Street Wisdom one-on-one

By Philip Cowell

After a break from Street Wisdom, I was really keen to get back into it – and see who would come to a Street Wisdom session with only a few days’ notice. The reason was also this: Street Wisdom is a practice for the self as much as it for others; so if no one turns up, I figured I could still run it – for myself! Put it this way – I knew I would turn up.

I’d already had a synchronicity on the way to the session. I noticed the words that help you press the button for the green man – they said wait for “the signal opposite”, so I did as they said and looked opposite. Nothing yet. When I got to the David Bowie mural at Brixton – the meeting point I’d set – I almost instantly saw a sign in amongst the busy-ness of the memorial that said, “Hi Opposite”. So I turned around and looked opposite to see the word “PLAY” in big in The Body Shop window. It was a reminder I’d come to the right place.

My one participant was a star and took to the streets like a duck to water. I practised the tune-ups with him while he was off, and we both went on a quest, sharing our questions and refining them together through heartfelt talk between strangers suddenly less strange. (It felt important that we both had a quest, though equally, I might have just let him quest by himself. In groups of larger people, I don’t quest myself so that I can be as helpful as possible in the sharing.)

We shared our stories in a cafe nearby that had balloons trailing outside in the wind – they were celebrating their first year birthday (as was I – I’d accidentally picked the first anniversary of my own first Street Wisdom session). When we left, a group of runners asked us to take their photo – they’d run the whole Victoria line from Walthamstow to Brixton almost in the time we’d taken to do our Street Wisdom – a celebration of the city’s potential for learning as much as ours. As I took the photo, I turned to my co-Street Wisdom participant and said, “This is sooo Street Wisdom… Say cheese!” Snap, snap, snap, snap.

By Philip Cowell