Loitering With Intent

Lake-Champlain_ValleyJennie and I spent the last two days at a Narrative Therapy workshop, “Catching up with Narrative Therapy: The Art of Going Slowly With Intent” with Maggie Carey.  Maggie is an Australian Narrative therapist who was a close friend and associate of Michael White.

The workshop took place in the unimaginably beautiful hills above Lake Champlain. We spent much of each day watching the play of cloud and sun on the landscape, and the comings and goings of local wildlife. We also chatted together about the seemingly insatiable demands of insurance companies and others who try to rush folks through therapy. There was a consensus amongst the 50 or so Narrative therapists from around the country, Canada, and Germany, that these demands wear on therapists and clients, and generally undermine the therapeutic process.

Jennie and I spoke with Maggie about the ways hurrying runs counter to Indigenous healing. Indigenous people are often portrayed in the colonial media as idle. This is a convenient misconception that has been used as an excuse to steal Native lands and children, and to disrupt Indigenous families and communities. A more accurate representation of us would be to say we are prefer to spend time with tasks, problems, and family. Hurrying isn’t useful. One can’t really get to know places or people without lingering, or, as Maggie might say, “loitering,” and doing so with clear intention.


9 thoughts on “Loitering With Intent

  1. Yes. Absolutely. I have found that when I live with awareness of being present that everything that should get done does and the rest is there tomorrow or is superfluous. I have not always lived this way and I clearly remember what it feels like to be running, running with your mind in the future. Nature is a great teacher.

    1. Gretchen, being in/with Nature is a delicious drink of cold water. We see ourselves reflected in all that is, and know we are home. I am glad you have given yourself this great gift!

  2. Hi Michael

    I find it amazing how often we are in synch with our thoughts and experiences. I have been pondering over the same things this week.

    However, I have found that the impetus for my thoughts have come from the church community I have recently started visiting. Such a welcoming friendly accepting mob who like to give others the time of day. I find their ways more Indigenous than they may know. When I’m with them I feel completely at peace and unhurried. I have found myself lingering around them more and more often.

    And I do so love watching clouds. We’ve been watching storm clouds this week.

    1. Tree Girl, Yes, our minds do seem to share much, and our hearts I imagine. I find some of the ease you speak of at our synagogue, although I am most at ease in gatherings of our small local Indigenous mob. (I love that word!) I am glad you have found a place to settle and meet the government’s requirements, even as I am appalled you are required to do so.

      It has been so wet most of this week that the sky has been overcast, all clouds means no cloud watching!

  3. This is so true, and the financial pressures dictated by insurance companies sound awful. I’m so lucky to work for a self funded charity, where we are allowed to take as many sessions as each client needs, which in turn allows a natural rhythm and pace to enter the work. Finding our new stories takes time 🙂

    1. Thanks! The state of Vermont changed the regulations a few years ago; now most insurance companies must allow space and time. This is a vast improvement. Still, the US is driven by the desire for instant results so there is great pressure to produce rapid positive outcomes. Narrative work seems to allow movement and ease at the same time.

  4. This article got me smiling. Thoughts of beautiful landscapes contrasting with dire urgency for human change.
    Is 20-30 hours a week enough to do what is necessary to grow food and maintain shelter?
    Loitering, looking around and observing, if close to where food is grown, may refine practices, leading to more efficiency. Maybe can even get a glimpse at how advanced things were, when everything was figured out with enough free time for communities to join together, performing intricate ceremonies and dance.
    Separation of work place, garden place, sleeping place, social place, directly disconnects everything. How to reconnect? this article inspires solutions.

    1. Michael, there was more time to loiter when we lived in small communities, although life was unpredictable and challenging. I’m not sure how we might return to a loitering world, except need less. Sharing and loitering appear to go together. Ceremonies are often short and simple, yet build community.

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