Where have all the flowers gone? Long time passing…

Challenge: I want to know what you think; what will we do? Be a leader.

While looking for a little inspiration today, this post satisfied my need. Joyce Harkness writes what I hear as a call to action and I am struck by it. It’s exactly how I have been feeling, but only more recently.

I went to school with many of the greatest minds, and most influential individuals as a younger man. These youth could recite the stories of their families’ successes in ways that I never could because I simply never learned their stories. Then they talked about what plane they planned to buy, and I lost interest.

My fear today, I believe, is the same as Joyce’s in that I do not see effective/affective thought-leaders in my generation. Much more significantly, I do not see our action leaders?

Where is our future MLK, Ghandi, or other Jesus Christ figure who will put his life on the line in the name of impacting humble, peaceful, quiet change? I’ve met the militants, but a fight begats a fight, so let’s stop there.

But my thoughts always role on and jumble together.

Which citizens will be the ones who’s will will change the arc of our current hate-filled policies, activate the people in peace, and make longstanding betterment in our most blighted communities, for our most needing global citizens?

And what if we had a 1,000,000 of these leaders and not just a few dozen per generation? Maybe we could fix the world this time permanently, and focus on the next important frontiers. To me, new frontiers only matter if they help us fix this first problem of humans hating humans and living in abject squalor, and terror.

And then maybe we would sit around developing products, researching ideas, and crunching data that truly matter — and then we might smile a lot more as a whole while we work.

I don’t believe that good in the world is sum-zero. The pie can expand and contract.

On a personal note, I’m going to start doing what I can to expand the pie, the best ways I know how, which are the ways most important to my state and state-of-mind because it is all I know.

I’m going to volunteer to fight fire in the Methow Valley before everything people have worked for burns to a crisp.

Then I’m going to help those under-served by Seattle’s DSHS by uniting our local health service providers (if they’ll permit me) to better use the online space for listening, communicating, and fundraising so at least there will be a bigger pie to work with.

My final aim is to head to the Washington coast to learn more first-hand about what it is like to live, love, and work on a reservation. How can we preserve our heritage if we don’t serve our heritage. How can we have done what we’ve done and only pay homage in words?

I don’t feel reserved today, however, I do feel humbled by the things I don’t know and won’t accomplish alone.

I’m not in a position to impact global change today, and probably never will be. Yet, I have my faith that we are all one species, that we might go extinct if we don’t learn to play nice with each other, and that local change, person to person, neighbor to neighbor, makes for real help, progress, and improvement as long as there is great listening and compassion.

Peace, love, and namaste!
Ian

In Grief And Sorrow — Where Are The Great Leaders?.

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Signing Mom Up For Facebook

What’s the most difficult job you’ve ever had? Ditch digging? Roofing? Bottom coating boats? Cutting out a brain tumor? Settling a nasty divorce hearing? Embalming bodies? Cleaning toilets at your frat house after a kegger, dude? Just kidding, they don’t clean their toilets 😉 , and that’s not a job; that’s doing a chore in a shitty social club. =/}

Or maybe the most difficult job you’ve ever had was something that doesn’t even sound difficult. Maybe it was taste-testing chocolate bars or beer? Or perhaps, was it catching fish? Or, crunching data? Or possibly, was it watching movies? That was one of my least favorite jobs in my teens at Atom Films here in Seattle.

And maybe after several months, you lost your taste for the very thing you loved. :{ It sucks to get tired of what we love because, HEY, we once loved those things! But it will happen, right? Don’t lie.

Does that make you worry a little? Well, probably. We’re just human. And at the end of the day, I say, “Play it again, Sam.” Cuz that’s just part of our job sometimes. But, we gotta pop back up quick when we get knocked down. Otherwise, we lose the game.

For most of us in the States, work is how we guarantee our daily food, water, and shelter, both for ourselves and for the people we love here.

So if I’m going to blog about awesome workers in Seattle, I feel I need to qualify my blog from the very start. Here it goes.

I’m calling my shots – trust me – my experience isn’t unique – this is just my experience that I want to share – this is my Tardis – this is how I get to travel back in time, even if it’s only my life; AND FOR MY NERDS!!! At least I don’t create a paradox and blackhole us out of existence by doing this.

None of us here in the states are working as hard as some of the folks I met in Guatemala. In Guatemala, especially outside of the city, a job was a godsend. For many, to work was to have found the grace of a higher being. To speak English was nearly to guarantee finding work. Someone might argue with me on this point. But this is what I saw. I wish I had taken more pictures, but many Mayans believe it steals their soul. And yet again, I digress, so let me truly digress. *Aside* Some of the best pictures I saw of working conditions in Guatemala were shown at the Spanish Embassy in Antigua, Guatemala. If anyone remembers the exhibit there, Jan. 2011, I’d love to hear from you. *Aside /*

There were families that walked into the market center of Antigua every day, except the days where their goods fetched better prices at another market, I think it was Tuesdays & Thursdays. Watching them, I saw truly hard work, and gained perspective. Let’s say the youngest worker helping carry items was 6 years old, while the oldest appeared to be seventy or maybe older. They all carried at least their weight in goods to the daily market from what I could tell. The slope they traversed (up, and down, not side to side) to get to El Mercado would be the envy of any Washington ski resort in both pitch and length. The tools they carried and the wares they sold engulfed them, and bent them at knee, back, wrist, and neck. It was clear they would get injured eventually, disabled eventually, and at the same time, you knew there was no vacation except maybe Sunday. How did I know? Because I would go buy fresh avocados or papayas from them at my leisure, for little more expense than a one block walk and a silver dollar.

Or let me talk about a specific family, which was dear to us at our Hostel, La Terraza (The Terrace). This was the local family of recyclers. The matriarch came by a couple times a week for our empties with her two young sons in tow. Her one son, who was seriously ill and physically disabled, lay strapped to her chest as she worked. Her other son, probably nine years old, helped her by carrying cement bags filled with cans too, almost no bottles, because they fetched a higher return and went right back to the the beer companies in their delivery crates. At least she still had a smile, and he still had a hand to fist bump, that is, if it wan’t already filled with bags of our garbage. Then we’d bump elbows. *aside* Paola, can you remember their names for me please? They deserve some credit, as do you for supplementing their hard work with some free baby food and medicine. *aside /*

Digressing terribly, I will apologize for my knock earlier against fraternities because some people join frats to improve their chances to find work that they love, which I think is honorable. I’ll continue this apology — since I really did detest frat-life at Trinity College after just one semester as an attendee not even as a brother– by saying, that some people do it to make friends, find housing, get connections and other reasons that I can’t fathom. And all of this helps them get closer to doing what they truly want to do. Having work we love, makes life not feel like work at all.

I’m tempted to end this discordant post (did I really just apologize for frat-life after talking about how hard some Guatemalan’s have it). There’s something sick in my brain, but I admit it, unlike so many other people. And for this, I give love to all my friends, my mom, Dr. Tom Semper, the rest of my family too, and I’ll tell you the reason why I single out Mom & Tom.

Tom helped me understand the condition (don’t call it a disease), the medication options (a leetle scary but useful), and he gave me the clarity of thought to step back from the emotional roller-coaster and find myself again.

However, Mom has given me a safe location (her house), where I can be myself, get judged daily by smart people, and still hold my head up. She’s taken very good care of me while I’ve tried to find a way back to a more productive life.  And finally, she’s living proof that someone with a disease (diabetes), can manage this condition (insulin & diet), and beat the fuckin odds. My mom was supposed to die before she turned 50. She celebrated her 65th birthday this year. Why I envy my mom’s disease, and loathe my condition, we could possibly cure diabetes, but people don’t seem to believe there’s a way to cure a condition like bipolarity. I hope they’re wrong for me, and right for her. So what do you do after you have a little cry? I listen to tunes I love, and I write down a quote I’ve heard before.

So tell me, “How do you eat an elephant?” (pause1), (pause2), (pause3), “One bite at a time. And sometimes with a knife, fork, and napkin round your neck just for posterity.” ~Credit Chris Bromwell from The Yard for teaching me this expression.

~Listening to @Macklemore, “Ten Thousand Hours” via Grooveshark