Hot Steam and a Door Closed in my Face

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By Eric Waisman, Jaunty’s Founder

These are the people in our neighborhood.

Summer camp was amazeballs. Camp Grounded, up in Mendocino, was four full days of campfires, workshops, jumping into rivers, ziplining, sneaking into camp crushes’ camps, ropes courses, and deep conversations. At this summer camp for adults, we were unplugged for four days… yet fully connected to one another. What made it so powerful was no talk about work, no devices, no clocks, and only nicknames.

My personal revelation from camp was my emotional state. I’ve never gone from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other, and back again, all within a matter of hours. I went from getting choked up over a deep conversation or the love of people at camp, to laughing so hard I almost pissed my pants, to being scared out of my head 70 feet up in the air on a tightrope. (At Jaunty, we teach how to take people on this sort of emotional journey in our conversations to build a meaningful connection.) It was also great getting my hands dirty in the woods. At the end of the day, it’s really about community. All I wanted to do was give. Give to others and myself, and to nature.


PictureEric and new friends at Camp Grounded

I believe amazing things can happen when we unplug and pay attention to our surroundings. Jason Bourne knew it took five steps to get to the fire escape, and Andy Warhol noticed the Campbell soup can on the counter.

Look around today. Right now. What do you see? How does it make you feel? Did you notice that person over there? They could be your future friend/colleague/lover, but only if you make the first move.

This month a few things have got me thinking about environmental awareness. I was in the gym locker room, after a workout, looking forward to relaxing in the steam room. It’s my favorite part of working-out. I walked behind a guy who was headed the same way. He opened the steam room door just a crack, squeezed inside, and let the door close in front of me. Surprised, I grabbed the door and found a seat inside.
 
I asked myself: How often does someone in that situation a) notice others behind them b) understand how they can affect how others feel, and c) give a shit?
 
We’re quick to only focus on C and judge them. But what if they really weren’t aware of their surroundings or weren’t thinking about it? 


PicturePhoto credit: kconnors, morguefile

The other day, I saw a woman crying on the corner at a busy intersection on Market Street. Hundreds of people walked by and didn’t notice her, or felt too uncomfortable to stop. She looked half homeless. Her friends were nearby waiting it out. I kneeled down and said hi, and asked her how I could help. She said she had just gotten her heart broken, and we spoke for a few minutes. Her friends came up to me and thanked me for supporting her. We are all in this together!

At camp, it was easy to see all those awesome people in the woods as my community. Out here in the big bad City, it can be harder to hold on to that mindset, but I think it’s just as important. Let’s pay attention to the people around us, give folks the benefit of the doubt if they lack awareness, and help where we can. I’d love for the Jaunty community to be a force for good in our larger community. Go get ’em!


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