Look for the spaces between

Tom McCallum
Level 39
Level 39

“Look for the spaces between”

This week I am at the Modern Elder Academy in Baja. On the first day, one of the directors, Christine Sperber, took time to give us a “level set”, positioning the week for us.

One key phrase that resonated for me is that she encouraged us to “look for the spaces between”. Yes, there is a full schedule and curriculum, but they have also very consciously left lots of space for members of the cohort to find space to talk to each other, to share, to learn from the amazing experiences of this curated group of budding Modern Elders.

So, the photo above I took recently when on a regular visit to Level 39 at Canary Wharf.

I was early for the meeting, so took that space in between and looked out at the view. The photo I took that you see above, it took my breath away and now I see it every time I open my laptop.

Baja spaces between
Baja spaces between

One morning this week in Baja, I rose early to walk the few minutes from my room to the beach to be there before everyone else rose, to walk the beach and hear and see the Pacific surf. What struck me most, however, was that as I walked out of the door I saw this view in the other directions, framed between the cacti was the early morning sun looking to come up through a gap in the mountains to the East. That moment was also in the spaces in between.

Christine Sperber’s advice to us in Baja to “look for the spaces in between” is wise indeed.

To close, I wrote on this in two articles.

First, “Ma — thinking about the space between” in which I shared the learnings on space from Alan Moore on the Japanese concept of Ma.

Second, “Less is More” had me reflect on one of my favourite phrases. When we listen to others, listen more, talk less. At the Modern Elder Academy, part of the power of the experience is that the “less is more” approach to the programming, in that they recognise the wealth of wisdom in the room from the participants. In fact, this has led to cohort participants being named “compadres”, as is co-parents, reflecting the collaborative and co-creative learning that emerges, with the curriculum location, faculty serving primarily to create a crucible for such catalytic learning.

Less is more.

The spaces in between.

As is discussed more fully in that Less is More post, I leave you with one of my favourite guitar solos of all time, one where a true technical master chose instead to play very few notes indeed. His mastery and the genius of that solo was truly in the space between the notes.

First, listen from 3'40" in this rehearsal tape and hear Stevie Ray Vaughn solo with a whole lot of notes for over a minute. After that, listen to the final album version of Let’s Dance, where the solo starts at 3'25" and lasts less than thirty seconds. Majestic in simplicity, and in the space between.

Originally published at Tom McCallum.

Tom McCallum

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