Collective Wayfinding Through Mystery

Issue 3 | The Summer of The Pause

“There are probably other incredible souls who will change your sense of what’s possible and will change your life in such beautiful ways, that are still out there, that we have yet to meet.”

Ai-jen Poo

When was the last time you got lost? Maybe it happened in the chapters of a delicious novel, or in a conversation with dear friends that stretched late into the night. Perhaps, more literally, you took the wrong exit off the highway, or made a wrong turn on the trail. Or maybe, some tide in life swept the path beneath your feet – with a sudden force, or a slow retreat – leaving only the vast terrain of mystery in its wake.

Volunteering the threads from our personal experiences of feeling lost holds the potential to serve as a throughline – or even lifeline – to each other. In this week’s edition of The Summer of The Pause, we pick up tools that help us weave these into the poetry of being human, together.

In all the ways you lose yourself this summer, may you encounter people whose stories, questions, or struggles extend a new thread for you to follow …

Generative Tool inspired by Sarah Kay

Send this card to someone in your life as an invitation to exchange stories. See what this offers to you both.

This week's generative question from On Being: What story from your life would you offer, of a time you felt lost and found your way?

To share this question, right-click or press on the image. Select save or share, whichever option is available to you. (If you don’t see the option to share, save the image and add it to a text, social media direct message — or attach it to an email.)

If you’re moved, share your reflection on how this conversation went by emailing us. And, watch this space next week (any chosen reflections will be anonymized).

Go Deeper: A playlist for your week

Listen to the full episodes with Kevin Kling and Sarah Kay, and continue to explore with a few others from On Being and Poetry Unbound. Click here to save these episodes and listen later.

We are digging into the archives to celebrate some of the conversations listeners have loved the most and that have shaped this project. Kevin Kling is part funny guy, part poet and playwright, part wise man — homegrown Minnesota meets Dante and Shakespeare. He was also born with one disabled arm, and a midlife motorcycle accident paralyzed the other. Then again, being so-called able-bodied, Kevin points out, is always only a temporary condition. We take in his wisdom on the losses we’re born with and the losses we grow into — and on why we turn these things into stories.

Forms of religious devotion are shifting — and there’s a new world of creativity toward crafting spiritual life while exploring the depths of tradition. Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie is a fun and forceful embodiment of this evolution. Born into an eminent and ancient rabbinical lineage, as a young adult he moved away from religion towards storytelling, theater, and drag. Today he leads a pop-up synagogue in New York City that takes as its tagline “everybody-friendly, artist-driven, God-optional.” It’s not merely about spiritual community but about recovering the sacred and reinventing the very meaning of “we.”

Some friends gather and smoke at a doorway in a city. There’s Malik, and Johnny Cash, and Lefty, and Jësus. And the poet, Major Jackson. They’ve known each other their whole lives, and they wonder who they’ll turn out to be. In a moment of disclosure, Major tells his friends he wants to be a poet, astonishing them, and himself too it seems. In friendship and ribbing, in desire and teasing, this poem wonders who a person is, and what it means to hope.

See you next week … 🚲

From all of us at On Being, with love.





Illustrations by Stephanie DeAngelis


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