Where do Bill Gates, Oprah and Steven Spielberg vacation?

Spielberg.JPGShort answer: Steven Spielberg explored Ireland on a spiritual David Whyte tour, costing a not so spiritual $3,300.

"Zigzagging through the country's natural wonders, Spielberg listened to poetry on jagged cliffs of the Aran Islands, soaked up quiet village life while in the Burren, and toured on a souped-up motorized bike. Along with his wife and teenage son, Spielberg enjoyed the country's natural wonders (not just the rain). They listened to poetry on the jagged cliffs of the Aran Islands, soaked up quiet village life at country homes in the Burren, and did walking and cycling tours. The esteemed director rounded out his trip outside of Dublin before returning to work, mind, soul and body refreshed after the trip."

But read on about the much more interesting David Whyte, a poet who grew up in Yorkshire, England. He studied Marine Zoology in Wales and trained as a naturalist in the Galapagos Islands. He has also worked as a naturalist guide, leading anthropological and natural history expeditions in various parts of the world, including treks among the mountains of Nepal. Whyte's poetry reflects a living spirituality and a deep connection to the natural world. He is one of the few poets to take his perspectives on creativity into the field of organizational development, conducting workshops with many American and international companies. David Whyte currently lives in the Pacific Northwest of the United States.

David's tour to the west of Ireland is pitched as a celebration of Ireland's Celtic culture, both traditional and emerging, set around Galway Bay. "It is a unique and intimate experience of Ireland from the inside out," he writes, "Our days are spent in walking pilgrimages into the mountains of Connemara and the Burren."

There are  poetry sessions with David, and an opportunity to spend time with local Irish poet-philosophers, musicians and storytellers.

Wind and tide permitting at Doolin, they visit the Aran Islands and "bicycle to Dun Aengus at the very edge of the ancient Irish world."

David advises that his guests have "both a strong celebrative experience with other participants and an opportunity to spend time alone and meet the locals." The setting on the edge of the village allows for a cohesive community to form as well as a possibility for disappearing into one of the many pubs, cafes or shops on your own.

With the recession coming to an end its time to sign up. Contact Julie by telephone 360.221.1324 or e-mail.

Cost: $3300 (a bargain)

To apply for the trip,  complete the application and health & fitness questionnaire and mail them, together with the $900 deposit, to Julie Quiring, Many Rivers, PO Box 868, Langley, WA 98260

Health & Fitness form

Read more about David Whyte in Ireland  here

This is what the Financial Times has to say about Whyte:

Twenty years ago, David Whyte, a Yorkshire-born poet, was invited by a consultant into the world of business. Ever since, he has made it his mission, through corporate speaking tours and seminars, to help businesses harness the insights and metaphors that poetry can offer to broaden their language, improve interaction within the workplace and stir imaginations.

He has worked with corporations from Boeing to Microsoft and organisations from Nasa to Kaiser Permanente.

He begins with poetry (his own and that of Rilke, Wordsworth, Yeats and many others), and then broadens out into conversation and reflection. "I do everything from 45 minutes to three days," he explains. He recites the poems slowly, repeating lines until he is clear that his point has hit home. He does not work in soundbites, but through a scrupulous precision over language, listening and talking to a group until he is able to articulate an uncomfortable and unspoken truth.

"All these organisations are like Shakespearean plays writ large, with the nobles telling their truths from the podium while the gravediggers are telling it like it really is in the bathroom. And every epoch ends with a lot of blood on the floor," he says.

With non-Anglophone audiences, different material comes into play. "When I'm working with German audiences, I will call on my Rilke and Goethe in the original. I was just in Spain, so I was using a lot of Machado and Neruda, as a way of saying that not everything is going to be interpreted through the Anglo-Saxon mind."

The differences are not limited to repertoire. "In Germany they have great difficulty with anything that smacks of cultism or messianic leadership. You can't talk about leadership in its charismatic forms."

But one constant is that poetry is a language for talking about the nature of managers' work. "One of the great difficulties as you rise up through an organisation is that your prior competencies are exploded and broken apart by the territory you've been promoted into: the field of human identity."

Poetry, for him, is the appropriate tool with which to analyse the conversations that novice managers desperately avoid. "The idea is to get deeply into experiences where they have different images and metaphors to use out of the poetry. A lot of the images will have to do with being lost, with not having the usual bearings, and therefore looking at the world in a different way."

His new book, The Three Marriages*, explores and rejects the notion of work-life balance. Each of us, he says, undertakes three marriages simultaneously: with our partner, with our work and with our self. Trading off the three is fatal. "It's much more accurate to treat these three commitments as three love affairs, in which all the disappointments and reimaginations you have in an ordinary relationship have to take place."

Of the three, he says the hardest is the relationship with oneself because "it's weighted in the mystery of death and our own mortality". Deepening the conversation with oneself is hard. "[The poet] Wallace Stevens - who was a great [company executive] - said, sometimes the truth depends upon a walk around a lake. It's very interesting to ask yourself what the equivalent of that lake is in your life. For some people it's literally switching off the radio in the car on the morning commute, to get a little perspective on what the hell is going on around them."

 *The Three Marriages: Reimagining Work, Self And Relationship, is published by Riverhead.

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