Sunday, September 20, 2009

wherein I consider the respective virtues of Meetings and Morning Walks

Today I would like to talk about the value of meetings.

That is not entirely true. Actually, I would rather talk today about morning walks, but today (Saturday) I did not walk, because I went instead to a meeting.

Sitting in a meeting often gives one time to reflect.
(In picture above, please note mirror. This is a true mirror. It hangs in the upstairs bedroom of my grandmother's house. It has age spots and a gilded frame. On the morning of my wedding day it is into this mirror I reflected, looking forward, in fact, to a day like today when I would be an almost aged woman again reflecting.)

Sitting (and thus reflecting) in a meeting during the hour one wontedly walks may lead one to weigh the value of one's chosen and/or other occupations.
(In picture below, please note scale. This is a true scale. My grandmother used it when she was postmistress. She used it to weigh letters in order to ascertain correct postage. She also used it to weigh pinecones and letters to imaginary people and coins cut out of cardboard. I do not believe she ever used it to weigh intangibles like meetings or morning walks. The ukelele is also hers. She would play it sitting by the campfire.)

Meetings and morning walks differ from each other in many ways. Usually meetings are stale-air and stationary. Usually walks are fresh-air and vigorous.

Some people walk the mall - being inside, breathing already-breathed air and listening to canned music, this could be considered a meeting-type morning walk. Brokering a deal over a golf game could be considered a walk-type meeting. In both cases, as far as I'm concerned, the (stale-air, stationary) Meeting aspect outweighs the (fresh air, vigorous) Morning Walk aspect. This is because meetings are, as a general rule, more weighty (think ponderous). In walks, one often takes oneself more lightly (think delightsome).  Without care, meetings will always outweigh morning walks.

Walking may effectively be done on one's own, though it is often more enjoyable with another. Meetings are pointless on one's own, though one may wonder if they would be thusly more enjoyable. One notes that meetings may be pointless also in groups.

In addition, morning walks and meetings also have many things in common. Both often involve circular routes. Both often take place for no other reason than that they are scheduled.

Morning walks often begin cold, though one may overheat from exertion. In meetings, one may become overheated through no effort of one's own.
(In picture below, please note fireworks. These are true fireworks. They are being fired off in the park behind the old church which is now the town community center in my grandmother's old town. Otherwise they should be self-explanatory.)

There were no fireworks in today's meeting because it was a nice meeting.

But it was not a Great meeting.

Great meetings set an inspiring vision for future effort and clearly coordinate the accomplishment of that effort in discrete and mutually agreed upon tasks.

Morning walks are unavoidably more pedestrian in their purview. Though, as in most meetings, the talk during a morning walk may range from the most mundane and personal minutiae to ineffable grasping after the secrets of the universe, walks rarely come to a conclusion of any more substance than, "So, next week?" "Yep. Same time?" "Yep." "Okay."

Many meetings end no more conclusively.

Good meetings have an agenda which may at times help to keep the parties involved from going over and over familiar ground.

Walks do not, in general, have any agenda and going over familiar ground is usually the order of the day. Despite this, walks often result in a peaceful and energetic feeling.

Meetings, on the other hand, more often result in feelings of stultification.
Definition of Stultification at

see stul-ti-fy [stuhl-tuh-fahy]
  1. to make, or cause to appear, foolish or ridiculous.
  2. to render absurdly or wholly futile or ineffectual, esp. by degrading or frustrating means: Menial work can stultify the mind.
  3. Law. to allege or prove (oneself or another) to be of unsound mind. Origin: 1760–70
Related forms:
stul-ti-fi-ca-tion, noun
stul-ti-fi-er, noun
stul-ti-fy-ing-ly, adverb

Synonyms: cripple, impede, frustrate, hinder, thwart.

Related Words for stultification: befooling, constipation, deadening, impairment

Nearby Words: stultiloquence, stultiloquent, stultiloquy, stulty
Walking does not provide so many prompts to enrich one's vocabulary.


Neighbor Jane Payne said...

What a treasure trove.

I love the picture you painted with your words. I especially liked the sentiment in this: "She also used it to weigh pinecones and letters to imaginary people and coins cut out of cardboard. I do not believe she ever used it to weigh intangibles like meetings or morning walks."

Morning walk meetings are a good answer. Don't you agree?

Lisa B. said...

Somehow you are seeing directly into my meeting-filled life. Stultify. I'm going to practice shouting that word.

Emma J said...

Jane - Morning walk meetings - as long as I could set the pace!

Lisa B. - I think stultiloquence is also a very satisfying word.

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