What happened to the “experience”?

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I miss the experience.

This is the umpteenth time I’ve browsed the shelves of my local Barnes & Noble Bookseller, and I could be anywhere.  It feels like I’m shopping in Walmart – lot’s of stuff here and there, but not much substance.  No matter which section I browse I feel nothing.

Several years ago, when I was living in Washington, DC, I walked down Connecticut Avenue and stumbled upon a little hole in the wall bookstore called Politics & Prose.  It was brimming with excitement and filled with books that seemed to matter.  The business grew quickly, yet its owners worked hard to stay true to their vision.

You never knew what to expect when you entered the store, but you always knew you would experience something worth while.  One night, I walked in and found Jean Houston giving a wild and passionate talk about myth in front of 30 people.  On another evening, while browsing through the psychology section, I literally bumped into Irvin Yalom.  He was passing the time before giving a talk about his latest book.  It was that kind of place.

There are places like Politics & Prose sprinkled here and there, and when they’re discovered people recognize the difference.  They feel the energy even when they can’t tell you why it’s special to them.  I believe these people and places hold a level of significance that will continue to grow in the years to come.

I’ve experienced it from time to time in our profession.  I used to feel it when I visited a Jungian Analyst named Phyllis Blakemore in downtown Washington, DC.  Phyllis lived what she shared.  She was as real as can be.  Meaning at times, when I would hear her talk, she glowed as if you could see right through her.

I feel it today when traveling down to Beaufort, SC to visit Dr. Royce Malphrus.  You experience it as he sits and talks about the work he is doing, his eyes ablaze with excitement, biofeedback computers and electronic gadgets blinking like fireworks in the background.  I experience it when visiting Ellen White of Coastal Empire Mental Health.  The feeling is undeniable when she shares her experiences and offers insights from 30 years of service to the chronically mentally ill.  Her compassion and determination fills the room and you leave re-energized, hoping the next patient in that lobby is fortunate enough to cross her path.  And you most certainly feel it when you enter The Art of Core Consciousness, an undefinable art gallery and yoga studio in the heart of historic Charleston, SC.  It defies tradition, launches you into a seemingly timeless space, and offers a unique experience you will not find anywhere else in town.

There are too many examples, too many of you out there, and too many to keep hidden in a world where people are searching for something more honest, real and pure.

These people and places offer experiences worth seeking out and paying for.  So I must say “no thanks”, I’ll pass on the Starbucks Venti Mocha Latte and 20% off the latest bestseller.  I’m waiting for a cup of Joe made with purpose, and a book that’s worth the read.  Trust me, others are waiting right there with me.  Can they find you?



  1. Elizabeth A Hall  March 16, 2010

    Yes sir, I hear you loud and clear.
    There are some excellent people about but they are quietly keeping to themselves working hard . Sure would enjoy meeting more of you all

  2. Esther  March 16, 2010

    great post… I also love Politics & Prose and a number of other great used bookstores scattered in neighborhoods throughout DC and Northern VA. I love what you are talking about here- it’s what I think (I hope) most of us building a practice are looking to give our clients. An experience, a belief about what therapy and mental health is supposed to be, positive & transformative. Thanks for the reminder about what’s important.

  3. David  March 16, 2010

    It would be great to connect with all the folks on here Elizabeth. I receive a lot of emails from folks after I post but lots of them say they aren’t comfortable posting. We’ll see if we can change that eventually!

  4. David  March 16, 2010

    Ah…a fellow DC person! Esther – I remember when P & P was a little hallway of a place and now it is a big time outfit. They get unbelievable speakers and I love how they prosper in the middle of all the big business out there.

    Glad to send a friendly reminder and thanks for letting me take another walk down memory lane!

  5. Cordes Simpson  March 16, 2010

    Hey David: I enjoyed hearing you on the teleconference summit last weekend! You had a lot of good information and have a more authentic voice than most people in the marketing field. I am divided on your posting because I go crazy in B&N but going in antique mall and finding a unique book or Blue Bicycle books is heaven!

  6. David  March 16, 2010

    Thanks for listening in Cordes! Laura did a great job organizing, facilitating and delivering the Telesummit. I enjoy being a part of those discussions because it gives me the opportunity to share my experiences. And I forgot about Blue Bicycle! That is a great place.

  7. Carolyn  March 16, 2010

    I agree – a great post David.
    You won’t be surprised to hear that things are exactly the same in Australia. Unfortunately it is the way of the world that people are all expecting ‘bigger, better & more’ for LESS thus driving delivery & quality down….

  8. David  March 17, 2010

    Great point Carolyn about driving delivery and quality down. In my hometown I see lot of small business come into existence with only a few making it. Would be interesting to explore some of the characteristics that make one successful over the other.

  9. Dan  April 21, 2010

    Thanks Elizabeth, for encouraging me to post! I just happened to be catching up on David’s blogs while feeling a need to connect – and there was your post. Such great information here! I’ve often recognized a need to feel more… authentic (?)…. while at a B & N store, this article reminds me why! So then, how do we become that cup of coffee with purpose, and book that is worth the read?

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