Finding common ground


I remember a number of years ago, during the local and national debate over the fate of Drakes Bay Oyster Farm, visiting town during the holidays. Having grown up in Point Reyes, it seemed obvious to me what the best outcome was, yet I was surprised to overhear a close friend passionately defend the opposite side of the issue. What had seemed like a straightforward issue from one point of view was seen very differently by someone I loved and respected.

It was tempting in that moment to engage in argument—a reflection of my desire to be right. But a subtler path was also available, that of flow. Rather than butting heads, getting into flow allowed me to see the circumstance without my own preconceptions. I could choose to see an apparent conflict as an opportunity to learn. This is what synchronicity is all about. 

Synchronicities are moments of surprising connection, sometimes even obstacles or conflicts, that show up in our lives to help us grow into the people we want to be. By seeing this conversation with my friend as an opportunity to expand my understanding, I entered into flow. I was able to hear her words through her ears, able to understand why she would have her opinion. From this, a deeper connection between us emerged, a conversation that brought us closer together instead of farther apart. 

Is it possible to find common ground on issues of deep importance? Indeed, it is a crucial skill in the 21st century, one that will allow us to move away from polarizing disputes and toward mutual- and self-understanding. Perhaps this approach can help us move beyond what seem like hopelessly intractable issues. By living in a give-and-take dance with our circumstances and seeing opportunities to learn about others rather than promote our own views, each interaction becomes an opportunity to bridge the gaps instead of widen them.

Sky Nelson-Isaacs is an El Cerrito resident and the author of “Living in Flow: The Science of Synchronicity and How Your Choices Shape Your World.”  He will speak about his book on April 7 in the Dance Palace Church Space.