This simple little Welsh phrase is very skillfully used to move a conversation along, to signify the topic has come to a natural close or to respectfully bring a conversation to an end, and, on occasions, to bring about an abrupt end. It may be that the conversation is inappropriate, uncomfortable, untimely or socially unacceptable, thus it needs to come to an end. Well there we go then is an effective tool. It is a conversation changer. It signifies a shift to a new topic and while it may seem to the occasionally foreigner (i.e., myself) to be a hiccup or conversation stopper, the Welsh just move along without skipping a beat.
I recall on one occasion when speaking to an elderly Welsh gentleman about a death in the village. When I had heard of the death, I immediately slipped into a pastoral response offering comfort and compassion. I, being an America who loves process, sought to be fully present to loss, sadness and grief. After a very brief interchange, the person replied, “Such is life. Things are born. Things die. It is the way of the farm and people. That is life.” Followed by, “so there we go then.” At which point I took the cue and moved, without skipping a beat, onto the next topic.
I stepped away with lingering thoughts on what had just happened. I was fascinated by what I had experienced and observed. Having grown up in South Dakota, I am used to the pick-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps and move on mentality. We call it Dakota bravado. But having now lived in New England longer than in South Dakota, I have developed a practice of engaging in deep process around matters of the heart. Moving on so quickly away from conversations around death and loss and grief seemed incongruent to the social and cultural mores I have grown accustomed to. Furthermore, as a minister, I was blocked from engaging the wares of my profession. Instead I had been politely guided to move on.
I was left pondering how much of life I churn through the cognitive and emotive process mill. Just a few months earlier, I had begun to contemplate the amount of time and energy I give to assessing and analyzing the ordinary and extraordinary moments of life. In doing so I kept encountering an internal impulse screaming “enough already.” Enough of the endless journaling. Enough of the frequent flyer miles on the therapists couch. Enough of the long conversations over coffee and dinner. Enough of the self-help books and self-actualization workshops. Enough already!
In the village, the Welsh wisdom in this simple phrase offered new insights worth considering, and possibly adopting. In truth there is no one-way or clear way on how to move through the challenges of being human in a complicated, messy global community. What works for one person in one culture is, as one might expect, foreign to another. Wherever we hail from or chose to live, we gather up an assortment of culturally influenced tools and tactics to help us attend to the daily moments, adventures in life and milestones as they arrive on the doorstep of our soul. How we chose, if we chose to attend lightly or process deeply is neither right nor wrong but rather a preference and choice on how to meander down the highways and byways of the heart and mind.
May your journey be an ever expanding path to a meaningful and purposeful life. And may your toolbox overflow with love, compassion and belonging to you and hold you when the times are long and hard.
Questions to walk with:
- How has culture influenced the way you deal with life on life’s terms?
- What tools in your box would be better left behind at the transfer station?
- What judgments do you encounter or employ when experiencing other people’s ways of walking through hardship and joy?