At my house, we have this thing we call the Table of Safety. Officially, it’s our dining room table, where we sit each morning reading the paper, scrolling the internet, and eating our breakfast. Unofficially, it’s anywhere we need to invoke a sense of respect and privacy during conversation.
It’s sort of a, “No offense, but…”
Or a, “Between you and me…”
An occasional, “This might sound stupid…”
Sometimes an, “Oh my god, can you believe…”
And maybe even, a “What the f–!”
It’s a safe space where ranting is allowed.
Talking and listening.
Paths are followed, answers are sought.
We get it all out at the Table of Safety.
ALL OF IT. Well, as much as we can.
And then we get on with our day.
I believe speaking out loud is therapeutic. As an author, I often discover solutions to my blocks, tropes, or plot problems by discussing out loud. Yes, I talk to myself. Yes, I talk to others. Sometimes just hearing the words helps put them in perspective. Other times, a suggestion will be made that hits home and clears the lane to understanding. Often, advice offered that is ridiculously far off-base (but sincerely given) can trigger the perfect result! Regardless, it’s important to know that what is said will be accepted. Not judged, not discredited, not denied.
It’s not a stretch to say everyone could use a Table of Safety.
I think that if all people were given the opportunity to share their opinion, assumptions, ideas, suggestions, solutions, etc, in a safe place with no judgement, only genuine respect, maybe they wouldn’t feel the need to take it to the internet. If we all had a place to express our vulnerability and curiosity, we might be more open to others and their differences.
If folks were provided a safe-zone to pursue a line of thinking, they might actually make it all the way to the end of that line. An impulsive diatribe might seek and find a satisfying conclusion. A brilliant retort might be found to be unhelpful and down right unnecessary.
We don’t always agree at the Table of Safety, but that’s one more benefit. To bring another point of view to the table, literally. It’s not about being right. It’s about exploring options through civil discourse. Considering a thought other than your own. I know I am more knowledgeable, empathetic, and patient because of this shared experience.
I think it’s safe to say that we’re all pretty frustrated and bunged up right now. Too often that stress erupts in detrimental ways.
I encourage you to find your own Table of Safety.
In the privacy of your own home, across from someone you love.
Be controversial. Be sympathetic. Play the “what if…” game.
Let it out.
Let it all out. Or, as much as you can.
Then get on with your day.
The TOS is probably not going to solve the world’s problems but it just might expand our way of thinking. And I think that’s a good start.