"Our Story - Our Movement"
I had no need for meetups.
All my life, I’d been surrounded by people. Our family of eight – I was the 4th of 6 – lived across the street from my elementary school. After school, I played on football, basketball and baseball teams. I liked my infrequent alone times.
During college, I got married. (A different time!) After college, I was in the Air Force. After the Air Force I was a teacher for 32 years. People were always there.
Until they weren’t.
For me, 2018 was life changing. After retiring that June, I started The Meetup Journal because I needed a tool similar to the commonplace book I required my students to have in class to record and develop ideas. I’m convinced that meeting with and talking to bright people is the best way to think, learn and grow.
What I didn’t know then (but would soon learn) was that enriching, elevating meetups boost our mental health. Without doubt, they boosted mine.
The month before I retired, my brother died in a freak accident. Four months later, I moved into a hospice with my mother until she passed the day before my second granddaughter was born. Five months after that I was diagnosed with cancer (it’s under control).
It was an emotionally challenging stretch. People wondered if I was OK. I was, and I understood why. It was because I had made it a goal to have regular meetups with people who magnify my spirit.
It wasn’t just about meeting up. It was about exchanging thoughts on deep issues – topics that mattered. During the last days of Mom’s life we would, in her words, “bare our souls.” At that point, why hold back? And why wait until people are on their deathbeds to bare our souls? Let’s have nothing-held-back talks now!
When I did, they saved me. The people I met up with, by listening to me and talking with me saved me from severe anxiety and deep depression.
Because of that, the focus of The Meetup Journal changed from primarily an educational one to a mental health one. Education is still a key piece – there’s rarely a meetup where I don’t learn something meaningful and important – but the conversation highs meetups elicit are the best kind of addiction.
So, let’s launch a movement. A movement away from screens, isolation and loneliness. A movement toward reality, connection and belonging. A movement where we humans recognize and appreciate the restorative power of conversational meetups.
We need healthy human contacts to heal the harm unintentionally inflicted on us by screen culture, social media, modern society, retirement and pandemics! An intentional meetup with a terrific person is a prescription we can take to overcome cynicism, hopelessness and despair. Stimulating meetups – even virtual ones – are a vital part of what it takes to live a fulfilling life.
That we don’t get this and, thus, don’t seek them is one of the great mysteries and tragedies of our time. But it shouldn’t be. It can’t be. We have to change it, starting with our own mood-bosting, life-changing meetups.
The Meetup Journal and Meetupjournal.org are tools to improve, expand and intensify your meetups. Once you experience meetup magic, you’ll want everyone you care about to experience it too.
That’s how movements begin.