Open Ended

To be honest, I have never paid much attention to meeting protocols. Generally, they have struck me as another one of those things we do to check a box on some arbitrary checklist “they” came up with (“they” are that mysterious force responsible for all bad decisions–I definitely imagine “them” sitting around a long, stark meeting table). 

However, years ago, while attending professional development with Ruth Ayres, I became intrigued by her mention of the protocol: expect and accept a lack of closure. 

I was a guest at this session, so the message wasn’t even really for me, but Ruth’s calm explanation immediately put me at ease with a concept that would usually cause me to push back. No closure? You mean we are just going to end the day with all of these dangling ideas hanging out in the open? Yep. And we are going to be okay with it because although a professional development session ends, it is not meant to be a tidy ending with doors tightly closed. The best professional development ends by sparking a new beginning and flinging the doors wide open.

I am not wired to be okay with ends left hanging open. 

This afternoon while walking my dog, I noticed this gap in the river rock acting as a border around our tree.

a missing river rock leaves a gap in our landscaping

I was not happy about the empty space. It had to be filled. 

But what bothered me even more is that I don’t know the story of where that missing rock went. And I probably never will. That’s right–there is a story left hanging wide open right here in my yard. Although I quickly snagged an extra rock from another area of the yard to fill the gap, there is nothing I can do to prevent the mystery of the missing river rock from lacking closure.

Years ago, we learned the story of one missing stone when the police rang our bell in the wee hours of the morning to question us after it had been thrown through our neighbor’s picture window. 

Apparently our grogginess, and the fact that we do not have children, was enough to convince the police we weren’t the culprits (we weren’t). 

As a result of that story, the missing rock this morning caused a little stone of worry to settle at the bottom of my tummy because of the possibility of another of our yard decorations being up to no good.

While I walked, I tried to imagine the many positive journeys a missing stone may have taken. My imagination apparently is not capable of generating many helpful reasons to carry a single stone down the block. I walked on and wondered if any animals may have a use for a hefty rock. But I became uneasy when I imagined how large an animal would have to be to move a stone that size. The midwest suburbs are not known for gorilla sightings. 

Had I been able to come up with a plausible story about that single stone, I know I would have happily adopted it as a likely truth. This made me think about how often I wrap up loose ends by telling (and believing) my own plausible (though not necessarily true) stories. 

The story of why she never responded to my text. The story of what will happen once I send that email. The story behind her facial expression in last week’s Zoom session. 

Perhaps it might be better to expect and accept a lack of closure in my day to day life. Perhaps where the stone went is less important than the lesson it left behind. 

3 thoughts on “Open Ended

  1. The stories we tell ourselves about what others might think jump up the ladder of inference in a blink and usually not in a positive way. Not so good stories. Sharing stories of our lives are different kind. I am glad you shared yours. Now I imagine too a large animal who might gave taken the rock. My mind conjured an image of a werewolf. Not realistic.


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