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Stay with the Caravan…

caravan The Caravan

We’re on a movie jag. Not necessarily the mainstream movies but those Elaine’s discussion leader chooses. A film discussion group under the auspices of the Calgary Association of Lifelong Learners supplies the activation.

In my life planning work with clients, I say, “If you want to pursue an enthusiasm or keep a commitment to yourself, put a structure behind it.” That means, find an organized and established mechanism like a class or a group to that you can ally yourself with to move it forward.

One beauty about later life is that you can be eccentric and just go after what catches your interest. You don’t have to be cool and feign disinterest in things that may not be fashionable.

Sure there are some people who can just organize and prosecute an activity all on their own, without external support. But they are few. The rest of us need encouragement and, most important, dates on the calendar – appointments – to keep us moving. Rumi says, “Don’t try to cross the desert alone: stay with the caravan!”

What is wonderful is the plethora of small scale locally organized groups that exist almost anywhere and can serve almost any interest. Like? Learning bridge, drawing, playing the trumpet as a beginner, mountain climbing, high country alpine skiing, traveling to exotic places with a learned guide. Most are free or nearly so – they just have a membership fee to support the entity. They are usually led by one of their members.   They exist below the radar – they can’t afford branding or marketing. But those who want them can find them!

What do they supply?
– purpose centered activity. Instead of approaching your interest on a sideward tack, this allows you to go straight at it. These folks are unapologetically enthusiastic and don’t need to pretend otherwise.
– a leader. Often a retired professor – Maurice Yacowar, former Dean of Fine Arts at U of C heads up the film group. Wow! What a resource, and they do it for love.
– structure – a program. This is organized activity, not random, often building skill and depth as it goes. Our hiking and X country ski groups have scheduled outings every weekend and some midweek as well. It happens!
– company on the journey. You will be with people who share your interest. They will be people you would not meet otherwise and they’re there for a reason – to go deeply into what the club’s all about. Sure, some are a bit “different”. So what?
– quality. These tribes exist at many levels – but almost all go hard at it and can reach high standards.

The result? If you’re interested in something – say independent music – you can get into it.   And you don’t have to do it all, someone else has already done the leg-work.

Of course, there is a hitch. If the world was made up of free-riders nothing would ever happen. Some one – really a bunch of volunteers – make it go. And if you move along with the group, at some point, you too must put your shoulder to the wheel.   Otherwise, the enterprise falters. There are no deep pockets, no hired resources here.

These groups are a manifestation of a phenomenon old as the hills – community. It used to be all this way, just citizens organizing activities they wanted to see advanced. No funding, no sanction, no permission. Just people doing good things.

If you send me a note of those you are involved in, I’ll publish a later blog showing the variety that is right there – under our noses.

We’ve sure seen some fascinating movies lately – Hope Springs, The Master, The Queen of Versailles, The Master, Robot and Frank. Thanks, Maurice! And thanks to those of foresight who put together the Calgary Association of Lifelong Learners – and keep it going.

Doug Bouey
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

What’s Our Business?

Bringing out the best in you, your company and your people.

Doug Bouey, President
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

Calgary, AB // Phone: 403.777.1144


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