WMA Unplugged

Img20050912_0026By Stephanie Almeida

This morning I took some time to unplug completely (no blackberry, laptop or iPod) and take a walk along the beach here in San Diego at the WMA Conference.  As I listened intently to the world around me, suddenly bereft of the continual beeps, pings and whirring that I usually have clouding my senses, the world around me became clearer.

There were surfers paddling against the ocean current fighting to catch the next wave.  I watched as some surfers let the waves carry them lazily – no desire to fight for the small incoming waves – instead, the floated in a group with their friends for the perfect BIG wave to leap upon their boards and ride it as far as it would take them.   Some surfers were alone in the ocean apart from the others.  I watched them fight for both the large and small waves – looking at each wave as a chance to rise and ride and travel back to the beach again and again.

I was walking in the sand very close to the water and I immediately became more conscious of my own steps.  Here the sand was packed tight and secure beneath my feet; every now and then I felt the dips and divots as the tiniest of waves gently touched the sand beneath my toes and left impressions and crevices behind me as I walked.  I moved back to the deep, shifting sand and trudged on - looking up in the direction of road alongside the ridge separating the traffic and noise from the sand and sea.  There were people scattered about up high along the ridge sitting on park benches watching everything from above.

I thought about all of the people in my life and who they were and how they would react to these surroundings and where they would “fit in” among these vignettes.  Some would be the surfers…trying to ride waves of success…fighting hard for each accomplishment or working together to succeed with big ideas.  I thought about the others who would be most comfortable walking on the secure sand leaving little impressions of them on the beach.  I thought about some who would be trudging slowly and methodically through the dense and heaping sand.  Of course there were others who would be content watching it all from high above - hands off, eyes on.

I thought about who I was and how I react to things and I realized I am truly a mixture of all of the above.  When it comes to the future of Museums – where we are now and where we are going – I am out there looking to catch the next wave, watching and hoping to give the big and small waves a shot and working with groups to catch the big ones too.  I am walking along the safe sand too, leaving my impression as I go.  I am trudging through the deep sand sometimes; feeling like I am using muscles I didn’t know I had with each step and moving forward even though sometimes I find it difficult to go on.  And lastly, I'm observing.  I am observing where everyone else is going and contemplating how I can go there too – maybe even going there faster and better and stronger then the people I see in front of me.

Where are you going?  How do you fit into this mix?  Are you watching?  Are you walking?  Are you wading?    Take some time to unplug soon and ask yourself the same question.  I hope you find this as enlightening as I did.  The best news of course is that wherever you are and however you are interacting with the places and people around you, you’re not alone.  I am continually surprised, impressed and amazed with the Museum professionals I meet at these conferences.  I know we are all pieces that make up the bigger picture of the future with WMA.




Very eloquent. I like the imagery and I am a believer that unplugging creates opportunities to have "visions" not easily acquired otherwise. I too took a long walk in San Diego and in the moments I was alone found myself having visions about the moments when I was immersed with my colleagues, waiting for the wave if you will, or choosing to turn against it. So many voices I heard from the conference literally sang their joy at being able to swim in this ocean---these currents lead us to success, to our own visions, to an energized peace in what we do.

Stephanie, I love this post! I am so glad you had such a moment of clarity when you unplugged--and in such an amazing setting, too. I know who I am in the literal version of your scenario--when I am at the beach I am only there for one of two reasons: to walk softly in the wet sand and leave little footprints or to sit quietly and watch the big waves roll in and then chronicle my thoughts.

Now, taking that second beach activity back to the realm of the metaphorical, are those folks who like to watch and chronicle bloggers? :)

But I'll have to think about who I am in the metaphorical meaning of what you dscribed. Thanks for bringing this to my/our attention!

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