Each of the core chapters in this book ends with what we are calling a Fireside Chat. We offer these sections as a way to help you stimulate dialogue with friends, family, and colleagues to keep alive the fire started in each chapter.
We encourage you to literally have a chat around a fire. As we have noted, there is something quite powerful about fire as a stimulant to reflection. Sitting in the dark, gazing at the dancing flames, does something to us as human beings. The fire seems to naturally draw the words from us. Perhaps it has something to do with the calming effect of watching the flames—which were certainly humanity's first "home entertainment center." Perhaps it has something to do with the way fire connects us so powerfully to our human origins. Whatever the case, if you can manage to center your fireside chats around a fire, so much the better.
Even if you can't, we encourage you to make time for these discussions at a time and in a place that encourages thoughtful reflection. Turn off the TV and cellphones. Lower the music. Center yourself by finding your breath. You may want to extinguish artificial lights. We've found it very effective to use candles if a real fire is impractical.
When you and your fireside partner (or partners) are ready, begin your fireside chat.
This fireside chat encourages you do develop dialogue around the recalling of your own life story. It will be enhanced if you conduct the discussion with a person or persons with whom you are particularly close. Dialogue with a close friend, a loved one, a family member, someone who makes you feel good about who you are and who cares for you deeply.
Allow yourself a journey back into and over your life. Consider the many points in your life when you might have made different choices leading to different paths, but at which you made a choice that led to the path on which you currently find yourself. We call these points the "trigger points" in your life.
Imagine a graph of your life. Starting with your birth story, rank the high and low trigger points in your life. Think of the high points as those points at which you made choices whose outcomes you are especially satisfied with. The low points will be those at which you made choices you feel more ambivalent about.
Then, draw a timeline connecting all the points. Reflect on this timeline and consider what it says about the life you have lived—and the life you haven't.
Have a fireside chat centered around the following questions:
What events do the dots on your lifeline represent?
Which events made a major difference in the life you have led?
What are the lessons you take from the choices made at each of the points?
Encourage your fireside partners to all contribute to your story. Help them create theirs. Speak your minds. Speak from the heart. Keep the fire of dialogue alive!