Thursday, July 15, 2010

Europe 2010 - Salzburg - Day 8 of 12

I enjoyed yesterday's meditation session with Michael so much that I joined him and a couple new colleagues for a second one. Once more we met by the lake, and once more we found ourselves focusing on our mantras a bit longer than we anticipated. There's surely a bit of artifice in the experience -- the scene, the script, the performance -- but it was clear that we all hungered for some quiet after all the conversations of the previous days. The Salzburg Seminar is a remarkable cacophony of ideas and an inspiration for action, but it's also exhausting. Every minute is so packed with interaction that many of us needed the break of some silence and focus.

Salzburg Seminar International Study Program 41
This would be our final day of meetings. And the last presentation, which explored international relations and U.S. security issues during the Obama administration, earned the usual intensity of questions and answers. The weather outside continued to swelter (wasn't the storm we had on Monday supposed to break the heatwave?) adding to the energy of the proceedings. Following a brief respite, I feared that we were due for a lengthy and drawn-out debriefing session. I was therefore grateful that the Salzburg organizers interpreted our moods so well. We covered the essentials and broke early for the afternoon.

Informal celebration before a formal evening
Michael, Lisa, and I met afterward for our planned stroll through town, but we weren't alone. A number of other new friends joined us, which meant that we largely jettisoned our itinerary. Instead we lurched from place to place in a mass of "let me check this out" and "oh, I've got to buy this" diversions. I didn't mind. The company was worth the complexity. And by now I'd even learned how to navigate a trail around the Festung hill to save time. We got back early enough for showers and one more change.

Darryl Flaherty, Andy Wood, and Michael Fallon
Our last Salzburg Seminar event was a formal affair: a piano concert, evening attire, and a meal by candlelight. Because of the heat, we were offered the chance to leave our jackets on their racks. But there we were, gathering on the terrace to clink glasses and take pictures, almost all of us wearing our best. Though the humidity and formality combined to produce gallons of sweat, we all seemed buoyed with cheer, even in our fancy duds. Publicly I'd explain that since I'd gone through the hassle of packing a decent jacket I'd be damned if I didn't wear the thing. But actually I just wanted to convey my respect for how much the seminar had meant to me. I think we all felt the same way. Sitting close enough to the pianist to see the thumping of her pulse as she worked through a sublime hour of Mozart, I realized just how remarkable this week had been.

Day 7 | Day 9

2 comments:

Lisa Tozer (not pronounced tosser) said...

Oh what a pleasure it is to read your blog Andy and be reminded of that fantastic week. You describe salzburg and the sgs experience very well and I felt as though I got to share in your journey all over again. I particularly liked the way you describe the process of working in a group, which can be so difficult as we see our actions reflected in other people which calls for reflection on ourselves. You were so aware of that process and so willing to learn and transform for the better of the group - it was just wonderful.

Thank you for sharing. Oh and the pictures are fantastic!

I hope you are well and would love to hear from you sometime. Oh and please pass this onto Michael as well!

Lisa (lisatozer@hotmail.com)

Andrew Wood said...

I'm so glad to hear from you, Lisa! I have such fond memories of our conversations - and I really enjoyed the chance to bum around Salzburg in such good company.

Check back with this blog sometime and you can catch up on my subsequent adventures in Asia. And please do keep in touch. I want to hear about your adventures in Salzburg.

Here's hoping our paths cross again soon.