I read a quote by Richard Rohr once, about women and the company they keep. I often come back to it time and again – bits and pieces of it creeping into the foreground every now and then – because it’s something I believe most women crave at the very depths of our souls:
“Most women prefer circles of sharing to pyramids and hierarchies,” he writes. “They prefer conversation to construction. They will usually choose nurturance and empathy over competition and climbing. They will normally choose connection over simple performance games.”
I had a long conversation about this with a trusted friend a few weeks ago. If this is true, we were asking ourselves, what are we doing to strengthen our circles?
In my life, the wrong things. We hide the dog food and filter the photo and layer the foundation, and then we mourn the absence of a true connection. I’ve been here, in multiple stages of life. I’ve been the friend that has fought hard to maintain a trustworthy facade. I’ve been the friend that has felt deeply resentful over something lame. I’ve been the liar and the lied-to, the performer and the audience, the sloppy and the intentional. I’ve felt too much and too little and just enough but at the wrong time.
I find it funny how different the majority of men and women I know use the Internet. Men, it seems, hop online to actively seeking information: news, tutorials, the name of that actor in Breaking Bad. Women, however, are often passively seeking inspiration: lifestyle tips, travel destination, parenting advice, outfit ideas. And if that’s not proof of our desire to circle up, I don’t know what is.
We want to learn. We want to grow. We want to listen to each other, to hear the truth from the chaos and the good from the complicated. We want to say, “Me too.” and “Yes.” and “I get it.” But sometimes, we get stuck along the way. It’s easier to climb a mountain solo than with a group, and if the goal is a picture-perfect view from the top, of course we’ll abandon each other in the trek.
So here’s a new goal: a circle. A foundation at the base of the mountain, the very bottom. Strong and steady, rooted in the ground. A group of women, passing our perspectives and experiences like a warm loaf of bread around the soul’s dinner table. A few moments of listening – of truly listening – without minced words or snap judgments. A few moments of rest over climbing. Of conversation over construction.
Of circle over pyramid. (I’m in.)
Image Credits: Tom Hancocks
p.s. The online performance.