A New Dinner Game

08

Dec, 2016

I’m getting braver at playing a new dinner game. This new-found bravery was discovered after I went to a large family dinner, and we started talking about gender equality in the workplace. As our collective blood pressure rose, there was lively debate with highly nuanced cross-generational perspectives being aired, plus a whole lot of sparks flying!

Which made it all super interesting.

It was also super uncomfortable.

Because it’s scary putting my views out in the world to be picked over. It’s scary opening myself up to the possibility of changing position. It’s unsettling facing the unravelling of my old rules.

And by listening to new opinions, I might learn that my ideology resides on reclaimed land and guess what, the water is rising…

But when I keep playing nice and not having the conversations that really matter, I don’t grow. Meanwhile, that raw hole of disconnection that is rapidly rotting out my insides, doesn’t get a chance to heal.

Now, I’m the first one to admit that my constant, opinionated thinking and fighting is exhausting and periodically, the option to stay blind to it all is incredibly seductive.

I imagine closing my eyes to the nonsense, not engaging, staying small and out of the way. I would say, “Hey man, I’m just here for the ride now. I’m going to settle down, play along with the game and not bring attention to myself.”

But of course I won’t. Because I can’t.

Now, speaking of rides, I’m reminded of my dabbling in LSD in my late teens and early twenties.

I’d drop a tab with my friends and invariably throughout the night, there would be all sorts of hallucinogenic adventures going on in the periphery of my vision. For those that have not tried this brain-putrefying toxic tomfoolery, let me tell you about the night I saw Spiderman.

[Disclaimer: Testimonial is not claimed to represent typical result.]

The very first time I took acid, I was with two girlfriends and we were heading into the city to an underground nightclub called The Box. Literally underground. It was a warren of small, dark rooms with the only known entry/exit point being a flight of steep, narrow stairs up onto the street. Fire safety? Pffft.

We were 19 year old giggly silliness and as I stepped out of the cab, turning to close the door behind me, I noticed something sobering out the corner of my eye.

It was Spiderman scaling down an office block.

In Auckland, New Zealand.

Because where the fuck-else would Spiderman be on a Friday night in 1997?

When I looked again, he had disappeared back into the night, presumably off to do his Spidey Things.

I knew my friends wouldn’t understand me, or believe me, or trust my perspective, and so I pretended I hadn’t seen Spiderman.

I turned a blind eye and just went on my giggly, silly way. Just like I’ve subsequently and repeatedly done over the drug-free years when I’ve seen things that I haven’t understood or haven’t agreed with.

But I’m at a place in my life now where I don’t want to go on my giggly silly way anymore. I don’t want to pretend I don’t see things anymore. I want to call out those things on the periphery, those interesting, unexplainable, imaginative, scary truths that lurk and skip and tantalise just beyond the realms of socially acceptable dinner conversation.

No more of those stale conversations that everyone is comfortable having because they can go home happy and a little bit drunk and content that even though their sentences were really long and unpunctuated it’s okay because they didn’t say anything that may have offended someone else’s position.

[Disclaimer: Always drink responsibly. Your dinner mates will thank you for it, plus you’ll remember how you got home.]

I want those real conversations. And if you invite me to dinner, I’ll be the one starting them. Not the ones stuffed full of disclaimers about our abilities. Not the ones peppered with capitalist rhetoric about getting value from our relationships and portfolios. Not the ones safely pretending that equality has already arrived.

And oh yes, I know, I’ll be dropped from the team because I’m not playing ball anymore.

But that’s okay because I’m playing a new game now and looking for a new team. I’m looking for the team that casts the Safe Dinner Dialogue rules aside and lets me expand my reach of what is possible. I’m looking for people who will talk with me, let me ask questions and let me learn and expand my consciousness. The people who will let me figure out what I might be capable of too when I push those boundaries.

In this little adventure for myself, in service to my own whims, perhaps I’ll start a revolution by peeling away someone else from the old game. And they’ll peel someone else away, and then they’ll peel another, and those people will peel others, and then others and others…

Meanwhile, if any of this resonates with you, let me ask you a favour.

Next time you see me or anyone else truly engaging with a dinner partner, please come and play.

Please show up and let’s engage in these interesting, tricky topics together.

Please argue your viewpoint wholeheartedly, with passionate conviction and without any disclaimers.

Please let me into your real world, the one you hope you could be in all the time. Show me your true and unique perspective and let’s push through our boundaries and crack ourselves wide open.

Because my way isn’t the way and your way isn’t the way, but by talking about our positions authentically we have a real chance at figuring out a better way.

And in the process, we have a shot at healing the gaping hole of disconnection in both our hearts.

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