Today is my nephew’s birthday. We’re all going out to dinner. And although only a couple of us are involved in that decision, it’s taken HOURS. Which leads me to: Why are human beings so weird??
There were only TWO suggestions, both local & non-chains. One Mexican, one Asian fusion. Both nice. But here’s the catch: my husband LOVES Mexican food, and doesn’t care much for this particular fusion place. The birthday boy also probably prefers Mexican. However, the Mexican place doesn’t have dessert, and the drinks aren’t as fun, for the drinkers.
Is any of this making sense? And (you may well wonder…) what the HECK does it have to do with beginner’s heart? Or a picture of a walrus receiving a birthday fish cake? I was hoping you’d ask…
I can’t imagine receiving a fish cake. YUK. But if you’re a walrus, obviously it’s an overwhelming gift. A thoughtful, ‘what would s/he really enjoy?’ kind of gift. As dinner for Jesse should be. It shouldn’t be about what my husband likes (even if I think my husband deserves to ALWAYS be pampered :)), or what I like, or even what the rest of us like. It should be about Jesse.
And wouldn’t it be lovely if most of my day — at LEAST 86%, anyway! — was spent in this mindset? Wondering how I could offer what my beloveds want/ need, and now just what I want and/or need?
I don’t mean I should deny my own wants & needs — folks who know me will tell you I’m not that kind of girl. I mean what if I listened more? What if I didn’t assume I know what my sons still like, or my nieces & nephews enjoy? What if I listened for the fish cake wishes…?
It seems almost a sacrilege to write anything about the “I Have a Dream’ speech. What is more compelling? I’ve used that speech so many times to teach writing, to teach how to marry passion and political practicality. My students have memorised it. I’ve internalised it. And now, 50 years later, we need it more than ever.
If you are one of those Americans who believe that all people are equal now, and that race is a problem of ‘then,’ not ‘now,’ you might as well click elsewhere. I don’t share your optimism. My own experiences — often recounted in this space — show me that racism and lack of opportunities based on racism are alive and doing very well in America today.
So I’d like us to take a moment to really READ Martin Luther King’s momentous, historically profound speech. Here it is, in its entirety. Read it, and remember: 50 years ago, and it is as necessary a speech today as it was then.
This is what you see when you leave home: familiar scenes (twilight, for instance) with new eyes. Because everything old is new again, on the road.
It’s trite, I know. But when I travel, everything — even pizza, which I normally don’t much care for! — is new, and made wonderful with that newness.
And yes, the Blue Ridge Mountains are deeply beautiful. And they really are this blue, once the sun drops below the horizon.
But there are other sights that surprise, and even astonish: a sign to Hungry Mother Park (what a name!); a billboard beside the road painted sky blue, with clouds shaped exactly like fluffy buffalo on it, and nothing else; buzzards patrolling for speeders; the Brown Squirrel Furniture Warehouse (WHO would want squirrelly furniture??); alien monsters clothed in kudzu green. A huge truck rig pulling a tiny UHaul trailer.
I like to believe that I would notice these tiny moments even in my hectic normal day, without the benefit of large windows and no distractions. The truth is, I’m really not sure. The simple tasks of life can be beautiful, certainly: who hasn’t set a table and taken joy in it? Found comfort in sheets warm from the dryer? But how many times do I nit-nit-nit about the very minor glitches in my days?
My hope as I return from the seductive baby smiles of my grandson, to the mundane world of my own home & life, is that somehow I can sustain the wonder of a road trip. How every corner brings some new vision, framed by wide sky and cloud mountains. And how mindfulness is like that frame, bringing beauty to every new moment.
This is what corporations ought to be like. As an engaged Buddhist, I know that often how I spend my $$ is my best ‘vote’ for social justice. For corporate responsibility. And believe me: if we had a Costco in Tulsa, I’d be there often!
Here’s the story of Matthew Horst, a handsome Costco employee who rose through the inside ranks to his dream job. A big thank you to his brother Chris for penning such a gracious letter, and to Brandon Weber for making it public. It’s nice to hear good news!
Click here for a heart-warming story about Mathew Horst and Costco ~ about a corporation that ‘took a chance’ on Matthew, and the rewards we all reap.