Friday, January 16, 2015

When I remember...

The snow – big, thick flakes – were swirling around outside the massive windows of the voluminous fourth floor ballroom of the Dudley-Davis Center at the University of Vermont in Burlington as our group of 25 food system enthusiasts sat down in a circle of chairs to get to know each other. Knowing it was sub-zero outside, watching the heavy snow falling, and looking forward to a hopefully great week set the stage really well for the inaugural Food Hub Management Certificate Program – the first of its kind in the nation. We 25 participants came from all walks of life and represented all spectrums of the burgeoning local food systems world. Though Michigan and the East Coast were dominantly represented, four of us were from Colorado, New Mexico, and California.

As we all have I’m sure, I’ve participated in more than what I would call a necessary number of get-to-know-you circles. Often I approach these circles with an unhealthy impatience – wanting to get through them to the content of the course or program that waits on the other side. Yet I say unhealthy because what does that content matter if not for the people it affects? If not for the people who wrestle with it? Teach with it? Implement it?

So instead of being present for the first part of the circle, as people went around and introduced themselves and their various businesses or organizations, I debated with myself this paradox and tried to justify and simultaneously knock back my innate impatience with the exercise. Then a phrase that someone said cut through for some reason.

“When I remember…”

I can’t really say exactly why these three words caught me, but I literally felt a wave of emotion – a chill running through my body and a deep sense of gratitude, almost verging on tears. It was said simply talking about a part of this guy’s daily routine I think, but my internal debate was suddenly flooded out by a wave of reminders about all the ways in which I was blessed in that moment – that I had been selected to participate in this course in the first place; that I was financially and physically healthy enough to be able to travel to Vermont; that Re:Vision helped pay for this opportunity; that, if our endeavors succeed, community members lives will be impacted; that I enjoy countless privileges as a white, middle-class male I often don’t even realize when I’m debating things in my head and not paying attention to the real people right in front of me.

And on and on. Thank you. That was it. And all of a sudden I was jerked back into the present – into the moment and starting to look around me and see the people sitting there.

Thank you.