Archive | November, 2013

Giving Thanks, The Blinged-out City, and Making faces in Parking Garages

30 Nov

Playlist: Michael Franti & Spearhead 11:59, John Legend Little Ghetto Boy, Coheed & Cambria Crossing the Frame, Crash Kings Six Foot Tall, Foo Fighters Breakout, The Talking Heads Once in a Lifetime, Bill Withers Lean on Me, Michael Franti & Spearhead Hey Now Now, Coheed & Cambria Radio Bye Bye, Pepper FKARND. Beastie Boys Futterman’s Rule, The Roots Do You Want More?, Deftones The Passenger, Radiohead Exit Music (For a Film), Tool Schism, Buddy Guy Give Me My Coat and Shoes, Jet Take It or Leave it.

Sometimes in our lives
We all have pain, we all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there’s always tomorrow

Lean on me when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need somebody to lean on

Bill Withers – Lean On Me

And don’t let mistakes be so monumental
And don’t let your love be so confidential
And don’t let your mind be so darn judgmental
And please let your heart be more influential
Michael Franti – Hey Now Now

Go back and read those. C’mon, I know you scanned it. Read them…..did you say “Yeah” in agreement to yourself? I was on a walkabout today and these verses hit me VERY hard. Normally, I skip Lean on Me for a more soulful Withers song, but today, the day after Thanksgiving, the day after a really tough conversation from home, the first time in 45 years I have not been with blood family, today I needed someone to lean on. Those who know me well, know I am the post, you lean on me. I am happy to be that, but I forgot that I may need it, too. Life has a way of reminding you of these things. We all need someone to lean on eventually, and I have been very lucky over the past year to have many of you who have held me up. I got a little ahead of myself over the last few weeks. I had a bit too much of a strut, and I was feeling strong. Then, the Thanksgiving holiday hit me right in the gizzard (sorry, too easy, I know). The bottom line is, I miss my family…really, my families. That’s the beauty of growing old; life builds families around you (if you allow it), and those families provide strength when you feel weak.

The recruiters warned us we’d feel homesick, eventually. Well, it’s here. I have denied it, but once again, some things are out of our control, and as Michael Franti says, “And please let your heart be more influential”. You have to allow the feelings to come. I spent years burying them to prove that I’m tough. Sure, my students saw me get emotional when they fought each other, or some other injustice occurred, but I didn’t take time to examine how I felt. I was a raft springing tiny holes, and patching them up desperately so I wouldn’t have to admit that some maintenance was necessary. I’m not sure where else to go with this metaphor other than to say, I am allowing others to help with the holes, and for the first time in a long time, I see that we really do all need to lean on each other once in a while. It’s refreshing and relieving to accept.

Shall I lighten this up a bit? Here’s a sign that 7000+ miles from home, isn’t that far…

Well Driven!? Really?

Well Driven!? Really?

I was behind this truck for 3 consecutive red lights (at the same g-drned, frickin’-frackin-other bad wordin-intersection) in a town called Musaffah. No relation to the Lion King, but definitely the King of something…something horrible. What they’ve done is created industrial cities. So, if you need a mechanic, or a contractor, or heavy machinery, or anything that requires grease, smoke, loud noises, or anything that requires Lava Beaded Industrial soap, you go to an industrial city to get it. The problem is, EVERYONE needs that stuff in a city that is expanding like a waistband after Thanksgiving Dinner (sorry, had to). Abu Dhabi is adding thousands of people a day. You can’t get a visa without a job. There are hundreds of thousands of jobs in labor here (’cause ain’t no locals pickin’ up a shovel-trust me) and while the pay and living quarters are abominable by western standards, it’s a better living than some are getting in India, Pakistan, and the Philippines. (By the way, the tragedy in the Philippines hit hard here. It was nice to see the relief efforts start almost immediately. This country is rich, but not selfish. I like that.) So, the industrial cities are filled with laborers literally flooding the streets, in cars, trucks, bicycles, on foot…everywhere. It’s also Used Car City, so I HAD to go there. Wanna see my new car? (cue the music, 50 Cent-P.I.M.P.)

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The price was VERY nice, and the guy I bought it from will do all my service and specializes in jaguars. Much love to my main Jordanian, Samir!

Anyway, my place is really coming together nicely, but I’m not prepared to show it just yet. The walls are bare, but I’ll be home soon with an empty suitcase for art. So, no pictures, yet. What? You want a sneak peak? Ok…here.

Don't look at the reflection in the window...ugh, that didn't work.

Don’t look at the reflection in the window…ugh, that didn’t work.

Those who know me, know I’m a floor dweller. I love to be on the floor. So, I’m lovin’ the Majlis set against the window. Great for reading, or, well everything. I have a 10 foot couch, and I’m on the floor most of the time. Go figure.

Work is going well. I’ll be honest, it has taken some adjustment. The language barrier can slow things down. Also, everything here is patriarchal and top-down. Everything. I prefer to empower teachers and stakeholders to get involved and change according to what they need. We’ve had a few conversations like that with the staff. When I asked the Arabic staff about what they “believe” about our students and their potential you’d think I was speaking a foreign language—ahem, well, I kinda was, but I have an interpreter. Here he is…

Umm, I'm sorry Mr. Lee, did you just ask a group of Arabic men about their feelings?

Umm, I’m sorry Mr. Lee, did you just ask a group of Arabic men about their feelings?

LOVE this guy. Sometimes when I talk all feelings-ish to the teachers he looks at me like “…are you sure you want to say that?” Yes, I am. Regardless of the atmosphere, or culture, in order to learn kids have to feel safe. They must feel as if they can open their mouths and say something without being ridiculed or belittled. This will be my struggle here. Our school is 54 male teachers and 3 women. The women are westerners who wear full abaya and shayla (headscarf) and teach first grade. They have their own teachers lounge and they are awesome. We have excellent men teachers, as well, but men are men. We don’t talk feelings, we don’t discuss if we care for the kids, we don’t admit that we are teachers because of the pull in our heart. (Sorry for outing all you guys; it’s ok, they pretty much knew.) So, when I ask them about their feelings and beliefs about the boys, there’s a pause for translation, then the low grumble ensues. That’s how I know that Khaled said what I said. Eventually, our conversation has softened and I think the teachers are ready for change. Here’s me working with a group of them.

PD time is happy time with Mr. Lee!

PD time is happy time with Mr. Lee!

The guy in a tie is from Egypt (we have many Egyptians and Jordanians on staff). The fact that he is there and engaged is a minor triumph.  He’s a bit….um…gruff, yeah, gruff.  I tease him about it and he has no idea what I’m saying.  How many kittens have you hugged today Mr. Sayed? Two, fantastic…why does he anger smile at me?  (I have been holding on to this picture for fear of posting it. That shot of me looks EXACTLY like my brother, and I know a few of your hearts jumped. This will be hard for some. I’m glad you’re thinking about him. I often do).

Ya know how Professional Development is met with a grunt and a sigh in the states? Yeah, well it’s the same here…here’s how they offset that…

If you feed them, they will fake interest...

If you feed them, they will fake interest…

Nice spread, huh?

So, what else would you like to know? Here’s part of my everyday life…

I have to brace my arm against the passenger seat I'm going so fast...gee I hope the rental company doesn't have the internet.

I have to brace my arm against the passenger seat I’m going so fast…gee I hope the rental company doesn’t have the internet.

 

The object in this mirror are larg-uh, they already passed you! Step on it!

The objects in this mirror are larg-uh, they already passed you! Step on it!

It's really not dark, but these mega-buses drown out the sun.

It’s really not dark, but these mega-buses drown out the sun.

The first is the spiral from hell I must take to get in and out of my building. Actually, I’ve made it a game. Can I hold the wheel with my knee while texting and driving fast enough to make the 14 inch wheels on my Aveo squeal? Also, what bizarre face can I make at the oncoming traffic so they can get just a glimpse of something really freaky and change their day a bit? Going down is fun…how many spirals before I brake (is that a Frost poem?) is the game. The next pic is the sign on the sideview mirror in Arabic. It says, “Why are you looking at this, no one else here does, go faster ya tourist!” The third is a bit more grim. I live in an amazing building over looking the coastline and part of the gulf. Further out on the island in a not-so-well kept secret is a work camp, uh, labor housing, um, dorms for working people setting. There must be about 5000 people out there because everyday I am surrounded by these mega-buses packed with workers. Another fun game I play happens on the way to work. At a makeshift bus stop along the highway I take to work there is a place where the workers gather to catch a bus. The traffic whirs by at about 90mph. I honk at them everyday. It took about 4 days before they started waving back at me. Kinda fun. Hey, it’s a 35-45 minute drive to work, and I’m in an AVEO! Ya gotta do somethin’!

You may have heard that Dubai just earned the spot as the host to the 2020 World’s Fair. The first ever for the Middle East. What? You haven’t!? It wasn’t front page news for you? Not every digital traffic sign was converted to a congratulations message? People didn’t take to the streets dancing and shouting about it? You didn’t have a day of school canceled at 10pm the night before an already long weekend? Where have you been!? It’s huge news…in 2020.

Yeah, so we had Thursday off, and we also have Sunday and Monday off for National Day. Now, I love America, and I’m sure you do, too…but, and this may hurt for some, the way they do National Day here makes our 4th of July look like a lame practice run. Here the buildings are adorned in humongous flags, the kids have been wearing the colors of the country for weeks, the cars are decorated in flags, silk screens of the Sheiks, and “I LOVE UAE” hearts, and the lights, OH, the lights. Everything, everywhere is bling-ed out in sparkly lights. You have Google, google it! Here’s a smidgeon of the flavor…

YES, those are toy guns they are throwing into the air! So? Guns are patriotic, right?

YES, those are toy guns they are throwing into the air! Metal toy guns. So? Guns are patriotic, right?

By the way, these aren't even the good ones.

By the way, these aren’t even the good ones.

IMG-20131130-00443

This has been up for a week. It’s a lighting and interior decorating store…a business that thrives on selling its wares through the windows. Interesting.

That light is the WHOLE FRONT OF A HOTEL lit up. "Ummm, front desk, my room is, uh, as bright as the sun! Can you turn them off...no? Uh, ok. Good night."

That light is the WHOLE FRONT OF A HOTEL lit up…from about a mile away. “Ummm, front desk, my room is, uh, as bright as the sun! Can you turn them off…no? Uh, ok. Good night.”

The little projects are just offerings the parents spend money on. I think they think we think the kids made them. Yeah,…a-no. Look at the Majlis set to scale…from a second grader. If he did that, the kid’s a genius, get him to architectural school NOW! He can’t tie his shoes, or aim anywhere near the toilet, or wash his hands for that matter, but he can use an exacto knife and sew. Who am I to judge?

Again, this does not do it justice. So, school will resume on Tuesday (Insha’Allah), and we will have a really short week. The scuttlebutt is that the kids won’t show up until Wednesday as they have gone on mini-vacations, and we’ll only have Wednesday and Thursday next week. That’s cool, as long as we get our PD in! Right, teachers? No limit for better, right? Anyway, I digress, sometimes my love for schools becomes distracting from my point…which I’m not sure I had, anyway.

Here are some random pics for those who wish I’d write less. (and probably aren’t reading anyway…which is cool, no judgment.)

Pretty. Big. Building.

Pretty. Big. Building.

The guy at the bottom of the frame did a well-being check on me. "Uh, yeah, what? No. I'm cool, it's good, wow, huh?"

The guy at the bottom of the frame did a well-being check on me. “Uh, yeah, what? No. I’m cool, it’s good, wow, huh?”

Hmmm, I haven't spent enough on this, I'll paint it...yeah, great idea!

Hmmm, I haven’t spent enough on this, I’ll paint it…yeah, great idea!

Butternut Squash and Saffron Risotto with a bit of goat cheese for added creaminess. They told me it was good, but they're really polite people.

Butternut Squash and Saffron Risotto with a bit of goat cheese for added creaminess. They told me it was good, but they’re really polite people.

The Burj Khalifa. I can’t even explain the size. I took that pic from about 400 yards away. It is amazing. Below it is a huge pond/lake (yes, man-made) that has a Bellagio-esque water show every half hour. The lights on the building sparkle in syc with the music. Very well thought out. The next is the INDOOR, yes, indoor waterfall at the Dubai Mall with the diving men sculptures. There’s something surreal about it. I literally was mesmerized and stood agape at it for about 5 minutes. (Of course, I am still mystified by mulching lawnmowers and their power of re-fertilization, too.) The next is a Rolls-Royce with a custom paint job…I don’t know, if you’re dating Natalie Portman, do you ask her to wear a prettier mask? The last is my contribution to an amazing Thanksgiving Dinner that helped me immensely.

It’s not easy being so far away from you…and it wasn’t easy when I left. We all have our stories here and we all support each other, as well. It’s interesting how the human spirit craves human spirit. To be obvious, we cannot survive in a vacuum. We need each other, and we need to know there is something in the universe watching over us and helping us handle…well, everything. On Thanksgiving, my plan was to cook for myself, sit at home with some fermented grapes, and be sad and glad. Instead, I was lifted up and had an amazing evening. I didn’t orchestrate that, heck I was trying to avoid it…but somehow, somewhere, someone or something, knew exactly what I needed. Life has cautioned, (hell, more like bludgeoned)  me about being the Master. It was a very hard lesson. Knowing everything is a very dangerous and completely foolish position. I am thankful for learning that. I am thankful to have my vulnerability restored. I am thankful for all of you, for my family, and my families. We can live amazing lives if we remain open…open hearts and open minds…open heart and open mind…repeat it to yourself…your words have power.

Love one another, please. Life is too short not to. 

Love,
Lee

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The Desert, an extended metaphor; perception, or Analyze, but don’t Histor-icize.

9 Nov

Playlist-The Shins-Caring is Creepy, Michael Franti & Spearhead-Do it for the Love, The Mars Volta-Roulette Dares (The Haunt of), System of a Down-Streamline, Killswitch Engage-My Curse, Tool-Lipan Conjuring, Sublime-Jailhouse, Red Hot Chili Peppers-Breaking the Girl, 30 Seconds to Mars-The Kill, Incubus-Are You In?, Miles Davis-Flamenco Sketches, Wax-We Can’t All be Heroes, Bob Marley & the Wailers-Buffalo Soldier, Michael Franti & Spearhead-What I Be.

Cool Lyric of the Day:

I remember when there wasn’t no pressure

I just do this

Before the music was part of a to-do list

I love writing, but why I’m clueless

It’s peaceful, yet deceitful,

Like a Buddhist Judas

from We Can’t All Be Heroes by Wax

Wow, a “Buddhist Judas”-that is clear and accurate…you should know that these playlists are what is occurring during the events you’re reading about. Music has that sensory trigger that marks times in our lives. Depending on what I’m going through I can be immersed in an album, a genre, or a topic. Looking at this playlist, I see a representation of many things Lee…and certainly, my dear family and friends, as you have contributed to the diversity of who I am, so have I absorbed, and reflected, the details and sum of my perceptions.

To the reader who asks, “How does that fit?”, I say it doesn’t matter. As good ol’ Uncle Walt (Whitman—not the chocolate sampler guy, either) always said, “Do I contradict myself?/Very well then, I contradict myself/I am large, I contain multitudes…I am untranslatable…” (There’s a 5 or 6 line ellipse in there; poetic license, get over it.)

Ya know, we (well, I) never consider a young Walt Whitman. He was in his mid-thirties when he wrote “Song of Myself”. I am older than him. Strange. I guess that goes back to perception. The most common pic you’ve seen of him is this old, long in the tooth, gray-bearded man, but he couldn’t be 35 or so in that pic. It’s like Einstein. Remember that college poster that sold about 15 million copies every year to hip-thinking freshmen looking to instill originality into their dorm room? He couldn’t possibly have looked like that always.

You see, perceptions are not real. They are personal and they are yours; only you have built them. You can agree upon them, but at their genesis, from where they derive, deep in your id/ego, none are the same. I think we’d all do better to one another if we kept that in mind. During the first few weeks of my stay here, the kandooras and other traditional dress seemed interesting and novel. Like a costume gives a child that special feeling and identity; I was looking at them the same way. As friendships and working relationships with locals become the norm, you start to see the people, not the perception. You know what? There is no difference. Seems obvious, right? Any self-respecting liberal, or culturally aware person will say they don’t see clothes or presentation, they only see people. Good for you. So, ask yourself; do you tailor how you greet people? Do you look at someone and reflect what you think they expect? Does your perception of someone new begin with something, anything, preconceived? Why? I think we’re reflecting our fears when we do that. I think we are afraid of presenting ourselves in a vulnerable state. We go in guarded, and spend time knocking walls down. What an interesting way to forge a relationship. Start with a fortress, and break your way in. Why not start in an open space and build together? Much of what is going on in my life right now is starting in open spaces…and the desert, and this collaboration of cultures, and this educational reform, and this exponentially expanding city being built out of vast open space, is the culminating metaphor. I am shaking as all of this falls into line. My eyes are windows, not mirrors, again (a bit blurry with emotion), and the scenery is informing me everyday.

Ok, sorry had to get that out. Whew! I feel better. You?

What do you think about when you think “desert”? (That’s one /s/, you smart—ypants!) Again, out loud and be honest, be vulnerable…desert? Three words out loud. I’ll leave you to it………………..I won’t try to match you; perception is personal (see what I did there?). I certainly would never have thought that I’d be building something in the desert, but I am…we are.

Three weeks ago (YES, I’m behind…SO!?), 14 of us went on a desert safari and overnight camp.

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Needless to say, it was amazing. I’ve been putting this off because I just don’t know what to write about. The experience was so organic and personal that words can’t convey the experience for me. Like Wax says above, writing can be like a Buddhist Judas, peaceful and deceitful, all in the same word.

Desert groupDesert group2

There are seven countries represented there, oh, and Mississippi, which I hear is a country in itself. (Certainly, Twain and Faulkner thought so). The guy kneeling by me isn’t with us, we grabbed each other after we bumped to stop from toppling from the top of the dune. He was happy to join in. The guy taking the picture was with us, too (Kneeling, to your right.). He’s from Houston, via Lebanon. (Woot! Woot! Lebanon!) He took some great pictures, I’ll be stealing them for this blog. (Bro, we’re both Lebanese, mumtaaz!?)

So the 14 (2 not shown, 18 total) of us piled into 3 Land Cruisers to begin our journey. I was running late due to a cheap watch I had to buy to cover the artwork on my wrist. Truthfully, the people at work care nothing about it, but permanent ink on your body is haram (forbidden by Islamic Law-though everything is up for interpretation), and who am I to offend anyone? (Wait ’til they see the COEXIST symbol inked across my shoulder blades!) Also, no one will ask what it means as the topic is personal, and personal questions aren’t polite. People are in the business of minding their own business here…kinda like that.

So, because I was late I was put into a truck with one other westerner, and a family of Filipino tourists. The first thing the Katie in the front seat said was, “Lee, I need the front seat because I always get car sick.” Yes, she said “always” and yes, she is consistent…poor thing. More on that later. Next to me was the most stoic octogenarian I’ve ever seen. I don’t think she uttered a word or a “woo!” the whole time. Included in this family was a very young boy, a very chatty, high-pitched, young boy. After a 30 minute ride into nowhere, we stopped to do this.

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Better traction in the sand. As you’ll see, we’ll need as much tire surface on the sand as possible. How these things don’t tip is a lesson in physics (which I am not qualified to deliver).

Our first stop was a camel farm.

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They are very calm animals, until you get by the babies. It’s obvious to say, but I am still fascinated by the protective instinct exercised in almost every species. Oh, if ever going to a camel farm, know that they don’t have a designated bathroom area. It happens. Everywhere.

On to the dune bashing! SO much fun. Keep in mind, I’m bigger than pretty much every 80 year-old Filipino woman. So, as we were sliding down the dunes sideways, at 70 degree angles, I was clutching the overhead handle so as not to make this poor woman into poi (yes, I know I’m mixing references). There is a lot of “Hey, what’s on the other side of that ridge…oh, sh–, a sheer drop…” and your stomach is far behind your brain. As we do this for awhile, our little buddy in the backseat decided to exercise (more like exorcise) both English words in his repertoire, “…Fasta! Fasta! Go! Go! Fasta! Fasta! Go! Go!…” Which is cute…for about the first five minutes. After thirty minutes, you start to question your normally amiable spirit.  We bashed on into the desert for about thirty minutes. The normally, very polite, and warm and conversational, Katie in the front seat had become suspiciously quiet. I take a break from trying to photo the sand flying overhead to look at the driver, who keeps checking on the Katie in the front seat. From the look on his face, she’s no longer enjoying it, and he’s thinking, why didn’t I Scotch-guard this carpet, yet?

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A plume of sand flying over the passenger side window as we slide sideways down a dune.

A plume of sand flying over the passenger side window as we slide sideways down a dune.

We come to the spot where the pictures above were taken. The Katie in the front seat pleads in a dry-mouthed, last breath, hard lump in the throat, gasp, “Can I get out here, please?” (Always polite that Katie in the front seat). Poor thing jets from the vehicle and does, what I later learn, she has done in every country she’s ever been; and she’s been to many, many countries. She’s a fascinating and engaging personality; which helped me come up with an idea for a reality, travelogue TV show: “Katie Puked Here!” So, we send her on adventures all over the globe, Katie in the front seat throws up, and we learn about these amazing places. Whaddaya think? TV gold, I know. Brilliant. She’s so cool, she’s down for it! Call me Travel Channel…then, pay me, um, us.

A little more bashing and we arrived at camp. Once in camp, there was a henna tent, sand-boarding (like snow-boarding, but slower), camel rides, ATV bashing, and a dress up tent…see?

A not-thrilled camel

A not-thrilled camel

Moon-rise over camp

Moon-rise over camp

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That poor camel. I was probably rider 25 or so, and again, I am not average size here. I swear he turned to look at me before we started and said, “Seriously? Dude? Would one less order of hummus kill you?” For all you guys who called me camel-jockey growing up…here’s your chance. Enjoy! The karmic/God/aura orb of light behind my head is still scientifically inexplicable…unless you understand electricity and flood lights, then it’s a total coincidence.

The night entertainment was food and a belly-dancer…and, of course, shisha.

Yes, Dad, of course she's Lebanese.

Yes, Dad, of course she’s Lebanese.

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Also on the tour with us were Rihanna’s back-up singers/dancers. Of course, one jumped up and danced with the professional…and got schooled. She did a great job, though. After the show was over, everyone loaded back into the trucks and headed back to the city. Everyone, but us, of course. We had the whole camp to ourselves. Really, this is when the experience started. This is where I lose my words to explain the impact of the evening. All of these countries and experiences, these no-longer strangers, these educators, these friends. The conversation flowed freely, and I caught myself more than once, staring into the desert night, trying to make sense of it. Why me? Why here? Where am I? Who are these people? How is this possible? What should I be learning?

“Lee! Lee!?…hey man, what are you thinking?” Someone brought me back…

“You know…I don’t know? I’m having a moment. A real moment. Me, all of you, all of this. I don’t know what it means, and for the first time in my life, I’m glad not to be responsible for the answers. I spent a lot of time stressing about being the answer guy only to find out the notion of being the answer guy is totally false. A perception I misled myself into. I spent too much time TRYING to manage other people’s feelings…foolish, man, foolish. Heavy, ya know? I’m allowing myself to just experience, to be genuinely touched, no context, no preconceived notions, no false expertise. I’m absorbing. I just want to thank you, all of you. For this. For me, being a part of this us. Very cool, ya know…Oh, did I mention, I’m a crier?…” Duh, right?

Turns out, many of us, especially those embarking on a life-changing journey, go through these introspective moments. The brain gets a new experience and doesn’t know where to file it. There is no reference point. You need to hold on to it, but where does it go? I do this in my professional life. Something new comes across my desk. Something for which I don’t have an already labeled folder. I keep it on my desk until I can sort out where it goes. Or, I realize it deserves a new label, and I create a new folder. I am creating new folders as this experience progresses. First, it was “New Experience in Abu Dhabi”, then “The Dhabi!” (don’t forget, get your t-shirt!) Now, there is so much more.

The conversation ebbed and flowed until about 4am, I think? The sleeping tents were surprisingly comfortable and the night air was quite comfortable. The sun rose a few hours later and breakfast was served. There was a lot of looking at each other without speaking. People processing. As humans, we don’t spend enough time expressing our gratitude towards one another. We take human interaction for granted. Let’s start sharing more. “Hey, last night was really cool. Thank you.”

That’s the cool thing about 14 strangers encamped in the middle of the desert. There is no history to reference. No playing of the name game; just sharing from that point forward. Learning. The experience is unique and impossible to replicate. We talk about going again, and we probably will, but we will be different. There will be more points of reference, folders of memories and experiences will be filled with files, and the conversation will exhibit that we know each other in ways separate from the experience. We will compare.

I’m trying to get out of the business of comparisons. Comparisons are a set up for disappointment; “greater than” or “less than”, even “equal to” becomes a let down. I want my experiences to be free from comparative analysis. CA takes the wonder out of the stars. It locks us into a perception, and locking into a perception creates shortcuts that limit our ability to be free. Remember when you studied, “When I heard the Learn’d Astronomer”? (ummmm, Walt Whitman? Hello? Google now!) The poet is dizzied and nauseated, not by the numbers and figures presented by the Astronomer, but by the Astronomer’s inability to perceive, by his lack of awareness, of how beautiful the stars actually are. (Of course, you may argue, that is my perception of the poem, and not yours–see, I did it again.)

All this knowledge we have, can get in the way of our awareness. Continue to perceive, but be aware, that perceptions are historical, and the present is a gift. Open it everyday with the wide-eyed wonder of a child.

Yes, I am way behind. This was a tough one. I’m reckoning, you know?

Just to prove that I do work, here’s a pic of me and my main interpreter, Khaled. It’s hard to be witty during a presentation when you have to stop for translation…and when, sometimes, there isn’t one. I feel like a Mormon doing stand up at the Apollo…is thing on? Hello? I can hear you breathing…crickets.

PD Presentation 007

Can you say "Engaged Educators"? Oh yeah!

Can you say “Engaged Educators”? Oh yeah!

Thank you for your enduring support and love!

Love,

Lee

p.s. There’s no new ink on me. Gotcha!