Stop Destroying My Home
How many movies in the past 10 years have shown images of New York City being totally obliterated by foreign entities (human or otherwise)?
I don’t know about you, but I’m tiring of visualizing my home being destroyed in 3-D clarity with digital sound.
Yes, I know that September 11 prompted much of this.
But why pay $12-$15 to relive the horror in a movie theater?
For the filmmakers, destruction is relatively easy. You just tear things down--blow them up. You just have to decide whether or not to decapitate the Statue of Liberty, rip off the top of the Empire State Building, or crush drivers on the Brooklyn Bridge.
To me these look like moviemakers having a temper tantrum…crushing everything in sight to get my attention.
Save your drama.
I challenge the brilliant creative screenwriters, storytellers, and filmmakers to skip making another story about a New York City reduced to concrete rubble. Instead, make me a film about New York more glorious than I ever could have imagined.
New New York
I’m no Isaac Asimov- we may need some Sci-fi minds to really help us imagine the possibilities. In the meantime, I’ll help get you started…
· stunning subway stations (instead of ones that look like the gateway to hell)
· everyone prosperous, smiling, and living out his or her fullest purpose?
· For clean air and fitness maybe we all switch to bicycles--Little flying machines-Rollerblades-
· Fantastic artwork was imbedded in the sidewalks
· Fruit trees in the center of the street with water fountains flowing at all times (like in Rome)
· Maybe hover boards need to make a comeback
· A 300km/hr speed train to DC – please
· Solar powered everything…
· Bridges that glow in the dark?
· Fire engine & police car sirens that alert cars to move aside via screens installed in the cars (imagine no more sirens!!!)
Glass Bottomed Swimming Pool
My request—the glass bottomed pool that connects between buildings.
Shanghai has this stunning first draft--- it’s 30 meters and doesn’t connect between buildings. Visitors say it does give you the feeling of swimming through the sky.
In my NY pool, swimmers enjoy watching the world below and pedestrians can gaze at the liquid beauties above.
This film…Think of it as the New York equivalent of the World Expo.
A trip to Hong Kong, Shanghai, or Tokyo might stimulate some ideas. Or lunch with Richard Branson who just introduced a glass-bottomed plane.
I’m flexible on the storyline, I just want to see NY blossom not fold.
Maybe Let the superheroes figure out how wild animals can live more fully integrated with humans.
Wolves on the sidewalk? Maybe a stretch.
Unless we really want to see NY destroyed, can I encourage that we stop visualizing it or participating in others’ visualizations?
This new endeavor will take brain cells—we’ll have to make a New York City so richly abundant moviegoers would pay to peek?
If it works, we might actually build it…
So why not give it a try?
It helps us welcome in the season,
Deepen our experience of the moment in which we find ourselves,
and explore the world without being asked to buy anything....
Indeed, Mary Oliver knows how to welcome in summer!!
Sue Bender, author of Plain and Simple, spent time with Amish families in Ohio to better understand their views on life.
In response to, "What is Satisfying?"
Here's what some folks said...
"It is the enjoyment of every step in the process of doing; everything, not only the
isolated piece we label art. If accomplishing is the only goal, all that it takes to reach
that goal is too slow, too fatiguing--an obstacle to what you want to achieve. If you
want to rush to the accomplishment, it is an inevitable disappointment. Then you
rush on to something else. The disappointment is reaped over and over again.
But if every step is pleasant, then the accomplishment becomes even more,
because it is nourished by what is going on."
A little more…….
"All the stages of one's work have a poetic nature. No one gets paid
for keeping his own tools cleaned. It is an act of real art; otherwise you don't have a
rapport with the tool; then it becomes a rebellious servant, not respected, not
properly handled. If you don't appreciate it's weight and be aware of the balance,
one day or another it is going to hit your finger."
This requires letting go of the belief that there is somewhere better to be..or letting go of the belief that this moment is somehow "wrong."
While I'm not ready to hand over my zippers, I'm looking forward to a day filled with poetry.
(Thanks Sue Bender, the Ohio Amish, and Betsy E. for turning my head in this direction...)
"Oh, my grandparents died," you tell people.
You sigh and maybe recall for a moment how nice it was to have older generations in your family.
You remember the birthday cards, gifts and the yelps of glee when you arrived to visit.
But then you're resigned, right? That's it, they're gone. That's life.
Well, I wanted to let you know there are thousands of grandparents available.
In interviewing dozens of Holocaust survivors, I have found so much more than material for my dissertation. I have found friends and, dare I say, grandparents:
They glow when I call. They tell me I'm pretty and smart. They love spending time and they have delicious stories to tell. That's how I remember my grandparents. They made me feel special even when I had disastrous teeth, couldn't spell, was overweight and had a terrible haircut.
They can be a dream.
But they're spectacular in their own right.
Today, Marty talked about surviving 4 concentration camps. Somehow he has a sparkle in his eye even though he watched his mother and sister sent to gas chambers in Auschwitz.
I dare say at 85 he's actually strikingly handsome. He boasts about his great friends in their 30s. I'm not surprised. He's a catch!
Things I've learned about the elderly:
1. They have paradoxically more and less time than we do. (They have all day, but probably less days.)
2. They have all lost something precious.
3. Their lives didn't go as planned.
4. They appreciate many things we have not yet come to appreciate.
5. They have seen more change than we have.
6. Many are busier than I am.
7. It's easy to hang out with them. You don't have to be charming, they just talk.
8. They are seeing their friends die and/or get sick.
9. Being around younger people enlivens them.
10. Regarding holocaust survivors, at this point I think most would rather tell you their story than receive reparations. Please listen.
11. Every tragic story has some moment of hope.
12. They were once young.
13. They are afraid of losing their ability to move about.
14. They appreciate your time.
15. They've beat incredible odds to be alive so long..consider they know something.
I cannot handle all these grandparents alone. There are so many!
Please volunteer your cheeks for pinching whether you're 20 or 50. It's a cliche, but you will get far more than you give. Start talking to someone eating alone at a restaurant or riding the metro. Help them with the door and talk to them like people.
You'll be old too one day...if you're lucky. How would you like to be treated when old age finds you?
My face has changed. Of course to people in their 80s laugh at me when I say this. Their faces have really changed they tell me.
Mine will change much more should I have the good fortune of living a long life.
But I do notice the changes over time..looking in the mirror day after day, we watch the baby fat dissolve and the young adult face elongate. And if you're a woman, you probably spent more of your young adult mirror time comparing your face to the "perfect" faces of the world rather than appreciating the youthful radiance of your skin.
What a waste...
In the past few years, I have noticed changes in my own face. Mostly sun spots. Trivial as they are in the grand scheme of things, it's a change and reminder that time will have its way with all of us.
To make peace with them, I have renamed them "Surf Spots"
They appeared after several surfing trips where applying sunblock proved difficult when we were out for 3 hours at a time.
This makes me proud. I was burned by the beautiful sun reflecting off the water.
The past few weeks I really have been communing with the idea that the goal of life is not to get through the whole ordeal with perfect skin or a youthful glow.
Yes, keep the sparkle in your eyes by living a life of wonder, whimsy and contribution. Yes, take care of yourself- eat well, put on sunblock...But, honestly, I would never trade surfing in 4 oceans to have no sunspots. Or have skipped trips to Africa, Fiji, or Indonesia just so I could have porcelain skin.
The Worship of Porcelain Skin
Porcelain skin and the worship of it probably derives from the days when young wealthy women spent their lives in English manors. They could not leave their homes and spent most of the year inside hiding from the winter. This skin has become a representation of white privilege- even rich Southern woman who could spend the days under hats while the slaves worked. The worship of this skin continues to absurd proportions today. It has convinced the world's most beautiful Asian, Indonesian and Indian woman that they need skin whiteners. If they only knew how beautiful white women think they are.
I remember reading that Scarlett Johansson, in order to preserve her skin, had some rule about not being outside more than 30 minutes a day. This may be total hogwash. Regardless, the reporting of such a fact (true or false) highlights the extremes that one might go to to preserve the look of a porcelain doll.
A doll's life was never for me. I never played with dolls or found them very interesting; they required lots of care and never wanted to go anywhere.
So perhaps, it is no coincidence that I would not trade my months trekking through the Colorado Rocky Mountains and the Utah Canyon Lands so the person in the elevator doesn't see my sun spots.
That wonderful children's book The Velveteen Rabbit talks about becoming real by being loved so much that you kind of fall apart. This stuffed rabbit lacked all the shininess and softness of a new stuffed animal because he has spent years being loved.
A face well-worn can show a life being lived. It's a liberation to not have to hide from the sun to stay a doll. Or to have no scars because you've never dared to leap.
If you want to die looking like a doll, you need to die young with your beauty in tact like Princess Diana. She probably grew up with massive skin protection and then died when it was still perfect. She'll be remembered as beautiful, always, but it was life half-lived. It's not worth it to me.
What's the Point?
Next time you look in the mirror and are about to critique freckles or spots, think about whether you would really have preferred a life in an English Manor house reading about adventure or never going outside so you can look perfect for your colleagues or the people in the airport.
Anyway, if you really want to look porcelain, you can just airbrush yourself on Photoshop.
In conclusion: live large and airbrush your photos.
If x-men had arrived in time would Santa Barbara have gone down differently?
Are powerful superheroes the answer to our problems? The popularity of Xmen seem to suggest yes. I am suspect.
I have enjoyed these movies, watching them on the encouragement of a good friend.
Characters are physically beautiful and the fantasy of superpowers always has appeal. Seems like life could be ever more satisfying if we could be "more special."
We think, if I had a power no one else had "then" I would be awesome and forever happy. But would I?
The characters appear rather tortured, finding themselves embroiled in all kinds of conflict.
The other night while watching X-men : The Last Stand it occurred to me
that none of the characters had a "conflict resolution" or "compassion" mutation. No, they just mutated in ways that helped them fight better or more effectively manipulate others through mind control.
Now one mutated towards greater love, happiness or compassion. This work they still had to do on their own.
Ben Franklin sounds sage even in this context. He is thought to have said, "the constitution gives you the right to pursue happiness, but you have to catch it on your own."
Even if these mutations did make folks happy, the mutations we need are not fire shooting hands or the ability to suck the life out of someone with a kiss.
We need a mutation that elevates humanity. How about Mutations that help us find better ways forward? I would much rather my kiss ignite enlightenment than death. Sadly, even in Marvel's fantasy world, you cannot choose your "gift."
Sure some Xmen characters can perform cool tricks like teleporting, but I have found it often takes far more courage to stay in a room than to leave it.
My vote Is for a new movie with only virtue or integrity mutations...
According to Aristotle, that's the only way to human flourishing (eudaimonia) anyway.
(Ellen page's character quips in The Last Stand that Aristotle said ethics only applied to humans. The Professor had no answer, though I have one. Aristotle didn't know about the upcoming comic phenomenon)
Yes power, money, beauty also contribute to flourishing, but without virtue it's a wash. Furthermore, these heroes don't appear happy..(a state which Aristotle distinguishes from flourishing).
Powerful Wolverine, for example, seems so unhappy and thwarted in love. Cyclops is literally destroyed over the loss of his woman, who turns out to be quite a danger to everyone and begs to be killed. Rogue morns her inability to touch others. Storm never seems to smile.
They seem as unhappy as "The Breakfast Club."
Maybe it would be boring to watch two hours of do-gooders resolving conflict peacefully and kissing everyone into alignment. Or we could just skip the movie and do it for real... I doubt that would be boring...
I love The Oxford English Dictionary. Seeing the evolution of words excites me. The book shows us from whence modernity came.
This weekend, as a result of a lecture on "intimacy" I decided to find out how long that concept has been around. In English, the idea of intimacy as a kind of "closeness" only arrived in the mid-17th Century as did "intimacy" as a euphemism for sex.
Now, we know that physical intimacy has been around a lot longer than three centuries. There are so many of us here. But why did the idea of closeness only arrive in the 17th Century? Well, the dictionary does not answer that question. If you know, I'd love to hear it.
I've been exploring what it can mean for us today. To expand beyond the dictionary definition and consider what realms of possibility exist.
This weekend's lecture was astounding. These blogs draw on life experience (primarily) sources, scholarly journals, professors,books, seminars, courses, etc.
This learning that I will share today, however, comes from Landmark Education.
They teach several distinctions about intimacy that took the wind out of me. Hope some of it resonates with you.
What is Intimacy?
They define intimacy as "the possibility of being fully known and fully knowing another." That definition, FYI, is not in the Oxford English Dictionary.
Not Related to Proximity or Blood Relationship
Intimacy is not a function of the kind of relationship you have or your proximity. In other words, just because you talk to your best friend or brother everyday does not mean that you are most intimate with that person.
You actually may feel more intimately connected with someone you knew years ago than your current partner. Great thought, right?
Haven't you shared a moment with someone, maybe someone you only knew for a day, week or a month, that felt so connected that you breathe differently just thinking about it?
For me, the sensation is like one of floating...one of total self-expression and ironically, freedom. Intimacy in our culture can so often connote being so close that we are overly enmeshed. The best intimacy, however, somehow feels comfortably close and comfortably separate.
Two distinct beings pausing in this celestial experience for a real "hello"
Intimacy as a State of Being
Lastly, intimacy is not what you do, it's how you're being. You can either walk around being someone other people can be close to or you can perpetuate the feeling of fear between people.
It's up to you.
You can be a "clearing" for intimacy.
I love this idea of serving as a clearing for others. During my research, I have felt like a clearing for Holocaust-pain.
These ideas most resonated with me:
1. Intimacy is about fully knowing and being known
2. Intimacy is not about proximity
3. Intimacy is a state of being. You can be a clearing in the world for intimacy.
Eager to hear your thoughts...though you'll have to be vulnerable for it to be any good. Be brave...
In Dubliners, James Joyce introduces us to Mr. Duffy...
He lived a short distance from his body.
Have you ever had that feeling?
You're out with friends, at a meeting or even shopping for food and while your body is there some broader part of you or the majority of you is really somewhere else?
Maybe you feel a short distance from you body, able to get back in should someone speak to you. But at other times you may feel further away.
Where do you think you are when that happens?
It's amazing what you can accomplish in the physical world when you feel that way. I think I gave over 50 sales presentations a short distance from my body. It worked well enough. Rejection did not hurt so much.
Impact of Being Disembodied
Yes, something is lost. Disembodied we cannot truly engage with those embodied or the vibrancy of the physical world in which we find ourselves. Relationships are difficult when we're really somewhere else. They have a feeling of inauthenticity not because of overt lying - we're just not really at the meeting we said we would attend even if our body is in the room. There is a difference between attending a meeting embodied and disembodied.
Getting Back Into Your Body
Getting back into the body can be rough. I find one of the easiest ways back in is working out intensely. After an hour in the pool, I feel securely back in and emerge much more sensitive to the world about me. I can feel the air on my skin so much more intensely, I just stand outside the gym look up at the sky and breath. Food tastes more flavorful and I engage with others with more vibrantly.
I think playing an instrument also kinds of throws me back in because it requires moment-to-moment awareness. TV, on the other hand, and even un-engaging lectures start to disembody us.
The next few days check in from time-to-time and see if you're in your body or out. What does this difference feel like? When do you check out? What pops you back in?
This winter at swim practice, I was reminded of why the right teacher (or coach) matters.
I have been swimming- not professionally-- just for fun, while surfing and to chase fish in beautiful tropical locations.
After years of swim team, my strokes were always pretty good, but not improving.
At practice, the swim coach gave me 1 tip for each of my strokes that transformed them. I think both of us were a bit in shock. The right comment at the right moment can create an entirely new experience. I easily slid across the pool with my new backstroke. I could truly fly in my butter fly and breast stroke became the powerful stroke rather than the lazy one.
I thought everyone in the pool was faster because they were in better shape (well, they probably are) but in addition to this they have better strategies for moving more quickly across the pool with less effort.
He told me to go home and watch Rebecca Soni (pictured above) win the London Olympics and beat the women's world record.
Watching experts and being guided by experts can save us decades of solitary struggle. Why struggle?
Robbins teaches about the inevitable "plateau" that comes whenever we learn a new skill. We move quickly in the beginning stages and then inevitably plateau at some point. Many people just give up and move to the next sport, activity etc just to get the high of the initial growth. Achievers usually fight their way through to the next level. People committed to mastery, however, just understand and appreciate that plateaus are part of learning.
The most efficient way to move to the next level is not just to grind and fight your way through.. I probably make a greater splash when I move across the pool, but those other swimmers finish first.
With a good coach and practice I'll better be able to keep up. Or I can just keep exhausting myself.
I'm almost embarrassed to admit how many things I've accomplished by reading books on how to do it...I found a book on how to transfer colleges. It told me how to handle an admissions office that doesn't do interviews. The author recommended just getting someone on the phone and getting them excited about you. It worked, I got into Cornell.
But this is true for anything that matters to you: tennis, stocks, college admissions, languages...
Now, I do think some input is easier to take than others. My swimming changed so dramatically because I had so little attachment to my "old way" of doing the strokes. I made improving more important than being write.
In writing, for example, I can be more resistant. My written words feel more intimate...more representative of me. The trick is to send my writing along anyway-- take a deep breath and get ready for feedback.
So, this was just a little blog to encourage you to reach out for a coach in any area that matters for you. You may only need one lesson, session or meeting. You may want a package of 24. We can do this or just struggle on our own for the next 10 years. It's really our choice.
I made mine...