Yesterday, a watch stopped. Hers.
This was the second time this kind of thing had happened. That is, a watch stopping. That time, his.
Both times, in the middle of a superb conversation that, really, slowed into a moment. Conversations with people that I had just met. That day, or a few days prior. Really good sweeping topics that spanned the universe, life and death, birth, stillness, space, poetry, philosophy, conspiracy theories (me), art, skepticism of nonsense (them). And you could feel it, just there. The stopping. Then, it was literal. How does this kind of thing happen?
Let me try to feel my way towards the ‘how,’ even if I don’t get there. With words, of course. Words are a sort of paint for me, the paintings I’ve been looking at this week reminding me to play with them a bit, to see where the layers might take us.
Yes, the ‘something’ that happened, let us call it ‘!*’, whatever ‘!*’ was, well, I know it happened, it happened because I felt it, not just in the way that you feel when you are feeling a shift in the breeze, or that kind of thing, but because you are sensing something inwardly shifting, which is reflecting something larger, very large indeed, and you know that the quantum bits and pieces are at play, or that strings are vibrating, or that there are nine other dimensions (nine? More?) that are resonating in the same hum, or a different one, or a new color, and that, taken together, these things are beginning to make a new pattern. Of course the intricacies of the design are beyond our capacity to ‘note,’ and NOTEWORTHINESS being the theme this week-and-a-half here in London, of course I have to philosophize a bit about it, here and there, when I find the urgency of the moment in which that frequency will suggest, in a gentle but firm whisper, ‘Yes, now.’
The reflections begin
I HAVE BEEN QUITE LUCKY, this trip. I have met some of the most outstanding people I’ve ever encountered in my life. And all at once. At ‘N’. The most incredible thing happens when we assemble, just sit together, talk together. [Not like in the round, in the workshoppy-style that SN, remarking on DK’s style of making circles, had once called ‘circle time.’ Was it 2014? It’s stuck since then. Circle time. Yes, we love circle time here, of course we do, but you just can’t always go into the circle space because sometimes you are meeting in public spaces and it just would be weird.] I mean, you might get kicked out. In this instance, for ‘N’ London: NOTEWORTHINESS, we convened at the National Theatre. While on the one hand I had made the good acquaintanceship of some of the people working there, who noticed that I was greeting people who didn’t know one another and would be later pointing the latecomers towards our table, asking, ‘Are you here for the blind date?’, and letting them know where I was, yes, while they were on my team, you could say, in making it happen that people whose paths might never have crossed were, at ‘N’, designed to intersect in one moment, well, I don’t think they would’ve been cool with it if we did some circling up and talking about things like I like to do sometimes at these sorts of conversation installations. I don’t know. Maybe it would have been okay at the Royal Academy (pictured), whose purple velvety cushioning made me want to curl up and read a book, any book, by, say, J. Krishnamurti (thank you JB), all evening and through the night and the next day, but then again, circle time is special. I don’t know. I think you have to just feel like it, in that moment. Like so very many things, that are good. That are noteworthy, even. But then, ‘Royal’ doesn’t start with an ‘N’, so that’s it, it’s a no-go, right there. Plus, ‘Royal?’ Who wants to make it all hoity-toity? Not me.
THERE IS SO MUCH more to say about ‘N’ and the things that preceded it, the conversations that revolved around that strong central gravitational point, ‘What’s remarkable? Why do we think so?’ I’m going to be sharing more about it slowly, through the eZine, but also, with guests who took part in ‘N’ London this time. There’s stuff to report to past guests, of ‘N’ in Bangkok and Phnom Penh, and the one to happen next, in Copenhagen. I’m getting to it. All of it. But I need some time.
Writing, today. In pencil, on the keypad. In my head. Writing for the sake of writing. Writing for the self. This is the time that won’t come back. This is the time to sit, quietly, and make a poem or two, and let the flow come as it does, when and exactly and only when it’s ready. These are the moments, aren’t they?, when time stops.
ALMOST THERE, now.
Once the date is set this sort of moves pretty quickly: finalising the guestlist, sharing the agenda, confirming that you can be there, making sure you know where we’re meeting. That kind of thing. Just like any great party, you have to do all the detail stuff way ahead of time, right? But also, like any great party, it’s about who comes more than anything else, at all.
So I’m very excited to meet some of you for the first time and reconnect with those I haven’t seen for quite a while. More than anything, I’m looking forward to the dialogue to come amongst you all as we gather for the first time and last time, most likely, in this ‘onceness’ experience of ’16N.’
Next I’ll share the details of the venue. An agenda. And the exact meetpoint.
NOTEWORTHINESS being our theme, I’ve been brainstorming quite a lot about this, also talking to people here about how to best host a conversation salon on this theme. Pretty excited about some of the playful conversation-starters that have come towards me from this wonderful group of people who are also making spaces to engage with new and different others. We all have our methods and styles and ways, but I think gatherings are just so great. So I’m looking forward to it.
More soon on email…
OKAY. The ’16N’ uplate.
We are doing this. ‘N’ is happening in London *very soon*.
It’s taken more than a year to set this up.
A conversation salon. For just 16 people. Our theme for London is NOTEWORTHINESS. What’s remarkable? Why do we think so?
We did ‘N’ in Bangkok in October 2015 (‘What is NOW?’) and in Phnom Penh the April before that (‘NORMALITY: ‘What’s normal? Who gets to decide?’) The 32 amazing people who joined those are now selecting color boxes, see them on this site?, so we can continue our correspondence. What would’ve been the point of ‘N’, I realize, were we not continuing to stay awake to one another, relationally in the know? It doesn’t have to be a giant commitment. It’s a color. That’s it. I used to think ‘N’ was about onceness. ‘That’s it! The End!’ But that’s just part of it. It’s about, sure, the urgency of now, but it’s also about the who that says yes and the fantastic assembly that comes together when we meet. Magic moment? Something like that.
Little esoteric titles open the doors to these, but when we all gather it’s really just a super fun party of people who would say yes to this kind of a thing.
Such a great filter.
NEW STARTS. I’m cleaning my new flat of its clutter. Putting all the right papers in their containers, sensing the story that is the ultimate centroid of my life work: making space for connections between people who don’t know one another; discovery through serendipity and chance; growth through these kinds of experiences that, while ultimately extremely basic (who are you? let’s talk?), are so very hard to find in our fragmented world of illusions, spectacles, and yes, if I sound jaded, I am.
I just sent everyone I’ve ever been in touch with about ‘N’ in London a note, to check in, to see if they might like to nab the last few spots. Before I hit the internet again on Monday, to keep querying. More than 485 invitations for ‘N’ events in four cities so far, yeesh. But last week I found renewed enthusiasm for this when I got off a skype with #28327a, who was the first to join ‘N,’ like a year ago. It was his idea to reframe ‘N’ as a challenge, and he said it: ‘Don’t wait for better options! Be a bold human being and pick a date and show up!’ And we were off, then, taking all of this much more seriously. Lamenting, together, the decline in opportunities to engage, connect, share, and discover. New and different others. new ways of thinking, new people. Curiosity! Oi. If art is all there is that can save us, isn’t curiosity its prerequisite? Is there hope for art, for newness, for intrigue, the universal quest to ask, ‘What is this, and let me just see now…’? I’m looking for the right people, so it’s taken some time, and I still have a month, so here we go.
Want to come to ‘N’, or know someone who’d be keen? This is where it starts. Kandinsky said, ‘Everything begins with a dot.’ Yes, yes, yes. Excited now. So close. Comments? Questions? Ask me anything, in the box below. –AS