07-09 - A gust of north wind

    A heritage

    Sometime in the early 19th century, in the north of England, my great great great grandfather was born. Benjamin Jesse Sutterby became a reporter and I know little of his life, except that he gave away his daughter Mary, my great great grandmother, in marriage in 1867 at the parish church of St. Paul's in Hulme, Manchester. The church, the house he lived in nearby and the streets they both stood on have all long felt the bulldozer's sharp teeth. Yet perhaps I can keep a little of his tradition alive by writing this column once a month.

    A beginning

    And so I start out, quill newly sharpened and ink freshly mixed, to sample the delights of Play as Being. It's a strange feeling. I have been to the pavilion so many times, and it is barely a furlong east from my own home in Mieum, yet I don't know what to expect, either of the conversations or of myself. Will there be any discernible themes that run like threads through the sessions? Or will each log stand by itself, stubbornly alone amidst its peers? How will I react, and can I hope to convey even a glimmer of the richness I might find there?

    It is, therefore, with some sense of relief that I do in fact find themes. No, not always in the subject matter, but more often in the attitudes. In reading the transcripts, I am taken on a journey that brings smiles and frowns to my face, that exercises the grey matter behind it, and that sometimes leaves me on the edge of my seat with anticipation. But I am never, ever, bored!

    An unnoticed guest listens

    scribewatch1.jpgThe first thing that I have to report, as I sit hovering over proceedings like a ghostly gust of north wind in the rafters, is that it's often tricky to guess where we are! I could be amongst friends almost anywhere, chatting about this and that, and I might never gather that I was in a discussion focused on Play as Being. Well almost never. And yet it's clear we share something in common, though as an outsider I may take some time to discern what. Meanwhile, I would have been charmed, intrigued and drawn into this circle of friends, picking up things about Play as Being almost as if by osmosis. Is this bad? No, I think not.

    I also notice the personal depths in the thoughts expressed, questions and insights such as:

    "I don't know how to be seen without a see-er"
    "what is A thing?", "what is THE campfire?" "Which part of the water is a wave?"
    "It is amazing to think of all the things our body knows which we do not"
    "attachments aren't good or bad, they're just attachments" - - "wow non-attachment to attachment :)"
    "An ability to feel and appreciate is there... Just when feeling good or bad, it's important not to cling on for me... But fully appreciate whatever comes"

    It strikes me that these people are SINCERE. They are really thinking in their everyday real lives and bringing their real worlds and real thoughts into Second Life. I can't help but feel honoured and somewhat humbled by hearing them think aloud like this.

    An enduring quality, conspicuous by its presence and its absence

    But the main thing I bring back from my trip sitting on the railing around the pavilion oculus is this. There is a particular quality that people, in general, bring to the Play as Being sessions. It is such an important quality and it is so pronounced that when some visitors, regular or fleeting, choose to leave it behind, the difference stands out like a sore thumb. And the quality is this: lack of being judgmental - because with this quality comes an openness to consider ideas and to foster intellectual, spiritual and emotional risk taking. With this quality, no one need feel they are wrong, no one has memories that are or are not valid, no one has experiences that are not real - at least to themselves; there are no 'shoulds' or 'should-nots' of thought or feeling.

    What happens when people come to these sessions with this quality? It seems to me that an atmosphere of mutual support prevails and an eagerness to hear new ideas. What happens on the few occasions when a judgmental attitude returns? Well, turned in on itself it seems to cause a self-destructive tendency, and when turned outwards it jars the atmosphere and inhibits free discussion (and, incidentally, makes that person look rather aloof and silly).

    A commitment to return

    And finally, this writer brings back some lovely personal memories. I learnt about two major luminaries of twentieth century American legal circles (Hand and Jackson). I expanded my lexicon ("sumptuary", adj., Regulating or limiting personal expenditures; regulating personal behavior on moral or religious grounds). And I learned what women do to control internal wind (yes really... -ish, but you'll have to track this down yourself!).

    I'll be back next month. Meanwhile, don't look up!

    Storm Nordwind

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    Originally written on 02:51, 13 Jan 2009
    1. What a really fabulous photo of you spying down on us.
    2. We will not change any of our words knowing you are listening (except to speel them better).
    Posted 18:23, 9 Apr 2010
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