When I wrote my letter to Santa this year, it was pretty clear. It took me only about 15 minutes thanks to the Macy's website and it included first a list of thank yous for my favorite gifts over the years (large stuffed seal, GI Joe action figures/ jeeps, and the giant Lego castle). This year, I explained that I really needed a MacBook Air. I explained that my work depends on my computer and I travel quite a bit and, you see, the heavy laptop is taking a toll.
He seemed to be sympathetic and I have received the laptop.
( I hope he also deemed worthy the kids in Syrian refugee camps who are freezing right now!! )
Now with the wrapping paper all put away and the tree down I am left with my laptop and this NSF (National Science Foundation) grant. Sitting here I'm struck with the difference between their requirements and Santa's.
The Santa letter I just wrote an mailed. Yes, I did it. Laugh all you want. I got my laptop. Now Macy's gives money to "Make A Wish" if you use their mailbox which is nice. Frankly, I did it to practice getting clear about what I want and why I want it.
Now the NSF, unlike Santa, has 76 pages of instructions. They also want a much deeper explaination of what you want, why you want it and how it will better humanity. They want theory... They want compelling, top notch, and world altering....they want brilliance.
The process is a good one because it helps clarify my thinking and ensure that my dissertation has as better shot of helping solve some of the world's problems..
But you can't blame me for yearning for Santa simplicity...
Thanks for all the good feedback on the last post on suffering.
My mother was adamant about adding this parable to the list of ways to not suffer.
She has been teaching "Pete the Cat" to a local school...We just danced around the apartment to this one...4 minutes to joy.
Ok, maybe you've read The Bell Jar, listened to Perry Farrell for hours, and seen any number of epic films about suffering.
Maybe your heart broke as the tragic heros/heroines beseeched an uncaring universe to rise up and take notice. But admit it, at times these artists portrayed suffering in such delicious and juicy ways, you were tempted to try it..until you realized that you already have...many times. And, without the soundtrack or great poet to narrate, it really just was miserable.
This week I felt inspired to share some of the great escape hatches taught to me in the past couple years.
Now, a quick caveat here. I told change expert Tony Robbins that I wanted to work to reduce the suffering on the planet. He told me that I cannot convince someone to let go of their suffering. They have to decide to do that themselves. There are payoffs to suffering such as... people feel bad for us, we get attention, we don't have to get into action to resolve it, and people aren't threatened by our happiness..
But should you be so bold as to want to give suffering the boot, here's a few:
Tony Robbins' take on suffering:
Pain is inevitable, but suffering is a choice. Suffering occurs when we think the problem is:
1. Personal- happening because of some fatal flaw in us. "you are unloveable" etc. In this case your identity has gotten hooked into the situation.
2. Permanent- it will "never" change. The situation has ruined our life eternally.
3. Pervasive- the situation or problem has ruined "everything" in our lives. For example that a problem a work ruins everything...when really your family, health, etc are all doing great.
Landmark leader on suffering.
The source of all suffering is not accepting the reality of a situation.
Ok, so the person was being a jerk, they didn't treat you right, etc. It's the rumination about what "they" did to us that ends up messing up our day than the thing that actually happened and it stifles us from going into action.
Suffering and I broke up 3 years ago, sometimes we go on dates and try to get together again, but I always come back to the same decision and say,
"Dear Suffering, I got work to do and you're just a distraction. I'm giving you the boot, again. Thanks for the memories and poetry you helped me write. "
The Cassini spacescraft took this picture in 2006. The first image of Earth relative to Saturn, back in 1990, inspired Carl Sagan to us the "pale blue dot." Yes, that little dot is Earth....and isn't the perfection of Saturn's sphere and rings simply astounding?
A friend with whom I hadn't spoken in months called and after briefly catching up on our lives she launched quickly and deeply into her recent discovery of these images. I am well aware that as humans we are "meaning making machines," so I would like to relinquish that impulse here and not make this photo mean anything. Instead, I just wanted to share with you this image and invite you to just look.
Try to find us in the image below (we're there)....
Sarah Federman, PhD
Enjoy these short blogs and videos designed to bring you a little cheer.
My other blog Language of Conflict addresses the importance of word choice and narration in conflict.
Finish and Flourish supports writers struggling to complete projects.