Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Fun with Resumes

Ah, resume, "to pick up where one left off."

Sparky has offered me some coaching today
to get my resume updated and up to par.

I've decided this is a worthwhile activity
every few years,
whether applying for a new job or not.

I found my resume file
and was shocked to discover that it dated
all the way back to high school.

My God, I was a frightening high school student.
Geek, with a capital G.

Hmm. I appear to have misspelled "scholar."
But it was a manual typewriter, so once you finished
the row, there wasn't a lot of going back.

I even had a section titled "Government Sponsored Activities"
that sat right between the extensive
"School Recognition and Awards"
and "Community Activities."

I listed my height and weight.
I was shaped basically like a pencil.
I'm better for my additional 50 pounds, I think.

By my seminary application
I had signs of human life
mixed in with continued geekdom.

Listed below all my churchy leadership
was the following:
"First runner-up, Ping-pong championship of the universe....1987."

On that resume I listed my life goals:
"In my lifetime I would like to be ordained a United Methodist minister, hike the Appalachian trail, learn to play bagpipes, write a novel, and pay off my seminary education."

I've done the first and the last.
I frequently hike, occasionally on the Appalachian trail
but never too far, or carrying too much on my back.

I've gone from wishing to write a novel
to blogging on occasion.

I'm good with that.

Looking at 25 year old resumes
does put things in a certain
humbling perspective.

What are my life goals now?
Floss daily,
be kind to people who tick me off,
stay curious,
grow a summer garden,
teach others the worthwhile things I know,
keep my sense of humor,
make music with whatever is at hand,
keep my focus.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Sudden Shifts

While my main focus in recent weeks
has been slow and steady practice-based progress
(see previous blog entry)
there is a second way to get to Carnegie Hall.
Get on the internet,
buy a concert ticket,
buy a plane ticket,
pack your bag and

Or, as Emeril would say,

I had a BAM moment today.
My company posted a position in administration
and after an instantaneous sweeping wave of nausea
I decided to apply.

My stomach is better, thanks for asking.

I think I could do the job.
I think I would enjoy the job.
I think I might be ready for that kind of radical shift.

If they don't hire me,
I can keep my current position, which I love.

If they do...


Saturday, January 26, 2008

How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall?

One of my coworkers tried this old joke recently,
only to receive the response, "What is Carnegie Hall?"
Cultural literacy makes all the difference.
If you are of an age and station in life
where you a) don't know what Carnegie Hall is
and b) haven't actually heard this old joke...

a) Carnegie Hall is a performance venue for truly great musicians.
b) How do you get there? Practice, practice, practice.

I've been practicing lately.
I finally got the long desired piano.
My 8 years of piano lessons
were 25 years ago.
How is that possible?

I decided I wanted to play
the Maple Leaf Rag.
I discovered that piece of music
was way beyond me.

So, I've practiced it
one hand at a time,

And you know what? I'm picking up
both speed and accuracy.

One day, with practice,
I'll be able to play it
with much less effort.

I've also started juggling again.
I learned to juggle in high school
and college,
back when I had no internet,
cable TV or social life to attend to.

You improve
by practicing.
I'm currently working
on throwing a ball behind my back
and catching it.
Sometimes I catch,
sometimes I pick it up.

More and more often,
I'm catching.

So here is the thing.
Everything worthwhile
requires slow painful effort
that slowly becomes second nature.

Ghandi told his followers
that he didn't want them to start out
as pacifists.
He wanted them to understand
to acknowledge
and to claim the fact
that they really would prefer
to shoot their enemies.

Only by honestly examining
their natural tendency towards violence
could they slowly begin
to practice a more peaceful
way of relating to the world.

How do you get to spiritual wholeness?

Practice, practice, practice.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Not Easy Being Green

On this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day...

after a sermon in church yesterday
about white privilege, injustice
and the miles we have yet to go...

after watching a bit of Oprah
(while sitting with a hospice patient
who was parked in the middle
of the nursing home TV room)
and the history Oprah shared
of a biracial couple
who married within my lifetime
and who were taken from their bed,
from their home,
and put in jail
(after first having to leave their home state
to marry, seeing as it was illegal
in their state and many others at the time
for them to tie the knot)....
did I mention this was within my lifetime?....

after thinking all day
about my own experiences
of people waltzing right over
my own wounds
and feelings of exclusion
with their own ignorance,
and naivete,
(and occasionally
their intentional
coldblooded meanness)...

after remembering
what it was like
to go to public schools
in racially diverse
cities in the south
only a few years
after desegregation,
and remembering how TENSE
it was, how DIVIDED it was,
how ALIENATED it was....

after remembering
how often across my life
I have trampled
on the traditions,
and personhood of others
(and that's just the times
I was aware)....

I find myself perplexed.

Human relationships
are so very complicated.

Respect is hard to find
and harder to give.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Remembering Green

In the bleak midwinter, it helps me to remember
that these kinds of shades of green are available
when the world returns to May.
Stay tuned, oh dark and brownish world.
Stay tuned.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Shepherds Quake

Okay, I know we are past Christmas
and into Epiphany,
but wanted to share a revelation
(an epiphany, you might say)
about the difference between
the Methodist and the Baptist hymnal.

My cousin Rhonda
plays the piano
for some of the churches in her area,
both Baptist and Methodist
as the need might arise.

She plays out of the Baptist hymnal,
because that is her familiar version,
and occasionally has to count her verses
when playing in the Methodist church
to make sure she and the congregation
end at the same time.

Well, she noted that the Methodists
when singing "Silent Night"
had a verse that wasn't in her Baptist hymnal.
"Silent night, holy night,
shepherds quake at the sight."

We Methodists in the family were stunned.
Baptist shepherds don't quake??

Nope, she said.
Never heard that verse before.

We decided that Baptist shepherds
don't quake,
for fear someone might think
they are dancing.

Did I mention that my
number one New Years' Resolution
for 2008
(but mostly not in public).

Friday, January 04, 2008

The Simple Past

Back in the late sixties,
my family lived in a tiny little house
in Atlanta.
I can picture it in my head...
the furnishings
and all of our accumulated belongings
would probably have fit in
a very small truck.
The glass dish pictured above
was a wedding present
and one of the few treasures
that decorated the simple coffee table
of my youth.
The small black and white tv
had rabbit ear antennae
and picked up only two or three stations
at most.
But I can remember
astronauts walking on the moon
on the screen of that set.

Young families don't tend to start
with such simple furnishings these days.

It seems like most folks
drown in clutter and technology
and credit card bills.

Isn't it strange
that some part of me
longs for that first house
that simple kitchen
that dearth of clutter
that young family just starting out.

Maybe I'm just old enough
to begin to understand
why hospice patients of advanced age
spend so much time
remembering their childhoods.

Maybe I'm just wise enough
to begin to see
that less is really more.