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Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Several years ago, Jon Strange sent me a link to an article (a link, unfortunately, now dead). The article transcribed an interview of Eduardo Galeano by David Barsamian, since published in Louder than Bombs. Communications between the Jon and I are rare and deep. I take things he sends my way seriously.

In it there were two phrases that have stuck with me permanently. I hadn't realized how permanently until I unearthed the battered copy of the interview while unpacking. Sitting at my newly located kitchen table this morning I re-read the article.

Estamos muy mal hechos, pero no estamos terminados.
We are very badly made, but we are not finished.
At the time I was deep in sadness, and found hope in the idea that I was not finished with the making of myself, nor were those around me. Hope and forgiveness and compassion in one sentence. Since reading this article I've paid more attention to compassion, to understanding and being loving towards the people around me.

The other phrase, "abrigar esperanzas, to shelter hope" has had an even more direct impact. It has come to define how I think of myself. I am a hope shelterer. It is my job, it is my role in my community, and I take it as my first obligation to friends and family. Eduardo says more about hope.

"Hope needs to be abrigada, protected. She's fragile and a little delicate, but she's alive. I have friends who say 'I'm entirely hopeless, I don't believe in anything.' But you go on living. How is it? I hope I never lose hope, but if that day comes and I'm sure that I have nothing to expect, nothing to believe in, and that the human condition is doomed to stupidity and crime, then I hope I will be honest enough to kill myself. Of course, I know the human condition is at once horrible and marvelous."

It is good to be reminded of these two catalysts for my direction for the past three years. This wasn't a new direction, but focusing points, touchstones for daily action. I'm grateful today the marvelous and horrible human condition, and for having friends who know me so well. Thanks, Jon.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


The first of the 2007 mottoes is in effect.

Ask what people need.

It's my job to do this and then translate it into an action plan, and execute the plan. It's also the foundation of community organizing, a set of trainings that I refer to often. This year I'll focus extra hard on the important bit of asking and not assuming. Offer help when you see it's needed, and don't forget to always ask, "What do you need? How can I help?"

Monday, January 01, 2007

Under consideration.

I'm working through potential mottos for 2007. (While trying simultaneously to distill what 2006's might have been. Or could have been. I'm not considering what it _should_ have been.)

My friend Laura (Laura-of-the-hard-jobs, I call her) differentiates between life mottos and annual mottos. I admire this, and she's the inspiration for the mottoization of 2007. I usually think of myself as having figured out my values in the way back. On a daily basis, I think of myself as refining the application of those values. I usually think that my values don't/ haven't changed. My perception of the constancy of my, uh, Value Palette is primarily based on 1. My firm your work-is-the-greatest-part-of-your-life-so-choose-well policy, 2. My ongoing focus on loving kindness, and 3. My firm policy of supporting other people in the sheltering of their hope. I suspect an inventory of my values is due to flesh out fuzzier parts, or more accurately to bring clarity and focus to what I'm already doing.

Potential 2007 mottos under consideration:

*Give as much as you can.
Bringing a focus to what I'm giving, to whom, and if I'm giving enough. Or too much. Redefining give and much and can. Intention.

*(Motto TBD)
Working towards things vs. contentment with what you have. Striving discontentedly vs. settling into (for?) contentment. Working on big, hard things vs. reveling in the joy of the everyday. A Nobel prize vs. sunlight on eyelids.