Skimming Deep

Searching, traveling, talking, reflecting, and exploring. Read along with me as I continue on my journey through life.

Month: July, 2012

I is for “Intention”

I think “intention” is something you don’t really understand until you get older.  When we’re younger, we do things because we’re told to do it, because of impulse, because of reaction, because of whim.  When we’re older, we realize that intention has a power to create direction, shape results, get us to places where we want.

Practicing yoga and reading books about Zen Buddhism and on achieving life happiness have opened my eyes to the power of intention.

For Huffington Post blogger, Marcia Wieder, intention is one of “five principles that will change your life.”  She says, “It is the setting of an intention that will call in wonderful resources, opportunities and people.”  I have seen examples of the truth of that statement in my own life.

After I started really focusing on these intentions and aspirations (wanting to find a team of people, wanting to travel, wanting to quit my job, see more here), it was as if a Pandora’s box of amazing and wonderful things was opened. People I knew talked to me of their own and others’ travels.  I started finding more and more resources to read that were just at my fingertips.  I became connected to new people who had interesting and helpful things to share.  These past six or so months of preparing have been truly inspiring.  And as I talk to more people and read more, my intentions become clearer and are confirmed.

I intend to live my life with joy and laughter.

  • I intend to appreciate all that comes my way: challenges, successes, and new opportunities.
  • I intend to surround myself with people who are positive, loving, and living life to the fullest.
  • I intend to live life not only for myself but for and with others.
  • I intend to breathe deeply of the air everyday.
  • I intend to look at the sky, the road, the trees, my surroundings and be thankful that I am alive.

It amazes me to think where I was a year, two years, five years, ten years ago.  I had no idea I would be where I am today, preparing for a trip to the other side of the world to farm and travel without an itinerary.  A year and a half ago, I made the intention that I wanted to be happy and not stuck in the life I was in.  And with the support of loved ones, I am light years ahead of where I was then.  And I have not lost anything in the process.  If anything, I have gained even more than I thought was possible.

Life lived with intention allows for anything to be possible that leads to more and more happiness.  Who thought so much happiness was possible?

H is for “Hubris”

I’ve never totally understood what that word “hubris” meant.  It’s one of those words that get thrown around a lot in the media but I’m not really sure how many people know what it means.

So here are a few definitions I found online:

from Wikipedia: Hubris means extreme pride or arrogance. Hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one’s own competence or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power.

from Hubris is excessive pride or self-confidence; arrogance.

from Merriam-Webster: Hubris is exaggerated pride or self-confidence

Here are some headlines from the news today incorporating the word hubris:

  • Hubris on Wall Street: an article from Business Journal about Jamie Dimon and his abdication of responsibility in the craziness being uncovered at JPMorgan Chase
  • China GDP Hit Tells Story of Hubris Run Amok: Bloomberg article about the false sense of hope that Asia had during the 2008 recession in Western countries which is just hitting Asian markets now.
  • Protecting Twitter from its Own Hubris: Reuters blogpost about Twitter’s recent cutting off of LinkedIn where the author comments on Twitter’s overconfidence that it can stand alone from such entities as LinkedIn because of its own cachet and power.  Maybe they’re wrong!

This seems to be a common theme today in the excesses of the wealthiest of the wealthy, the CEOs of multinational corporations that are beyond the reach of regulations, regular human comprehension, and any kind of moral values.  How did we get here?  And how do we regain some humility and modesty in the midst of all this excess?

I see the anti-hubris in the little day-to-days:

  • someone getting up from their seat on the train to offer it to an elder, a pregnant woman, or just someone who looks like they’ve had a long day.
  • acknowledgement from youth that I’ve worked with about how much they have grown and developed because of the support of people like me and other youth workers and mentors in their lives.
  • backyard garden plots with the beautifully growing plants that give joy to the gardener and to the eaters of the bounty.
  • the happy faces of a group of friends at a meal together at a restaurant, in a home, at a park, sharing in the simple goodness of good company, good food, and good conversation.
  • the joyful walk in the early mornings or early evenings along a familiar stretch of sidewalk or road where I can see what I know but also experience a newness every time because of a new way the light hits those leaves or the different way the air smells that day.

Simple daily pleasures.  With loved ones.  Remembering why we are here– to build community with others and make positive contributions to building a better world.  The ultimate anti-hubris!

G is for “Gyre and Gimble”

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

I love that line from Jabberwocky— one of the best opening lines of a poem ever!

Almost every other word is gibberish and yet with the right amount of prepositions, conjunctions, articles, and a simple verb here and there, it all paints a picture in one’s mind.  A bit ominous, a bit dark, with things moving in the weediness of the foresty jungle.

I’m not sure why that came to mind today.  Thinking of words that began with the letter “g.”

Dealing with some of the nonsense that we have to deal with being in the systems we’re in.

  • non-profit organizational system
  • capitalist system
  • a not-quite-free-and-just system

We’re so tied up in all these systems, and though I can occasionally glimpse another possible world, that glimpse often turns dark again and I am sucked back into the borogoves and and the daily game-playing that needs to happen.

Is another world possible?

Will we be able to break free?


F is for “FAQ’s”

Frequently asked questions.

I’ve got those asked at me, especially these days as I prepare for my next big step.

  • What made you decide to take this step?
  • Where are you going?
  • Are you going alone?
  • Do you know anyone there?
  • When are you coming back?
  • Are you coming back to Boston?
  • If not Boston, then where?
  • What are you going to do after you come back to the U.S.?

That’s the usual progression of questions.  And here are the answers:

  • I’m burnt out.  Ready for a change and a break.  Wanting to take time to think about my role in the world and I just can’t do it while working at such a crazy rate.
  • New Zealand first.  Indonesia second.  Then who knows.  Some of what I’ve got on my mind: Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, Korea…  But I’m leaving it open in case opportunities come up, or I want to stay somewhere longer, or I meet people who want to travel somewhere interesting, or I hate it and want to come home early.  No real set plans other than the first two countries.
  • Yup, alone.
  • Nope, don’t know anyone directly.  But am getting connected 2nd and 3rd hand by friends.
  • Don’t know when I’m coming back.  I’m leaving it open.
  • Don’t know if I’m coming back to Boston.  I’m leaving it open.
  • Don’t know where’s next.  I’m leaving it open.
  • Don’t know what I’m going to do next.  I have some ideas, but I’m leaving it open.

Do you sense a theme here?

(I don’t really like using clip art from the internet, but I don’t have good enough lighting right now to take a photo of an open door in my own place, so I’ll go with this image.)

And I’ve got those that I ask the universe… a lot… frequently.

  • Why don’t young people know their geography today?
  • Why can’t people see through the lies, untruths, and miseducation of those who teach that global warming and evolution are not true or that trickle down economics works or that poor people are lazy or that capitalism and a free market benefits everyone?
  • Will I ever find the right partner who gets me for who I am?
  • What is my role in the world?
  • Why is the educational system such a mess?
  • Why are Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh so popular?

Lots of questions.  I think we’d all be in better places if we asked more questions and didn’t accept so much as truth with some real critique, analysis, and thought.

So hurray for the FAQs!


E is for “Etc…”

I had a wonderful weekend, meals with friends, chamber music at Tanglewood, beautiful weather, interesting things learned from NPR, conversations, and just living life. So I couldn’t think of just one word for “E” because so many came to mind.


How do we live our lives in coordination between nature and society that we have created? I want to live more in harmony with the both, not separate from one or other. I was introduced to the concept of “social ecology” this weekend (thanks M and J!!), and I definitely want to read more. Social ecology states that ecological problems and social problems are interrelated, and in order to “solve” or improve one, you have to work on both. It’s not rocket science, but it’s not the approach many people take.

I was reading one social ecologist’s essay (Chaia Heller) who talked about how often the “back to nature” movements are individualistic, a running away from the problems of society by oneself to escape and live a hermit life. She proposed that the social ecological approach is collectivistic and about maintaining the aspects of society and community that are positive, generative, and loving and to integrate that with how we live in the world. Nature and society are not opposites, and we have to find ways to live where they complement each other, not destroy each other.

I’m all about efficiency, sometimes at the expense of quality time, spontaneity, and unexpected detours. I was trying to get a bunch of errands done this weekend, timing things just so, driving around Boston just so to get all these things done. I ended up doing about half of what I expected because an unexpected chance for breakfast with an old friend arose. So I took it and it was wonderful to reconnect with her. I could have said no and that I had things to do, and it took some thinking on my part to negotiate the changes in plans.

I’m having to learn more how not to be so driven by efficiency. Or to understand that there’s a time and place for efficiency. And when human relationships are sacrificed, then I’m doing something wrong.

I was listening to a story on the radio about a man who set out to build the largest house in the U.S. and then the stock market crash happened and he ended up losing everything. He was on Forbes most richest Americans list and owned homes all over the world and was trying to build a replica of Versailles. So there’s this new documentary out about that life, and it struck me how different the lives of wealthy people are from the rest of us. What do you do when you have more money than you need? I heard somewhere that you only really need $50,000 to live comfortably, and I believe that. What would you do with more? I guess buy a ton of stuff or save it/ invest it. I don’t really think that’s making a bunch of jobs for people, though, sorry to say.

“Ever” is a funny word. What does it mean? There are a few definitions that seem slightly different.

  • Will I ever find what I’m looking for?
  • Ever since I was young, I’ve been different from my peers. I think that’s still true now.
  • How did we ever survive without technology?

Work email has become the bane of my existence. I am on a bunch of listserves that are related to work topics, so I have to go through them. I also get emails from staff, colleagues, peers, partners, and I have to respond. So the terrible thing about email is that it builds up over the course of a day, a weekend, a few days, and then I go through them all at one time, feeling good about myself. But by the time I get through them all, I have to start over again because the people that I’ve responded to have responded back to me. It’s a vicious, neverending cycle. And I just get stressed. I think I’ve ranted about my feelings about email, but I just wanted to bring it up again.

I love getting personal emails, and I can write pages and pages to friends. But of course personal emails are much fewer in number. I am excited to leave work email behind!

And there are so many “E” words that I could write about:

  • Experience
  • Everlasting
  • Embrace
  • Egregious
  • Ephemeral
  • Eggs

But I’ll leave it at that for today.

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