“How large is your appreciable world?” David Cooperrider
This question has stayed with me and is ever present as I walk the beaches, climb in the canyons and watch the sunsets in Big Sur. I’m here for my daughter’s wedding…staying a quintessentially Big Sur place called Deetjen’s.
There are no phones in the rooms, no televisions, there’s no wireless, no cellular service…it’s deeply quiet. The back window of “Edy’s Room” where we are staying looks out on a peaceful garden, complete with a Buddha. With the Dutch door partially open, I see a welcoming porch, a nest with a blue egg and an inviting place to sit.
How much can I appreciate…what can I; what do I appreciate? This inquiry is pivotal to living and “being” AI. Appreciative Inquiry is not simply another OD application–something that practitioners deliver to organizations…it is a lens, a view of the world that magnetizes our attention and reminds us that we are continually constructing, interpreting and creating the world we live in–with our words, with our thoughts and with the meanings that we add to what we see.
Here on the California coast, the grandeur of the redwood forests, the pounding surf, the sparkling streams, the rocks, the soft rolling hills, the brilliant skies remind me that I am just a speck on the continuum of this planet, within this galaxy…there is so much beauty here and my appreciable world is immense.
Sometimes in the day-to-day structure of my life, I forget to take notice of all that is lovely; of the small things–of gestures of kindness and consideration made by the people around me; of the smells of autumn; of the enthusiasm and delight in the voices of my children and grandchildren; of the beauty of my husband’s hands as he ponders how to toast our daughter and her husband-to-be.
Sitting at dinner—actually at two dinners last night—with our whole extended family and family-to-be, I was reminded of the importance of inquiry…how the spirit of the questions that I live in and my willingness to suspend my habitual meanings and interpretations of the world around me can serve and support my capacity to be appreciative. I thought about a question that was posed by Sheila McNamee this summer at the NTL AI Colloquy…”Can I let you happen to me?”
As I took in that question and pondered the implications, I felt myself soften, open. Last night, looking at my daughter and the man she is about to marry, I thought about the open-hearted quality of new love and how vital it is keep letting ourselves “happen” to each other as our love ages…how we blossom in the context of appreciation.
Each morning at Deetjen’s, I watch the groundskeeper carefully pruning the gardens…which look to the untrained eye completely and casually wild.
In moments of reflection, drinking my morning latte, I think about pruning my critical tendencies–my view that insists that there is something wrong in my world that needs attention or fixing. Pruning and weeding so that my appreciative capacities can flourish and grow wild…so that my attention is on celebrating what’s right with the world.
As the day draws to a close and the sun sinks into the Pacific ocean, I feel deeply grateful…filled with wonder and delight as our family grows, as I let this amazing young man and his family “happen to me.”