Last updated on 5th June 2012
And now it's several days after the four days sixteen of us spent together at the old converted watermill in Cumbria that we've been visiting for over twenty years. I've already written about the final full day and the last evening singing together under the stars.
I think these groups are extraordinary. It feels to me that it's something pretty amazing that so many of us have constructed together over this last couple of decades. I'm so happy these days at the peer residential groups have been a regular part of my life for so long. And they spill out into our lives in so many ways ... deeply enriching our friendships, challenging us, helping us learn what it is to balance deep authenticity with care & compassion & empathy for others. And of course we all get it "wrong" at times. And these "getting it wrong" times can lead to some of the most important, precious learnings. And sometimes they don't. It's very rare in my experience for difficulties in these groups not to end up being productive if we have the courage and commitment to stay openly with the pain and emotions and slowly work them through. Very sadly sometimes people haven't been prepared to do this. Carrying deep disagreement away from the group seems mostly to be unproductive. Half cooked. Emotional and interpersonal constipation. Sometimes much the best way out is through.
Exuberance. Tenderness. And are these groups replicable? Could other groups of people do something similar? Of course they could. It's a funny paradox, a funny balance ... it is important to have enough wisdom, experience, interpersonal/emotional intelligence in enough group members so that when the sh*t hits the fan (which it surely will if we deeply value & intend to express ourselves authentically), then there will be a "good enough" hold, enough courage & love & help to take the canoes down the emotional rapids without anyone getting badly hurt. But the other side of this balance, this paradox, is that so many of us actually are deeply gasping for precious interpersonal connection with others, and put people in a situation where this is available, where this is encouraged, and we can expect to be amazed by the way other humans care deeply, express openly, understand profoundly, help each other so joyfully. We, I can be so cruel, stupid, selfish, unkind. And we, I can be so loving, sunlight, true, honest, helpful. It's called being human. Give us humans the chance and we can be back in the "garden of Eden". Not all the time, but enough of the time to sing down the days.