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  • Sarah Patterson

About not focusing on the holes we fall into

Originally published in the Common Interests Newsletter - November 2022

I never know what I will be writing about in our newsletter, but generally, trust that something will emerge. And it always does. The irony about this month is that I had earmarked November’s theme as being around COP27 and took some comfort in knowing that at least one month’s theme was taken care of. The universe had other ideas. I have written and rewritten this month’s newsletter several times and none of it felt quite right.


I have been really inspired by Arlene Williams (Pod 7) and her conviction in the power of stories. Two days ago, Steve Roderick (Pod 17) shared a short story by American singer, songwriter, actress, and author, Portia Nelson called Autobiography in Five Short Chapters from her book entitled There's a Hole in My Sidewalk: The Romance of Self-Discovery (and who among us could resist THAT title).


When I read it, I thought – this is it! This is what we are each doing on our individual journeys. It is what we are doing on our Common Earth journeys. It is what we are doing on our collective human journey. So, it is just fine that COP27 did not produce the results that we were hoping for. We fell into the hole again. Rather than focusing on the hole and the frustration that we feel about the fact that we keep falling into it, let’s take heart and hope in the fact that there are more chapters to come in this story.


So here is the Story:


Autobiography in Five Short Chapters


Chapter I

I walk down the street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I fall in.

I am lost… I am hopeless.

It isn’t my fault.

It takes forever to find a way out.


Chapter II

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I pretend I don’t see it.

I fall in again.

I can’t believe I am in this same place.

But it isn’t my fault.

It still takes a long time to get out.


Chapter III

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I see it there.

I still fall in… it’s a habit… but,

my eyes are open.

I know where I am.

It is my fault.

I get out immediately.


Chapter IV

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I walk around it.


Chapter V

I walk down another street.


If I could be so bold as to add another chapter to her story, this is what it would be:


Chapter VI

I walk down another street.

We are all connected, so this allows others to do the same.

This other street becomes the main thoroughfare





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