By Simon Bell
I have been suggesting the use of short stories as a means to engage individuals and groups in a considered appreciation of their context, issues and concerns. Take a look at earlier blogs on the news section of the site. Here is another one for you to try. This one focuses on the issue of walls. These seem to me to be of particular concern to us right now.
You will need about 20 minutes in order to engage in the process.
I suggest that you place the story in a mindful setting. So, settle down in a comfortable place and take a few seconds to control your breathing, focusing on the in-breath and the out-breath. Give this a couple of minutes.
When you feel calm and your breathing is steady, read the story and let it seep into your mind, and then, look at the questions which follow:
“At least it’s nice and warm”. And it was true. It was nice and warm. The insulation had done the trick. Marvelous stuff. It had really been a terrific purchase. The advertisement had promised a lot, but they were really not disappointed: ‘Stop all those terrible drafts’, ‘Keep out the odious odors’, and ‘Why put up with it?’, ‘Just shut them out and shut them up!”. These had been four of the most powerful headlines which had finally encouraged them to part with their hard-earned cash and get properly insulated with ‘Insular Abyss’. To be insulated was just so cool (no pun intended). The world was such a cold place nowadays. Since the ‘Event’, temperatures had been tumbling year after year and, well, a person had to take care. This was just a great way to do that. It felt terrific to be able to say: “I am insulated”. Of course, they did not get out much nowadays and had to rely on social media as the primary, well only, means to let the neighbors know. Come to think of it, the neighbors were not really the kind of people who they wanted to be in touch with right now. Actually, it was a good thing that the insulation was what the saleswoman’s avatar had called ‘Deep-cavity-abyss-filling’. That meant that the insulation was not just a way to keep out the cold. It was also guaranteed to keep out all of the other stuff too! It insulated “cross-spectrum” and: “deep social”. Great. No more need to listen to those whining voices and opposing views. And the awful smell! Was that because of the Event as some said or was it, well, you know. Personal? Anyway, safely insulated there was every chance that they would never, ever have to listen to, see or smell that kind of thing again. Or look at things which they did not want, or like. Or even maybe not like or maybe not want. Better to be safe than sorry. And, at least it’s nice and warm!”
Question 1. What is the main meaning of the story?
What message or core or essential meaning does the story hold for you? There may be many meanings which occur to you but for now try to prioritise just one.
When you feel clear on this, read the next question:
Question 2. How is this meaning of relevance to you?
How does the story impact on your life and your challenges right now? Why is it important to you at this point in your life? What element emerges as being most relevant?
Again, give yourself time to think of your response and when you feel prepared try the next question:
Question 3. Think about what is the main value that you can draw from this relevance of the story. What does this value bring to the concern you identified earlier?
Don’t rush your response. Take time to think about the value. The word ‘value’ is an interesting word. What do we value and what of value is here? When you are set try this:
Question 4. What insight does the identified value provide for you?
Question 5. What action might you engage with as a consequence?
Give yourself a little time to let the ideas emergent from the story and your review settle down. I wonder how it will affect your day? You may like to swing through these five questions two or three times. Each time you may get to a deeper level of meaning and this could result in deepening senses of relevance, value, insight and action.