t be very useful anyway since most young people wouldn’t have a clue about what it means.

So, after taking a few deep breaths, I started to think about what I’ve learned as a result of receiving this email.

First, this brought home the fact that other people don’t see us the way we see ourselves.  I see myself as active, healthy, interested in learning. My wife, Carol and I have been married for more than 45 years and we still find joy, excitement, love and fulfillment in being together. Every once in a while, I get the sense that our kids and others see frailty, lack of competence, lack of energy and lapses of attention that we don’t either feel or experience.

I’ve learned that age doesn’t necessarily bring wisdom.  Some of the wisest people I know are in their 20’s and some of the dumbest are in their 70’s. Truth be told, these folks were dense when they were in their 20’s too.  But age and experience, if we pay attention to what’s happening to us, and if we listen to the people around us, open the possibility of accumulating some wisdom. This of course requires us to be open both to those who think we’re terrific and heap praise on us and those who question our every move and thought, without getting either self-congratulatory or defensive.  And what good is this wisdom?  At the very least, it helps us avoid making the same mistakes repeatedly, and if we’re lucky, someone may actually listen to us once in a while.

I’ve learned that living at a slower pace is not a weakness. It allows me to pay attention, even in moments when it appears that I’m lost in my own thoughts. The fact that others don’t expect me to “keep up” is a blessing because I can savor what I’m experiencing, living with it more fully without feeling guilty. I used to feel that I was expected to keep all of the plates spinning, all of the balls in the air…all of the time.  That was exhausting and sometimes everything crashed at once.  Now doing one thing at a time or listening to one person at a time seems right, even if I have to ask, “What did you say?” often enough to exasperate Carol, who has the patience of Job.

I’ve learned that curiosity and failure are two sides of the same coin, and together, they keep life interesting. Curiosity may have “killed the cat” as the saying goes, but it keeps me alive. I’m learning new skills and exploring new arenas of information every day and one of the prices I pay for this is frequent failure.  I used to worry about failure a lot, mostly because I feared what other people would think.  Sometimes, my failures did affect others and in these cases, trying to avoid them was not just the safest thing to do, it was respectful and thoughtful.  But most of the time, the only person impacted was me. I still care about what people think, but now I realize that most of the time most people are unaware of what I’m doing. They’re busy just trying to get through their own days. If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to see it….only the tree knows.

The meeting with my friend’s friend went well.  I learned from him and I think he enjoyed meeting me, even if he thought I was “elderly.”

 

Tom Beech is recently retired from a long career in philanthropy and is now active in his home community of Kalamazoo, Michigan.