Why this? The necessity of conversational first steps


We are in a time of new conversations.

We have all experienced the invisible presence of a long-avoided topic looming in the room. And it seems these times are full of such beasts. Many of our great public conversations have long been needed, but avoided. Now they’ve come home to our kitchen tables, and they are stirring our work sessions and classrooms.

It is difficult, these days, to remain comfortable in the status quo.

Conversations are the fabric of doing.

Streets, dinner tables, board rooms, design studios. Team meetings, bar chats, low-spoken honesty with dear partners and children. What we say to each other is the fabric, the material, of what we then choose to do.

The conversations we have with ourselves are our real frontiers.

The threads of that fabric—the conversations from which all the others are made—are the conversations we have with ourselves. When we pause for a moment, if we can get still, this is where we can notice the looming presence of old difficulties or new possibilities, and notice the urge to engage. This is where we begin being a little bit brave, and where joyful courage is born.

Are we repeating the same stories we’ve been telling ourselves for years? Are we open to invitation, to a new story, a new exchange with the world? Are there conversations we avoid because they seem out of tune with the voice of our mortgage, our safety or comfort?

What is your conversational frontier?

What are you afraid to say “No” to? What “Yes” both excites and frightens you? To what old territory’s last shore have you arrived, leaving you uncertain how to travel on? At what new frontier are you poised?

We invite you to Montana

We invite you to bring your frontier to the frontier country of Montana. We invite you to make a little time for these kinds of questions and personal frontiers. To explore them in the company of a like-minded crew, supported with just a bit of helpful structure, deepened by a little reading and a good poem or two, and framed by great experiences on the prairies, rivers, and mountainsides of ancient glacial terrain.


Start Close In

David Whyte


Start close in,
don’t take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.

Start with
the ground
you know,
the pale ground
beneath your feet,
your own
way of starting
the conversation.

Start with your own
give up on other
people’s questions,
don’t let them
smother something

To find
another’s voice,
your own voice,
wait until
that voice
becomes a
private ear
to another.

Start right now
take a small step
you can call your own
don’t follow
someone else’s
heroics, be humble
and focused,
start close in,
don’t mistake
that other
for your own.

Start close in,
don’t take
the second step
or the third,
start with the first
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.


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