Whose idea is this, anyway?

My favorite TV ad features a big eyed, sad faced, muppet-like creature that nobody wants around. Ignored by all, left to sleep next to the trash bin in a dirty back alley, it wanders from place to place, dragging its scraggly tail behind it ,until one kind soul finally opens a door and invites it inside. As it walks out of the darkness and into the light its raggedness gradually transforms, until, behold! It is magically reborn, sporting luminous rainbow colored plumage, while an audience of admirers generously cheers it on.

This heart rending spot is about ideas 

How we fear, resist and ignore them, leaving them to find their way up through the cracks of our lives far too often., I’m surprised at how good we are at doing this. And how ignorant we are of what we’re doing, most, if not all of the time.

 I’m equally surprised at how easilly we get caught in this trap ,ignoring even a brilliant  idea whose time came, so many years ago, when we first opened our doors to people, from around the world, desperate  to escape horrendous conditions, seeking comfort upon our safe, un-war torn  shores.
In a comment in the November 9th edition of The New Yorker on line
George Packer reminds us that “In the Second World War, Congress passed legislation that made resettlement in the U.S. harder for Jewish victims of Nazism than for Germans uprooted by the war Hitler started. The chairman of the Senate’s immigration sub-committee presented the problem with a loathsome flourish,  stating, ‘Many of those who seek entrance into this country have little concept of our form of government. Many of them come from lands where Communism had its first growth and dominates the political thought and philosophy of the people.’  Does this sound familiar?  Why doesn’t he just say what he means. (Too many of them are Jews. We thought that problem was disposed of)
Only the angry persistence of President Harry S. Truman got Congress to expand the numbers and remove the discriminatory provisions. so they too could live and flourish.”
New and foreign people (like new and foreign ideas) scare us.
Who knows what beliefs they harbor. What harm they might do? Do they hate us or love us? Will they adapt, or will they flounder in the thick soup of “American exceptionalism?”
At first, I was torn. But after slogging through my future- based fears the choice became clear: its time for our compassion challenged* country, which gives such easy lip service to “freedom and liberty for all,”  to do what it was created to do, by honoring the highest of its ideas and ideals.
 I hope that’s not too much to ask. Or is it?
Here’s an image to move this idea along:
Coming Home
See before you the Statue of Liberty.
See her raising her lamp higher, and beckoning the lost and homeless to Freedom’s Shore.
Become as one with her, as you sense, feel and live how it is to walk the talk of liberty and, freedom for all.
Then breathe out and open your eyes, knowing all is well.
*The “Idea” ad is from GE.
* Compassion challenged is a term used by Washington Post columnist Petula Dvorak, in her November 3rd column on the plight of the homeless, as exacerbated by the law.




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.