The Forum is an “ideas discussion show” available on the BBC web site, hosted by Bridget Kendall. The program on 8/31/13 was entitled “Letting Go” and featured the following guests: Bulgarian-American writer Miroslav Penkov; medical doctor and philosopher Raymond Tallis; and Chinese choreographer Xu Rui. The topic of the program was letting go of “places, people, the past, or ideas and traditions.” This was an eclectic discussion that is hard to summarize, but I will call out some of the ideas expressed that I found very interesting.
On the topic of letting go of places, Ms. Kendall asked Miroslav Penkov about what it was like to let go of his homeland when he moved to America to go to college, then stayed there. Mr. Penkov said that, paradoxically, leaving Bulgaria made him realize how much he cared for it and heightened his sense of belonging there. As he put it, “not only did I not let go, but in fact I found it, it’s just that I found it in Arkansas in America.” I had a similar experience when I moved from Cleveland to New York City in the mid-eighties. I had lived in Cleveland all my life, except for two years in nearby Kent, Ohio. When I finished graduate school I actually wanted to stay in Cleveland, but couldn’t find suitable employment there.
After I moved to New York I found myself thinking about Cleveland a lot, and grew to appreciate it much more than I did when I lived there. I always look forward to returning for a visit, especially to visit my family. I could go on for pages about aspects of Cleveland for which my appreciation has grown, but for the sake of brevity some of the highlights include the many beautiful buildings, including homes in older neighborhoods that were built between about 1890 and 1930; old churches in the inner city (one of which, St. Theodosius, was used as a setting in the 1978 film “The Deer Hunter”); old downtown office buildings; a beautiful arcade opened in 1890 that runs between the city’s two main thoroughfares, known as “The Arcade;” Lake Erie; and the Metroparks, a beautiful park system that must be experienced to be fully appreciated.
Ms. Kendall invited Raymond Tallis to talk about paradoxes in letting go in relation to thinking. He cited the benefits of letting go when trying to solve a difficult problem by first thinking hard to try and come up with a solution, then putting the problem out of your mind and taking a walk. As he put it, “the rhythm of walking is a continuous trickle of elsewhere that endlessly refreshes your mind,” and that this kind of “irrigation of the mind” “shakes up the categories” in your brain, helping you to see things in a new light, with new perspective that might help you in solving the problem you were working on.
To listen to the program, or download a podcast to listen to at your convenience, visit the URL below, then scroll down until you come to the program title, dated 8/31/13. Note that as of 9/8/13 the program will only be available for another 22 days.