Category: Uncategorized

the art of gambling

“You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run”
– Kenny Rogers

Sometimes people gamble money, and sometimes people gamble time. Artists do both.

The vast majority of artists passionately do their work with very little pay for years and years and years. In hopes that, one day, “it’ll pay off”. But no matter if they walk away or if they run, if they hold ‘em or if they fold ‘em, how marvelous that they put their chips in at all! Our society celebrates the successful, the famous, the wealthy, and the winners. I’m opting to celebrate all those who were / are gutsy enough to sit at the table and play the artist game.

Have you ever gambled?

la paz

“Nada vale tanto como la paz.”
(Nothing is worth as much as peace.)
– José Mujica

The former president of Uruguay (fascinating man — please Google) spoke these words, and they touched a street artist in Colombia who painted them on this wall in Medellín.

In times of turbulence, we recognize the value of tranquility. Which leads me to wonder how much we long for something to happen when we are in the midst of calm times. Is the pendulum always set to swing away from where we are?

I certainly don’t have answers to these questions. In the present day, I can only agree with Mujica & the artist.

What do you long for in this moment?

deflation

The phrase “a penny for your thoughts” has apparently been around for five hundred years. Surely a penny was worth much more back then. So are thoughts now worth much less? In this day of tweets and comments and texts, perhaps so. But I do believe that some thoughts have incredible value. And since the world needs all the good ideas now, shout ‘em out! Even if it doesn’t earn you as much as a penny.

a thousand ways to cut

Cutting…

You can cut something to separate. Shredding a piece of paper so that it is illegible. Cutting a piece of cake to share it with a friend.

You can cut something to shape it. A paper snowflake. A haircut.

You can cut something to wound. A knife wielded in defense or malice.

You can cut something to heal. A scalpel used in surgery.

You can cut something to save a memory. Cutting a photo or article out of the newspaper.

You can cut something to change a growth pattern. Pruning a bush. Cutting the grass.

You can cut something to reduce time or focus the message. Cutting a play.

You can cut something to remove it or you. Cut the power. Cutting class.

This list could go on and on. The action verb is a tool here. What matters most is both the intention and the impact (not always the same thing).

With each action, what is my intention? And, in hindsight (hopefully from a place of curiosity rather than defensiveness, but this can be hard!), did the impact match the original intention? If not, where did it change?

These are questions I ask myself time and time again. I find them to be valuable teachers.

Do you examine your own intention & impact? What do you find?

big kids

“The most potent muse of all is our own inner child.”
– Stephen Nachmanovitch

I recently rode a ferris wheel with my sister and two childhood friends. It occurred to me that it’s simply impossible to be 40-something on a ferris wheel. In truth, we all are 40-something, yes. But when that thing started going up and down and around, we turned into four kids with large feet and big grins.

Have you taken your inner child on a ride lately?

cygnet to swan

Seeing these 2 black swans with their cygnet is such a stark reminder of just how much physical transformation happens in the course of a lifetime. What is not as visible, of course, (and perhaps more relevant to humans, but who knows?) is the transformation in terms of mind, presence, confidence, and any number of other, internal things. Those can also be rather stunning transformations along one’s path.

Aside from noticing (or not) the transformations as they happen, I sometimes experience impatience with where I am in a given moment, whether that applies to one of those physical aspects or something internal. I have to remind myself that rushing these transformations isn’t an option.

Sometimes we don’t even notice a change when it happens. It’s only looking back when we see, wow, that thing changed me. Or, wow, look how that long-term work has paid off. I see the transformation now.

Whether you feel like a cygnet starting on a particular path, something mid-transformation, or a fully-formed black swan, enjoy the path. It all happens in the time it’s supposed to.

looking up

There’s a tale from my college days about a fellow student that’s gotten lots of mileage. Let’s call the student “Brittany.” The story goes like this:

American teens wait in line at the Sistine Chapel in Rome for hours. They’re finally let in and are bustled through. Upon entering, Brittany exclaims loudly, “Oh my God, y’all. Look. Up.”

The funny thing about this, of course, is that Brittany didn’t know that the very reason they’d been waiting in line for hours was precisely to “look up.”

At the time, I laughed at this story and at Brittany. But now, 20+ years later, I’m thinking we could all stand to have more of her delight and surprise in the simple act of looking up.

a year to share your story

“Change starts with story, so keep sharing yours.”
– Omkari Williams

Welcome to another new year. I was going to write “we are living in rather turbulent times”, but echoing that refrain feels… perpetual. As I ponder the annals of history, there is always an element (or more) of turbulence. It’s just that whatever is happening in the moment is, well, present. Present turbulence can often be felt more deeply than turbulence seen through the filter of what has passed.

Rather than dwell on the turbulence, I’m going to try and focus on the actions I can take each day to participate in the kind of world I want to live in. This can be as simple as deciding what to buy at the shop based on how responsible the company is that makes each product. (We vote with our dollars about the kind of world we want every single day. Don’t forget that immense power you have.)

Further to that idea of taking action is sharing stories. I am currently on a journey of listening. Listening to the stories of others is in my foreground at the moment. But I sometimes unintentionally let that silence my own story as less than. I want to live in a world in which we greet each other with curiosity and compassion. Where we deeply listen, and where we also own our own stories and share them.

I wish for you (and me) a year of listening to the stories around us and stepping into our own in a profound way. Hear others. And be heard.

Happy New Year.

a coat of humility

“Winter is not a season, it’s an occupation.”
– Sinclair Lewis

I have perfected the art of bundling up. It involves a few pairs of socks, pajamas under pants, and my “sleeping bag coat”, which is reserved only for days under 20º F. And when I’m in that getup and I still feel uncomfortable in the freezing temperatures, I add to my outfit a soft layer of humility. You see, a hundred years ago, my great-grandmother reared eleven children on a North Dakota prairie near the border of Canada. It snows half the year there, with temperatures regularly below zero degrees. When I think of her (with gratitude and awe), the bitter wind sneaking under my sleeping bag coat doesn’t feel so bitter at all.

How do you best manage the cold?

hobbiton

No, you can’t go in. But you don’t need to. By recreating Hobbiton where the film set once was in New Zealand… By being so meticulous and detailed about what lies outside those hobbit hole doors… Peter Jackson and his partners have created an open door into the visitor’s imagination. I didn’t need to literally pass through a Hobbiton door in order to have waves of story & delight flooding through my brain. And, as amazing as the physical surroundings are (and, oh my goodness, they are!), those stories inside me are where the real magic lives. Like Bilbo & Frodo, I’m always going on an adventure.

What is something in the physical world that has triggered a wave of imagination of late?