A Retreat for Possibilities

April 16th, 2010 | Posted by Michael Taleff in Addiction

A few years back, a now dead, philosopher (Mortimer Adler) had a wonderful idea. He brought together people from various fields to spend an idyllic weekend in the mountains outside Boulder CO. The point was to exchange ideas and debate, with civility, the issues of the day. They would spend hours talking and deliberating all kinds of fascinating things. Sometimes the debates became heated. Different ideas have a propensity to clash, but the debate itself was not disrespectful. Despite the occasional acrimony, and because of the civility or perhaps respect these folks had for each other, something interesting happened. The participants emerged from this retreat with a head full of new, exciting thoughts. They began to see things they never saw before and opened their minds to a vast array of ideas. What was really interesting is that they emerged from this retreat with a renewed human spirit that invigorated their work and personal lives.

I tried doing something similar a couple of times in my career. I simply asked a few folks from the various treatment programs where I worked to spend one evening in a setting where we could open our minds to new ideas, and creatively debate the issues of the addiction recovery field. The only prerequisite for the meeting was to keep an open mind. (That contingency excluded a few individuals.)

When I approached the staff members, I just asked if they would be interested in partaking in something unique, thoughtful, and that it might well extend beyond the traditional addiction thinking of the day.

I was rather surprised to find an eager anticipation for each event. As for the retreat itself, folks felt free to say things they would not normally share while at work. Mind you these retreats were not complaint sessions. Rather, people brought in all kinds of books, journals, and sundry items that managed to light up clusters of neurons. Eyes were wide drinking in wonderful thoughts. I dare say there were times when a sensation of electricity crackled in the air. And it was all due to the stimulating thinking and dialogue. The result was often some of the most exciting counseling and addiction discussions I have ever had the pleasure to behold.

In terms of the sheer force of new thoughts, these little retreats outstripped most conferences, workshops, and most addiction books in terms of really exciting possibilities.

I would go to work the next day revitalized with a head full of concepts. Most all those ideas would somehow help my clients, and my clients knew it.

Consider the possibility.

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