Sunday, December 25, 2011

Giants Among Us

Am I blogging on Christmas? Why yes, yes I am. Because today is Christmas, I thought I would take this time to talk about Jesus. Maybe it’s because I’m Jewish, but to me, Jesus seems like a mythical figure on the order of Zeus or Apollo. He lived so long ago that sometimes I take for granted he actually existed. He was born, he bled, he defecated. Jesus was a human being. Yes, an amazing human being, but he still existed, was still blood and bones the same as you and I. And that is pretty astounding to me. What I also found out today courtesy of one of my facebook friends, is Sir Isaac Newton was also born today. Newton wasn’t Jesus, but he was still a pretty remarkable guy.

This all probably seems very random, but it’s related because I am inspired by these people. People who were alive, people who cried, people who got angry. When I hear about folks like Jesus or Isaac Newton or Albert Einstein or Martin Luther King Jr. I somehow put them above me. I think to myself, “Those were amazing human beings but I could never do anything like they did. I could never accomplish what they did. I’m just a girl from Kansas (which coincidentally is the title of my book).” I somehow don’t believe they felt the things I felt or struggled the way I struggled. Even when I read about the person’s challenges, in my mind it might as well be fiction because I’m so far removed. So today I’m reminded they are just like me. And in reality, why couldn’t you or I do world-changing things? What separates you and I from Newton, Einstein, MLK, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Shakespeare, or any of the other greats we read about? Nothing. They were people just like us. They had fears and failures just like us.

Today I feel on a very core level there is no separation from me and someone like Jesus or Newton or MLK. We all come from the same source. We’re all made of the same material. We all feel things. Any of the great people we read about could have just as easily said, “You know, I’m pretty tired, I think I’ll sit this out and let someone else do it.” The beautiful thing about all these people is they didn’t. They decided to push through their fears, to keep going, to not let the challenges stand in their way. They show us we too have the capacity for greatness. We too can do amazing, inspiring, uplifting things. We too have the potential to go down in the history books.

I dream of a world where we all know no person – alive or dead – is superior or inferior to us. A world where we understand nothing sets us apart from great people other than choice. A world where we pay attention to what we really love and then go do it. A world where we honor the giants among us while also knowing we are one of the giants too.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

In Due Time

Oh my gosh. My heart is so full. This week I'm reminded "all things in due time." Many of you know this already because I've been posting about it on facebook, but I'm going to Italy in March! Going to Italy in and of itself is amazing, but this trip is even more so because of the confluence of events that brought it all together.

In 2005 I studied abroad in London and had a pretty horrible time. I won't go into it too much except to say the program I was with wasn't a good fit and I didn't like how a lot of things were handled. One of the biggest drawbacks was they penalized people for traveling. If you missed class you were required to write a paper. I traveled during my breaks and on a few long weekends but I didn't get to see as much as I wanted. Riding the tube one day I heard some tourists speaking Italian and in that moment I felt an ache in my chest to visit that country. Anytime someone said they were going to Italy, or had been to Italy, or just came back from Italy, my response was, "Awww. I wanna go to Italy so badly!"

I wasn't even sure why I wanted to go except that I did. I understood a little better after I went to Bruges, the "Venice of the North." While there I walked into a cathedral and saw Michelangelo's "Madonna and Child," which moved me to tears. I had no idea sculpture could do that. Could really be art. Most of the sculptures I saw were nice and all but none of them created an emotional response. I was so moved I decided I wanted to go to Florence to see more of Michelangelo's work but had no idea when it would happen.

This past week my boss asked me if I wanted to go to Vienna to cover a conference and my initial response was no because I am so tired. (I am really tired.) My friends suggested I take a week off afterward to travel around but even that didn't sound appealing because I hate traveling by myself. I wish I loved being independent and traveling solo but I don't. So I asked a friend who is teaching in France if she would be around/available and she said, actually she had vacation at that exact time! So within a week I booked my plane ticket and now I'm going to Italy. And my company is paying for the airfare. I feel extremely blessed and extremely graced. I am so touched by all of this because going to Italy has been an intense longing of mine for nearly seven years and now it's a reality.

My good friend has a quote: "Dreams may fade from view, dreams may be torn and bruised, but dreams never die." You know? They never do. So when they come true there is something really magical about it. It also makes me think my other dreams may come true. Maybe not in the way I wanted but they do indeed come true. So all I can say is to keep wishing, to keep hoping, to keep trying, and to seize the opportunity when it comes along.

I dream of a world where we believe our dreams really will come true. A world where we hold onto our end goal and not so much the "how" of it. A world where we know eventually we will be graced with our heart's desire. A world where we allow ourselves to know no dream is too out of reach. It may just take a while.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Letting Myself Be Judged

Sometimes I’m scared to tell people things because I think they’ll judge me. I’m afraid they’ll think I’m weird or crazy or whatever. I know I’ve written about judgment before, but usually it’s been about preconceived notions. This week I’ve been dealing with the fallout of feeling judged, sitting with the discomfort of having someone else judge me and what I’m doing. I’m not going to lie, it was uncomfortable. I wanted to denigrate myself and somehow get on their side, show them I knew how silly I was being. I didn’t want to squirm in the spotlight and was looking to get out from under the microscope as soon as possible.

When I talked to a friend of mine about it he said, “Whenever somebody judges you it’s about them. It’s their issue.” I realized he’s right. If somebody is bothered by me or judging me it’s really their own insecurity coming up. Or perhaps I’m highlighting a way of being they would also enjoy. Or perhaps they’re judging me because they’re scared. Whatever it is doesn’t matter because the point is it belongs to them. I am just a vessel. I cannot be anyone other than me, even when it’s uncomfortable.

What this also brings up within me is people pleasing. I want people to like me, so sometimes I start to ingratiate myself to them. Judgment is one of those times. When someone harbors ill will toward me is another. I want to turn myself inside out so they’ll like me again. What I’m learning is that’s not my responsibility. Other people are allowed to judge me. Other people are allowed to dislike me. Other people are allowed to feel whatever they’re feeling toward me, even if it’s an emotion I’d rather they not felt. The very bottom line is I cannot control other people. I want to, a part of me wants to manipulate and say the right things to get someone to like me again, but that is a road I’m choosing not to walk down.

I guess ultimately what this post is about is being authentic no matter the consequences. It’s about being me even when it’s uncomfortable. It’s about allowing myself to be judged and not bending my will to someone else’s. It’s about not feeling afraid someone won’t like me or will think I’m kooky or will never forgive me because of something I said or did. Because that’s their issue. My issue is wanting to change who I am to appease someone else. It’s uncomfortable but I can take it. And I pray other people know they can take it too.

I dream of a world where we live with the uncomfortable feelings without trying to push them away. A world where we let other people judge us because we know it has nothing to do with us. A world where stop trying to please those around us to make ourselves feel better. A world where we let ourselves be who we are and we let others be who they are in the most loving way possible.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Technology is Amazing!

I love technology. I love technology because it makes the impossible possible. I just saw a picture of a spiral galaxy on my screen saver. Years ago people could only conceive of the idea to gaze into far off places and now it’s a reality. I love technology because we’re now experiencing things we saw in movies. Video conferencing a la The Jetsons? Check. Paying for stuff with your phone? Done. Downloading thousands of songs and storing them in one little device? Yep. I LOVE it. This is AMAZING stuff. It reminds me of that video of Louis CK titled “Everything’s amazing and nobody’s happy”:

I’m happy Louis! I still marvel at all of it! A friend of mine made a good point the other day: “Do you ever think about how you’re one of the few lucky people who gets to say they flew on an airplane? My great-grandparents didn’t have that privilege.” When he said that to me I had to stop for a minute because it never even occurred to me that would be special. It seems so normal now and that my friends, is amazing.

What I also love about technology is in a weird way I feel like I get to practice aparigraha, the yogic principle of nonindulgence, or using only what you need. What I mean is, with technology I feel like I can cut down on waste. Instead of buying hundreds of books and storing them in my apartment, cutting down trees for the paper, having to pay for shipping costs, etc. I can download it to a device and bing! It’s there. I love print, but now publishers can employ print on demand, which means they only print a book if someone will buy it. Sooo much less wasteful. I love that. Same thing with the iPod. I don’t need fill up boxes with CDs and their cases, now I can plug in my iPod and go to iTunes.

Mostly I love how unencumbered technology makes me feel. I can store my whole life, basically, on a laptop. That’s fantastic! I know we talk about how way back when we lived in simpler times, and that may be true, but these days I have less stuff. No boxes of photo albums. No huge piles of paper.

Technology is one of those things that shows me another world is not only possible, it’s probable.