The space between

Years ago, I was chatting with a coworker about a software bug. Out of it came an unusual, intriguing phrase—before being before.


it's happened before, too (before being before I started working here)


Before Being Before would be a great book title

Those three mundane words together suggest something curious and hard to describe. There's a powerful sense of potential wrapped up inside them, like a recipe of ordinary ingredients that produce a delicious result when combined in just the right way. Before being before is, for me, the space between.

It's the space between an idea and its expression, between learning that you're expecting a child and the day they're born. The space between starting your senior project and presenting it. The space between deciding to change your career and your first day in a new role, training for a race and running it, sending off your manuscript and receiving replies from publishers.

Often, there is much work to be done in the space between, but other times, there is nothing to do but wait. The seed has been planted, but how it grows is out of your hands. Perfecting the art of patience and letting go of the end result may be the hardest part.

Between what something (or someone) is and what it will be lies uncertainty and tension for some, while others revel in the mystery and anticipation. Each of us navigates these transitions in our own way and hopefully gains wisdom for next time.

Today, we celebrate Uncommon's 5th birthday! I remember the months leading up to it, the conversations, excitement, and doubts. It was the before being before.

There have been many since. Creating a one-page site with a join button and waiting to see if anyone would. Dropping postcards in the mail and not knowing who would reply (almost everyone, it turns out.) The long road to our online home. The long silence before people joined the first Table for Six telephone conversation.

The result is a community of kind, thoughtful people like you, transparently sharing bits of ourselves—the stories behind the things we love and the moments that have shaped us.

And now, we're in the space between again, another moment full of possibility. We're working on something that will bring us together in new ways. Uncommon should be a neighborhood full of ongoing conversations, a joyful place with new friends, things, and ideas at every turn.

There is much to be done, but it's work worth doing, now more than ever. Each week, I hear from people who crave community without the dysfunction of social networks.

So, we set off on another journey through the space between, unsure of what we'll find on the other side—foolish, excited, impatient, and grateful for each person who travels alongside us.

If you find yourself in the space between right now, I'd love to hear your story, learn from your example, and lend a hand however I can.

Neighborhood Watch

A periodic look at communities uncovering the uncommon we have in common.

Daniella J. Greenbaum writes about a weekly Shabbat dinner series started by two people in New York. It's called "+1".

For the first dinner on March 10, the two 30-somethings invited 18 guests from across the religious, professional and social spectra. These 18 were then asked to invite someone to the next dinner. The pattern will repeat each time, culminating in a fifth and final dinner for 288 attendees later this year. Each of the dinners includes Shabbat staples like challah and wine, but they also have interesting programming.

I've no doubt that many new conversations and friendships will be sparked by +1. It will also inspire other communities to take shape. Each dinner expands the circle of we.

Your turn

What is your favorite space to be yourself?

Thank you making this possible. Uncommon wouldn't be uncommon without you. Enjoy a birthday cupcake this week :)