Friday, February 28, 2014

Unremarkably Remarkable

I found Latvia.
My Dad loved to talk and tell stories. He also repeated stories and thus I recall the story of the strongest man he ever met. Apparently this man could lie horizontally between two chairs while more and more men sat on his rigid stomach. According to Dad, this man barely strained. He also could apparently tolerate repeated punches to his mid-section without flinching. And until one single night my Dad and his friends somehow convinced him to participate in a spontaneous little strongman competition, he had no idea this man, someone he had known for years, could do any of these amazing feats. Full disclosure: my Dad tended to exaggerate and I’m fairly certain whiskey factored into all this and thus the truth may be somewhat skewed. Nevertheless, I do remember three details my Dad emphasized every time he told this story:

1.      He was small.
2.      He was quiet.
3.      He wasn’t a show-off.

With my Dad, I met this unremarkably remarkable man several times over the years and although I never witnessed any strength-tests first hand, he certainly confirmed all three. Whether his intent or not, I learned much from my Dad’s story: real strength is often quite humble and hidden.

My favourite Winter Olympics moment this year happened when I wasn’t even watching, during a game likely only true fans saw in its entirety. But for me the sport wasn’t important to the outcome. In fact, the outcome was a loss. No medal. And for a country I couldn’t even pick out on a map: Latvia. But unremarkably remarkable hockey goalie Kristers Gudlevskis, who apparently makes $55,000 yearly, managed to block over 50 goals despite facing well-known, talented, million dollar professional hockey players admired by millions of fans.

Wow.

I wonder how many people had actually even heard of Gudlevskis? But that’s not the point. If we’d just pay attention, the answer is lots.

Humble, strong men and women out there? Despite those distracting show-offs getting too much attention, people DO notice you too. Thank you. Thanks for all your quiet strength needed in so many unremarkably remarkable ways people rarely see because instead of being Olympians your strength wows in ambulances, classrooms, or as peacekeepers or scientists building robots that perform brain surgery and especially you volunteers. No gold/silver/bronze for you but that shouldn’t devalue your inspirational, every-day, behind-the-scenes heroics.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Things that deserve the stink-eye:

you say tom-AYT-o, I say tom-AHT-oh-no that is just not right.

Gestating tomatoes should come with a warning. Just sayin.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Things that deserve the stink-eye:

My wife makes terrific muffins and cookies and cakes and they're healthier than regular baking because she replaces a good portion of the oil and sugar with overripe bananas which she freezes then thaws. Tasty treats for sure.

But then I saw her make them.

Holy monkeyshit muffins Batman! Whoa.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Wordfuse (Sick Edition)

Me: cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, clears throat, pause, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, pause, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough, pause, wait, wait, wait, thinking There should be a name for it when you can't stop coughing and it keeps you up all night.

Up all night talking to myself me: Coughinsomnia?

Me: Yup. That's it. Perfect.

Up all night talking to myself me: cough, cough, cough....

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Things that deserve the googly-eye:

Just one example of why I get a kick
out of so many of the people I work with. 
mayhemployees.

About 100% of the time I choose to 100% love 100% of the people I work with, and most days I get the feeling they do the same. Thank you!

(Ok, maybe 99%.)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Things that deserve the stink-eye:

my son's parking skills. Uh, he's either very efficient at parking or very lucky. Either way, I am going to choke him.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Dear Cupid,

My apologies but someone has to say it: you are over-rated. You and your Valentine’s Day commercialism and advertising and sitcom episodes and first-impression rose and your arrows and your chubby cheeks; it’s all too much. And it urges many of us to long for those we don’t yet know and some of us long for those we’ve known and lost. Essentially, you make many of us yearn for what we don’t have. That’s just sad.

No offense. My intent is not to be grumpy nor disgruntled. Or old. Or whatever. And if you’re thinking I just need one of your arrows right between the eyes that won’t work on me because most of the time I’m already in love. It’s just that life has taught me there are so many more interesting ways to define and express love. Despite this though, people still wait for you to shoot at them. Weird. Sometimes it’s almost like if love were the neighbourhood well, I wonder why oh why are so many people dying of thirst? (Drink the water people. Drink it.)

Because truth be told aren’t there definitions and declarations of love all around us every day if we choose to notice and choose to appreciate and choose to act on them in big and small ways? John Burroughs said it so well, “I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see.” You see, every day itself is an expression of love. Even Mondays. (Well some of them.) We just have to want it: we must want what we already have. It’s as simple as that and as hard as that too. All those healthy things in your life: want them.

And this is why I think love is much more than chocolates and flowers and grocery store teddy-bears and a cherub with erratic aim. Love is February 15th. And the 16th and it’s November 8th too. Sure love is still sometimes giddy with a crush but mostly it’s just a hand to hold or someone’s soft breathing or a group of people laughing while the potatoes are passed across the table or the tail wagging at the door or getting the kind of grapes you know she prefers or it’s an unexpected text or words of encouragement at work or an unexpected compliment (given or received) or a truly good belly-laugh. It’s guys’ night. It’s girls’ night. It’s play-dates. It’s a high five. And love is especially a new baby girl.

This is why, cherub, we don’t really need you. So grow up and get a real job. And a hobby. And hang with your friends. And eat chocolate chips. And choose to love it all.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Sally and Anne and you and I.

In the basket or the box? Careful: one answer
is much more empathetic than the other.
(source)
Although somewhat controversially used to determine autism spectrum tendencies, The Sally-Anne Test, developed in the 80s, measures children's cognitive functioning to help verify "theory of mind" and its key by-product: empathy. It determines if children can extend their thinking beyond that early egocentric childhood phase.

Sally and Anne were my first thoughts upon recently learning this word:

sonder (noun): the emotional realization inspired by the truth that all of the 7 billion people on this planet are living their own lives, each fraught with troubles and joys and ideas and dreams and darknesses similar yet different than mine or yours. 

For me, sonder is what I think I feel when I people-watch and wonder. It's what I think I feel when I ride the subway only remotely encountering and briefly interacting with strangers, silently seeing our worlds meet and part and meet and part again. It makes me feel small. It also inspires in me a longing for all the people and culture and stories and perspectives I will never live long enough to truly understand.

I love this word.

Sonder seems to me a solid reminder of how to be human. I know where Sally will look for her marble and thus I must respect all. In other words, I cannot fully know Sally or Anne or anyone but I do know the struggle itself. We are separate yet together, different yet the same.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Sometimes.

Sometimes my confidence remains behind in the room I just left, like I forgot my wallet but I didn't notice until it was too late to return yet I knew something wasn't right from the beginning.

Sometimes I replay conversations in my head again and again until I have punched so many pencil holes in so many paper chains of questions and banter and ideas and exchanges that I can't tape it all back together anymore.

Sometimes I find tape and scissors and reassemble it all again anyway because sometimes the only way to cope is to put the untogether together again tighter, stronger, better. Sometimes this whole process inspires in me a grind and a grit I find exhilarating. Sometimes I get so lost in reflection I realize maybe I wasn't lost at all but instead breaking new ground.

Sometimes I forget that if confidence were on a graph and we were all on that graph it would always be more peaks and valleys than skimming along strong horizon lines.

Sometimes I ruminate and sometimes I am too hard on myself yet sometimes I suspect I am oblivious to all of this. Sometimes I might even seem arrogant, yet most-times too self-deprecating, but either way, flawed and I am okay with that because perfection is boring.

Sometimes I think people are thinking about me and my mistakes and I am amazed at my ego because they really aren't because why would they be?

Sometimes I forget that without struggle there is no progress.

Sometimes I need to shut off and shut up.

Sometimes we make ourselves miserable and sometimes we make ourselves strong and we should just decide where to put our energies.
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