"The world only spins forward. We will be citizens. The time has come. Bye now. You are fabulous creatures, each and every one. And I bless you: More Life. The Great Work Begins." Tony Kushner, Angels in America
These are the last lines of Prior Walter in the play. The first sentence is one of the last things that Liz Guthridge says to me as we conclude our connection meeting. There is a certain marvelous symmetry in the existence of these words in both contexts. It is at once the philosophical reflection of how she views the world, at the same time the thing that I have only recently fully embraced. One sentence, "The world only spins forward," connects both of us. It is not the only thing that connects us, but it is a beautiful piece of the web, a slightly thicker strand of spider silk visible in the Southern sun of a Saturday afternoon.
Liz Guthridge loves learning, she craves new books to read, new things to learn. Speaking with her on almost any topic makes you keenly aware of the amount of learning she has done, and the reality that she will never stop. It's exciting to sit down with her knowing this. I love learning too, lust after it, and being around people is always exciting for the new possibilities, the new stories and the new lessons.
Liz is also a writer. She began working in journalism very young, founding her junior high newspaper. Her background for it was amazing, she was always being interviewed as the only female vendor at local baseball events, so she learned interview skills by being interviewed. She pursued it though high school and into college, at Northwestern. Liz is a news junkie, not a surprise when you hear her love for facts and knowledge, she speaks with a rhythm indicating a mind moving and processing so fast, it is fascinating to behold and requires total presence to truly appreciate. Liz's path eventually landed her in coaching and consultancy.
She asks phenomenal questions. It has its roots in her journalism background, but it is deeper than just a discipline from study. Liz loves learning and she loves people, both important characteristics for a coach, and it comes through in her attention to detail and the marvelously tailored questions she poses from within conversation. True communication is a gift, and her questions are the proof of it. They are not prepared, but drawn from the conversation. As we share stories, she picks up on my historical ability to process rules and find loopholes, or make my own.
Then she asks me if I have found any loopholes in this project. It's a question I have never been asked. We talk about how I haven't necessarily found loopholes, but that the project always shifts and changes as I meet people and learn new stories, find new parts of my heart. We talk about theatre, about her journey and mine. We have never really told each other our stories, even parts of them, and as we spend time together it is clear there will only be part of our stories today. This isn't unusual mind you, no person can be summed up in a few hours or a few words. People are deep, complex and beautiful creatures, we need time to appreciate their complexity, time to hear and learn.
Our couple of hours seem to pass in a blur, a staccato rhythm of stories, memories and pieces of accumulated knowledge. We talk about our mutual news addiction, about how Liz remembers first seeing me and not being able to fully associate me with my previous job, about loss and struggle. I tell her about how I have grown and how dark my road had gotten, she compliments me on self-awareness. We both reflect on how self-awareness, like learning, never really stops developing.
Towrds the end of our time together, Liz quotes Angels in America. The quote hangs with me, I have heard it a dozen times and read it a hundred more, but still the words hang in my ears. They swim there as I drive home, dancing around, twirling memories through my mind. When I get home I grab my copy of the play and sit there letting them further digest. Language spins through my mind like frenzied smoke rings. So much wisdom is in those words. We can never go back, those days are past, and now we move forward.
We can never slow the world's spin, but we can decide how to spend that time as it passes. I'm glad I spent it with Liz today.
Favorite Dinosaur: Anyone that let's her pull it from the tar pit.
Why: The world keeps moving forward.