Maybe we can all learn to rephrase the question, how are you doing? Or to at least, hear the question differently. What interesting things are happening with you? How are you holding up? How is your heart today?
Omid Safi offered the following advice:
“One of the things that breaks my heart, whether in the corporate world or in the academic world, is that I ask my friends, “How are you doing?” and all I get in answer is this head nod, “You know, I am so busy, so busy.” And I feel like, “You told me nothing.”
How do we remember that we are human beings, not human doings? When someone asks you, “How are you?” Don’t shout back your to-do list. I am not asking what do you need to get done today. If we have to rephrase it, what I am really asking is, “How is your heart today?”
Take that risk with the people who deserve it, who are worthy of it, make yourself vulnerable to them, actually tell them, actually share with them: “I am really struggling today. I am doing my very best, but I can really use a hug.” You might just find that it changes the dynamic of your connection with them.”
I have been enjoying taking photos each day as I move throughout my day. Recently I visited Vancouver Island and so you will be seeing some beach photos. This photo I took looking at the water directly below me. I was searching tide pools for anemones; maybe it’s the wrong time of year…
I was surprised when I looked at the photo to see that it looked more like a picture you might see that was taken from an airplane not one of the water.
looking for sea life
finds earth’s mirror
Seven days ago I ran alongside the river
that has flowed through our city
before it was a city.
Water that never stands still,
passes people, cultures, politics, technology
without a second glance.
She keeps flowing a graceful flow
sometimes slow and lazy
sometimes turbid and raging,
Two days ago I stepped away
from my workplace
after thirty-two years
of coming and going.
Thirty-two years with a wonderful dentist,
Dr Brian Sacks, who was by my side
through the ebb and flow
of my life.
Over the years a wonderful dentist, yes,
but a wonderful friend, too.
I have had the pleasure of working with great staff
and of course, the best patients ever!
I am grateful for the opportunity
to have shared many stories
with many people
and to have had the opportunity to have been taught
so much by my patients over the course of my career.
I will miss the conversations and laughter.
I will miss the security of knowing
“where I am supposed to be” every morning
but I look forward to this new phase of my life-
flowing beside water that never stands still.
(internet photo: Torii of Shanno Shrine in Nagasaki after atomic bomb was dropped on August 9, 1945. It was the only thing that withstood the explosion in the area)
A friend challenged me to write a poem about Japan; this is what I came up with.
Japan is a tsunami,
a world of samurai and sumo
ikebana and kamikaze.
The land of the rising sun
graces us with cherry blossoms
and temples that flow
from a calligraphy brush.
half a world away,
to the west,
remnants of people’s live
swept out to sea.
A crewless “ghost ship”
sails to Haida Gwaii.
While we sip exotic tea
and inspect wreckage,
Hiroshima and Nagasaki
disturb us with grace,
Japan is a sculptured garden,
glass and sleek steel
arranged with precision
next to paper walled teahouses,
Mount Fuji an elegant backdrop
to bullet trains that shuttle
into a unpruned future.
Everything is set in motion.
Even if we wanted to
we can’t stop the train
hauling us into a future
we can’t know.
Comfort and security
habit and norm
fall to the wayside.
My heart skips a beat
out of rhythm
out of balance
a sense of direction.
Anger and tenderness: my selves.
And now I can believe they breathe in me
as angels, not polarities.
Anger and tenderness: the spider’s genius
to spin and weave in the same action
from her own body, anywhere —
even from a broken web.
“And still, after all this time,
the Sun has never said to the Earth,
“You owe me.”
Look what happens with love like that.
It lights up the sky.” –Rumi
Expect nothing. Live frugally
become a stranger
To need of pity
Or, if compassion be freely
Take only enough
Stop short of urge to plead
Then purge away the need.
Wish for nothing larger
Than your own small heart
Or greater than a star;
Tame wild disappointment
With caress unmoved and cold
Make of it a parka
For your soul.
Discover the reason why
So tiny human midget
Exists at all
So scared unwise
But expect nothing. Live frugally
The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,
is the same moment when the trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
the birds take back their language,
the cliffs fissure and collapse,
the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can’t breathe.
No, they whisper. You own nothing.
You were a visitor, time after time
climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.
We never belonged to you.
You never found us.
It was always the other way round.