Strong Coffee and Strong Relationships with Intelligent Women

I’ve written about the power and positive influence of my book club in previous blog posts. Over the years, I’ve been member to a number of book clubs, but this one stuck. When I pause to count, I’m amazed how years seem to exponentially pile one on top of the other. I’ve been meeting with this crew for more than 13 years?!?! I’m not old enough to be a member of ANY club for that long, am I? Alas, I am.

As I sat amongst my friends last night, while we discussed topics ranging from Stalin’s Russia to maskne (acne caused by masks), something inside me healed just a little.

In the past several months—hell, for nearly all of 2020, I’ve been feeling… wounded? Is that the right word? I’m not sure. I’m having a hard time finding words lately, which is a strange place for me to be. A qualified psychologist would likely have a high brow explanation involving terms like “trauma exposure” and “global impacts.”

It’s simple, really. I’ve started listening.

In an attempt to be informed—and form my own thoughts, I’ve been listening to voices from varied people and places, ranging in agenda and experience. All the talking right now (and whenever there is turmoil, controversy, and/or high stakes), can create a kind of purgatory. We can easily be caught, no—trapped… in this echo chamber of screams. This place where civility is only a word in the dictionary and never a practice. This place where the need to be right—to be reaffirmed in our own right-ness, takes precedence over any goal of attempted kindness, compassion, understanding, or at the very least, openness to simply hearing ANY opposition. When we spend time here, the noise eventually creates enough impact to hurt us. Not just in creating headaches, but in a way that actually tears us down and eventually… tears us apart.

Among the ladies of my book club, there is a myriad of differing opinions. While we are all white women, middle to upper-middle class, and we all live in the same community… we are different. Maybe we don’t challenge one another in the same way a group of veritably diverse women might? Still… I believe what we do is, in this day and age of social media screaming, revolutionary.

We engage in actual, face-to-face civil discourse. Without name calling, without drawing lines in the sand, without demanding allegiance or proof of loyalty… we TALK to one another about complicated issues and emotional topics. In doing so—for hours—we are participating in a kind of revolt—a defiance of the accepted social trend; a revolutionary practice.

Hyperbole? Maybe. But it doesn’t feel like it. To me, it feels like healing. It feels like the pieces of me that were torn apart in the last months while I was caught in the echo chamber started to heal last night.

I am tired today. This momma needs more than a handful of hours to sleep. My coffee is going to need to live up to higher-than-normal expectations today. That’s okay. It’s okay. I’m okay. Because I have strong coffee and strong relationships with intelligent women.