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About that table.



A recruiter contacted me the other day to see if I might be interested in a leadership position for a local organization. I get inquiries from time to time and usually I decline or ignore them, but this one stuck out. The hook: we believe you need a seat at this table.


I love the table. I love being asked to the table. I love squeezing in and elbowing my comrades in arms at the table. I love making eye contact from across the table--the knowing glances when we're about to win...or lose. There's much to do at the table.


Over the years, I've sat at many tables. I've been a newbie, an equal, a confidante, an enemy, a strategist, a leader. I've been rewarded, beloved, chastised, outspoken. My heart and mind have consistently remained strong and clear; however, my confidence would periodically take a tumble depending on the trustworthiness of the other table inhabitants. It's difficult to take up space with those jockeying for position and/or hiding inadequacies. I grow silent in these cases not wanting to waste my breath. I have been criticized for this silence. I don't mind this nor do I owe any explanations.


And yet.


Perhaps I do mind. Not the criticism, but the silence. That silence that wells up in response to someone violently taking up my time and space without reciprocity. That stubborn silence that refuses to reclaim peace in the moment. Say something. Say something. But it doesn't come out and the boundary is not held.


A couple of weeks ago I attended a meditation retreat at Mount Shasta in which more than half of the days were to be spent in silence. I could not wait for this silence. I dreamed and ached for this silence--to not be talked at, dragged into half-baked thoughts, or engage in superficial chit chat. It was meant to be a reprieve from the time vampires and verbal vomiters.


And it was, for an hour or two.


But it turned out that this experience was meant to be a teacher--or a table, as all the elements of my life that I was attempting to escape pulled up a chair and refused to drop eye contact. Bastards. I crinkled my nose with irritation. At one point, I even hopped on my bike stashed in my van and took off, up and over the mountain roads, stretching into the distance, pedaling for reprieve. But dammit, if I didn't get hungry and have to return.


A return to learn:

  • how to respond when someone is simply trying to gain attention, any attention.

  • how to acknowledge the deep hurts of others but to not make them my own.

  • how to walk away from meaningless conversations with my dignity intact.

  • how to care for myself more deeply so that I'm less sensitive to others.


"We believe you need a seat at this table."


It felt good to relay my value and values. To say it clearly with volume.


Thank you for the invitation.


But, at this point, friends, I am more interested in chairing my own damn table, extending cozy yet dignified chairs to non-verbal vomiters and time vampires; of wiping the unnecessary scraps off the table.


Don't worry, the dogs on the floor are always hungry.


Don't worry, there's room to do things differently.


“Tell them about how you're never really a whole person if you remain silent, because there's always that one little piece inside you that wants to be spoken out, and if you keep ignoring it, it gets madder and madder and hotter and hotter, and if you don't speak it out one day it will just up and punch you in the mouth from the inside.”

― Audre Lorde







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