30 | Welcoming The Space Between Us

“If we are going to understand and appreciate each other’s differences, then we need to be able to trust the space between us.”

Charlie Jones & Brigid Russell (From Trust in the Spaces Between Us)

Connection isn’t always about closing the gap between us. Sometimes it’s simply about recognising the space that exists. Allowing it. Trusting it. Letting go of our need to possess and control it.

Just like silence can leave us feeling awkward, the idea of space can make us uncomfortable at times. It’s tempting to see it as something to fill. We might try dominating it by forcing agreement or demanding sameness at the level of difference.

But what if those uncertain, mysterious, incomplete spaces are what allows life to unfold in its weird and wonderful ways?

In this episode of The Gentle Rebel Podcast, I chat with Brigid Russell, who founded #SpacesForListening with Charlie Jones.

Coats hanging on hooks - representing the space between us

Brigid invited me to Spaces For Listening last month. It was a quite beautiful experience that allowed some slow-burning inner shifts to take occur. It opened the door for lingering inspiration from its simple structure and the willingness of participants to embrace its flow.

The session provided an opportunity to enjoy some protected space to think out loud. To connect, untangle, and feel the spark of inspiration as we bounced into and around each other without interruption, hierarchy, or introductions. It felt like everyone was equal.

There is something lovely about sharing space without knowing anything about the background, role, or status of other people.

Brigid’s insightful probing tweets always inspire me. You’ll hear some of them throughout the episode. She has a thoughtful, open, and firm-back-soft-front gentleness that implicitly and playfully rebels against the forceful certainty underpinning a lot of modern discourse.

“What on earth happens when we step into a formal meeting, and seem only to see the professional roles, hierarchical titles, & siloed labels? Why do we all let that happen? We’re all people with fears, doubts, ideas, & hopes. People who care. What stops us just meeting as people?”

Conditions For Listening

In the episode, Brigid and I talk about the conditions for listening. In particular we explored the role of limits when it comes to curating space for it to actually happen.

It doesn’t take long to listen to another person. It doesn’t take much to feel heard. And yet, we can overcomplicate or ignore it because we’re too busy. How do we make time for the important stuff when our real urgency demands attention?

Space For Growth

“Some things take time. Not because we haven’t found a quicker way! They just take time. Time to feel how things feel over & over. To notice what we avoid, what’s too hard to say out loud, traps we fall into, & when we’re ready to notice. Some things just take time & they need to.”

We often seek faster ways of getting to where we’re going. But what if it’s the pace at which we try to achieve results that is causing the need for these solutions in the first place? What if patience, surrender, and the willingness to sit with the space between, is what we need to bravely step towards?

Space For Trust

“It is not about creating cosy safe spaces in which we all seem to agree, and reach false harmony. This is about spaces in which we can really hear each other, stick with the discomfort, and then find new clumsy answers together.”

How do we maintain connection and trust when we disagree with one another?

Sharing Space With Everyone

Life is dynamic, we are constantly moving and bouncing off each other. The space between us can feel cramped at times. We move at different speeds and rhythms and may find ourselves surrounded by people going at a completely different pace.

What can lanes swimming tell us about life?

Meaning Lurks Between The Lines

“What if we could see it as ‘life in progress’? Strive less, live more. Less frenetically, more slowly & gently. Live with incompleteness and contradictions.”

Meaning is found in the space between, often when we stop trying to describe/articulate it. It’s found in small actions, exchanged glances, and shared moments. Meaning isn’t forced and it can’t be reached before its ready.

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