Monday, November 11, 2013

The Rule of Eight

Act #315:  Go deeper.

We have a rule in our household - that when we invite people over for dinner, we only invite as many people that will fit around our 8-person dinner table.  In my younger years, I took great pride in hosting parties that filled my entire house, even designing furniture that was seamlessly converted to accommodate up to 20, 30, maybe even 50 people in a 1700 square foot area.  At one such party several years ago when we had about 75 people in our backyard for a barbecue, I remember fluttering around with trays of food and drinks, sprinkling greetings and cheek kisses here and there, when I overheard one of my guests say, "She has barely even said two words to us!" I was devastated.

And then I met my introverted husband, who dreaded accompanying me to parties just like the ones I threw.  Contrary to popular belief, he wasn't terrified of the prospect of being around people, but he was insanely uncomfortable having to engage in ongoing superficial conversations with multiple people at a time.  So what I discovered at these parties was this:  while I was "fluttering" around making sure I met everybody and that everybody met me, my husband was holed up in a corner with a judge executive talking in-depth about their families and their hobbies.  At that same exact party, all I learned from the dozens of people I interacted with, were their names and what they did for a living.

And so we came to this rule of eight .  We decided to open our home to invite friends - new and old - over, but we would only invite enough so that we could have meaningful and engaging conversations with each and every one of them.  And them, with us too of course.  The magic number seems to be eight.   At our dinner parties, we learn way more about people than their names.  And every once in a while we have a particularly "successful" dinner party when all eight of us leave beaming and filled with each other's stories and energy - when after 3 hours of appetizers, wine, and dessert we have connected, shared, laughed.... and we have no idea who does what for a living.

"I try to treat whoever I meet as an old friend. This gives me a genuine feeling of happiness."
- Dalai Lama's Tweet this morning

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