Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom): an understanding that “responsibility” is just another word for “being able to respond.” [Screaming at the top of your lungs is one response, but it isn’t the only one….]
This lovely little two-minute clip “Taking Ownership” by Sarang Yande makes a point we often forget: When one person (even a very little person) accepts ownership of a problem, amazing things can happen….
Poet Carl Sandburg once pointed out, “Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.”
There are a multitude of methods and products that are supposed to help you manage your time. The problem with most of them is they don’t work all that well any more as our world speeds up and our to-do lists grow exponentially.
Self-discipline strategist Rory Vaden’s counter-intuitive thoughts on time management is explained in the following TEDx Douglasville talk, “How to Multiply Your Time.”
A lot of Un-Seeing is about developing a different way of seeing your world. In this video of a TEDx talk at the University of Illinois, Daniel Simons who is the head of the Visual Cognition Laboratory at the University of Illinois explains that what we think we see is not necessarily so. He touches on how what we see affects the way we think.
GETTING NEW EYES
One way to help yourself grow away from your habitual, same-old habits of thought is to expose yourself to the ridiculous, the radical, the unfamiliar and the surprising. Any of these can help shake your set mind loose…you are more open to exploring when you are facing something for the first time.
Just for fun, check out this video, Let’s Look At the World a Little Differently by getconnectu (2012) It shows events captured by security cameras around the world that are not horrifying or scary-making. Could something like that change your idea of the world as it is? Think about it….
TRAVELING PROMOTES NEW EYES
Many books on developing your own creativity tell you to make a point of trying a new thing: take a different route to work, have a conversation with a new neighbor, see a movie you would never watch normally…anything to break up the patterns.
This way of mind-bending has always been the classic argument for the value of traveling to new and different places. When you’re a stranger in a strange land and you are looking at things you have never seen before, it’s likely that the strangeness will trigger in you other ways of thinking.
For the last thirty years, journalist Rick Steves (a marvelous storyteller) spent four months every year traveling all over the world. He lays out how it enriched his life and how it helped him become braver, “Fear is for people who don’t get out very much,” he says in this TedX Rainer talk.
DO IT AGAIN AND AGAIN
I’m not sure WHO started all of these 30-day challenges, but they are certainly getting ubiquitous. You can 30-day challenge your way to any new habit or skillful means, it seems – everything from a better diet, a new exercise regimen, a new way of thinking, or anything else that is subject to change.
Repetition promotes new habits and new patterns of thinking, it is said. How would trying something new every day change up your ways of thinking?
OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
It’s a lot harder to work on approaching the familiar as if you are looking at it for the first time, seeing the strange in the ordinary and the everyday, or seeing connections that are currently obscured by the assumptions you’ve already made or the ways you’ve already been taught to see things.
You need to get some Outsider eyes. Ask yourself: How would anything in your life look to someone who has never seen it before?
I grew up in Hawaii. For the first seven years of my life, I was living in a different country that was owned by America as a “territory.” It seems we do things a bit differently than the folks who grew up in Middle America. It has been an eye-opener for me.
Nowadays we have all kinds of people flying in to check out the beauty of this place. They come with their own attitudes and their own set-points about what is “right” or “wrong” or “true” or “false.” Often they do not see what we see and talking to them helps me see our local “realities” from a different point of view.
Talking to our visitors and newcomers (and even to the relatives and friends who have gone away to live in other places) helps us who have never left understand other perspectives and other people’s world-views, it seems to me.
LIVING IN DIFFERENT WORLDS (IN THE SAME PLACE)
Some of the many visitors to the Hawaiian islands come to live here with us. Some of them actually acclimate to our way of doing things. They “go native,” reveling in the many layers of our island society’s culture and the richness of our many-faceted worlds.
Other newcomers hang together in their own enclaves and pretty much try to live the life they always lived when they were living somewhere else. They spend a lot of time making comparisons and finding a lot of what is here unsatisfactory.
Still others end up disillusioned because this much-touted substitute for “Paradise” is not what they thought it should be.
Hawaii is a place made up of realities and dreams, just like every place else. What you believe is what you will see. It makes this place particularly instructive to those who are trying to find new eyes, I think. I know the ones who grew up here are also always getting surprises and lessons about living as well.
Here’s another poem….
TO A STRANGER LOOKING FOR PARADISE
Island welcomes you when you come.
The gate is always open.
It is open when you come;
When you leave, it is open.
But, if…if you really want to be a part
Of this Paradise you keep hearing about,
Talking about, thinking about,
Here’s your first lesson:
Whatever you are given, accept gratefully.
Whatever you can give, give graciously.
Be who you are, gracefully.
People smile if you smile; people laugh if you laugh.
If you cry, they will hug you.
If you hurt, they will comfort you.
Boast and they turn away, embarrassed for you.
Show angry and they walk away,
Or return anger for anger.
If you are real, Island is real.
If you play games, Island plays harder games.
If you wear masks, Island becomes illusion –
Sometimes a pretty dream, and sometimes a nightmare.
Island is not how much money you have,
Or how many fine things.
Island is appreciating who you are, how other people are, and where you are.
You will be tested: There will always be lessons,
There will always be tests.
Doesn’t matter how long you stay.
People have been burned by strangers over and over.
They wait, they watch, they see if you can handle squirming, dodging obstacles…
If you will keep going, as they do.
They know: Island is a cruel, cruel lover.
Her hands, full of fruits and flowers, hide clubs and spears.
She asks for total surrender; she only wants all you’ve got….
If you take and take and take, Island shuts down to you.
Doesn’t matter if you are rich or smart.
Doesn’t matter if you are a “person of consequence.”
Island will not be with you and in you and of you.
You can live here fifty years,
And STILL you will not be Island.
So, if you want Paradise, if THAT is your dream,
Know there is a price you will have to pay.
Know that the price is all of who you are and what you are.
Also know that when you have paid it
And keep on paying it, paying it, paying it,
Island opens to you and the dream becomes real….
Here is the key…
You can use it if you like:
There is only one gate to Paradise.
It is inside of you.
by Netta Kanoho
[A friend of mine once told me it is a Molokai thing, the phrase, ‘as how…. It encompasses the concept “that-is-the-way-it-is,” but it’s also more than that. It is a deep understanding, tolerance, and acceptance of human nature and all its faults, for the world as it is and all its vagaries, and for the Mystery – the mana and the Spirit — that is at the heart of living.]
Baby-Boomers really did try to change the world. We tackled the same-old with the tried and true, passed on down to us through the ages: rebellion and protest, dreaming big dreams and making them real, and exploring new directions in spirituality and/or consumerism.
Somehow, even though the world certainly did change, the mess kept morphing in other directions. Changing the world is not such an easy thing to do. Who knew?
Here’s a poem about it from a Baby-Boomer point of view….
CHANGING THE WORLD
Some people seem to think
They need to change
This old World and make it fit
Some vision they are seeing.
If only this, if only that,
If only the Others would, they say,
Then there would be a lovely New World,
All joyousness and love and truth.
It’s odd, though, the way it turns out:
When their vision finally comes to pass,
Out of all their effort and struggle and pain,
Somehow it all turns into the Old again.
Peacemakers take up war;
Rebels turn into tyrants;
Freedom-seekers embrace chains.
Stern laws and unbending rules,
Liars and cheaters make.
Compassion turns to bitter-tasting Charity.
And this old World keeps on turning,
A seething, sweet, and stinking mess,
That keeps right on singing its chaotic heartsong
That always changes, always stays the same.
By Netta Kanoho
NOW COMES A BETTER WAY
Jason Haber, in his book, THE BUSINESS OF GOOD: Social Entrepreneurship and the New Bottom Line, details the rise of Social Entrepreneurship, a way of doing business that combines an entrepreneurial foundation plus the very real desire to make a difference and wrapping it all up in sound, sustainable business practice. There is hope as well that these businesses will promote real change.
The biggest difference between plain vanilla entrepreneurship and the “social” variety is that one of the top priorities for the social entrepreneur is doing work that makes the world we live in a better place.
Attention to business sustainability and growth is paramount, but it is balanced by a mission to work towards mitigating gnarly social problems. One of the strategies that seems particularly effective for working towards change is connecting with people and helping them change their lives by themselves.
Below are two social entrepreneurs whose work was included in Haber’s book and one that was not.
BANKER TO THE POOR
This YouTube video by Infinite Fire is a brief documentary, a quick overview of Nobel Prize winning social entrepreneur Muhammas Yunus who invented the idea of micro-finance to help combat global poverty. He started the Grameen bank.
In his book, BANKER TO THE POOR, Yunus points out, “Charity becomes a way to shrug off our responsibility. Charity is no solution to poverty. Charity allows us to go ahead with our own lives without worrying about those of the poor. It appeases our consciences.”
Jason Haber points out that more than 7 million borrowers rely on Grameen Bank. Of those, 97 percent are women. The average loan balance per borrower is approximately $162. The gross loan portolio of the bank is in excess of $1.1 billion.
In a typical year, the default rate on the Grameen Bank loans is 2 percent. This is very different from loan default rates in developed countries: 11 percent for student loans, 6.5 percent for mortgages, and slightly under 3 percent for credit cards.
Another program for good reviewed in Haber’s book is Gerald Chertavian’s Year UP program. This program gives inner-city young people the chance to develop skills that make them employable. In the following video Chertavian talks about how the program began.
The program, which was founded in Boston and has since spread to other cities all over the United States, gives inner-city young people the chance to develop skills that make them employable.
Chertavian’s book, A YEAR UP, describes the program. New enrollees in the Year Up program range in age from 18 to 24. They sign a contract that tells them what’s expected of them. They earn a daily stipend while they participate in the program but they don’t pay any tuition. (The funds that maintain the program come from the fees Year Up charges to corporations and companies for well-trained interns.)
The students’ Year Up is split between 5 months in a classroom environment learning personal and professional skills and six months in a full-time internship program.
Eighty-five percent of the Year Up graduates are in school or have a job within four months of graduation, Haber says. They earn an average of $32,000 a year for full-time employees and $16 per hour for part-time work. Even during the Great Recession, Year Up students were succeeding, earning 30 percent more than those outside the program.
This video, Year Up Journeys, tells the stories of three young people who participated in the program.
ENTREPRENEURIAL THINKING = WORLD CHANGE
Here’s one other program that sounds particularly interesting. It is not featured in Haber’s book.
Jeremy Liddle is Director of Entrepreneurship at The Enterprise Network for Young Australians (ENYA – www.enya.org.au), a not-for-profit organization established in 2002. It is described as being “run by young people for young people.” The organization has the vision that Australia will lead the world in innovation, and that every person will understand that starting their own business is an immediate and viable career choice.
Liddle believes that entrepreneurial thinking can change the world. His passion is focused on creating a world of job creators, people who are in control of their own financial destiny.
The following TedX talk was given by Jeremy Liddle at Macquariel University in Sydney, Australia in 2013.
The social entrepreneurship movement continues to grow. It seems like that is a very good thing.
For a long time I thought I just was not fated to have teachers. Very little of what I’ve learned about the Real has come from guru-types. In fact, I am a lot biased against the guru-wannabes.
Maybe I’m like the three year old who’s got the blouse on inside-out and is focused on buttoning the thing regardless. “Me do, me do,” the baby declares.
So do I! What about you?
WHERE ARE MY TEACHERS?
Jerrold Mundis, a writer about financial things, in his book MAKING PEACE WITH MONEY posited that a student becomes “ready” for a teacher by keeping unobstructed and receptive, by setting aside biases and preconceptions, by being willing to listen and consider.
It becomes a matter of Un-Seeing, of finding out how your own prejudices, preconceptions, and attitudes are stopping you from doing what you need to do to get to where you want to go. Then, of course, you’ve got to make the effort to at least be open to other ways of thinking. It’s not always easy.
Perhaps your greatest teacher is your own self and how you react to your own life experiences.
THE VALUE OF SELF-REFLECTION
As Julie Jansen, in her book, I DON’T KNOW WHAT I WANT, BUT I KNOW IT’S NOT THIS, points out, “Self-assessment requires time, honesty, patience and introspection.” Her whole book is all about self-assessment tests and finding out where your head and your heart are trending.
The following video, “The Value of Self-Reflection” is a TEDx talk by James Schmidt, a student at the University of Glasgow in 2015. His thoughts have a deep poignancy from one so young. In it he delineates the lessons he learned in dealing with the death of his father.
RECOGNIZING YOUR “TEACHER”
Jerrold Mundis also says that your “teacher” can be a person, a book, a phrase, an image, a thought, an overheard conversation, an inspiration, a tv show, or a lover. He says, “We recognize the teacher only when we are open to the possibility of being taught.”
Hmmm. Now, there’s a thought. Maybe the teachers have been there all along and I just never recognized them.
ANOTHER TAKE ON THE MATTER
Here’s an interesting video by Jim Rohn, a legendary motivational speaker in the personal development field who died in 2009.
HOW ABOUT YOU?
So…what about you? Are you ready to recognize your teachers? What works for you?
Brian Grazer knows how to “talk story.” So does his collaborator on this book, award-winning journalist Charles Fishman.
“Talk story” is a Hawaiian-style way of turning one-on-one conversations into an art form. It is not “small talk.”
When you “talk story,” you ask questions, and then you listen to the answers. Every answer and each question becomes a part of a bridge that you can use to enter into somebody else’s world-view.
The conversation becomes a tour of another person’s mind and heart. At the same time, you open up your own world to the other person. Together you can play.
“Talking story” is a way of making deeper connections with someone else and it turns the ordinary into something that is richer and more layered than just a news report or an annual Christmas brag letter. It is a way of tapping into the realities of someone else’s life.
Old friends who are used to wandering together in each other’s worlds can hold hands and cross their bridges into each other’s lives in less than five minutes of talking. All the memories come back in a rush, even if the friends have not seen each other for years.
Two strangers who are adept at ‘talking story” can be holding hands and skipping through each other’s worlds in no time at all.
It is a lovely thing. According to Grazer, it is also a way to deepen your understanding of life and the world, and is a very good way to tell better stories.
HE’LL PUT YOU IN THE MOVIES
Brian Grazer is a professional storyteller. With his long-time friend and partner at Imagine Entertainment, Ron Howard, Grazer has been making movies and television programs for more than 30 years.
As both a writer and producer Grazer was personally nominated for four Academy Awards. In 2002, he won the Best Picture Oscar for A Beautiful Mind, the amazing film about the life story of John Nash, a Princeton-educated mathematician who won the Nobel Prize and who was plagued by devastating schizophrenia.
Glazer’s films and television productions have been nominated for a total of 43 Oscars and 149 Emmys. His movies generated more than $13 billion in worldwide theatrical, musical and video grosses. In 2001, the Producers Guild of America honored Grazer with the David O. Selznick Lifetime Achievement Award for his artistic and commercial accomplishments.
A CURIOUS SORT
Grazer credits his successes to just one thing: following where his lively, active curiosity leads him.
For as long as he has been in the film industry, Grazer has made a practice of setting up what he calls “curiosity conversations” with “interesting and accomplished strangers.” The list of people with whom he has shared these conversations spans more than 27pages in the book. He apologizes for any omissions.
The list includes people from almost every walk of life. There are luminaries and superstars, scientists and renowned artists, villains and heroes as well as more ordinary sorts. Each person Grazer spoke with was pursuing some passion or walking a path that engaged them completely.
The talks helped to inspire and inform the films Grazer has successfully produced as well as many other stories that he pitched to various investors that were ultimately rejected.
CURIOUS IS AS CURIOUS DOES
In this book Grazer explores what curiosity is and he explains how he uses it to expand his own world-view. In the process he also points out how you, too, can use your own innate curiosity to do the same thing. It is fascinating reading.
In one of the earlier stories in the book, Grazer tells about his curiosity conversation with former L. A. police chief Daryl Gates. After months of trying to set up an meeting with the guy, the producer finally got in to see the police chief…just as the city of Los Angeles was on the verge of exploding in the aftermath of the Rodney King beating by L. A. police officers. It was a tense time.
[Clicking on the following link will take you to a CNN documentary that was posted on You-Tube in 2011. The documentary was made 20 years after the beating and the riot that ensued when the police officers who were involved were acquitted of wrong-doing by a jury: https://youtu.be/tWhYmb1sANM.]
Grazer says, “My visit with Darryl Gates was strange, memorable, unsettling. In other words, it was perfect.” Grazer’s mission when he met with the beleaguered police chief: “I wanted a sense of the personality of someone who wears the chief’s uniform with absolute confidence, who commands a miniature paramilitary state.”
Grazer accomplished his mission. The conversation took him entirely out of his own everyday world. It helped him to understand that even though he lived in the same city as the police chief, even though he was as successful and in a position of influence in his own way like the police chief, their worlds were “so different they hardly overlapped.”
The police chief and the movie producer looked at “the very same city from completely different perspectives, every day.”
Grazer explains, “One of the most important ways I use curiosity every day is to see the world through other people’s eyes, to see the world in ways I might otherwise miss. It’s totally refreshing to be reminded over and over, how different the world looks to other people.”
THE RESULTS SHOW
Developing this ability of using his curiosity to step into other people’s world-views has allowed Grazer and his partner Ron Howard to produce 17 movies that are very different one from the other. Each film explores different very human points of view and different sets of real-life circumstances.
The films have allowed us movie-goers glimpses into where other people’s heads have taken them. The movies are an impressive array of human experiences. They include:
[picture credits: via Amazon.com]
Grazer’s thoughts on curiosity, asking questions and listening for the answers, and the ways one can use these things to broaden your own repertoire of ways of seeing and moving in the world is a fascinating study. The book makes a useful manual for anyone who is cultivating a life that is rich and deep with meaning and mana.
I do highly recommend this book. It is a most interesting read because, as I’ve said, Brian Grazer is a storyteller. He knows how to tell good stories….
Here’s a poem….
WHEN THE OLD ONES TALK
Watch when the old ones talk.
Their eyes wrinkle, dart and dance.
Their words murmur like a stream.
Their hands dance patterns matching their words.
The laughter bubbles up.
When they tease, it is a test, you know.
If you can laugh at the world and laugh at yourself
What a joyousness there is!
All the pain of the world is understood
In the laughter of old people.
All the heartaches, all the mistakes,
Forgiven in one burst of gladsome rebellion.
Pettiness gives way.
We are all together and one,
Despite the anger, the arguments,
The pain, the despair.
We are one because
We can laugh,
We can sing,
We can dance,
We can love,
We can tease
And the layer on layer on layer
Delicate placement of every glistening, golden sound
Resounds as laughter reverberates.
by Netta Kanoho
Picture credit: via Amazon.com
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The dreaded “BLOCK”. It’s a mind-thing that plagues every creative person that ever was. Whether you are a writer, a scientist, an artist, or a business person, there comes a time when you reach for an idea and there’s nothing there. For some reason the well has gone dry. Not even mud comes up.
You are pounding on a stuck door that, for whatever reason, is closed and locked to you, a door that used to swing open easily at a touch. Your idea factory has been shut down and you can’t see anything but that fool door.
It is a frustrating time, especially when you are used to having ideas parading up and down like models on a runway at a fashion show. You can feel the eyes and expectations of all the people who are looking at you, watching and waiting for SOMETHING.
Hell! YOU expect something of yourself and it is just not jelling. ARGH!
There are many stories of how this one and that one overcame the BLOCK. Often being locked out of your idea factory seems to be a prerequisite of the Breakthrough, the beautiful time when all at once, after you’ve thrown yourself at a problem over and over again, some switch turns on and the light just shines on your bruised and battered self, bathing you in its glory.
The Universe has heard you. The sacrifices have been made and the price has been paid. Things start click-click-clicking and the row of dominoes that you’ve lined up start falling down and down and down into beautiful patterns all over the floor.
If you’re a brilliant genius of a Maker, the whole world changes then. Not just for you. For everybody.
In 1965, Bob Dylan (born Robert Allan Zimmerman) was exhausted and disheartened. He was the crowned prince of the protest folk song circle and the poet laureate of the counter-culture, famous for his serious lyrics on the serious topics of the day — wordy lines chanted over a bare-bone melody and accompanied by an acoustical guitar and maybe a harmonica.
Dylan had dropped out of the University of Minnesota to head straight to New York where he hung around Greenwich Village with his hero Woody Guthrie in the emerging folk music scene. He became a popular performer in the Village coffee houses and night clubs and his ability to compose his own melodies and lyrics at an amazing pace won the respect and admiration of his peers.
He quickly amassed an army of fans and was dubbed the Shakespeare of his generation. His fans apparently elected him “their” media mouthpiece.
It was not a role with which the songwriter was comfortable. By the time he was 24, Dylan had become quite vocal about his disillusionment. He was no longer certain, it seemed, that the counter-culture of the time could actually effect any kind of lasting change in the blatant injustices perpetrated in this old world.
STANDING ON THE EDGE
Dylan had just returned to America after a grueling, four-month solo acoustical tour that spanned the Northeast and the West Coast of America before crossing the ocean to Europe and ending in England.
He was physically spent. One commentator said he looked like an “underfed angel.” He was mentally depleted after months and months of being crammed in with crowds of people always around him, always needing him to do something.
By the very end of the tour everybody knew that Dylan was feeling pushed and overwhelmed, struggling just to soldier on through the nonstop gotta-do dance, getting it all done and done and done.
He retreated to a little cabin in Woodstock, New York, and he swore that he was done, totally tapped out. He was teetering on the verge of quitting. He told his manager he was going to spend his time at Woodstock “writing a novel.”
CATHARSIS IN PROGRESS
While on tour Dylan had begun compulsively writing what he later called “this long piece of vomit.” It was, among other things, a diatribe and excoriation of the illusions and delusions of his generation. At Woodstock the word-vomit continued to pour out.
In a 1966 interview, Dylan told journalist Jules Siegel, “It wasn’t called anything, just a rhythm thing on paper all about my steady hatred directed at some point that was honest. In the end it wasn’t hatred, it was telling someone something they didn’t know, telling them they were lucky.”
“I had never thought of it as a song,” he told Siegel, “until one day I was at the piano, and on the paper it was singing “How does it feel?” in a slow motion pace, in the utmost of slow motion.” The impulse to write his poetry was reborn.
From that first wild and wooly outpouring, Dylan extracted and crafted four verses and the chorus of “Like a Rolling Stone,” a song that was a radical departure from anything he had ever written before. It was also very different from the popular songs of the day.
For one thing, the lyrics were brooding, nuanced and ambiguous. The lines did not insist on making sense, but somehow they “felt” right. The music itself could not be easily categorized.
Sometime after the song took the music world by storm, British music critic Michael Gray would describe the resulting track as “a chaotic amalgam of blues, impressionism, allegory and intense directness in the central chorus: How does it feel.”
MAKING IT MUSIC
A week after he’d arrived in Woodstock, Dylan’s new song, “Like a Rolling Stone,” was mostly finished and he headed off into the city to get the thing recorded. A bunch of musicians, most of whom had never played together or with Dylan, were brought into the cramped space of Studio A at Columbia Records.
None of the musicians had seen the song before. In fact, Dylan wasn’t even sure how he wanted it to sound. (The song had been written on an upright piano in the key of G sharp and was changed to C on the guitar in the recording studio.)
The musicians and the songwriter fooled around with the tempo and the instrument mix trying to make what they were doing match the music in the songwriter’s head and somehow the record’s producer Tom Wilson got the song cut on acetate.
It took two days and four very muddled takes plus lots of do-overs. The thing had a powerful, raucously edgy snarl of a sound. There were hot licks from an electrical guitar and major chords from an organ in it. By the time the song was cut, the backing musicians were just starting to learn their parts.
At almost six minutes, the recorded song was more than twice as long as most of the popular songs of the day, which were all less than three minutes long.
It was “different” and the difference was a cause for bean-counter concerns. The marketing and sales departments at the record company relegated the newborn song to the “graveyard of canceled releases.” The song was apparently stillborn.
THE “NO” THAT DIDN’T STICK
In the days following its rejection by the money guys, however, release coordinator for Columbia Records Shaun Considine, a Dylan fan-extraordinaire, took a discarded acetate of the song to a New York club “Arthur” – a newly opened disco popular with celebrities and media.
Considine asked a DJ to play the thing. The sophisticated music-lovers in the place were entranced. Here was something new. At the crowd’s insistence, the demo was played again and again until the vinyl finally wore out.
The next morning a disc jockey and a programming director from the city’s leading top 40 stations called Columbia Records and demanded copies of the song. The company caved in. Shortly afterwards, in late July, the song was released for sale as a single with “Gates of Eden” as its B-side.
Dylan performed the song live for the first time within days of its record release on July 25, 1965 at the Newport Folk Festival in Newport, Rhode Island. He and his backing musicians started to perform an uncertain rendition of their new single and were booed off the stage by the unappreciative crowd. It is a well-worn story retold by entire books.
The copies that the record company released to disc jockeys were truncated at first. Promotional copies had the first two verses and refrains on one side of the disk and the rest of the song on the other. DJ’s flipped the vinyl over to play the whole thing. The public demand dictated otherwise. Both Dylan and the fans wanted the whole, uninterrupted thing. Their wishes were met.
“Like a Rolling Stone” remained on the US charts for 12 weeks. The record reached number 2 behind the Beatles’ “Help” several weeks after its release. It was a Top 10 hit in other countries including Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and France.
BUZZ, BUZZ, BUZZ
The hoo-hah surrounding the song was massive. Reviewers and other experts as well as fellow musicians weighed in with their opinions about the effect of the song on the American and international music scene. Speculation was rampant about what the song “actually” meant and who was being referenced in the vitriolic and cynical but ultimately compassionate lyrics. The artist never “explained” his work. He wrote it. He had done his job.
Dylan’s contemporaries like John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and Frank Zappa were in awe. They almost universally felt that the dark and brooding song went far toward freeing them from the saccharine and lightweight clichés of the tried-and-true same-old of the popular music of the time. The song simultaneously startled and challenged them.
Younger musicians who grew up with the song like Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Costello were tremendously influenced by it as well. With that one song Dylan rewrote the rules for popular music, more than one commentator said.
Dylan was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 by Bruce Springsteen, who said, “When I was 15 and I heard “Like a Rolling Stone,” I heard a guy who had the guts to take on the whole world and who made me feel like I had to too.”
Rock and roll had come into its own. Bob Dylan and “Like a Rolling Stone” led the way.
[Note: Anyone who would like to check out Bob Dylan’s music can have a lot of fun exploring https://www.discogs.com/artist/59792-Bob-Dylan. Discogs is a user-built database with information about artists, labels and their recordings. They’ve been around since 2000 and have an absolutely amazing collection of records and CD’s available.]
In the news this past week, 75-year old Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature by the Swedish Academy, touching off a bit of a controversy among assorted commentators. So far he has not responded to the news and continues on his latest tour.
ADVERSITY + EFFORT = BREAKTHROUGH
In his 2012 book, IMAGINE: How Creativity Works, science writer Jonah Lehrer re-tells the story of Dylan’s radical breakthrough and delineates how being stuck and frustrated and on the verge of giving up can result in new insight and major innovation. He calls the work that Dylan did to produce the song “a textbook example of how the imagination is unleashed by constraints.” (The emphasis is mine.)
Lehrer goes on to suggest that perhaps this possibility of achieving a breakthrough may be the reason why many poets deliberately choose to allow themselves to be limited by traditional poetic forms like haikus and sonnets that other poets from other times and places made up.
Trying to find the words that sparkle when they are fitted into these literary forms that have strict and obtuse rules and requirements can produce new ways of seeing that can transcend the hackneyed, easy clichés that surround us. It can imbue the work with meaning and mana.
As Lehrer puts it, “You break out of the box by stepping into shackles.”
In this TED talk video, “How Frustration Can Make Us More Creative,” English economist and journalist Tim Harford tells more stories about how being frustrated by challenges and life conditions does lead to greater creativity.
My own thinking on all of this is that just bravely facing that blank piece of paper is a mighty big challenge already, and getting those fool words to act right is a chancy thing. Muttering a lot helps. So does whining.
The following poems are by Audrey Love, a strong-willed and independent Upcountry Maui woman who is making her own way through the world. She is what Hawaiians call a “tita.”
A tita stands up strong for what she believes. She will do as she chooses how she chooses because she chooses. She does not feel a need to explain herself. She takes the blows that come her way and, if she falls, she will stand back up…again and again and again. She is indomitable (and darned near unsinkable.)
Audrey’s poems are untitled and are straight shots from a loving heart. I do like them….
The first one, she says, arose from an important question she wanted to ask all of the people who were passing judgment on her: What do you see? The second poem came, Audrey says, “when I fell in love.”
[Please note: If any of you would like to contribute a poem to this page, please let me know by leaving a comment below…. I’d be happy to hear from you.]
I ask three things of my guest poets: (a) a poem of your own making that has great meaning and mana for you, (b) the back-story for the poem — what inspired you or how you made it or whatever you want to tell about it, and (c) an image you own that I can use as the featured photo in the header. (The last is optional. I do ask that the image you share is one you own — either an image of yourself or something that relates to the poem. If you choose not to send an image, then I’ll go find something that works.)
Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom): an understanding that when you can recognize your inner fullness, you’ll have the platform on which you can do your best dance. [Getting to this inner fullness seems to be a lot like Picasso’s quest to paint like a child. It’s already there in you. You just have to feel it…and usually that takes a lifetime of trying.]
“The world has a way of giving what is demanded of it. If you are frightened and look for failure and poverty, you will get them no matter how hard you may try to succeed. Lack of faith, in yourself, in what life will do for you, cuts you off from the good things of the world. Expect victory and you make victory. Nowhere is this truer than in business life, where bravery and faith bring both material and spiritual rewards.”
That quote is from Preston Bradley an American clergyman, author and lecturer who lived from 1888 to 1983.
And isn’t that a truth? How many times have you backed off from pursuing an idea because of whatever negativity your own mind generates? Ducking those negatives is probably the most important thing you can list on your very long to-do list….
Here’s a YouTube video, Excuses and Negativity: InspirationalVideo, put out by Mind Innovation that might help with that.
The certainty that any idea is worthwhile is a fragile thing. It takes energy, determination and optimism to keep on pushing it forward. Every time you allow yourself to indulge in ruminating and brooding about all the reasons why something that has never been tried your way before cannot possibly work you are digging deep potholes in the road ahead of you that are going to eat your axle rod and leave you stuck on the side of the road. Stop it!
The interesting thing in all this is the aspect of expectations and self-fulfilling prophecies. What happens if you expect and prophesy abundance surrounding you? Wouldn’t that be a good experiment to try?
Here’s another poem. Auwe is a Hawaiian lamentation. It means “alas.”
PAULELE (Trust in the Creative)
It’s a funny thing about abundance:
It can only grow as large as your trust.
Fear withers trust; dries it out
Until it dies and crumbles away into dust.
Anger shrivels it, burning it to ashes.
The fear that everything you love will slip away, away, away
Tightens your grip and makes you cry,
Makes you holler, “Mine!”
Like some two-year-old, defiant and turbulent,
Caught in a helplessness among the Bigs,
Turns you into an angry ball of resentments and “that’s-not-fair!”
Devoid of hope, desolated by “Don’t-wanna!” and “No, no, no!”
The fear and the anger become a dike of stone
And the Creative cannot flow,
Cannot go over it,
Cannot go around it…
So it sinks down and down,
It goes underground where it can keep on flowing.
“You lose, you lose, you lose” echoes through your head
Drowning out your inner truth which never shouts…only whispers.
(Half the time you can’t hear it anyway
Because of all the static in your head.)
The world’s a harsh and scary place then,
And the people who love you cry, hurting for you,
But you can’t hear them above the howling of the wind
And hugging all your life-bits to yourself just doesn’t help
Because they are, after all, subject to entropy and tend to fall apart.
Auwe, auwe, auwe!
Redemption comes when you can let go of the fear and let go of the anger
And feel again the Universe enfolding you.
Trust grows then…trust in your self,
Trust in your inner truth,
Trust in the people who love you.
The obdurate stone develops fissures and the Creative,
That underground river, starts welling up, pushing through the cracks.
Developing your own thoughts and feelings about what has value for you, the storyteller and poet, can help you connect with your audience. But, in order to connect, you do have to know your own heart.
ALL IT TAKES IS HEART
Memoir-writer Annette Simmons, in her book, WHOEVER TELLS THE BEST STORY WINS: How To Use Your Own Stories To Communicate With Power and Impact, tells us, “Unless you bring a beating heart to your message, it is dead. But, when you tell your own heartfelt stories about what is meaningful in your life and work, you get the hang of finding stories that frame life and work in emotionally meaningful ways for your audience.” It is the heartfulness you bring to a work that opens up the hearts of those around you.
The questions you need to ask yourself are these:
What moves you?
What makes you cry rivers of tears?
What makes you angry enough to go postal?
What triggers a belly laugh?
What yearning makes you reach for the moon?
Connect your listeners or readers to those things, and they will walk away satisfied. You will get the chance to turn on a lightbulb or start another dance. You may even blow their minds.
Fail to do it, and you will bore them into apathy and indifference. They will yawn and slouch away.
Nobody is bored by a glimpse into somebody else’s world. Nobody will be indifferent when they feel the connection that comes when similarities or differences are revealed. They may be surprised or dismayed or entranced by it all, but they will not be bored, if you can pull out your valued treasures and do a show-and- tell.