"I know all about what I know"

Ownership and acknowledgement of knowledge by people living with dementia is a fundamental part of Curiosity Café.

It is so easy, so tempting to formulate an idea, an activity, to find "something to do". Our society is wracked by an angst that fears silence and spacious moments. These prevailing attitudes can make their way into how programmes workshops/sessions for people living with dementia are constructed.

The need to make or do something can be a means of controlling and covering the real issues. So at CC we continue to invite, respond and to trust that our group is able to find the ways and the means for sessions to flow and to be comfortable with being with how things are.

Today was such a session. A gloriously hot day with individual interests and observations arising from the start.

Rowan trees “so red, so lovely” gave rise to talk of witches that flitted about and made connections to Halloween. We heard about how some participants had kept a cow and made butter, others kept a Shetland pony, mended watches, fitted medical appliances and had visited and had met Lonesome George the famous tortoise of the Galapagos Islands.

We heard of romances and adventures, favourite books and places. We foraged and found our own pharmacy…Meadow-sweet (an antiseptic that smells like Germolene), Willow that gives us aspirin, St John’s Wort to treat depression…all growing in abundance around us and all somehow linking back to that first trigger of Rowan berries and witches….or perhaps better to maybe consider them as healers/ knowers of things.

It struck us that as we walked and talked and had conversations, shared our life stories that there was always a connection a thread that was winding its way through…the thread of knowledge of “knowing what you know”. Everyone in our group has knowledge but as one carer pointed out “My wife knows so much, she remembers so much but just can’t find the words sometimes”.

It is essential we remember this and it is why giving time and space is so important. We do not have to fill every moment nor do we always have to speak to make ourselves known or to demonstrate our understanding.

The mind of the day draws no attention
It dwells within the silence with elegance
To create space for all our words
Drawing us to listen inward and outward “ 
John O’Donohue

The range of interests and life experiences is to be celebrated and validated and on such a lovely blue skied day as today we ended our session contemplating the slow beauty of a slug.We began with Rowan berries, and ended with slugs noticing its “beautiful red skirt, the Princess of slugs” We watched and appreciated its undulating form, delighted at the moment when its horns came out, taking the time to notice can bring such delights.

And the slug left us its trace, it’s memory as all slugs like to….trailing behind it the shared moment..... creating space for all our words and ways of listening.