So here’s the tragedy about
D R E A M I N G
. . .we only think it’s for the young
that it has an age limit attached to it
that after a certain time, a certain age
it’s no longer viable
a n d
we do little to
DISPROVE IT. . .
Who Cares - What Matters
What would you do?
WHAT DO YOU DO. . . ?
It’s the First Lecture of a brand new semester. . .
The professor enters the lecture hall. He looks around. . .
“You there in the 8th row. Can you tell me your name?” he asks a student.
“My name is Sandra” says a voice.
The professor asks her, “Please leave my lecture hall. I don’t want to see you in my lecture.”
Everyone is quiet. The student is irritated, slowly packs her things and stands up.
“Faster please” she is asked.
She doesn’t dare to say anything and leaves the lecture hall.
The professor keeps looking around.
The participants are scared.
“Why are there laws?” he asks the group.
All quiet. Everyone looks at the others.
“What are laws for?” he asks again.
“Social order” is heard from a row
A student says “To protect a person’s personal rights.”
Another says “So that you can rely on the state.”
The professor is not satisfied.
“Justice” calls out a student.
The professor smiling. She has his attention.
“Thank you very much. Did I behave unfairly towards your classmate earlier?”
“Indeed I did. Why didn’t anyone protest?
Why didn’t any of you try to stop me?
Why didn’t you want to prevent this injustice?” he asks.
Nobody answers. . .
THE SILENCE LITERALLY SHOUTS OUT A BLARING
W H Y ?
“What you just learned you wouldn’t have understood in 1,000 hours of lectures if you hadn’t lived it. You didn’t say anything just because you weren’t affected yourself. This attitude speaks against you and against life. You think as long as it doesn’t concern you, it’s none of your business. I’m telling you, if you don’t say anything today and don’t bring about justice, then one day you too will experience injustice and no one will stand before you. Justice lives through us all. We have to fight for it.”
“In life and at work, we often live next to each other instead of with each other. We console ourselves that the problems of others are none of our business. We go home and are glad that we were spared. But it’s also about standing up for others. Every day an injustice happens in business, in sports or on the tram. Relying on someone to sort it out is not enough. It is our duty to be there for others. Speaking for others when they cannot. . .
We’re all way past asking what would you do. . .
we are right here, right now, showing
WHAT DO YOU DO
(or. . .d o n ‘ t)
Most of us feel like we just need to
and take a moment to process
and some of us do all we can
to make sure we don’t. . .
WHAT SAY YOU
It’s hard to think pleasant thoughts—but a new study suggests a quick way to make it easier. . .
Kira M. Newman of the Greater Good Magazine took an inside peak of dealing with our THOUGHTS, Alone.
Be optimistic. Think happy thoughts. Lots of happiness advice makes it sound as if we could flip a switch and fill our heads with puppies and rainbows—and wouldn’t that be great?
But it turns out that positive thinking isn’t so easy. In an infamous 2014 study where people had 15 minutes to mentally entertain themselves, about 40 percent chose to help pass the time by—no, not meditating—receiving an electric shock.
In fact, a recent study found that only 13 percent of people’s thoughts are positive and inner-directed, and they enjoy those thoughts more when they arise spontaneously. (In other words, they prefer that happy thoughts come naturally rather than putting in the effort to “think positive.”)
Could this process be easier and more enjoyable? It’s not an idle question: According to the researchers behind the new study, if people were better able to generate pleasant thoughts, they might rely less on technology for constant stimulation. It could help those who have trouble falling asleep, or who start pounding the steering wheel in traffic.
The researchers didn’t find a magic switch. But they did discover a simple trick.
Across four studies, more than 250 college undergraduates and 800 online participants started by listing eight topics they’d enjoy thinking about, including memories, fantasies, and things they were looking forward to. People wrote down everything from their wedding day to Valentine’s Day, their family or the summer, eating decadent cake, or living in the World of Warcraft universe.
Next, participants (alone in a room) were instructed to entertain themselves for four to six minutes with thoughts about the topics they had listed. “Your goal should be to have a pleasant experience, as opposed to spending the time focusing on everyday activities or negative things,” the researchers advised.
That was it, except for one small difference: Half of the participants had access to their list of topics, either written on notecards or displayed on a computer screen one by one. The other half didn’t.
Afterward, participants rated how pleasant the activity was (how enjoyable, entertaining, and boring) and how cognitively difficult it was (how hard it was to concentrate, how much their mind wandered, and how much time they devoted to irrelevant topics).
Ultimately, the researchers found that the group who could look at their list of topics found the experience more pleasant and less cognitively demanding. All the participants had made lists in the first part of the experiment, but having access to that “thinking aid” was key.
“Often when we have a few free minutes, we reach for our cell phones to entertain us,” says Erin C. Westgate of the University of Virginia. “But with a little planning ahead of time, we might be able to use our own minds instead.”
She and her co-authors (including Daniel Gilbert of Harvard University) speculate that the list might have made it easier for people to concentrate; to remember their go-to, happiness-boosting topics; or to decide which one to think about when.
After reading this study, I’ve already put up some kind of posters and art work in my little man cave, filled it with images of loved ones, surrounded by my favorite books, with a great sound system and yes, even a nice ECHO that allows me to listen to music that seems to fit my mood or my anxiety at any given time. Those are certainly better than an electric shock!
Dead Poets Society is a wonderful film, obviously filled with a lot of references to English and American poetry. In this scene, John Keating (Robin Williams) teaches his pupils the reason for reading and writing poetry, quoting Whitman’s Leaves of Grass:
O ME! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; Of the endless trains of the faithless—of cities fill’d with the foolish; Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?) Of eyes that vainly crave the light—of the objects mean—of the struggle ever renew’d; Of the poor results of all—of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me; Of the empty and useless years of the rest—with the rest me intertwined; The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?
Answer. That you are here—that life exists, and identity; That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse. . .
AND JUST WHAT IS YOUR VERSE. . . ?
Sometimes I feel
like an unfinished poem
Looking for just the right
word or phrase
Sometimes I feel the most
incomplete without a final punctuation mark
searching for a word
It doesn’t exist or come from me
Oh how you bring what
I don’t possess but desperately need
before the paper blows away
and the ink runs low
or the pencil point breaks
Finish me so we can start
a new verse worthy of the both of us
OH do you have time
for just a little while
out of your busy
and very important day
for the goldfinches
that have gathered
in a field of thistles
for a musical battle,
to see who can sing
the highest note,
or the lowest,
or the most expressive of mirth,
or the most tender?
Their strong, blunt beaks
drink the air
as they strive
not for your sake
and not for mine
and not for the sake of winning
but for sheer delight and gratitude –
believe us, they say,
it is a serious thing
just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in the broken world.
I beg of you,
do not walk by
to attend to this
rather ridiculous performance.
It could mean something.
It could mean everything.
It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote:
You must change your life.
Mary has a way of
that allows a
Who we are
and Who we’ve yet to Recognize
The Who we are now
in a Forest yet to be walked
A Lake yet to be swam
A bird, an animal yet to be
Observed or named
A Universe yet to know
Another Sun’s rays
not yet to be written
even as it ever is being
not so deeply within us
as it rises to surfaces
waiting to support
It was the birthday of best-selling poet Mary Oliver, on September 10; she was born in Maple Heights, Ohio (1935). As a child, she spent most of her time outside, wandering around the woods, reading and writing poems.
Oliver went to college in the ’50s at Ohio State University and Vassar, but dropped out. She made a pilgrimage to visit Edna St. Vincent Millay’s 800-acre estate in Austerlitz, New York. The poet had been dead for several years, but Millay’s sister Norma lived there along with her husband. Mary Oliver and Norma hit it off, and Oliver lived there for years, helping out on the estate, keeping Norma company, and working on her own writing. In 1958, a woman named Molly Malone Cook came to visit Norma while Oliver was there, and the two fell in love. A few years later, they moved together to Provincetown, Massachusetts.
Oliver said: “I was very careful never to take an interesting job. Not an interesting one. I took lots of jobs. But if you have an interesting job you get interested in it. I also began in those years to keep early hours. […] If anybody has a job and starts at 9, there’s no reason why they can’t get up at 4:30 or 5 and write for a couple of hours, and give their employers their second-best effort of the day — which is what I did.”
She published five books of poetry, and still almost no one had heard of her. She doesn’t remember ever having given a reading before 1984, which is the year that she was doing dishes one evening when the phone rang and it was someone calling to tell her that her most recent book, American Primitive (1983), had won the Pulitzer Prize. Suddenly, she was famous. She didn’t really like the fame — she didn’t give many interviews, didn’t want to be in the news. She once wrote in an introduction to a poetry collection, “I have felt all my life that I was wise, and tasteful, too, to speak very little about myself — to deflect the curiosity in the personal self that descends upon writers, especially in this country and at this time, from both casual and avid readers.”
When editors called their house for Oliver, Cook would answer, announce that she was going to get Oliver, fake footsteps, and then get back on the phone and pretend to be the poet — all so that Oliver didn’t have to talk on the phone to strangers, something she did not enjoy. Cook was a photographer, and she was also Oliver’s literary agent. They stayed together for more than 40 years, until Cook’s death in 2005.
Oliver said: “I’ve always wanted to write poems and nothing else. There were times over the years when life was not easy, but if you’re working a few hours a day and you’ve got a good book to read, and you can go outside to the beach and dig for clams, you’re okay.”
Oliver’s books of poems include No Voyage (1963), The River Styx, Ohio, and Other Poems (1972), Twelve Moons (1978), The Leaf and the Cloud (2000), Owls and Other Fantasies (2003), Red Bird (2008), Dog Songs (2013), and Velocity (2015). Her most recent collection, Devotions, comes out in October of this year.
I’ve always been a Mary Oliver fan
but I’ll also admit that I’ve read much more of her
now that she’s dead
than when she was alive
I suppose which not only makes her
not only more Alive
but still doing
what she did the best
(and still is)
S H A R E
As I page
through this Anthology
I often have a rainbow of feelings
as she gently pulls off the scabs
of some of my most tenderest wounds:
The Uses of Sorrow | Mary Oliver
(In my sleep I dreamed this poem)
Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.
No matter what the poem,
Mary has a way of letting us know that
when you need a prayer
notice that nothing all around you
is miraculously short of that
with the worldly unspoken invitation:
WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE A PRAYER
O N E
(The only true prayer you’ll ever need
is the one you are)
T H A T
D A Y
you’ll make a
you’ll be a
you’ll feel a
Being a consistent CARING CATALYST
is a great way to take the
of it all
out of the equation
for you making
for you giving
a great day
for Yourself. . .
But. . .when it comes to social and political issues, many Americans feel hostile toward those they disagree with. Unfortunately, those feelings of contempt can affect our ability to cooperate, keeping us from working together on solutions to the big issues of our day—like our economy, climate change, poverty, and racism.
In this study, Glen Smith of the University of North Georgia analyzed data from surveys in 2020 (prior to the presidential election) and 2021, where over 1,700 participants reported on how strongly they opposed or supported political issues of the day (making college free, legalizing marijuana, imposing higher tariffs on foreign goods, and abolishing the death penalty). For each issue, the participants were also asked if they thought their views could be wrong, if they might be overlooking evidence that contradicts their position, and if they might change their view if presented with additional evidence or information—all questions related to intellectual humility.
Afterward, the participants also reported how they felt about people who had a different viewpoint from theirs on each topic—meaning, how warmly they felt toward opponents and how smart, honest, moral, and open-minded their opponents were.
After analyzing the results, Smith found that those who held more intellectually humble attitudes on a topic viewed opponents in a more positive light—more warmly and as more smart, honest, moral, and open-minded. In fact, their own intellectual humility was a better predictor of their hostility toward others than their own ideology, political party, political knowledge, or strength of their opinion.
This tendency held true even within an individual. If people held more humble views on a specific topic, they were less likely to dislike or dismiss an opponent in comparison to topics where they held more arrogant views. This suggests intellectual humility can be variable and context-specific, which could be a good thing for reducing political animosity.
“When people hold opinions with humility, they feel less hostility toward those who disagree, while the more people think they know about an issue, the less humble they are and the more hostile they are towards other people,” says Smith.
Why would being humbler affect us like this? Smith says that we tend to assign negative qualities in our minds to people who disagree with us—maybe thinking they’re less educated or have a moral defect—which, in turn, makes us dislike those people. But, when we hold some doubt about the rightness of our beliefs, we’re more open to listening to others without feeling hostile just because they see things differently.
“If I’m humble, there’s an implication there that I might be wrong and you might be right. And, if that’s the case, then why would I hate you? It doesn’t make any sense,” he says.
This finding doesn’t necessarily prove that being humbler causes less animosity. To get at that, Smith did an experiment where he tried to increase people’s humility.
In the experiment, 306 participants were asked to rate the strength of pro and con arguments on whether marijuana should be legalized, while told to ignore how they personally felt about the issue. In some cases, people read just one pro and one con argument; in other cases, they read a third argument in which the author expressed uncertainty about the potential effects of legalizing marijuana—saying they didn’t know enough about it—and, because of that, they were afraid of legalizing it.
Afterward, the participants were asked if the arguments they read changed their opinion. They also reported how humble they were around the topic of legalization and how they felt about people who were making arguments against their own position. Smith found that none of the arguments made a big difference in people’s opinions on the topic. But those who read the humbler argument felt more humility than those who read just the pro and con arguments, even though they rated the humble argument as the least convincing. And, as a result of feeling more humility, they also felt less animosity toward opponents.
“Humility doesn’t have to change your mind on the underlying issue, but being exposed to an expression of humility has an independent effect on how you feel,” says Smith. “It can make you both humbler and more accepting of disagreement.”
Perhaps this means that humility can be cultivated in particular contexts—at least to some extent. Nudging people toward expressing less certainty and more humility around their knowledge of sociopolitical topics might lessen other people’s defensiveness, leading to less hostility and more productive conversations.
Of course, Smith’s results don’t necessarily mean that intellectual humility will always be helpful. When it comes to other, more contentious issues—like climate change or abortion rights—it may be harder to encourage people to reconsider their position or listen to the other side without hostility. Nor do the results imply that politicians and others who benefit from increased polarization will be eager to embrace intellectual humility.
But it does provide some hope. By practicing more humility, we can foster more positive dialogue, at the very least, says Smith, and maybe make a dent in political polarization.
“If you can approach arguments by admitting that you don’t know everything, it’s contagious. Other people start to question how much they know and take a less defensive approach,” he says. “If we can become humbler and accept that people disagree with us for good reasons, we can reduce some of the acrimony.”
I know it’s an occupational hazard, getting things others think you might like, enjoy, use because I’m a minister and a chaplain. I’ve received this video dozens of times since it was released 11 years ago, and having been ordained now for a little over 43 years and a hospice chaplain for 29 years, I get asked this one question more than any other: “WHERE WAS GOD AT________________, you can fill in the blank, yourself; at 9/11, when a loved one was dying or going through a most horrendous time, when prayers don’t seem to be answered or can’t even be prayed, WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE. . . ?
And YES, it’s a question we often ask during a tragedy, a sickness, an unanswered prayer, an unmet expectation but rarely during a celebration, an exceeded expectation, a painless, completely beautiful day.
As we remember, and we do, this 22nd anniversary of 9/11, WHERE WERE YOU AT ON that day. . .where are you NOW? The GREAT WHOEVER doesn’t show up in Places; the SHOWING UP comes with People; in them and from
them. . .does the SHOWING UP come with you in the tragic/triumphant and all the seemingly inconsequential unnoticed times in between. . . ?
And now, as we
R E M E M B E R
(Who we are and Who we aren’t)
may I offer you one more special video from one of my favorite poets, Billy Collins
THE GREATEST GRIEF
WHAT WAS NEVER HAD
BUT ALWAYS WANTED. . .
A N D
A N D
A N D
A N D
A N D
A N D
A N D
Ever since his death, all of the pictures and all of the tributes have been nonstop on Facebook, and so many other forms of social media. It’s almost as if he’s bigger than life, and in many ways he is, but in many ways, we don’t realize, so are we!
What we bring to this world continues way after we are gone, even if a name is not attached to it. I am not, and most likely you aren’t either, as famous as Jimmy Buffett, or ever will be, but each and everyone of us brings a song to this life. The world may never recognize it as easily as CHEESEBURGER IN PARADISE or MARGARITAVILLE, but it’s still our’s not just to sing, but to share even with a very few limited but intimate ears. Jimmy, admitted, even in his own band, he wasn’t the best singer or musician, but he knew how to share what he had and share he did, share he still does. THAT is the lesson in itself, and also to grieve that what we have had is still very much what we still have if we but notice it in the new form it has taken.
S H A R E
RINSE AND REPEAT OFTEN
and now if you’ll join me
how about we
CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS UP
and go on a little
E X P L O R A T I O N. . .
It may not all be geometry, but it is something else. . .
I recently stumbled on a brief article written by the professional speaker, Lou Hacker who’s been in the business of speaking/consulting and coaching speakers and business on service for well over 40 plus years now. He started out by saying he had been thinking about Peyton Manning and a tree service professional; he got me thinking about them, too. He related that he had read an interview once with former pro quarterback Peyton Manning where he was asked how he could so quickly spot potential receivers and then fire a forward pass a long way as they ran under it and made the reception. “”It’s all geometry,” was his answer. He said he was able to compute the angle and their speed and put the pass right where he wanted it. This past week there have been a lot of local tree services who have been taking down a lot of trees in the area because of some really bad storms last week in the Northeast Ohio area. I remember asking a guy who once took down several of our trees in the front and the back of our house who climbed the 60-70 feet to begin the process what the secret was to his amazing skills to saw the tree in sections and with the help of his crew, lower them safely to the ground. His response: “It’s all geometry!” WHAT??? I remember almost all of the Math teachers I ever had saying, “You just never know when Math will come in handy later in your life.” I never believed that, mostly because I’ve always had a fairly unhealthy relationship with
Mathematics. . .
I believe each of us has a super power that if discovered and used properly fuels our ultimate success. Crazy as it sounds, I knew from my very early years that I would always be in front of an audience. What made most of my friends quiver and sweat made me feel great — speaking in class, handling the public address systems, reciting a book report, leading youth group sessions, well, that led me to more than 40 years as a professional speaker, keynote speaker, master of ceremonies, wedding and funeral officiant, and workshop leader/teacher. In your field, maybe it’s not some mathematical integers or put bluntly, “all geometry,”
B U T. . .
Do you know what your super power is? More importantly are you nurturing it, growing it and using it to benefit others?
It may not all be geometry, but it is something else which begs me to ask you.
I’m a Math
never quite to be understood
A Geometry with no angles or straight lines
An Algebra without integers
A Calculus without Numbers
A Trigonometry without symbols
And though I don’t often
And often feel Divided
I’m searching for a goodness
that multiplies whatever can never