A SIMPLE QUESTION :
JUST HOW DO YOU USUALLY READ A SITUATION. . .
FROM THE TOP
D O W N
FROM THE DOWN
s i m p l e
A N S W E R. . .
Who Cares - What Matters
A SIMPLE QUESTION :
JUST HOW DO YOU USUALLY READ A SITUATION. . .
FROM THE TOP
D O W N
FROM THE DOWN
s i m p l e
A N S W E R. . .
It’s the last scene from the movie and it’s packed with wisdom, emotion and lots of life lessons
. . .ALL WHICH MEAN NOTHING
unless they are not so much
or even EXPERIENCED
so much as intimately and intentionally
A P P L I E D
(c o n t i n u o u s l y)
The quick synopsis
will tell you the
movie is about
College sweethearts Will and Abby who fall in love, get married and prepare to bring their first child into the world. As their story unfolds in New York, fate links them to a group of people in Seville, Spain, including a troubled young woman, a man and his granddaughter, a wealthy landowner and a plantation manager.
EVEN US. . .
It’s more than about
Love and Loss
Winning and Losing
Coming’s and Going’s
so much as how
we are more
i n t e r c o n n e c t e d
but ever proving
IT’S NOT SO MUCH AS SMALL WORLD
AS A BIG LIVING ROOM
and my thread
or your thread
are a part of the of the a
T A P E S T R Y
we each belong. . .
WE ARE CHAPTERS
in the Book
that just doesn’t merely tell our Story
but allows it to be experienced
not yet here
is the only
there is and ever
will be. . .
WHO DOESN’T LIKE BEING GIFTED. . .
especially when it’s unexpected
. . .it’s like getting a two sunrises in the same morning
a gift within the gift. . .
There are some gifts that are just too big to ever be wrapped; there are some gifts that when received, never have to be opened or unwrapped because they’re that much a part of you already.
Do you have such a gift?
Have you given such a gift?
Kelly, a good friend of mine recently suffered the death of her mom a few months ago and because it was quite suddenly, it’s a different kind of grief that she’s had to be bearing and wearing on herself. Living in Arizona and dealing with the fallout of her mother’s death back here in Ohio has put an added burden upon her, and yet, in many ways has helped her deal with grief in a much different and a much deeper way than she could’ve never had in any other way.
Is grief that gift that’s too big it can’t find wrapping?
If grief is a gift at all, it’s one we usually don’t want to accept or certainly give, and never have to be on the receiving end of. But then again, grief is a great reminder of what it is, that’s on a cellular level, very much a part of us; even more real than the words you’re reading, or the actual breath you just took without noticing (again).
Kelly has come back and packed up her moms house and gave away most of her mothers possessions to friends and other family that she thought might appreciate those gifts the most. She’s donated the rest to the Salvation Army so that those that never knew her mother still may be beneficiaries of the gifts that have been left behind and now forwarded.
I am the recipient of one of those gifts.
It was a picture that hung in her mothers ‘s dining room.
I never met Kelly’s mom, but I sure have known Kelly for long enough to know that some of the things that have made Kelly, well Kelly, are literally impossible without her mother. DNA and genetics for sure guarantee that, but then there’s that gift that can’t be wrapped only given and received that truly makes us who we are and more, ever becoming MORE OF. . .
Grief is a terrible thing to ever have to experience. We often don’t recognize it and we don’t volunteer for it, but at its best and deepest, it is the truest reflection of the love that we have and only really deepens and expands and never vanishes. THAT’S GRIEF. Not the tears. Not the ‘how comes’. Not the ‘why’s’ or the ‘what for’s’. The grief that often brings the saltiest tears, those tears never exist nor does the sense of loss, that deep sadness ever, unless there’s a love much deeper than all those things put together that even make those tears even possible.
So what’s your gift?
What is it, that someone will pass on to another, perhaps you’ve never even met before, that might benefit from the fact that you even existed? What is the I T in you that’s so big, you can never wrap, but once given, never has to be. . . ?
So that Others
can be beneficiaries of your
N O W
and not so much your
T H E N
OUR FRIEND tells the inspiring and extraordinary true story of the Teague family—journalist Matt (Casey Affleck), his vibrant wife Nicole (Dakota Johnson) and their two young daughters—and how their lives are upended by Nicole’s heartbreaking diagnosis of terminal cancer. As Matt’s responsibilities as caretaker and parent become increasingly overwhelming, the couple’s best friend Dane Faucheux (Jason Segel) offers to come and help out. As Dane puts his life on hold to stay with his friends, the impact of this life altering decision proves greater and more profound than anyone could have imagined. . .
S H O C K E R!!!!
I love the
Kind of movies
but the ones that require the most tissues
are the ones who remind me
not who I could be,
b u t
WHO I COULD BE MORE OF
(KIND OF LIKE)
The best kind of a movie based on a true story is the
THE ONE YOU’RE STILL MAKING. . .
QUIET ON THE SET.
THAT’S A (ongoing) WRAP
It’s time to be WHO YOU ARE for another,
not who you were
or who you’re going to be
but just simply,
beautifully who you are:
A Caring Catalyst
May I live this day
Compassionate of heart,
Clear in word,
Gracious in awareness,
Courageous in thought,
Generous in love.
Excerpt from ‘Matins’ in his books, Benedictus (Europe) /
To Bless the Space Between Us (US)
Stained for good
Jagged uneven pieces
Discarded for garbage
Hardly pieces of art
Until the Light
Explodes me instantaneously
To a panoramic brilliance of beams
That eyes can only merely see
But souls understand
STAINED FOR GOOD
that even a space
that once held a tinged altarpiece
still lets in Light
Can it be this simple. . .
a lot in common. . .
But we don’t always notice it
. . .Wonder
if we did;
it might not only mean that we see things differently
but even live better in other ways. . .
m a y b e
R I S K
D A R E
knowing. . .
Your face in the mirror
is always a reflection of someone else. . .
until you see that
you’ll never really ever see yourself
A B S U R D
A VALENTINE’S DAY CHRISTMAS TREE
o r. . .
A Reality we should all be making true
not EVERY once in a while but
EVERY DAY. . .
Here’s to Valentine’s Day
never being just a day and
YOU PROVING IT. . .
if you want to be a part of
making the UN-REAL,
then you’ll enjoy these stories Sara Aridi, a staff editor on the Home team, where she produces the home screen and mobile app. She joined The Times in 2016.
Ahead of Valentine’s Day, and now way past it, we asked readers to share moments when they stumbled upon acts of affection. Here are some of their stories.
Has this happened to you? You’re going about your day, minding your business. Then you suddenly spot a caring interaction that lifts your spirits, like a couple embracing or a stranger lending a hand to another.
These days, the world could use a pick-me-up. Ahead of Valentine’s Day, we asked readers to share when they unexpectedly witnessed an act of love or kindness. More than 100 readers wrote in with stories of affection, from years ago or just recently. Here are a select few, edited and condensed for clarity.
I’ve been walking in my local park more often. My heart has been moved by two friends who meet every morning. They are male and likely in their mid-80s. They arrive separately, each with coffee and a Dunkin’ Donuts bag. They sit on adjoining benches, six feet apart. One doesn’t start his coffee until the other is there. They aren’t particularly talkative with others in the park — I’ve tried. Their focus is on one another.
— Grace E. Curley, Boston
My 90-pound Bernese mountain dog, Lilly, has a neurological problem that makes her fall down. This causes her great distress. My golden retriever, Katie, came over to Lilly this morning after she had fallen, and licked her on the lips. Then she took a nap and snuggled against her canine sister.
— Penny Nemzer, Greenwich, Conn.
After months of staying at home, my 2-year-old son was not excited to be around strangers. That changed when he started day care. One of the first friends he made was Dennis, a construction worker who works near his school. Dennis often gives a high-five and a fist bump before my son lists all the new words he’s learned. He looks forward to this interaction every day, and Dennis never disappoints: He is always there with a big, welcoming smile.
— Smita Jayaram, Jersey City, N.J.
As the morning bell rings, one of my Grade 3 students would enter the school lobby holding his younger brother’s hand. My student would carefully help his brother remove his mittens and unzip his jacket. Then he would tenderly kiss the top of his head before they split up for their own classrooms. Such a loving and responsible gesture.
— Sheila Bean, Calgary, Alberta
Riding the bus years ago, I noticed a young man suddenly stiffen and slide sideways from his seat, stricken with a seizure. The passengers grew silent. We were concerned, flustered. The driver radioed for help and pulled over. Then a woman sat on the floor beside the young man. Humming quietly, she began stroking his hands. We all got off the bus, but the woman and boy stayed together. Her hum became a quiet song as they waited for his spasms to end.
— Tracy Huddleson, Garden Valley, Calif.
I have a balance problem after an operation on a brain aneurysm affected my ability to do certain things like bending or looking sideways. One day while walking with a stick through the city, I realized that my shoelace was undone. I just kept walking. Suddenly a young woman stopped. “Hey,” she said, “your shoelace is undone. Here, let me do it up in case you trip.” She tied the shoelace, smiled and walked on.
— Carol Lange, Oxford, England
I was 6 years old and spending the night at my grandparents’. While I was sitting on the porch, a couple walked past. The man reached down and plucked one of my grandmother’s tulips out of the garden and gave it to his lady love. I was outraged and ran into the house, yelling that someone had “stolen” one of my grandmother’s flowers. She calmed me down, held my hand and said, “That’s what flowers are for.”
— Clare Poth, Buffalo
I was walking to the post office. An older, masked couple walked slowly on the other side of the street. During the pandemic, people walk fast, avoid contact and try to get their things done quickly. For a moment, the couple stopped. They kissed through their masks and continued walking. It gave me some hope, that even in these times, love and human connection prevail.
— Susi Reichenbach, Brussels
We were at the beach on Martha’s Vineyard. The sun was bright coral and hanging over the horizon. Just as it was about to set, there was a commotion a few yards in front of us. A young man had just proposed to his partner, and everyone around them just turned to watch them take the first step into their new lives.
— Harriet Bernstein, West Tisbury, Mass.
When I was little, my parents and I flew to Seattle often to visit their friends. Once, while at the airport, I saw what I presumed to be a husband and wife embrace, kiss and tearfully say goodbye. That surprised me. My parents had just divorced and had never been overly affectionate. I think about that couple often.
— Margaret Anne Doran, Charlottesville, Va.
I was standing in a crowded subway train, facing a woman who was sitting. I was going through a terrible week. I was exhausted and overcome with emotion. All of a sudden, I started to cry. It almost didn’t occur to me that anyone could see me. But the seated woman did, and she handed me a tissue without saying anything except for giving me a comforting, knowing look.
— Nicole Shaub, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn
My mother often traveled for work when I was in high school. She could be away for weeks at a time. During one of her trips, I wandered into my parents’ room. My father was smelling one of her scarves. Blushingly, he put it down and said, “I was just missing your mother.”
— Sarah Hughes, Rockville, Md.
While I was driving, something up ahead brought everyone to a standstill. There was restlessness and frustrated honking. But when the cars in front of me moved into the next lane, I saw that a woman in one car was repeatedly stopping, getting out, grabbing brown-bag lunches and distributing them to the many homeless people on the side of the road. She offered them conversation, care and warmth, and seemed not to care about the frazzled drivers behind her.
— Sam Alviani, Denver
Several years ago, I was walking in the East Village when a biker got clipped by a car. The biker was hurt and bleeding, and the car drove away. Within seconds, dozens of New Yorkers sprang into action. Several people ran down the street to note the car’s license plate number. A ring of people surrounded the biker to administer first aid, ripping off sweatshirts to stanch the bleeding. In under two minutes, ambulances and police cars had arrived on the scene. There was not a second of chaos. It was a beautiful ballet of competence and confidence. New Yorkers care for each other.
— Elizabeth Brus, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn
We’re back in school, and we’re at choir rehearsal. Scrupulously adhering to guidelines, my students are singing outdoors, in masks, 10 feet apart. It’s January in New England, 34 degrees and overcast with an icy breeze.
Two high school senior boys, young men now, members of the choir I direct, inseparable since forever and never silent in rehearsal until Zoom muted them, chatted and laughed and danced together unselfconsciously between singing verses of “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”
They look like there’s nowhere in the world they would rather be.
— Scott Halligan, Longmeadow, Mass.
As I was headed to the drugstore, a high school-aged boy walked out carrying a bouquet of yellow daffodils. Someone yelled from across the street: “Are you looking to get lucky?” He answered: “No, I think I’m in love!” This happened probably 40 years ago, and I still think about it.
— Sallie Wolf, Oak Park, Ill.
If you’re looking for
L o V e
as a certain Shape, Texture, or Color
you risk missing it–
D O N ‘ T. . .
Every time Love comes showing up
all full bloom and neatly arranged
It has a not so pretty side
that shows off all of the flaws
and the scars
that almost makes you forget
the other side. . .
LOVE AT ITS BEST
ain’t all that pretty or proper
but nonetheless powerful. . .
will remind you
it’s not for the weak of heart
but for the Hearts of the Weak. . .
and what makes it as palpable as a heart beat
and more necessary than your next breath
is that it always answers
Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. . .
that’s not only when it gets good
it’s what makes
( PROVE IT )
UK’s John Lewis is Master
every year when it comes to
and what makes this even better
is that it’s a mere
a l t e r n a t i v e
and aren’t we humbled beneficiaries
because of it. . .
Of course it doesn’t hurt
to have a most awesome
THIS IS OUR HOME
Ben and Andy. . .
which prompts us to
ARE WE EVER SO BLIND WHEN WE CAN ACTUALLY SEE
(but not exactly sure what we’re looking at)
There’s a reason
we have entered into the
SEASON OF LIGHT
especially since the darkness is getting longer
especially since the ever-so-long-pandemic
is ever so-long-from-ending
especially since the more
we see the less we notice
. . .It’s a question
asked every year when we come to this
S E A S O N:
WILL IT BE DIFFERENT THIS YEAR?
The Answer always sways on just one integer
Y O U
It really never matters
You bring Your LIGHT
to any darkened situation. . .
. . .and bring your-blind-but-now-can-see-better-Self
h o m e
Wait. . .
W H A T. . . ?
IS IT OVER?
Almost feels like we are a scared
who’s way too scared or shy
to stick his head out
of his hiding place
to see his shadow
o n e. . .
but can it be a time
N O W
that we can
and be a
or in a revolutionary
Jill Suttie, a journalist who writes for GREATER GOOD MAGAZINE,
shares with us
Many Americans worry about the political divide tearing our country apart. A large percentage are unwilling to engage with people who have opposing political views, and that’s creating more animosity.
This is especially worrying considering how many crises we’re facing—a pandemic, racial injustice, climate degradation—that require cooperation, trust, and solutions a diverse citizenry can get behind. How can we find a way across our divide and come together for common cause?
Jill and her colleagues at Greater Good, have been studying and writing about various ways to bridge divides, putting together tools to help people connect. But there may be one key character trait that’s necessary for applying those tools in a constructive way: humility.
“Humility is a kind of a master virtue that can pull along other virtues if people develop it,” says humility researcher Everett Worthington.
Humility, as Worthington defines it, is multifaceted, involving an awareness of our personal strengths and weaknesses, as well as a willingness to acknowledge those weaknesses while working to improve upon them. It requires presenting ourselves in modest ways, while caring about the well-being of those around us.
A growing body of research shows that being humble may be useful in bridging political differences. That’s because humility helps people let go of defensiveness, take in information that challenges their political views, and see the humanity in people on the other side of the political spectrum. Though it’s not always easy to embrace—especially for those who wrongfully equate it with weakness or a lack of conviction—humility may be what we desperately need right now in the United States.
Considering the research on perception, it’s pretty clear that, when it comes to understanding others, we all have weaknesses that could use improving.
Research suggests we are not always very good at understanding what another person is thinking or feeling, even when trying to “put ourselves in their shoes.” Often, we are better off simply asking people about their experience and being open to listening than trying to second-guess anyone.
Cognitive biases may be partly to blame. For example, the fundamental attribution error—attributing others’ actions to their fixed character traits rather than considering what outside forces contributed to their behavior—can make us misjudge others or believe they “get what they deserve.” This can explain why we label a colleague who falls behind at work “lazy” or “incompetent,” instead of realizing they may be managing difficult issues at home or have too many assignments—or why, when we see people fail to evacuate during a disaster, we call them “stubborn,” even though they didn’t have the means to escape to safer ground.
Our brains often trick us into seeing only what we already believe, too. For example, one study showed that people assigned to watch a demonstration reported different levels of protester violence depending on whether they agreed with the cause being protested. They literally could not see the same events in the same way.
Research has found that people often mistake how large differences are between people without noticing their commonalities. For example, people in different political parties tend to misjudge how far apart they are in terms of their beliefs and hopes for the country. This can create a lot of antipathy, which makes it hard to come together.
As a new book, Perception, explains, many unconscious factors affect how we feel, think, and make decisions, including our personal energy levels, physical abilities, moods, the company we keep, and more. That means we can’t always trust ourselves to see others (or even the world around us) clearly. Seeing our limitations is a good first step in recognizing the need for humility.
It makes sense that knowing we don’t own the corner on truth could help us bridge our differences, lessening our intolerance for diverse opinions and antipathy toward people on the “other side.” And scientific evidence bears this out.
In a study conducted by Elizabeth Krumrei-Mancuso and Brian Newman, participants noted their political affiliation and filled out a questionnaire measuring their intellectual humility around sociopolitical situations (recognizing their limited knowledge around issues like immigration and gun control). Then, they reported how warmly they felt toward Republicans, Democrats, Christians, and Muslims. Those who had higher levels of humility reported feeling warmer toward those who were politically or religiously different from themselves, regardless of political affiliation or religion.
“People that have more humility treat people that disagree with them in better ways and have less animosity toward them,” says Newman.
Why would that be? Newman believes humble people are more likely to think an opponent could know something they don’t know or have experienced something they haven’t experienced. People with less humility, he adds, would consider people who disagree with them to be suspect, unintelligent, or morally deficient—not endearing qualities.
“How I see the infallibility of my own position (and, by implication, an opposing position) determines how willing I am to demonize people that are on the other side,” says Newman.
In a second part of their study, Newman and Krumrei-Mancuso had half of the participants fill out a questionnaire that measured their intellectual humility around the topic of immigration and crime (priming them to consider the limits of their knowledge). Then, all participants were asked how much they agreed with the statement, “In general, immigrants are more likely to commit crimes than those born in the U.S.”
Then, after getting factual information about the topic, half of the people in both the primed and unprimed groups were told they’d be writing an argument for or against the statement about immigrants and crime. The researchers told the other halves of both groups to defend their current position, so they could focus more on evidence that supported it.
Once participants read the information (which explained that, while there is some disagreement among experts, most evidence shows immigrants do not commit more crimes), participants again reported on how much they agreed with the statement. Those who were high in humility and primed to think about it were willing to reconsider the strength of their position when presented with the facts.
“People high in intellectual humility are going to pay more attention to the reasons for their views,” says Newman. “That means they are going to notice the limits of their knowledge and the limits of the evidence in favor of their position, and be more receptive to new information.”
These findings mirror those of Tenelle Porter and her colleagues, who also found a connection between having more intellectual humility and being open to opposing views. In that study, believing in a “growth mindset” around intelligence—that people aren’t naturally intelligent, but can grow in learning through trial and error—was what led to increased intellectual humility, suggesting that adapting a growth mindset could indirectly affect how accepting we are of other views.
According to psychologist Joshua Hook, humility can help bridge differences even when people have strong convictions around their beliefs. In one study, he and his colleagues measured intellectual humility in religious leaders and found that those with higher levels of humility had much more tolerance for religious differences in others than those without humility—regardless of how religious they were or whether they reported being politically conservative or liberal.
“If you have an awareness of the limitations of your own beliefs and how they came to you, maybe you are more in tune with the idea that you don’t have the corner on the truth,” says Hook.
Even though you might expect that religious leaders surrounded by family and friends of varying faiths would be more tolerant of diverse religions, Hook’s findings didn’t support that. Instead, having more religious diversity in one’s social group only led to more tolerance if someone was also high in intellectual humility.
“It depends on whether or not someone is open for their interactions with people who are different from them that leads to religious tolerance or not,” he says.
If that’s true, maybe we need to find ways to increase humility in ourselves and in others. Though the research on how to induce humble states in ourselves is young, there is some evidence that it can be done.
Worthington and his team have developed a do-it-yourself workbook to teach humility that has shown promise. Through various exercises offered in the workbook, people can learn more about what humility is and isn’t, use self-reflections and inspirational stories to examine humility in themselves, and engage in practicing humility in their own lives, among other lessons.
The workbook has been tested in randomized controlled trials, along with other workbooks designed to teach forgiveness, patience, or self-control, or to improve mood. In one study, people who completed the humility workbook were found not only to be humbler according to their own report, but also scored higher in forgiveness and patience—and they had fewer negative moods.
Unfortunately, Worthington had to suspend a large-scale study of humility and civility when COVID hit. However, he’s hopeful that teaching humility could improve political dialogue, as other research has shown that it improves interpersonal interactions in other situations.
Of course, political conversations may be harder to keep civil than other conversations, where there may be more goodwill present. Still, at least one recent study showed that when people are seen as having more intellectual humility, they may help foster better conversations with people who disagree with them on politically charged subjects like the death penalty, affirmative action, physician-assisted suicide, and genetically modified food.
Worthington says there are good reasons to expect more politically humble people to have civil conversations and so bridge divides—even if they are the only ones being humble in a conversation or even if they have very firm convictions. That’s because humbler people don’t need to denigrate others’ arguments or denigrate them as people, which helps reduce defensiveness and opens up the possibility of better engagement with one another.
“Anybody who’s doing their best to be respectful is going to end up having a more positive interaction than someone calling each other names or being verbally aggressive,” he says. “The more politically humble people are able, the more able they are to have civil conversations about political differences, even if they disagree.”
could make for a
that could literally forever change
the geographical landscape
(of a new beginning)
is fine. . .
one of my go to movies
because this is
ONE OF MY
GO TO SCENES
of all time. . .
I’ve used it in
with the question of
WHO ARE YOU. . .
WHY ARE YOU HERE?
( N O W )
because the answer is ever-changing, right?
Who we were as a child at the end of the hand of a parent
IS A MUCH DIFFERENT PERSON
of the parent the child grows into
at the end of the hand of a child. . .
The Movie came out in September, 1998 and it doesn’t share the title of the book by John Irving because at his request he wanted the title changed because he didn’t believe that his novel could successfully be made into a film. . .
Irving’s book, was his 7th novel (WORTH THE READ) was published in 1989. And both, the book and the movie hover around the
OUR PLAN. . .
which brings us to
who’s never afraid to ask the tough questions
and lives much taller
than the dwarf he is
is in trouble for causing a huge ruckus
at the Christmas Eve Pageant
and just wants confirmed
what he believes
but no one looking at him
THAT HE IS AN INSTRUMENT
THAT HE HAS A PURPOSE
THAT HE HAS A MEANING
THAT HE HAS A DESTINY
THAT HE HAS A REASON
for living. . .
and when the Episcopal Priest
has an opportunity to affirm him
TO AFFIRM US
he doesn’t by answering
to the immortal question
“I want to know that there’s a reason for things;
I use to be certain, but now I’m not so sure. . .
I want you to tell me that
GOD HAS A PLAN FOR ME;
A PLAN FOR ALL OF US ?”
in all of us
are capable of answering
the PURPOSES ARE MULTIPLE
. . .tell me,
share with me
October 12, 2020
(ESPECIALLY NOW IN 2020)
so we can
c a r i n g l y
happen for each other. . .