July 05, 2008
Fiji Recalls the Strongest of Senses
This past week, I returned to Fiji's magical aura. After soaking up as much humidity and sun my body could take in a cafe at the far end of Savu Savu's dusty town, I followed the main drag by foot in the direction I had come by taxi some six or so hours earlier.
I tried to retrace my steps from six years ago (was it six years, five or was it seven?), the last time I sat foot on this road, then with two kiwi men in their late thirties I met at the local Yacht Club, which I discovered by accident. I learned very early on that it was a hub for visitors from around the world, largely return visitors who were either captaining a boat, sailing their own or here on business from down under.
My two new friends fell into the latter category and were well baked into the local politics. No surprise given that their work was a mishmash of commercial real estate, construction and solar if I recall correctly. We never kept in touch after I left the islands or perhaps we did for a month or two.
It's not as if I spent a chunk of time in this tiny village -- the bulk of my stay was in a very remote house in the middle of dense tropical brush overlooking the ocean (owned by one of the kiwi's pals) and the other half was spent at the Namale resort, some 15 or so minutes by taxi.
Yet, I remembered the Yacht Club so distinctively that I felt I would smell my way back to it despite my lousy sense of direction.
The new cafe I discovered was quiet and rustic and like all tropical cafes like it around the world, they had fruit milk shakes made with fresh coconut, mango, papaya and pineapple. An Aussie couple sat down next to me for drinks and even though it was my side that faced them, my feet were propped up on a chair in the opposite direction and I was clearly engrossed in my Maori-authored novel, they opened up a dialogue.
Whether you're an ex-pat or not, Fiji has that uniquely familiar ex-pat feel to it, at least that's the case on Nadi and Savu Savu. It was the case five or six-ish years ago and appears to be so today.
The most remarkable difference was the number of cell phones and laptops, even though a cafe that advertised wifi in its window didn't necessarily mean that it worked. "Depends on the weather," I'm told, not unlike my Comcast situation at home which seems to flake whenever there's a storm.
The local market remained unchanged as far as I could tell but the main street was much more developed than I had remembered. Foreign investment poured in between then and now, mostly from Aussies and Yanks.
The Aussie couple lived "on-the-road," or should I say "on-the-sea." He was a captain and she went along for the tanning benefits. A few Fijians had apparently painted his aluminum seated benches on the back of the boat that morning, the same day they had planned a day trip. A dozen or so tourists sat on wet paint, some of them stuck so securely that their shorts ripped when they stood up.
He rolls his eyes as he tells me the story and her smile beams in between her sunburned cheeks and nose. "They're demanding 50% discount off the cruise," he says as if hoping I'd offer a suggestion or two. I don't.
I ask, "what color did they paint the benches?" thinking it might clue me in to why they did it in the first place. He doesn't seem to be expecting that. "Gray," he responds. "They painted them gray." I wondered how many women's sundresses were ruined that day and wished I could have witnessed all of it from a land-based dock a dozen or so feet away.
They got up to leave as I took the last bite out of my gingered veggie crepe. "See you at the Yacht Club?" they ask as they walked out. Ah yes, the Yacht Club. I was about to ask "where is it again?" but instinctively decided not to.
Every hour or so, the sky would grow moody and gray and grace us with showers. It remained balmy warm though so I barely noticed. A half an hour later, the sun would break through. This pattern repeated itself through four chapters of my book and two and a half diet cokes. They also sold those peach and mango flavored lipton iced tea drinks that I've only seen in third world countries and foreign tourist destinations.
The prices seem to have gone through the roof. A few regulars told me that tourism was significantly down, so the locals doubled their prices to make up for it. Hmmmm, I thought, remembering the $22 pizza and $5 coffees at the Nadi airport before I boarded the 14 seater puddle jumper.
During a late afternoon sun break, I slowly made my way along the dusty paved central drag in the direction of the Yacht Club, so I sensed. On the way, I scoured through a few of the supermarkets like I always do when I first arrive in a foreign country. I've been doing this for as long as I can remember; my first precious memory was when I discovered a cheap aluminum tennis racket in a Tiajuana supermarket when I was around ten.
When my grandfather realized it was less than one U.S. dollar, he threw it into his hand basket with the bottled water and crackers for the car. It still amazes me what they sell in village supermarkets abroad. I love discovering old American products with the same packaging they had in the states in the sixties and seventies.
It brings me back to a long ago time when my memories were largely filled with dance routines wearing my grandad's oversized shirts, wool top hats, twirling around the den using Great Grandma Bert's cane for support......my nose in the air like a female Snoopy character in love with music and bright colors.
Life in Fiji is so simple.....the pace goes along with it, a reminder that some of our deadlines at home are self-imposed and maybe corporate America might be a lot happier if they encouraged their employees to breathe, smile and think like Fijians every now and then.
I find my way to the Yacht Club as instinctively as I thought I would, as if I had lived here for years. It was as if I smelled something familiar and followed my senses to the path that brought me to its entrance. There was no sign and its British pub-like corner setting isn't well marked.
Set in the back of a small plaza they call Croapashend, I walked in like a regular and a familiar face behind the bar asks me what I'd like as I glance at him. A Fijian man in his early sixties wears a silver moustache and a warm smile. His name is Obini and he's been there for eleven years I learn when I ask him. "You bought me a drink five or six years ago," I say. "I believe so," he says back.
Incredulous. It wouldn't be if the rest of my day didn't spook me in the same incredulous remarkable way.
He looks like he's been selling beer and scotch to foreigners for far longer than eleven years. And, he appears to love people as much as toddlers love chocolate ice cream.
Except for a picnic table of Aussies in their early twenties, the place was empty. I found a table outside on the protruding deck, one with a breathtaking view of mountains to the far right and at least a dozen parked yachts between them and me.
It was late afternoon so the light was exactly as I had remembered it. The most memorable night here was after an afternoon of skinny dipping in a remote cove diving for shells and laughing at absolutely nothing at all except for the sheer bliss of being there.
Our skin was nearly the same deep brown as the locals at that point and we were living off freshly caught fish and local Fijian beer. I had a fresh flower cut in my hair that night, wore a brightly colored sarong and the light and smell was exactly as it was the day I returned.
I begin to write at what feels like a hundred words a minute. It all flowed through the end of my blue paper mate pen so quickly that onlookers might have wondered, "if we interrupt her, she might stop breathing." I might have if I were them.
The sun had nearly set by the time I next looked up. I had not even noticed that I was writing in the rain, even though it was only a light dusting. The place had filled up and not only was I surrounded by people on all sides, but a small band had set up behind me and I had not noticed them either.
Obini gives me one of his warm smiles -- all so familiar. I hear a few Yank accents but mostly Aussies and Kiwis and years later, I can still tell the difference.
I'm the only one drinking iced tea and wonder if anyone has noticed my anxious writing, quiet sense of solitude, and deep concentration.
Bottles of local beer, wine and scotch glasses surround me as do cigarette packs stacked in the middle of the wooden carved tables. Nay, it ain't Marin girl.
The music starts. Above them, foreign flags hang from the ceiling. Sweden, England, Australia, France, New Zealand, Holland, Germany and few I don't recognize.
A Fijian in his late twenties sits near me in a dark green soccer shirt, leans his head back and blows smoke into the air. The rain stops altogether but I move my chair in under the blue nautical-like canvas covering nevertheless where I'm closer to "group energy." I'm surprised I do this.
Just like old times, when I backpacked around the globe, I was surrounded by hoards of people -- always in groups even if they be small ones -- and there I'd be in a corner or smack in the middle, taking it all in, listening, writing, shooting, thinking....
Last time at this yacht club was different however -- very different. We finished our pitcher of beer and through my Kiwi pal's connections, we went off to the mayor's house for a barbecue. We were the only three non-Fijians and I remember feeling silly with the flower in my hair although all the women smiled at me when they saw it.
Back to present.
Obini seems to have changed his shirt. Maybe? He starts to make his way through the crowd selling some kind of local raffle tickets for $2 a piece. I later learn its a donation but didn't learn for what.
I see that everyone is suntanned at that moment and then.....the familiar smell and light that set on the bay just outside the yacht club patio. Three deep Fijian breaths, a smile and then back to that great novel I was reading.
The last line was meant to be the last line of this lengthy post, and it would have been had I not jumped into the first taxi that was passing by on my way out of the Surf & Turf restaurant adjacent to the yacht club. I decided to stop in for a quick bite of freshly grilled Walu with coconut sauce before heading back to my hut.
"$2 or $3?" I ask, since I'm told it could be either, so I always play the either or game to see what they'll say. "$3," he says. It's very dark but there's something about his reflection in the mirror that feels oddly familiar. I say, "gorgeous night," and he agrees.
He wonders how long I've been here and where I live. When I say San Francisco, he asks me if I know where San Bruno is and says he has a lot of American friends. A lot of Americans have bought property here in the last five years he says, "driving the prices through the roof?" I add. He nods.
His voice is uncanny. I know it. He keeps talking. That voice. "How long have you been a cabbie here? More than five years?" Yes, he says, eleven years. Isn't that how long Obini has been at the Yacht Club?
Disconnect but then it connects again.
I know that voice.
"I think you drove me to Namale many years ago," thinking what a ridiculous statement that is and how many people in the past six years he has driven to Namale. On an island that has 40-60,000 depending on who you ask and the town itself has 5-7,000 depending on who you ask. Large enough and long enough ago not to remember a generic American accent and face in the dark.
"Was I sick?" I thought and found myself saying it aloud. He glances at me through the rear view mirror and finally smiles. "Ahhhhh yes, I remember you. You were not sick, I was the one who was sick," and then it all came back. That voice, that distinctive voice. "I had to stop to throw up and you brought me back to my family. You were with friends. From near Auckland," he adds.
"Yes, that's right," I say. "Stan something," he says. Incredulous. I had even forgotten his name but it was Stan something alright. He reaches his hand back to shake mine over the seat, "Gopen," he says. My jolly incredulous God. As familiar as if it were yesterday. And I remembered his name - it was short for a much longer name.
The house, he went on. "I drove them around on and off for a few days. Before I dropped you off, he gave me some homemade 'something' and vodka. It was a hot day. No wonder poor Gopen got sick. Gopen, who I later learn also is a manager of the Yacht Club.
That familiar Yacht Club. Obini. Eleven years. Gopen. Eleven years. He, throwing up outside his cab. "The same cab," he says with a smile and that ever so distinctive voice as if it were a long lost cousin not a Fijian cab driver I met twice. (229,000 miles btw - I had to know)
I felt bad I guess. Must have. He drove me to the airport after my retreat at Namale. "Do you remember?" he asks laughing. You left with a plastic bag full of vegetables you carried over your shoulder. We fasted and I was ten pounds thinner by the time I left. In a healthy ten pounds thinner sort of way. My skin had been glowing, my energy level was through the roof and I was in love with those damn vegetables.
"When we got to the airport, we ate them before you got on the plane." Such a memory Gopen. Such a memory. Such a voice Gopen. That voice.
I get out of the cab and leave him a healthy tip. I need to go back near there tomorrow, a new site up on the hill near Namale I tell him.... tomorrow. Forget any other taxi driver I think. Gopen is my man. He hands me his card and I recognize the moustache. Same cab he said.
"You sent me a bag of stuffed animals for the children," he reminds me. I sent three boxes but couldn't remember who the third went to and didn't have it written down anywhere I could easily find.
The senses on this island are too much.
I'll call Gopen tomorrow I think as I make my way back to my room. Joseph and Moses come into my mind as I walk along the pathway to my bungalow, the last on the left. The other two remarkable Fijian men who left an imprint on my mind and the other two who received boxes of stuffed animals for Fijian children.
Tomorrow is another day.
June 22, 2008
PUSH Conference in Minneapolis
I've been wanting to go to the Minneapolis-based PUSH Conference for awhile now but since its always in June, there has always been a conflict. This year was no different as I was in launch mode, but I somehow found myself on a Northwest flight heading to the midwest last week.
President Cecily Somers often has a hard time describing the event, which she puts in the 'brain food' category. It's a miniature Davos in a way, in a mini-TED-like format, so its small enough that you can still meet nearly everyone at the conference if that was your goal.
The theme this year was "The Fertile Delta," which while it has a great name, is hard to summarize in one line. It addressed one of the things I've been feeling in a bigger way over the last eighteen months - the widening of gaps in the U.S.
After visiting Mexico last year, I was not only reminded that our dollar is in decline, but it was thrown in my face. And it wasn't just the dollar that I felt in Mexico and every other international trip I've taken in the last year or so. America is turning into a third world country (some argue that it already is) and the transition is gradual like they so often are, that many living in the top 20% barely notice, or if they do, its easier to turn a blind eye than to face it.
Issues addressed at PUSH including some of these very themes, here and abroad:
--while globalization is bringing more players to the table, many more are being left behind.
--this widening gap in resources, wealth, education, technology and healthcare is a destabilizing influence --this trend is unsustainable and we need to re-think business models and social systems for agility and for solutions that are truly sustainable (look at the state of our education and healthcare system for example) --Phrases such as the "Digital Divide" and "Two Americas" refer to this growing chasm within.
Where The Fertile Delta comes in, is that "while this space in between faces extreme challenges, it represents enormous, untapped opportunity."
Cecily hopes PUSH will leave people with at least a few reasons why polarization never looked so good.
This brain food event brings in together academics, politics and international issues. While so many of the issues discussed were global in nature, the attendee base was largely from greater Minneapolis and other pockets in the midwest, unlike last year which was closer to 50/50. The slowing economy and soaring airline costs could be part of this shift.
A couple of my favorite speakers included Thousand Hills Venture Fund co-founder Antoine Bigirimana and University of Rochester Assistant Professor of Religion Anthea Butler.
While based in the states, Bigirimana spends the majority of his time in Rwanda as a philanthropist, supporting the Kigali Center for Entrepreneurs. Bigirimana was born in Rwanda and is a central figure in Rwanda's information and communication technologies (ICT) community.
He talked to us about how Rwanda is making a transition from agricultural subsistence to a knowledge–based economy that will act as the information–technology hub for neighboring countries in Eastern and Central Africa. Because Rwandans reached bottom, sustainable change is happening in remarkable ways and quickly. Implementing some of these changes in neighboring countries could have a profoundly positive impact on central Africa.
He was incredibly moving and inspiring and gave us hope that change can happen rapidly on a continent that has suffered a series of slow starts over the decades. His passion centers around technology and to-date, Bigirimana has been successfully building Internet infrastructure in Rwandan villages, programs which can be replicated elsewhere in the region.
Speaking of inspiration and passion, enter Anthea Butler who recently wrote Women in the Church of God in Christ. Able to fluently blend women's issues and religion, her stance on the PUSH stage was on fundamentalism.
Up right after a speaker on Islam, she encouraged us that while the radicals get most of the media stage, there's another point of view, another way of behaving within the same religion. These are the stories so rarely told and even when they are, they often get buried. Be sure to listen to her on video on the PUSH website.
April 16, 2008
Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre
It has been more than two decades since I last walked through Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre (black and white shot is of the church in 1885).
A deeply spiritual and moving place, a Greek orthodox woman prayed to my left, a Polish catholic priest led a group to my right and every religious variation in between stood among me. Within its walls, you can either pray or quietly reflect with every other walk of life from around the world and be at peace.
I took a few short video clips while inside which are captured below. Click play.
As I took these earlier today, they were streaming live on Flixwagon.com, a real-time video solution by an Israeli start-up. More on them later.
March 18, 2008
A Tech Story Most of the Media Missed
Here's a fun, quirky and fascinating story about UFOs in the LA TIMES. Only here can you hear the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey says.
I sent this idea to my LA Times friend, introducing him to two former cops who have become private eyes....and are on the case of a mysterious UFO spotted not far from my home.
No, I didn't set up the drone picture. There are enough people who take the picture seriously to pay these guys to search for this mysterious telephone pole. Personally, since I know what can be done in Photoshop, I'm a bit skeptical.
Two of my favorite quotes got cut from Glionna's story by editors, (who are too often drones themselves).
One was TK Davis's theory of why UFO hunting is back in, with shows on the history channel and magazines devoted to them. He said that with all the controversy in hard news, and the way the country is split, UFOs provide some relief. Also, he said, they are aliens that no one is condemning.
And, there are all kinds of interpretations of what the writing on the drone says here.
My favorite had me laughing out loud: "All your base are belong to us." The editors-surprise- didn't get it.
The other speculations show there is great humor in the techie world (Invasion from planet Jiffy Pop; Martians for Obama).
February 18, 2008
The Furniture Psychic
In January, I took a side trip to Sedona, historical Prescott and Jerome, Arizona. It was, if you will, a rustic furniture-buying mission. When it comes to design and decorating, I'm one of those people who loves vibrant colors, spontaneity and change, so I'm moving a slick silver clean-lined table out of my office and into the hallway in favor of the first rustic one that jumps and says "I'm it."
Speaking of energy. Speaking of rustic. All three places made great choices for such a mission.
I browsed through numerous stores ranging from holes in the wall and high-end furniture stores to vintage and antique shops.
At the tail end of a desert road just outside Sedona, I discovered a store that had oodles of things I'd be happy with, all of course with price tags that were certain to break the bank if I stayed too long. Add shipping to that, and it turned into a browsing experience without action.
Before this realization, however, a woman came over to me and watched how I was responding to some of the items and then how I'd share a potential decorating idea with my traveling companion. We learn that she is a furniture psychic; at least that's how she referred to herself. No joke. It gets better.
She informs me that I'm not quite ready to buy and that I shouldn't make any purchases in the next week. I was "in Sedona after all," and I should be spending all my time lying on red rock and connecting with the earth. It's what people do there. She had a point and it wasn't as if I didn't have red rock "time" planned, and yet there was still something 'intense' about her advice. Then I learned why.
She's not only a so-called furniture psychic (whatever on earth that is), but she dabbles in cards. You can learn more about her particular approach by picking up The Little Book of Cards by Hathaway and Crick.
The original playing cards were developed in medieval times to safeguard an even more ancient system. The 52 cards correspond to the weeks in a year; the 12 royal cards to the months in a year; the four suits to the number of seasons in a year and weeks in a month, as well as the four elements. The birth card for each birthday is summarized, as well as ways to interpret them.
It plays a little differently than merely reading your horoscope. Click on the image below to get a larger view of the birthdates and what card they match up to.
What intrigued me enough to buy this little book was the correlation between the way we think and act towards people, professionally and personally. Also, the weight we give relationships versus things and basic value systems. The furniture psychic was so intriguing and her assessment of the handful of people she rattled off details about based on their birthdates were so eerily spot-on, that I had to find out more.
Do I believe in this system? We don't know what we don't beyond the realm of our own understanding or what can be proven. What I did learn is this: after reading roughly a couple hundred people over the course of a month or so, I discovered that Spades only came up in my life a few times, whereas Clubs comprised 90% of the people I interact with on a regular basis.
While this is quite general, clubs are "head people," diamonds gravitate around success and money (thankfully I have some diamonds in my life) and hearts, well, they're all about giving and love of course. Regardless of what I really think, the patterns were oddly accurate and compelling enough, that its worth a read.
February 05, 2008
Lost American-Made Men
I was in a small town in the Northeast last month, where I was fortunate enough to spend time with a lot of older men, many of them friends of a 67-year-old local man who had just passed away.
Most of the men I saw in the town were at least 55 years old. They reminded me of my grandmother's brothers and their crowd in a Pennsylvania coal region, and also made me think of a line from one of Pete Dexter's novels: "There are no intact men."
The men in this town tended to walk a little crooked and required some effort to get in and out of their chairs. Some of them strode alongside their wives, protective in their energy. Many of them wandered alone. Hands were thick, leathery and sometimes gnarled.
They wore faces of experience, some tough and others worn down. Eyes, when sober, were sharp, with whites clear as cold autumn air, the eyes of creatures that have survived longer than most in the state of nature. The eyes say: Inside here there is much to see and learn.
This kind of man is disappearing and is not being replaced, because what they are made of came from a life of manual labor combined with a respectable, honorable place in their communities, a state almost impossible to achieve now in a country with a consistently shrinking blue-collar workforce and an economic landscape hostile to stability and security for those who remain.
You will notice that the people who are becoming homeless in this housing market are the lower-middle class folks who would have never been able to afford a home in the first place without a supply glut and unsupportably cheap money to borrow. Their American dream of home ownership started disappearing decades ago, with the housing boom of the 2000-aughts just a trick of the twilight.
I'm not saying we need to return blue-collar jobs to the United States, or turn back the economic clock. But we've lost something. We've lost Ralph Kramden, John Walton, Archie Bunker and Howard Cunningham. (I don't watch TV. Are there any workaday blue-collar heroes on TV these days? Was Tony Soprano the nearest thing?)
I'm not sure that this older generation necessarily worked harder - without an apple-to-apples comparison it's hard to say. I look at some of my clients - professional snowboarders, Silicon Valley startups, spiritual healers, real estate brokers, editors, website designers - and they are all working a lot of hours. Statistics support the view that we spend a lot of time at work.
Nor am I saying that what we used to produce was more valuable because it was tangible. It's merely a point of view. But there is some relationship between what you create and how you walk through your life. Oil workers and loggers earn their pay through extraction, and tend to deplete their wallets as fast as they are filled. A farmer has a different carriage than a venture capitalist.
It also has to be different when day after day you come home physically spent from work, sore or injured, rather than exhausted from thinking, conferencing, sitting, typing, staring at a screen.
Another major difference between today's man and yesterday's is that while we may be every bit as much the maker, we are definitely more takers now.
We expect a lot more in return from life than did our forefathers. I don't think this is necessarily a bad development, but is this expectation based on a fair trade for labor or is it based on a lazy sense of entitlement, that we are owed something by the boss, the state, the community?
We leave trash behind everywhere in a world that encourages the disposable. We expect to replace our electronics every few years instead of drawing out a 15-year-life by darning them like socks. We accumulate more and more toys to support our technoconomy.
Since Exodus we've always coveted our neighbor's oxen and ass, and his wife, it's just that now there is a lot more ass to choose from. These men I saw last month were not looking for their $10 million pot of gold and I don't think most of them were 30 years prior.
They carried themselves as if their contract with life had been written early and in language somewhere between backbreaking labor and a barroom fight, and signed with no promises about the outcome.
Every time I go back east I see how the towns never seem to change and so are slowly dying. With this last trip I saw the men in these towns, also dying, a much greater loss. We're losing a certain kind of masculine energy and I think we're out of cultural, familial and spiritual balance as a result. I of course speak in generalities. Every generation has its proportion of do-ers and watchers, the corrupt and weak.
And yes, a nostalgia check. None of this is coming back, and change is part of life. It's a good thing that fewer people are dying of black lung and in grain bins. Opportunities and challenges today are exciting and limitless. We can make our futures as shining as we are willing to work for. I get that. But how about this?
The economic and cultural changes over the last 40 years (including the ascent of women in the workplace, the impermanency of family, shallower roots and fewer anchors in all parts of life) have profoundly dislocated men.
We're somewhere between definitions of what it means to be a man and it is very confusing. I think this is one of the causes of the sub-optimal politico/economic situation in which America finds itself.
And I think this is one of the reasons for the burgeoning trend of lost young men in this country, with university admission rates in decline and dropouts soaring, depicted in all those movies about successful young women stuck with guys who are a mess.
So, fellas, can you see a picture of the kind of man I've been talking about, this older generation? If you've known them, then spend some time with them if they're still around and pull in their spirits if they're not. Or just find someone. A stranger will do.
Look into their faces and draw from their strength, constancy, sacrifice, honor and dignity. Carry it in you, graft it onto your core, make this tradition part of yours. Our clients need it, our neighbors, our rivals, our communities. If you call yourself an American, then your country needs it - a LOT. And our women and our kids, perhaps more than they can say or know.
January 15, 2008
Taro Gold's Living Wabi Sabi
In December during a trip to Mexico that was extremely disappointing because of the amount of commercialism and American influence, I had the fortune of meeting a dear friend and partner of a former client. Magically, the timing worked out perfectly.
Taro Gold was not new to me however, as not only had I read 80% of his books prior to meeting him, but had one with me on the trip. Taro's work is largely a series of small, simple books that move you to not just reflect on your core, but act on it in a way that will bring more joy into your life.
Living Wabi Sabi was one of the few books I had not yet read until recently. It's an enchanting, educational and inspirational book about an ancient Japanese practice that can be integrated into your life regardless of what religious belief system you have -- or none at all.
Wabi Sabi is about embracing your imperfections. He writes, "regrettably, many of us are taught early on to be uncomfortable with the differences in our lives, to make sure we always color inside the lines that other people have drawn. Few of us are taught to use imperfections for our betterment, to seek the hidden lesson that every difficulty holds......"
A few quotes to supplement this way of thinking.....two of my favorites below:
"Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." --Reinhold Niebuhr
AND, this quote from James Allen which I have always been a strong believer in.
"We do not attract that which we want, we attract that which we are."
January 02, 2008
Festive Mexican Graveyards
Cemetaries are just a little snazzier in Mexico than they are in the states, don't you think? They are actually more festive in many countries; just look at the time commitment and acts of love people have made to contribute to the gravestones of those they love.
December 05, 2007
All Things Change & It's a Great Thing
If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to.
If you aren't afraid of dying, there is nothing you can't achieve.
November 02, 2007
Being Present Brings More Gratitude
I recently saw Sandra Bullock's new movie Premonition on a flight between coasts. When you see it, you can't help but feel a overwhelming sense of gratitude.
It made me think of Gone with the Wind, where two people who love each other can't seem to communicate. We painfully see their 'missed' exchanges, like two ships passing in the night and after seeing the 'missed opportunities' every night thereafter, you're left feeling helpless, helpless but knowing. All knowing.
When we reach that place, where we can no longer communicate and beyond....connect......with the people we love, we are living a life that is obviously no longer present, no longer alive. Fear takes over and strangles us. We find that our lives are suddenly driven by it.
Fear begins to alienate us from present energy and in its place comes a series of mundane actions that many couples do after years of marriage. No longer lovers, they have become roommates in a transactional world, one which no longer gives, no longer feels.
These transactions get the job done, life done...So life gets done, and we can even be proud by how good we are at getting 'life done.' Hour after hour. Day after day.
Present energy we no longer know. How blessed we feel whenever a charged conversation, movie or book reminds us to never let our lives move beyond the present and into the transactional. If we do move into the transactional, we need to know that this too, like all things, is a temporary state.
It's never too late to move our lives back into the present, where love drives who we are, not fear. A life where we are not living anyone else's life plan. It is ours to create, ours to live. And when we remind ourselves of this truth, gratitude re-appears.
It interjects, it overflows and in this moment, there's no turning back. Joy and serenity becomes big. Grandiose. Serenity and joy beomes us. And we, them.