Category Archives: culture

Reach out and touch someone

Remember this commercial? AT&T 1987 “Reach out and touch someone”, AT&T hoped, would inspire us to give that special someone a call. Long distance was just a phone call away. Spend a little time with your friend or loved one. They’re worth it.

That was before cell phones and the internet made everyone feel like they were in your living room even though they weren’t. No need to reach out when we’re all right here!

Yesterday, I got a call from someone scheduling a service appointment. (That’s the way they do things here in Williamsburg — they call. no text. no email.) She was apologetic. Hadn’t written down my request and now was trying to make things right. We’ve never met, but out of the blue she tells me, “You wouldn’t believe what I did yesterday.” Turns out this woman’s fishing excursion at the pier gave her a front row seat for the shooting of 4 people: 2 adults and 2 children. One of the children is in very critical condition after having been shot in the spine. “I hope he makes it,” she said.

This morning as I fumble with words to express how the world leaves me feeling these days, I have landed here on the blog with you. I am also reading a book by the late Candace Pert, PhD, called Molecules of Emotion. It addresses the bodymind network of connection and the power of our emotions to effect our physical and mental well-being. Indeed, it has called my attention to the power of the negative in our world which is stealing, not only our attention, but our health.

I had just seen headlines about this shooting because it was a “most read” item in the digital distribution of our local paper. It begged me to click… and be tormented. I started and then stopped. The woman who witnessed it now cannot stop. So much so that she is confessing it to a total stranger.

This brings me back to what I set out to do here at the KC blog. To offer a word of hope or help that originates from our physical nature. Heck, if I get stuck on something I head for my bicycle so I can get a good think. In recent days, I have started and stopped so many drafts of posts because what I have to say here seems irrelevant (perhaps even irreverent, given all the calls for thoughts and prayers) compared to all the “big” things happening in our world. What can one voice, one person, one soul offer that could possibly contend?

Suddenly, I hear the late, great Aretha Franklin calling us

“Reach out and touch
Somebody’s hand
Make this world a better place
If you can…”

How many times has a gentle hand or a loving word touched me? These are the things that still resonate as the chemistry of memory that my “bodymind” stores.  Still there to lift me up. There to supply. There to inspire. Surely, there to drown out the sounds of hopelessness that pervade our headlines. There is always a reason for hope. It comes to us one touch at a time as we offer it one person at a time.

Who is the one who reached out and touched you? May we all go and do likewise.

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Will this be life-giving for me?

How can we tell if something is alive?

Biologists look for 5 traits, processes or functions as signs of life:

  • metabolism (consume, construct, destruct, excrete)
  • growth (learn, build, improve)
  • reproduction (spawn offspring or ideas)
  • responsiveness (sensitive, attentive, active)
  • movement (action, progress, liveliness)

These are the characteristics of life — the life of anything.

That’s cool, because I can ask, how does my group or organization fare in this test?

  • Does it have a healthy intake, constructing, evaluating and excreting the excess?
  • Is it growing in size, stature, knowledge and/or numbers?
  • Is it spawning new ideas, new energy, spin-offs, satellites?
  • Is it sensitive to the needs of community and responding effectively to those needs?
  • Is it doing things and taking action rather than standing by, waiting or watching?

If my organization is alive, I can dive in. If not, how can I enliven it? If I can’t, perhaps I should look elsewhere.

Even better, I can do the life-test with projects I am considering taking on or investing in.

  • Will it engage me in a healthy way and allow me to sift out and toss the excess?
  • Will it contribute to my growth? help me learn, improve or perform better?
  • Is it creative and something I will want to share and pass along?
  • Does it meet a real need in a way that is effective at reducing the need?
  • Will my active participation offer satisfaction, fulfillment and contentment?

Of every opportunity, I can ask: Is this alive for me?
… If maybe? Give it a try and test again.
… If no? Then it’s someone else’s project.

It’s worth the test. Our biology shows us how. All things we choose to do should answer yes to this question: Is this life-giving for me? IMG_3355

Quitting is the best thing he ever did…

Bill, sweet man, I just met him. Honest, open, friendly, kind. Shares a bit about himself and his family. Got three kids, “all medical,” he says. “The oldest used to be a doctor, but he quit.” “Says quitting is the best thing he ever did.” “Says, now he gets along with his wife…” Bill shakes his head, “Our health care system, it’s so broken.”

Bill may have said other things after that but I didn’t hear them. Broken: how do we know when something’s broken? It spills out into the rest of our lives. It pours out all over what we love and what we care about.

water flow sunset

If the flow is unhealthy, it can extinguish what was once wonderful and pure and beautiful. Like the insidious oil of a punctured tanker, the evidence of the puncture doesn’t come first as a drop in volume, it shows itself in sheen and then surface-floating fish, disabled otters, and struggling seabirds, their feathers coated and useless.

We know brokenness by its damage. The spill. The despoiling. The carnage. The ugliness.

Now, call that ship on its misdeed and it will deny it all day long. It will gird up its loins, even as it goes below deck to patch the leaky spots. Not me. I am strong as they come. I am not responsible for this nastiness. Unavoidable. Not my fault.

Yet, when the ship is righted, the system mended, and the cargo tended to, that tanker sails on its merry way, delivering what it was supposed to, where it was supposed to, to whom it was supposed to. All systems go. Ecosystem maintained.

So many broken systems. So many people plugging holes with all their might. But the spill, it keeps coming. Because we humans are leaky. And feeble. No match for the tanker’s tons. But call us broken and we rail against it, blind to the drippings that puddle at our feet, coat our hands, and threaten to overcome our hearts and our lives.

In our humanity, we are broken, but also fixable. We’re clay, putty in the hands of our Maker. Pulling ourselves from the plug we once were, the spill may keep on, even gush a bit at first, but the evidence of brokenness begins to mend. We get along with the wife, the kids, the neighbors. We are whole again, and filling back up, we may even spill over in generous overflow.

Yes, there are many systems broken in our world today, but I refuse to be an unwitting funnel. It is amazing, just by taking one step out and two steps back, how one can welcome a new solution and a different approach.

Clear-minded and self-controlled, our adjustment does more than mend; it makes.

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