Intro -- Judith Weiss LO7415

Judith Weiss (
Mon, 13 May 1996 19:07:41 -0500

Dear fellow learning-org folks,

I have been lurking on this list since December. As a full-time graduate
student AND a full-time employee of a software startup, I allowed myself
the luxury of reading all the posts (no matter how much homework I had)
but drew the line at replying until the semester was over. Well, school
ended Friday and I got canned Monday (longstanding personality conflict
with my manager), so now I have PLENTY of time.

I have just completed the first year of the Adult Education and Human
Resource Leadership Development Master's Program at University of Texas.
My Bachelor's degree is in Industrial Design, I've worked mostly in the
graphic arts, but have participated for the past eight years in an
international peer-counseling and leadership/community development
network, and also taught self-defense for six years. (I have a brown belt
in Aikido.)

I am going into a full-time internship this fall, so I was going to leave
my job within a few months anyway. I am in the process of trying to figure
out what I want to do with my degree, since I have the problem of too many
interests and not enough focus.

The LO list has inspired and educated me, from Barry Mallis's Rumi quotes
to Ray Harrell's and Chau Nguyen's non-white-Western perspectives to Rol
Fessenden's insight to Ginger Shafer's common sense to Bill Hobler's
passion about military leadership to everyone I haven't mentioned. I think
more widely than most people I know and that often feels lonely, but this
list gives me colleagues and even mentors. Thank you all.

There are so many threads I have wanted to respond to! Right now I'd like
to pick up on the one about children being allowed to just hang out and
be. This is related to comments a few months ago about "soak time" and
"down time." The more technologically determined our lives become the less
we respect the shadow, the dark hidden undercurrents, the quiet
integration our minds and bodies and souls need.

This last overscheduled year has really brought this home to me, and I
began to think recently about Shabbat. I did not grow up in a particularly
observant household, but I still picked up a horror of rules and
restrictions. Keeping kosher and keeping Shabbat were all about Not Being
Allowed To. Over the last five years I have been reabsorbing my Jewish
heritage and noticing the immense wisdom of my ancestors.

We humans have a hunger to Do, and even when we don't there is usually
another human who has the power to force us to Do. Thus the wisdom of
having 24 hours out of 168 when G-d does not allow you to Do. You can't
carry things, you can't light fires, you can't Work. You can sleep, play,
study Torah (which is considered play), make love (in fact it's a mitzvah
to make love with your sweetie on Shabbat), and hang out. You are
commanded to just Be, a human in a community. And if you believe that G-d
commands you to observe these rules it's a lot easier to withstand the
pressures of a world that would have you Do 168 hours out of 168.

I think Shabbat is in the air. I spoke this week with a wise friend who
isn't Jewish, but she is planning that within a year she will have
arranged her life so that she has Shabbat every week. My life is not that
together yet. I am planning for Shabbat within five years.

What does this have to do with learning organizations? Well, Judaism is a
LO par excellence, as are all the vibrant growing religions. They all seem
to recognize that any developmental process needs to include some defended
space within which nothing is expected.

Judith Weiss *
Assault Prevention Information Network: self defense, workplace violence,
conflict resolution, and related topics (sponsored by TradeWave Galaxy)

-- (Judith Weiss)

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