H and I are trying to broaden our horizons. Our little town seems to be stepping up its game. We all (well, not all of us) voted and agreed it would be a good idea to build a new arena, and it seems that if a town gets a new arena, it also needs new hotels, restaurants, parking garages, sidewalks, drinking fountains, and well — you name it, it seems like our little town is getting it.
H and I? We try to keep our finger on the pulse. (Are you laughing?)
So, last Saturday afternoon, we found ourselves at the museum downtown, participating in an anti-violence dialogue workshop. Somehow, when we registered for this event, the words “dialogue” and “workshop” escaped us both. I think we were under the impression we’d be attending something more like a seminar, or a presentation. We thought we’d sit quietly in comfy chairs, taking notes and nodding wisely as someone clicked through powerpoint slides at the front of the auditorium.
From the moment we walked through the door, we knew we’d better put on our game faces. There were strangers, and name tags, and an ice breaker. It was the kind of ice breaker where you have to go around asking strangers questions about themselves. The introvert in me started looking for the exit sign.
Eventually, we got to sit down. In comfy chairs. And take notes. I must have let down my guard, because the next thing I knew, we were being sent off to complete a “mirroring” exercise. Had I seen that one coming, I’d have turned in my name tag, post haste. But I was in there. I had introduced myself to people. The moment to ditch had come and gone, and I’d completely missed it. As we filed out of the auditorium and into smaller groups where we’d each be expected to stand toe-to-toe with a stranger and mimic that stranger’s movements, I leaned over to H and said, “Don’t bail.” Who was I fooling? H disappeared ten seconds later.
I, however (rule follower that I am — ha!), climbed the steps to the little room where I pulled up a chair next to a complete stranger and named her my partner. “You can do this,” I whispered to myself. “Just ten minutes of your life, and you’ll be better on the other side. And, if you’re not better, at least you’ll be done.”
Sometimes, it works. Sometimes I tell myself, “Just run for ten minutes, and then you can stop. You’ll be better on the other side. And, if you’re not better, at least you’ll be done.” Sometimes it’s about writing. “Just write for ten minutes,” I say. I lace up my sneakers, or open my laptop, and before I know it, thirty minutes or three hours have passed, and I’ve run further or written more than I thought possible. I feel better. There are other times the ten minutes roll around, and I can’t breathe, or I look at what I’ve written and delete it all. I limp off the treadmill, or close the laptop, and call it done. (And not in a good way.)
Either way, those ten minutes stretch me.
In the museum, in that small group, I “mirrored” and dialogued and called it done. Then, I caught up with H (I may have rolled my eyes at him for missing out on the mirror) and we walked across town to catch a movie. Sometimes the ten-minute stretch is worth every minute, and sometimes the ten-minute stretch is just done.