Monday, June 30, 2008

sam! no! you were here and we missed it!!!

we're big fans of Samantha Brown on The Travel Channel. she's funny, self-deprecating, smart. cute as a button. we've watched her shows where she was all over the world - - and she was in frickin' austin recently and we didn't know! she was at the broken spoke! she was at barton springs! she was even at the awesome hey cupcake airstream cupcake trailer on south congress!
not that my wife and i would have stalked her.
oh well. whatever she was filming, we'll see it when it makes it to the airwaves.
but it would've been fun to give her the tour of the jifc warehouse.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

the golden rule via anne lamott

this is a quote from grace (eventually):

“I remembered my secular father’s only strong spiritual directive: Don’t be an asshole, and make sure everybody eats."

that, my friends, is an absolutely brilliant spiritual plan. a plan for how to live.

notice, i don't say "truth" or "model" or "principle," because "plan" is better. it's about doing, not thinking about doing. you can consider the importance of not being an asshole, but it's far better just to choose to be a decent person who's not a jerk.


cool jerk


clean jerk

i would've included a series of assholes, but that seemed inappropriate.

Monday, June 23, 2008

i read this speech recently; it was quoted in a beautiful graphic novel; as i was reading, i was struck by how pertinent the speech is. this is the kind of message i want to hear, from my leaders, now. and i want them to make good on it. and inspire all of us to do our part, and serve, and dream. and kick our asses if we don't.

the speech's ideas also resonated with me because they're a good summary of how i feel about journey ifc and what it does on the planet.

i know it's long - skip the parts you don't care for - but i invite you to see if its messages have anything to say to where you are.

I think the American people expect more from us than cries of indignation and attack. The times are too grave, the challenge too urgent, and the stakes too high--to permit the customary passions of political debate. We are not here to curse the darkness, but to light the candle that can guide us through that darkness to a safe and sane future.
Today our concern must be with that future. For the world is changing. The old era is ending. The old ways will not do.
Abroad, the balance of power is shifting. There are new and more terrible weapons--new and uncertain nations--new pressures of population and deprivation. One-third of the world, it has been said, may be free- -but one-third is the victim of cruel repression--and the other one- third is rocked by the pangs of poverty, hunger and envy. More energy is released by the awakening of these new nations than by the fission of the atom itself.
The world has been close to war before--but now man, who has survived all previous threats to his existence, has taken into his mortal hands the power to exterminate the entire species.
Here at home, the changing face of the future is equally revolutionary.
An urban population explosion has overcrowded our schools, cluttered up our suburbs, and increased the squalor of our slums.
A peaceful revolution for human rights--demanding an end to racial discrimination in all parts of our community life--has strained at the leashes imposed by timid executive leadership.
There has also been a change--a slippage--in our intellectual and moral strength. Seven lean years of drought and famine have withered a field of ideas. Blight has descended on our regulatory agencies--and a dry rot, beginning in Washington, is seeping into every corner of America--in the payola mentality, the expense account way of life, the confusion between what is legal and what is right. Too many Americans have lost their way, their will and their sense of historic purpose.
It is a time, in short, for a new generation of leadership--new men to cope with new problems and new opportunities.
All over the world, particularly in the newer nations, young men are coming to power--men who are not bound by the traditions of the past--men who are not blinded by the old fears and hates and rivalries-- young men who can cast off the old slogans and delusions and suspicions.
For I stand tonight facing west on what was once the last frontier. From the lands that stretch three thousand miles behind me, the pioneers of old gave up their safety, their comfort and sometimes their lives to build a new world here in the West. They were not the captives of their own doubts, the prisoners of their own price tags. Their motto was not "every man for himself"--but "all for the common cause." They were determined to make that new world strong and free, to overcome its hazards and its hardships, to conquer the enemies that threatened from without and within.
Today some would say that those struggles are all over--that all the horizons have been explored--that all the battles have been won-- that there is no longer an American frontier.
But the problems are not all solved and the battles are not all won--and we stand today on the edge of a New Frontier--a frontier of unknown opportunities and perils-- a frontier of unfulfilled hopes and threats.
The New Frontier of which I speak is not a set of promises--it is a set of challenges. It sums up not what I intend to offer the American people, but what I intend to ask of them. It appeals to their pride, not to their pocketbook--it holds out the promise of more sacrifice instead of more security.
But I tell you the New Frontier is here, whether we seek it or not. Beyond that frontier are the uncharted areas of science and space, unsolved problems of peace and war, unconquered pockets of ignorance and prejudice, unanswered questions of poverty and surplus. It would be easier to shrink back from that frontier, to look to the safe mediocrity of the past, to be lulled by good intentions and high rhetoric.
But I believe the times demand new invention, innovation, imagination, decision. I am asking each of you to be pioneers on that New Frontier. My call is to the young in heart, regardless of age--to all who respond to the Scriptural call: "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed."
For courage--not complacency--is our need today--leadership--not salesmanship. And the only valid test of leadership is the ability to lead, and lead vigorously.
There may be those who wish to hear more--more promises to this group or that--more assurances of a golden future, where taxes are always low and subsidies ever high. But our ends will not be won by rhetoric and we can have faith in the future only if we have faith in ourselves.
For the harsh facts of the matter are that we stand on this frontier at a turning-point in history. We must prove all over again whether this nation--or any nation so conceived--can long endure--whether our society--with its freedom of choice, its breadth of opportunity, its range of alternatives--can compete with the single-minded advance of the Communist system.
Can a nation organized and governed such as ours endure? That is the real question. Have we the nerve and the will? Can we carry through in an age where we will witness not only new breakthroughs in weapons of destruction--but also a race for mastery of the sky and the rain, the ocean and the tides, the far side of space and the inside of men's minds?
Are we up to the task--are we equal to the challenge? Are we willing to match the Russian sacrifice of the present for the future--or must we sacrifice our future in order to enjoy the present?
That is the question of the New Frontier. That is the choice our nation must make--a choice that lies not merely between two men or two parties, but between the public interest and private comfort--between national greatness and national decline--between the fresh air of progress and the stale, dank atmosphere of "normalcy"--between determined dedication and creeping mediocrity.
All mankind waits upon our decision. A whole world looks to see what we will do. We cannot fail their trust, we cannot fail to try.

turns out, the speech isn't current; it's six months older than i am. it's john f. kennedy's acceptance of the democratic nomination for president, july, 1960. look how far we've come; look how far we have yet to go.

Monday, June 16, 2008

i feel much better now.

why? because i have been gifted with an official assurance that i have a spot in heaven.

get yours today!!!

Monday, June 9, 2008

welcome them. no, seriously.

this is one of the hardest things for the human beings i know: to welcome what feels painful; to look at what is frightening; to be willing to sit still and pay attention and welcome what we don't understand or can't control. none of these things make any sense unless we believe - know - that there's Something at work larger than what we feel in the millisecond, what we hear from the shadows and tapes in our heads and skin and abdomens, what we use by default to make our decisions.
but i do believe Something is at work. and so i am learning to be still, and wait, and welcome it all.
note: i am learning - this is in process; nevertheless, i'm learning.
here's a poem in which 13th century Persian poet/theologian Rumi, in which he encourages us not to reject, not to dismiss, not to run, but to welcome.

The Guest House, by Rumi; translation by Coleman Barks

this being human is a guest house.
every morning a new arrival.
a joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

welcome and entertain them all!
even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
he may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

the dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

we will look back at this moment

no matter whether you're a conservative, a liberal, an independent (as i am), a republican, a democrat, a hippie, a yuppie, young, old, rich, poor - if you're an american, this is a moment that is important. that is history. that is a moment we absolutely must recognize. not because the talking heads on tv say it is important - but because we will look back at this moment, and we will see that something important happened.
an african-american person - a black person, a colored person, a negro, a "nigra" as my grandmother used to say - a member of a group of americans who for hundreds of years were not considered fully human beings; a member of a group of americans who have felt disenfranchised and ghettoized and ignored; a member of the strange moniker "minority"; a member of a group of americans who have never had access to the highest levels of power in the same way that the ruling class has; a member of a group of americans who in my lifetime were not allowed to drink water from the same fountain, or use the same restaurant counter, or live in the same neighborhoods, as the people who had had power since the beginning of the american experiment. now the experiment has produced a new result, a perhaps unexpected but nevertheless organically coherent result. one that would of course happen at some point, if the american people were courageous enough to live out what it is they say they believe.
barack obama has won the delegates to become the nominee of one of our two controlling political parties, for the most important and powerful office in the world: president of the united states of america.
it's weird. it's big. it's huge. it's unlikely. it's overdue. it's unlike anything i've seen in my 47 1/2 years on the planet. and i am paying attention.
i don't know what will happen. i don't know what he will do regarding picking a vice presidential running mate; i don't know whether he will become president; i don't know whether, if elected, he'll be a good president (although it'd be hard not to be better than the one we've had for the last two terms). i don't know what role hillary - and bill - clinton will play in either helping, or messing things up, or whatever.
what i do know is this: this is an historic moment. one that is to be recognized as a turning point in american history. and we are here. watching and listening. participating, just by being here, now.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

morning dear

i like mornings. it's not that i don't like afternoons, or evenings, or nighttime, but i'm a morning person. i especially like getting up before sunrise.
my wife, on the other hand, likes to stay up late. she says she can think once everything else starts to wind down. that was much more the case when our kids were little and they went to bed at 8 or 9. now our daughter is 17 and i fall asleep way before she's done with homework. but my wife still likes to stay up late.
i admit, to my shame, that over the years, there have been a few times when we were talking about something important and i fell asleep.
but we morning people can't stay up late for too many nights in a row. if we sleep late in the mornings, we get cranky and frustrated. our systems don't work right.

waking up in the summer and the a/c has been going and it's cool in the house - as cool as it will be all day - that's the best. (today's high in austin: 98; heat index: 103). and then there's walking outside. there is a specific way things feel at 530 or 6 or 630 on a dry summer morning in texas. the air and i know that it'll be a lot hotter later today - but for now, it's 75 or so. a little breeze. i remember that sense of pre-hot morning when i was a kid, getting up on summer mornings, eating breakfast, watching cartoons, and running out the door to play before the sun got cooking. or the morning air before summer church camp or ymca camp or a vacation, packing the car. almost chilly, but not. it'll be hard to breathe later in the day - but not now. there's a little open space.

and in the mornings, there's no one around and you can (usually) start your to-do list later in the day and nobody's calling yet. i write in the mornings, think in the mornings, ramble around in my own head and heart.
plus, mornings are like beginnings. and i'm all for those.
i have a friend, noamie, who says that beginnings are delicate, and are to be treated with care and patience. that's what i feel in the early morning, the long shadows, the cooler air, the birds starting to make daytime noises (but not yet), the a/c still able to keep the house just right, the day still not-quite-decided-yet. care and patience. no rush. it'll get done, or not. for now, breathe.

oh - and the fishin's good in the mornings, too.