Monday, May 31, 2010

Jeremy Rifkin on the Empathic Civilization

Thanks Rafa, for turning me on to this great series of animated lectures! Every one I watched was interesting, but I particularly loved the clarity of this one.

They're produced by The RSA, a fascinating group in itself. Sort of reminds me of TED, but British, and 250 years old.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Flying Fortress

This weekend we went to go see the restored B-17 that landed at Hillsboro airport, part of a barnstorming tour across America. For $400 you can take a ride in the Flying Fortress, and for $5 you can climb around in it.

It was oddly affecting. We just wanted to see a cool airplane, but walking through it, you couldn't help but feel the bigger story: a bunch of 18, 19-year-old farm boys, in 1930s-era technology, putting their lives on the line to save the world. True.

This January I put an American flag sticker in the window of my car, something I can't imagine doing at any other time in my life. It just dawned on me that whatever happens that will take this world forward, the ol' USA will have to play a major role, the leadership role, probably. Who else would it be?

We're too fractured to pull it off right now. The story that pulled us together back then doesn't work anymore. What will our new uniting story be? Where will it come from?

It's happening, really, but I get impatient.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Everyone needs a wand

This weekend I made wands out of a tree limb from the backyard. I conducted this interview with one six-year-old magician-in-training.

Do you believe in magic? Yes.

Why? I don't know.

Is magic real? I don't know.

Why do you believe in it? I don't know.

Is magic good? Sometimes good, sometimes bad.

Give me an example of good magic. Turning someone into a bird.

What's an example of bad magic. Stopping someone's heart from beating.

Who's good at magic? Wizards.

Can anybody be a wizard? Not anybody. All boys. Actually, any person can be a wizard.

Do you have anything else important to say about magic? No.

The thing that's happening

I've been having so many conversations lately and the common theme seems to be an awareness of just how much everything - everything - seems to be in flux right now. ALL STRUCTURES ARE UNSTABLE, the warning sign reads.

Yes. We are going through a transition of a massive order. Sometimes it looks like things will get worse before they get better, and sometimes it's hard to imagine what better even looks like.

Former Senator Fred Thompson recently wrote in his memoir that this is the first generation that can't take for granted that our kids won't have better lives than we did, but I don't buy that. I think future generations have a chance at lives that are much richer, more meaningful, more connected and joyful, more rooted in abundance than scarcity, in wholeness rather than separation. Sometimes we have glimpses and experiences of what that sort of life that looks and feels like.

This morning I asked a clear-headed friend of mine, What we do when we know something is emerging, but we don't know exactly what it looks like, or how we're going to get there, or what role we will play? We don't retreat, he said. We stay present. We hold the quality and substance of what we seek while getting comfortable with the idea that we can't control how it unfolds. It's not passive. We accept the tension.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Not tired of this yet

A human being in space, floating above us in a space station, taking photos, sending them to us. Yeah, that's normal.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Goldsmith Bldg. labyrinth

Aaron's first assignment: Create something for our studio hallway that feels like a gift to our neighbors, and tells the story that we are part of a shared community. Budget: Nothing. This is what he came up with.

We finished it recently, and it will get its first public exposure tomorrow night at First Thursday. Loyal blawg readers get a sneak peek, of course.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The storyteller's work

Brian Lanahan sent me this exchange between Bill Moyer and Oregon writer Barry Lopez, part of an interview from Moyer's final show.

BARRY LOPEZ: I was in Japan. I was with a novelist, a man named Kazumasa Hirai. And everywhere I've gone in the world, I've said-- he was a storyteller, you know? We call him a novelist. But he was just a storyteller. He's like me.

And I would ask him or anybody I was with, "What do you mean when you say you're a storyteller? What do you do?" Because I want to know what I'm listening for is, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, we can talk about the structure. I'm not interested in structure of sentences. What I want to know is who how do you know how to behave? How do you know what to do as a person for other people? How do you know? What do you do?"

BILL MOYERS: As a storyteller?

BARRY LOPEZ: As a storyteller.


BARRY LOPEZ: And Kazumasa San said to me, "Your work is to take care of the spiritual interior of the language." And he said in Japanese this word we use, kotodama, means that each word has within it a spiritual interior. The word is like a vessel that carries something ineffable. And you must be the caretaker for that. You must be careful when you use language to look at every part of the word and make sure that you're showing respect for it in the place that you've given it to live in the sentence.

But I see all of us engaged in the same thing. And that is the invention of the story. And the story to me is the brilliance of storytelling is that it's the only and the best protection we have against forgetting.

I think, what is at the core of every story. I mean, how many novels have you put down and said to yourself, "Oh, I never knew that." Mostly you know it all, but you forget it. And you close a book and you say, "I knew that, but I'd forgotten it. And I am so glad to be reminded of what I intend to do and who I am. And what-- and how I want to conduct myself in the world."