Original Thought · Self Improvement · Uncertainty

Social Media

I am a consumer and producer of social media. I read, write, shoot, and listen to the positions, opinions, ideas, and meanderings of hundreds of posters on a daily basis. I distribute original content daily and share the content of others many times a day. But, I confess that Not very much sticks. I don’t remember yesterday’s blitz and barely recall what I offered as my contributions to the noise.

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Most days, I don’t hear anything because I hear everything.

Noise proves nothing. Often a hen who has merely laid an egg cackles as if she laid an asteroid. ~ Mark Twain

Most of what occupies me (us I suspect) is noise. If I thought noise canceling headphones really did what they promise, I would invest in some for my ears and my eyes, but they seem just to dampen the din.

Is there a place ‘in the world’ where the filters screen out the clamor and still allow the clever, the charm, the caring, the charismatic, the cute and the curious through? Do I need to get past the fear of missing out (FOMO) and the addiction to notifications and begin censoring others and myself?

As we get closer to tearing the last page from the calendar, I am wondering about what I fear for the new year. Maybe that will be another post before I shut off the noise that I am creating.

If not, Happy 2019 and may your days be filled with curiosity,

B

Self Improvement

Joy

Does joy, happiness, pride, anxiety present itself in our lives or are we producing it through our mindset, disposition, and choices? I tend to believe that we are in the midst of circumstances and get to choose how we relate to them. I can be fearful of an adventure to the top of Mount Norquay or excited by the challenge or prideful that we are attempting the climb or many other emotions and feelings or combinations of many of them.

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It doesn’t seem likely or possible that joy is floating around looking for a place to land. I can’t accept that anxiety is in the ether waiting for a turn to crowd into my life.
They all come from within and can be prompted by external situations, but if I run the sum of the circumstances through a reflective sieve, I can choose to be optimistic, pessimistic, realistic, skeptical, or naive. What gets collected after being examined has more to do with the process of rendering that the initial ingredients.
When faced with a choice between positive and negative, what prospers a man to lean into the dark? I am committing to the awareness that I most often do get to make a decision. From that point, I am adamant that I will turn to the hopeful, the outrageous and even the ridiculous instead of spiraling into the pit of despair, distrust, distance. When I can move closer to a friend and her joy or sadness, I will draw near and spill happiness at her feet. If I am faced with a situation or struggle, I am willing to live through it and see how my anxiety and pain can be sapped.
In the end, it seems that I/we get to decide what we are feeling, how we react and what we embrace. The emotions live inside us not in the world so if I desire joy I need to begin being joyful.

B

Original Thought · Self Improvement · Uncertainty

Wisdom

We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.
~ George Bernard Shaw

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Remarkable people use their strengths to strengthen themselves and others. They don’t use power to overpower. They don’t use words to denigrate. They don’t puff themselves up to make others feel small.

Wisdom is dynamic. As knowledge shifts and perspectives change, wisdom adds and synthesizes and then recompiles with all the available data and restates, if necessary. Wisdom isn’t “courage of conviction.” It doesn’t just resort to tradition. It is open to observing the circumstances of the world and saying ” today the wisest thing I can be sure of is that yesterday, I was wrong.” The courage of curiosity can be a path to wisdom if we are willing to do the work to investigate, analyze, and adapt.

*Tongue in cheek comment – I must be very wise because I often realize how wrong I have been.

Make this mid-week moment full of wisdom and then make a wise choice.

B

Original Thought · Self Improvement · Uncertainty

A Dog’s Life

I woke up this morning to icy streets and pathways and a light covering of fresh snow. After a week of mild weather, I had hoped to ride my bike again because I have a number of meetings at different locations. I was disappointed but trudged out the door, dressed for the cool temperatures, heading for a bus stop. My route was a bit slippery. I took a familiar path where I often have a moment with an old dog who comes down off his stoop to greet me and get his head scratched. His age has reduced his mobility but not his enthusiasm for connection.
This morning, he was on the sidewalk plowing snow with his nose and sensed me from 200 meters away. He bounded down the sidewalk, leaping into fresh snow and celebrating the opportunity. It has been ten years since I saw him with so much energy. I was captured in his zeal and lifted in appreciation for the nip in the air and the snow under my feet.
I don’t know what his owners call him but I always greet him with ” Buuudddyy” and this elicits a wagging tail. This morning he responded to my voice with a jump to his hind legs and a big shake of his head. He was (anthropomorphically) living in the joy of the moment – not worried about lunch, not concerned about transit schedules, not racing to the next thing, not thinking lofty thoughts or imagining what he should do tomorrow.
There is much that I can learn about being present. My tendency is to live through time rather than in it. When I catch myself getting too far ahead of myself, I take three breaths and lean into the moment without concern for the imagined consequences of being ‘late.’
My stroll to the bus stop was filled with unexpected ease, and my disappointment about not riding my bike was gone. Buddy’s presence was a gift that I get to share with others, as early as today and as often as I can.

B

Self Improvement · Teamwork · Uncertainty

Human-scaled Dreams

Where I live, we just came through months of debate, discussion, dialogue, vitriol, sloganeering and dreaming about hosting the 2026 Winter Olympics. This Big Idea was supposed to create imagination, energy, economic output, and reenergize our City. After a referendum, the debate is over. 56% of voters chose not to support the bid. The morning after – there was lots of ringing of hands (understandable) and accusations. ” Now what big idea will save us?”

It got me wondering about human-scaled dreams and human-scaled actions. Would 10,000 dreams taking flight lift our city to new heights? Could we learn about each other and what we are capable of if 10,000 people recruited 10 people to come alongside them and undertake a project to bring beauty, equity, economy, creativity, imagination to life?
Would the as-yet-unimagined be the impetus for us to make our great city even greater? I think so.
I am interested in what you think? 10,000 Dreams for YYC. Would you be a part of the journey? What popped into your mind as a project? or Am I tilting windmills, again?

Let me know,

B

Original Thought · Self Improvement · Uncertainty

Reasonable Accommodations?

Every day, I read articles, see newscasts or have conversations with people that lead to a pivot point where I/we/society should make space to accommodate someone or something that requires a change of mind, practice or expectations.
In Canada, we are preparing for the introduction of the legal, recreational use of marijuana. For the past 150 years, usage was illegal and mostly secreted. Now we are trying to figure out how we can live together when public consumption has broad consequences and impact.

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Very narrowly, we are discussing how marijuana smoking in our 154 unit, four-story condo building will impact non-users. How do we accommodate the new state without the intrusion of smoke (odor and effect) into our homes? The reflex seems to be regulatory; create a bylaw prohibiting or restricting the when, where and how. I understand this reaction, but a heavy hand might inflame and incite without using the moment to understand what it means to live in community together. What if we had a dialogue with all parties? What could we come up with? Could an as yet unimagined accommodation be possible?

In a previous life, I helped university students, living in residence,  create, monitor and adjudicate community standards. There were still conflicts and disputes, but when everyone understood that their actions and inactions impacted others, there were significantly fewer incidents.

Maybe that is part of our path forward.

B

Original Thought · Self Improvement · Uncertainty

Flowers Grow in the Dark

 

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Daffodils, pansies, asters and even roses may not be appreciated on dull gray days or at night, but they continue to be there, and they continue to offer their inspiration and beauty.

The title of this post comes from a line in Rebecca Solnit’s “Hope in the Dark.” As I was commuting this morning, I was listening to Chapter 21 and was shaken by the reference to flowers. It was a bright morning, and the majesty of the wildflowers along the pathway was easy to spot but having returned home late at night along the same route, I started wondering if they were blooming with such glory after the sun went down.

After a bit of research, or what we consider research today, I discovered that while not entirely correct flowers do continue their growth process regardless of the light conditions.

How well do I stand up to that test? When things are going well, my motivation is high, and I can border on mania. I am productive, creative, cordial, strong, smart, and likable.  When a dark spell sets in, either externally created or internally generated, I don’t do as well. But this is when shining is the most necessary. How can I be the best version regardless of the conditions? How can I become agnostic about my surroundings and internal pathology?

For regular readers, you know what I am going to posit. I must choose to plow through, climb over, go around the obstacles (weather, resources, people, me) and intentionally keep moving forward towards today’s goal that leads towards the higher level goals in my life. I will still falter and fail. I will continue to mope under certain conditions, but if I lay my intention – ‘to continue forward” on the table in front of me, I know that I will continue my growth process.

Take a look at the flowers today, breathe them in so they are captured on or tongue, in your nose and as a part of your memories so you can find them again when darkness sets in. Then be courageous and keep moving towards your goals.

B

Original Thought · Self Improvement · Uncertainty

Is That a Knock at Your Door

Today the rap might just be a tap-tap. It might sound like someone banging to get in. Are you ignoring the visitor? Her name is Opportunity and she brings you possibility and challenge. When you open the door and let her in she takes the permission and will be knocking at your door almost every day. She challenges you to do what you should and encourages you to do what you could and leads you to do what you must.

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. ~ Thomas Edison
There have been many times that I heard her rapping and instead of welcoming her challenge, I bolted the door and pretended I wasn’t there. I remained still and quiet and actionless and supposedly safe. I have dealt with regret of missed opportunities by pushing myself to peek through the peephole and opening a crack to see what she brought. I haven’t accepted all or even most of the challenges but my courage grew to the point that I have taken up some of them. I learned something from all of them, even those where I didn’t succeed. There have been some enriching experiences that flowed from opening the door and I have become more comfortable with answering. The knock doesn’t cause apprehension anymore because I recognize Opportunity from our many encounters.

I think the adage that “opportunity only knocks once” is a crock.  If we ignore her, she knocks softly but is still there and when we greet her cautiously or enthusiastically she returns to bring us the abundance (hear experiences, relationships, impacts) that we feared.

Open the door this afternoon and listen to what she has for you.
B

fun · Self Improvement

Magic

I love magic. I love being surprised, and I like not knowing how the illusion is done. I like magicians and their flare and the sense of impossible. I love magic, but I don’t believe in it.

I have seen what appears to be magic happen in my life and the lives of people around me. I have watched folks do the work and achieve the results, and to those who missed the effort, it seems like an overnight mystical success. I have watched friends recover from an illness because they followed the regimen of the medical profession and made a severe lifestyle change. Seven years ago, running a 10k race was an illusion, yet I will run two or three this year.

I have seen more amazing sunsets than I deserve and now understand enough of the science to realize there isn’t a master magician making artwork. My jaw has drooped in surprise when something fortuitous happens because I have a basic understanding of odds and the laws of large numbers.

I have mused about Maslow and the infamous pyramid. I theorized that Maslow and the pyramid are right even if how we use it was never the intention. I frequently intone that the pyramid is upside down and if we achieve self-actualization, the rest fills magically. Here I use it to mean as part of a logical and challenging process. When we realize the fulfillment of our talents and potentialities, we have all the tools necessary to achieve safety, security, health and wealth according to our needs and desires. It may seem magical to those observing from afar, but it is indeed part of intentionality.

Just like a magic trick, all these shifts seem impossible to the audience, but the magician has worked hard to make it happen. Unlike a trick, we can benefit from seeing behind the curtain when people seemingly work magic in their lives.

B

The Cultural Curiosity Daily will be a hodgepodge on some days and a treatise on others. If you are entertained, provoked, inspired, edified or angered by any of it you can respond with comments and as always you can ‘buy me a coffee.

Self Improvement · Uncertainty

Substitution

Substitution has become a default mode form of protest.  When we see something that is amiss because an authority; a parent, a government, an employer refuses or is unable to accept responsibility, we step up and offer a substitute service. Our charitable model is based on substitution. Organizations feed kids, teach reading, house families, care for seniors, deliver programs and services that at a different time in a different place was the responsibility of someone else. Families, neighbors and community filled in when someone was ‘down on their luck’. Churches were once the respite from deprivation, Government took over the ‘taking care’ business and then washed their hands of it when it became difficult and costly. Charity stepped in and did the best they could considering the limitations of resources and ability.

Individually we undertake acts of substitution when we donate to a cause or volunteer with an organization.

The issue with substitution is that it absolves the authority of responsibility and unless persuasion and denunciation become part of the strategy, no solution is found. Substitution perpetuates the problem by making it invisible and by disempowering recipients with the heavy hand of service delivery.  The bigger the charity, the more removed it is from the issue and the impacted population. (Just the fact that we have created jargon like, impacted population, those furthest from the opportunity, those with lived experience speaks to the commodification of victims).
Substitution isn’t solution focused and uses palliative acts to mitigate rather than curative practices. Curative is extremely difficult when compared to palliative bandaids. Feeding kids a meal is simple when compared with solving an economic, training, capability or attitude issue in the family. Unfortunately, painkillers, analgesics, pain relievers, sedatives, or tranquilizers in the form and good intentions of programs and services does more to trap people than to lift them up. Maybe every act of substitution needs an exit plan before inception. – we will feed these kids until some date in the future while we assist the family in finding what they need to feed their own kids.