Getting to Yes, And

Parker Palmer: On the Brink of Everything


Parker Palmer

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Kelly connects with noted author and activist Parker Palmer to talk about living a whole and purposeful life.

We talk about embracing our mistakes in improvisation and you have a similar philosophy, yes?

“My life has been graced but it certainly has not been graceful. I've done more than my share of falling down, getting up, and falling down again. The falling down is due to missteps and gravity, the getting up is due to grace.”

Teaching is a kind of improvisation for you.

“What we're taught in school, and I must say in other settings of our lives as well, religious organizations, for example, is to live by a script. And the reason for that is the script has all the right answers. It just happens to be that those are answers to questions nobody's asking. So if you listen for the questions that people are asking and are willing to dance with them in an improv way - the dance metaphor is powerful for me - I think good teaching is good dancing.”

So we’re all walking around broken, and rather than let that stop us, you talk about embracing every part of yourself.

“I can sit here at age 81 without regrets about those mistakes because I feel like, with a lot of help from my friends, I've been able to make something good out of them. So it has pained me to hear people talking about wholeness, as if that means reaching some state of perfection. The only perfection I know anything about is that, as you said, which embraces my brokenness as an integral part of who I am.”

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