Deep Talk With Audrey :)

Posted by Swara Pandya on Jun 26, 2021
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[Some of you might remember how our "French Gang" held a "Deep Talk with Audrey" last year. Below is the much-awaited transcript offered as a labor of love. :)]

Olivier: Thanks everyone for joining this deep conversation with Audrey organized by the French gang. The French gang is some 10 - 12 people from France. Mostly young. Not only young people who feel pumped up about service. Together we all are going to have this deep talk with Audrey. She is our special guest today. Together we will dive into her life, her childhood, what kind of dream she had? We will try to learn about her powerful service journey? We hope to have some glimpse of Laddership and leadership as well. Before starting, I would request Komnieve to introduce Audrey. You could share some insights about Audrey. What inspires you about her? What's your relationship with Audrey?

Komnieve: I would be so happy to. I see some signs of Audrey's fan club in the background and that's just very appropriate. You can't meet Audrey, without becoming a fan very quickly. And it's just because of how she integrates her practice into her life. There's just a genuineness that comes across immediately. The first few times that I ran into Audrey, I remember she had prepared a meal for us and the pure welcoming of her energy as you walk into a room. She just kind of holds you in her smile. And anyone who would have her would have experienced that. There's a reason that a hundred people or more RSVP because Audrey's fan club is pretty huge. But the thing is that Audrey's fan club is huge not from a perspective of Audrey actually vocalizing anything. She doesn't. She's actually very humble about what it is that she does on a day to day basis. But if you pay a little bit of attention to what's going on across the Service Space ecosystem, you see Audrey in the background doing a tremendous amount of work across the entire ecosystem. If you're involved in any of these calls or Laddership circles or projects, you suddenly see that, Oh! there was a lot of work that needed to go into making this happen. I wonder who did that? And Audrey will just kind of like smilingly walk by in the background and everything would have already been set up for you. You have that experience repeatedly over the course of time. So when the French gang asked me for this introduction, I sent out this quick email and we started getting these beautiful stories about Audrey. I thought that might be a really wonderful way to introduce Audrey.

Many years ago, after few years of ServiceSpace volunteering, Audrey (in her mid twenties, most likely) came to serve our communities in India:
Nipun: How would you like to serve while you're in India?
Audrey: In any way that I can be helpful.
Nipun: Do you want to do things that help others directly? (ie. create immediate impact, like helping children in the slums)
Audrey: Sure. I also don't mind small, invisible acts either.
Nipun: With small acts, you may not have as much of a story to tell your friends back home.
Audrey: I don't need a story.
Nipun: Well, both options are equally feasible -- serve for immediate impact, or serve invisibly for a ripple effect?
Audrey: I'd like to serve invisibly. I'm trust in the ripple effect of love.

In a context where society is constantly hammering its successful people to "be somebody", Audrey gravitated towards "be nobody" to become an instrument of a larger emergence. At that age, with her potential to succeed in the traditional world, this was uncommon clarity.

And this is something that you see with Audrey repeatedly. This is more than just something that she said once in a memory. It actually feels like the way she actually lives her life in a deep way. Amit shared another beautiful story. This is in reference to Audrey as she was growing up, and her parents. And, that story, I'll actually leave to the main call if I, we can get to it, or if it comes up.

Hello All -

Big hugs to everyone and hoping that all of you are safe and healthy. Some friends from the ServiceSpace community had a newborn child some years back and so friends were sending good wishes and sharing stories about either their experience with parenting or stories they learned from their own parents. Here is what Audrey had to share (its a little long but its also Audrey's own words and it goes to the seeds planted by her parents (along with the heart story Nipun shared)):

At the thought of Parenting Success stories, two specific memories came to mind, about unspoken lessons I've taken away from my parents.

When I was about 11, a friend had a birthday party in Boston. It was my first time hanging out in the city, and it was just a few of us girls with her mom. Walking around the city streets, we passed a homeless man asking for change. My friend's mom just brushed him away and said we didn't have anything for him. I had never really encountered a homeless person before, and I remember thinking: So that's what I do when homeless people ask for something-- just ignore them and walk away. Then, a year or so later, I was with my family in Canada--I think we were in Montreal. We had just gotten off the subway and were walking through an underground walkway, and there was a homeless man standing in the middle. He had a sign asking for spare change, and a cup. I remember we were walking in one direction, and my dad just bee-lined straight for this guy. He then took out some coins from his pocket for him, but as he went to put them in the cup, his jaw dropped.

"There's nothing in here!" he said, surprised.

The homeless man looked at him and said, "Yes sir, you're the first person who stopped for me today."

My dad then proceeded to empty all the contents of his pockets into the guy's cup. (And my dad always has a lot of spare change in his pockets.) The homeless man thanked him and we continued on our way. When we looked back, I couldn't see him anymore. "Where did he go?" I asked. "Probably to buy some hot food," my dad replied. As we walked away, I remember thinking, Oh, we can give homeless people money. And it's a nice thing to do.

Another incident happened recently with my mom. Just before I moved back out to the Bay this August, the day my plane was taking off, I ate lunch at home with my parents. After we finished and cleared the kitchen, my mom said, "Audrey, I'm going out for a bit, I'll be back in an hour or two."

"Mom, where are you going? Don't you want to hang out with me before I go?" I pressed.

She just looked at me and said quietly, "I'll be back."

An hour or so before we had to leave for the airport, she came back with a little shopping bag. She just came up to me and said, "Here." I opened the bag, and it was a wallet.
"Your wallet is all torn and frayed," she informed me. (I hadn't noticed :)) "It's important to have a good wallet."

It was so matter-of-fact. My parents have always been very matter-of-fact about everything. But about giving too. It was always just part of parenting. Just what it meant to be family. They were never stingy with me. When I ate all of one kind of food, they would go out and buy more. :) When I didn't like something, my mom would eat it for me. She would rarely waste anything. They never expected much, and always offered my sister and me the best of everything, while working very very hard to give it to us. To the point where we started to refuse their insistence to give us money, gifts, etc because we saw what a toll it took on them. In some ways, I've developed a guilt for all the selfless ways in which they've given to me. But as I've grown, the guilt is gradually dissolving into a steady stream of gratitude, deep respect, and love. And, of course, along with the influence of noble friends and mentors like you ... :)

Though Audrey lost her father just over 7 years ago, the way he lived his life and the way her mother is in many ways the foundation of who she is...and with loving mentors like Nipun and community like you, she has blossomed into something so pure, so beautiful and innocent that even small interactions with her are very powerful. Her energy is utterly infectious, her smile so sweet, and her determination to transform herself so strong makes my "little sister" more like my "big sister" :)

Anyways, appreciate the opportunity to share and reflect on this kindness queen!
lots of love and hugs,
Amit


Jasky: Thank you Komnieve. I remember 10 months ago I was going through my first zoom meeting. I was so afraid to face people. My first meeting was with Audrey, and today I'm speaking in front of 50 wonderful souls. This is all thanks to Audrey. She laddered me so beautifully during these 10 months. I am so grateful for that. These past few days I was trying to go through Audrey's mind, but it's so vast that I get lost. [laughs]. Audrey is like a cloud of love. How do you catch a cloud of love or save it? It is so difficult. Today I will try my best to ask her some questions but I will also ask my friends to ask her questions too. I will try to go into her mind to see what makes her so beautiful. Audrey, I want to go back to your childhood. I learnt that when you were a child you drew a heart on your front table? Could you share about it?

Audrey: Sure. Hello. It's so nice to see everybody. Thank you so much Olivier, Komnieve and Jasky for your sweetness. I guess I shared this story once at an Awakin circle. Maybe I was about three years or something, like a toddler. I thought I was going to be a famous artist when I grew up [laughs]. I would draw on paper and then sometimes I would draw on furniture. My parents had bought this new kind of dining room set and of course I decided to draw on it. [laughs] I drew a big heart on one of the chairs. Literally I remember thinking, Oh, I'm going to be a famous artist one day, so this chair will be worth so much. I don't even know where I got that idea. So I sketched this heart on this brand new furniture. And my parents never said anything about it. They didn't even get upset at me. I remember years later, actually after my dad had passed away, we all sat together on it. We rarely actually used that dining area. And it actually was more like a storage table, practically speaking. But we all sat together and had a meal there with some relatives. The heart was still there. I was probably 25 at that point. I remember looking at this heart and asked my mom, how come you and dad never yelled at me for this. I think she just said that, you were so little that you wouldn't have understood so there was no point yelling at you for it. It's kind of like a sweet reminder now, although, was a funny moment, but I felt very grateful. Of course, like any other kid, I got yelled at for other things too.

Frank: Thank you for sharing that Audrey. What was your dream as a child?

Audrey: Thank you, Frank. My dream when I was a child. I think it depends what age. When I was three, I wanted to be a famous artist. I think when I was between six and ten, I wanted to be an actress. And then when I got older in high school, I wanted to actually be a hermit and live in the woods. I would joke about it with my friends that I was going to become a hermit and live in the mountains somewhere. In those years, I just kind of was really interested in philosophy. I wanted to be a philosopher. It's changed over the years. It's funny. I remember one time in high school, a teacher asked me. What do you want to be when you grow up? And it was like my gym teacher and I remember saying, I want to be happy. And he said, don't give me that. What do you really want to be? And I remember saying, no, I really want to just be happy. I don't know what I want to be, but, I remember that was something that I really questioned a lot.

Anne France: What is the job of being happy? In what kind of job can we be happy? How can we learn that? Is there a school for that?

Audrey: I wish I knew. Maybe that is one of the ultimate questions. I think what comes up in this moment is. I think to be happy or the job of being happy is to be able to accept whatever comes your way and to see the beauty and the nature of it. There was a period of time when I thought that if I could do what I loved, I would be happy. If I could find my calling, I would be happy. I remember thinking that, and then finding myself opportunities where I had the chance to do fun things that was interesting work. But still I was getting kind of bogged down with the daily nitty-gritty things that would come up. And realizing that it's all in my head. Happiness is a choice to make. As long as I'm doing something that's not harming people. If I can learn to accept whatever comes my way, not necessarily like a pleasure seeking happiness but with a sense of contentment and joy that comes from that. I think there's that saying, 'Do what you love'. And on the flip side, there's also the saying, 'Love what you do'. And I think, happiness is somewhere in between both of those. That's what comes to mind.

Olivier: One thing that I really appreciate and have really observed in you is the sense of service. How did you end up with the sense of service today? How'd you relate it to your childhood. What's the past? What are those micro moments?

Audrey: That's a great question. I wish I knew [laughs]. It's interesting, if I think back on service as a kid and even as a young adult. We tend to think of service as something you do, right, like something you do for the world. I remembered doing community service as a teenager and in college, joining different efforts. There is a joy in that definitely and a feeling of wanting to help. When I started to learn about meditation and met different people that really integrated a sense of the inner world into their lives, I think that's when my sense of service shifted more to not just the impact that you make, but more of a way of being. More of an embodiment of the values as service. I remember actually one time a group of us were in India and we were visiting a community center in the slums there.

I remember feeling like, wow, it's so nice of them to take the time to show us around. And how can we serve this community? What can we do while we are here to give back? I was like, I don't want to just take up your time and visit. I want to do something for you. And I kept asking how I could serve. And the woman that was hosting us, she just kept looking at me very patiently and said, okay, okay. We had a circle. She shared a little bit about their journey. We toured around the center and then we went up to the roof and there was a little garden on the rooftop and she said, 'Okay, Audrey, you wanted to serve, so here.' And she gives me this metal rod and there are some plants growing in a potted area. She said, you can use this rod and aerate the soil. Basically take this metal rod and just punch holes in the dirt to let the soil get some air and oxygen. There was something just to the way I said it. That format of service, it made me realize, Oh! I'm really looking for something to do. I would be happy to do this, but that maybe I'm pushing to do something rather than just kind of being in the moment and tuning into what would be a service. So then I remember asking her, what does, what does service mean to you? And she kind of paused and she said, when I'm eating, when I'm sleeping, when I'm working, when I'm walking, if I'm aware, then that's all service. She's basically a person who's dedicated her whole life to service and serving different communities. But her way of looking at it as eating is a form of service or listening as a form of service or just the element of service that's in our presence. Sometimes I guess, I have this tendency to just do and so it was like a sweet reminder, everything, it's all connected. Service is contextual. It is different in different settings.

Olivier: There are many elements to this question, so thanks for that. It is a very beautiful response. You have been involved in so many projects in Service Space - Kindspring, Laddership, Awakin circles and many more. Caroline had a question regarding running volunteer organizations?

Caroline: I have questions that are very down to earth and practical. I'm a part of collectives and networks that are volunteer based and also government circles. I believe that when we work with an open collective of volunteers it has a beautiful emergence. Anywhere in the network can really turn into a great idea. It can really generate amazing initiatives. At the same time I believe we need a bit of structure so people know they are part of the same network so they can communicate with each other, that they are aware of what's happening. I find it a bit hard that sometimes people join initiatives but then they just want to do the emerging, joyful beautiful parts. They don't want to contribute to the structure. I get a bit frustrated with that. I'm wondering, do we just have to be patient? And gradually people get involved. Is it a normal process? Are there some small things that we can do to create space for people to take ownership? Maybe not leadership, but at least ownership. When I heard you speak about service. I can already feel a shift in me. I already have a little bit of my answer but I would like to hear you on those points.

Audrey: Sure. So part of it is volunteer engagement. How do you organize volunteers or people organizationally? How do you have a continued engagement and contribution from them? Is that right? I feel like I don't know the answer to these questions [laughs]. But one thing that I've been learning as we've been holding a lot of these questions in the recent years is - what's the natural pattern? Fukuoka, the father of permaculture, who wrote the book, One Straw Revolution, holds this question. He has this concept of do nothing farming. And it actually takes a lot of work to do nothing. It takes a lot of effort to be effortless. And so he talks about in that process of figuring out what's the natural pattern for farming. How do I cultivate a garden? How do I cultivate this farm where everything grows in a natural way and to the best that it can. He actually had to let a ton of trees die in that process because it was going off of the old pattern and the old kind of farming and it was kind of growing from that momentum. He said, he let go of all these fruit trees, like hundreds of trees and then he let go of even hundreds more before he could say, you know, this is the natural pattern. So when we think of organizations, when we think of organizing in general, we kind of have a notion of that moment of the factory model of organizing. That we have this vision. We're going to bring people together around it. Everyone's going to be motivated. We're going to put it out there, and that's what the world needs. Wanting to do something for the greater good, I think that's a beautiful thing. One thing that I've been learning more and more is, who am I to know what's for the greater good? The more that I serve, the more I see that. I have so many blind spots. How do I even know what the organizing principle of nature is? How do I know what to push? Where to help something happen?

Actually Jasky in one of our calls held this question, how do I see the social field that's right in front of me? If we see all people as literally like a field, like as if we're on a farm, but it's a social field as a social farm. And if you think about social perma-culture. How do I see the social field? And what's the least amount of interference that I can put into it so that to unlock the natural pattern of art, innate generosity or innate compassion or innate kindness, we all have that in us, right? We have those seeds. What's the best way to garden that? So it's not how do I manufacture this and how do I pump out all the kindness and generosity and goodness and how do I package that and market it into the world? But it's really saying, how do I cultivate this in an organic way because we all have those seeds in us and it can just totally bloom when we let nature take its course. So as this imperfect human being, how can I, from where I am, see this social field and know, how much water to add when, and know how much weeding to do when and it's so contextual. There's no one size fits all direction step for it. But it's really about getting to know the context, getting to know the people who are there, getting to know what is natural to them, getting to know what their strengths are. Was it Einstein who said, if we judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, then the fish will live its whole life thinking that it's stupid but it's not in a fish's nature to climb a tree. So when we're thinking organizationally, how do we see the nature of the people that are with us and how do we nurture that and just help cultivate the conditions for what's in their nature to thrive. So it's a very different way of organizing because you're not pushing it. It's not like this aggressive thing to create something but at the same time, you're working really hard to try to till the soil. I hope that helps answer. It is not like step one, step two, step three... type of a thing.

Fatimata: I'm very happy to meet you. You do so many things and you meet so many people and you have a fan club. I was just wondering how on an everyday basis you manage to be humble and choose happiness everyday?

Audrey: What comes to mind is, the first time I saw the night sky, the way the night sky really is. I remember before I went to college, after I graduated high school, I spent some time in the mountains because I wanted to be a hermit [laughs]. I went to the mountains that summer. I remember seeing the night sky without any light pollution. It was just filled with stars. You could see the Milky Way, you could see satellites and there were shooting stars every second. It was just bursting with all this beauty of the universe. And this was just from my naked eye, I wasn't looking through any telescopes or binoculars or anything. And I hadn't seen that before because I'd always lived under the shelter of nightlights. I remember seeing that and just feeling like, wow, I think I'm falling up [laughs]. I felt like I was just falling up into the universe looking at that night sky. I remember thinking like, if everyone could see this sky the world would be so much more peaceful because we would realize how tiny we are. We would realize what a fraction of nothing we are. When we're interacting in our human world, we can just feel so important and we can feel like everything matters so much. But when you really look at our size in relation to the arcs of time in the universe we're really tiny. We're really minuscule. And I think that definitely keeps me humble. And that definitely keeps me really happy because it's like, what a gift we've been given to even have this fraction of an experience of existence. And so why not enjoy the fraction that I have? I think from that frame of reference, I don't think I chose to be on this rock called earth, but somehow I ended up here. I almost feel like whatever I do here, I don't feel like it's my doing. Whatever my conditions are, it's not something that I've made happen. It's been all such a gift to be born to the family that I've been born into, have the opportunities that I've had and to have the chance to meet all of you and learn from you. I just feel like, seeing the smallness is a big part of that.

Pankaj: To me Audrey is like that little hummingbird named Joy. She brings joy and there have been so many instances where she's helped me not to take myself so seriously. She's incredible. So instead of taking more time on my reflection, I actually have a question for Audrey. The thing, among many things that impresses me the most, it's the authenticity as manifested. I feel like there is no gap between who she is, and what she is and what she does. It's just incredible to me and it's an inspiration. So my question is - Do you have moments where you sense a gap between what you think or who you are and how you are coming across. And if so, what helps you sense that? What practices do you do to bridge that gap as soon as possible? Thank you.

Audrey: Thank you Pankaj. That's a great question. Although I'm an adult now, I still feel like a kid a lot of times. I mean, we're all kids if you think about millennia of history. What comes to mind is I feel inauthentic when I feel like I have to present myself in a certain way that is an expectation. So if I'm responding to an expectation that I think people have of me. It's an interesting thing, right? It's like, I think someone has this expectation of how I should be. So I should act in this way how they expect me to be. That's just my own perception. In my experience, that's what I am saying in say work settings or different spaces, right that's natural. Like you have certain roles to fill and so you might try to show up a certain way. But service brings so much joy because there is no expectation. I mean there is some expectation but you are who you are. Right? And so it's not about performing. It's about loving. I used to get nervous. I still do get nervous. I always get nervous but in circles or in calls where there are a lot of people and I could feel my heartbeat and I could feel, I hope I make sense, or I hope that this sounds right or I hope that everyone has a good time. I started to realize that there's actually some ego in that. That is, I hope that I can do something so that everyone feels good. I started to realize it's not so much about how I am, but it's more like when I'm anywhere, how can I help create a space where everyone is feeling more comfortable? For example if I was showing up in a space and maybe I'm new or it's my first time that I would feel at home. So it shifted my own thinking, like when I start to get like, Oh, how am I supposed to say this? Or how am I supposed to sound? To kind of notice that and say. How can I just offer love? How can I see the people around me and see what they might be feeling and the insecurities that they might have growing up, and how can I just help alleviate some of that? Instead of thinking about me, how can I think about the we. That naturally dissolves the sense of who I'm supposed to be. Because who am I? Anyway? [Laughs]. I think authenticity comes when we're not thinking of ourselves but we're really thinking of the collective.

Pankaj: Oh, that's so beautiful. I've heard the term servant leadership and it looks like that's what you are. You are a model, so thank you.

Guri: Thank you. Audrey I was just thinking back to your childhood. You grew up in a place where there wasn't a lot of religion or spirituality. There was this strong belief in science. Just thinking back to your story about when you, decided to become a vegetarian, because you didn't want to harm the animals. Or that you wanted to be a hermit at some point. How does that idea come up? And I know later on you spent six months at a nunnery, at a monastery doing pretty rigorous practices. Also just as a graduate of UC Berkeley where everybody else is making money, have a certain idea of success, how did you happen to choose this path service which is invisibly for the most part. So I'm just wondering that, none of these things were kind of lined up for you. None of this was expected coming from the background that you came from, where even things like being a vegetarian, that's not something that would occur. That's just not part of the culture or becoming a hermit. How did these ideas arise for you?

Audrey: Thank you for your questions. Growing up years were very interesting. My parents were scientists and they didn't really believe in any specific religion so I never really knew what religion was. God was just kind of this idea but I didn't really have any stories behind it. However there was always a kind of a sense of a deeper meaning. My dad was scientific but he was also pretty spiritual. He would joke about past lives or he would talk about God, but not in a serious way. In high school the notion of wanting to be a hermit came up. I think I was really inspired by Thoreau. We had to read that in high school. I remember reading about Thoreau and him being a hermit at Walden and being in that natural environment and being curious about what is that? And just his words too. Like, how can you really live with that? So I don't know. I think just somehow finding all of you and I'm learning from all of you has given me the influence to ask those deeper questions and to keep asking them and not brush them aside for the sake of living a practical life. But to really see that, that is the practicality of life. In our breakout session when we were talking about happiness, I don't know what someone said about the role of suffering in happiness. And wondering is happiness the opposite of suffering? And we decided that it wasn't. I think everyone is going to experience some form of suffering, permanence loss and grief at some point in their life, whether you're younger or older when it comes to you. I think encountering that, naturally leads to these questions of what is our deeper purpose here and what am I doing with my time?

When those questions come up there is no straight answer of how to lead a meaningful life or how to really lead a life aligned with purpose. There's something about that presence of knowing that I will die and what was it all for? And maybe it was all for nothing. I mean we are all such little things in the universe but I think that has been kind of something that has given me a lot of perspective in making these left turns and right turns. I don't know if that answered the question.

Helen: This is kind of a follow-up question to what Pankaj was asking. Do you have a daily regular practice that you find very reliable and that keeps you grounded?

Audrey: Definitely meditation is a grounding practice for me. That is an amazing anchor in reminding me of the impermanence of life. I struggle with it at times, but I also realize that it is definitely something that makes everything better for me. So I've tried to prioritize that more. Meditation on one hand and then on the other hand laughter [laughs]. In the sense that, it's so easy to get caught up in the, to do list or the day to day or things that come up. In times when something feels ridiculous or something feels serious or whatever it is, I think I just laugh. Whether it's nervous laughter or whatever. I just laugh. Even if I'm just by myself, with like lockdown and everything. Well, I'm never by myself. There's at least birds around. So it's me and the birds laughing. I think meditation on one hand to kind of anchor in the impermanence and in the reality of the suffering in life and the nature of life, but also laughter on the other hand is like the bomb that like makes the going so much easier. Not necessarily to lighten but it's like that reminder nothing is so serious as we think it is at the time.

Rohit: In your daily life and work the nature of work is that that you make such amazing, deep friendships with so many people. Having some inkling of your spiritual life, I wonder whether something like detachment or not being attached to this external relationships. I guess these could bring a craving of their own sort to be in this wonderful company. I am curious whether this question comes to you? What really helps you stay rooted within yourself and not really just outside enjoying the thought or pleasure seeking way, which you also mentioned. So that with the ultimate aim that you can even be emptier and then those friendships and the service can even be more natural and organic. That's my question. How do you test yourself for being rooted with self and detached? Is that even a metric for you, which you feel it's worth asking for people like us.

Audrey: Yes. It is such a great question. So you're saying in community when you're cultivating so many relationships how do you not get too attached to it? Yes, like I'll be in a retreat and it's this beautiful space and it's hard not to want that. Right? As you go into your regular day to day stuff and the mundane things. Community is an interesting thing. It's a beautiful thing. It can also be a sticky thing. And relationships too, friendships, family, there's so much stickiness that can come up in that. I think more and more, it's not necessarily about any specific person. I love people and I value all of the friendships but at the same time, it's not necessarily you that I love, but it's the values, it is what is behind you or that which brings you here like your intention to serve, your intention to transform yourself. That's what I love. And I love who you are too and all the things that make you, you. But it's really that element, that aspiration to dissolve of yourself in some form and to transform yourself and to be of service and to grow in our interconnection and all those kinds of more invisible values.

What would make any of you to come to a call where none of us really know the answers or there's nothing to get out of it. What would make us sit in an Awakin circle where there's no teaching. There's no teacher, but we're just all sitting here to listen to each other. And what is it that brings us to such a space? And I think it's that aspiration to grow in inner transformation, to deepen in inner transformation and to deepen in what it means to serve and that's not tied to any one person. That's not tied to a personality. That's not a brand. That's just nature. I think for me, it's not the community that I'm enamored by. It's more what brings each of us to a community and you see in any community, right? And the beauty of this space is it's such a revolving door where you can come in and you can come out. There's no dependency. Nothing even depends on anyone. It's just what it is, in this moment. I always feel like I'm totally dispensable. That's great. All of us are totally dispensable because it's not about any one thing that we're trying to build. It's about the values. How can we create space and all of this is just an excuse to live the values more deeply. It's funny. I sometimes joke with my mom that ' Mom, I don't really have any friends.' I mean, I do, all of you are my friends and I'm your biggest fan. But it is such a more invaluable friendship that I feel because we're not here because we like each other's personality or you tell funny jokes or whatever that is. I mean, that's great too, we do enjoy that, but it's more about the shared journey and the wanting to deepen in our infinite potential.

Swara: Audrey, you said that there is a lot of hard work in the do-nothing work. In a social context, where is that effort that you do nothing?

Audrey: Yeah, what is the farming work that you actually do? It's funny actually, yesterday some of us had a call, one of our last laddership circles. And we decided to plan some surprises for it because it was the last one. We had a guest speaker and it was like, it was very fun, but everything was kind of like last minute. Meghna was there, right? She actually drafted this flow for the call. And then we're like, now we have this surprise and then we have this surprise and so how are we going to reconfigure this? And so it became like, okay, if A then B, if C then D if E then F right. So it was like if this happens then we'll try this, if that happens, we will try that and so on. Because how do you plan emergence? Right? You don't know what's going to happen. It's like you don't know what the flower is going to look like. You don't know if it's going to be pink, if it's gonna be purple, you can just do your best to make the soil good. The work that I am noticing is a lot about listening and really being present and then seeing value that you wouldn't expect to see. And when you see that value, it's like seeing the bud. Right? So how can you make the environment safe for that bud to bloom? It's hard to say because you're not really scheming to do anything. It's more like you feel the love in your heart and you want to nurture something to blossom.

I remember at one of our retreats, something had come up and I'm like, let's try. For tomorrow's session lets try these different dialogues with different pairs. A few of us were brainstorming which pair we should have dialogue? Who should we have dialogue with who? And how should we theme it? And then we ended up throwing it all away, because something else happened. I remember someone who was helping brainstorm, said, Oh! That was a lot of work. It was like, well, that's what we do, right? We don't know what's going to happen, but you just give everything you can to it and then, something else might be meant to happen. And I think that's the difference between content and context. When we're in a space where there's, something to get then you're kind of focused on the content. What am I going to present? Or how am I going to show up? or how am I going to deliver this information? But context, you can't plan it's so in the moment, and it's dynamic and it's also on so many past relationships and past dynamics and past experiences too. So it's kind of this convergence of so many different blessings in a way behind each of us. Wow! Like we're in this convergence of all these blessings and what great collective blessing is going to happen. And we can't plan that. But we can just try our best to see how we can hold space for whatever wants to surface. It's not a linear way of figuring out what to do, but it's how do I spot, if you're doing gymnastics, right? Like you have a spotter who will be like, you can try doing backflip and I'll be here and catch you if you fall. So it kind of feels like a lot of spotting. Is a backflip going to happen? Is it not? But we'll just be here and I'll move over here because now you're going over there. So it's kind of a process of knowing where to be when.

Olivier: Thank you Audrey. It has been two hour that we are together and we feel we cannot interview Audrey in one session but might need a series of 10 episodes. Thank you everyone for joining the call.

Jasky: Hey everybody, thank you so much for coming. I invite you to send our merits that Audrey mentioned far and wide.

Posted by Swara Pandya | | permalink


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Comments (5)

  • Richard Whittaker wrote ...

    Yaaay, Audrey!

  • Aditie Vaid wrote ...

    Woooow thank you thank thank you thank you! Everyone from the start to the start … this interview never ends for me :)) I heard it with eyes abd I read it with a wet set and yet I feel so light. Like the questions I was holding have evaporated and no not because I found answers but I falling in love with my questions! Thank you Audrey, Jasky, Swara. This is more precious to me than the longest scripture…

  • Akhil Tripathi wrote ...

    I am completely overwhelmed with the beautiful interview of Audrey and her responses. I have always felt she is one of those amazing souls that we meet and feel totally connected with. These interviews are really well done and articulated beautifully. Her silent presence and being invisible with her actions is truly inspiring. Like Gandhi and like Sangeeta my daughter, is ee such inspiration and joy that eminates without any effort. I am ever so grateful for Audrey andother souls who bring all joy to living. Thanks Audry.

  • Ruth Pittard wrote ...

    All the time I was reading the interview with Audrey, I could hear her voice and see her smile! My time with her in two Laddership experiences has permanently changed me. She has modeled what I can be--the purity of service I imagine for myself. I often ask myself in challenging situations: who would Audrey be if this happened and what action would she let emerge out of that being? And then I smile and make that laugh that resembles hers....thank you, dear Audrey for your BEING. LOVE, love, and love around you, emanating and spreading.

  • Patricia Downing wrote ...

    Thank you for this enlightening conversation. Through my experience of Audrey in a Laddership Pod, I came to appreciate her kindness, her humor and the authenticity with which she always showed up. Reading this has given me an opportunity to get to know her at a deeper level, and I continue to be inspired by her wisdom and honesty. Thank you, Audrey, for your beautiful being! I am grateful that you have been in my life, and I send you love.