There we were, 7 complete strangers, having dinner at a curated forum.   As with most networking events, it started with small talk and sharing work backgrounds. Then came our host to tell us what it meant to have a “Death Over Dinner” experience.

Essentially, we had to talk about someone we have lost that meant something to us, then a set of follow up questions around how we think about death and life guides the conversation.

As the directions turned to action, you could sense the uncomfortable stir in the chairs of my dinner mate (myself included).   For me, I talked about my grandfather Cassidy.  A man who was loved by so many.  He was a figure in his own home town community, always laughing, making jokes in good spirits.  I thought about what I would like to say to him today and how I wish I had more time with him as an adult to bond and learn from him.  It was a nice moment.  Vulnerable too.

It reminded me of the many Conscious Community Dinners here in the Bay Area hosted and attended.

My dinner mates and I all shared pretty openly. From our heart and our feelings.  It felt nice. A connection was developing.

THEN we let the brain get in the way: we failed at following the series of questions to ask and began sharing our “Philosophy” on death. And the fun was drained.  Each was trying to make a point about their beliefs of death and even debated on technology’s impact on life after death.  It got long-winded, argumentative and well, not so fun. Finally, someone jumped in and asked the first follow up question.

“What would you say to your loved one’s if you had one hour to live?”

Whoa.  We all got a bit set back by that one. This question forced us to reach again back into the heart for an answer. Per usual, I led by closing my eyes and trying hard to imagine what it would be like to speak with my 10-year-old son for the last time. And what I would really say.  I began to explain that I’d want to tell him it was OK and everything was working out just as it was supposed to. That I loved him and would always be with him… and then the tears came… to even imagine that moment, got me. Still gets me as I write this. What a powerful question!

Again, hearts were opening, and connection happening, delightfully so.

But when the questions ran out again, guess what? We found our way back to debating death and life philosophy. 7 brains on the battlefield to voice their opinion on something they can’t fully comprehend.

Looking back, I find it so fascinating that when we share what we think, it really is not all that interesting or connective, but when we share what we feel and speak with open heart, the possibility of connection becomes infinite.

May we have more dinners with heart.  It creates the fabric of our connections, friends, and community.

This experience reminded me of the many Conscious Community Dinners in the Bay Area that are hosted. Find out more about it here.