My friend Zach hosted a gathering called a "Salon". The idea dates back to the 16th Century and there meet-ups were popular in European society during the post Renaissance. The meetings were places to exchange ideas, increase knowledge, and expand understanding through conversation.
Zach convened a small group of people to a conference room at his apartment complex and invited the participants to share philosophies of success and happiness. I was curious about how the "Salon", a term I had only recently heard from another friend who has been involved in similar intimate intellectual conversation groups. As I reviewed the guest list I realized I was older than the young Millennial crowd, and wondered if my much older Gen X perspectives of the world would be welcomed or understood in the dialogue.
I decided to attend this "Salon" because I have a personal commitment to support unique events hosted by my friends, or meetings where I know the speakers or my peers are being honored. Too often in our crazy-busy world we choose not to be present when we cannot predetermine the personal ROI. There is too much focus on "protecting our time" and not enough openness to the serendipity that is part of the human experience.
The "Salon" turned out to be a rewarding and challenging experience. We were joined by a woman who lived in the apartment complex who was curious about the group, asked to join the discussion, and at times took over the conversation. While not invited, unfocused, maybe medicated, and clearly a "Wild Card" tossed into the mix, the realities of the new comer's different situations and emotional observations created a fascinating study in how humans engage with each other when peeling back the onion on topics that are often not explored in social interactions.
We went from skimming the surface of success and happiness to a thoughtful and intellectual conversation that included joy, creativity, inspiration, relationships, marriage, children (I was the only parent in the room), freedom, satisfaction, control, fulfillment, contentment, service, suffering, nature, poets, religion, anticipation, philosophy, and technology.
My take away was that we need to strip away the layer of chit chat that prevails in most social situations and allow our thinking minds to ponder topics with other people who are seeking answers. The success was in the level of respect that was put forth, even when parts of the conversation became uncomfortable or intimately personal. I felt good at the end of three hours, although challenged on ways that I (and others) view and review our surroundings.
The group will meet again, and I will be there.
Have A Great Day.