Imagine you're scuba diving, having been underwater for too long. You realize your oxygen supply is running low. You kick as hard as you can for the surface impossibly far above you. As you break through it into the fresh air, it's your body not you which uncontrollably takes enormous gulps of air. The sound it emits is more than gasping. It's heaving. That's what it's like when I pick up the phone. It's been way too long that I've been without this oxygen. As my emotions heave at his "Hello Laurence!", my eyes instantly mist over. Tears of joy cascade down my face, startling me - but I'm used to them: it's not the first time.
There are literally hundreds of people who've asked me to give him their love, to tell him how much they love him, to tell him how much value they get from his work, to ask him to never stop doing what he's doing. And these are only the hundreds who've requested I carry their communications to him. It'd be in the millions if everyone who knows who he is were in touch with me. True to their intentions (and to my promise), I carry their communications and love to him as one. I tell him as heartfelt as it is, we'd be on this topic forever (really) if I named each individual and recreated each personal communication in detail. What I say is "Everyone loves you. Everyone appreciates what you do so much. People just love you.".
"Thank you. Thank you very much" he replies immediately. He says he appreciates two things: one, everyone's individual greeting, and two, everyone's willingness to be included in one group greeting. It takes something big, something generous to allow a special, personal greeting to be included in a larger group greeting. This allows him precious time to work on ongoing projects and the new work on leadership he's currently completing.
In preparation for this, I didn't simply fall out of bed this morning, and pull on a sweatsuit. Rather, I arose hours ahead of schedule, and dressed as if we'll be sitting on the podium in an auditorium in front of a thousand people. It's appropriate to the occasion. My desk is carpeted with sheets of white A4 sized paper, ten of them blank on which to take notes, and the rest of them covered in pencil notes which I've been jotting down over the last eight weeks since this was set up. I've organized them into areas, into concerns. They're my script - just in case I run out of things to talk about.
Yet there's an overriding realization which making all these notes in preparation has given me: nothing can prepare you for this. Nothing! This sort of thing can be planned - at least to a certain extent. But mostly what happens is you just have to let go and be with whatever comes up. It's funny how my mind ie the mind wants to have it all figured out. The copious notes all over my desk are eloquent testimony to how it almost always gets what it wants. But now that this moment has finally come, all that the papers with the pencil notes on them are, is furniture decoration.
He says his headset is loose. He asks for a moment to fix it. I say "As long as I'm connected to you through this telephone line, that's all I care about. You take as long as you like.". The headset is soon fixed. He apologizes. He asks me to share what's going on in my life and in my children's lives and in our relationships. He says it's a good place to start. It is. I share my experience of how it's going with each of them, and of how my relationship with each of them is.
What I hear in what I'm saying (and that's exactly how it is with him: when I speak with him, I hear things in what I'm saying that I myself don't ordinarily hear) is completely unguarded, totally open, naked. I hear myself saying things at a level of honesty I'm not ordinarily known for. At this level, I say things which concern me deeply - and yet as I say them, they clear up and resolve by themselves. The space of his listening is most unusual. It's unique, extraordinary. In the space of his listening, my erstwhile concerns suddenly transform all by themselves into simply what's so. And what's so is simply what's so. It's neither a problem nor a concern.
Leaving everything untouched on my desk, I climb over the fence separating the Cowboy Cottage from the cattle pasture, remove my shirt, and stroll in the gorgeous autumn sunshine down to the creek, quietly processing what just transpired and how I can best share it.
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