Thursday, September 21, 2006

Chasing Joy

Each day is both a joy and a curse, ignoring this truth only makes it worse. When I get up each morning, I seek the rush of a surge of energy in the early hush and quiet of the predawn hour. I need that surge of energy to jump past the boundaries reason sets, based on my perceived limitations and the paranoia that comes from knowing they might actually be out to get me. Keeping that in mind, the best victory is to sprint past the curse and chase joy all day long.


Chasing Joy

Each day, when I rise, I am uncertain
Regarding my reaching beyond the pale,
Because of the evil behind the veil,

Or the wondrous joy beyond the curtain.
My thoughts leap alive in the pre-dawn hush.
My senses awake, and begin to hum,
As my mental fingers forcefully thrum -

Plucking the strings of adrenaline rush;

Slipping the bonds that my worries have made,

And speeding across a wide open field -
Soaring and dodging the limits they wield.
My conscious mind joins the spirit cascade,
Using all the skills it owns, to enjoy
Leaving evil behind and chasing joy...

Mick McKellar

September 2006

Teach and Play: What Would Jesus Do?

Although I suppose it's one of those little truths that nearly all of us have been taught by our own children -- the value of listening and the incredible danger of not listening to them -- my thoughts ranged a bit further down the same path -- straying into the area of teaching and playing with our children...

I want to share a quick comment from a visiting priest in our parish, who is from Bangalore, India. During a rather lengthy sermon (about two weeks ago), he commented quietly about the "What Would Jesus Do?" phenomenon. He asked us if we ever noticed the following: Jesus spent his time teaching the adults and playing with the children in the community...while we teach children and spend time playing with adults.

Sometimes, I think we have forgotten that children need to play (especially to play with us) and that adults need to learn (especially from each other). We concentrate on our children's schools and the need to "educate" them; and leave it up to the media, the Internet, and modern electronic gadgets to take care of their playtime. We just don't play with our kids enough - instead we buy "adult" toys, and play with aging adolescents masquerading as adults. In the meantime, we abrogate our parental responsibility to teach each other, as adults, the meaning of community and the process of sharing and caring for each other...setting a example that our children can learn from us--as we play with them. Lessons on tolerance, integrity, honor, and commitment to the common good are a parent's duty and privilege to give to their children. Our legacy should be life lessons and lots of love, not a litany of lost moments; collections of loving memories, not collections of possessions, gadgets, and wealth.

This is one reason I applaud efforts to reach out to adults and teach them to think as leaders, not lemmings. Reason and reasonableness are not dirty words. Putting aside the pundits, the politics, and the prurience in our society leaves so little remaining -- when viewed through the portal of the media -- that I sometimes despair. I am encouraged by efforts to promote reason and reasonable leadership, and I pray for an increase in those efforts.

Full Face Listen

While everyone is very loudly declaiming their concerns, problems, solutions, and complaints, it seems no one is listening. Perhaps before a vision can be shared, we need to work on the ability to listen. I know that, as a parent, one of the toughest things I had to learn was to actually, actively listen to what my children wanted to say to me. After all, I was the font of all wisdom, was I not?

An historical example from my sordid past...
I was, as often happened, paying only partial attention when my older daughter, then a ten year old, was trying to tell me something important to her, but not particularly interesting to me. She noticed that I was busy reading the newspaper and not focused on her comments. She asked me to listen to her.

I said, "I'm listening, honey, you just go ahead and tell me."

She reached up and grabbed my face, turning my head to look directly in her eyes. "No," she said, "I mean full-face listen!"
Getting a lesson in life from your ten-year-old daughter is a humbling experience. It's also an experience every manager, CEO, president, CIO, and other leader should have at least once in a lifetime. I still have trouble listening, but I'm working on it now.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Surviving an Ego Trip

A few short weeks ago, I was standing on the northern shore of the Keweenaw Peninsula, watching a glorious sunset over Lake Superior. I am still amazed at how insignificant I felt, surrounded by the natural grandeur of the lake and the burning fury of the western sky. Only a few moments ago, I realized how lucky I am to have access to such events, both for their intrinsic beauty and for their ability to bring my ego back to Earth.

Web logs (or blogs) provide the opportunity to allow my ego to swell beyond its usual, barely manageable size, and to let my opinions run rampant over fields of common sense, compassion, and critical thought. How wonderful to have the forest to remind me how limited is my time on this planet. How great to have the thunderous power and gentle beauty of Lake Superior to remind me how tiny are the scratches I leave on the fabric of life. How sublime to have the vaulting glory of the summer sky to remind me of the vast ocean of air which surrounds and supports my tiny spark.

My words should stand no taller than the ideas from which they sprout. My thoughts should be no deeper than the depths of the consciousness stream from which they spring. My light should shine no brighter than what is needed to illuminate my steps as I travel through life.

For in the vast desert of useless information surrounding us, even small ideas can anchor the shifting sands and provide an oasis. In the enormous sea of information on the Internet, averaging an inch in depth, even a moderately deep thought can provide a tranquil pool where the fast and shallow currents can slow and rest. In the limitless shadow of a world veiled by fear and mistrust, even a small spark can lead the way to a greater light.

It is in this spirit that I begin this web log, and it is in this spirit I hope to survive the pitfalls of my arrogance.

Mick McKellar