Last Wednesday night, storyteller extraordinaire Laura Simms described the moment during an international phone call when she made the split second decision to adopt her son, Ishmael Beah, a former child soldier in Sierra Leone who would go on to become a bestselling writer and an advocate for children trapped in wars. “If I can get out of here, can I live with you?” he asked. “The phone may cut off and I need you to tell me the truth.” “Yes,” she screamed. “Yes!” and the phone went dead.
She described that moment as one of electrocution — the instant and complete realignment of every cell in her body. It was a moment when Spirit demanded something sudden and life-changing — what the oracle Viking Runes refer to as “an empty-handed leap into the void” — and she said, “Yes!”
She told the story at a “Friend Raising Party” at Tibet House in New York City given by a two-year old organization called Stay Inspired, the brainchild of a very unusual guy named Charlie Hess.
Since I am a story writer, I took many notes, listened very carefully, read the blogspot, and I’m still not certain what the story of Stay Inspired is … even though I sense that I like it.
I like it because I like Charlie Hess and all the people who spoke. They told stories of fierce giving. Stories of doing the right thing without thinking. Stories of fearless action to help others with no thought of personal benefit. Stories that made you want to scream Yes yourself. Charlie explained that this kind of action is possible if your focus is on abundance and possibility rather than fears of limitation.
Although nobody said it, I suspect Charlie Hess is a story reader extraordinaire. A person who watches, observes, sees the big picture, and not so much interprets the metaphors as feels them. And he processes them in a way that allows him to know where things are going and gracefully do his own part in the story, even as he reads it. He’s done this in his professional life, through his company Inferential Focus — which detects change in the business, social, technological, and political environment. And now he’s doing it by inviting a motley and not-so-motley crew of artists, performers, and business people to come together and inspire others to be inspired. The organization supports such people through an investment fund, guidance, clarifying intentions, and helping people share their stories with others — creating a “ripple effect.” Charlie Hess wants nothing less than to be a catalyst for shifting world consciousness.
One of my favorite examples of his guidance was his story about listening to a colleague who was working on a project. After she’d explained what she wanted to do, he asked “Why do you want to do that?” When she answered, he repeated, “Why do you want to do that?” And he kept repeating the question until she finally stated what Charlie referred to as her “true north” — the intention behind all the others.
Although I don’t know the end of this story, I like it, and I like this exercise. In fact, I’ve focused it on this blog: “Why do I want to write this?” … Here’s my true north: When I write, I feel Spirit/God/All That Is/WhatEverYouWantToCallIT. It’s that simple. And writing IT spreads IT.
Try the question on whatever you’re doing. And to learn more, check out the website, stayinspired.net, which is due to be up and running very soon.