Where Do You Stand?

Second in a series.

I’m letting our Picture a Conversation cards inspire this ongoing essay series. Many years ago, Martin captured the image of these geese when we visited Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania.

To add a bit of spontaneity to this essay adventure,  each week I am choosing the conversation card at random. This way I am forced to approach each topic with a fresh perspective. Oh, the Universe is a trickster. Had I been choosing deliberately, I would have left this card to the last. Like the intuition that leads cats directly to the feline-phobic, this card sidled up to claim my attention.

How does this happen, that the thing we do not want comes to us? There is much talk today about the energy we put out.  Positive or negative, our energy serves as a magnet of sorts, returning to us precisely what we transmit. Perhaps magnet is the wrong analogy. Magnets attract their opposite; they repel like poles. If negativity is one’s prevailing mindset, why doesn’t it draw positivity?  The guru in my mind whispers, Because that’s just not the way it works, Debra. The things we may fear, fight and dread come our was so we can face them, walk through the valley of our resistances and come out the other side hopefully wiser, expanded in spirit, strengthened by new insights.  

When I crafted the statement and the questions on the reverse of the card above, I thought about the parents and adolescents who might use it as a jumping off point for a meaningful conversation. Yet opportunities for loved ones, friends and colleagues to go head-to-head over any number of issues span all age groups. My daughter and I are navigating plans for her wedding. At the outset she said, “I want  planning my wedding to be as joyous as my wedding is going to be.  If we reach a wall we’ll hang up, cool off and talk to each other the next day.” Wise woman this daughter we have raised. 

I am discerning anew what flexibility feels like — united, gratified, content —  versus submission’s residue — squelched, diminished, divided against myself. Flexible allows me a sense of personal agency.  Submission stirs up feelings of impotence. Flexibility spreads before me choices whose breadth is limited only by my own imagination. Submission shuts down any possibility of choice or creative thought.

And what about principles? Which are ironclad and which would we modify or even set aside?  Are we unprincipled to reconsider certain principles we have stood upon, perhaps for decades? What, if any, are the costs and consequences and to whom? 

Of the 25 cards in the deck of Picture a Conversation, this one’s accompanying message was the hardest one to craft.  I love the image of these geese and their respective postures. Anthropomorphizing, I wonder what they are saying to one another. After Martin snapped his shot, we walked away. Perhaps they kept honking at one another. Maybe they switched stances. Then again, perhaps they went their separate ways for a bit, only to reconnect the next day, realizing that rigidity and submission kept them anchored in place. That perhaps by standing at the intersection of flexible and principles they could make way for new paths.

Use these geese to start a conversation of your own.  Recall a time when you and another had to “agree to disagree.” Was the relationship strengthened or diminished? How did you resolve the impasse?

Each Picture a Conversation deck has 25 cards and over 75  questions to enrich your relationships through meaningful conversations.  It’s a  unique birthday, shower or engagement gift. Are you corporate? Picture a Conversation will deepen your team-building experiences. Or choose a card to take with you on a walk with a friend or loved one.    To order a set, here’s the link. Expand the conversation! I would deeply appreciate your sharing this essay on your social media sites.  If you missed last week’s essay, here you go.


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