Conversations – The Counterpoint To Spending Time Alone
Being At The Cottage is about using the power of spending time alone to deepen the development of something extraordinary.
However, in order to add perspective and depth to that experience, the time spent alone is enhanced by conversations. But calling them conversations doesn’t really do justice to what can happen when two people sit down and talk together with purpose, so I’ve borrowed a phrase from a special friend which conveys much more eloquently what it’s all about.
‘Conversing with an intelligent stranger with no agenda.’
These words are the words of Ted Simon – a journalist and legend among the small tribe of overland bikers and a self-deprecating cult figure among motorcyclists generally, describing the importance to him of anticipating sharing the experience, insights and shifts in perspective that are triggered by spending time alone. And he should know. He spent 4 years travelling alone around the world on his motorbike – not once, but twice and 30 years apart. So I value his words about the importance of the conversations at Being At The Cottage. His Triumph Tiger 100, which he rode on his first journey, is in the Museum of Transport, Coventry.
I realise that for many, the thought of coming face to face with yourself for an extended period of time may make the hairs stand up on your arms. After all, isn’t it just easier to let the habitual distractions roll over us while we succumb to the backlog of mundane problems that swirl around us like autumn leaves on a gusty day.
Having conversations with an intelligent stranger who has no agenda has the potential to stir the sediment that lies unexplored in the subconscious and create a space for expansion.
There are at least 4 good reasons why, wherever you are and whatever you do, seeking out conversations like these are uplifting, affirming and food for the soul.
Good conversations should be dynamic involving give and take, timing, patience and preferably well-judged humour. Dynamic interruption helps to organise and prioritise the flow of the conversation. Intentionally provoking, it challenges ideas and encourages development and clarity of a theme, or stream of consciousness that has arisen. Smoothing and teasing out the strands of thoughts, untangling and arranging them into well-organised skeins so that they may be used to weave the idea into existence.
Discovering And Discarding Potential Barriers To Success
We’re all governed by our conditioning and beliefs. They shape the reality that we perceive by distorting, deleting and generalizing the information. This is what we want most of the time, because if the subconscious shared all of the 60,000 thoughts that we have on average each day we would achieve nothing.
However, to have a belief that deletes, distorts and diminishes the possibility of creating something extraordinary is a barrier to progress. During the course of the conversations if barriers to progress are discovered then they can be dealt with.
The Perfect Counterpoint To Spending Time Alone
Mulling over an idea while spending time alone encourages the mind to expand. Warm but candid conversations assist the organisation of disparate patterns of thought and investigate the significance of apparently random thoughts. They create space for movement around persistent and under-developed ideas and provide refreshing, new perspectives.
Bringing It All Into Sharp Focus
While spending time alone stimulates expansive thinking and creativity, by its nature the process is introspective. Like photography before the digital era, the images and ideas need to be brought into sharp focus manually. Having conversations with an intelligent stranger with no agenda intentionally draws the mind back from the unstructured, free thinking and brings thoughts and ideas into sharp focus.
So, borrowing Ted’s description of ‘conversing with an intelligent stranger with no agenda’ sums up the process beautifully for me because each conversation provides delicate balance and is the counter point to spending time alone.