How many people travelled to a new life from this terminal? What were their hopes and dreams, and did they have any idea of what lay in store for them? What was it like to leave all that was familiar behind? To travel towards the unknown, perhaps never to return?
I am reminded of my grandmother’s 90th birthday celebration last weekend, in which we shared stories of her life. How she decided to travel to Curacao on her own to join her fiancée, my grandfather, when she was 23 years old. ‘Weren’t you afraid of leaving everything behind?’, her grandchildren asked her. ‘We thought a new war was coming in ‘49, so it seemed like now or never, and I just went’, she responded. She went by plane that first time, not by boat, but still. And ended up staying there for 20 years, in a time when people communicated with handwritten letters that took their time to find their destination.
A terminal. A starting point for journeys of great significance. The place where you are about to embark, on an adventure or into the unknown. What a fitting location for an Appreciative Inquiry Summit. Where are we journeying towards? What are we leaving behind? Or how might we allow ourselves to stay in that space of ‘in-between-ness’, having left the familiar behind, but not quite departed to the new. A physical space of inquiry, in which we do not need to rush to a new destination, but can dwell and linger in the unknown. See which new connections, ideas and initiatives might emerge there.
In between what exactly? Geoff Mead writes in his book on storytelling that we collectively find ourselves ‘in between stories’. The old story (or stories) about the world we live in and our place in it, no longer seem to work for us. Yet, we are still searching for new stories. Or perhaps we do not dare to let go of our old stories, or we misguidedly try to formulate one grand, all-encompassing new story.
How can we come to new stories that open up the space for multiple or plural stories? And with that reclaim authorship of our own lives and the world around us, our relationship with the human and non-human world? Perhaps that is the question that inspires me most for this summit. Being an author suggest some sort of creative power, the power to participate in creation. As Rebecca Solnit so eloquently puts it:
‘These other versions of what revolution means suggest that the goal is not so much to go on and create the world as to live in that time of creation, and with this the emphasis shifts from institutional power to the power of consciousness and the enactments of daily life, toward a revolution that does not institute its idea of perfection but opens up the freedom for each to participate in inventing the world.’
A revolution that starts in the in-between space? Or perhaps it’s a revolution that promotes prolonging our stay in the in-between space, an invitation to continuously question and create the world we live in. Not just with this Summit, but every day. But still, the Summit feels like a treat in this regard. Three days in this in-between-space, with 250 other people who are also passionate about change. I can’t wait for it to start.