Succeeding beyond the Job Concept

“Most people think life sucks, and then you die. Not me. I beg to differ…

I think life sucks, then you get cancer, then your dog dies, your wife leaves you, the cancer goes into remission, you get a new dog, you get remarried, you owe ten million dollars in medical bills but you work hard for thirty five years and you pay it back and then one day you have a massive stroke, your whole right side is paralyzed, you have to limp along the streets and speak out of the left side of your mouth and drool but you go into rehabilitation and regain the power to walk and the power to talk and then one day you step off a curb at Sixty-Seventh Street, and BANG you get hit by a City bus and then you die…Maybe.”

— Dennis Leary, Comedian (born August 18, 1957)

30 May 2019

First of all, the title of this entry is the “Long O”, old testament Job. Not the short O “job” as in “work.”

The NIV, or “New International Version” of the Christian Bible shows Job as a long suffering fella, just minding his own business and getting in the middle of, what is essentially a bet, between God and Satan. Nice.

And before you think I am getting all religious on you, note that this blog entry is not a plea to end all the suffering in the world, as there has been and always will be suffering. Instead, it is more of a “work through it all” personal observation piece.  Done in one afternoon skirmish.

For the Buddhists (and, frankly, how can a thinking person not appreciate the Buddhists?) it gets more nuanced, if not a slow meander on a Mobius strip-based pathway:

The Four Noble Truths comprise the essence of Buddha’s teachings, though they leave much left unexplained. They are the truth of suffering, the truth of the cause of suffering, the truth of the end of suffering, and the truth of the path that leads to the end of suffering. More simply put, suffering exists; it has a cause; it has an end; and it has a cause to bring about its end. The notion of suffering is not intended to convey a negative world view, but rather, a pragmatic perspective that deals with the world as it is, and attempts to rectify it. The concept of pleasure is not denied, but acknowledged as fleeting. Pursuit of pleasure can only continue what is ultimately an unquenchable thirst. The same logic belies an understanding of happiness. In the end, only aging, sickness, and death are certain and unavoidable.

The Four Noble Truths are a contingency plan for dealing with the suffering humanity faces — suffering of a physical kind, or of a mental nature.
The First Truth identifies the presence of suffering.

The Second Truth, on the other hand, seeks to determine the cause of suffering. In Buddhism, desire and ignorance lie at the root of suffering. By desire, Buddhists refer to craving pleasure, material goods, and immortality, all of which are wants that can never be satisfied. As a result, desiring them can only bring suffering. Ignorance, in comparison, relates to not seeing the world as it actually is. Without the capacity for mental concentration and insight, Buddhism explains, one’s mind is left undeveloped, unable to grasp the true nature of things. Vices, such as greed, envy, hatred and anger, derive from this ignorance.

The Third Noble Truth, the truth of the end of suffering, has dual meaning, suggesting either the end of suffering in this life, on earth, or in the spiritual life, through achieving Nirvana. When one has achieved Nirvana, which is a transcendent state free from suffering and our worldly cycle of birth and rebirth, spiritual enlightenment has been reached.

The Fourth Noble truth charts the method for attaining the end of suffering, known to Buddhists as the “Noble Eightfold Path.” The steps of the Noble Eightfold Path are Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration. Moreover, there are three themes into which the Path is divided: good moral conduct (Understanding, Thought, Speech); meditation and mental development (Action, Livelihood, Effort), and wisdom or insight (Mindfulness and Concentration).

For me, I just try not to whine too much, a far-too-easy reflexive action I have been honing for decades. Yes, I am terribly guilty of it.  As one of my close friends says, “Yes, we dwell at length on our ridiculous first world problems.”

Especially now, in an era that seems amplified beyond all capacity with the “End of Everything”.

Frankly, I personally have come to feel that the Apocalypse, as it were, may not be as instantaneous as many of us have been taught.

“The Greek word for Revelation is Αποκαλυψις or Apocalypse. Revelation always implies the unveiling of something previously hidden, in this case, future events. As the final book of the Bible, the Book of Revelation brings to fruition symbolism found in Genesis 3:15 in the first book of the Bible. “

I didn’t know that… that “Revelation” in Greek is “Apocalypse”, which is a rather rewarding piece of information and elevates my point:

What if the “Tribulation” portion of St. John’s Revelation lasts ten centuries?

Sure, there’s all these quite apparent signs… the collapse of bees and other pollinators, the critical fulcrum of human development and the resulting pollution of the small, isolated planet we live on (don’t poop where you eat), the political mayhem and insidious leveraging of speeding technological expansion and instantaneous communication pathways, and the ongoing lack of integrity of so many in such high positions of authority.

I wonder what folks thought in the late 1700s. The mid 1800s. The Late 1800s. The early 1900s. The mid 1900s. Etc., etc., etc.

I also wonder if we as a species have done this before — whacked a planet into near nothingness and then simply moved.  (Think long and deep about Mars, for example…)

These are hardly original thoughts, but I often think them none-the-less: we all see our own truth through our own eyes, filter and shape it through our own experience, and ultimately funnel it down our own faith and belief. I think that if all of a sudden, humanity was zipped in its entirety to a new home planet, this one would likely recover quite nicely. (Probably be a battle eventually between the big cats, the big bears and the big apes, but then again, they might respect the twins of death and destruction a little more than we do.)

A very close friend of ours recently disclosed his fresh diagnosis of multiple cancers. I am thinking currently that this diagnosis is his own apocalypse, his own revelation, and we who love him will try to do what we can to help… which can be difficult to achieve if the afflicted individual, and he is, has been highly independent his whole life.

Another close friend was at one time going through an absolutely painful and traumatic divorce.  Referred to spouse as “my Buddha”.   Sometimes suffering can be so visceral it sounds like a hard cracker being halved.

Another non-original tidbit: “What happens to the human soul as suffering becomes increasing ordinary?”

At the foundation of being a true human being is to be able to offer our best, most sincere attempt at providing comfort to those who are suffering, to accept it with grace from others when we are suffering, and to try our best to impart our experiential findings of that process to our family members, offspring and friends.  That’s about it.

(That last paragraph is way more wordy than “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  I would say that the simple version credited to Jesus is more succinct.)

As I type this, from one of multiple computers, in a funky, low brow but comfortable home, looking out the door at several vehicles in the yard, taking in the luscious, vivacious greenery that is northern Vermont in almost-June, sure: I could think about my troubles. My debts. All the cleaning I have to attend to. The work I have to complete by the end of the week.  Or, I can realize just how good I have it.  I will rise up and attempt the latter…

Disagreements abound. But, with a slow, mindful inhale and a hopefully generous dose of perspective, we might all find that we, as humans, as society, as a civilization have much more to agree about than disagree… and concentrating on this – the agreements – will likely make the disagreements more malleable.

At least it’s a hope. Or as Dennis Leary says, “…maybe.”

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Following the Herd

[from Monty Python’s Life of Brian]

FOLLOWERS: Brian! Brian! Brian!…

BRIAN: Good morning.

FOLLOWERS: A blessing! A blessing! A blessing!…

BRIAN: No. No, please! Please! Please listen. I’ve got one or two things to say.

FOLLOWERS: Tell us. Tell us both of them.

BRIAN: Look. You’ve got it all wrong. You don’t need to follow me. You don’t need to follow anybody! You’ve got to think for yourselves. You’re all individuals!

FOLLOWERS: Yes, we’re all individuals!

BRIAN: You’re all different!

FOLLOWERS: Yes, we are all different!

DENNIS: I’m not.

[End Excerpt]

————————————————-

For the past couple of years, I have been free wheeling in thoughts surrounding “Tipping Points

Why do human beings seem to flock into “group think” without significantly and individually questioning one’s own decision tree to arrive at an opinion? This has always seemed rather odd to me.

In my own experience,  it comes from a distaste for the barrage of “everybody is doing it”, or “they say that we should…” or “if you don’t join us, you are a _________ !”

Being one who prefers the outer perimeters of social situations, I have never “joined” any specific large group, save for the Cub Scouts for a year as a third grader (participated under parental duress. It is also highly probable that my discomfort with “group think” has lead to more than one sacking from employment situations over the five decades of my work career!).

The one thing that has me completely flummoxed of late is the overwhelming group think taking place as a result of clever, if not nefarious, campaigns of misinformation across multiple media platforms.  No wonder world wide mistrust of information is growing.  I mean, really, who or what can be trusted?  It is rather alarming in scope.

In one of the episodes of the British series, Black Mirror,  individual’s optic nerve can receive implants so that all events can be recorded and played back AS RECORDED.

Sure, it solves all disputes as five “cameras” recording an event, pretty much show the same event… except when the event is hidden or obstructed to an extent from all cameras. This happens regularly and most recently at a Red Sox baseball game when the “replay” wasn’t able to overturn the call because the players obstructed the views of several cameras to the player’s hand reaching for the base while the baseman tagged for the out.

Returning to how to discern absolute fact, it’s difficult and challenging. Especially as individual memory of an event is absolutely affected by individual personality. Which is why compelling people can tell complete lies and get large numbers of other people to believe those lies as truth.  As said in this blog previously, my friend Paul Appleget said to me years ago:

“A lie is not a lie; until one of those individuals WITHIN the lie, forgets that it is the TRUTH.”

Yes, it is a bit of a mind bender to get around, but it does shed a small ray of light on group think. Think of the negatives of “the herd mentality“, flip them to positives and one gets “Collective Intelligence

And here lies the likely and most prominent aspect that describes how divisive an era we currently reside within:  Herd Mentality is unyielding commitment to a line of thought… EVEN if all the best and coldly collected evidence is contrary.  Yet, Collective Intelligence relies on cooperation, communication and discussion, the very attributes that used to take place in most civilized debates… a search for meaning via opposing views, but with the searchers not making the opposing views “personal.”

I don’t agree with the opinions of several of my very close friends.  It doesn’t mean that I won’t speak to them anymore, it simply means that we disagree… and that is okay. In fact, if they all DID agree with me, it would be incredibly boring if not claustrophobic.

Returning to Malcolm Gladwell’s seminal “The Tipping Point” it is worth reviewing “The Law of the Few”… and note “Persuaders”

And finally this important excerpt from Herd Mentality from Wikipedia:

“Researchers at Leeds University performed a group experiments where volunteers were told to randomly walk around a large hall without talking to each other. A select few were then given more detailed instructions on where to walk. The scientists discovered that people end up blindly following one or two instructed people who appear to know where they’re going. The results of this experiments showed that it only takes 5% of confident looking and instructed people to influence the direction of the 95% of people in the crowd and the 200 volunteers did this without even realizing it.”

The next time there is an invitation to join into a train of thought… please consider taking just a few moments out to consider “what, when, where and why…” and what you might be giving up in the process. You might be surprised, in many instances to hear an internal voice questioning yourself. Don’t crush it. That is your conscience. Please pay attention.

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My God, It’s full of Stars…

 

 

 

 

 

 

I won’t be the first or the last person to comment on this seminal statement from Arthur C. Clark and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (in fact, it actually was in the book AND the sequel film, 2010: The Year We Make Contact.)

To the point: there is nothing I enjoy more – and rarely get to do with an exhausting work schedule  – than sit in a reclined chair, outside and wait until my eyes adjust to the dark…

And then, that precise moment in the history universe reveals itself to my naked eye… most astonishingly.

Planets, stars, constellations, Milky Way Galaxy, and of course the shooting stars and man made satellites.

I count them.

On the few moonless, clear nights of July-September, the amount of activity in the Heavens is completely amazing. And of course, this is only what one sees without magnification.

I liken leaning back and viewing the infinite universe as some of my life’s profoundly sacred moments; in that everything that every was, and will be, is right up there in view. The common mistake we make as human beings is to view everything, and I mean everything, with relevance only to ones lifespan. And, the average life span of humans is simply too short, especially when viewed in a universal sense.

80 years versus 13+ billion years

80 vs 13,000,000,000

Or, one would have to live 16,250,000 lifetimes.  That’s a lot of taxes! (insert wry wink here)

But back to the night sky. Last night I counted 28 satellites and 10 falling stars. Not quite close to my personal record of 35 satellites and 26 falling stars, counted in Greensboro VT fifteen years ago.

When the evening is quiet (and we are grateful and fortunate to live in a mostly quiet neighborhood) it only adds to the star gazing splendor. If you can share it with a close friend or loved one (or both) its even more rewarding.

Contemporary hand held technologies, i.e., your smarty pants phone or tablet have many “app” options for night sky revelation and calibration… calling out individual stars, constellations, planets and more. Plus, most will operate in a “red” mode that won’t disturb your night time vision. These apps can greatly expand ones knowledge of “what is what” in the night sky.

My reverence for the night sky is long in my own years… many significant events have happened while looking up…first kisses, dreams of future, recollection of pasts, philosophical ramblings of epic proportion, etc. And finally, like many who can’t help but exorcise emotion as creative endeavor, the night sky often makes its appearance in my songs, verse and stories, as well as drawings and paintings.

My long standing hope is for every single person on this planet gets at least a few nights a year, to drop their troubles for just a few moments and look up.

Look up to the future, look up to the past. As life itself came from the stars, when we look up, we see all of Life (yes, the big Life with a capital L).  All life that has been and has yet to be.

For me these bodies of light in the night sky remain uniquely humbling and comforting – –  at the very same time.

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Dear Mr. President

Dear Mr. President (Feb 2018)

A short list of thoughts from someone who didn’t vote for you—or your opponent—in 2016. (used “write in”)

Caveat: an apology, as “letters to the President” are hardly original.

1. Thanks for the positive financial bubble. Our lower middle class family has benefited, but the long term costs of these benefits are not clearly defined. We are in hopes that your conviction that the economy will grow enough to make up the difference plays out, even if history has not been all that kind to this approach. However, I would be remiss in not admitting that right now, we’re better off than we were a year ago.

2. Is there any chance you might consider going cold turkey to your Twitter addiction? Yes, going cold turkey is very hard. But, as you have professed significant intelligence, I am confident that you could drop your Twitter use for at least 30 days. This would give the results of your executive orders a chance to develop as they will without distraction from you or your advisers. In order for your constituents to get a clear bead on what you are doing in the following: Economy, Environment, Law Enforcement, National Security, Immigration and Statesmanship, I suggest that NOT firing off a running stream of consciousness commentary may better serve you and what you are attempting to achieve. The old adage, “actions speak louder than words” really holds true, as I expect it did for your parents and grandparents.

3. Stand by those individuals who seek the Truth. Seeking the truth in all things is a challenging thing. Truth is a consensus; there is ample proof that 25 witnesses to an event will give you 25 different appraisals of that event. However, there are many in Federal agencies who simply want the Truth. They are not out “to get anyone”. They simply want the truth. At this junction in history, we face an unprecedented amount of technological advantages, but also vulnerabilities. Do we, as Americans, wish to be naive about this? I suggest that all the investigations going on will lead to something salient. It may not be of your personal taste and that is too bad.

If you have nothing to fear, proceed fearlessly.

This latter position doesn’t require comment, only your support of Our Democracy and Our Constitution. If you belief in those two icons of our Nation, than logically, you can’t come to any other conclusion other than to ride it all out with dignity and statesmanship that the Office of President demands. I know you can do this, if you wish to.

4. Spend less time in Florida. Though I know you probably realize it will be under water in your children’s lifetime, spreading your presence in other parts of the Nation you lead might be worthy of your consideration. And, if you spend time in other parts of the Nation, please be open to other’s opinions and be patient with differing views of thought. Here in New England, we have “Town Meeting” the last bare knuckle form of democracy practiced in the United States of American. In the annual Town Meeting, there is much disagreement, some of it quite heated. However, for the most part, at the end of the meeting, or during it, most towns break for lunch, and come together in a very civil, community, fashion. The reason is simple… we are COMMUNITIES, which means that though we may disagree with each other, this disagreement doesn’t have to be uncivilized or unkind. I have many close friends with whom I vehemently disagree with their positions on many things. However, our common cause is in complete agreement. Plus, I know that even with the disagreement, these friends “have my back” as I have theirs.

5. Let Mrs. Trump loose to pursue more visible, positive programs of her desire. First Lady is a great platform to get a great deal of GOOD THINGS done. Don’t hold anyone back in this capacity, least of all the First Lady

6. Consider a refresher course in American History. This will give you perspective on what has worked in the past, and why. Another old adage your parents and grandparents likely knew if not lived by, is from Philosopher George Santayana…”Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

There is a proper balance between all things Federally managed… a balance between environment and material extraction from it, a balance between security and privacy, a balance between dignified, fair immigration policy and national security, a balance between taxation levels and infrastructure spending needs, a balance between budget and deficit concerns and military spending. Surely, you are familiar with a balance sheet and the basic principals of human dignity. Balance is hard to manage, ask ANY of your living predecessors. However, if you find it, you will be rewarded by more of our citizens recognizing you are trying to fulfill the demands of your position as US President.

In closing, thank you (if you actually read this in person), no matter how unlikely this result would be. The great thing about the United States is that, with a few qualifications, anyone can be voted in as President. You represent the 45th person that has been elected to this solemn position. I would ask you, pursuant to item #6 above, how many of those 45 individuals have made a really positive difference during their tenure? I would follow up that being remembered for making a positive difference would be a good thing. And, quite possibly, something that others could Tweet about.

Respectfully submitted,

Peter Bruce Wilder
Vermonter

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Rules to Live By

The challenge for so many of those committed to religious fundamentalism is that they have a difficult time recognizing that they have knowingly locked themselves into what is really a closed room of intellectual fascism.

I observe that this plays out in the simple manner that,  if they don’t understand another, different position, they don’t respect it.  They have no empathy. Without empathy, they cannot understand a different social position. This plays out in knee jerk, typically hyper-religious judgments that have no factual bearing in the teachings of major Earth-followed prophets.

These fundamentalists are not alone, by a long shot.  It is difficult in a violent world to not have immediate judgement without considering the path that brought individuals to that violence.

It’s a timeless adage, one known in every language on the Planet: “without walking a mile in another person’s shoes, you cannot possibly have the benefit of that fellow human being’s experiences.” This results in a conscious, self-imposed (if not celebrated) ignorance which then develops into a crude justification for extremely harsh views (or worse) of others.

Ignorance remains the root cause for reactions to the many frightening aspects of change… like those who still oppose the practical aspects of Darwin’s findings, for example.

The saddest thing inflicted by self limitation and lack of empathy is that one’s life does not become enriched by the experience of the living (and sharing) of life itself. This leads inevitably toward an unhappy death, a death that is feared because it follows a life unrewarded by the conscious filtering of the simple consideration that there might be another experience (experiences) different than our own…and that that experience has equal validity simply because it is.

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The Ongoing Relationship between Ignorance and Despair

The title of this blog is what creates everything from gang violence to economic upheaval.  The solution is more complicated than extracting a higher percentage of wealth from the rich.  The only solution is education, but there is a hurdle in that many parents seem to not want their children to be smarter, or educated outside of religious or idealistic barriers, or that they don’t want offspring wiser and more experienced than they are or don’t feel their children need to be.

Further, many parents see educated children as “terrifyingly enlightened” and therefore their children are able to make individually informed decisions that are likely to be more informed than the values promoted by their parents and peers.

The “education” in my own candid opinion is best served by teaching within some traditional basic structures (wrote memorization is NOT a bad thing, for example) enhanced by the expansion (or return to) creatives (music and art as mandatory) and physical education (during the school day) as mandatory.  A strong focus on history, but with as many possible viewpoints on history as possible.  The so called STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) curriculum is desperately needed in K-12, as well as college for the simple reason that “… those who do not understand technology and science are doomed to be controlled by those who do. ”

Education on this scale is hardly an easy path, but it is the ONLY path.  A second and major hurdle comes from when the “baby boom” generation dies out, which it surely will do, what then?  A world wide population drop?  Not likely, but there will be a profound population drop in “first world” zones, as statistics are already reporting in many Eurozone countries.  This will likely be the most massive shift in world wealth seen in some time, with fewer recipients of that wealth creating even greater concentration.  And, whether or not those individuals will have any greater sense of civic duty than their parents, grandparents and so forth have shown is debatable.

Interesting fact:  Canada is the one country in the world with the highest percentage of college graduates.  How is this possible?  It’s a short list… secondary education is comparatively inexpensive (by a long shot) and Universal Healthcare has been in place for nearly four decades.  Visit Canada.  See how it feels.  Lots more arts and creative, lots more everything.  Vitality in motion.  Is consensus nearly impossible?  Indeed, but no more so than any New England town meeting.

Alexander De Tocqueville (a classical liberal skeptical of the extremes of democracy) famously said about a young United States in his seminal book, Democracy in America: “…The Americans, on the contrary, are fond of explaining almost all the actions of their lives by the principle of interest rightly understood; they show with complacency how an enlightened regard for themselves constantly prompts them to assist each other, and inclines them willingly to sacrifice a portion of their time and property to the welfare of the state.”

And there it is and so it goes.  Only as a “civilization, social and progressive” can we eradicate the social illnesses of the past and create an imperfect but nearly level playing field.  We need to identify and support exceptional individuals and ideas, but not do so at the expense of crushing the majority.

It seems to me that the Scandinavian countries, no matter how flawed, understand this better than any other nations, with the possible exception of Canada.

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Live in the Now

A preposterously silly film, “Wayne’s World” created years ago by comedians Mike Meyers and Dana Carvey (SNL alums and more) still has many moments of pithy salience, perhaps my favorite being “Live in the now!”

This is hardly a new concept, having several thousand years of Guru based insight underscoring the same advice.  In popular culture, the “living in the moment” idea is distributed from Star Wars (Yoda, naturally) to Psychology Today.

It is a difficult thing, this living in the now.  Perhaps because we are the sum of our memories and those memories cause each of us to have expectations (or designs) upon the future.  The challenge in future planning is to extrapolate a practical balance between hopes/expectations and actual likelihood.

This past week, I listened to an NPR “On Being” rebroadcast of an April interview with New York State Poet Laureate Marie Howe.  

I admit to being fully taken in by Ms. Howe’s practicality, world weary observations, and her choice to seek out the meaning of each moment revealed.  Perhaps this last point is the item to practice fully.  To seek out the meaning and the positive as much as possible.  To turn around the negative into something positive.  Though it is a couched attempt at generating more business, I cannot help but be moved by Insurer Liberty Mutual’s ad campaign, “Responsibility, what’s Your Policy?”.

Seriously, all these things that for many of us used to be a part of public education, weekly religious doctrine, and more seem to have fallen to the sidelines in popular culture.

Good news doesn’t sell.

Ironically, I don’t think it has to.  I do believe, however; that good news should be promoted.

Somewhere in this blog, I have written many things about my own perspective of “wealth”.  Frankly, my family doesn’t see ourselves as wealthy as we struggle against rising expenses across the board, with less income.  However, I have no platform on which to whine or wallow in my own just-beneath-the-surface selfishness.  We are clothed, fed and housed.  We have the tremendous good fortune to have trusted and loving friends, family and neighbors.  We live within a spectacular part of the planet, the State of Vermont.   In fact, I implore you to check out the World Wealth Calculator for your own reality check.

As an unrelated (but perhaps related) aside: some thoughts about “living in the now” and creativity.  Being immersed in creative play and development for my entire life (thank you Mom and Dad) — it is a large part of what I know.

From music to graphical arts to poetry, prose, architectural design and sculpture, I have enjoyed many avenues to express my own muse.  In addition, all of these creative disciplines combined have greatly influenced my contributions to product development, corporate planning, marketing, municipal planning and much more.  To be completely candid, creativity is part of everything I do, every decision I make, from domestic challenges (lawn tractor, bicycle and auto repair and maintenance, to pluming, carpentry and electrical) to personal relationships (how much empathy can you find in relating to another individual’s situation?) .

I have observed in the past 25 years that most humans possess an amazing amount of creativity that they simply don’t choose to exercise.  This is a shame.  Not because of the personal loss of this type of very healthy expression, but because it leads to a society that doesn’t value creativity.  Without creativity, you don’t have creative solutions to challenges.  Where do you think “out-of-the-box” thinking comes from?  Hint: it does not come from memorization of textbooks.  Witness the complete lack of music and art in public schools… where to cut expenses?  Cut the budget for the VERY THING that makes us human… creativity!   It seems outrageous.  You have entire world industries…manufacturers of musical instruments, art supplies and universities, big city symphonies and more wondering why no one is either interested — or prepared — in any of these valuable artistic disciplines!   Look no further than your local school board, folks.  As in the classic POGO cartoon for Earth Day in 1971, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

A further aside:  in my work as a subcontractor to Research and Design groups of very large corporations, I have had the privilege of working with some of the most intelligent, scintillating men and women I may ever meet in this lifetime.  ALL are highly artistic and ridiculously creative.  To say that music, art and creative training from K-Ph.D has no value is complete and utter nonsense.  Humanity’s history isn’t remembered by budget cutting.  It is remembered through its art and architecture.  As my friend Suzanne Roberts often recounts, “Ars longa, vita brevis (Art is long, life is short.)  Taxpayers, please take note.  You can’t have a future without investing in creativity.  Without it, you get Groundhog Day.

Returning to the original premise of this meandering diatribe, ritual and discipline can have a significant, positive effect toward “living in the now”.  Making time for a daily “quiet time”, which you might also call “meditation”, “prayer”,  semantics not withstanding, is a critical order.  Do you have drive time in your work?  Shut off the car audio, mute your cell phone.  Use the time to “be”.   Some of my best ideas have occurred to me during long drives from Vermont to points afar.

For me, mornings are the best.  Mostly because I have to be up with our two aging female dogs.  There’s something about the stillness at dawn I still find remarkable, if not downright miraculous.  My dear friend Linda Stoler advocates dancing, among other many other creative, simple things.  I believe she is absolutely correct.  All of the practices she suggests can add up to reinforcement of being in the moment.

I believe we will be remembered for our individual contributions to each of those who know us.  I believe this is best served when we make a supreme effort to train ourselves to appreciate each and every moment, to “live in the now” in order to value this gift of life—or at the very least to overcome its challenges with as much compassion as we can muster.  It’s a tall order, but one absolutely worth the effort.

On a recent rebroadcast of Christopher Plummer’s performance “Barrymore” one of the lines (paraphrased) is that “…you know you are old when dreams are replaced by regrets.”

May each of us forever be dreamers.

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