The truest statement to sum up my Summit experience I learned in a bookstore. It was the end of day two, a whirlwind of a day making connections, meeting new people and sharing ideas. I was on a high; full of excitement and energy. Introverted me needed a few minutes of solace to rally for an invigorating dinner with attendees later in the evening. What better place to find a few minutes of solace than a quiet bookstore? I stopped in a bookstore right outside Sea Island’s entrance.
Walking in, I immediately recognized a woman from the Summit with whom I’d spoken with earlier in the day. I wish I could remember her name, but I will always remember what she told me. (And also that she wore pretty cat-eyed glasses.) We chatted about our favorite books and she pointed to the book on the shelf right between us, “and this book was just wonderful.”
It was Paul Kalantithi’s book, When Breath Becomes Air. I paused.
“I don’t know if I’m ready to read that book,” I confessed. If you’re not familiar with Kalantithi’s book, it was written while he was dying of lung cancer. “I lost a good friend this past fall to cancer.”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” she said and explained that she had an oncology care background, which opened the conversation further about cancer’s wake of destruction. We talked about my friend’s cancer: “If anything,” I told her, “I learned better how to navigate through a cancer diagnosis.”
“Yes,” she nodded emphatically and then said the wisest words I will never forget. “We learn from others.”
I really wish that I could remember her name. It was the perfect thing to say in that moment. So simple, so true. And it didn’t surprise me that this message—we learn from others—came from another Summit attendee.
Connect, Collaborate and Create. AKA Learn from others. This embodies the spirit of the Southern C. Yes, we learn in sad situations, but we also learn in happy settings, motivational and inspiriting moments, which was everything earlier in the day. This spirit was all the generous information on branding that Elizabeth Mayhew gave us (I took copious notes). It was my table at lunch where Katherine Frankstone of Grey Ghost Bakery, Amanda Wilbanks of Southern Baked Pie Company and I transparently shared successes and failures in our time in the food industry. One of the first time attendees confided, “I thought an all-women’s conference would be cliquey. And this one is not that way AT ALL.”
The Southern C’s leadership understands this Learn From Others message. Cheri Leavy and Whitney Long are as generous and humble as they come as are the group of advisors they’ve surrounded themselves with—Libba and Jackie from Leapfrog PR come to mind. It’s trickle down generosity. And it’s the right way to live—they pathway to something magical, something reaching beyond us, something ultimately right…
After talking in the bookstore, I felt encouraged enough to buy When Breath Becomes Air. So good, I devoured it within two days. I shed tears both remembering my friend and in reading about the author’s suffering. But as I read, I highlighted passages that were meaningful including this passage as the writer contemplates his spirituality:
“Human knowledge is never contained in one person. It grows from the relationships we create between each other and the world, and still it is never complete. And Truth comes somewhere above all of them…” – Paul Kalantithi
Share on my friends.