Two days from now I will host The Third Place in Phnom Penh. In several weeks we will have ‘N’ Phnom Penh: NEUTRALITY. There are people who are invited and people who are considering it, and then there are the people I have yet to discover between now and the day we start the moments of conversations on stages in real life.
‘I design space for us to discover each other, and if we’re lucky, something, too, about ourselves‘
It’s definitely a little bit of a surprise, each time, who comes, what happens, and what happens after that. Normally I like to keep things going in progressions, so as to deepen the stories that allow us to knit together a fabric of something that contains within it a sense of movement, continuity, connection, and even belonging. So many days, so little time, so few relationships of depth and value. These are the times when I start up programs, like Mirror, which began yesterday, The Third Place (Thursday), ‘N’, and so many other things.
Out of all the movements through the 27 countries, sometimes for a few days, sometimes for almost a decade (like now), there have been few times that I felt real centers of conversations that stop me in my tracks and make me think, and think-feel. That’s different from thinking. The longer I am away from places where the Western intellectual ‘trap’ is pressed on us as though it’s, duh, a given, as the superior way to think about everything, the more I am appreciative of my near-decade of unlearning it.
Feeling. Being. With the help of many teachers and mentors, notably PR, and VT of late, but also in earlier lifetimes with CB when I was a teen and JM in Seattle, and others, I’ve learned how to stop being so caught up in the things that profess to be impressive. They’re not. No amount of money will ‘win’ you true love. Or true friendship, which, of course, is the bedrock of real love. And what is this thing when people say to me, ‘You are so authentic.’ What a lot of nonsense. What else is there to be? I find it weird and almost insulting; shouldn’t a person just be what they are? And yet, they’re not. More and more, fake is the way. Fake fake fake fake fake. It’s so boring.
So I keeping inviting, keep learning how to discover new people to invite and relate. Not fake. Real.
Deeply, not superficially.
When we talk, time can stop.
Visualizing a moment where the people who show up can connect, converse, and through that very act of taking a chance on something great can also thereby release something difficult… I feel like I can create those stages, design those rooms. Social spaces. No physical architecture for me, these days, though my first aim in life was to create tall buildings or make public squares that allow for what I’m describing. Yet even in the great piazzas and parks of some world class cities, over the last decade and a half I’ve seen a decline of the Real to exist, comfortably, within them. This is my rally against such blandness, recessions of the real. I design S P A C E.
We meet. And through the simple art of being and being together with other curious people, it works. Because there is no falseness, no agenda, and no expectation. What we do is discover. And co-discover. Together. It’s how I started the projects to move around and make S P A C E. It’s also why I stopped. Too much energy. Too much work.
Time stops for people in these moments of connection that allow us to really get conscious of our ‘why’, our purpose, our direction, and our goals. But, and I’ll be really honest here, many people fade away from these kinds of things for a second opportunity because maybe it’s too easy to sink bank into the comfort of that which is known, not challenging it, or just letting yourself believe that what you have always believed, or what people told you to believe, somehow ‘fits.’
At the point of departure
When you show up in the moments of conversations that I like to host, and design for, with the arrangements in relational aesthetics that move us towards some kind of discovery-through-being-together, and just that, it works. For me. To slow into the moment and go still. With others who are interested in connection that moves us all into that very infinite, very lovely, loud Quiet.
My books are described as poetic, and the way I talk about particular moments are what people have shared in reviews that they are most impressed by. If the best memories of our life are the moments that we enjoy deeply, why not design for such, and engage with them? Why should I stop making space for people to converse and connect, in which… and this really happens, time doesn’t just slow down, but occasionally…. stops.
Why should I quit being part of the internet conversation where people occasionally fall upon a blog post that resonates with them, in a way that clickbait cannot. In a way that isn’t about selling or persuading or pulling the wool over someone’s eyes, but rather, is an invitation. To look. To focus. To still. To arrive.
It’s not that hard, but it takes a lifetime, to go into the big quiet and loosen up, there. I can talk more about it, in Mirror, and S P A C E, if you feel like listening, sign up for something sometime.
Here are a few links.
Images: Jess Bailey