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What is a life well lived?

I got a very interesting Birthday Party invitation the other day. Erik set out a Pingg invite that started with the following:

You are invited to join a remarkable group of friends, creatives, and critical thinkers for a Sunday afternoon birthday gathering. We will tackle the question: What is a well-lived life? …What does it look like? How is it lived?

Not a bad idea for a birthday party right?

Erik is a friend I know from FLOW meetings. He has recently started a new venture called DoubleHappiness an offshoot of which is GoodMeet. Basically, Erik is a creative consultant who works with customers to create events that stir the pot, add ingredients and hopefully help to create new recipes. This includes ideation, problem solving, focus group facilitation, brainstorming, interactive events etc. Goodmeet is the meeting arm of this company which focuses on creating functional and enjoyable meetings of all kinds.

Erik’s birthday played with the Open Space Technology format to facilitate a group of strangers and friends to come together and, with relatively little instruction, self organe a series of activities focused on a particular topic. In this case, What is a Life Well Lived???

Each of the 14 attendees was asked to come prepared to faciliate a session (or three); speech, workshop, panel, activity, debate, pretty much anything on topic and within the space and technology provided. We each wrote a title for our session(s) on a piece of paper and then stuck this paper somewhere on a time line for the day. We each then signed up for sessions that interested us. From that point we simply self organized, usually into two groups, and tackled a couple of sessions at a time. There was a discussion on Entrepreneurship as Personal Growth, a debate on whether or not we should institute a draft, a meditation on love and happiness, Psychochronometry: the effects of aging on the perception of time, coloring, cake decorating, Creative Consumption, something called Bip Bop Pow and the Theory of Interdependence and a bunch of others that I am forgetting and/or we did not get to. I posed the question ‘Is There Danger?’ and we spent a few minutes discussing what danger is, how it is different for each of us and ways in which some of us may enjoy or feel a need for it.

There was a card game designed to put us in touch with our core values and intentions that involved everyone in the group writing human values on a large piece of paper, then each of us picking 15 of these to put on individual cards. Then, through a few rounds of ranking and elimination we eventually ended up with 5 cards. We then flipped these cards over and wrote a little something on the back. Mine ended up somewhat poetically. And thanks to a kickass and completely FREE image manipulation program I just found called GIMP you can see the front and back below (corrected for legibility).

So, I won’t say that we came up with an answer. But I will say that I think all involved enjoyed the exploration. We came together, many of us as strangers, and left significantly closer due to a well organized and incredibly free flowing 4 hours that were able to be exactly what we all wanted and needed them to. No more, no less. As the guidelines professed:

  • Whoever comes are the right people
  • Whatever happens is the only thing that could have happened.
  • Whenever it starts is the right time.
  • When it is over, it is over.

I look forward to seeing what Erik will be up to in the future. I, unfortunately, missed last nights Live Arts Collaboration Salon organized by Allison, another B-Day attendee, where he and 4 other artists from different disciplines met to each give a 20 minute presentation of their work and process with the hope of creating collaboration, conversation and connection. Check out The Performance Project @ University Settlement for more info. This is something I’d actually love to do in the future (future meaning after The Emergence album has been released).