The campfire

I had been on a long and tiring journey today. I was looking forward to the gathering this evening. Knowing that there would be familiar faces and some new.

There would be some surprises but it would be, as always, a place of warmth and kindness.

A good place to stop and reflect on my day. In the company of likeminded souls where new ideas were welcomed with curiosity. Not challenged from a place of fear, as was so often the case on the other side of the bridge.

I had travelled across the bridge today. Sometimes it didn’t exist but on other days it was very real, sometimes painfully so. This was always the case when mixing with a crowd where the old beliefs held sway. Even when everyone agreed they were bad. Hmmm…bad…even believing that there is such a thing as good and bad can be a trap. Who decides? Balance? More on this in a moment.

I sat at the fire. I was pleased some had arrived before me and had already built the fire. When it first started, I did everything myself. I was happy to do this to bring this to life but it was now something with its own life, its own purpose borne magically out of the group of people who came together.

I needed to set some rules when it was first created.

My instinct was to leave space for others. To provide a structure but not to manage. My experiences on the other side of the bridge had left scars. But, as with everything in nature, balance was required. There is no right or wrong, black or white, just balance that needs to be constantly tended. Sense the dissonance or the resonance and sense the wisdom to understand what needs adjusting.

Rules provide safety. When abused they can be used to control people. These were the rules. I don’t even remember now whether they were stated at some point or just, somehow, part of the process. A natural process.

Enough people had gathered now and were looking expectant. Some faces I hadn’t seen for a while I was pleased to see. That was one of the rules.

Everyone welcome whenever they feel the need

I read out the other rules for the benefit of newcomers or those who hadn’t been before. Some will be here specifically because these rules provide warmth and a safety to learn and grow

Bring an open mind and an intention to understand.

Share a story if you like (perhaps using the bridge story or the quagmire to anchor this for others).

Offer gifts if you have them. Nothing is expected.

Share problems and ask clearly if you would like offers of help/advice.

Be kind to yourself and to others to facilitate growth. Help gently where you see others falling into traps such as self-judgement.

Welcome emotions as our natural feedback mechanism.

Seek balance and harmony, not right or wrong, good or bad, heart or mind, you or me or any of the other false dichotomies

Value stillness and space to understand what is being said.
(As Annemarie Borg shared with me, in the stillness we seek lies an inevitable motion)

So we started with three questions:

What would you like to share? Do you have a gift or a problem?

Have we observed the rules today?

Do we need to change the rules?

I start by sharing my story from last night:

I slept badly last night. I tried to understand why that might be for a change (I sleep badly once a week or so). My body was trying to tell me something. It was in the early hours that I realised that I was scared. This brought a flood of feelings and relief that I could put a name to this. If I knew what it was I could try to understand why and what I could do about it.

I felt proud that I had reached a point where I could consider describing myself as beautiful and now was able to admit to being scared. Curious that I couldn’t even tell you what the sensations were. Being able to name and accept this emotion made me feel powerful.

What was I scared of? Many things as it turned out. And being afraid stops my mind from working and encourages me to move on quickly. I’m accepting the fear now and exploring what it might mean in a more rational way.

The camp fire is a story and an idea that was borne out of the story of The Bridge.

The camp fire is a virtual weekly event. If you would like to join a camp fire, please contact me through LinkedIn.

This picture provide by Rachel Sheila Kan shows how the campfire works.

You may be interested in starting your own camp fire. It would give me great pleasure to support you in this.

You may have your own community where these rules and values resonate. I used the word campfire but what matters is the intentions.

I would like to create richer and more diverse connections by working together to help these communities flourish by sharing insights about running healthy communities that create connection. And even better, facilitating healthy connections between communities rather than building walls around them will make them more diverse, beautiful and… a work of art.

If this idea excites you and is something you want to create for your community, contact me through LinkedIn.


As the campfire came to a close, and before people drifted away, I shared two questions to consider :

What gave you joy today?

What does your heart hope for the campfire?



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Alex Papworth

An adventurer who helps professionals find inspiration on their own adventure