Beware the barrenness of a busy life. Socrates
We are all living busy lives. And in that busyness, it is often the creative, intellectual, and self-reflective pursuits that get sacrificed. I don't have time to read. I have too much going on to stop and sit with what I am feeling. Five years ago, a friend and I started a women's group. Our intention was to create a space where each month we come together with a curriculum to discuss different topics and feel challenged to think, reflect, learn and grow. Continually.
As busy adults and no longer in school, we seem to lack a structure that challenges us to look at how we operate, what we believe and value, and how our past has impacted us. How often do you take an inventory to see if you are on the road you intended to take? After five years with the same group of women, month after month, I can honestly say, it is one of the best things I have done for my personal growth.
When we first started, we sent out an invitation which included this quote by Bruce Mau from his Incomplete Manifesto for Growth. Allow events to change you. You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it. The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.
It takes a certain kind of courage to look honestly at your life. To call up events and shine light on things that can really be left well enough alone. However difficult, I feel that we always benefit from the challenge of looking.
I recently came across this amazing school via The Design Files, that's right up my alley. It's called the The School of Life. Based in London, they call themselves a cultural enterprise offering good ideas for everyday life. They address such questions as why work is often unfulfilling, why relationships can be so challenging, why it’s ever harder to stay calm and what one could do to try to change the world for the better.
On the menu of the school, you won’t find subjects like ‘philosophy’ ‘French’ ‘History’ and ‘the Classics’. You’ll find courses in ‘Death,’ ‘Marriage’ ‘Choosing a career’ ‘Ambition’ ‘Child Rearing’ or ‘Changing your world’. How great is that! There’s even a bookshop in the school which does away with the traditional categories in bookshops like fiction or history and just sells books according to particular problems. They've got a shelf titled ‘For those who worry at night’ and another titled ‘How to be happy though married’. They call the shop a ‘chemist for the soul’.
For those of us who are not living in London or Melbourne, where they just opened their second campus, they have a great blog that you can follow along with. Every change begins with a first step. What small change can you make that can expand your life? Happy schooling!