A dense gray fog envelops the bureaucracy. Faceless, nameless people do their jobs unthinkingly. Some push paper, some push brooms; some cut, some splice; some sort, some mix; some issue orders, some ignore orders. "How goes it?" is answered, "It goes." Visibility is poor; the ceiling is low. Beyond a short distance, shapes are dimmed and fade into the mist.

But once a week, every Friday at 7:45am, a few individuals gather at a round table in an almost-empty cafeteria. The corporate haze thins, imperceptibly ... a faint glow, like the earliest fingers of dawn, emerges ... the fog lifts slightly, and an elusive light begins to illuminate the entire organization --- though almost no one notices. A handful of people in the early morning have come together to think and talk about ... philosophy.

Yes, philosophy. The Philosophy Breakfast is not a club; it has no rules and no admission requirements; people drop in and drop out, as they please. It began in early 1998, triggered by a New York Times piece on the French "philosophy cafe" movement. Some weeks, the group picks a reading to springboard from --- a book within Marcus Aurelius' Meditations, a chapter of Clausewitz's On War, a few dozen pages of Machiavelli's The Prince. Other times, there's no agenda whatsoever.

It matters not; within a few minutes, regardless of the starting point, dialogue moves to a topic of concern --- death, truth, respect for authority, sources of creativity, whether violence can ever be justified, how and when to tell children about evil ... or literally a thousand other things. One week a person who had just turned 50 years old came and talked about his angst. Another discussion centered on career frustrations and the nature of "rewards" worth seeking.

There are many questions but few answers, many beginnings but few conclusions. And after forty-five minutes of conversation, Philo B'fast participants thank each other, clear the table, and slip away. They vanish into the corporate sea --- but their thoughts echo and reverberate throughout the organization, enriching and energizing their lives and the lives of their colleagues. Quiet, invisible magic is happening, every week.

Saturday, September 18, 1999 at 21:39:53 (EDT) = 1999-09-18

(see WhyThis)

TopicPhilosophy - TopicPersonalHistory - TopicThinking

Invisible is

preferable beautiful insightful full

(correlates: GiftForFiction, ShadowsAndLights, FlyHigh, ...)