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Philosophical enquiry - reflecting on life at the turn of the year


It's just another day, but I like to mark the turning of the year as a time for reflection and review. I'm not so big on making !!RESOLUTIONS!! (for me they come with a built in set-yourself-up-to-fail alert) but I think it's worth taking time to notice what's going on. It's one of things I love about the process of a P4C philosophical enquiry - it invites people to notice more about about they think and why they think it, which can be revelatory.


When I take a bit of time to think back on 2022, I notice that there's plenty to be glad about. I enjoyed the opportunities I found for doing what I love best - facilitating philosophical enquiry groups in community settings. I've especially enjoyed working with Sheffield Museums and twice during the year we've held sessions actually in the Graves Art Gallery (see photo) which I noticed seemed to make a difference to the experience for participants. Does your thinking change depending on where you are?


Right at the beginning of the year Radio 4's Front Row included an interview with me about these philosophy in the gallery sessions. As fervent Radio 4 fan, I notice that this experience was definitely a highlight of my year, probably my decade!


I've noticed that counting things works well as a way to motivate and reassure myself. I counted my steps for much of the year, walking the distance equivalent to a direct route from Lands End to John O'Groats (812 miles) between January and August. Somewhat belatedly, I also started counting how many people come to philosophical enquiry sessions, over a hundred between October - December, including 44 people who joined in for the first time. Do you know good ways of counting things? Let me know, I need to get better at this.


In my non-work life I'm involved with a once-every-generation, decade-long national Quaker project to revise Quaker faith & practice our community's 'book of discipline' or the core text about how to 'be and do Quaker' in Britain today. Towards the end of 2022 we reached the point of circulating some draft text and I was interviewed for a podcast about it. It made me notice how exposing it can feel to make work public and that that's ok. Sometimes you've got to be brave and the only way on, is through.


More personally, I notice I have learned about the importance of being willing to return to what I love again. During the lockdowns I noticed how much I crave novelty, which reaffirmed my awareness of my need for movement and change. But this year, in all sorts of ways - recreational, emotional, relational, spiritual, practical, professional - I've had the experience of coming back to what I love and finding solace, excitement, refreshment and renewal.


Finally, if you have 2 minutes to spare, I invite you to watch this video, which I recorded last year and still enjoy. What do you notice when you watch it?






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