MEA is a Movement.

October 14, 2023

MEA is a Movement.

May 29, 2023

When I attended my first MEA informational Zoom, Kari Henley (now Kari Cardinale) introduced us to the “polishing the pearls of wisdom” gesture, and tongue-in-cheek called it “a little cultish.” Sometimes that notion comes back to me, especially when I try to explain MEA to others. How do you explain a program that has such a loyal following of people who say “that was the workshop I didn’t know I needed” or “I feel such a sense of deep belonging with the community”?

As everything everywhere is in the eyes of the beholder, the label may not matter all that much, but for good measure, I checked out the word “cult” in Merriam Webster:

o   a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious

o   a great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (such as a film or book),  the object of such devotion

o   a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion.

o   a system of religious beliefs and ritual

o   formal religious veneration : worship

o   a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator

 

I was surprised that the definition wasn’t uniformly negative. I’ve heard business leaders who believe in corporate culture talk about “cult” as the root of culture. So, I went to ChatGPT for more guidance and it wasn’t so positive about this word:

o   secretive and hostile to nonmembers

o   authoritarian leader indoctrinates people with extremist views

o   a belief system that isn’t normally published

o   a religious movement at tension with the dominant societal belief

I’ve come to love MEA, and don’t feel indoctrinated by “ChipGPT” as Chip publishes his POV daily. So I went searching for a better word and stumbled upon “movement” which seems way more accurate: “A social movement is a group effort to achieve a goal, often a social or political one. Social movements can involve individuals, organizations, or both. They may seek to bring about or impede social, political, economic, or cultural change.” This describes MEA when it comes to changing our relationship to midlife, aging, and the value of wisdom. I really appreciate that MEA enables alumni to distill their unique wisdom, talents or powers which they can then bring forth, supported by and nurturing consequently a larger community.  

I have experienced an uncanny group synergy among alumni, which moves me as much as the rich course catalog fascinates me. Magically, every person flocking to this wisdom school must be vetted, or how could it be that people connect so quickly and deeply? I had several incredibly intimate experiences, travels with a stranger from half around the globe stand out especially. We had only met in our online cohort, but trusted each other enough for her to come stay with me before traveling to the Grand Sequoias together. Only MEA can dismantle the stranger notion in the blink of an eyelash. Just the other day, i sunk into a deeply personal and vulnerable conversation with another MEA alumni who i did not know had been my neighbor for over 15 years!  Marvels in our (over?) digitized world

Voilà my ode and gratitude to MEA, the people who thought of it and continue to make it happen. Somehow, the sum of curriculum + cohort + fab locale is greater than its parts. And, we don’t need to label the secret ingredient (or anything). Perhaps you will find yet another pearl when you go. I highly recommend you join the movement!

- Elisabeth

Elisabeth Scharbaum is an MEA two-time online alumni, looking forward to her first “Baja Aha” this fall. A “waitress at heart” and former hotel renovations expert, she is in the (messy) middle of giving her life a refresh. 

Go deeper with a workshop, in person or online.

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