The Company We Keep

The Inklings met frequently.

Lunchtime at the beginning of the week in the Rabbit Room at the Eagle and Child Pub. After dinner towards the end of the week in C.S. Lewis’s Oxford University rooms. And occasionally, other times and places in between.

Members – though by most accounts membership was informal, as were rules – included Mr. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and writers Owen Barfield and Charles Williams, among others. All, as Mr. Tolkien put it, “dabble in ink.”

The Inklings would smoke, drink, read their unfinished works aloud, and then take in the feedback, however blistering.

Though informal, the group was not inconsequential for the members. Mr. Tolkien workshopped The Lord of the Rings and Mr. Lewis shared Out of the Silent Planet drafts with the Inklings.

As Mr. Lewis wrote of Mr. Tolkien and Mr. Williams:

“In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out.”

The company we keep shapes the people we are. Unthinkingly, we can fall into proximity traps where our time is spent with people who are near us in geography or disposition.

Sometimes we are lucky to live and work in areas filled with great minds and hearts. But oftentimes, we have to go out and find them ourselves. And then we have to find time for them.

Our calendar is a reflection of the people we want to become. Let’s fill it with people who move through ideas and the world in a way we admire, can learn from, can growth with. People who can fully bring us out and we them.

And let’s meet with these people frequently.

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