No stopping it now

black and white

I once read of a climber who, while clinging to the face of a climb thousands of feet above an alpine valley, said he could feel the earth turn under his hands. And I have read that a person with patience could move an aircraft carrier tied at a dock by leaning long enough against its side to get it started, knowing that once it began to move there’d be no bringing it back, and it came to me that the earth behaves like that, steadily moving out into time under the common pressure of billions of hands.

No stopping it now.

~ Ted Kooser, December. The Wheeling Year: A Poet’s Field Book


Credits: Photograph – boulderporn

 

Gate A-4

naomi_shihab_nye

Gate A-4 By Naomi Shihab Nye:

Wandering around the Albuquerque Airport Terminal, after learning my flight had been delayed four hours, I heard an announcement: “If anyone in the vicinity of Gate A-4 understands any Arabic, please come to the gate immediately.” Well— one pauses these days. Gate A-4 was my own gate. I went there.

An older woman in full traditional Palestinian embroidered dress, just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing. “Help,” said the flight agent. “Talk to her . What is her problem? We told her the flight was going to be late and she did this.”

I stooped to put my arm around the woman and spoke haltingly. “Shu-dow-a, shu-bid-uck, habibti? Stani schway, min fadlick, shu-bit-se-wee?” The minute she heard any words she knew, however poorly used, she stopped crying. She thought the flight had been cancelled entirely. She needed to be in El Paso for major medical treatment the next day. I said, “No, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late, who is picking you up? Let’s call him.”

We called her son, I spoke with him in English. I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane. She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it. Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and found out of course they had ten shared friends. Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian poets I know and let them chat with her? This all took up two hours. [Read more…]

Sunday Morning: Jonny + Xena. Moved.


There’s not much to say here except WATCH.

Thank you Julie.

Driving. To Exit 9.

man-face-mask-art

It’s Wednesday evening.
I’m on my commute home from work.
Traffic is flowing on I-95 North.
A school of fish gliding down a rapid current.

He drips into consciousness at Exit 5.
There are three words on a piece of tattered cardboard, written with a thick, black, felt pen.
The words are stacked.

Homeless.
Hungry.
Help.

My thoughts shift to a Netflix movie. I’m replaying scenes from 13 Conversations About One Thing as I’m chewing up highway. John Turturro: Life of predictability. Fullness of routine.

He stands at the same Exit. Exit 9. My Exit.
There’s a stop light at the end of the long exit ramp.
You can’t avoid him, unless you are at the back of the line in rush hour.
And then you pass him at 15 mph as you negotiate the corner.

White male. 35-40 years old. Clean shaven. Average weight and height. A coat a bit heavy and oversized for the season, but not unusually so. His eyes, those eyes, emit distress.

Addict? Alcohol? Prescription Drugs? Coke? Meth? 
Unemployed? Unemployable? Record?
Bad decisions? Bad luck?  
He doesn’t give much away.
[Read more…]

Foliage

tall-trees-canopy-forest

What’s with the mustache?
(Silence)
Have you ever shaved it off?
(Pause) No.
How long have you had it?
(Pause) It’s older than you are.
Really?
(Silence)
Why don’t you shave it off?
(Silence)
So. Why don’t you shave it off?
(Pause) It’s foliage.
(Pause.) What?
(Silence) (I catch the stare. Then the flash of understanding, of empathy. The eyes avert. The awkward step backward to create space.)
Smiling,
I turn my back and walk away.


Image Source: Thank you Carol


Red Balloons + Kindness =


Yes, it’s a commercial. But what is it with this time of the year, Red Balloons and a bit of kindness? You can’t help but be warmed by the faces in this ad…


I had to do something. I have no shame.


Moved. No words required.


Note from a Follower. And a Friend.

walkaway_crop380w

Most of you reading this post are WordPress followers. I’m sure that you, like me, often wonder who the human being is behind the curtain for certain members of your comment “community.” Sonia is one of those followers for me. Except she’s not a WordPress follower, but an email subscriber. I continue to shake my head in wonder at the wonderful network that is established in blogging. I reached out to Sonia following a comment interchange and I asked her to share a bit with me about her.

In April, 2012, ~ six months after this blog was launched, Sonia signed up to receive email posts. Sonia, 25, is a Muslim. She is from Karachi, the largest city in Pakistan and the third largest city in the world. (Pop: 23 million.) Sonia is pursuing an MBA in Human Resources and is two courses and a thesis away from graduation. She also works as a Corporate Coordinator at a major multinational Health Insurance Company.

I asked Sonia how she found my blog.  She said that she “was searching the internet for articles and ended up in the world of Blogs. Now among the millions of bloggers, why did I subscribe to your Blog? A million dollar question! I used to have (write) conversations with life (in a childish diary that I have) and I was surprised to find you having a conversation with your Mind in one of your posts. I was awestruck because in last 5 years of my conversations, I never came across a person who did that. So I subscribed to follow your blog.

(Note to self: Someone halfway across the world types “Bloggers Talking To Themselves” into the Google Search box and on Page 1 of the Google Search landing page they find me.  Oh Boy.) [Read more…]

Sunday Morning: You Have to Maintain What You Love


“The Horsemen: The traditional ‘Rounding of the Mares’ has been with the Almonte horsemen for generations. Over a thousand horses are driven across the plains and through the towns of rural Spain.  Being a horseman in Almonte is to live the tradition of our ancestors that has existed for over 500 years, to maintain the balance between nature and man.  It is something so rooted inside of us, in our blood, that we are born horsemen and our children are born horsemen.  The first thing they want to do is go to the marshlands with their fathers and grandfathers.  For us the marshlands, the field, the nature, is a religion, a way of life, an identity.  It’s a proud responsibility to because you have to maintain what you love.  We are horsemen, living in unity with nature and our values.  It is a community and a union, between animal and man.  I think for a man, where he has lived, what his elders have passed onto him, if he doesn’t preserve this then life has little meaning.”

10 Secrets of Science For Achieving Bliss (and my take)

photography, jump, bliss, joy

Lori, my Zen Master and a bubbling brook of knowledge and wisdom, shared this FastCompany article titled: 10 Simple Science Backed Ways to Be Happier Today. I reflected on it for a few days. Here’s my conclusions and scorecard:

  1. FC: EXERCISE MORE–7 MINUTES MIGHT BE ENOUGH. (DK: Yes, to Exercise more. No, to 7 minutes being enough. Come on. 7 minutes would imply lazy, quitter, lacking and absolutely nothing. Period. Full stop.)
  2. FC: SLEEP MORE–YOU’LL BE LESS SENSITIVE TO NEGATIVE EMOTIONS. (DK: Completely agree. Horrible in actual execution.)
  3. FC: MOVE CLOSER TO WORK–A SHORT COMMUTE IS WORTH MORE THAN A BIG HOUSE (DK: I’m all in on this one. A BUYER.)
  4. FC: SPEND TIME WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY–DON’T REGRET IT ON YOUR DEATHBED (DK: Hmmmm. Introverts? Solitude? Thoreau? Let’s define what we mean by “time.”)
  5. FC: GO OUTSIDE–HAPPINESS IS MAXIMIZED AT 13.9°C (DK: Half way there. All-in on outdoors. Happiness cannot be maximized @ 57° F. Give me Heat. Implementation at 50%)

    [Read more…]

Get Closer


Source: VideoHall

What I regret most in my life are failures of…

George Saunders

READ THIS.  You will not be disappointed.  It started my day off on the right foot.


From George Saunders’ 2013 “Advice to Graduates” commencement speech @ Syracuse University:

“…Now, one useful thing you can do with an old person, in addition to borrowing money from them, or asking them to do one of their old-time “dances,” so you can watch, while laughing, is ask: “Looking back, what do you regret?”  And they’ll tell you.  Sometimes, as you know, they’ll tell you even if you haven’t asked.  Sometimes, even when you’ve specifically requested they not tell you, they’ll tell you.

So: What do I regret?  Being poor from time to time?  Not really.  Working terrible jobs, like “knuckle-puller in a slaughterhouse?”  (And don’t even ASK what that entails.)  No.  I don’t regret that.  Skinny-dipping in a river in Sumatra, a little buzzed, and looking up and seeing like 300 monkeys sitting on a pipeline, pooping down into the river, the river in which I was swimming, with my mouth open, naked?  And getting deathly ill afterwards, and staying sick for the next seven months?  Not so much.  Do I regret the occasional humiliation?  Like once, playing hockey in front of a big crowd, including this girl I really liked, I somehow managed, while falling and emitting this weird whooping noise, to score on my own goalie, while also sending my stick flying into the crowd, nearly hitting that girl?  No.  I don’t even regret that.

But here’s something I do regret…What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded…sensibly.  Reservedly.  Mildly.  Or, to look at it from the other end of the telescope:  Who, in your life, do you remember most fondly, with the most undeniable feelings of warmth? Those who were kindest to you, I bet… [Read more…]

Good Morning Grumpy


I can’t say that I execute every day, but I do believe this.  Yes I do.

Good Morning!


Source: swiss-miss

How to be interesting

Jessica Hagy’s new book was published this month.  It is titled “How to Be Interesting. (In 10 Simple Steps).”  The Lady is genius.  Here are two examples:

charts, humanity, strangers, relationships, comments

And  here’s the second:

[Read more…]

Human

disaster, help, give, Hurricane Sandy, HurricaneA former colleague of mine send this email to me last night:

Dave:

“I wanted to pass this story along about the Red Cross. I will donate to them after seeing them in action. They have been blanketing my neighborhood since the storm. We have a truck that passes by each evening. The two workers are from Mississippi and New Orleans. Now that is dedication driving to the east coast to feed somewhat affluent people sandwiches, juice boxes and occasional specials. They knew of my son’s allergies and had a meal for him as I got out of my car. I don’t need the hand out, but my dinner plan was to reheat leftover pizza on the stove. We accepted the food and they were happy and we were happy. My parents accepted fresh pears.  Food was nourishing.  It was good. Message is anyone can help anyone at any time. We should all be ready to help and accept help when we need it. We should all think about donations to the Red Cross.  They help people in distress when people need it most.”

Rob, thanks for the inspiration. I’m giving to Red Cross today.

A hunger for acts that remind us of what it means to be human…

Note to Self.  Be Kind.

Harvard Business Review Blog Network: It’s More Important To Be Kind Than Clever

“…It was a small act of kindness that would not normally make headlines…it’s a little story that offers big lessons…The rest, as they say, is social-media history…Gail’s post generated 500,000 (and counting) “likes” and more than 22,000 comments on Panera’s Facebook page. Panera, meanwhile, got something that no amount of traditional advertising can buy — a genuine sense of affiliation and appreciation from customers around the world…”

“…Marketing types have latched on to this story as an example of the power of social media and “virtual word-of-mouth” to boost a company’s reputation. But I see the reaction to Sue Fortier’s gesture as an example of something else — the hunger among customers, employees, and all of us to engage with companies on more than just dollars-and-cents terms. In a world that is being reshaped by the relentless advance of technology, what stands out are acts of compassion and connection that remind us what it means to be human…”

“…So by all means, encourage your people to embrace technology, get great at business analytics, and otherwise ramp up the efficiency of everything they do. But just make sure all their efficiency doesn’t come at the expense of their humanity. Small gestures can send big signals about who we are, what we care about, and why people should want to affiliate with us. It’s harder (and more important) to be kind than clever…”

Read full story @  HBR Blog Network: It’s More Important To Be Kind Than Clever


Related Posts:

Harvard Business Review: Why is it so hard to be kind?

See the good…

namasteThe beauty of management is that you get to ride the highs and ride the lows of humanity each day – – and sometimes within the hour. I had recently experienced one of those deep disappointing lows. And, I needed to remind myself this morning about why I love what I do. 

I was speaking to a group of interns a short time ago and they asked me what makes a great leader.  Not an unusual question coming from aspiring young professionals looking for the secret sauce – the 10 quick steps to the top.

I shared the usual profile characteristics: Engage. Truth (speak it).  Serve.  Inspire. Learn.  Recognize.  Humble (be).  Admit mistakes. Lead. WORK.

Yet, I told them it is so much bigger than this.

[Read more…]