What will you experience here? 

I’m listening to this amazing book, Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship by Father Gregory Boyle. I’ll be honest, I am as surprised as anyone that I am loving this book. (If you’re curious about that statement, let’s chat.)

I listen to it every day as I take my walk, often pausing to step off the path, to tap a quote into my phone so I don’t forget it. Just the other day I was listening to a piece about what volunteers often ask when they arrive at Homeboy Industries (the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation, and re-entry program in the world). Their question, is “What should I do here?” The response from Father Gregory is priceless, “The  question is what will you experience here?” I love that! 

Can you feel the difference? As I listen to Father Gregory‘s question I feel an expansiveness, an opportunity to open up to the possibility of what might occur. When I listen to the question about what to do, while it could lead to many possible answers, my sense of it is that one or two answers are being sought. It feels like possibilities are closed off, along with creativity, and imagining beyond what’s right in front of me. While there are times for needing a specific answer… what if we lived that question every day, throughout our days? 

What will you experience here?

What do you think? I have several thoughts about it:

  • It would be exciting and mind-expanding.
  • It might be exhausting and unsustainable. 

I think of the latter because having routines and habits can be very helpful. It certainly streamlines my day and reduces the number of decisions I make, whether I’m thinking of my breakfast routine or the route I will take to the train station. If I approached every task with the query, “What are all the possibilities?” I’m not sure I get enough done during the day.

Perhaps there’s a middle path—discerning the times to choose a routine and when to be open to something novel. I might have more varied and quite different experiences if I  consciously choose to embrace the question of how I will engage in them.

One of my students, years ago would ask me, when he received an assignment, “What to do?” Of course, the tasks varied, some were more close-ended/one right answer while others were more open-ended, with multiple perspectives or answers. 

The question, “What to do?” does not necessarily imply a way to do something or a way of looking at it. Yet, I wonder how frequently I/we step back from an immediate appraoch to tackling a task to wonder about the experience we will have. What do you think? I know that I am already wondering about how I will step into situations later today.

As you enter the weekend, perhaps you will play with these questions. If you do, or whenever you do, please let me know your experiences.