Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Socrates Café

A short while ago, I was getting off of the escalator, on my way out of the downtown library, when I crossed paths with Bill Paul – London’s town crier, radio personality, all ‘round great guy and host for ‘Socrates Café’.

Once a month, for two hours, a gathering of very interesting people share insights and ponder questions about various subjects. Bill reminded me about this month’s social. I hadn’t been in a few months and I’m glad – like always – that I attended.

The reason that I like to attend is to be reminded of one simple understanding… ‘We are all uniquely individual in our beliefs and practices’. And that applies to people of the same faiths.

Around the circle we will go, each person sharing thoughts with reference to the topic on hand. Then an open forum begins. With a blink of an eye it’s time to offer every person one final moment to express thoughts on the topic… and then it’s over.

It takes quite a while to listen to all thirty people in attendance. It’s always so interesting. I’ve noticed that the one thing that everyone speaks of, somewhere in their minute and a half, is love… as a state of being, or a will from the cosmos, or a word from a book – and that’s always made me feel really good. Some of the ideologies surrounding that word sometimes seem a little (and sometimes a lot) unusual to me, but to have one simple feeling in common is more significant than anything else!!! One common thread that unites differences and offers patience to practice surrounds us all the time. We need to be able to recognize these connections to build our ability to communicate complicated ideas to one another.

I always get a bit nervous when it’s getting close to my turn to speak. I try to keep in mind what has already been said so that I can offer a different thought on the subject. Last evening, it happenstanced that I was to be the very last speaker of the evening. I listened as attentively as I could but from time to time, thoughts kept popping into my mind: “Think of something witty”, “Think of something profound”, “Tell them about your art show at Grooves Records” or “Recite a poem”. In the end it went something like this…

“Each one of us here has come from a different and individually unique background. Around the world, we see many different cultures, religions, skin colours, as well as many divers groups of politicians, militants, and institutional leaders.” By this time I had brought a really serious tone to the floor and I continued, “And the one thing”, I paused and lifted my finger, “The one thing… that unites each and every one of us,” I hurried after a fresh breath, “Is our belief that we are all above average drivers.” And I folded my arms to indicate that I was finished.

No one was expecting such an abrupt ending and a second and a half of silence fell over the floor… then the bursts of laughter…!!!! My joke was a success. I kinda stole it from some local flyer of some sort. Artists are the worst thieves…


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