Last night I was escorted to an intimate private dining room at the Ritz-Carlton.  It was nothing compared to where I choked on meals only a year ago, Alderson Federal Prison Camp.  This skilled group of 10 adults were invited to discuss the idea of “making meaning”.

The setting was “executive-elegant”.  The acoustics were accordingly designed to minimize echoes which eliminated the need to shout but provided individuals to be easily heard using their “inside voice”.  A floor to ceiling wall of glass captured the pulse of downtown Charlotte, of which I was able to take advantage of from my seat. I wondered if I had been sitting in the same leather chair perhaps an influential or famous person may have been seated.  However it was only a passing thought, because I really don’t care anymore!

Before the “meat of the discussion” began, the facilitator requested us to introduce ourselves, briefly.

The guest list ranged from artists, attorneys and business owners to retired military and wealth management advisors, the youngest guest was a refined college student, with a sense of gratitude, motivation and wisdom to accept the life ahead of her, may be exciting, but not without challenges and set backs.

One guest was originally from Colombia, South America who had struggled to learn English and understand the American culture, while working dead end jobs, to now owning and operating a very successful business,  the “American Dream” founded.

Have you ever been in a room full of people that seemed to have done more than you with their life?  That was me, last night…but the good news…it’s not fatal!

Introducing myself these days is challenging…Hi my name is Holly and I am a felon.  Now that’s impressive, right?  LOL.  Instead I took the “less is best” approach and was very evasive about my “accomplishments”.

Unfortunately this did not go unnoticed and the facilator (who knew my story) politely asked if I would embellish a bit more.  I shared, openly and honestly, and without doubt of who I was and how I felt.

The Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno proclaims life is characterized much more by exception and disorder than by total or perfect order.  The Biblical tradition is largely about loss and renewal, death and resurrection, crisis and recovery, basically life is about opposites and the collision of both.  Everything has an opposite, this is life.

Our culture distorts who we are by what we do for a living.  Yet as the discussion deepened, steadily each person shared their own “tragic sense of life”, meaning…life is not clear and designed as a straight line forward and upward.

Sipping coffee this morning, I reflected to last nights “supper”…(LOL) and this is what I observed.  The sense of who you really are, which is deep inside your core, is your story, your ownership.  These intimating, educated and masterly guests seemed to recognize their own personal struggles and recovery more than what title they had earned today!

In the spiritual life and now in science, we learn more by honoring our own pitfalls with a willingness to learn from our disorder.  If you are one of those people, I consider you an “exception” to the rule.  Welcome to the club!

I applaud the vulnerability and authenticity of those guests who shared who they were and today simply grateful for the opportunity to have shared a meal with. Thank you.

We can grow from tragedy, although not exactly desirable or pleasant, but if you are willing to see your down as up, or as Jung put it, “where you stumble and fall, there you find pure gold”.

I feel very wealthy today!  In-joy, Holly




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