Happy 75th Birthday Curious George. You look great for your age and it is great to confirm that contrary to rumours, you weren’t eaten by a lion on the safari you took with ‘the man in the yellow hat’.
‘Be like Curious George, start with a question and look under the yellow hat to find what’s there.” James Collins
In a world where polarization is becoming the norm and rigidity, partisanship and stubbornness reigns, what if you were the one to bend? Could you concede that you may only be 74% right? Would you be willing to listen to someone you disagree with and consider (not just accept) 26% of what they feel, believe or ‘know’? Are you flexible enough to sway a bit and still feel rooted in your values?
True curiousity exists when we seek to understand not seek to get an advantage. I have done both and am embarrassed to say am better at asking questions to gain ammunition. But on those days when my curiousity extends beyond my self interests to my interests, I am enriched and strengthened. Whether going to the beach or encountering an electric fence George took risks to gain additional information and awareness. He ‘asked’ ridiculous questions and began his analysis slightly a kilter from the norm. Every day was an everyday adventure because there was always something to try, something to question, something to upturn and look under.
George had a beginners mind and didn’t assume that because something was so that everything else was so. The cult of expert has made me/us lazy and we just accept and swallow ‘facts’. We are all better when we are courageous and challenge the accepted norms (even when they are true/right/best in the end).
Even if you are an expert, you can grow, learn, improve by adopting George’s posture ;not hunched over on all fours, but a posture of inquisitiveness and astonishment.
George made it to 75 and has been translated in dozens of languages, is on PBS and Disney by being curious. I wonder where you could go, if you asked 3 ridiculous questions every day?
Make Today Remarkably Curious,
Do you have a friend? Are you a friend? A good friend? A BFF? What does ‘friend ‘ mean to you?
According to Dictionary.com
1.a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.
2.a person who gives assistance; patron; supporter:
friends of the Boston Symphony.
3.a person who is on good terms with another; a person who is not hostile:
Who goes there? Friend or foe?
4.a member of the same nation, party, etc.
5.(initial capital letter) a member of the Religious Society of Friends; a Quaker.
6.a person associated with another as a contact on a social-media website:
We’ve never met, but we’re Facebook friends.
Seems simple and superficial. I have a test of friendship that might be onerous and might explain why I only have one real friend. ” Who would you call a 2am if something bad happened? Whose call would you respond to at 2am if they reached out”
Is that too much to expect? Sure we do all kinds of other stuff together and share all kinds of similar and different views but when the chips are down who do you count on?
We don’t interfere in each other’s lives. We don’t have a standing date/appointment every Friday. We live our lives and share stories when together.
I heard a message years ago that posits that there are four types of relationships; intimate, personal, social and public. Apparently most people have one intimate relationship, a few (less than 10) people, in personal, who might be called friends, a dozen to 20 people in social who know your name and a bit about your family and work and then up to 100 who recognize you and would know where you cross paths. My beloved fills the intimate role and has for more than 40 years. For a long time I would have said that I had zero in personal and now have 1. I am not interested in filling the prescribed quota. I have hundreds in social who I know well enough to carry on more than a superfluous conversation with. There are thousands of times in a year I ‘meet’ someone who says ” I know you by reputation’ or ” my friend talks about you’. I always take the statement as a positive and try to engage them on that level.
The theory is that we all try to make offers to move up the scale; public to social, social to personal, personal to intimate. Offers are accepted or rejected, gracefully or not. New relationships are fostered or not. In most cases we spend our life moving up and down scales. I have never had the energy for the effort. Despite spending a lot of time in in groups and with crowds, I don’t get energized by it. I would prefer a quiet evening in deep conversation about an idea or issue with one person or another couple to big gatherings.
How do you treat friendship? Do you have dozens of friends? more? Do you get a buzz in large groups or is it draining?
Make Today Remarkable, by doing what lifts you,
Freedom only exists where it is exercised and tested. If we have the right to free speech but everyone drones on in the same acceptable predictable patter then freedom doesn’t really exists. If we can own property and make use of it for our enjoyment but ‘architectural controls’ limit what shade of taupe it needs to be painted, and no one complains, we are all prisoners of conformity. Conformity is the opposite of courage and is the fourth c that is killing us individually, destroying our imagination and separartin g us from each other. Conformity, convenience, comfort and certainty ensure that we are less, are becoming less and will become worthless.
Liberty exists when we push its edges. If I challenge my willingness to make disruptive decisions and cause some personal discomfort and retreat into status quo because of an innate fear or fear of fear, was I ever liberated?
If I can opt to be of service but act in service of myself, that is a choice I get to make and you can judge my decision. But if I am constantly acting selfishly and avoiding inconvenience how do I know what I am choosing? If I am only exposed to things that I already believe am I learning or avoiding? If I ‘know’ what the answer is, do I have need for questions? If I have no need, is it a social construct, a constructed non choice or a reality? If I am free to choose but always choose the norm …
I am free to write what I am thinking about and you are free to read(or not) what resonates or challenges.
Is there someone you need to reconnect with? Someone who you haven’t talked to for more than 30 days, maybe 30 years? Was there a falling out? Do you recall what the rift was about? If yes, does it still matter. If no, did it ever matter?
Maybe instead of a rift it was a drift. You stopped having stuff in common… she got married/divorced/moved, you got a new job/car/girlfriend. Are the steps you are taking today as a result of the steps you took yesterday? Are you embarrassed by the time that has passed?
The call is in your court. If these two paragraphs raised a face or name to the surface, it is now your responsibility to reach out. The web makes tracking down old friends and colleagues fairly easy but even if there is a need for some effort, it is still your choice to make a move.
Once you find a contact or if you have a contact, don’t hesitate or procrastinate. Pick up the phone and dial, send off an email, Facebook message, Twitter DM or knock on his door. No agenda, no rehearsal just a call to catch up. If an apology seems necessary, begin with that. If you feel you should receive one, forget about it. You get to be full of grace in every interaction and today you can gracefully forgive and forget.
Are you feeling fear, apprehension, excitement — go with it. You are entitled to and responsible for your feelings. Embrace them, acknowledge them, let them have space but don’t allow them to suffocate you or demean you.
Today is the day to reconnect. Make it remarkable by taking the first step.
What makes passionate people uncontrollably optimistic? I met with a friend a colleague for breakfast and she reminded me enthusiastically that her attitude and disposition are contagious. She is unreserved in her excitement for what she is doing and achieving. Her perception in the face of challenges is opportunities. When she sees a gap she takes the initiative to fill it and where her preferred future is threatened she seeks to understand and overcome the barriers.
This isn’t a rose coloured naivety or gushing utopian rhetoric but rather a way to frame her days/weeks/months; her life. Realty wraps itself around us but we have the pleasure and responsibility of seeing it as a prospective possibility rather than a debilitating defeat.
Life is a series of experiences and perception is the economy with memories acting as the currency. We can be rich or we can be poor. It seems that we are able to manufacture and re-craft our experiences by changing our point of view and altering our response to the circumstances we face. When we capture memories, we add to our riches because they can be revisited, revised and re-remembered and relived and relished. If we pass through the events and moments of our day with disinterest and ennui we are less likely to perceive anything worth stashing in our wallet.
In order to change our tomorrows we need to be alive in our todays. Sleepwalking through a Thursday wastes a gift but also contributes to creeping lethargy on Friday, Saturday and Monday. I encourage you to go through today with your eyes open for glee, greatness, and grand adventures. If they don’t appear, shift your intention to opportunity and watch for a small shift towards hope. It is within your sight but may be shrouded by a bias, your mood, or an unwillingness to get out of the ditch.
If you want to stay in the rut that is wrestling with you then stop reading and hunker down for a full nelson suffocation. If you are already seeing beauty and awe, congratulations and keep pressing forward. If you are down but don’t want to be out, take small chance and smile, smell roses, see something special, and say something sunny to yourself and someone else.
Begin every day with a sincere and grateful heart and eyes wide open for the best in people, events and yourself.
Make Today Remarkable, by seeing it as remarkable,
I am never really done. I begin and edit and adapt all the elements of my life. My choices today lead to an opportunity or challenge that requires a different approach towards a undefined outcome. I scribble ideas that are pertinent in the moment and get stale or inappropriate in a longer view. The drafts allow evolution and revolution to occur. There is no once and for all Statement of Belief or final product. I ship ideas, opinions, content and creative with the understanding and willingness to reframe, rethink, and rework. This allows the shipment to encourage, provoke, challenge, anger, disturb or humour the recipients and hopefully generate engagement.
When it all is an unfinished piece of business I can be curious rather than defensive. You can be inquisitive rather than passive and it opens the door to an as yet unimagined conversation.
I was volunteering with Beakerhead (a Smashup of Arts, Science and Engineering) over the past few days as a curiousity rover. I was able to begin micro conversations with thousands of people and in minutes make a connection that influenced the next interaction. There was silliness, seriousness, satire, and scientific inquiry when I began with questions rather than statements. I learned about aliens, about people, about the hotel industry and some strong convictions about creation and certainty. In draft form, I was able to incorporate what resonated and consider what disrupted my confirmation bias.
It isn’t easy feeling like nothing is ever finished but for me it keeps me motivated and alive.
Make Today Remarkable, by creating a few draft conversations,
Where does that idea come from? How did you arrive at that conclusion? Is there a citation or a paper that will substantiate your thesis? Are experts always right? Should laymen be suspected? Is opinion different from fact? If something is a fact today, will it be true in 2 years, 5, 50? If the fact is true, is it the only truth?
I had a conversation (many actually) this week about what I derogatorily referred to as the cult of expert. I suggested that ” chasing the one true path only leads us to one true conclusion”. We go down a narrowing tunnel once experts take the lead.
There are areas in my life that I trust expertise and tradition like engineering and transportation. I would be more comfortable crossing a bridge built by a team of engineers and bridge builders than a group of guys along the river. That doesn’t mean that a river crossing couldn’t be constructed by non-experts and that it could be effective and innovative. It is just in this situation that I trust the known outcome more than the unknown.
That trust isn’t universal, for me. I have a doctor who I like and respect but I am suspicious of ‘big medicine’ and the machinery of disease management. I believe that the big charities purporting to be trying to cure their illness may have ulterior agendas (tacit, implied and unknown).
When I hear advice to elect seasoned politicians because of their expertise, I wonder if that might be the very reason not to vote for them. They are experts in a flawed system where the KoolAid is really strong.
I am reflecting and considering the possibility that we need to listen to experts, consider laymen, embrace wild ideas and make our own disruptive choices.
Can the world change at a global scale or is all meaningful and lasting innovation local? This week, I heard John McKnight say ” generousity is the lubricant that makes neighbourhood viable.”. I don’t believe we, as individual actors, have the capacity to create and deliver the level of generousity he envisions except at the most local and democratic level. In 1804 Thomas Jefferson was running to be PoTUS on a campaign that could be summed up as ” I believe every American, given the opportunity and circumstances, can and will take care of herself, her family and her community”.
I may be naive and too optimistic but I trust that the spirit of magnanimity and the commitment to our tribe is still alive, if not well, in North America. If we can awaken personal responsibility, involvement and awareness of consequences we can begin rebuilding our local communities on generousity, care and respect.
The breakdown of global systems, organizations and theories, while devastating, may be the critical impetus to allow mutual aid and unmeasured reciprocity to embed itself into our culture again. As we need each other, we can serve each other. Brexit, divisive European and American elections, financial and environmental crises, distrust and anger are matched by a rise of optimism, service, entrepreneurial spirit and loyalty. There will be clashes and ‘haters are gonna hate’ but past the vitriol there is a new way waiting for us to steel ourselves and demonstrate the seed of hope.
The news, as it is portrayed and the divisions it creates is one way to view the circumstances. But a change of perspective fosters a different response and results in a different future. We can, individually and in small tribes, change how we see the world, how we respond to challenges, a alter the future with relentless small scale incremental shifts in our decisions and actions.
We can choose not to participate in the fall and degradation. It is a matter of commitment to a different path. Make your choice and make your community.
What are you celebrating this morning? The first breath after waking from a deep and delicious slumber? A dry roof and warm and comfortable home? A fresh cup of coffee or clean drinking water? Are you taking so many blessings for granted as to feel underprivileged?
I know I can miss the everyday when I am looking for something grand and elaborate. I disregard the lottery I have won being born in North America, receiving an education, in a democracy that allows if not encourages my dissent in favor of complaining about a difficult decision as to what I should eat for lunch. Complaining that there isn’t anything new to try or bemoaning the fact that there are too many choices on the menu.
This is first world whining but more tragically it is a lack of appreciation for the blessings in our lives. If we don’t recognize and acknowledge the worth of these gifts it is a waste and maybe we shouldn’t be the recipients. I know that habit isn’t heroic but I urge you to take 2 minutes every day (as early as possible in your day) to celebrate something that you are grateful for. Take one minute and reflect on your current situation and then take one minute and hold your own mini celebration by writing down one thing that you are grateful for today. Write something on the same page each day for 100 days or write on a small note and place it in a jar or post one word on social media with #celebrateblessings.
Reflect, celebrate, acknowledge. If you start tomorrow you will have celebrated 100 times on December 23, 2016. Will you join me? I will be writing on one and posting on Facebook and Twitter.
Make Today Remarkable, because it is,