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God forgive me

I am thunderstruck at the level and insidiousness of my own apathy and indifference. I live in a wretched world, rife with pain and suffering and I barely lift a finger. I have no excuse.

The New York Times is publishing a series of articles on homelessness in NYC. Their first installment catalogues the life and times of a young girl named Dasani. Her life is complicated. Her life is quite grim. Her spirit is beautiful. I am admonished to know her story better and allow its gravity to move me.

I was born into the lap of luxury. Two parents, plenty of food, shelter, love. My siblings and I basked in the reflected glory of a favored station. Of course many were richer than we, but when placed in context I sat pretty.

Motivation and will-power are fleeting. Habits and environment change behavior. So what am I going to do differently to help bend the curve of my myopia?

I opened my email this morning and found a link to this post. The link arrived via the BigThink Newsletter. If you haven’t had the chance to visit BigThink.com, I highly recommend their site.

As I read the piece, I’m struck by the notion of anti-singularity. Briefly described, the dilemma of anti-singularity is too much stuff, too many choices, and too little restraint.

Right now in America, our hurried, busy lives contribute to a severe lack of self awareness as well as awareness of the other. We’re tired, stuffed, busy, lazy and downright rude to one another. There are lots of solutions.

One is contemplation. As the essay describes,

To contemplate is to look at something thoughtfully for an extended period of time. What is contemplated can be an external object, though often it is an idea or thought that is continually deconstructed and gazed upon from every angle.

Partaking in a contemplative practice needs to extend beyond our own problems and dilemmas and address our role in society—how our actions affect others, how our assumptions easily lead to suffering. There is a symbiotic relationship one develops with contemplative practice. It’s impossible to understand your own actions without framing them within the context of the world around you…unless, of course, you believe the world around you was put here for your pleasure alone.

Perhaps in the coming weeks as we careen into Christmas, there will be quiet moments of contemplation, meditation and prayer. Moments were we get outside ourselves, see the world beyond just “me” and begin the process of returning some sanity to our world. By sanity I mean: thoughtful, mindful, empathetic, and kind.

Peace.

 

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 840 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

I can only imagine

Image

 

How this small bundle will change me. So many life lessons to learn and re-learn. So many moments to enjoy and share. One of the greatest acts of selflessness has begun. I’m mostly unprepared but hopeful that with grace and mercy, we’ll write beautiful stories together.

Peace.

Who would notice if you were gone?.

7-Day Forecast for Latitude 44.67°N and Longitude 124.02°W (Elev. 433 ft).

Smells like brilliant

This version had me standing, clapping, cheering. There is a dangerous sweetness to this rendition that gets me fired up.

Enjoy!

 

Four stages, over thirty acts, spread out over three days. A mingling of genius and virtuosity everywhere you look and listen.

For years, I had the chance to attend the Newport Jazz Festival, arguably the greatest jazz festival on the planet. We lived so close to the venue – Fort Adams – I could ride my bike there and back. For seventy-two hours my ears hummed. It could be weeks before I truly came down from the musical high. So much good music condensed into such a short amount of time.

When I happened upon this short video (linked below), I wasn’t surprised. The NPR Music crew get the scene. They realize the extraordinary confluence of coolness. I so appreciate the imagination on display, from picking the corner to record, to the choices both musicians make.

This three minute video nicely encapsulates my affection for jazz, for the Newport festival and for NPR Music. Enjoy!

Peace.

 

Eric Harland and Avishai Cohen scrap metal improv

Making the most of Evernote

Evernote Essentials

Earlier this year, I committed to maximizing the tools I already owned. Like nearly everyone else I know, I have a tendency to buy a new tool, rather than take the necessary time to really learn the tools already at my disposal. I expect the newest, latest, greatest to be better and foolishly throw money at problems I should know how to solve. If I just sat down and learned about what I already had, I could avoid this. For a few years I had been using a piece of software named Evernote but not well. I knew enough to know I needed to learn more in order to really harness this great tool.

Intention and motivation are great, but they don’t address the problem of change. How do I actually change my behavior? The answer (mostly) lies in process. Formulating a plan to actually bring about change is the secret. So I resolved to create a plan whereby change would be possible. I resolved to find ways to learn how to use Evernote really well. I wanted to become an Evernote ninja.

Enter Evernote Essentials. This highly readable (90 or so pages) guide was the result of Brett Kelly’s obsession with Evernote and his desire to share what he had learned. The guide is organized by chapter so navigation is a snap. I made time each day (for about two weeks) to read, re-read and commit to memory what Brett was saying. Then, I started to practice. I went step-by-step at first but each process became faster the more I did it. Slowly, I began to realize my hope of using Evernote in a dynamic way. Now, it’s a part of my daily routine and I’m continually finding ways to make certain things faster, easier, etc.

Very simply, Evernote makes life easier. For me, that means organizing thoughts, websites, pictures, video, blog posts, you name it. I take pictures (yeah you can do that too) with Evernote of all my handwritten correspondence. I record audio of my drum lessons. I use Evernote to help organize information I assemble when writing articles for my hometown newspaper, The News Times. I manage projects, catalog lists, capture tidbits, and generally act smarter now that I’m more fully utilizing this incredible tool.

That’s my pitch. I believe in Evernote, I use Evernote and I learned how to harness this tool by reading Brett Kelly’s guide. If any of this resonates, learn more about Evernote HERE and purchase Brett’s guide HERE.

Peace.



Pinecone, lit in sunset, originally uploaded by aaronphaneuf.

A life well lived takes time. Increasingly, there is an urge to share the well lived life with those near and far. This sharing also takes time. I am practicing the art of pushing back against the tide of sharing, opting for more time creating, living. This causes both an internal and external unease. I want to share, I want to create pathways for others to share in the joy I’m experiencing. But I also want to be alone, unplug, and absorb the lessons of silence. I want the internal peace and external latitude, to stand and observe the sunlight dance along the edges of a pine cone at dusk. Then, I want to share this tiny, precious moment with the world and take pleasure in the beauty.

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