Do you ever wish you’d had a certain conversation and never did? Maybe you still have a choice?
Before Christmas, I had the privilege to visit Stonehenge and nearby Avebury for the Winter Solstice. It was something I have wanted to experience for myself for a few years (you know, one of those things you say you’ll get round to – one day…) The urge and opportunity this year was strong so all it took was a small nudge from my friend Rebekah Shaman to go.
It felt such a privilege to have open public access to this most ancient and celebrated of stone circles at Stonehenge for about 90 minutes spanning over sunrise. It was also a privilege to see and hear the Druids ‘in action’, continuing their traditions over the eons of honouring the sun, the earth, humanity and all that is.
AND the biggest privilege of all, as it turned out, came from inviting my parents (both originally from Wiltshire) and both saying yes! It is not what I expected, so it’s funny what can happen when you dare to try something different.
It was a stunning morning all round, both at Stonehenge and Avebury, on a crisp, sunny morning – I imagine I’ll write about that another time, because it was fascinating to witness, especially at this time of so much change, such a cross section of modern society at this so ancient of ceremonies. Not to mention a few entertaining moments along the way, such as Dad turning to the person next to him: “Are you mad too?”… Response from underneath a woolly hat, “Oh yes!”… Dad: “Oh good. As long as we’re in the right place!”
Now…here’s the thing: the biggest gift in the day was proactively sharing that experience with my parents. It meant so much to all of us, probably in many ways we can’t even fully put into words or even understand. My best guess is that it was a kind of acknowledging and honouring each other to a deeper level.
What it has also done is open up a whole new level of conversation and, thereby, relationship between us. That, for me, is the most valuable part. Being able to have conscious conversations that mean something, to ask questions that have never been asked, share experiences or reflections we’ve never dared to share, expressing emotions from vulnerable memories and places in our hearts….and to laugh at our misunderstandings and idiosyncrasies (plenty of those in my family, I can tell you!) For me to be able to do that, while I can, is precious.
Also, for me to even want to do that may appear unusual – so many of us avoid what we think might ‘stir things up’. No-thing lasts forever. I don’t say that to be morbid, rather as a reminder to make the most of whom and what you can while you can and “before it’s too late.”
I was at a funeral of dear family friend, and one of the kindest men on the planet, only the week before, where his family were saying “I wish we’d had a longer to ask him this or say that…” On the way back from Avebury I asked my parents about what they wished that had said to their parents. One of their main reflections is they wished they’d asked more questions of them, to find out more about who they were, what they had lived through, what they cared about. It reminded me that, whatever our age, we also never stop being children learning our way in the world.
Now, I do appreciate, more than ever, that I am lucky in the first place that both my parents are still alive; and that I have the relationship I do with them. Not everyone can say those things. (And, even speaking out loud or writing to loved ones who are not with us can still be enormously cathartic). I also believe our relationships are not by accident because of how we have nurtured them over the years.
Conversations catalyse change
My point is: conversations are powerful. The word literally means ‘change together’. Conversations and relationships are ongoing processes of conversing and relating – they are not static or fixed.
Imagine our families and businesses and communities if each of us entered consciously into every conversation with care (awareness), curiosity (an openness to learn and share) and compassion (not trying to make anyone right or wrong).
I am reminded to be conscious in every conversation and every interaction every day and to approach them with positive intent. When we learn to be aware of our conversations and respect them, it’s amazing what can flow and be shared, forgiven, learned, (co)created and enjoyed.
Certainly, that special day, and what was experienced, shared and learned, will last with me forever.