Pebble Work

Negotiating a wellbeing deal with ourselves

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

John Paul Lederach is a professor of international peacebuilding at Notre Dame and a global mediator who has mediated life and death crises in 25 countries and 5 continents. One of the places he looks for the needed wisdom to negotiate conflict is haiku. The way haiku distills the complexity of an experience into a tight, simple truth can guide his grasp of a situation if he can just find that simple truth. According to Lederach, the aha moments we all experience from time to time are like haiku in that way – the distillation of the complex into a simple truth that allows us to see the wisdom. He therefore listens for the inherent haiku in conversation.
During one mediation session someone distilled the monumental task of mediation down to a simple, one-sentence truth which Lederach was able to turn into a haiku using the 5 syllable – 7 syllable – 5 syllable format:
Don’t ask the mountain
to move, just take a pebble
each time you visit.

I was immediately struck by how this pebble of mediation truth often aligns with the negotiation of our own health and wellbeing. We may want to move the mountain in the instant, but success is probably more like pebble work. Good, do-able pebble work.

I love rocks. Good luck with your pebbles. And don’t forget to register for next week’s gratitude-with-attitude panel discussion! We’re going to take a look under the hood.