a reflection on the ‘Grieving and Thriving’ series in Open Space
It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything on my personal blog – years, in fact. I am reconnecting to this blog, now, to share my personal experiences and opinions. I do write blogs on the occasion, which I post on our non-profit’s web site (http://reimaginescience.org). However, I intend for ReImagine Science to be much bigger than my own individual ideas and thoughts, and I also wish to express some very personal thoughts that do not speak for ReImagine Science. So. I will do that here.
Since this past January (2022) I have been meeting with a small community of Open Space facilitators from around the world (though mostly the US) on a weekly basis. The group was convened by three originators. Myself, Kári Gunnarson (from Iceland, currently in Taiwan) and Annick Corriveau (in Montreal).
Our history, from our co-authored online write-up, is as follows:
“A group of us participated in this year’s Opening Space for Peace and High Performance on Qiqochat – Kari Gunnarson, Kennan Salinero, and Annick Corriveau – and found a set of common threads that sparked a deep interest in continuing an exploration.
In a nutshell, Annick proposed
and in a separate session Kari and Kennan proposed
There was also a very invigorating and rich conversation regarding the work of Improbable Theatre, and the creativity, inclusiveness and ability to speak authentically about issues at the core of one’s art, livelihood and highest aspirations. Devoted and Disgruntled became a sort of beacon, as that gathering was described as having the kind of conditions we seek to create in our own work.
Annick convened us, then, on a journey that continues. An international team gathered on weekly zoom meetings to explore what each of us was sitting with after the January 14-16th event – grief, thriving, inclusivity, and connecting to one another both through our humanity and through the individual qualities and talents we brought to the table. What we’ve learned from Annick about Devoted and Disgruntled inspired us to experiment with simultaneous translation, an openness to all that feels needing inclusion, and to also creating our own bonds of connection and care for this project and for one another.
We hosted a 2 hour Open Space on April 2nd, on the theme: What Must My Circles and I Grieve on Our Journey to Thriving and Prospering Together? That event was followed by a Lean Coffee on April 30th, to see where this journey takes us.”
On August 20th 2022 we hosted our third event using Open Space online, with storytelling to kick us off. It was five hours’ worth of exploration of the question
What is Lost When There is No Place for Grief in the Workplace?
We were blessed, in this event and for many more, to use the online platform Qiqochat, which was built specifically for convening Open Space in virtual spaces.
As with all Open Space events, a book of proceedings came out of our conversations and a lot of very deep conversations occured. The one that struck me the most was someone who had set his whole life on a trajectory for a spiritual path, before family illness cut off that branch – a path never completed. In his ability to touch on this deep loss, which was tucked away and left behind for most of his life, I became more present to my own unlived furture. What was lost to me, from my time as a faculty member in the Chemistry Department at Georgetown University. I began having dreams of my lab and all the various things it held.
My dreams began to unravel the wrapping I had wound around that whole world, slowly lifting a fog on the realization that it isn’t an interrupted career that I am still planning to go back to, once I get things sorted. A world in which I will continue my research and have those graduate students and answer those deep questions about how proteins are exported from our cells still exists, actually, in my belief system.
Yet, indeed, all of that never was. It was a dream I fell asleep in the midst of, transported to a different Universe.
I have a good friend who had a key discovery early in his faculty career, one that I was very excited about on his behalf. One that I kept in my own memory banks, eager to learn how this beautiful area of study would unfold in his careful and brilliant hands.
Years after he shared this body of work, I asked for an update.
“What that?! Oh. It never got funded.”
A whole future that could have been, shattered, in a single decision by a review panel.