It’s hard backtracing liferipples to find where change begins. But a key part of the cascade that’s led to the amazing place I’m finding myself was a question from my good friend Ian Hubbard back in July 2016: “Have you heard about the Yes & Yes Yes Unconference? We should meet up there”.

I went to check out the Yes & Yes Yes conference page and had that eerie feeling of, to paraphrase Denver, “coming home to a place I’d never been before”. I deeply loved my life as it was, but also strongly missed the intense, brilliant, enthusiastic, loving, curious and active community I’d been surrounded with and much more involved in before the inward-facing early years of family life. Yes & Yes Yes (YxYY) described their attendees as a gathering of…

  • thinkers/futurists/nerds/weirdos
  • voracious consumers of and generators of ideas and information
  • creatives that like to engage in conversation about their creative pursuits & the concepts behind them
  • people comfortable with & excited about their own obsessive interest in their odd corner of the world
  • people on the path to self-actualization, self-awareness and all the goodies that lie therein

In short – my people!

In our life at Windsong Cohousing I’ve found it easy to suffer from “last dance” syndrome – there are a few folks I deeply enjoy, but seldom actually make the time to spend deep time with. It was a blow when Ian and his family left – a brilliant, soft spoken, passionate friend with that delicious level of overlap in interests where there are a lot of atypical commonalities and a regular stream of new ideas & conversation. Though we kept in touch sporadically, the prospect of getting to spend a week with Ian hanging out surrounded by the above mentioned weirdos was too good to pass up.

Leading up to the conference I’d been working on the launch of this site, and narrowing in on the “Collaborative Catalyst” idea. This conference seemed a lovely chance to let that part of me shine in an environment where it wouldn’t be taken as arrogance or presumption – just another framing for the something as natural to that community as breathing.

And so in early July, 2017 I found myself in the blazing Palm Springs heat, helping put up decorations and starting to get to know the folks I’d be spending the next week with.

Detailing the extraordinary people that I met, the empowering, mind opening conversations we had, or the ways I was able to explore who I am and want to be could fill a book, and I’ll be writing more about YxYY at some point, but there were a few key points that have impacted the shift in work that was just beginning with Yes & Yes Yes:

  • It was an affirmation that the sort of community I remembered from high-school, its nature, its impact and its potential weren’t just sepia-tinted nostalgisms. It could be found and created, and I could make and/or find the groups with whom that sort of intensity, optimism, creativity and depth could be shared.
  • It was a chance to be surrounded by people who were inventing exciting, unique, cutting edge work for themselves either on their own or carving a place out for themselves with companies that could appreciate what they were about.
  • It underscored that so many of my areas of interest, study or practice intersected in ways whose potential importance others not only saw, but were also engaging with, and in ways that could extend and inform my own path tremendously.

It also gave me a chance to try out the HTC Vive, current cutting edge VR technology. I’ve been fascinated by VR for ages, for well over 20 years. From tinkering around with the old Superscape demo back in 91 to tinkering with VRML. The potential seemed tremendous, but the technology wasn’t there. As soon as I put the Vive on I realized: the technology’s here now. I was blown away by how far the industry had come.

Ian and I had some great chances to dive deep conversationally together, and met several folks we’re staying in touch with, and others who I’m pretty sure I’ll be crossing paths with again. The last night turned into an all night jam session, and as we watched the sunrise from the top of one of the buildings, I had one of those moments where you can feel the black hole tug of a life change that once started, you can’t steer away from, you can only choose your angle of entry.

Which leads me to Christmas, and January. But I’ll save that for my next post.

“Perpetual yes” photo used with permission of Ann Larie Valentine