The Wisdom 2.0 Summit was an incredible experience bringing together many incredible minds from technology and from the spiritual practices. The organizer, Soren Gordhamer, did a phenomenal job pulling this event together on so many levels. I was grateful to be there.
And yet, there was tension.
I have been looking at everything that happens in my life and the things that I feel as lessons. I try to step back, examine them as compact units of energy, and then either absorb and own them or dispense with them. There was a tension at the conference, and I immediately thought “this is my issue, my problem.” But as others began to grumble as well, I realized it was a shared experience of frustration.
What happened was this: There was a timetable, a schedule. The importance of this timetable was reinforced verbally on numerous occasions. Then physically as certain sessions were cut short. Speakers began to rush and nervously watch the time and cut large swaths out of their presentations because they were told to keep it short. Questions and answer sessions promised at the start of sessions did not always materialize because of the time constraints.
Many of us were on edge. There were audible groans when yet another session was cut short. And then a session was cut short followed by an announcement that the next session was going to be converted to an open session. Why wasn’t the previous speaker allowed a Q&A session if the organizer knew that the following hour would be open?
This is not meant as criticism in a non-constructive form. It is meant as a stream of consciousness exploration of why there was tension at the Wisdom 2.0 Summit. And I’m sure the irony that this rigid adherence to time schedules at a conference infused with Zen principles is not missed.
I have to make a confession: I was guilty of this same kind of iron-fisted time clock when I ran my first conference. It was back in 1998 in NYC and was called the Webgrrls Expo. I was so eager for everything to go well and mistakenly perceived that going well and going “like clockwork” were one and the same. So get this: I actually told Esther Dyson she had 10 minutes when she was scheduled to keynote for 30+. I actually gave her the “cut” sign – the finger across the throat sign – when her 10 minutes were up. What the he was I thinking?!?
I was nervous. I was slave to the clock instead of going with the wonderful flow of the moment where everyone was oohing and ahhing over the fact that Esther Dyson was in the room, barely arms-length away, sharing bon mots with us that only Esther can share. I was so fixated on sticking to a time schedule that I snuffed the life out of that moment.
There are so many lessons to be learned every single day. I think the biggest lesson to learn about a conference that blends technology and Zen themes is that there is a hunger and a generosity of spirit that will accommodate a session running over. People in this type of conference are like water, flowing into the next crevice naturally. Why? Because this was a zeitgeist moment, a bringing together of like-minded people talking about things we only thought about before.
We are willing to just go with the flow next time. Where there is value, there is willingness to eschew “normal” time constraints.
And there was value here.
Were you at the Summit? What were/are your thoughts on the issue of time?