In the desert…


There’s a crescent moon rising now halfway up the prayer tower. There’s a cooler quality to the dry desert air and all of the “sand” colors have been muted into invisibility by the dark velvet of night… the twinkling of lights here and there bringing the firmament up close and personal to the senses and everywhere, the din of Farsi mixed with Russian, French, Spanish and other versions of chattering, all blend into a white-noise language unique to the Middle-East.

Surrounded by every size and shape of slick European cars, the sight of a Volkswagen becomes an incomprehensible absurdity as seen through the exquisite dark eyes of imagined beautiful Arab women bent on impacting this world so different and juxtaposed to all else known.

Another long day comes to a close… and with it, the realization that I left shoes at a stall elsewhere in the city. The shoeshine man is from Cameron and over the course of these past few days we’ve disagreed on football superstars, agreed on the fine qualities of Portuguese creole cuisine and his shoeshine skills, solved a fair bit of a number of Middle-East crisis and have become friends.

No doubt my shoes are safe and having their own adventure with other Arab footwear on this magical night. Looking forward to learning all about such adventures in the morning when I’ll make may way back to retrieve them.

One of the doormen to this grand paradise hotel I’m in is named Birry… he is from Kenya. He opened the foreign car door and eased me into the fine scented leather interior for my ride to the office this morning and he opened the door and eased me out when I returned tonight; Birry ‘s pulling over a 12 hour shift so far, spanning temps from 30 to 45 degree C. whilst wearing a long formal coat over a crisp white shirt and black trousers. Birry is slowly cooking day after day with the most amazing bright smile that some of us would pay thousands to get our own choppers to resemble.

Over the past few days, we’ve discussed and came to an agreement on what the ideal uniform for his function ought to be… we’ve had a few laughs over this.

Bisel greets everyone by our correct last name at the Italian restaurant I seem to gravitate to now and then… she is from the Philippines and smiles a lot when she talks about “home” yet, she quickly reminds me about how fortunate she is to be able to stand and greet people 12+ hours day-in and day-out six days per week, in this very large and pleasantly cool marble carved lobby. She taught me a trick she does with her feet and legs to fool them into not cramping.

Her amazing mind shames me for not remembering to pick up my shoes, her smile and attitude teaches me to be thankful… She too is etched into this experience.

Then there is “L”, she is tall and slim, a uniquely pretty Eastern European woman who followed her Eastern European lover from London to here hoping to have a life with him… alas, it didn’t work out as he left and never came back on the second day of arriving; which she claims these things happen for the best; as she wraps the Juicy Couture hoodies I bought as a gift for the girls. She too touched me and, as we wished each other well before leaving the store, I think we both knew we would remember the connection.

Outside, tall and proud Arab men in their long white thobe’s are everywhere, walking in pairs whilst fingering prayer beads or the silk ropes draped over their chests, they generally keep to themselves… but invariably they look at me; dressed in my Ermenegildo Zegna dark suit, crisp white shirt and gold tie, often say; ” As-Salāmu `Alaykum “… this is a thrill and I dare not say anything choosing instead to smile and sometimes offer a polite semi-bow; for fear of shattering their illusion that I belong… my innocent play reinforcing how remarkably alike we all are in spite of our externally perceived differences.

Easy for me to imagine this place with no buildings; nothing but sand and sky void of all further choreography, to “see” those that walk erect on two legs within it take on a different scale; becoming giants – anomalies – the focal point for all action and life itself. Perceived in this manner, it is easier to grasp the natural Arab ethos that to the outside world may seem like pride and aloofness.

Therein lies the fundamental misunderstanding – the rat hole – most Westerners get lost in me thinks… because we simply have never been part of the great womblike void this mother-desert is, we’ve never been that prominent nor the focus of our own selves… we’ve always had background choreography to replace the need for that stark self-awareness.

It is so spirit expanding and good to be an accidental stand-in on such a complex play.

In the Land of the Blind


.
In the presence of so many blessings
there is deep regret
for blinding foolishness…
erroneous beliefs of permanence;

that all will remain as so manifested…

A continuum; definitions
of cause and effect
luring unsuspecting spirits
into ease.

But all is fluid, one discovers
upon awakening.
Such blessings are jewels to be
admired and treasured…

on the moment, forevermore

Gifts; precious and
of immense importance.
Presents,
in spite of our slumbering state.

For blessings
shower upon us all, within
every unquestioned breath
a gift.    Yet…

these things filter through; distorted
as happy coincidences, or
part of a natural order… or
the result of self-efforts

and thus, beyond our ability
to truly grasp their worth…
yet so full of ourselves
we are.

Regrets yes; over such
missed opportunities
to appreciate and fully see,
these remain…

now vivid, clear and stark
all the more…
the wistful regret of slumber
within a awakened state of awareness.

What shall I say…?

Child do not your heart
shield, from the wonders
you’ll find as your eyes open
and your body moves

in such wondrous first light…

Feel them…
as loving kisses; powerful,
sustainable well beyond
the day’s adventures.

Loose not yourself;
too valuable and
brilliant you are… mistrust
and question the blind’s directions.

Be the Cyclops…!

Lindenhof…


There are bits imbedded within our human-ness that wait… dormant-like, for a clue or a scent to trigger the opening to something that is deep and meaningful; the warmth of comfort… of being where one’s subconscious syncs to (at a most intimate level), as familiar and safe.

“Home” as a concept, lies in the depths of such comfort.

This can be disconcerting for roamers such as me, who have grown to know home as where one happens to be. Thus, such experienced warmth and comfort is the more surprising when it awakens deep desires within of permanence and intimate connections which are strange and foreign to our otherwise practical truths.

A longing for conditions one imagines; the ease between self and the newness of such spontaneous urban settings, the smile of strangers perceived so powerfully positive they effectively override our adopted reality with such present moment’s perfection.

Words and images struggle to relate the experience… how may one capture the melodic chirping of fleeting birds weaved through fragrant rustling leaves and the playful giggles of little people all around a couple; so intertwined into a long lustful kiss they meld with the background… now part of the permanence of stone, brick and mortar unfazed by time and sense of space?

Such as experienced on a recent walkabout in Zurich… touched by the dynamism and beauty of the place and its people.

Father’s Day – 2011


My Father and Me…

He was tall, strong, always kind and bigger than life to me – his son; someone he would break his bearing for, to lean over and welcome me into his “space”…

…Which of course I always looked forward to; from as young as I can remember to an early evening in my early 20’s when we unknowingly exchanged our last hug… he died a few hours later, for his fragrance and essence never changed nor waned from my memory over time.

Through all these years since his passing; as I’ve argued, rebelled, mourned, finally settled on the event and just plainly missed him, I find myself returning to those memories for comfort and reprieve, always reaching the same conclusion; that he is my champion and my “hero” still… to hell with the undeniable physics of matter, space and time…

… For that which is vibrant in one’s heart, mind and spirit truly is “real” in a most powerful way; so it is still between my father and me.

His presence remains through powerful memorable moments such as; tagging along for an evening gathering with his friends and invariably dozing-off on his lap – head leaning on his strong chest, small hands holding on to his large thumb – whilst they chatted away or listened to one of his friend’s piano rendition of a Chopin sonata… the safety of his arms combining with his fragrance and the languid melodic sound, told me all was well with our world… the memory does so still.

Whether holding me as a kid and much later, finally relenting and letting me go start my own adventures, my father exemplified rather than spoke the constancy and power of his love for me; the first son of the first son… an unbreakable link regardless of circumstances.

As far as I can tell, my father lived his life as a constant; with authenticity and balance between who he was as an individual; the elder sibling within a long-established clan, the steady head of our family, the creative professional, the wise leader and as my father. Growing-up, he embodied and demonstrated all I eventually determined to be wholesome, bold and desirable for myself… a personal ethos worthwhile striving to mimic and achieve.

This Father’s Day, several decades and much life later, I find that I’m still actively working on understanding and practicing his essence; to reach parity with his deeply rooted baseline – let alone surpass it – as I had aimed to achieve back when I ventured-out on my own.

So you see Dad, albeit everything is different from what you and I thought and knew back when we were together, nothing has changed between you and me. Your essence reaches and holds me still when there’s need for your inspiration, wisdom and love, and you are loved back unequivocally, with a quality and will that perhaps would not have been possible to feel or manifest had we remained within our physicality; the connection’s strength and trueness somewhat diluted by mundane events and circumstances.

I celebrate your name, your life and your memory father, may you rest in peace and know you are loved well.

* Published in the Good Men Project: “Between My Father and Me

Because they said so…


We can all think of several authors and other sources of “wisdom” focused on distilling complex situations and ideas into catchy headline statements; simplistic and easy for all to remember. Such is the case with one that I recently came across proposing… “Pissed-Off People Are The Single Best Source Of Innovative Ideas”.

The good news is that; blended within the bold graphics and bolder bullet point statements, one can sometimes find jewels of sound logic and truths to be discovered and extracted if one is willing to think-through them and probe. The worry however, is that some may take these headlines at face-value and thus, miss the subtle truths (if any) that may have been intended and/or buried within them.

In the case above, the proposition may make a good headline but it simply isn’t factual or logical. Listening to “Pissed off” (PO’d) people may be a good and fast way to “get the drift” on a topic this person obviously “rants” for attention, but that doesn’t mean such topic is worth half of the commotion it raises… this PO’d person may be an idiot, or someone who likes to find fault with most things and forcefully complain about them… this is a far-cry from such condition being “the single best source of innovative ideas” me thinks.

Frustration and anger (expressed and otherwise) can be powerful motivators to change any status-quo, but so can altruism and community, intellect and responsible values; as well as many other conditions and choices nowadays… which may or may not lead to one getting PO’d, which may or may not lead to anything else.

Ideas – let alone innovative thinking – deserve better than this. They fit and squarely belong within the realm of our curious human nature and ingenuity… as ably inspired by the blossoming of a blade of grass as by one thousand raised voices.

To be fair, perhaps the author meant that it is necessary to reach a PO’d state in-order to truly explore new directions. Perhaps he believes that such anger is the byproduct of being convicted about a solution and as such, should be regarded as a positive force for change. Maybe the author meant to express that apathy is creativity’s own sedative and anger its natural antidote; the result of one’s amplified understanding of what is wrong… thus, a natural trigger for action to make it right. That maybe a PO’d state is a necessary agent for creative innovation to happen… (Such interpretations as offered by several colleagues (1) discussing the topic.)

Two people in a heated argument...

Image via Wikipedia

But we truly don’t know this from either the catchy headline or the body of the material and can only speculate about what the author meant, or accept the statement as is because they said so.

Whilst it is true that humans were not designed to flat-line our emotions; that there is benefit in expressing and getting to know such emotions and their source intimately so that we may decide what is valuable to explore and further pursue and what is not… most often, what generates anything “innovative”, is this process of facing, admiring and exploring such strong swings within ourselves first, which will most often bring our minds and spirits into a more calm, balanced and creative analysis state.

When that happens… people, as well as our selves, will be generally more receptive to listen and actually act on such considered change.

Our mind, spirit and the quality of our conversations are “the source”; all that has ever been needed to bring our species from cave-dwellers to cosmic travellers within a relative blink of an eye. No one’s statement (inclusive of this monologue) should be accepted as definitive or replace our individual responsibility to think, reason and decide what is right for ourselves.

This I believe…

(1) – Lene, Frank, Steve, Colleen, Vlad and Tina

On Age and Usefulness…


Beyond Stereotypes

Social demographic studies show – for all of the improvements and advances achieved over time and still evolving within “developed economies” – that society’s focus (value perception, investment, etc.) continues to be on what generally is perceived to be the most active and productive segments of populations.

A graphic representation of this would be similar to a classic bell-curve where; the Y axis=productivity and the X axis=age demographics map such “active and productive” focus at the upper mid-third of the chart.

In short, both EARLY developmental and LATE experiential rich societal stages receive peripheral attention and such, mostly to help “feed or compensate” for variations within the hi-productivity stages… We’re under-estimating /preparing our youth for global competitive challenges, under-supporting /over-stressing those within the hi-productivity cycle, and under-valuing the contribution of those on the downward slope.

Plainly, the “developed world” has done a mediocre job at preparing, supporting and valuing its population’s contribution holistically… However, this isn’t surprising in-light of the economic and cultural complexities and pressures at-play within such “developed world” and the general morose (the belief that things are the way they are and will always remain so) of those most affected by such imbalance. Nevertheless, this focus isn’t efficient or sustainable as the “effective distance” between economic needs /demands (productivity) and established population usefulness-cycles continues to diametrically polarize and grow.

As I see it, it is myopic to not fully support and tap into the early innovative / late experiential rich potential that is fueled by the power of the human spirit and growing from population’s exposure to wider educational accessibility, ubiquitous information technology and life-sciences efforts that effectively are driving a rise in “quality longevity”…

Image via Wikipedia

Blue=Developed - Tan=Emerging - Red=Underdeveloped

Thankfully, this is beginning to happen and several efforts are now underway within developed economies currently experiencing “insufficient new talent-pools & rising productivity pressures”, aiming to improve such educational inefficiencies and counter-productive displacement (retirement) policies, which in-time should ease the slope (as a more gradual curve) into and from the hi-productivity segment of population life-cycles, but these efforts; which carry yet not fully understood /vetted financial consequences and benefits, cannot succeed without the desire, awareness and the inclusion of productive “voices” from those of us within either end of the current productivity scale to the discussion.

As intelligent humans, we must be less accepting of default stereotyping and instead; truly WANT, DESIRE and DRIVE CHANGE… first within ourselves, then within society as in; developing and assuring wide access to comprehensive/innovative educational curriculums and meaningful productivity options whilst committing the time and ourselves to really engage whilst continually learning and contributing. As well as, shed our all too common malaise… prejudices and “been there done that” experiential staidness that subconsciously keep us from remaining actively engaged, curious and collaborative… looping back often to guide, mentor and facilitate those in the earlier two productive stages even if it isn’t mainstream or “cool” to do so.

To be successful and lasting, Big, Bold Shifts; insofar as “age”, “productivity” and “usefulness” stereotyping must begin first within each of us thus, exemplifying and leading the way to a more efficient, valuable and balanced alternative.

This I believe…

Rites of Passage…


There once was a rabbit named Oreo and a guinea pig named Qupid…

They were a physical part of this extended family until recently; when both passed-on quite unexpectedly and within a few days of each other.

Their life and passing a paradox; between the love and companionship exchanged daily with the girls and their painful loss, bringing with it a yet unrecognized release from the endless reminders about duties and responsibilities of caring for their pets now no longer necessary.

These were “rescue” animals… they were unique, loved well and will be missed by the girls; especially during those times when there’s a need for deep secrets to be shared, when nothing but a private intimate cuddle with them can soothe the heart, when the night is too quiet and the mind too restless to be useful.

I’m not a “pet person” but, I willed the acceptance of these animals’ usefulness because of the creative cases the girls persistently made, which led me to think this may be one way a young heart could learn about dualities; fun(?) and responsibility, love and apathy, happiness and sorrow, life and death…. a way for them to experience the rites-of-passage that many “adults” have yet to fully synthesize.

The experience; witnessing my daughter’s traverse joy, aggravation, love and the pain of departure in a full un-disguised manner as kids do; to emerge from it with their aching hearts intact, still caring and strengthened by the process, is well worth the duress of having too many breathing “things” under one roof.

As a steadfast proponent of “natural habitats for animals, houses for people”, I now think that there is a time and a place for “house pets”; when animals become living bridges that relate how caring knows neither bounds nor limitations, how we – all species – seek to connect in a positive way and need this as the air we breathe.

There once was a rabbit named Oreo and a guinea pig named Qupid… their lives mattered and made a difference.

The End of Architecture…


I came across an article about design and the practice of architecture which noted that; with unemployment rates in the profession at greater than 45%, serious global strife and the decline of real estate development activities plus a rising general view of architecture as a commodity, there would likely be a reduction of graduates in this field over time and the few would be generally educated and ill-prepared to face increased professional complexities. Thus, the article asked; “Have we come to the end of architecture as we know it?

Whilst I believe these to be genuine observations and concerns, Architecture and Design cannot end. They will remain robust, strong and vibrant in direct proportion to the robustness, strength and vibrancy of our God inspired imaginations and hearts.

Economies do not “drive” Architecture and Design. The respective professional practices are impacted by these realities yes, but they are not ruled nor drowned by them. Instead, like a surfer, they ride the circumstantial waves – albeit not always gracefully – brought on by the social-economic fluidity of the times.

What moves one’s heart and imagination to subject themselves to 5+ grueling years of study and the untold hours invested over drawing boards and computers, the transference of “fun” into endless discussions, arguments and meanderings, the dark circles under all-nighter eyes, the abuse taken and given from/to those of lesser heart… the angst from musing over conceptual problems, the all-or-nothing preoccupation over some aesthetic characteristic that only a “creator” would appreciate and truly understand… is a love that is lasting, not a condition that is nearing its end.

Even if the established social-commercial world as we know it were to end tomorrow and we would have nothing but dirt and a couple of half-dead twigs, Architecture and Design would spring forth and persist because it LIVES in us. It is imbedded in our DNA by a creator that may have screwed-up on some things but made-up for it multi-fold in others like our unending capacity to generate and appreciate Beauty and Love; our Imagination and Free-Will. How awesome and truly impactful are these?

The danger that does exist and always has is not in the process or the result of bringing Architecture and Design to life, the danger is in one’s interpretation of what these ought to be like…the judgments (societal and otherwise) over what is good or right and bad or wrong. These are all subjective, flawed and must only be considered with a great deal of caution.

NYC - MOMA - Le Corbusier's Urban Planning for...
Image by wallyg via Flickr

Architecture and Design is not ending or dying. The institutions charged with teaching it’s foundations may make mistakes and be misguided at times but, they are not THAT flawed… they are not meant to assure that students that come out degree in-hand from its halls will be successful (it’s illogical to believe this), these institutions are just responsible to light little flames of knowledge and basic understanding on these immense matters, that each individual will carry and some; over an experiential lifetime, will transform into bonfires of sheer wonder for many to admire, use, hate, and enjoy.

Architecture and Design will not die because they are not the by-products of a “production process”. Architecture and Design springs from the human spirit and its imagination in a manner foundational for beauty wonder and hope to rise from a future of our own making.

This I believe.

Easter and me…


This important celebration usually brings me to a funk… a mix of sadness, embarrassment and shame for what we humans did some time ago to another human… someone who was of us albeit, different and timeless – transcending our limitations – on whom; in-spite of all myopia, we trust and rely on with all of our deepest hopes.

But this year it was different for me… I did not dwell on His pain & suffering, I did not dwell on the past event. I know I am of Him and with Him and perhaps this year’s “disengagement”, marks a time of self-forgiveness and moving on and up with our relationship from the quagmire of guilt over the imbalance of an all-Knowing, Forgiving and Love-steady God… and us; as significant in the big-scheme of things as grains of sand… cozy under His mighty feet, bearing His weight, blessed by the loving touch.  JP

Inspiration & concept notes on transcendence… © JP, 1990-2011

Am I important…?


I wake-up most mornings; at times excited, but mostly curious about the day ahead.

I have a cup of coffee whilst scanning the paper, exercise, take a deep breath when I browse the email that arrived overnight, get dressed for another day at work or play and eat breakfast.

I go outside, greet the people I know and sometimes along the way – when all is at-peace with my world – I share a smile or a nod or a “g’morning” with folks that are complete strangers.

The world is real, exists and supports me every single day through my eyes… it is my perception of how bright the sky, the sun, the moon and the stars are, my interpretation if it is as hot or cold as the weather person claims… my determination of someone as beautiful or brilliant or good, or friendly, or not.

It is my choice to love or hate, to care or be indifferent, to aim for quality over mediocrity… about everything that crosses the path as seen through my eyes; interpreted through my mind and spirit. And… I make these choices many times in a day; sometimes deliberately but most often instinctively.

I am the “connector”, the natural end-result of the symbiotic relationship between Creator and Creation; brought about with purpose by the will of a spirited and awesome God and the choices of countless men, women, children, fauna and flora that have held, befriended, nurtured, taught and loved me along my way.

All the World Is A Stage

acting ones dream

I have the ability to learn, adapt, interact, love, procreate and survive… yet, as informed by all as I am, I can not be someone other than what I choose to be. I can not truly see and interact with the world in any other way than through my own eyes, mind and spirit.

I am responsible for all that I see, say and do. I matter to myself and to all that I interact with and touch… I am purpose built.

Thus, I am important.

NOTEWORTHY – with a few personal/belief substitutions here and there, I believe this is the basic “script” WE ALL – individually – follow; each a principal player acting it out in this world’s stage.

And so it follows that we all are valuable and important individually to this greater play we call “life”… wherein we all lose a little by the marginalizing or demise of a single one of us.

This I believe

Poems in Song and Prayer…


IF IT BE YOUR WILL…   sounds from the heart of Leonard Cohen as interpreted by Anthony.

Has “thinking outside the box” become an oxymoron?


… if so how would one describe original thinking? (1)

Blue-Sky or Open Thinking

It’s nearly impossible to predict the intent behind all of the ways people use/abuse this phrase… To me “thinking outside the box”; when applicable to a situation or problem, doesn’t mean “unorthodox” thinking, it means “thinking w/o constraints” and represents only an early step in a process… as the results from such limitless exercise should be deemed “preliminary” or “suspect” until they can be tested and validated through the reality (aka; constraints) that any situation or problem statements we’re aiming to solve will likely have.

I wish that another way to express “thinking w/o constraints” would be to say “original thinking”… after all, “thinking” per se, is part of an automatic sequence triggered in all of our complex human organisms from an early age… we start to develop through our senses (sight, sound, taste & touch) which evolves us to question and so, we begin to think; simply and w/o constraints at first (original thinking) and in more complex (learned and societal influenced) ways a bit later which, unbeknown to us, will lead us to become a highly unpredictable species.

Assuming we’re not children (being one at-heart does not count…), we will find it hard to think “originally” which is why phrases such as the “outside the box” one get so much overplay me thinks. As we wistfully desire to do so.

Houses of Parliament series (Monet)

Monet - Houses of Parliament

Original or un-restrained thinking is a delightful experience…every time I have the opportunity to watch children in their early discovery years, I find myself admiring their raw creativity and wondering how powerful it would be if only we could regress and/or tap into it in meaningful (read: grown-up useful) ways. But alas, except in rare cases, as long as we have lived and still co-exist in a formal society, we have had – by necessity – to learn to place ourselves within it and by the process, forever loose the innocence required to admire things as they seem to be rather than as they are.

But I am hopeful…for there are some folks whose curiosity level, attitude and Spirit have allowed them to push through the reality and constraints most of us live with on a daily basis. Some are the artists we either admire or don’t understand, others we disregard as unpractical…as being too “out-there”. But I wonder…

Before ending this I would like to reference a poem by Lisel Muller that has deeply touched me and that I re-read on a regular basis. It is titled; “Monet Refuses the Operation” – hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

(1) Question posed on a TED discussion by Spencer Holmes

2011: Year of the Rabbit


Are you expecting more from 2011?

courtesy of Monsanto Life Sciences

I’ll continue to work at learning to welcome and grow from all that comes even if unexpected but…

I’m hoping for peace; both the inner and outer kind, realizing that it may take many a struggle within and between all of us to achieve it let alone sustain it.

I’m hoping for increased physical and economical well-being for all; those who have nothing, we who have much and the handful with the most… but realize that to achieve this we will need to stretch our thinking beyond our current comfort levels and redefine acquired concepts that no longer serve us as a species.

I’m hoping to continue to dream and believe that there is a purpose greater than our ability to fully perceive it, which continually unites and focuses our daily lives… even if this purpose stems from within each one of us.

I’m hoping we’ll get better at recognizing and cherishing joyous moments and becoming more tolerant of just as memorable painful passages… for there is “much” to learn from this duality.

I’m hoping we all may continue to exchange love; physically, emotionally and in all of its wonderful manifestations… for without it, all else means little.

I’m hoping that all of us may strive to hope less and action more from this point onward…

– in response to a question posed by my good friend Ian Berry…

And so it is Christmas…


I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year” – Charles Dickens

Nativity...

I always loved Christmas and looked forward to the time (about 2 weeks before the day) that my father would let me into his study to see his latest creation of the year… an elaborate and each year unique three-dimensional rendition of the nativity.

The scene would rise from a large base about 3 foot off the floor featuring valleys, lakes and mountains, the highest of which supporting a fragrant real Christmas tree decorated with tinsel, gold & red glass balls and clip-on white wax candles with beautiful red bows at their base,climbing up to the study’s tall ceiling leaving only enough space for the brilliant silver star to be placed on its top. Each year this massive setting would grow; as he would continually add new figurines and different landscapes, to take nearly one-quarter of his study at my last recollection. It was a thing of wonder…

From the day he would unveil it onward, I would spend my evenings before going to bed admiring the details of the scene, the colored sawdust paths lined by real and fragrant mosses, the skaters in the large frozen lake, the shaped and painted canvas he used to form the mountains with bits of evergreen and patches of snow here and there and the joy in the faces of each figurine placed just so throughout his amazing effort and always aimed at the lit manger where a beautifully sculpted baby Jesus lay flanked by his parents and various animals.

I remember staring at it for hours taking on the scent that forever shall remind me and “be” of Christmas, imagining stories for each of the characters… until my mother would bribe me with some milk and a warm cookie to go to bed. I truly learned to dream and fly as Peter Pan only could, by the power of the scene and the immense love that my father poured into it… and me.

One day in my very early twenties, with his work complete, my bigger-than-life father passed-on and – although I stopped celebrating it for many years afterwards until my beautiful daughters graced this world – that strong Christmas vision and light burnt deep within me, continued and remains a time to celebrate the everlasting gift that was this amazing man.

He did well by me and throughout the year I remember him often and try to live with the same richness and quality that he exemplified throughout his short life. I hope that one day, when my daughters experience their first Christmas without me, that they will be as touched and inspired by a love that has no limitations nor knows of seasons.

This is a time of year that more than any other speaks of rebirth; of letting go and imagining new possibilities. It is a time of softness, of peace, of intimacy and hope.

May you all and those dear to you have a warm and memorable Christmas. May your experiences lead you to feel touched by Joy and Wonder and compelled to share-it-forward every single day. For that is the essence of life… so aptly marked by the event.

With Love…

Thinking differently…


How many of us read a newspaper or walk around our offices and neighborhoods and wonder if the people we read about and sometimes interact with actually really “think” at all…?

There seems to be no shortage of headlines to shock our system; the discovery of some new fraud fed by greed and gullibility, rising pressures driving folks to catastrophic breakdowns… to mother’s abandoning their children, teenagers killing each other, father’s enslaving and abusing daughters. We read about wars, starvation and death, massive man-made ecological blunders that challenge life at a macro level, irresponsible excuses and inadequate governance responses… how many of us shake our concerned heads and think; “what were they “thinking”…?”

Do we ever get the feeling that “thinking” per se, any form of informed and balanced “thinking” at all, would be a “nice” enough goal for us humans in-general to strive for… to give us all a chance; a reasonable alternative to the “unbelievable stuff” we brace ourselves each morning to read and witness throughout the day?

Why such a big preamble to share a view on what it means to “think differently”? Because I believe it is relevant to note and foundational to try to understand the potential effect this continued exposure to abnormal occurrences; to such endless mass of challenges, may be having on our psyches…

Inner Conflicts

Image by Henry M. Diaz via Flickr

Are we at-risk of “normalizing” what we are continually exposed to? Of distorting and maybe even impairing how we think about ourselves and others relative to this world we live in? Are we in-fact sub-consciously “thinking differently” as it were, just so that we can keep functioning in a socially acceptable manner?

And if this may be happening to those of us who are relatively safe and well-off in our respective “developed countries” and neighborhoods, how desensitized and disoriented are those of us that live on “the edge”; at the center of these events…without the relative “safety” of structure and hope, without roofs and walls to mimic some form of emotional protection…surviving if at all possible instinctively, whilst facing challenges and extinction day-in and day-out to levels the rest of us probably can’t adequately imagine?

How differently – assuming we could – would we have to “think” to effectively help ourselves in these circumstances even if only marginally?

CNN broadcasts a segment titled; “Impact Your World”…it came to mind whilst I pecked-away writing this; to Impact Our World…is what “thinking” – differently or otherwise – aims to accomplish me thinks. What it means to me.

We humans were designed to think…we MUST THINK and have the opportunity to ACT on our thoughts not just in London or Chicago or Beijing neighborhoods but in Kandahar, Haiti and Khartoum…just a handful of examples to indicate a much broader geographic base, so that our thoughts and actions can collectively impact our world hopefully in a benevolent way. Otherwise, our world as we broadly experience it these days will in the end completely desensitize, overwhelm and possibly eliminate us all-together.

Some days as we “read the news”, this may not seem like such a bad idea if only we were able to hit a “reset” button without doing away with ourselves by the process.

Thank goodness we stopped and thought about it.

The Opposite of Fear…


“Delusion” is an appropriate opposite to “Fear”. This based on my belief that “fear” isn’t always bad… rather in its basic form; it is nothing more than the natural result of our own built-in self-preservation organism.

I like to sky-dive… have done it many times over the years; some may say that I’m even “good” at it, but I tell you truthfully that “fear” is a good steady companion every time I step to the airplane’s door and think about what I am about to do.

I also am known for speaking out and arguing what I believe in Board meetings and other events that could result in unexpected career consequences… again, “fear” is the right word to describe the butterflies in my stomach and rapid heartbeats just before my mouth opens.

To not experience such natural feelings in either case, could only mean that something is seriously amiss within my construct… that my sense of “reality” is flawed, or that I’m delusional.

To be “fearful” is an important and valuable experience; whether “fearful” of being killed if you’re a solider in the front lines, of going into surgery (having someone you don’t know cut us apart and put us back together again), or of having our heartbroken… a healthy dose of “fear” comes in handy to remind us to prepare, learn as much as we can, be honest with ourselves and then WILL beyond the discomfort; the natural warning, to do what we have been charged to do or believe should be done.

I do know a few people who have no apparent sense of “fear”… they are good folks to try to avoid like the plague in my view, for fear is healthy and requires no antidote beyond preparation and will. The later, what gives us mastery over lesser organisms.

One more thought… One of the most “fearful” moments in my life took place when a doctor placed my brand new 3.25 lbs twin baby daughters in my arms.

In that moment I realized my life had changed forever, and I had no idea what THAT meant… what was about to happen, would they “make it”, how would I take care of “all of this”… fifteen years later I still don’t know the answer to some of these questions.

Healthy “fear” came first…then, I willed past it and fell in-love.

the basis of “sustainable” actions


Is it possible to develop a business model that is sustainable? (1)

Yes, I believe it is possible to do so but I propose that, like children, there is need (and benefit) to experiment and try standing-up and taking a few steps here and there, before we can truly be comfortable (and adept) at developing sustainable business models or anything else for that matter.

For sustainability to not just be a “cool” word that we say and append to our sentences, it must be better understood and practiced at an individual level before we venture on to a bigger stage with half-convicted scripts.

Do we ourselves think, act and live sustainably?

The notion of “zero negative impact” – the basis of “sustainable” actions – whether toward the environment or toward ourselves and each other, is powerful, often misunderstood and harder to achieve than it appears. Nevertheless, it is a worthwhile goal to reach toward…as when a small pebble hits the very still water surface thus creating ever widening ripples, so will we do so if…

We start with ourselves; understanding and changing what isn’t “sustainable” about our individual thinking and actions and thus, influencing others by our examples. In turn, some will react to this “newness” in an equally unexpected manner thus, influencing conditions and events at a greater scale than would be otherwise possible. And so on…until a tipping point is reached powerful enough to change status-quo at a macro level.

Graph showing Human Development Index and Ecol...

Image via Wikipedia

I know of few things “sustainable” that have been achieved effectively through well-meaning singular programs and protocols. Even if positive and successful at-first, in time these types of small fledging efforts tend to them-selves be impacted (and changed) by others or by business “fads du-jour”.

Unless there is a strong foundation and the momentum that can only be obtained by the power of many thinking & acting in an “instinctive” like-manner – a.k.a. “swarm intelligence”(2) – the influence that creating a stand-alone “sustainable business model” can have, albeit important, will not by itself be that impactful.

(1) Raised by Ana Cristina on a TED discussion
(2) Term from Kevin Kelly’s book “Out-of-Control

Daughters…


All one has to do in order to better appreciate the female complexity, is to closely admire their daughters growing up; assuming one is fortunate enough to have been blessed with “daughters” to grace their lives.

As one such fortunate man, I’ve noted with equal amounts of love and horror, how these amazing teenaged girls so seamlessly and instantly can transition from being the wisest, kindest, smartest loving human beings to the must vicious and despicably mean “drama queens” this side of heaven.

It is this elasticity of mind, character and expression (and a fairly complex and sophisticated chemical mix) which; manifesting whilst they are still very young and gathering momentum and weight as they experiment with coming into their own, leads to the rich tapestry of emotion, thought, speech and action we “grown-ups” so amazingly call “balance” me thinks.

There is no doubt in my mind that the female being is uniquely endowed to handle and excel at a much broader range of circumstances from the simplest to the extremely complex…

Management of Complexity

Image by michael.heiss via Flickr

there is also little doubt in my mind that the male being puzzles over this and is attracted to it like a moth to a bright-light since way before we begun to notice and be intrigued by the interesting anatomical differences between us humans.

The fact that women have been cautious and careful in taking on the “reins” of corporate and governmental leadership – aside the known biases that continually try to “compartmentalize” them -, only attests to their keen intelligence and the well learnt & time-tested lessons of their youth (Sarah Palin being a notable exception to this generalized fact). Bidding their time, absorbing and learning on-the-fly, expanding their capacity always and pacing themselves till the dawn of a more auspicious and/or challenging time will call on them to help us all save the day.

I for one will not tire learning from them and encouraging my amazing daughters into being all that they were created to be. I’ve no doubts I will not be disappointed and will die with a smile in my face knowing that because they “are” all will be well with the world.

It’s about The People…


From "pneumatic addict"

All of us at times are quick to judge the ineptitude and downright governing irresponsibility of many nations with populations in the throes of economic and thus, civil chaos. They are easy to find and snide at as their troubles are typically on display on the front pages of most media.

But it isn’t as obvious to do so when a nation’s core governmental incompetence is masked through seemingly “healthy” political debate. Words and the rhetoric of governing self-interest groups have little meaning when it doesn’t translate into positive results for all people.

A nation where growing segments of its population are loosing hope of finding ways to be productive and provide for their families, is a weakened nation regardless of how anyone may “paint the picture” or whose hands are “on the wheel”.

This I believe…

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