Here & there: The spirit of the new

Image elements from Pixabay, St. George News

FEATURE — People say the definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.

In the spirit of the new, it’s Thursday night and I’m sitting on my friend’s new L-shaped grey sofa surrounded by nine women, some of whom I know and all of whom have their eyes closed.

A voice in the far-right corner of the room tells us to picture ourselves in a crowd gathered in front of a stage. We are eagerly waiting for something – for someone. The stage curtains part and out comes a future version of our self.

That future self speaks to the crowd and everyone is profoundly impacted. You are profoundly impacted.

The voice in the front of the room instructs us to think about what our future self tells the crowd and then answer three questions on the small notepad in front of us:

What was the impact your future self had on you and the others in the room?

How were you and the others transformed?

What kind of person were you being to have such an impact?

I hear pens dancing on paper all around me. I stare down at my empty sheet, my pen hanging limply in my right hand. I hear the gas fire crackling in front of me. I imagine the tick of the watch I’m no longer wearing.

I finally begin to write. But what I write is “I don’t know.”

I cannot visualize what my future self would say to a crowd like that and with that effect.

All I can think about with that imaginary crowd and the anticipated speaker are the logistics of the event. Is the mic on? Are the lighting cues set correctly? Does everyone have water?

My years of motherhood and event planning are getting in the way of this stupid visualization exercise. How am I supposed to explore my purpose, the whole point of this evening’s gathering, if I can’t even let my imaginary future self say something awesome to a crowd of imaginary people?

I think the evening is a bust. We continue with two other visualization exercises. I manage to conjure something with each, but still nothing profound or very interesting.

When I share my fails with the group, the facilitator smiles. She remarks how interesting it is that I am in a gathering role in that first visualization.

I recently read naturalist Sy Montgomery’s book The Soul of an Octopus. The book is about the magnificence of the octopus, but it is also about the relationships the author develops with the staff and volunteers at the New England Aquarium as she researches her subject.

Montgomery regularly interacts with a succession of octopuses at the aquarium, letting their tentacles wrap around her wrists and arms, their myriad of suckers leaving octopus hickeys behind. She marvels at their complex invertebrate bodies, their different personalities and their intelligence.

But she’s not alone. There are usually several others gathered around the tank, drawn in by the octopus. They too plunge their hands in the icy salt water, getting tasted and squeezed by the octopus.

And as they do, they talk.

They share their love of this mysterious creature. They share things about their lives – intimate things like a suicide attempt and a wife’s mysterious health decline – all while caressing a non-verbal, tentacled entity.

Not too long ago a shaman told my husband “the mission you have chosen to carry out during this life experience will only be fulfilled at the end of your life so be patient, forgiving, good with yourself and persevering.”

At the start of this new year, I’d come to my friend’s home in hopes of exploring my individual purpose and failed.

I couldn’t even visualize myself twenty years in the future. Then I remember the octopuses in Sy Montgomery’s book. I think about my gathering role at the base of the stage. And I decide to be patient.

Perhaps a little patience is what we all need at the start of a new year.

Kat Dayton is a columnist for St. George News, any opinions given are her own and not representative of St. George News.

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