May – 2020
Hello and welcome to the third edition of our website newsletter. I am afraid I got a bit of a late start on this one, but it has been a relatively quiet month for reasons that are obvious to all. I thought I would catch you up on what we are doing as well as some thoughts about the future.
For the first time in a very long time, I have been home in my apartment for over a month. As many of you know I am usually traveling extensively, flying somewhere at least once a month and often more often than that. I spent the first month of quarantine in Connecticut with my sister Joey and my brother-in-law Steven and it was good to get a break from New York City in the early days of this crisis. But I came home on April 15 and have been glad to be back. I am fortunate to have access to pretty much everything I might need within a few blocks of me, and it is good to have access to all of my books, notes, and resources here in my little New York apartment. I have really been enjoying the “7:00 PM Cheer” each evening. Without fail, every night at 7, millions of New Yorkers open their windows or go on their balcony or roof and cheer wildly for 3 minutes. This started as a way to thank the healthcare workers across the city.
While I understand how this epidemic can seem abstract if you are not seeing it much around you, that is not how it is here. Many people got sick and many have died. And we are proud of the nurses and medical techs and ambulance personnel and doctors who have been working so tirelessly here. At 7 pm, they change shifts and as they emerge from the hospitals, they hear millions of people cheering them on. It sounds like New Year’s Eve at midnight for three minutes! Beyond the sincere gratitude, I also think it is a great expression of New York City spirit, and after spending the day in relative isolation, it has been heartwarming to open the window and hear the expression of millions of neighbors going through it with you. It really does help us feel together in this. I understand that people have been doing similar practices in other areas hard hit by the virus.
Beyond this, as things have opened up a bit, I have been taking walks around the city, wearing my mask and gloves, and greeting fellow New Yorkers. It is quiet here—the absence of tourists alone really changes the feeling. I have been worried for my friends in the restaurant and hotel businesses here, as well as in the performing arts. I have given money to some charities to help those groups. Walking past celebrated restaurants and Broadway theaters all shut down is a melancholy experience. Yet, this is a resilient city and people are really doing their best. I am happy to report that overall, people are being respectful, maintaining distance, and wearing masks in most cases. As I said, it is not abstract for us here. And like everyone else, we are waiting for the day when we can more safely make contact again.
I do miss my NY restaurants, and seeing music and theater, and I miss being able to fly around the world to see my friends and to share the Enneagram journey with them. But this has also been a very useful and extraordinary time for me to attend to a number of things that usually get “the back burner.” So my lagging self-preservation instinct has been getting more attention! I have been getting more rest, enjoying the walks I described, doing some work on my apartment, and getting back to dangling projects. That being said, it has also been a fairly busy time for me, and I have been amazed at how many requests have been coming in on nearly a daily basis. Like everyone else, I am in the midst of switching a number of live events over to online offerings.
Personally, I have been spending my days reading, relaxing, watching movies I have missed, and enjoying my solitude. (There are times when being a Five comes in handy.) I have written some articles and other projects and have been posting an ongoing series of little essays on favorite albums on Facebook. I have been enjoying the writing and it has been a good way to get the necessary “head of steam” needed to plunge fully into my new book, which I am also doing. Many people have asked me what it is about, and my answer is everything that I have been learning and teaching since writing the Wisdom of the Enneagram. As I write this, it does occur to me that this may end up being more than one book. I have been thinking of it as a follow-up to Wisdom, and when I sit down to consider it, it is amazing how much more we have learned since the late 1990s! I can’t quite believe it has been that long since Don and I wrote that book.
While I have not been doing my weekly trips to the airport there has been no shortage of work coming in and there have been many requests for appearances. I am sorting through them even as I ponder when and how I may be able to start doing in-person events again. There are some scheduled for the end of the year, and I remain hopeful that we can do them, but I, like everyone else, will need to wait and see how things unfold with this pandemic and the various limitations on travel around the world at this time. That being said, we are moving forward with a number of new programs that I am looking forward to teaching.
We are working here at the website to make sure that ALL of my appearances, both online and in person, will be posted here. So, this is the place to look if you are wanting to find out when and where I will be teaching. Right now, I am teaching two online courses. One is a longer course on the Shift Network that actually got started back in the beginning of March. I am co-leading this one with Robert Holden and Jessica Dibb, and it is a course using the teachings of the Enneagram to explore the deeper experience of love. We are about halfway through it, and it has been rich and fun for me thus far. I also am finishing up a shorter course organized by Catherine Bell, and it is focused on using our time in quarantine to develop capacities that we can use during this time, but also after we return to some semblance of regular life. We have had a really superb group of people in that one.
So, what’s up next? Catherine Bell is hosting some single, stand-alone events that will run each Monday on June 8, 15, and 22. Each will be about a single topic and we are currently planning one on the history of the Enneagram and a second one on the basic orientation of the system—what it is and what it isn’t, and how it can be most helpful. A third session will be on the opportunities and pitfalls in finding our type or helping someone else find theirs. These sessions will be available as individual classes or as a package of all three.
On July 11, I will be doing an online appearance with Chris Heuertz, the author of The Sacred Enneagram and The Enneagram of Belonging. Chris and I have been friends for a while, and I really like his contributions to the field. He is one of the newer voices striving to preserve the depth and true purpose of the Enneagram work. Registration for that event will open through Chris’s site in the first few days of June. If you are interested, I would be ready. I am sure this one will sell out. We will have links to the registration for that event at RussHudson.com.
Starting on July 18, I will be co-teaching a longer course with my friend James Flaherty, who is the founder of the New Ventures West coaching school. This series will of course be about coaching and the Enneagram but will focus specifically on helping people discover and follow their sense of vocation. As distinct from career, vocation is our “calling,” that which fulfils our sense of meaning and purpose in this world which certainly can include career but is not confined to it. James and I have taught a number of courses together over the years, each one unique and focusing on different aspects of coaching and Enneagram work. Both of us are really excited about this one. The series will run on consecutive Saturdays for a total of 10 weekends. Again, registration links will be available here at our website.
Things have been relatively quiet at the Enneagram Institute. I have been talking with Brian Taylor on a weekly basis, and we made the decision together to postpone the Fundamentals Courses scheduled for the Barn in July and August. Earlier on we had hoped that the situation would have normalized by that time, but we are not getting signals that international and interstate travel will have opened up sufficiently by that time, nor do we want to unnecessarily expose participants to risk. We are looking at future dates, and also considering some online offerings in the interim.
I am currently scheduled to teach in-person in Copenhagen, Denmark on September 11 – 13, and at the Esalen Institute from September 27 – October 2. We are planning an Inner Critic workshop and an inner Work Retreat at the Barn in October, and there is a workshop scheduled in Paris on December 12 – 13. As of now, these programs are still on the books, but we are watching the news and getting updates, and will certainly let you know the status of these programs as more information is available to us.
One aspect of the work I hope to expand on in the coming months is collaboration—both with fellow Enneagram teachers and also with people in other fields. I am planning events with Chris Heurtz, and Suzanne Stabile and I have been discussing ways we might do a program together. I have already been working closely with friends and colleagues and have been discussing possible collaborative ventures with Cheryl Richardson, Cynthia Bourgeault, Robert Holden, and others. Tom Condon and I will likely come up with something as well. I am also starting to work with some new possible collaborators and will keep that under wraps until we know a bit more about what we might do. I also have a wish to offer at some point a program about the Enneagram and Creativity. I have been meeting many wonderful artists in music, theater, and cinema, and having had a background in performing arts, I love the idea of coming up with tools to help artists create but also to take care of themselves in that process. As some of this develops, I will let you know more.
It strikes me that for many years, I spoke in our Enneagram Part 1 Trainings that our world civilization was headed toward some big changes—not the end of the world, but perhaps an end to many of the ways of living that we all have become accustomed to. While many people shared similar intimations and senses about this, the future that we discussed often seemed remote, or even unlikely. But here we are. Change is upon us, and I see the current COVID-19 crisis as a single piece in a larger puzzle. I do my best each day to remember that this is a very good time to practice, to get centered, to recognize and receive help as it manifests in all the ways it might, and to prepare myself for these changes: not by scaring myself or letting fears of the future cloud my clarity, but by how I am choosing to live each day. I am looking at what I give my time and energy to. Perhaps you are realizing similar things and asking the very important questions, “After this crisis settles, what do I want to do? What kind of person do I want to be? What do I want to do differently from my life before? What have I learned during this time?” Or do we simply let our unconscious beliefs and fears run us and jump quickly back into our old habits? I suspect, like me, you are thinking and feeling that this is not what you would prefer. So, let’s renew our intentions, and start today. Let’s see how we can support the parts of us that sincerely want to awaken and to be of service, and how we can sooth and heal the frightened parts of us that cannot but grasp and defend. Gurdjieff used to say that when times were tough, and many were losing their awareness and presence, more grace flowed toward those who remembered that something else was possible. May this be so in our lives.
Thank you for your participation and support of this work.
Once again, wishing you and your loved ones a safe and peaceful journey through these times of change.