I think of “ambient” as a term that references the state of the surrounding environment. I think of “ambient music” to connote what is playing in the background. It has a soothing or relaxing quality as a descriptor. I think of “ambient lighting” as a kind of diffused lighting. It’s not one brilliant lamp. It is the light that permeates the room, blends with other lights, and even bends round corners to integrate spaces.
Thanks Kinde Nebeker for naming “ambient togetherness” in a phone call yesterday. Our context was talking about relationships and a quality of being together. The comfort of being in the same room with another, yet at the same time not really needing to say or do anything. The ambient quality is just there adding to the overall experience. Like the music. Like the bending light.
Shifting now to my profession as a facilitator of many layers of human engagement, “ambient togetherness” strikes me as being immediately appetizing and helpful. I spend much of my time trying to create the conditions for groups of people to be in meaningful dialogue and connection together. Sometimes that is arranging a physical space with chairs in a circle or at small tables. Sometimes that is in the deliberate sequencing of important questions that I will ask them to explore. And sometimes, that is in the deliberate kind of emptiness, or pauses that I will invite people to dwell in.
In the best of that work, I believe that people feel a deep appreciation for a shared experience. Some might call it the “spirit” of the work. Some might call it the “energetic field” of the group together. Either work. Maybe this “ambient togetherness” too. It is the sensation of ease in being together, the letting down of guards, the freeing of inhibitions to simply be working well together and thinking well together. It is the aha sensation of feeling that being part of the group is feeding a stronger experience individually and collectively. The magic. The special sauce. That which makes the work that we do, really satisfying. Or even, oh my, the OKness of not doing or saying anything together — just knowing that it is good.
Permeates the room. Blends together. Integrates spaces. Yup, imagine ambient togetherness as a core aspect of strategy. I like it.