All posts tagged: On Being

Our Country is Like a Really Old House

With instant communication and connections, one can travel the globe and still face issues from home.  We may try to block them out, but they come up in conversations in other countries. In feeds on social media. During sermons.* Even in a toy display in a store window! I’ve been reminded again during my travels that in today’s global world, there are many national issues with international ramifications. Thomas Fingar — the Shorenstein APARC Fellow in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University, former chairman of the National Intelligence Council, and former Assistant Secretary of State — lectured on the Japan / Korea / China / United States relationships during the Asian portion of my current trip.  Fingar provided a realistic and sometimes sobering assessment of future difficulties (many self-inflicted) as we were visiting sites of great beauty and centuries-old history. A few days later I arrived in the U.K. as Prime Minister Theresa May was resigning and the airways were filled with commentary (some from the current resident of the White …

A Few Words on Advice

Parker Palmer, a writer I read frequently, had the following to say about advice: “Advice-giving comes naturally to our species, and is mostly done with good intent. But in my experience, the driver behind a lot of advice has as much to do with self-interest as interest in the other’s needs — and some advice can end up doing more harm than good.”* How often do we give advice when simply presence and acknowledgement is required?  I was thinking about this after a trip last week where I visited our historic site Belle Grove and spoke with a class of graduate and undergraduate students at the University of Virginia.  We found ourselves in a very good conversation about how we should “hear, understand, and honor” diverse stories from our past and present at both places.  Presence and acknowledgement are being used effectively at Belle Grove in the response to diverse perspectives and stories.  At UVA, there was a back-and-forth with the students around hearing, listening, and engagement. One of the students suggested that we change …

I Was Trying to Daydream but My Mind Kept Wandering*

New Years is the time when many of us make resolutions.  We promise ourselves to focus on losing weight, reading more books and watching less television, being mindful in the present.  One of my personal perennial chestnuts in recent years is to avoid becoming a grumpy old man. So with all this attention on focus, why was I so excited to find a book on the wandering mind to read over the winter holidays?  Because “It seems we are programmed to alternate between mind-wandering and paying attention, and our minds are designed to wander whether we like it or not.”  That sure rings true in my life experiences. Are you still with me? In The Wandering Mind:  What the Brain Does When You’re Not Looking, author Michael C. Corballis argues that “Mind wandering has many constructive and adaptive features – indeed, we probably couldn’t do without it.  It includes mental time travel – the wandering back and forth through time, not only to plan our futures based on past experience, but also to generate a …