Missed Moments II

Reading Julie Lythcott-Haims memoir, Real American has skillfully prodded me toward important awareness of:

  • my inadequacy to see the world from others’ points of view
  • how many moments I have wasted in self-absorption instead of seeing others and their obstacles 
  • how long it takes in a lifetime to really understand that compassion toward others is everything
  • the importance and long-term impact of all people (especially people we discount)
  • the terrible pain people of color have endured due to the callousness and ignorance of others

Image result for julie lythcott-haims quotes

Image result for julie lythcott-haims quotes

Who’s Passing Out the Inspiration?

What are you inspiring?

Every little bit of empathy decreases the amount of pain in the world.

Let’s inspire each other to get better at it.

Here are some simple ideas:

  1. Be the gossip stopper. When someone says something uncomplimentary, change the subject by saying something good about the person mentioned.

  2. Give the benefit of the doubt when feeling slighted.

  3. Believe that everyone has the right to be seen as innocent UNTIL proven guilty.

  4. Invest more time this season in improving how we see others versus how we look.

Unexpectedly Busted

I was unexpectedly busted by the book, Wonder. 

Twice.

  1. I thought I had been a good citizen in high school toward a classmate with severe craniofacial deformities. After the book, I realized I treated my classmate with pity instead of with respect and inclusion. I was polite, never a bully, yet, I basically thought of him as an obstacle to navigate, never as an equal. How could he be? I was popular and cool (I thought). He wasn’t. He didn’t have the currency we traded in.  I never once thought about his possible insecurities while wallowing in my own personal torment over a pimple.

  2. When my niece complained to me about all the attention her challenged brother received, I reproved her for being selfish. After the book, I saw a more complete picture; siblings of special-needs kids have valid concerns about their place in the solar system.

I am late. Yet, I am sorry.

Image result for wonder quotes book

Image result for wonder quotes book

 

Detour School

I reluctantly read my first Jack Reacher novel. Don’t usually read this genre, but have to admit, I had at least two take-aways:

  1. Fictional albeit, Reacher’s amazing courage and healthy detachment is a powerful inspiration and reminder that “hero status” is my responsibility and my possibility. (Validating Joseph Campbell’s theory that myth enlarges our world.)
  2. In the book, Reacher had a rare lapse of foresight and was thrown two-hundred miles off course at the worst imaginable time, without means to communicate to someone waiting in a precarious place for him. Instead of despairing, he stayed calm. As a result, he solved his case because of the detour (following a U-Haul truck, meditating on its mindless ad!) 

Image result for life detour quotes

Fretting never got me anywhere. Loving a detour may.

 

“Big Regret” Therapy

Image result for cutting for stone abraham verghese

“You live life forward, but understand it backward. It is only when you stop and look in the rear that you see the corpse caught under your wheel.” – Abraham Verghese

This quote craftily describes that sickening, sinking feeling that comes with the awareness (or the memory) of having made the wrong decision.

 If I had only…is the plague and the gaping wound of our human condition that will not heal…unless…we grab the tourniquet of today, wrap it tightly around the bleeding past, and step with resolve into tomorrow.

I can only do that when I remember:

  • It is no crime to be fallible.

  • Redemption dwells in strange places.

  • Power belongs to the present, and

  • If I have been given breath, there is hope for tomorrow

 

(Initially  posted in 2012. If you haven’t read the book, it is quite enlightening.)

Scientific Self-Improvement – Flow and Grow

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s brilliant research on optimizing personal fulfillment reminds us that “throwing ourselves whole-heartedly” into a task has multiple benefits, including self-expansion.

Bringing it down to earth (because we might not be excited about our work today), this means we can find joy and benefit from any task, job, assignment, or challenge no matter who notices or rewards us, or how mundane it is.

Fulfillment is all up to us! Here are some of the ways to do it:

  • make a game of it
  • sing and dance while working
  • imagine it is your last opportunity you will have to use your mind and body
  • work like your life depends on it (it does)
  • set a personal goal

No one can be bored during a chase.

Get your adrenaline up. Flow and grow.

Image result for mihaly csikszentmihalyi

 

Refuse to Be Intimidated by the Strong or Lulled to Sleep by the “Weak”

Malcolm Gladwell’s book, David and Goliath is well worth reading, not just for the inspiring tales of underdog victory, but also for useful insights into history, medicine, industry, education, sociology, and human survival.

Books as Gladwell’s remind me that…

  • I know so little about things I assume I know so much
  • unlikely heroes are in every walk of life
  • my weaknesses can bring me the greatest victories
  • every story counts
  • courage and audacity change the world

Thank you, Malcolm Gladwell, for reminding me that things aren’t always as they seem.

Wonder

Today I was thinking about this book and how difficult it is to feel like a freak. Most of us have things about our appearance that embarrass us or that we wish were different, but Augie’s face caused people to run, cringe, look away, or ridicule. How petty our concerns are in comparison to those who deal with debilitating deformities.

I’m glad the movie comes out in November. It is a good thing to be reminded of what really matters, what bravery looks like, and how genuine love expresses itself to those who feel unlovable.

The people I want to be around are the people who look beyond the outward appearance; not those who parcel out acceptance and approval to the “elite” (however they have chosen to define it).

“Write” Yourself In As the Hero

rabbi

I love this quote by Harold Kushner (author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People).

When I think of my life this way, I can trace threads of connection with situations or people through a pattern that is no less interesting than an intricate work of art, or the complicated plot of a great book.

The challenge is in the stopping to notice part.

In order to do so, I must adamantly deny fear, anxiety, and frustration access to my story. Since I am actually a co-author of “this book,” I can intentionally choose to write myself as the character that overcomes the most difficult challenges, arriving at a breath-taking climax: a climax that will tie all the intricacies and mysteries together with one great big sigh of relief.