“Blest be the tie that binds”. (1)
Not to be too much of a trouble maker, but in this week’s offering, I would suggest what actually makes all of us stronger are the threads running through each of us. Neither quick nor clever, please keep your arms and legs inside the car until the ride has come to a complete stop.
Thank you. The Management
~ Thread One ~
Some things resonate with all of us. Whether it’s our first day at a new school, the first day of a job or the first night you fall asleep in your new place, they all have one thing in common – all of them hold a mixed bag of nerves and fear.
My latest ‘first day‘ was going back into a workplace classroom for 6-weeks of computer class, five days a week from 8AM to 5.
Since I’ve been learning new things at work since the time I earned my first paycheck, I wasn’t particularly concerned. What I hadn’t counted on was walking into the computer lab on that first morning and having the sudden and sinking realization that each and every one of my classmates were less than half my age. Some were freshly graduated. Most were still living at home. And all of them were sporting iPhones, smart phones, tablets and every other manner of hip and trending electronica known to Man. Cue: panic rising in my gut.
Even more disconcerting was the first few days of class did nothing to calm the riot in my gut. Now what?
The instructor would pass out new objectives, one after another. From what I could see, everyone was vastly more adept at technology than I was. Everyone was seeming to ‘get it’ on the first pass. Not me.
They were faster on their keyboards, quicker to turn in their quizzes and filled with boundless energy as they discussed any and every topic trending in popular culture. There were moments when I wasn’t sure if they were talking about a rap star or a part number.
Each and every day was as intense as the last with no sign of the pace letting up. The training was all detail, screen names and keystrokes. Hour after hour, it was relentless. If I day-dreamed for even a moment, I missed a turn and would frantically spend the next few minutes trying to catch-up without falling further behind. Adding insult to the injury, my young colleagues gave no sign of even breaking a sweat. “Is everyone finished?”
I suddenly knew what the ant said as he looked up from the beach and saw the Tsunami! Feeling stupid, old fears sensed my doubt and wasted no time in wrapping around me faster than a boa on a taco. I was in deep.
And that’s when it hit me, ‘Breathe‘.
Not my first time at the classroom rodeo, experience has taught me how I learn. So I made my choice and fought back. I fashioned my own home-made flash cards to learn the screen names and functions. Every night I went over my notes and then again the next morning before I left for work. I knew what I had to do to learn what I needed to know.
But for all of that, the crocodillian panic was never far below the surface. Try as I might, there were just too many classroom moments when I suddenly felt overwhelmed and under-equipped to the point I couldn’t remember my own password. Again and again, I reached down: Breathe.
In those moments through the day, I’d close my eyes at my desk and take a deep breath in through my nose, hold it and then, discretely exhale slowly through my mouth. The youngsters might seem to know everything about technology, but I knew how to lower my blood pressure and clear the decks of my thinking. There is still so much for me to learn, but one more time, it wasn’t until I remembered what I already knew when I knew I was going to eventually be fine.
Renewed in my conviction to whip the subject matter into submission, I quit caring whether anyone else thought I was slow or not. I’d screw up my courage and ask another question. And the strangest thing began to happen. My wunderkind classmates began asking follow-up questions on the heels of mine. I doubt many of my twenty-something colleagues have quite put their fingers on it yet, but I do see them opening up to me in ways they don’t with their peers.
For all their gadgets and rechargeable bravado, they are surely connected.
But when it comes to the important stuff, they’re only now figuring out how to plug in. It sucks to be young. It isn’t that they are any smarter than I am (or anyone else for that matter). Rather, my road time has helped me learned how to access the benefits of having been on the Planet longer than they have.
So as I breath, I relax.
They are intrigued. They aren’t sure why, but they are drawn to the difference. It’s exciting to see them beginning to realize the freedom that comes as they learn to trust it. The name of the thread?
~ Thread Two ~
Every once in a lifetime, I’ve made a friend from someone I had the chance to work with. Judd is one of those special few. As much younger men, we worked for a software company, criss-crossing the country in support of our Clients. From one airport terminal to the next rental car counter, our road show had us spending a lot of time together. What was so fine was the way we ‘clicked‘ from Day One. And since those glory days, the friendship has only deepened.
To many, Judd had it all. His Guru of Software status was legendary. He owned homes. He traveled the world. By any outward standard, anyone looking at Judd and his family would say he had arrived.
But that was then. I miss Judd. So though we don’t get to talk often, when we do, it’s usually a marathon. Wednesday night was no exception. One of the threads in that conversation was his recovery from addiction. Very much a self-confessed ‘work in progress’, Judd is on first-name basis with his 12-step program. He has come so far.
As our conversation rambled across the universe, he said something that really stuck out at me.
“Dan, for years I looked at people who cruised along at eight to twelve thousand feet, never running into any turbulence or course corrections…they went to church, had dinner at the club and never looked out of place. I wanted to be them. But you know what? Being the pilot of my own life, there I was, diving my own plane as to see the earth rushing up to greet me through the cockpit window. Being able to somehow pull out of the tailspin has made me realize I’ve learned things those people I used to envy will never know. For all the therapists and anti-depressants, I still don’t know how I survived, but somehow I did and I’ll always be grateful. If I hadn’t been in the thick of all that, I would never have valued ‘Serenity’ as anything but another word…like I told my sponsor not long ago, I was in charge of my life. I was doing everything I set out to accomplish and you know what he said?
“How’d that work out for you?”
I was miserable and on my way to dying.
Then he asked, “And now?”
“Now I realize I’m just a guy. I don’t worry about all those future things I used to worry about…the master Judd plan, none of it. Instead, now I concentrate of being an influence for Good wherever I happen to be, no matter what it is I’m doing or who I’m with. I just want ‘whatever’ to be a little better (or easier) than it was before…just better.”
He then went on to say something else I really liked:
“You know in some places like the Philippines, a guy will work all day to be able to come home with a little bit of rice and some vegetables. If he’s had a really good day, he may even have a fish. And you know what? He’s a hero. He listens to the sounds of his family around the fire as they eat and he smiles. He’s fed his family another day. He is the Warren Buffet of his hut. For all the things I used to worry about, today I’m grateful to have a place to sleep, a meal to eat and a very good friend to talk to. I am a very lucky man.”
Thinking about how important he is to me, so am I.
The thread? Serenity.
~ Thread Three: Now for a closing story ~
Long ago in a city by the lake, there lived a man called Dan.
Every morning, Dan would rise before the sun and dress for his day.
He would drive to the station and ride a gleaming silver snake into the city by the lake. He’d leave the terminal and walk across the Loop and ride the magic box to his office in the sky. He had everything.
But it was never enough.
No matter what he did, there was a deep gnawing pain that nothing ever seemed to fix.
The hurt grew.
Some days it was raining when he got off the silver snake. No worry. Dan was a clever magician. There were underground routes beneath the city where trucks and pedestrians could make their way without ever seeing the sky.
There were other people there too…people that claimed the lower ways as their village. True, they were still outside, but having no where else to live, at least they were underneath where the rain and the snow couldn’t reach them.
As the days turned into years, a small part of Dan felt better as he came to recognize several of the villagers, eventually learning a few of their names, occasionally stopping to ask how they were. There was Too Tall, One-Eye and an old woman called Mary. Sometimes there was a dollar or two or a few smokes to help them ease their meager existence. More than once, Dan even thought to make an extra sandwich for lunch against the outside chance he might run into Mary in the lower ways. He often wondered what her story was. She never said much about it. But it rarely failed that for a minute or two, the 60 something bag lady said something that made him smile. And for just a minute or two, his pain went away. He appreciated Mary for that. But then, it was back to work. Places to go. People to see. Schedules to keep. Snakes to make. Pain waits for no man. All the while, the hurt grew and grew.
One dull winter day, he decided to ride the snake for the last time.
Resolved, he pulled on his favorite sweat pants over his jeans. He laced up his heavy winter boots over the two pairs of socks. Next, a heavy sweatshirt went over the two shirts he was already wearing. And then, on top of all that, he pulled on his big brown overcoat. It was Winter.
This time, he walked to the station to wait for the next snake into the city by the lake.
On his way, he stopped in at a local liquor vendor in order to put vodka in his water bottle. “The conductor will never know” he thought to himself.
It was the weekend, so the schedule was different, but the snake did find its way to him and he got on. As he rode, he took in the sights as if trying to commit them to memory.
Diving under the ground, the silver snake disgorged him at the terminal he’d seen a thousand times before. Exiting the building, he charted a familiar path and found his way to the underneath parts of the city he had always loved. On such a blustery day, he was counting on the lower paths to hide him from winter’s wind like it did for the huddled villagers with no other place to go until Spring.
This time, Dan wasn’t walking the lower paths to get to his tower place. This time, he was looking for just the right out-of-the-way corner where he could pass the time till nightfall. What was the point of swimming into the Lake and risk someone seeing him in time?
Water bottle now half-empty, he lit a smoke when Mary appeared out of the shadows to interrupt his solitude.
“I want to sit down”
I glanced at her, but said nothing as she struggled to lower herself to the pavement.
“What you doin?”
“Going to go over to the lake in a little while.”
“Can I have one?”
More minutes without speaking.
“Is that water?”
A long pause. “Sure” and he passed her his water bottle and she drank. He could see how the liquid brought a shudder to her frame.
“I’m OK. You?”
“I got a blanket” as she turned to one of her bags.
[Why don’t you go away]
Before he knew it, she had already turned to face the other direction and leaned against his back as she loosely threw the polyester throw around them both. He felt her warmth against him.
“You know the time you gave me your sandwich?”
There was the faint sound of some cardboard tearing, but he remained silent, caught at how her voice had taken on a strange and new clarity.
“You don’t know it, but when you did that, I saw the face of God.”
He wasn’t sure if she was crazy or just senile. So he let four or five minutes more pass…still silent.
“Here, give this to your son the next time you see him.”
He turned in time to see her standing up as she handed him a piece of her cardboard house. In that split second of transaction, her old blue eyes glowed as young as they were incandescent.
“OK. I’ll tell him about you”.
For the first time in a very long time, he knew he’d been saved. She had shared her thread. It was time for him to go back home.
In that moment, in her eyes, he recognized the face of God
In the years since, I never saw her again.
Willie Louis, previously Willie Reed
(June 14, 1937 – July 18, 2013)
Witness To Emmett Till Lynching Dies At 76
“CHICAGO — Hearing the screams of 14-year-old lynching victim Emmett Till from inside a Mississippi barn left a teenage field hand with an unbearable choice. He could tell a courtroom and risk paying for it with his life or keep quiet and let those screams eat away at his conscience.”
February 29, 1944 – July 22, 2013)
‘Law & Order’ actor, dies at 69
“Dennis Farina, who spent 20 years as a police officer in Chicago before he began patrolling Hollywood as a character actor, starring as a detective on the television shows “Law & Order” and “Crime Story” and sometimes crossing into crime, as he did in the movie “Get Shorty,” died on Monday in Scottsdale, Ariz. He was 69.”
Marie Corinne Morrison Claiborne Boggs,
usually known as Lindy Boggs
(March 13, 1916 – July 27, 2013)
Former Congresswoman and Ambassador Lindy Boggs Dies at 97
“Former Rep. Lindy Boggs, who filled her husband’s seat in the House of Representatives after his plane disappeared and went on to serve 18 years as a tireless advocate for women and minorities, died today at the age of 97.”
John Weldon Cale
aka: JJ Cale
(December 5, 1938 – July 26, 2013)
Influential musician dies at 74
“If musicians were measured not by the number of records they sold but by the number of peers they influenced, JJ Cale would have been a towering figure in 1970s rock ‘n’ roll.
His best songs like “After Midnight,” ‘’Cocaine” and “Call Me the Breeze” were towering hits — for other artists. Eric Clapton took “After Midnight” and “Cocaine” and turned them into the kind of hard-party anthems that defined rock for a long period of time. And Lynyrd Skynyrd took the easy-shuffling “Breeze” and supercharged it with a three-guitar attack that made it a hit.
Cale, the singer-songwriter and producer known as the main architect of the Tulsa Sound, passed away Friday night at Scripps Hospital in La Jolla, Calif. His manager, Mike Kappus, said Cale died of a heart attack. He was 74.”
READ MORE ABOUT IT: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/influential-musician-jj-cale-who-wrote-hits-for-clapton-and-skynyrd-has-died-of-heart-attack/2013/07/27/ba83bca4-f6d0-11e2-81fa-8e83b3864c36_story.html
Sources: Picture – Obit_JJ_Cale-02bc2 (Tony Gutierrez/AP) nested in Washington Post Story
Click on the pic below and listen to one of the most influential (and unknown) guitarists of our times.
Riff on Mr. Cale. Tonight’s concert in Heaven promises to be SRO.
To the rest of you, enjoy the track.
Eric Clapton/JJ Cale-After Midnight
PHOTO CREDITS and ATTRIBUTIONS:
‘teo’: hand embroidered, crewel wool and acrylic on linen. 12 x 34 inches. American artist Cayce Zavalgia considers herself a painter, yet has difficulty considering her work of embroidered portraits as painting themselves. She has developed 14 portraits thus far using a system of sewing threads in a sequence that gives the appearance of a particular color or tone. Beautiful stuff. See more at: www.designbloom.com/art/cayce-zavaglia-emtroidered-portraits/
Blocks and SAP mash pic by dan4kent – Source materials at: abc www.presentationmagazine.com/transparent-letters-for-powerpoint-182.htm and SAP Puzzle http://blog.simplilearn.com/technology-certification/how-to-become-a-successful-sap-consultant; computer-class:http://www.mcnallysmith.edu/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/computer-class.jpeg; Tommee Tippee Miomee Night Light: http://madmummas.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/2013-04-16-18.34.09.jpg; (1) Blest be the tie that binds (Words: John Fawcett, Hymns Adapted to the Circumstance of Public Worship (Leeds, England: 1782)) Fawcett was the pastor of a small church at Wainsgate, and was called from there to a larger church in London in 1772. He accepted the call and preached his farewell sermon. The wagons were loaded with his books and furniture, and all was ready for the departure, when his parishioners gathered around him, and with tears in their eyes begged of him to stay. His wife said, “Oh John, John, I cannot bear this.” “Neither can I,” exclaimed the good pastor, “and we will not go. Unload the wagons and put everything as it was before.” His decision was hailed with great joy by his people, and he wrote the words of this hymn in commemoration of the event. (SOURCES: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Fawcett_(theologian) and http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/b/b/bbtttb.htm); Butch-Cassidy-and-the-Sundance-Kid-Robert-Redford-and-Paul-Newman: http://theversatilegent.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Butch-Cassidy-and-the-Sundance-Kid-Robert-Redford-and-Paul-Newman.jpeg ; Good Friends: http://artbistro.monster.com/nfs/artbistro/attachment_images/0029/4917/iStock_000010755473XSmall_crop380w.jpg?1296151422 ; chicago_a_wackerdr_200: http://a.espncdn.com/photo/2009/0904/chicago_a_wackerdr_200.jpg ; Lower Wacker Drive 177_1wilz_l8z1428: http://portfolio.frontlineimage.com/data/photos/177_1wilz_l8z1428.jpg ; Homeless-City-Lower-Wacker: http://chicagophotojournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Homeless-City-Lower-Wacker.jpg ; Reflection-Mather-Tower-75-E-Wacker-Drive: http://chicagophotojournal.com/category/things/ ; homeless-community-lower-wacker-chronically-1: http://shanewelch.com/images/doc-lower-wacker/homeless-community-lower-wacker-chronically-1.jpg ; under-Chicagos-Wacker-Drive: http://chicagophotojournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/under-Chicagos-Wacker-Drive.jpg
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