Archive for December 2011
“I feel it is wrong to be treated as a consumer every place you go.” Gwenaëlle Gobé
Sometimes we have stuff to say and so we pack our conversation full of it. Maybe we’re deeply affected by an event in our lives: we failed a test (or aced a test), had an accident, got engaged. Got divorced. Stuff happens and we want to say it. Aloud.
So we do. At a family dinner we launch our stuff into the conversation. But someone else throws in their own bad test/good test/accident/engagement/divorce story. You and your stuff sought sympathy, would have settled for empathy, but instead your moment was hijacked by someone else’s stuff. And now you feel a raw edge to your emotion—after all, you did venture out on a limb to tell your story. Plus, you are disappointed because you hoped encouraging words would ascend from the sympathy/empathy to caress your forehead. Didn’t happen.
Disappointment is common to the human experience. Growth is the result. The key is not to wrest the conversation back so you and your stuff are in focus. Instead, let the conversation progress. Perhaps you can offer comfort to the conversation hijacker—this is the way of grace. Often our own hurt is a key ingredient we offer someone else to help them heal. Which is not to say we don’t need to be heard.
Over the Christmas holiday our family got talking about how rare it is to find people who truly listen. People who don’t rush to hijack the conversation, but instead probe and query. And ask. And pray. As we talked, we counted ourselves blessed with a great number of these people and agreed we are quite fortunate.
But to be that listening person—maybe that is worth a New Year’s resolution.
Aesthetics or style isn’t what drives me. What drives me is the core idea, and then I apply a design sense to that core idea. (2:08)
Via: The Casual Optimist
Leader’s sometimes resist conversation as long as they can. The dictator’s monologues that preceded the Arab Spring seemed to end abruptly—at least to those of us watching casually from suburban homes. The Occupy movement keeps facing us with truths about the financial classes who have tilted the playing field to reward themselves at the expense of many.
Now it’s Putin’s turn. You gotta love a people that show up with the slogan “We exist!” It’s not even a demand except in the deep, heart-felt recognition that the party of thieves and liars has been talking past them for too many decades. That is a basic, human response.
“We exist.” Great starting place for moving from monologue to dialogue.
“Live Long and Sleep.”
With this goofy, shameless ripoff, Dodd’s might actually lock on shoppers with their tractor beam.
In A Year in Provence, British copywriter Peter Mayle, moved to France and wrote about this place of exceptional food, wine and beauty. Mayle provided his reader with nearly first-hand experiences of cooking, shopping and conversation. Along the way we saw hints of a different way of living.
I want to read a book that takes a similar journey, but rather than air travel to a glorious foreign country, I want the author to settle into a land devoid of anxiety and full of bonhomie toward men and women. I want the author to get there by following the thread of meaning from a very particular foreign word: “Chesed”
Google chesed and you’ll find a central Jewish value that means (for starters) “lovingkindness,” but points to much, much more. This old Hebrew word appears 247 times in the Torah and 127 times alone in the Psalms. “Chesed” has shades of meaning in the Torah, variously translated to English as: loving-kindness, mercy, favor, pity.
I imagine living in chesed is something like life in a foreign country. My glimpses of this country come mostly through the Psalmists who use the word again and again as they respond to or acknowledge God’s care. It is a word that describes a way of life that is the polar opposite of my country’s “Black Friday,” and all that consumerist orgy represents.
As you write this book, please take long, generous expeditions into this land of living in gratefulness and thanksgiving. Explore how the inhabitants of this land depend on materials and attitudes already in their possession. Please show me what contentedness looks like. Show me how they brush off the slights and insults and lack of fame because they are grounded with a deeply-rooted faith-joy in the creator. I imagine this land as anti-Kim Kardashian: Sopping with contentment. Joy. Stability. Not glamorous. Not narcissistic. Not attention-seeking. So that means your book won’t get on the news every evening. But I’ll buy a copy.
Spend a full year there. Show me what happens when the crops are not bountiful and enemies encroach. Show me chesed when taxes are due and when plans go terribly wrong.
Please write this book soon because my land is teaming with insects whose bite results in a longing for more shiny stuff and much daily fame. In the meantime, I’ll keep looking through the postcards the psalmists sent.
Image Credit: Via 2headedsnake
Shouted from the pitch of her neck:
“What’s the least I can do?”
Eyes closed her gentle snoring:
“This is boring.”
Doodled maze focusing attention down
And in and away from the other:
Just another required class
My parents are funding
Or deepening my debt.
This posture a tattoo
A rhetoric of being
A one person drama
An act that snaps to real
Not easily shrugged off
After the definition-jail of school sets sail
Where topics contain in rigid compartments
While practices secretly wash from stem to stern
Minute by hour by week
Quarter by semester
Cleansed only after years of toil
Digging from the depths of whatever
Where no one pays your fee
Or your debt.
Image credit: via Falcons on the Floor