April 12, 2005
Do we really want a world where we can dispose of the possibility, where there is none of this? We're pretty sure what the guest of honor would have said.
Perhaps the path of right-there-for-all-to-see compromised capacities, like every destiny, though quite properly not one to be sought, has consolations and insight and resolutions of value to all concerned. Certainly enough that quiet --or public-- murder is not called for.
Living the life we are given. The treasure, if there is a treasure, is hidden there, if anywhere.
Here. Now. Us. "Them."
April 12, 2005 in Hard truths to smile at, once I learn how they work | Permalink | Comments (0)
Authentic Promotion's Molly Gordon believes
mistakes are the currency with which we purchase tickets in the amusement park of life,
sometimes required for surrender only when the ride has ended and we're a little unsteady on our feet. Having examined ourselves, apologized if necessary, and corrected what we can, what then is it possible to do with guilt, disappointment, or embarrassment because our arrow-shot-into-the-air fell to earth at some very inconvenient, and sometimes painful, latitude. What is there to do?
Our version of some of her suggestions:
There are easy and useful ways to start doing this. Consult your local experienced lifecoach for more ideas. (S)he just might offer a substantial introductory session for nothing more than the fun of it.
February 24, 2005 in Hard truths to smile at, once I learn how they work | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
February 12, 2005
Juzo Itami (1933-1997), the courageous and talented director of our favorite film ever anywhere, Tampopo (1985), is also known for the gently comic and poignant Ososhiki "The [Father-in-Law's] Funeral" (1984).
We at Good&Happy correspond with a colleague, an American woman who long ago moved to Japan and married her husband there. Her father-in-law died recently. With permission to publish, she writes:
[I have been away from Tokyo] in my husband's hometown here in Japan for the funeral of my father-in-law....I want to thank you for the thoughtful messages of condolence. ...and to share a bit about what it was like to say good-bye to my father-in-law.... Some parts may be startling, as they speak about customs that are not followed in the United States.
What I want to share is not so much about my deep personal feelings for Otoosan, my father-in-law, as about the cultural challenges and gifts for me of experiencing a Buddhist funeral in Japan. What I have experienced is so foreign to what I grew up with in Massachusetts.
I reached Otoosan's bedside in time to spend some hours with him as he took his leave of us and this life near daybreak. This was a sad, and precious, and hopeful time. After Otoosan's death, I went back to the house to lay out his futon and blankets on the tatami in the room where we would receive mourners. Dressed in a kimono, Otoosan's body was transported from the hospital and laid on the futon, where the blankets covered both him and the three large blocks of dry ice on his chest and stomach.
At his head there was situated a small altar, flanked on both sides by fresh flowers. On the altar were incense and a candle, which I was told should not be allowed to go out. Both were long-burning and would need fresh replacements every four or five hours or so. And Otoosan, too, should not be left alone, for if the body was left alone then his spirit would be lonely.
Mourners came and went throughout the day. They sat by Otoosan and cried over him, and drank the tea that I served. It was my duty, as the wife of the only son, to serve the tea. We family members gratefully absorbed the words of the mourners and shared our tears with them. When night came, we brought our futons into the room too, and took turns sleeping and tending the incense and the candle.
On the evening of the wake this scene was repeated at the funeral home, as other relatives joined us: about 10 of us slept in one big tatami room; Otoosan was there too, in the coffin. And incense and candle duty continued. Sake, beer, and whiskey flowed as cousins sat and reminisced about their uncle with my husband (Otoosan was the last of his generation).
The next day, after the funeral, our immediate family accompanied Otoosan to the crematory, where we watched the coffin roll into a furnace. About an hour later, the furnace doors opened and the trolley rolled back out to reveal bones and ashes. An attendent selected special bones and put them on a tray, explaining to us which bones were from which part of the body. Then each family member was given a pair of chopsticks, with which we were instructed to pick up a piece of bone and transfer it from the tray into an urn. The contents of this urn will be interred in the family grave at the local Buddhist temple. After some prayers, we left for home, where we set the urn on the altar in the tatami room to await the day of interment.
I feel humbled and grateful for this experience. It was both comforting and an assault on my senses. The physicality, the reality, the spirituality...all of this, all rolled into one. Knowing that the soul had moved on, witnessing of the body, become ashes. It was raw and real and heartrending...and poignant and beautiful.
Thank you for reading this. I am sharing this with you, as well as with others in my life, because it is important to me to close the gulf I feel between my experience of this funeral and what non-Japanese imagine, based on their cultural frame of reference, when they hear the word funeral.
We here feel enriched, contemplating someone fulfilling with true heart the profound demands of a culture not originally her own.
February 12, 2005 in Hard truths to smile at, once I learn how they work | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
They are "change or die" factors the US labor force will face. Daniel Pink, author in Wired of The Revenge of the Right Brain, says:
a funny thing happened while we were pressing our noses to the grindstone: The world changed. The future no longer belongs to people who can reason with computer-like logic, speed, and precision. It belongs to a different kind of person with a different kind of mind.
Like the overstated fashionable thrill about Richard Florida's Creative Class, Pink's book A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age misunderestimates the importance of the unglamorous, structured, conscientiously-maintained, reliable and habitual living infrastructure that it's easy to take for granted. We here, for instance, are quite convinced of the value of reasoning with computer-like logic, speed, and precision in approaching, like, life and stuff. Too much glee over Right Brain Ascendancy correlates with infelicity and infacility at the margins, the Let Plodding George Do It syndrome.
In fact, Pink acknowledges that those capabilities are still necessary. It's just that they're no longer sufficient. That is, the numbers people, the line production people, often, dare we say it, the typically culturally male roles, can no longer indulge their automatic, assumed superiority to the less quantifiable, often female, ones. In return, artists, marketers, training staff may no longer luxuriate as mascots yielding occasional and mysterious value. All of us will be challenged to demonstrate value-added-excellence via the dexterity of adroit partnership.
In every arena, there is an accelerating requirement for attentiveness and accomplishment on the horizon. Looking together at the trope An MFA is the new MBA, Virginia Postrel's The Substance of Style, and Tom Peters' Show Time...All The Time, we hear a bellwether.
The semiotics and sensory impact of design. Visual, tactile, kinetic, conceptual. Body, senses, meaning. Attesting the human capacity to live this way, almost everything encountered in France is either elegant and venerable, or exhibits design flair, finesse, flourish, panache. Compare fish sticks to sole meunière. Or sushi.
In daily experience, consider the typical "handout" of stapled xerigraphic copy. The communication is partial, uninviting, (by ripening standards) insulting. Think better paper. Edited, proofread prose. Contact information. A pen or folder with your logo. Make a gesture. Fine-tune the experience. Contemplated, composed, and complete. What was once-upon-a-time good enough, no longer is, if it matters.
Seth Godin's finger is in the air. The stakes have been raised and the game is afoot. Will we drive, hitchhike, take an intentional walk on the verge, or be run over? Doing our best matters, because our lives matter.
þ the frequently-rewarding Creating Passionate Users.
January 30, 2005 in Hard truths to smile at, once I learn how they work | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
We circulated the question around here and got back at least one up-front answer, from a jaded but contented long-term wife.
I don't care how smart one is --I'd say my husband and I are equally smart (2 Ivy League professional degrees) and that he he wants a smart woman as a major criterion--there's a lot of self-discipline called for in dealing intimately with another person. And I'd say, especially a man. (A man has a veto power on the relationship for physiological reasons I don't care to belabor).
A lot of women have come to believe that a selective project of deliberate self-denial, giving up "rights" in a particular situation, putting someone else first in some areas for the sheer joy of it, somehow is unequal. Well, men, and probably people, really respond to that kind of affectionate focus. And are sometimes walking around in a stressed-out trance like anyone else, clutching at straws for relief and meaning in life.
Maybe "smart" is what works, a la the much-hyped "emotional intelligence" and Gardner's 8 Intelligences that are supposed to be just as good as what IQ measures, to hear a progressive educator tell it.
And, frankly, it's not unusual to encounter a woman who thinks that she is smart and stimulating, but isn't particularly, just stuff-fed like foie gras geese with the latest opinions and accumulated degrees, trotting out some unexamined cliche from her pals or NPR. Since MoDo made herself the focus here, I'll observe that apart from a few cute turns of phrase, I haven't heard a new or intriguing idea from her in years. What if the ranks of secretaries and nurses have a lot of women who pay attention and think for themselves? They may actually be smarter, more fun to discuss things with. I know who I'd rather see a movie with.
Smart is as smart does.
It's a foreground of taste and grace on a canvas of power and destiny. Yes, power differentials are a subtext even in loving relationships, to be consciously understood.
Get a grip, and some perspective, mademoiselle. Read some Jane Austen, even The Rules with an anthropological eye, see The Age of Innocence, for visions of the iron self-control that was adopted by women as a rule of life not that long ago.
In whose universe does the desire for "a relationship" loom largest? (S)he will want to remember Gordon Livingston's True Thing #5: Any relationship is under the control of the person who cares the least.
Update: Either the approach or the framing of it didn't grill many truffles back at Ann's, we're considered far too approving of inequality in favor of the somnolent male, even endorsing a weak and sniveling way to go about living!
Especially helpful since a collaborator is seeking parallel-blog titles, a sort of arena to let-er-rip right up to the fringe of the First Amendment.
Baldo's Kooky Abuelita has been spoken for, Weak and Sniveling may be available. Stay tuned.
We're steeled for more candor from all, absorbent linen pj shirttails wadded and at corner-of-the-eye ready.
Update 1.28.05: President Summers of Harvard is paddling in the vapors of questions of candor.
January 16, 2005 in Hard truths to smile at, once I learn how they work | Permalink | Comments (3)
January 11, 2005
Her name was Rose Liberto and her father had taken her to the Foundling Home of the Sisters of Charity in New York when she was 5 days old. Her mother had died bringing her into the world, shortly after their passage from Italy to America. In his grief, he had decided he could not raise her alone....In 1903, my grandmother, Rose (Liberto) Pfeifer,...at three, with her cardboard suitcase, boarded the orphan train from New York and headed west. She got off as instructed at every stop, until she arrived in western Kansas where a German couple chose her to be their daughter.
Most of us have no idea.
January 11, 2005 in Hard truths to smile at, once I learn how they work | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)