50 Metres High & Grounded

It was unmissable. Not the event itself (although that is also true) but the water tower which stood solid and unmoving; the centrepiece of the landscape for another MWP* event. Its thick walls, built to hold the weight and pressure of the water it had originally stored, would now host the party at the end of the first day, as well as provide the opportunity – for those who dared – to climb the stairs, emerge into the world, and abseil back down to earth.

And so, in its own transformation, it invited us to follow ours; as individuals, as groups, as a company.

I arrived after an engaging car journey and joined those already milling around, greeting old connections and making new ones. I was struck by how friendly and open people were. Inclusive. I was reminded of how, in my footballing youth, I had been welcomed with open arms by the established players of the first team. This felt the same. They didn’t have to, but they did.

We had all brought tents to sleep in, shunning comfort and luxury for one night outdoors; everyone grounded in the same, basic experience. There was a timetable, but certainly no strict adherence to those flip-chart lines. Instead there was the freedom to take whatever time you needed, talk to whomever you wished, be whoever you are.

In smaller groups the first exercise asked four questions. Our group almost missed lunch and still never made it past the first question, such was the depth and breadth of the exchanges. People talked of progress and transformation, but also of disillusionment, pain and loneliness.

We sat together, listening to each other, asking questions which served to expand and clarify the stories.

I felt my own questions land – first in myself and then in the room. I have learnt to wait for that congruent, green-light feeling which arises out of curiosity and connection, rather than say something for the sake of it, or in order to impress, as I used to do. The difference it makes in myself, in the room, and in the respondent is always noticeable.

I was in my element, and I stayed there all weekend. I shared something of what I wrote in, In The Zone, about how well my life is going. I shared how happy I was to be there in that environment, and how wonderful it would be if the whole world could find a way to sit around a table and share of themselves so that they may connect with each other as we were doing.

The celebration in the evening was another chance to connect at a more profound level than is otherwise possible or permissible. I had originally (and genuinely) thought I would retire early to my tent, a prospect which looked highly likely as I hovered uncomfortably on the edge of an embryonic dancefloor.

But then a friendly face appeared and asked me how I was doing. I mention it here because the feeling of inclusion made an impression on me again, and because maybe, in that short exchange, amidst the loud music and remnants of dry ice, my whole night changed course.

I grew increasingly into the eveing, enjoying more and more of the kinds of conversations in which I always come alive. I felt a deep appreciation for everyone there, and I even took to the dancefloor myself, moved by the kind of liberation which found expression in the words: “Please, carry on talking, but I have to dance!

There, too, I was free to reveal myself, knowing that the two people sat with me on the steps accepted me fully. There was beauty to all my interactions, all weekend – such richness in a world too often distracted by the superficial.

Meanwhile, the water tower stood still; silent and substantial; visible to all, and thoroughly grounded in the earth. Another invitation: Stand still and be seen. Throughout the weekend I had found myself emphasising the depth of connection I felt, but having had more time to reflect, the real depth lies in being seen and being heard.

To be seen, we need only stand still. To be heard, we need only speak our truth.

Neither of those things are necessarily easy, but the beauty of MWP is that they are always available, always possible. And so it was that, as I left the weekend and reflected together with close family, it was obvious to those around me that this latest chapter of my story, rooted in the foundation of decades of work, had clearly left me feeling just like the water tower: 50 metres high and grounded.


* Additional MWP posts: Courage In The DarknessConnecting In The StillnessExactly Who I AmChoose To Change Your Mind50 Metres High & GroundedWe ScoreEight SongsMeeting Myself AnewListen, Don’t ListenPlaying On The SwingsI Found My Voice

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