There are things that we take with us as we journey that connect the path we take with their presence. This is the story of a table.
To start the year off, I’d like to diverge from my usual socratic structure and reflect a little by telling a story.
It’s the story of a table, and through this table I can track the path of much of my life – personal and professional entwined together. In fact the table really represents the intersection and overlap of those things (but more about that later).
The table has been part of many conversations and experiences as a catalyst, a witness, a hub, support act, inspiration, catalog (wine stains and cup rings are hard to remove) – the list could go on and on.
I first met the table as a child, when I would sit at it after school with the lady who lived next door and talk about our days over a cool drink. The years passed, and I was in my first year of college when I found out that the lady next door had died and her husband wanted me to have the table as a rememberance of our times together. That kind gesture was just the beginning of what has become quite a journey the table and I have taken.
So the table joined me in Melbourne and was the dining table at my college share house, where an ever changing cast of people shared big bowls of pasta, cask red wine and fresh bread from the Victoria Markets.
Then we took a road trip together, landing in Sydney where I had taken a job as a designer, and for a time it became my place to muse, write, imagine and dream. I kept that job for a while until I started my first business in a two room office above a real estate company in Rozelle.
With a facelift that we would both live to regret (black paint on bare wood is hard to remove), it became my conference table until working from an office gave way to working from home.
It was back to the kitchen after a detour into an acid bath to strip off the ill-advised paint job and return it to its lovely naked golden pine colour. The kitchen and the table were the centre of our house, meals and late night scrabble, too many bottles of wine to count and a never ending parade of friends and friends-of-friends.
But a phone call from the US came out of nowhere and the opportunity it presented meant soon we were all off to the US to take up a job with a creative firm in Denver, Colorado.
I arrived in Colorado many many many months ahead of the table, and by the time it joined me I was overjoyed. It took up its place as my desk, a role it would play on and off for the next few years. When we moved office it officially came to work and had pride of place in my office for several years, silently observing growing pains, people dramas, crazy brainstorming sessions and business betrayals.
For a short while during this time it went to stay with a friend who needed it, but soon it was back with me supporting my work as I branched off alone and started trying to get people to see brand in new ways. In no time at all, 13 years had passed and it was time to come home, but due to work commitments, this time my table made it back long before I did.
When I returned in May 2006 it was waiting for me, a comforting presence, once again taking up its role as my place to muse, write, imagine and dream.
As I write this blog its warm gold colour peaks at me through the piles of papers that never quite get filed away. The continuity of its presence connects all the pieces and phases of my journey together and reminds me that, while we like to think of our lives in compartments of work, home, family etc, really it is all just life, mushed together, bits messily overlapping.
To quote Ralph Waldo Emerson “life’s a journey, not a destination”, and I can’t wait to see what ‘09 brings next along the path.
What connects your story?
Alignment is Michel’s passion. Through her work with Brandology here in Australia, and Brand Alignment Group in the United States, she helps organisations align who they are, with what they do and say to build more authentic and sustainable brands.
For more Cultural Leadership blogs, click here.