I normally listen to an audio book on my 30-minute commute to work. It’s a complete escape; a way for me to pretend that the to-do list that is awaiting me wherever I go doesn’t exist. But this morning, after some heartbreaking tears from my daughter and the ensuing inadequacy that has been overwhelming me lately, I was halfway to work before I realized that I was driving in total silence. Thinking, processing, stumped by this thing called life. Does that count as meditation? As someone whose brain is always buzzing, it’s as close as I can come, I think.
I think I knew, somewhere under the surface of all the pretending, that if I spent this morning’s commute “escaping” I would be missing it. It meaning the meat - the point - the gist of where my life is at right now. If I ignore that, what on earth am I doing?
I walked into work, had a wonderful coworker simply look at me with the slightest bit of concern, enfolded me into a hug. And then of course I cried.
(Crying at work! Everyone’s favorite thing!)
I will say, my friends, that when the barriers are down and I’m feeling really connected to all the incredible and brutal and massive experience of life, I FEEL it. It’s not always fun; but it’s alive. And even as it hurts, those silent 15 minutes - which, honestly, are practically nonexistent in my life - were the narrow opening I needed to escape my escape.
Thanks, Momastery, for the inspiring image! (Image from www.facebook.com/momastery)
"Life is mostly froth and bubble
Two things stand like stone
Kindness in another’s trouble
Courage in your own."
~James S. Hoolihan
I went to visit my Grandma last week, and she found this poem that her sweet husband, my Grandpa, wrote. I guess he used to have it taped to the inside of their kitchen cabinet for them to look at as a reminder about life.
And yep - I feel like this pretty much sums it up.
“Sometimes you have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself”—Miles Davis
I’m working with a wonderful woman to help her find the balance between memorizing IDEAS and memorizing a SCRIPT. I am always pushing for the former; but most people I start working with are used to the latter.
Memorizing a script asks us to be great readers, great pretenders, and make good eye contact, while mastering gestures that fit those words. (Can I just say? - BLECH!)
"Memorizing the IDEA" asks us to dig into the depth of the content, and to find ourselves in it so that we can authentically communicate it in the moment. We cannot depend on anything but our own self. Which is scary.
Some people think that you can just _show up_ for that kind of presentation. Preparation gets set aside, and arrogance and sloppiness take over. ‘Oh, I know this stuff.’ That is just too easy. There’s more art to it than that. A compelling and authentic presentation asks way more of us than that. There is no easy way out when you are finding the balance between being grounded and prepared - and being open and in the moment.
And so we prepare by practicing how the ideas live in our bodies, and our words. We have to LIVE them. Be them. Make mistakes, find a better way, bumble, stumble, and maybe even shine.
We find the depth of the ideas, and we find ourselves.
It takes practice to play as ourselves.
I’m a straight guy, in a marriage. I just didn’t know any transgender people. I’ve read stuff from transgender people on Twitter, and I never would have before. My wife is a teacher and has transgender students, but Twitter helped normalize transgender people for me. I used to use the word “tranny” in a manner that would be derogatory or hurtful if you were on the receiving end. But Twitter exposed me to the idea that they’re human people just like me with wants, needs, dreams, fears, and I don’t do that anymore.
Twitter accelerated the learning curve, where a straight white American guy where the world is classically considered to be my oyster, I now am delighted to be up to speed with the basic humanity of people born one gender who want to be another. I know that’s long winded. But that was an awesome eye opening. It’s helped reduce prejudices that I had."
Rob Delaney on what he’s learned from Twitter, from his Co.Create Master Class about how to be the funniest person on Twitter. (via fastcompany)
I love these stories, of how we change and see the world - see each other - a little differently, thanks to - in this instance - Twitter. Twitter is just another platform to share a little bit of ourselves. But sharing ourselves DOES something.
But also? - this guy was open to being changed. One doesn’t happen without the other. And I would love to know what Tweet it was that shifted his perception…
"I shiver, thinking how easy it is to be totally wrong about people, to see one tiny part of them and confuse it for the whole."
Lauren Oliver, Before I Fall (via haemus)
We do this a lot, don’t we? It’s why, if we can take more than the obligatory moment to really hear each other’s stories - and if we can be brave enough to share them - we can see beyond page 1 of that story.
But you have to be brave enough to tell your story; and you have to be brave enough to hear it.
"The capacity to be alone is the capacity to love. It may look paradoxical to you, but it is not. It is an existential truth: only those people who are capable of being alone are capable of love, of sharing, of going into the deepest core of the other person—without possessing the other, without becoming dependent on the other, without reducing the other to a thing, and without becoming addicted to the other."
”You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” ~Plato
Why do we always start with something “fun”? The mingler - the ice-breaker, the warm-up…
It’s more than just because it warms you up to me and me up to you.
It’s for a far better reason than getting your attention and waking you up - although I’m sure it’s nice not to sit down the whole time.
It’s because when we “play” together, we are just that: together. We become a “we.” You can’t ignore me anymore; nor can you ignore the person next to you, or play with your phone or plan tonight’s dinner or this weekend’s activities. Nope, you have to come be with me in this moment, and together we might even laugh.
THEN, we might get somewhere on this whole presentation business.
[I should say - it’s gotta be a good one. One that might sit just outside their risk zone, but not too far. Because if it’s bad, then you’ve lost me before you even began. But still: when done right, they are maybe the most important thing you do.]
…And then I finally came to this: A first-person account of one woman’s 9/11 experience, blocks from the World Trade Center. I realize it’s nowhere near September and our seemingly obligatory remembering, but it moved me. It got me totally off course from what I was initially going to do this morning, but I don’t care. It’s good to remember - and good to remember nowhere near September 11. I am always grateful when we remember - through someone’s detailed recounting of that day - of any day - anything that brings us closer together in the end.
(Bonus: Penelope Trunk is awesome. New brilliant lady find!)
"Play is the exultation of the possible"