Well, I’m back in New York. It’s been a while, more than a year in fact. The last time I visited was December 2013 and, for a bit of background, I had only been out in Aspen for a little more than six months. I was definitely still transitioning but, after a busy first summer of events, I was positive about the changes I’d made. This time around I’ve been in Aspen for two years and when people ask how things are going, I am not so quick to answer.

Earlier this week I spent the better part of three days on the Eastern Shore of Maryland attending the Institute’s staff seminar. The seminar is structured much like the organization’s executive seminar. There are assigned readings – Aristotle, Socrates, Martin Luther King – on which the discussions – on human nature, virtue, morality, leadership – are based. The conversation around the seminar table is intense, challenging, introspective and, from my experience, highly emotional. Although I was more on the quieter side I was still tuned in and connected to the discussions and, two days later, back in my own stomping grounds I am very much still processing exactly how the seminar has affected me or will affect me over the next few months. 

The final piece we read was Plato’s Republic. In the first few pages of the text, Plato describes prisoners in a cave, watching the shadows of puppets which are moving around behind them. One of the prisoners is released and dragged up into the light, which is – at first – torturous and painful. Once acclimated he finds a whole new world around him which changes his perception of the environment within the cave where he once lived. At one point this prisoner goes back down into the cave, where he finds he can either revert to his old way of life or share the greater experience of his time “in the light” with the others and encourage them to make the change as well.

Now I, naturally, am wondering if my trip to New York this weekend might be akin to the prisoner heading back down into his cave. During my time in New York I was very easily lost in the thick of it all, rarely questioning life and what else might be happening outside of the city’s limits. So, having spent so much time outside of the city in the light of the Rocky Mountains, am I more apt to readjust to the darkness of the cave or share with my friends how enlightening life outside of the gridlock and grind can be?