You Tube, I Tube, We Tube, They Tube

Yesterday I watched some Johnny Carson clips on You Tube. I’d forgotten how funny the man was. The look, the pause, the giggle, the body language,the class. It’s hard to believe there was so much darkness inside him. On the surface he was all spontaneity and light.

I didn’t start out watching Johnny. I started out watching Fred. You know, the Fred who danced with Ginger. Which brings me back to Johnny, and the clip where he had Ginger on his show and she asked him to dance and he did. And he was graceful and great until he kicked his leg too far up in the air and after grabbing his crotch, limped  back to his desk crying “I hurt myself, I hurt myself,” with his voice going all high and peculiar. Right. You needed to be there, or at least see it, which of course you can do by going to You Tube.

So I started thinking how amazing it would be to have our own Special You Tube Moments. Mini-memorials, mementos, and memories of our lives and how we lived them. The good and the bad.The pretty and the ugly. Even the times when we tried to show off and limped away embarrassed, in pain, and defeated.

For no good reason, the first thing that comes to mind is the time that my school mate, Jerome Umschweif, stretched a thin cord across the dim entryway of my building just beyond the staircase, which I, of course, failed to notice as I came skipping down the steps, on my way to school, singing my little heart out, hoping I might finally be discovered by a passing talent scout, landing instead on my back, praying to breathe again. When I finally managed it, I yelled out every curse word I knew, which by the age of ten was more than a few, but Jerome had already fled the scene of his crime cackling all the way.

Then there’s my face to face with a rattlesnake on the croquet court at Camp Grottewit (Named for the owner, Irma Grottewit, who once said to my bunk mate, Ellen X , “You know why your mother sends you to this camp, Ellen? She sends you because she hates you and she wants to get rid of you. That’s why she sends you” — Not long after, karma delivered, but that’s her You Tube Moment, not mine).  Although I was and remain terrified of snakes, I had no time to be scared. The snake was sick. Could barely move. Nonetheless, was able to rattle. I escaped unscathed. I have no clue what happened to the snake.

Much later, while living in Vermont, I took a walk alone in some very deep snow. Crusty on top, soft underneath. As one leg plunged through, while the rest of me remained on top, I wondered how long it would be before someone came to save me . When I got tired of wondering, I prayed fiercely while pulling my leg up and out, and sliding along on my chest to a place where I was able to grab a tree and get myself to safety. Only afterward did I realize my advantage in being a lightweight.

Let me end with the good times. .In particular, those shocking, shining moments when I stood up to my craziest teachers, one in seventh grade, another in sophomore year of high school, and walked out of the room in the midst of their tirades. Though I got no medals at my eighth grade graduation, and lost my part in the school play, I learned how invaluable it was to retain my integrity. I still believe there were angelic interventions involved. I never could have done any of it (except the cursing out of Jerome) on my own.

It might be fun to see these things spin out again in all their inglorious detail. Or, it might not. Who’s to know? What are your own “I Tube”  moments, the highs the lows the victories, the embarrassments, and the defeats? There are probably more than you think. A living album of the personal past seems like a valuable thing to have.

Here’s a chance to  re-create some of these moments with imagery:

 Recreating The “I Tube” Moment

Breathe out one time and go back to a stand-out moment in your life. Use the first one that comes to mind. Don’t worry whether it’s good or bad. Just go for the gusto. Be spontaneous, embarrassed, scared, joyful, whatever comes to you is  valuable.

See this moment unfold again, this time as a video clip. See how by doing this you put distance between yourself and what happened.

Observe it all now with clarity and compassion. Make no judgments. Then breathe out, open your eyes, and return.

 

Nice People

I used to think that “nice people” were people to avoid. For me, nice meant ordinary, boring, even phony, I was, without exception, a snob about niceness. More precisely about not being nice. At least in the ways that haunted the memories of my childhood, where niceness was the gold standard, and I lived at poverty level while trying to fool most of the people most of the time.

But only a fool doesn’t change its mind. So after making a move from Manhattan to Maryland, I’ve chosen to change mine. From this to that.  From nice meaning phony, second rate, fools’ gold. To nice meaning calm, kind, peaceful, even healing — the nice I’ve been encountering right here, right now, where the checkout woman at Trader Joe’s asks me what I’m planning for this beautiful afternoon, going beyond the standard “Did you find everything you need?”  And the woman next to me at the salad bar in Whole Foods, struggles to unseat one of their flimsy cardboard boxes, then offers it to me as I stand by, a bit embarrassed by her generous presence, and my own delayed reaction.

“I’m from New York” I tell her. “I’m not used to this kind of graciousness.”

“I’m from New York too,” she says.  ”I left a long time ago and I don’t regret it.”

When I tell folks down here that I’ve recently moved, their next question is “From where?” When I say, Manhattan, they seem blown away. “Why would you do that,” they say.  But “Why not?”  For despite my home town’s sexy cachet, and perhaps because of it, it suffers from having been hypnotized by the eleventh commandment: “Thou shalt seek always more, different and better,” thus making it difficult to cultivate the kindness gene, that root source of niceness, that gets so easily derailed in the face of vanity and greed.

Enough about New York.  Of course there are nice and wonderful people there. But here’s where I am now. No four year olds careening down the street on scooters making it unsafe to walk. People who talk to each other, instead of chatting incessantly on cell phones. Folks in stores conducting business without attitude. Checkout people who speak to me as though they want to help me out instead of hurrying me along.  People who, when I smile and say hello, smile back, instead of looking past me or away.

Perhaps my gratitude and awareness will wear off quickly, and in a month or two the window in my brain may close and I’ll be back in the dark. I hope not. I was there too long. I shall pay attention. I shall work on it. And, if I’m lucky, one day, in the not too far off future, I will own this quality of genuine “niceness,” and make sure to return it in kind, from whence it cometh, and even from whence it doth not.

To cultivate and honor kindness and civility, (aka  ”niceness”) in yourself and others, use this imagery exercise for 21 days and see what happens.b:

The Face of Kindness

 Close your eyes and exhale one ime through your mouth.

See before you, around you, and within you, the face of kindness.

Become one with this face. Feel and live how every cell of your body fills with its warmth and light.

Smile.

Then breathe out and open your eyes.

 

 

 

Once Upon A Phone

A long time ago, before you and I were born, there was a simple yet wonderful system that involved only humans and phone lines, nothing more, nothing less. When you picked up the phone, you were asked what number you wanted (“Number please?”) where-upon you were connected to that number unless that number was busy or the person wasn’t there. When you called and your party answered, whether you called a business, a relative, a friend, or an adversary, that was that. Mission accomplished.

Gone are the days.In some ways good. In many not. I have spent a large part of the past ten weeks on the phone, not with people, but with mechanical/digital voices, programmed to override my answers while ignoring what’s clear and simple in favor of the convoluted and complex, thus launching me into an orbit of  toxic thought that wreaks havoc inside and out.

It’s the rudeness, the in-humanness and in-humaneness of the thing that drives me nuts and makes me scream. Really. And when I finally do get a real live person on the line, it’s too late: I’m already cooked — Hugely ticked off, unable to behave with the grace I prefer to both give and receive, and ready to divorce the entire human race.

There is no one thing, event, style, philosophy or generation to blame it on. Like gun fever, it has no rhyme or reason. But my first choice is $/Money. Need I explain? Probably not. Nonetheless, here it is.

By choosing the mechanized, the digital the inhuman and inhumane we stop paying people for their labor and employ souless machines instead. We refuse to recognize personal connection or contribution. We sacrifice grace, manners, and the value of service in favor of easy and convenient. We forgo and forget kindness and caring. And there you have it. Cheap. Fast. Way to go. Not just here in America. But all over the world.

My daughter recently sent me photos of a place in Seattle where she and her husband celebrated her birthday. They rarely eat out. They are fine chefs themselves and prefer to cook and dine at home. So I knew it had to be special. And it was. .They chose it for the quality and presentation of the food. Also, for the ambiance, the natural setting, and the service. In the photos they sent, of the food and of themselves, right next to them, perched on the window ledge, was a vintage phone. The kind from the 1970′s. Black. With the handle in the cradle and the round dial and the chunky look. Nothing glamorous, nothing sleek. But it did the job. There was no need to try for newer, better, fancier, or different. The basic message came through and that was enough. You answered and you got it. No bells or whistles. No texts or twitters. Just a plain old phone connection. One on one. Simple. Easy going.

Going. Going, Gone! Ne’er to return. Too bad. .

Should you prefer a genuine interaction, a true communication, use the imagery below and see what happens:

Golden Socket

Intention: To transform mental static and depleted, scattered energy into positive power.

Close your eyes and breathe out three times. See a cord that emerges from the center of your body. See this cord plugged into a socket that connects you to static, debilitation, fragmentation and fatigue. Pull out this plug and disconnect.

Breathe out one time. Now plug your cord into a golden socket. Sense, live and know that by plugging into this golden socket you connect to the energy of clarity, vitality and light. Feel and see this clear golden wave of energy moving throughout your entire body.  Then breathe out and open your eyes.

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