60 about 60

More than one reason to smile today…thank you davidkanigan.com @ Lead.Learn.Live

Live & Learn

Ian Martin at 60

Ian Martin is a British author, writer for Oscar-nominated film In the Loop, major contributor to The Thick of It and has written for radio and newspapers.  He shares his thoughts about turning 60.  A few excerpts:

1. People who “hate getting old” are idiots. Every year is a privilege. Let me tell you, callow miserabilists: getting to 60 feels like a triumph. I have no idea how I made it this far, but I am very grateful…

4. For instance. It was 1968. Early summer evening, a Saturday. My mate and I were hitching home in the Essex countryside. We got a lift from a happy couple in a boaty car that smelled of leather and engine oil. We were 15, they were proper old, 20-ish. Relaxed and so very much in love. They treated us as equals, laughed at our jokes, we smoked their cigarettes. Walk Away Renee by the Four Tops came on the radio. We all sang along to the…

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Observations From Starbucks – A Wednesday Olio

Sometimes you just need a venti, skim cappuccino.  Sit down, listen to the music,  silently intercept the conversational volleys around you.  Look like you’re working on your laptop while inventing stories about the people waiting in line.  ‘Not very nice of you Mim’, you say?  No worries, I reprimand myself in between thoughts.  It’s how I roll.

Redesigned logo used from 2011-present.
Redesigned logo used from 2011-present. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

OMG – that’s Helen Mirren!!  What is she doing in my neighborhood Starbucks???  She is magnificent, what a cool gravitas surrounds her as she regards a message on her iPhone with bemusement.  I swear it’s her.  I applaud my fellow humankind as we sublimate our collective desire to swarm, leaving her to be among the people.  It is interesting to me though that no one else seems to be sneaking peeks.  Wait…is she chewing gum while drinking her latte?  With her mouth open?  Helen!  Oh no she isn’t.  Yup she is.  Sticking the end of a ballpoint pen in her ear and scratching.  Her pinky isn’t raised.  I can hear her snapping her gum.  I get it – this most definitely is not a Helen Mirren sighting.  Damn – I was so sure.

Young woman in line with her shoulders slumped, hair covering her face as if she would give anything to be invisible.  She’s lovely actually, and dressed in black on a gorgeous spring day does not serve as a cloak of invisibility.  The blue lipstick doesn’t either – it actually looks like she’s been caught inflagrante delicti with a Smurf.  It’s that same blue.  I have to get this visual out of my head as soon as possible – it’s both funny and mildly gross.  And if this involves two consenting adults and no one is getting hurt…

Interesting meeting going on at the only table that seats four.  Three guys, one girl – all dressed in the new sartorial category “business casual”.  The young men are in khakis, three variations of the color beige and button down shirts – two blue, one white.  The woman wears a scarf wrapped twice around her neck in the fashionable way that conceals any spots on the front of your shirt.  Blue skirt, blue tights, flats. I look at them not looking at each other and smile – they all look so young, so intense.  I have yet to see one of them look up from their respective laptops, and I wonder why I’m so sure they know each other other than their matching outfits.  One guy gets up to get a refill and says to someone at the table – “I just texted you”.  Really?  I am inclined to sit here until they leave just to see if they acknowledge each other in real time as they move towards the door.  I’m inclined, but my time here is limited.

If a woman is standing in line and the seam in the back of her very-very-very tight skirt has gone off-center, do you tell her?  She’s got too much going on with the whole look not to care.  I think she is dressing to impress and she certainly leaves an impression.  I can’t imagine that she just threw herself together this morning. Her hair is sprayed to natural perfection (yes, it’s an oxymoron – get it?), eyelashes curled and mascara-ed, blush applied and blended right at the ‘apples’ of her cheeks as fashion magazines suggest.  I should tell her…no I can’t.  As I sit here in my chic gym clothes, I look like a really credible source to comment on the seam placement of her skirt.  Nope – I’m letting it go.

I see an older couple who work out at the gym when I do – we say a quick ‘hi’ as I begin to head out.  I look up just in time to see him kissing the top of her head as she leans her body into his.  The best takeaway from Starbucks this morning – all other thoughts just fade away and I carry their love in one hand and my coffee in the other.  Happy Wednesday everyone.

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How The Heart Heals

“And thus the heart will break, yet brokenly live on” — George Gordon Byron

I struggle to describe this week.  All of the adjectives in my  mind seem to collide with one another in a frenetic game of bumper cars.  Contrasting realities – awful, horrific, mind-numbing, tragic, senseless, obscene, heartbreaking; life-affirming, connectedness, heroic, powerful, humbling, breathtaking, faithful.

Some people don’t do well with lots of stimuli – I’m one of them.  It’s why I hate the mall.  Too much going on that is competing for my attention and focus.  This week makes a trip to the mall look positively mundane.

I was in the city on 9/11;  in the Sears Tower (as it was called then – now the Willis Tower) two days later and flew to the Library Tower in LA thereafter.  My mom thought the firm was asking too much and was a wreck while I was gone.  I really think that had she known who to call, she would have dialed immediately and railed against anyone who had arrived at this decision.  Other than that, the trips were all about being there and not being rattled, reassuring those who needed it and confirming our collective strategy for responding to this serendipitous element of the new normal.

Of course, as this week shows there is no strategy for these traumatic reminders of the new normal.  The new normal wrenches us out of our skin, changes the rhythm of the day into a monotone dirge that quietly plays on an endless loop. Daily stressors are too much to bear, everything that is routine is somehow, not.  I found myself in tears for no reason (when of course there were all the reasons in the world), sitting with my body wrapped around itself, trying to contain this inexplicable sorrow, covering my mouth so the screams would remain silent while they vibrated through my body.  Did I even hear the birds engaged in their gossipy conversation over these past few days?  I don’t think so.

The collective release of tension in Boston last night infused my soul with light (and the hearts of many I am sure).  To see such joy and gratitude after these incomprehensibly tragic days returns my heart to baseline.  The treadmill begins to slow, the incline is less arduous.  The music changes – not necessarily exuberant, though hopeful.  And when I walked the Sirs this morning, I heard the birds engaged in a rockin’ game of Marco Polo.  And with a heart that is bruised, perhaps even broken, we return to our lives.

acappella anyone?

Oops he did it again…davidkanigan.com that is (Lead.Learn.Live). Just enjoy and smile with delight. Forget about trying to keep up.

Live & Learn


4 minutes.  36 songs. Something for everyone.  And I mean everyone.  From Beethoven to Hammerstein to Johnny Cash to Aretha to Queen to Gaga to Psy.  Evolution of music from 11th century to today.  Curious about the song list?  Here it is:

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With Love

I was particularly struck by a poem posted by ivonprefontaine.com (Teacher As Transformer) yesterday.  As with most things evocative, we considered Derek Walcott’s words differently – which is why I didn’t reblog his words.

Once again, I am motivated by friends, for whom this will resonate individually.  Yet I hope above all, among the takeaways is a feeling of the tremendous value you have, the wonder that you offer up everyday and the love you deserve – from yourself first and foremost.

The time will come

when, with elation,

you will greet yourself arriving

at your own door, in your mirror,

and each will smile at the other’s welcome

and say, sit here.  Eat.

You will love again the stranger who was your self.

Give wine.  Give bread.  Give back your heart

to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored

for another, who knows you by heart.

Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,

peel your own image from the mirror.

Sit.  Feast on your life.

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I’m really going to try to work on this…I need to.  You need to.  Let’s do it together, ok?  Happy Saturday all.