In the book Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino described an imaginary town called Eufemia, where the merchants of all nations gather at every solstice and every equinox to exchange goods.
But these merchants do not come together merely to trade spices or jewels or livestock or textiles.
Rather, they come to this town to exchange stories with each other—to literally trade in personal intimacies.
The way it works, Calvino wrote, is that the men gather around the desert bonfires at night, and each man offers up a word, like “sister,” or “wolf,” or “buried treasure.” Then all the other men take turns telling their own personal stories of sisters, of wolves, of buried treasures.
In the months to come, long after the merchants leave Eufemia, when they ride their camels alone across the desert or sail the long route to China, each man combats his boredom by dredging through his old memories. And that’s when the men discover that their memories really have been traded—that, as Calvino wrote, “Their sister had been exchanged for another’s sister, their wolf for another’s wolf.” (Story was told by my teacher for healing stories, Maayan Ben Arie, quoting Elizabeth Gilbert from her book “Committed: a love story”).
CEDEP Advisory Committee event reminds me the merchants’ bonfires from the “Invisible cities”.
It is a unique enriching experience of business and leadership stories circle, in which the same buzzwords we use are quite different, before and after.
And I thank you CEDEP team and partners for that.