Sideways

The back of my new condo looks out on a farmer’s field.  I am blessed.  In the morning, I wake up, turn over on my left side and look out at the world.  No glasses, so it’s all a misty watercolour.  Everything is tilted.  To my left is down – the patio.  To my right is up – the sky.

Last night’s fresh snow lightened the land, and the sky decided to join in.  Soft cloud shapes moving down through my visual field.  And here comes a patch of blue.  See it transform to larger and then smaller and then disappear past the window view.

Little cars descended to my left way out there on Harrietsville Drive.  Going so sweetly slow in the silence.  But oh oh … here’s someone tailgating the one before – so out of place in my tender landscape.

I should get up  >  No you shouldn’t.  Just watch the passing parade

I should put on my glasses  >  No you shouldn’t.  Focusing is not required

Happily, I have eyes to see

Fun

It’s always been a word I enjoy.  Decades ago, I came up with a test for human beings.  Once I had talked to them a couple of times, I wondered whether I’d like them to be my friend.  The test was simple and totally unscientific.  Do they ever use the word “fun”?  It’s often proved to be accurate.

I’m in Ann Arbor, Michigan, watching Canada’s Brooke Henderson play in the LPGA tournament.  After so many years, we finally have a golf hero to cheer for.  Yay!  Brooke sits in tenth place right now, with two more rounds on the weekend.  I’m thrilled to be here.

I’m staying at the Red Roof Inn and get a free breakfast every morning at the nearby Big Boy restaurant.  Breakie out in the world means reading the sports section of the newspaper, in this case The Detroit News.  It’s so much fun.  (Hmm.  There’s that word.  Guess I’ll be friends with me.)

Happily, the Detroit paper has two articles about the tournament – the Volvik Championship being held at the Travis Pointe Country Club.  I was expecting to hear about players’ assessment of their golf games, and the challenge of the course (such as really fast greens).  There was some of that, but I was taken with quotes from three of the four golfers who were featured.

Ariya Jutanugarn (from Thailand):

“I’m really happy with it and I really enjoy playing golf right now.  So I’m not thinking about I’m going to win, I’m going to lose.  I just have fun and keep playing good.”

Marina Alex (from the USA):

“I’m just going to enjoy it and have fun.  Going to just work on all aspects of my game so I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing and see where that leaves me.”

Jennifer Song (from the USA):

“I just want to take one day at a time, one shot at a time and just see how things go.  I just want to have fun out here.”

Well, well.  Sounds pretty cool to me.  May we all have fun.

 

Beyond The North American Norm

I sat in a theatre this afternoon watching Michael Moore’s latest film Where To Invade Next.  It wasn’t about war and keeping the world safe for the American way of life.  Instead Michael visited Italy, France, Finland, Slovenia, Portugal, Iceland, Norway, Germany and Tunisia in search of best practices – things that those countries are doing well.

Often, when Michael was sitting with a business leader, government official, educator or just plain folks, he’s tell them how things are often done in the USA.  In those moments, the movie was a study in astonishment.  I very much enjoyed looking at the quizzical facial expressions.

Here are some highlights:

Italy – Employees get eight weeks of paid vacation plus generous wages, and work fewer hours than we do.  When the owners of a factory were asked why they don’t keep more of the money for themselves, one of them replied, “Why would we want to be richer?”  They were committed to the happiness, and thus productivity, of their workers, who typically go home at noon for a two-hour lunch.

France – Elementary students eat three-course meals in the cafeteria.  When Michael showed a few of them photos of a typical American school lunch, their pained expressions said it all.  Plus no Coca-Cola, thank you.  The kids were happy with their water.  Lunch takes an hour and is also an opportunity for teaching the value of balanced nutrition.

Finland – There’s virtually no homework in the schools, no standardized testing, and a commitment from staff members to teach the children how to be happy.  School days are relatively short, with the students encouraged to explore interests and socialize with their peers.

Slovenia – University is free, even for foreign students.

Portugal – Drugs have been decriminalized and the focus is on rehabilitation for the users.  Police officers talked about the importance of human dignity.

Norway – In one prison, inmates live in cottages and wear their own clothes.  In a maximum security facility, the culture promotes caring about each other.  Prisoners working in the kitchen have access to knives, and no one seems concerned.  Guards don’t wear guns.  “Talk is our weapon.”

Iceland – Women are well represented among government and business leaders.  In the aftermath of the country’s economic collapse in 2008, the bankers whose actions precipitated the crisis were convicted of crimes.  No bailouts.  Many jail terms.

Germany – The Holocaust is remembered, not swept under the rug.  Public art includes replicas of notice boards with anti-Jewish messages, such as requiring Jewish folks to sit only on the yellow public benches.  Discussions are held in classrooms, acknowledging inhumane Nazi actions.

And … in one of the countries, the young people receive sex education focused on relationship, giving and receiving pleasure, and on effective birth control.  Michael suggested the possibility of abstinence.  The female teacher didn’t see the value of that choice.

***

It was a jolt of a film, dissing various forms of ethnocentrism in favour of people-centrism.  A you and me world.  I like it.

 

 

Double Words

I like words.  Today I’m liking words which have two very different meanings, while keeping the same spelling and pronunciation.  Homonyms.  I find the contrast fascinating.

1.  Conviction … being found guilty or being committed

2.  Ball … a fancy dance or an object to throw

3.  Race … a person’s physical imprint or a competition among runners

4.  Pupil … a student or part of the eye

5.  Organ … a musical instrument or part of the body

6.  Volume … how big something is or how loud something is

7.  Date … a day of the year or a rendezvous with romantic potential

8.  Mass … how much something weighs or a religious ceremony

9.  Cataract … a waterfall or an eye problem

10.  Staff … people who work for an organization or a walking stick

***

The thing is … we human beings often look at an object, a person or an event in one particular way.  It means this.  But what if it could also mean that?  Something completely different from our usual perspective.  What if we were open to discovering the infinite amount of thats in life?  Would we not be enriched?