Friday, October 29, 2010


China unveiled a new supercomputer that is 1.4 times the speed of the world’s next fastest super computer. The new machine completes 2,500 trillion calculations per second, a 40% increase in speed over the old slow poke machine that sits in Tennessee.
Is anyone under the impression that these machines will stop getting faster anytime soon?
This kind of change is taking place wherever you look.
The earth’s population is expected to rise by almost 50% to 9.5 billion people by mid-century, at which point it will hopefully stabilize rather than shoot straight for 12 billion.
In ten years China’s economy will be the size of the U.S. economy. In forty years it will be twice the size. The world economy is predicted to double and double again before today’s kids think about retiring.
The consensus amongst climate researchers is that the earth is heating up, and no one is sure what to do about it. Icebergs are melting, sea level is rising, storms are increasing, and once-frozen waterways are now open for business. In the last few years it has become acceptable for scientists to discuss global climate engineering, engineering projects meant to slow down the earth’s warming, such as proposals to blow up ice damns to free fresh water trapped in fiords in an attempt to influence ocean currents and the climate.
Women around the world continue to take their rightful place in the world, regardless of what some men might think about it.
We seem to be running out of fresh, clean, water.
Oil, well you’ve heard about oil.
Will the divorce rate ever go down?
Will the speed at which our jobs change and demand new skills from us ever slow down?
Will the creatively disruptive technologies ever stop coming?
Is Facebook the last new thing, or Google, or Twitter or bioengineering or nano-technology?
Is anyone thinking that all the applications and disruptions and possibilities of this continually unfolding technological, economic, geopolitical, social, spiritual, and environmental revolution have been thought through, understood, planned for, and ready to be easily digested?
Is anyone thinking any of this is going to stop? Does anyone really know what's going to happen?
            It’s not the economy or unemployment or Obama or the Tea Party or terrorists or any one thing or combination of things. It’s everything. It’s the world we now live in.
The amount of data collected in the last five years is equal to all the data collected in the 2000 years prior to that. The new Chinese computer shows that it’s only just begun.
We are no longer in Kansas, nor will we ever be there again.
We used to think of our lives in terms of smooth arcs with rising living standards, increased wisdom, and the right to simply enjoy the fruits of our labor—at least if we were privileged Americans or Europeans. Our lives were predictable, or so we thought. We envisioned a straight-line trajectory towards a better life, but that safe Leave It to Beaver or Father Knows Best world was an illusion. Life has never been safe, predictable, or easy for the majority of the world’s people. Now we have a sense of what that feels like.
We can try to keep out the immigrants. We can fight the terrorists. We can huddle in private armed camps in Montana. We can become reactionary fundamentalists of one stripe or another, but change will find us anyway.
And don’t think it’s going to be easier for the Chinese or anyone else. The dislocations taking place in China right now are mind-blowing. There’s never been a greater migration of people from the countryside to the city in human history.
It’s not that things are bad, or that they won’t get better. It’s simply that from now on change is the name of the game. It always has been, but now it’s in hyper-drive. 
The idea is not to fight it, nor blindly accept all of it, but we must stop wasting time and effort trying to live a life that does not embrace change. This is not to say that we should stop working for the causes we believe in. On the contrary, this is the time to really check in with who we are and what we value. But no matter what we want or think, we set ourselves up for wasted energy and suffering if we do not embrace how the world is, and the world is changing--fast.
It’s like we are on a class five river with wild currents and whirlpools and waterfalls and hidden rocks and exciting, dangerous places to hit our heads, be thrown overboard, or have the most thrilling ride of our lives. We may long for those long lazy stretches of river where we can just sit back on our inflated inner tube with a beer and a slice of melon and take in the afternoon sun, but we must accept that those calm stretches will not last.
Sooner than we might like some change will come along and we’ll be in the thick of re-inventing ourselves once again, having to learn new skills, maybe having to re-locate, maybe having to let go of someone we love. And since we're living longer, we'll have to do it for more years than we've ever had to before.
This is not about despair, or loss of meaning or value. It’s not about hopelessness. It is about knowing who you are and where you are and what you need to do to thrive in the world as it is. You have to become an agent of change, a life-long learner in tune with your own deepest values and wishes. You have to be your own best resource. That’s the only thing that can carry you through the turbulent times.
It has become more important than ever to get grounded and centered. “Know thyself,” has never been better advice. We need practices, rituals, relationships, teachings, and inner wisdom and strength, because we can no longer expect our support to come from the outside, because the outside is always changing.
Maybe you meditate or pray on a daily basis. Maybe you go for walk alone or with family or friends. Maybe you retreat to the woods, the desert, or the mountains for a week. Maybe you go for a run, or shoot a few hoops, or hit a few balls. Maybe you meet with like-minded men or women to share what matters in your life. Maybe you play music, or paint. Maybe you take an adult-ed class, or a class online. Maybe you make sure to eat dinner with your family. Maybe you do volunteer work. Maybe you do yoga. Maybe you take a dance class. Maybe you make sure to laugh with your lover and do the wild and lovely as often as you can.
In your own way, you find the quiet center in the midst of the storm, and you nurture it and you get to know it, and it will save your ass during the times of difficult change.
I’m not saying there will be nothing but storms, but I am saying there will always be storms, so stop trying to live a life without them. The best you can do is make sure you have a good sailing vessel, a good crew, and that you know your craft and are resourceful and flexible.
Dylan has a great line. He says, “He who is not busy being born, is busy dying.”
I’m going to have that tattooed on my hands where I can always find it when I need it.
That’s what the world demands of us now, that we be able to continually renew ourselves, that we be able to tap into inner strength and vision and recreate ourselves throughout our lives, as the world keeps demanding new things from us.
You may not like it. You may feel like screaming, “Stop the world, I want to get off.” But this is the world we have, so do the work you need and want to do, but never forget that it will never exactly be the world you want unless you learn to love and want a world that is forever changing.

I can be reached at Namaste.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


The Buddha somehow did a lot with his life, so did Jesus, and Gandhi. I’m calling these guys winners, same goes for Mother Teresa.
Winners win, and losers…well, you know what losers do. And who wants to lose?
Play along with me here, and don’t get too philosophical about the whole win/lose thing.
Can you see yourself as a winner? Can you see yourself, as master coach Robert Hargrove asks, living an inspiring impossible future that you can passionately engage in?
Can you begin to live that future right now?
One of our challenges is that often we are semi-guided missiles. We have a target, maybe, but once we hit it, we’re done. And it’s off to the next target.
This is fine, if we’re enjoying the journey. It’s deadly if we’re not.
We have to keep our eye on the separation between who we are and who we want to become. Of course, we’re all about change and growth and learning and all that good stuff, but just like your vision of an impossible future draws you forwards, it can pull you away from the present moment where all the gifts and all the blessings are.
The great dance is to embrace the present moment as fully as possible with all its faults and shortcomings, and yet move ahead trying to learn, and grow, and even do the impossible. Impossible is the way of the universe, by the way. Impossible stuff like flowers and babies are happening in and around you all the time. It’s how you play the game of life that matters. That having been said, here’s an interesting little win/lose game for you to play.

Ask yourself, and answer quickly and generously, “How have I won?”
            Here are some of my answers to serve as an example.

I have won the being a human game (rather than the being a pet rock or an ashtray game).
I have won the love game.
I have won the divorce game.
I have won the parenting game.

I have won the being a son game.
I have won the great place to live game.
I have won the real estate game.

I have won the laughter game.
I have won the spiritual journey game.
I have won the education game.
I have won the health game.

I have won the travel game.
I have won the love of nature game.
I have won the friendship game.
I have won the writing game.

How can you win at divorce? I won because we did it well, with respect and decency and concern for the children. How can you say you won the real estate game? A few articles ago, you said you lost your shirt this last year. I did, but I’ve done some great remodels and I’ve made much more than I’ve lost.
Play the game. Look at all the things you have ‘won’. Did you learn to speak, walk, and write? If so, you’ve won the speaking game, the walking game and the writing game. Have you ever loved anyone or anything? Then you’ve won the love game.
The idea is to take your winnings to heart and embrace them.
So, how are you a winner? What have you won?

Just in case you’re stuck on being a loser, here’s an interesting game for you to play.
Ask yourself, “How have I won the losing game? How have I won by losing?”

I’ve lost a lot of sorrow in my life.
I’ve lost some old habits.
I’ve lost some negative self-talk.
I’ve lost some emptiness.
I’ve lost some fear.
I’ve lost some ignorance.
I’ve lost some old stories.
I’ve lost some guilt.
I’ve lost some failures.
I’ve lost some limiting beliefs.

Now, please, play the winning and losing game for yourself, even if only in your head. If you do this seriously, you will be surprised at how well you’ve lived your life, how much you’ve gained by losing, and how much of a winner you really are already
Now, let’s really blow the doors off our little game and bring in the big guns. Here’s a little Rumi for some serious perspective on this whole winning and losing business.

For millions & millions of years I lived as a mineral.
Then I died and became a plant.

For millions & millions of years I lived as a plant.
Then I died and became an animal.

For millions & millions of years I lived as an animal.
Then I died and became a man.

Now what have I ever lost by dying?
- Rumi
Have fun and burn bright. And don’t be a pain in the neck.

Monday, October 25, 2010


It’s been weeks since the last Chilean miner was rescued. Numerous articles and programs have covered the 69-day ordeal, but before this remarkable journey fades into the past, it might be worthwhile to take one more look at the lessons we can learn from this rescue mission.
            The facts: buried 2300 feet underground, 90 degrees Fahrenheit, 80% humidity, 69 days, 17 days before anyone knew they were alive, 17 days on 2 days worth of food, 2 spoonfuls every 2 days for 17 days.
Makes one think of the story of Jesus feeding the masses with a few loaves and fishes. Goes to show you what you can do with cooperation, faith, discipline and a shared vision of the common good. No violence, no madness, no cannibalism, no mutiny, just an inspiring testament to what we can do when we are at our best.
            Some lessons for us to consider:

1. DO NOT LET WHAT SEEMS IMPOSSIBLE STOP YOU. A mining rescue of this magnitude had never been attempted before.

2. GET HELP. They asked for help and got it. They went to NASA, for example, for help with building the rescue pod Phoenix.

3. TAKE ACTION. DON’T LET WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW STOP YOU. There were three boring operations going on simultaneously since no one knew which if any would be successful. The drilling teams came from America, Canada, and Chile. Get real. Get the best. Try different methods. A team from a small outfit in Pennsylvania got there first.

They left politics, ego, and national silliness out of it. It wasn’t about the mining company. It wasn’t about Chile. It wasn’t about the president of Chile. It was about saving the miners.

5. COLLABORATE AND EMPOWER. It was acknowledged that expertise was distributed so they distributed power to get the job done. Mining experts. Psychologists. Medical specialists. NASA. And most importantly, the miners themselves. 

6. HUMOR IS A LIFESAVER. Who will ever forget that first miner coming out of a hole in the ground after 69 days and handing out ‘souvenir’ rocks?

7. FAITH HELPS. Faith in yourself, in your team, in the people working to rescue you, and in your God. The miners were helped by their spiritual leaders, the shrines they set up, and the 34th Miner, the higher power that many of the miners said kept them going.

8. WE CAN BE OUR BEST UNDER EXTREME CONDITIONS. Though fear can be overpowering, and can cause nightmares, as it did in a least one trapped miner, help, support, and courage can win the day.

9. YOU NEED A PURPOSE. Each miner had a job to fulfill. He had a purpose, a role, a function, and he had a meaning.  You had the tour guide, Dr, House, the chief, the writer, the spiritual guide and his assistant, the delivery man who handled incoming and outgoing packages, the gas man who monitored gas levels in the mine, and so on.

10. ROUTINE IS GOOD. They set up lights with timers and areas of light and dark so they could stick with a ‘normal’ routine. Each miner worked an eight-hour shift, with three shifts per day.

11. FOCUS ON THE PRESENT MOMENT. The miners kept focused on the tasks at hand, never forgetting the bigger picture, so as not to be overwhelmed by what might or might not happen in the future.

12. KEEP A HOPEFUL VISION. The miners all worked to keep alive their vision of their lives after they were rescued and would be returned to their families. They shaved. They bathed. They did their jobs. They wrote. They took videos. Esteban decided to renew his wedding vows. Claudio decided to get married. Ariel watched the birth of his child via video.

13. LEADERSHIP IS CRUCIAL. Leadership saved the day. Without leadership, the miners might never have survived the first 17 days with so little food.

14.  EMOTIONS ARE IMPORTANT. The miners talked. They shared. They laughed. They played. They told stories.

15. TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE. The miners were not passive receivers waiting to be saved. They each played their part. They saved themselves by working together to live through the first 17 days on so little food. And they each worked every day after that, each contributing in their own way. Mario had a crucifix and statuettes sent down.
Edison led Elvis sing-a-longs. The doctor made regular rounds.

16. KEEP IT MEANINGFUL AND LEARN. One miner said, “I buried 40 years of my life, down there.” He said he saw God and the Devil, but he never doubted that God would win. Now it was time for him to make some changes in his life.

       You're not trapped underground, but you may be trapped, nonetheless. What do you need to escape from? What might your amazing rescue mission look like? Learn from these miners and consider doing the impossible. They did.