On Technology

I went to school back when technology was something people knew a lot about or a little, depending on what they did for a living. For example, the scientist, mathematician, artist, doctor or chef knew next to nothing about technology first-hand. Instead, they deferred to the philosopher, psychologist or economist to explain to them what tech was and where it was relevant. This may explain why doctors still know less about using technology than, say, a graphic artist. For the latter, like the architect, knowing how to use the latest technology is critical to what they do. For the physician, what is critical is what they know — what’s in their brains and how good they are at utilizing what they’ve learned/remembered from ‘practice’.

So tech has changed a great deal in 30 years. Even those of us who use all kinds of electronic tools or toys each day, and that’s everybody here, know very little about the back story to technology as we now live with it. Here is where a little animation might fit in nicely, if you’ve not seen some of the RSA animate talks on YouTube, check out the links at the bottom. Not to digress much, technology has provided a means for people to calm themselves, to feel a part of the bigger thing that’s going on and to have that sense of being in the know. But when you just check yourself out in the morning or evening or afternoon quiet, do you really believe you know what’s going on and what you are a part of? The reason why many of us don’t (if we’re honest), is that tech was never meant to provide these things to you. The objects of technology are meant to be treated objectively as a proxy for real experience–a surrogate. In that sense, a music and video player provides me with a substitute for the experience of sitting in front of a person playing a tune with people running around doing things while the music is playing. It’s stimulating to sit by a creek and simply hear the movement of the water rumbling along its path. All of my senses are stimulated by it. Not just my eyes and ears. What about my sense of touch, or smell and taste.

You know, space has a lot to do with technology. If you don’t have any space to stretch out in, you can make believe you do by just playing with a pocket device, like a portable game or music player. These provide a false feeling of  ‘ok-ness;’ but then there’s the let down after using up all of the songs, the levels, the minutes, the something that is measured and usually priced. Unlimited minutes and data are great, though, aren’t they? That should do it. Why doesn’t it? Remember, I started by writing that technology is not well understood by those whom you would think use it the most. The artist, which I am not, understands the limits of technology quite well.  She knows that tools extend her reach onto the canvas or with the raw material which she is about to fashion into an image that expresses … something. The computer and a program enables her to render more from her imagination than mere sticks and oils ever could. But she knows there is a creative cost for her excursion into the realm of  surfeit tools and processed manipulations.  Technology says what you can do. But who or what says you should do it? Did you get the memo; were your parents or mine asked whether we wanted easy access to friends and neighbors with the click of a button or the flip of a switch? There’s nothing necessarily wrong with it. It’s just that I did not order it or know it was on the menu.

Until now — or let’s say 20 years ago, we could see most things coming and decide if and when we wanted them to arrive at our doorstep. As it is today, we don’t know what is coming next; and if it arrives tomorrow in our inbox or as a tweet or a scroll on our wall, we will only be able to say OMG, right. Maybe because I’m old, I don’t see the value in having my sensibilities attacked constantly in this way. When you turn on the TV, you must have the remote handy or you are likely to be experience emotions that you aren’t prepared for. You must protect yourself, because we’ve lost control over the things that have been made. And our privacy is compromised, big time. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing. People are not as comfortable with themselves as we used to be.  So many may feel like they don’t particularly want to be alone, have waking time to themselves. The phone rings, there’s a text, a twit, a message all of the time. Makes you feel kind of special, until you look at it objectively. Look, I think it matters that you feel good about yourself. Go ahead and utilize all the tools and gadgets tech has provided us with to maintain that comfort. Just don’t forget that the thing is not the thing. Friends on face book are not friends in my living room or at my kitchen table or next to me on the beach. The latter folks never ask to be my electronic friend. They visit, call, and  touch me in the old-fashioned ways.

Be like the artist. Use these fun things to get serious work done–for your school, your town and your planet. Check out websites like Open Culture, Kevin Kelly and TED to find out about real stuff. I mean, tech is great for looking out of your window (your eyes) and seeing what is happening everywhere. Then we have to decide how we are going to make a real difference in the real world, because the surrogates won’t.

http://comment.rsablogs.org.uk/videos/    http://www.openculture.org    http://ted.org

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Full Motion

Flowers and trees only move with a breeze, but always with grace and precision. The heart though is still and responds to my will, yet suffers from my indecision.
Come break with the past and become free at last, by confronting the life that besets us. The visions are tainted and guidance is colored by rules from a vintage unknown. We stop when we don’t know for sure, but that is surely the time to go, as the future belongs to all who make it there. Why do so many settle for the past as if it is the present? It isn’t. We are living lives over that people fought to overcome 50 and 100 years ago; and they won! Our task now in this gen is to stand up and see what battles were fought by men and women of the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. You can party, but they struggled so that you could learn whatever you wanted to learn and become whomever you wished to become. But to become no one was not one of the choices. My father wanted to be somebody, but the wall prevented him; it wasn’t his time. Now it is my time and yours to do what we will. To do nothing is not something anyone had to die for. What a bad dream it is to have no where to go, but in circles. Someone had to dream big for you though. They saw greatness in your tiny hands and four little teeth at your infant stage. Marching and voting and washing and drying and cooking and cleaning and praying and hoping. Sending you to school and not knowing what to ask about homework, but feeding you anyway. And what are you doing now? Chilling. Are you serious? How many hours a week do you do that and what is the hourly pay rate. Is it hazardous? Do people die while chilling, clocking, hustling and rolling? Why die young? Where is the greatness in that?
Some who decided that they would die (young) thought about the future of America, where a black man and his family could have whatever job they worked for, could live in whatever house they paid for, could study at any school they prepared for and could live any life they desired to. If you are young, you don’t understand that to be a real man was a dangerous thing in the old days. To live in full motion, without caution or concern was something few know how to do: Jack Johnson, James Baldwin, Martin Luther King, Octavius Catto, Marian Anderson, Ida B. Wells, Fannie Lou Hammer, Absalom Jones, Thurgood Marshall, and others unnamed but remembered just the same. A party I attended just last night was a such a gala affair, but smiles were strained, and tears were not shed; so the range of emotion was limited to what could be teased out by music and song – good vibrations, yes. Achievement comes at a high cost, hence the word, victory. Without sacrifice, we remain motionless, still; we wait for breezes to push us a bit forward or back. As long as we can blame some one thing, we remain in a low dark place. Don’t be afraid, the time has come; and the victory has already been won. Look for your opportunity, your pride is rooted in your strive. There is much less resistance now to chasing your goal, your dream and reaching it. But the work that is required won’t ever change. Remember: your mind, heart, body and soul must care to be in full motion.

Go

All the time we stand and stare

or sit and wonder what or where

next we do what will not change

or help to overcome the strangest

feelings that are passing through

our minds belying subtle clues

From post to pillar and back again

exchanging waves as we pass by

the words are piling up inside

more channels blocked, no reasons why

I like that living here and now

is freedom to a wandering heart

and if I choose to settle here

when can a new relation start

there is a thing with sentences

verbs commanding object things

but nouns begin and end the tome

denying all the mist between

For things begin and then become

the actions pose as minor chords

the climax closes all reversals

and ends with few if any words

But always are there things to see

and hear and feel along the way

It’s just a cycle rarely lifting

above the range of yesterday

Excitement in a basket is

the fare of most or many tales

The form full of the contents read

like toggled ships without their sails

When times arise to create to conquer

the charge announced to launch and run

Go, to make a fortune’s change

to catch the eyes of everyone

Go

Not the same

 
Wondering where you are going
and imagining what you must do
are not quite the same as your presence
to spend a new moment beside you
along came a phone to give hearing
the melody of words from your lips
yet the way that they sound is not nearly profound
as the touching of your fingertips
A text is so nice and surprising
no matter the type of request
but a look from your eyes is much more of a prize
and the smile that you share is the best
So make plans on twitter to meet me
and get here however you can
For thoughts of your name are just not the same
as a walk with you hand in hand

The Family Meeting

The family meeting.

Good morning everyone. It’s time for a word about family. This time of year, people start to get chills and want to be inside with people who can help us feel warm inside and out. I have a sister who cooks like the world should be waiting outside the door for a plate. She cooks great in quality and quantity. But I go see her because she is a family hero – taking in her grandchildren to care for them while my niece works some things out. What we see people doing outside the family is what you can’t do inside, and that is hide the truth. We all have attitudes and dispositions and opinions that the Supreme Court should hear when it comes to this one or that one that you knew since they were born. I’m saying, “they are not the problem.” Once in a while – used to be 3x a day – they can be a pain in the neck. Is it the neck? But as grown folks, we realize that my family always has me, and if someone knows your stuff and still loves you, it doesn’t get any better. It’s time to call them up or go for a visit to say, Hey, how you doing. I just needed to check on you since you mean the world to me. Some of us have a few friends that fit in here too; and you are highly favored. The world outside of this love is closing in on some of us. So in response we have to gather our love nodes together and push outward. Like, go with your sibling to court, or to the doctor, or shopping, or to a restaurant, or to church or a movie, or to city council or to the concert, or to the park or for a walk down their block. For people who think they know you or your sister, they will see and think differently, because yall have the support that you need, and you can bring what you share to the larger world. What if a church did this? That would be newsworthy. The only response to the madness is the love response. So build your team of family and friends and let’s go. Hotep.

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This Road Here

This road here teaches something new to everyone on it. And those things that I learn will be no match for yours; for we are not the same. As one is unique, there is mystery in the other. No, don’t let your person be simplified or broken down to make it easier for another to understand. You have a place to go – a destination state and a new land, with passport in hand. Whether you travel by air, sea, rails or roads, enjoy the going all the way. It should feel different; because what you have to share, and how you do it touches everyone and everything, to make a singular impression. That is why there is no smile like yours, no beam of light to compete with the sparkle in your eyes. I have no comment though– any words sent from my mind to these lips are dissolved by emotions and only my eyes can speak for my heart as we meet. Give me a script or I will not know how to break the spell of grace revealed in your face. Can you? No, never mind. I knew no words would come.
This road is yours to travel in peace, even as trials beset on the left and on the right; you, indeed are a follower of the light. No one yet understands enough to approach (you) carefully, sincerely and with respect. At least will I recognize the spirit of the most high God (in you), step aside, and gather my thoughts. Your spirit is admired – a witness to mercy and grace – and available to all. Having turned right to go straight, your road is adorned with natural beauty on both the left and right. As you go, may His blessing be upon you by day and by night.

Peaceful Breathing

Peaceful Breathing
Here we are in what would be a most beautiful week this year. Leaves, colorful and bright, wave so long to you as they descend to the soil below. The curtain of nature’s summer display closes and at once we are introduced to the new season.
Is it any wonder why a tribe, family or community would want to ‘manage’ the information aka news that comes before its inhabitants and disrupts the tranquility of their moment to moment living. Shock and awe beset us from watches, phones and those bigger screens. My mother used to think that a computer could steal from you just by being in your house. And, of course she was right. Even boxed up in the closet, its potential to detract from her peace of mind was real.
So, the babies preparing for school today – 3rd, 4th and 5th graders, the smartest among us, and our very hope for survival 25 years from now – were attacked today; by news.
Adults today know very little about protecting their little ones, or themselves.
If we feel helpless, then why not tell your BFF at least. There is some catharsis in it. There is value to slowing down shocking and amazing events – be they great or tragic. It’s been a while since something awesomely wonderful happened. Let’s take the successful March on Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King gave his “I have a dream” speech. A turning point in our nation’s history, and perhaps that of the world; but it likely took days or longer for that word to reach the poor, huddled masses where I lived.
Our parents and teachers were gatekeepers then. Do we even have gates anymore? You’d have to have your 12 year old explain to you how to use Parental Controls on your devices. To keep hope alive in these times is to do what many tribes and families and kin have done through the ages. It mattered not whether they could read the printed word, write symbols on wood or follow the controls on a screen. Their art and science was breathing. How to keep time, know joy, pain, sorrow and jubilation. War and peace alike obeyed the dictates of the breath. It is what makes us ‘living souls.’
At the speed of light, those babies and their siblings, parents and grands need to know that love abides with them, right now. Disrupt them not as they inhale the air around them. They should relax and enjoy what their immediate space has provided today. The great and tragic news from over yonder can wait.

Whom you will become

Whom you will become – |
I like the person you are right now. I like the sight of your face, your sound, your touch and even the scent that surrounds us when you are near– so soft and mild. Much of what preceded our encounter is over back there, behind the veil, in the shadow of days past, a time that may as well be fictional, for all I get to experience of it.
 
I feel my past, with its near misses and never forgets, along with the great triumphs and the survival of how many landings to earth from how ever high I fell at the speed of fate. I know those moments well; they dwell in what should be long, but is in fact, short term memory – a consciousness that always abides, because it seems I am empty without them. Relishing the old, warmed over always, my stories, even if they’re cruddy, dusty, rusty and molded. It is my past, not yours; and I will thank you to remember that. If I don’t wish to move forward and learn anew and rely on heaven to refresh my soul with the rebirth of God’s creative concern, then is it anyone’s business? Even the great things I have done belong to me; they do not belong to God.
 
Believers forget that, in as much as God is the Creator and source of me, the same One can also re-create me.
 
Still, you; you are a dream that I had a while ago. In it, there was someone whom I thought I had known–perhaps beyond time and space–that was nice and cute, but mostly unlike anyone I had ever met before; so, lovable. Now, every person has a past tense and a present tension. In our encounters, there is the present, and it’s cool and drama free for three hours straight. Oh yeah! great potential lies in what we can do together. But only today, did I happen to ponder whom you would become. That person in the shadows, behind the curtain of countless experiences already stored, ready to be dredged up from an ocean’s depth, is someone else – not the one I meet today. Unless you feel the need to bring it all to breakfast–since it is unresolved, let your light refrain from shining on it. For now, our menu is new to us; by Grace it is an image of hope.
 
Few faithful persons (of seasoned age) can say that we want to be who we were so many decades or years ago. Physically, of course. But I mean spiritually and emotionally. With gray hair and aching joints, I want to be better – so much better in here; and I need the Lord’s help so much. How about you? I need you to keep striving to develop past the events, emotions, trauma, explosions and meltdowns of the before. Please understand, I am asking not as an exceptional candidate for your hand or heart; but as a concerned citizen-to-be of the heavenly home where we all will live someday. Allow your spirit to grow ahead of the trip. Believers know that they must travel light; extra baggage costs more.
 
If we are to bond in a special way as friends, neighbors or even mimics of God’s passionate union of masculinity and femininity, please strive for your inner greatness; don’t settle for less. True love moves forward. It cannot bless a former path or a present managed just for the moment. It is for those newly becoming whom you (and I) will be, by the faultless love of the Original One.

Solid Gold

Every so often we come to terms. You’ve heard that expression before. Like when buying a house, a car, or negotiating a contract. And as you can imagine here I’m referring to acknowledging that what you thought wasn’t so, is; and what you thought was so, is not. Coming to terms means accepting things as they really are and settling in peaceably.
Life comes filled with wonders and joys that many never see or experience. Is it because they are in war torn or flood ravaged villages or impoverished ghettos of the first, second or third world. No, it is because we don’t look for the beauty beneath our feet or the precious views of the skies above us. The other day, I looked up and saw cloud artistry against a blue backdrop in the late afternoon sky. If you saw it too, you understand what it’s like to be in awe of something so carefully crafted on a canvas miles wide. Before that there was this tree just rooted and standing on its own in a field.
They were probably just put there for me to experience a moment of discovery; as you can tell, I am in pursuit of many such moments these days. And there is this build up of one, two or more momentary events that prepare you for the watershed. I realize that one of the costs of focusing so narrowly in life – on paying bills and working to pay more bills, is to miss the mini moments of discovery that provide directions – even a path toward my (or your) watershed. That is solid gold, since the substance of it was always precious and always will be. And it can be your currency to share or spend it with others.
But if the leading moments are ignored or missed – and I’ve missed a lot of those, the watershed can feel like a drowning flood and the solid gold can resemble a ton of bricks.
Before Jesus came to meet his kin, the love that God had shown them and the world manifested in many different ways, some subtle, some very overt. The world was at peace, or what was considered the most peaceful it had been in centuries. There were trade routes developed and expanded by Rome’s army of engineers and craftsmen. This allowed for the flow of grace and mercy to reach nations as far away east as India, China and Russia, while the western world (where most of us are now) was still undiscovered.
India had the Upanishads, while China had Confucius, and of course the Romans and Greeks had Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. But Jesus’ folks had the Torah, which was gifted to them by the One, who had been preparing to send His Son for quite a long time. Just had to get everything organized first. Not magic, it was a foundation to realize a purpose. It always amazes me to think that even the polytheistic pagans of those days knew deep down that there was One God. But it was too complicated; and if even the “chosen” people could not unite, settle down and work with their foundation, what could other people just trying to survive their times be expected to do?
So when the watershed came – Jesus, solid gold salvation, unchanging and everlasting, we had just a very short time to respond to what God had done, and then the opportunity passed. We still have his teachings to remember him by: the beatitudes, sermon on the mount, and the prophetic style miracles. Still, one has to wonder why Christ wept over his people and prayed over his reluctance to go to crucifixion. You can’t possibly think that he was afraid to give his life. Parents, brothers and sisters, children and friends are often willing to die for their loved ones’ sake. So I ask, did they just let him slip away.
When special things happen to me, I am too busy to notice, and maybe a day or week later, I ask myself if some thing passed me by. So, for the sake of solid gold – my precious, I try to pay attention to the most minor things, thoughts, feelings, dreams, words from strangers as well as friends. Do more meditation and reflection. Even if you missed earlier blessings, we are still here. The One with boundless love and kindness continues to reach out for us with more.

Start Reading

I encourage anyone who can read to return to it while you can. It isn’t necessary to set aside a day or even a few hours. If you don’t have time just do a few minutes at the start, and when you find something you like you will read for longer and longer periods. Binge reading can take hold in the same way as binge watching, except with more reflection.

Where to begin this process? If you get a book, most people would start reading at the beginning. But as we have learned from other artistic communication, what seems to be page one is not always where the story began. You can crack open a book to page 27, 93 or 168 and see if those paragraphs grab you. You could read on from there with a clear conscience. When you share that you have been reading, do you think people will ask if you started at page one or chapter one. Many authors just choose to name chapters, without saying they are chapter 1, 2 and 3. When you get to a certain point in the book and wonder whether there is more backstory about a character or an event, you go to an earlier page to find out. Sometimes I am disappointed to learn that the author did not explain (to my satisfaction) who this person really is, what they were doing with the protagonist or antagonist anyway. So many questions; and then the laundry is done, or the baby wakes up, or your boss walks into your cubicle area. Whatever it is, the reading then stops.

We were supposed to get shortcuts and efficiency from our technology; then something happened, unexpectedly: since there is no end to what can be done with the gadgets we have and love to use without end, meta-authors–people writing apps for games and communication–bombard us with endless varieties of the unimportant. And they can’t be ignored. Yet, right now I will ignore them to talk about what I really want to say.

When you start something, how can we know what the beginning really is? Your first day on the job wasn’t a real first day because everyone and just about everything was already there; then you showed up. It was nice and folks said, “welcome.” Then you were in the middle of something after that. No second or third day or week. The middle may have happened a few hours after you sat down.  In this life – not that other life – we awaken to the perception of things that have a long, long history. And as much as I might want a beginning or newness or to get in on the ground floor, I must accept the reality of the middle.

You meet someone in the middle of their life; and it’s the middle of yours too. As much as I want there to be a beginning of “us,” that really is not possible. What is possible is my respect for the journey that you’ve been on all this time. And, as I marvel at the story you tell me (if I am patient and listening), your middle becomes clearer to me. Someone tells me a problem or a story, and I say “OK.” This means that I respect what they have shared with me out of my interest in them. I want to know; so that if we become real friends or real traveling partners on this road of life, a growing reference of their experience exists within me as a resource for understanding. To learn someone’s heart, just listen with yours. It doesn’t mean, however, that you will get to the beginning; and we might not get to the end either.

Still there is one who tells us what was the beginning. He is even nice enough to remind us that He is the beginning and the end – the Alpha and the Omega. So we need not worry. I think worry comes from believing that I have a whole lot to do with what happens, and I don’t. Now ask yourself, how much do you think the state of the world and the universe depends on two of us, or two million or two billion. There is a simple reason why believers worship: we were born out of love to experience joy. When someone hugs you (or shakes your hand) out of authentic affection, do you get a rush? I hope so.

When we embrace the living God, we are in the middle of something, together. And the peace I feel should extend from hours to days to weeks on end, being thankful. Gratitude is just a mental orientation that recognizes my position in this vast unfolding drama, as a child in awe of whatever is around that next corner. He does not lose his mind wondering about the details of clothes, food, and shelter. A child can accept things from anyone. They may not necessarily want to accept. But they can do it, because they are just going along for the ride, and always looking for a way to make it enjoyable.

In reading we take on the child’s persona; we are open to what is revealed and do not need to know how it began or why. To engage the other is to let them tell their story and be their story. If they want you to become part of the story with them, just like Huck Finn, they will invite you along for the ride.

Come Along Child

Come along, Come along child

and sit here with me

you’ll hear a few stories

of your history

The things you won’t learn

at school during the day

that make your life mean

much more than they say

the black man has planted and sown seeds galore

but reaped only pieces of what he worked for

on the face of the man whom we hold in disdain

is a legacy of service and a lifetime of pain

He tried to be good in the schools where he went

but  teachers said his worth was less than two cents

He played several sports, but not being the best

he gave up on the effort, and was ignored like the rest

He then went to parties, all dressed in his vines

brand shoes, suit and top hat complete to the nines

when some asked the question, what the party was for

he just shrugged his shoulders and did party some more

and since he was able to smoke and drink hard

he did it to his death with no other regard

Now the manchild had women and children for sure

There were those that he knew of and then there were more

He thought for a moment, how to cope with all these

and chose to be shiftless, in a life full of ease

So come along little child, this is told just for you

to make of your life something noble and true

the purpose of school is to climb that great fence

that kept others down due to fear and expense

the guards are on break now, you can quietly review

the foundations of knowledge and tools you can use

work hard, don’t you skip on the work of today

we need your help badly to make a new way

the child is our hope for a change in this land

and we love you so much, that’s why we command

that you study and strive for the most you can get

don’t worry that old heads have been losing their bets

Every life has a meaning and purpose to share

Dislike what you see?  Then you just don’t go there

There’s people I know who would say to you now

Be a good boy or girl, and we will show you how

When I see my mistakes, I just want to cry

If they hurt little children, it seems I could die

So look at us elders as a book you can read

and make better choices, so that you can lead

come along little child, come along and learn well

The future is waiting for your time to tell