OUR TRAVELING series 16N is next stopping in Helsinki. It’s a big blind date for just 16 people. (Who will be there? That’s the whole magic of it. The thing is a giant *surprise*.) It’s by invitation. Ask us for an invite, when you follow the story, here: http://designkompany.com/16n
AT LAST, the picture of our guests at ‘N’ Hanoi: NARRATIVE. What stories do we tell to the world? Which ones do we tell ourselves? In this brief encounter, 16 people whose paths might not have otherwise crossed conversed and wrote, read and listened, in a space of just 2.5 hours. A magic moment. *!
DID I TELL YOU that when you join ‘N’, you get to choose a color from the 256-box color grid that is the RGB palette for web-safe colors? Yes.
GRID. THIS MAY SOUND like garblety-gook to some, but to others, it’s entirely clear. Of course one would enjoy with relish the opportunity: take 16N, which gathers 16 people in 16 cities, and let each guest choose a color, a unique ‘box’ that identifies her or him or no-pronoun, in a way that makes, you know, just enjoy the personalities that come through when we choose a color. So simple and light, right? It helps, I think, it helps us not look at each other as compilations of stereotypes. Stereotypes about people we see, and make calls about, stereotypes that are implicit and unconscious and culturally programmed. Ones that we’re not even aware that we have.
Does it make sense, kind of?
I feel we get caught up in this kind of thing, this kind of thinking, like: ‘Yeah, yeah. I can relate to you, because you’re like ___.’ A ___ that I have some experience with. So I can put you in a box.
Let’s just do that to ourselves, shall we? Shall we put ourselves in the box of our choice? Let’s be colorful.
Owing to that fact that I am in complete administrative overhaul here at DK World HQ, because of some new people joining me and helping me figure out how to be more efficient and smart and life-hack-y, I have gone through and painstakingly organized everything I have archived ever. (Well, at least since showing up in Asia, in 2013, that is.)
There are numerous splotches of paper, blotters, things in diaries, notecards, index cards, post-its, spiral-bound notebooks, looseleaf books, folded-over articles made into new kinds of zines and books to showcase, one day, in a light installation that will be invitation-only here where I am, presently. (Phnom Penh). And so on. But yeah, I also had to go through and put all the numbers for all the hex codes of colors that have already been chosen into a file. One place. Everything goes in a box!, and then, now, I can look at them all, and I’ll make a grid for all the 4 N events so far. That would be… 16 x 4… We are 25% done with ’16N!,’ wow, then what will I do. Hmmmm. Anyway, this is okay, because I want to make sure to show the journey, with you, as we go. Not just talk about it and stuff, but really show. SHOW, don’t tell, right? But I’m telling you that I want to show. What does that mean? Does that mean this is an oxymoron? Wait, what?
First ‘N’ selfie…
SELFIE. ON FRIDAY I WILL POST, at this very blog, the selfie. I’ve not shared any photos from any of the ‘N’ events so far (3 previous to this one), because of… lots of things. But I will, on Friday. At this blog. The selfie! That we took, together, at ‘N’ in Hanoi. That was such a moment of random and spontaneous fun. Let’s take a picture, said one of our guests, a portrait photographer who simply just ‘got’ this idea, and came, it was totally a blind date, like many, many other guests who showed up, not knowing, and it was a 16-way blind date, mostly, well, kind of, for many of us, at least there were bunches of permutations and combinations with new and different others that made it what it was. On the night. ‘Twas grand, like, and I slip into my southwest Ireland accent. Grand stuff altogether, mighty fierce craic. But it… was. That’s why I can say it like that. (You know, if I could just sit down and talk to you in real life instead of blogging here, then we could have the whole intonation and rhythm and eye contact that makes communication so nice, so human, so warm.) In fact, it is so important to me, and to our team here, to move towards those kinds of conversations that I am not blogging as much, I am not emailing that much, and I am only talking with people who are in our online circles in S P A C E. Why? So we can meet. Each other. Together. In real life. Did I say together? It’s so great, when we do. Be sure to join me, if you are in Phnom Penh or in some city somewhere that might have a good critical mass of people who, you know, are interested in things. (Or have an ‘N’ in them.) To the journey! And the selfie! Next!
ON 27 JUNE 2017 in Hanoi, a mix of exactly 16 people got together for ’16N’, a traveling conversation salon on a theme that starts with an ‘N’. This time, our topic was NARRATIVE. ‘What are the stories we tell to the world? Which ones do we tell ourselves?’ and other questions popped to place as we took three floors of Nhọ Nồi, small cafe in Ba Đình, quite by surprise. An installation like no other ‘N’, this one resulted in a flurry of poetry-writing, on the spot.
FEW INSTRUCTIONS ISSUED FORTH, and that, I believe, is why this ‘N’ unfolded as prettily as it did. Days before ‘N’ at our first meeting, guest TN had said, poignantly, ‘Sometimes you have to let a thing happen instead of make it happen.’ Inspired by the notion that nothing needs to be forced (including the number 16), on the day itself, we let it flow. Looser, lighter than any other ‘N’ programme so far, this one gave way fully to the playfulness of our guests, I thought.
[Right, ‘N’ Hanoi? We did that. Didn’t we? We wrote impromptu, we eased into it, found a groove and a rhythm, and wound up having a poetry slam. More soon, in a protected-page post to follow with a certain picture, but for the moment, these are the three poems you all left behind… I thought you might like to read them again. To co-discovery! To meetings of chance! And to… real life. Enjoy, enjoy. More soon. <3]
‘How do I fix this?’
I have always wanted to be blonde
Does everyone experience Fomo?
Fomo can be a motivation for someone?
I’ve recently started using the word “fomo” as an action verb.
Sadly, nobody understands what I say.
Sadly, sometime, people hate my pictures.
I think you’ll always find people that disagree with you.
I guess it depends only on their intentions—Keep taking photos!
you will be cured
What can you break with the world’s smallest hammer?
Just forget it,
I’m really terrible at remembering names.
LET’S HAVE BREAKFAST
She always loved him making her smoothies in the morning.
Then he popped a mint in his mouth;
I love these flowers
A terrifying hue of violet
‘Can terrifying be a positive description of something?’
‘Yes, if you overcome your fear…’
‘Terrible love cannot be overcome…’
‘Anything can be
I have a life here.
14 people in the world are richer than all the rest, self-evidently
The truest measure of their riches
Is the willingness to fold themselves open
One day you will have all the love that you’ve given
If you have not given enough love, will you not be able
To see the love that everyone
I see what I want to see. And you?
The sound that weasels make playing in a ball pit.
A little known fact: weasels are deaf, they can only feel vibrations.
I wish I was a terrifying weasel
So I could produce terrific coffee.
Such a small thing like coffee
Can change your whole day! Why?
Because of no reason at all
WAKING UP IN A NEW PLACE, not the train and not the bus and not the old house(s). Back in Phnom Penh, but seeing it from new angles. Ahead? It’ll be a different adventure, now, from this point forward. Different people to meet, different scenery to note. I think even new foods might enter into the daily routine, just because that’s what happens when you’re ready for the new. You have to be ready for it, right? It’s timing, largely, these things. When you find your magic moment of connection, it’s not because you’re always open to that-which-could-be-remarkable to fall into your lap, no, no. I mean, there are a few rare birds like that who are, which is super cool (but must be tiring? Hm). But yeah. What I’m noticing, and this is maybe just me, but what I’m discovering is that the moment of connexion doesn’t come just because of design (as I had hypothesized) or *showing up* which I have yammered about extensively to those who will give me an ear. But it’s, kind of, and this is really the new awareness of it, it’s mostly about timing. After an ‘N’, I usually just go into hiding. ‘And now I don’t have to talk to anybody.’ Pattern.
Unlike the earlier blog posts here, about how I make an ‘N’, and just how many interjections in other people’s day-to-day it takes to get enough invitations out there so that just 16 say yes, get tickets, and show up, well, no. Not now. Timing. For me, going into hibernation mode for a bit, now, is on the agenda.
There is no way in a million years I’m going to go out and talk to someone on the street or the bus or on a boat about something they should come along to, so they can ‘get out of their comfort zone,’ and yeah, they should, they should also pay for a ticket, and so on. No, I’m just not into it, right now. Same feeling, when I wrote ‘A new plateau,’ after ‘N’ in London (November 2015).
THE KEYBOARD IS NOT connecting, somehow, so this will be short and sweet. (If you were there, the pic is coming. I’ll email you.) I had such fun meeting you all, individually and then, together. A fuller, more articulated thank-you is in draft and I’ll send, for sure, soonish. A quick thank you here, for now. Many thanks for playing 16N. Okay. Let me get myself to the next stop, the stop after that, and then home. More from there for guests, and then, for those in our online circles of S P A C E. If you were there, to be continued!
BIT OF FRUIT, some tea just now. Looking out over the rooftops, wondering what stories will unfold at ‘N.’ Many people to thank for helping out with this one, all of that will be shared later, when there’s more time. Going to set up the space. 5 hours to go. ‘N’ starts at 7! Last few reconfirmations arriving now… *!* is the feeling.
DISCOVERED OUR MOST RECENT GUEST today on my visit up to the north side of town. Really fascinating and fun conversation, on the spot, pretty dramatic. Wow. I knew that I was in over my head when I realized suddenly that the person I was meeting was far more practiced in the art of listening than me. Also a little older. A year. Just a year. But she was, clearly, so much wiser, in this particular aspect. Then I lost my hat. I don’t mean that as some kind of expression, (if it is an expression?) Well, I guess these things happen. Losing hats, I mean. Then I caught up with my team. Then we got dinner. Then I came home, and read through the email. Then I saw that our count for ‘ticket-yes’ guests had bloomed to 13 (from the 7 that I reported earlier  yesterday). Things move really quickly the closer we get to the moment of ‘N’. It’s like relativity, and spacetime, or maybe just… deciding. There are some lovely people we will be gathering together, in the shared moment that will be happening at ‘N’ Hanoi: NARRATIVE. Here’s a bit about the journeys here, with ‘N’ in Hanoi, for the last few weeks. First, we had to pick a date. This is how.
Choosing a date, together
THE INVITEES. Tonight, I’ll close the online poll where I invited people to confer on a mutual date. (The first few lines will show you how we landed on Tuesday as a date.) But whom would I invite? It was a matter of gut feeling. If someone frowned, no. If someone avoided eye contact, no. If someone gave me a warm return smile after I said hello, that was a little step towards maybe. After a while, we had a critical mass and a date. Soon after that, I just shared about it here and there and waited to see how things went. The people I met in real life were in cafes, on the street, (I shied away from interrupting people at lunch, but didn’t mind accosting someone who might be walking along on the way in or out of somewhere, like the youth with a trumpet in a case earlier today… hey, if you’re reading, I’m serious about the improv stuff, very). Overall, I looked around as much as I could, walked kilometers upon kilometers, got lost on the buses, found an incredible juice shop on Yen Phu, invited a young lad from the No. 9 to ‘N’ (who responded to the poll above), carried forward, carried on, worried, thought I wasn’t really fit for this since I’m an out-of-towner, took that and owned it, circled around and around, realized it doesn’t matter cause you’re a stranger everywhere and in my case especially in the ‘where I’m from’ places, took a train to the countryside to look at the land formations and rivulets and get lost and wind up… okay, that’s too long a story, then took a few days off, then did a mini-checkin with myself to decide if this was worth trying to do, then kept at it, because what’s ‘worthy’ is what’s ‘noteworthy,’ in so many ways, and NOTEWORTHINESS was our last ‘N’ theme, and wow, did I learn what that means (to me). It’s all relative. What would have been the point if I didn’t try very hard, and if not hard because hey, it’s really hot, and it rains, and it’s hard to get motivated sometimes to go out and talk to people I don’t know, then to try, at least, earnestly. Carefully and honestly, to discover the *new* and *different* by getting out of my box.
WONDERING HOW THIS WORKED? Mechanics are simple. I invite the first few guests to a poll, where we could see if this was even reasonable to attempt, given I have a limited time here (visa). And when we saw some convergence for the 27th, I asked some others to join in on this, too. As the number approached 43, I realized it was time to just ask directly. Emails and personal invitations followed, and the last few lines are those who confirmed just these last 24 hours. For this ‘N’, I tried it a little different from before. Instead of making people get tickets ahead of time, I just thought, let’s start with the date, this time. So I invited people, as I went.
Going along, starting in late May, and continuing through June.
In total, there were 43 people invited to this poll. (I met way more people than that, people I didn’t think were really a good fit. I’m looking for the kind of people who say ‘yes’ to the unexpected, and look for challenges, and are ready to discover others who might be of similar ilk.) Must also tally the people I invited in other gestures, but I haven’t gotten a final count yet. I’m pretty distracted, it’s hot here, and it’s hard to get too terribly excited about what might happen when I don’t know if… well. If 16 will be there. Then again, what do we really ever know?
Of 43 invitees, there were 18 respondents to this poll.
As I write this note at 9.31PM here, 13 are ‘ticket-yes’ guests.
Late registration (USD $27) opens tomorrow for the last three seats.
USED TO THINK that ‘N’ was about pushing back on the culture of maybe, way back in 2015 when the idea of orchestrating 16N, a 16-way blind date was just a sketch on a napkin.
But, that was early days.
Now, with the learnings from previous ‘N’ salons in Phnom Penh, Bangkok and London, I see that ‘N’ isn’t so much about commitment from the side of our guests as it is about me making the invitation. That is the work: me committing. To seeing if people would be there, be curious, be open. To learning from one another, to listening with eyes and hearts open. Isn’t that where the beauty is? Isn’t the pursuit of beauty the point?
ARTFULNESS. So yes. ‘N.’ Is an invitation. Some reading this, I hope, from other ‘N’ events will appreciate this next link. A poem by Oriah Mountain Dreamer with this title, ‘The Invitation.‘ (It’s on the left-side sidebar of that page, check it out.) As passed on to me from someone I just happened to meet, happened to get to know, and happened to have that feeling, ‘Yes. I need to invite this person to N…’
Selected excerpt from ‘The Invitation’
by Oriah Mountain Dreamer
I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.
Read the whole poem at the poet’s site, here >
IT IS SUNDAY, 11.20AM, here in Hanoi just west of the Botanical Gardens. Not too hot, and I have one hour to get all the information together for everyone who is registering for ‘N’ Hanoi. I’m going to share the meetpoint, now confirmed, and set everything up for everyone who is making a commitment to themselves and to one another. So we can all show up for ‘N’ on Tuesday.
That’s like… This week.
WRITING FROM MY CAFE, ‘my place,’ I like to think of it. It’s under-designed, unpretentions, relaxed, and there’s a TV behind me that I’ve learned how to tune out. That bit reminds me of being at my parents’ house, where I learned to perfect this skill. This cafe is relaxed, a bit smoky for me, but chill. The people who run it, the women who seem to be related, are starting to know me. Today someone even said hello and waved me in. This is nice. Showing up has its merits. So being comfortable in a place starts with showing up enough times to get used to it, to be welcomed. The welcome is a big part of the design of high quality conversation-space, I feel. Even if today, right now, that conversation is with you, reading there, hey hey, the important part for setting up the space to write here begins with feeling like I’m in a place that’s relaxed, comfortable, where I can trust I’m safe. Welcome.
Since late May, I’ve been going around the city discovering little venues, small shops, tiny restaurants, and most importantly, new people. For the journey of ‘N’, the more I write publicly about it, isn’t so much about the ‘making N happen’ as it is trusting the process of discovering that, when you just go ‘out there, wherever there is,’ as RH put it so nicely that one time in Phnom Penh, then you just… you just happen upon the things you are meant to find, discover the spaces and learnings as and how they happen to make themselves revealed.
I promised to share on this blog about the programme for ‘N’. So you can see what’s going to happen. That’s… one way to see. But if you are wondering what ‘N’ is really like, I invite you to read a guest post from the lovely SR, who had attended the first ‘N,’ in Phnom Penh… Read what S said, in her guest post, ‘Skipping the awkward ‘get to know you’ phase’
BELOW IS A PIC from that same ‘N,’ originally posted on instagram by ‘N’ PP guest KGM, and shared by permission here. I almost never share pictures of what these events are like because… we have this one thing, where we ask people to put away their devices and phones and focus, instead, on being there. Real life. Conversation. Plus it’s hard to convey what ‘N’ experience is like. Since it’s about, at least for me, the being there, and the moment of connection. Impossible to put into a digital summary, but hey, this pic, we thought, was pretty darn great. 🙂 K is, after all, a pro. More soon, especially if you’re on the invitation list already for ‘N’ Hanoi. TUESDAY, 27 June. (No? Get in touch to request an invitation.) To the journeys!
TWO THINGS today, on the agenda. Going through the conversations, going through the highlights of posts, of sharings to date, of learnings-as-we-went, and the reflections from ‘N’ in Phnom Penh, Bangkok, London, and the ones in progress in Copenhagen and Hanoi.
Today I will focus on getting things into a place where they are share-able with you, those of you who might be coming to this blog now, wondering about ‘N’. Did I invite you recently, to ‘N’ here in Hanoi? NARRATIVE is our theme. I’ll have bits that are easier to take in (than what kind people who mean well are telling me is) an unwieldy, not user-friendly blog. But… Writing. For one, mostly, here. I think. And people looking for places to leave links telling me how they think I should do something else with my ‘talent’ and stuff, which really, I’m so not interested in ‘digital marketing.’ I’m not going to write some compelling bit of fluff so you can sell your, what, wristwatches? I hate consumerism. I hate the junk that we are consuming without even letting ourselves ask, ‘Wait, wait, wait. Is this adding to my life. Really. Is it? IS it? And so on.)
Meantime, here in Hanoi…
‘N’ HANOI. With the help of 15 others, people who are new to one another, who don’t know what’s going to happen, who aren’t sure where this might lead them, but who are open to trying new things, we, together, will make an ‘N’ here in Hanoi. Next week. Now. Off to find some foodstuffs. And blogging. Blogging is a bit of a solo thing, for me, I think, esoteric and inaccessible as most stuff I like to post here tends to be (they said, gently). Anyway, so? It’s been just me, mostly, here at this space. So I welcome you to this conversation, even if it’s an ambient one, and more is on the way for those who get in touch to request an invitation >
At the time of this writing, we have 4 people ‘in’ for ‘N’ Hanoi.
IN THE MIDDLE, that’s where we’ll begin.
At the time of this writing, we have 4 people ‘in’ for ‘N’ Hanoi.
- __, from the bus.
- __, from the… um. The internet.
- __, from a public event.
- __, from upstairs. Who was first to join ‘N’ Hanoi. A spot that I am always eternally grateful to someone for saying ‘yes’ to. More on the ‘why’ of this, below.
SOMETIME IN THE COMING DAYS I will circle back to Parts I-III. About how it has been going all this time, since I first started to share out in the open about the journey of ‘N’ Hanoi.
From the time we started with having discovered the venue, to when the decision came in a sort of weird inward insight to commit to the doing, to starting the ‘N’ journey in this blog for the first time really talking about all the uncertainty as it’s going on, et cetera. And how I think I found 2 or 3 of us (but, in the end, was wrong about. Hm. Happens.)
Ups. Downs. Movements in between. Still at it, though. Still working towards gathering 16 total strangers for a conversation installation in Hanoi in June on the theme, NARRATIVE. ‘What are the stories we tell the world? What are the ones we tell our selves?’ A low-key conversation, in which no prior experience or expertise is necessary. It’s about the who, more than the where or when, so I am starting with invitations to people I don’t know. Asking them to add their preferred dates to a secret poll online. Asking us to confirm whether we can do this, whether 16 of us can ‘say yes’ and ‘show up.’ The two most important things you need to have happen before the magic moment of ‘N’ can even begin to come within gravitational reach. More about ‘N’ is at the ’16N’ link, in our menu bar at the top of this page. Check it out.
Those things happened, and between then and now Parts I-III of the narrative of ‘N’ Hanoi did, too, and I shared a little with the S P A C E community, which is what? Which is something you can find out about when you click the box here, and so on. There’s so many layers to this, isn’t there?
When someone joins ‘N’ for the first spot, I know that the ball is in motion. The onus is now on me to gather the rest of us, somehow. It feels hard, sometimes, like trying to pull a rabbit out of a hat. But other times it’s very natural, very casual, very normal. Like today, when I met ___. I hope you will read this, __, I hope you will discover that this is part of an interactive story, not just me writing and blogging and ‘documenting.’ I used to have comments open on everything here, but they are always taken over by people in car sales or something like that, and it gets ugly going through all the spam, so I don’t do that now. But my comment box is always open here, in case you are reading, or someone else whom I shared about ‘N’ with today (or in recent weeks). I guess I only just started talking about it out loud because I got the feeling, after the first ‘yes’, that there was scope for this, here. Hanoi is on for ‘N’, I think. People are game, I think. People say yes and people sometimes even show up, and once in a while people co-host things with me, too. That is beautiful, when it happens. That is conversation at its upper limit best. Co-creation. Conversation. Making things up, together, as we go.
TODAY IS THE DAY. Registration page is up for ‘N’ Hanoi.
For ‘N’ in Hanoi, our theme is NARRATIVE. ‘What are the stories we tell to the world? What are the ones we tell to ourselves?’
‘N’ is an invite-only event for just 16 people. We are curating a guestlist that we hope will reflect a wide mix of voices.
THE THING IS, you just have no idea. When you go and say, ‘I’m here for a thing. A salon, sort of, but not really. It’s not a performance, well, wait, it IS, kind of. It’s an improvised play. together, the 16 of us, together is the important bit. Because who cares about ‘the arts’ or stuff on the walls these days in snooty galleries, who cares about what’s in our phones, who cares about the old books by dead people that line the halls of libraries in parts of the world where those books might have been interesting and important at one time, because, well, now, lookit. That way of schooling us just didn’t get us places. Did it? [Aside: I’m not a political theorist, or a sociologist, a psychiatrist, or an expert in cultural theory, science, et cetera. No. But I am an artist; and that means, I feel. I feel terrible about the way that the things that They Told Us Would Be Good For Us turned out to fragment and isolate us, turn on our fears and anxieties, and generally keep us from discovering our ‘edge,’ and most importantly, seeing what we are each capable of achieving as individuals with unique, one-uva-kind flair. I’m talking about us noticing ourselves, being who we really are, mirthful and fulfilled. Money and power and the chase, the hierarchies… that stuff… was someone else’s dream for something else. A time that died, that got dusty, but which we couldn’t let ourselves be pulled away from. The future happened, already. I met someone the other day at my second-favorite Indian restaurant in Hanoi. Who knows who he is. (Dude. If you are reading this, you need to really fill out the form about the conversation salon ‘N’, because those things where you actually show up are where the real learning happens, not these blogs that are written by people behind screens at all hours of the night on the other sides of your screens, because writing is a medium that is tired, so tired, sad as it is to admit this because it is my favorite medium (and yours, maybe?), but podcasting is where it’s at now.) And I don’t do that. So I am going to be quietly left behind the curve of Innovation and Evolution and Forwardness because I am too tired and probably too old to go out and buy some equipment to record myself and try to Get Famous. No, thanks. I’ll just write and blog and tie my shoes the old-fashioned way; one at a time. Here we go.]
INVITEES. Anyway, the lady who was with the person who I met was one of the two or three I think would be into ‘N’. And the new person. The one I met… yesterday? At the cool new cafe with the nice latte art? The too-cool, I think, cafe. A slightly-too-cool to be a place to host an ‘N’, but definitely isn’t a bad place for people watching. I love Hanoi for this one aspect, it might just be my favorite sport. Or maybe trying to make an ‘N’ is? That’s not a sport though is it. That’s just an impossible challenge. Well, mostly impossible. But not quite. And that sliver of almost-maybe is where ‘N’ lives. It is trying to be the thing that no one things can happen: 16 strangers saying ‘yes’ to showing up at an agreed-upon date, place, and time. For a salon. This one, this time, is on NARRATIVE. Are you ready, Hanoi? Are you there? Is anyone listening? See because that is the major part of it; you don’t know if your things that you talk about on the blogs actually have resonance in the real world. And the real world is where life happens. So I’ve been coming out of hiding a bit more and more, showing up at things, going out of my box. Saying hello to people who don’t say hello to me first. Saying nothing when they ignore me at the goodbye. Discovering it’s not personal, it never was, this online weirdness, this strange way of conversing the that nothing at all to do with the fact that some of us like to write and even at one point made a living from it, and others just like emojis. I hate emojis, but I think you know that, if you know me, personally, or if you see that I never use them, here or in the emails, or texts. Texts are rare. I hardly text. I text, though. I do. I sometimes text. Why am I telling you this?
BECAUSE ‘N’. ‘N’ is the kind of thing that brings up all sorts of things. You wonder, you think out loud, you wander. You go where you don’t think you should go (a bridge, yesterday) and you look out for people who seem like they might be the kind who would return your ‘hello’ instead of flee to their phones and glare into the glowing rectangles into the middle of the night. I am trying not to be cynical. I am typing into a glowing screen myself. Just, with a keyboard. That doesn’t make it any better, though, does it? I am still trying to find people who are interested in connecting. Just not through the usual ‘normal’ ways now. I do not do Tinder. I don’t care much for Meetup. I am not a fan of LinkedIn. I am, however, interested in chance, serendipity, looking around and walking about and running into it. The third person that I think would be a good fit for ‘N’? A lad. A youth. Let me tell you…
Is someone who I think would really get a lot out of it, on account of it being New and Different, and knowing what I know about being young and angry with the world, feeling like it’s all bad and everything, until, this one thing happens, this kind of bright light shines for a second on a spot that you didn’t see before. You see it for that one glimpse of a moment, and then, poof, it’s gone. Keeping it forever isn’t the point. NOTICING it, that is the place where we go from living to something more than just taking in sustenance… we go to places that connect us to things beyond just our day-to-day, our routines that might not involve little side conversations or the smile and hello that you would have seen if you had not grown up in a way that involves texting more than real phone calls. Real phone calls are so intense now, aren’t they? Well. ‘N’ is even more real life than that. And that is why I care so much about it. To the journeys, then. Pressing on. I made some real invitations, on email. And twitter. Good people are there, saying ‘tell me more,’ which makes me happy. Must not quit this. Must keep showing up. Must not let it bother me that the world is ‘too busy!’ and ‘thanks but next time’ and you know what? There is no next time. Onceness, noticing it, the shiny thing that’s there now!, that’s the entire point. The good news is there is still some time. My visa is good for another couple of weeks. WEEKS. I remember discovering four people in Bangkok on the four days ahead of ‘N’ there, and in London… SEVEN. So the odds are good. People here are a bit more open, too. I like this. I like it very, very much. To the journeys, then! To the next. —AS
HEISENBERG, indeterminacy and the observed system. Let’s converse?
16N gathers 16 strangers in real life. To talk about a thing that starts with an ‘N’…
‘N’ Vientiane: NEXT
LET’S MEET IN REAL LIFE. Just 16 people. To talk together about the idea of ‘NEXT.’ This is the idea of 16N: to gather people whose paths might not have otherwise have crossed. Briefly. Once. For a conversation of the kind you’ve never experienced before: it’s not a workshop, it’s not a party. It’s nothing like you’d expect. That’s what people have told us, at ‘N’ events in Phnom Penh, Bangkok, and London. ‘N’ Vientiane is NEXT.
More information, including details of how to request an invite, is at this page >
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.