‘How does it feel?’ Bob Dylan asks us in Like a Rolling Stone. His lyrical journey through the human condition and the miracle of personal transformation is widely considered one of the ‘best’ and most popular songs of all time. Though written over 50 years ago this question is as pertinent as ever, given the perennial human drive to question ourselves, reflect on our personal story and consider what we might become. The Sunday Assembly, created by comedians Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans, addresses this basic human need by offering something that is like church, but not church. It's non-religious and inclusive of all. It asks its audience to take an hour out of their month to 'Live Better', 'Help Often' and 'Wonder More', and develops this triumvirate of intention through collective singing, the spoken word and moments of quiet reflection. People connect with their neighbour through the power of a hug and a smile.
Carl Sagan said ‘we make our world significant by the courage of our questions and depth of our answers’ and I wonder whether this desire for self-exploration might be the invisible thread of connection within the room. Later in the day I talk to a number of Normal? festival goers about their experience of the event and am struck by the broad range of emotion felt by individuals within the audience. Some felt sadness and others joy. There was disappointment but also delight. A few people left in tears, others laughing. Many took the opportunity to extend their connection over tea and biscuits immediately after the Assembly.
Within our small town of Folkestone there are already an almost infinite number of ways to shape and celebrate our human experience, be that through a religious or non-religious meeting of minds, through music, art, science, dance, performance, philosophical discussion or by spending time with the sea. The enduring reflection that I've taken from my hour with the Sunday Assembly is that actually we expand our world in some way every time we choose to connect, engage and celebrate. Every time we take time to feel our emotional response to a situation, no matter what shape these emotions take. That there is the collective, the us, and within that there is the unique authentic experience of the individual.
Any route we choose to take is a valid one. Perhaps we can all find a way of doing each of these things right this very moment? How does that feel? (MJ)
Links Relevant to This Diagnosis:
Bob Dylan Like a Rolling Stone - https://bobdylan.com/songs/rolling-stone/
The Sunday Assembly - https://www.sundayassembly.com/
Notice you’re alright now - https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/your-wise-brain/201106/notice-youre-alright-right-now
The epidemic of loneliness - https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/connections/200905/epidemic-loneliness