“If you look closely at a tree you’ll notice its knots and dead branches, just like our bodies. What we learn is that beauty and imperfection go together wonderfully.” ~ Matthew Fox
I have often used polished stones as a way to demonstrate this message about beauty and imperfection.
When I give polished stones away at school presentations and workshops, I invite everyone to look closely and notice all the little nicks and scratches on the stones. Yes, they are strong and beautiful – the agates, the ambers, the amethysts, the apache tears, and the aquamarines, to name just a few. And, they are not perfect. Like us.
Another take-away from the stones is this:
the stones come in all different colors,
shapes, and sizes. Like us.
And they are all beautiful. Like us.
Today and every day, let’s focus on the good and the beautiful in ourselves, others, and the world.
“Sometimes a slight change in where we stand can dramatically change how we see things.”
~ Melody Beattie
I love how this is true both literally and symbolically.
For a literal example, consider the Red Rock formations of Sedona, Arizona. Many of them are named according to how they look when viewed from certain vantage points, such as Merry-Go-Round, Snoopy, and God’s Chair.
We used to live near what is called “Coffee Pot Rock.” From that area, the formation does resemble an old style percolator. But, when seen from various spots along hiking trails, that same rock can look like a chicken or just a rock with no meaningful shape.
May we be willing to see things differently by making changes in how and where we stand on positions and life situations, especially if we find ourselves seeing ourselves and others as wrong, bad, or just not good enough.
Today, let’s take a stand that allows us to see beauty.
In my previous post I presented the entire speech made by Principal Donna Hayward to the 2014 graduating class of Suffield High School in Suffield, CT. While the whole commencement address is powerful, I want to highlight this extraordinary example of strength and courage. May the actions of Iqbal Masih and a group of Canadian 12-year-old children move us to use the gifts of strength and courage however we can, in ways large and small, day by day. Thank you again, Donna, for permission to share your words.
“…This year, I also learned the story of a young boy named Iqbal Masih and his story illustrates how each of us can fight injustice in our own way in our own world. Iqbal was a young Pakistani boy, who was sold into bondage by his parents at the age of four in order to pay off a debt of what amounted to about $16. He worked for years, chained to a weaving loom, fashioning the tiny knots in Pakistani rugs with his small fingers. Although he worked alongside dozens of other children with the same fate, somehow Iqbal felt inside himself a flame of injustice and rebelled against it at the age of ten by running away from his master. When he did, he happened upon an activist in the village square, making a speech about how child slavery had been outlawed – a surprise to Iqbal – and the young boy told a police officer standing nearby that he, in fact, was a child slave. He led the officer back to his master, anticipating justice. Instead, the officer was bribed by the slave owner and left Iqbal behind – the boy facing a cruel punishment instead of the justice he sought. But Iqbal had courage and strength and soon ran away again, this time finding the man who had given the speech in the village square. He brought the activist back to his master, and this man couldn’t be bought or silenced so all the children in Iqbal’s factory were freed. Iqbal joined the Bonded Labour Liberation Front and became famous because he continued his crusade, actually sneaking into other child-slave-shops, gaining the trust of the children and then triggering a raid on the outfit by the liberation group, freeing over 3,000 children in all. Eventually, he visited other countries, including the U.S., to tell his story and advocate for justice in ending childhood slavery. Ultimately, however, Iqbal was murdered when he returned to Pakistan to visit his family. He was only 12 years old.Continue reading →
My friend Joanne greatly appreciated the tree that stood in front of her townhouse.
One day Joanne noticed small dark spots on nearly all the leaves. Close inspection revealed that millions of tiny bugs had invaded her arboreal friend. She immediately called the homeowners’ association to report the problem and asked that the tree be treated.
Joanne was horrified when, a few days later, she came home to find the tree being chopped down. In fact, by the time she arrived, it was nearly gone, felled to the ground.
She regretted reporting the problem. “I should have sprayed it, tried some things myself, taken some other approach,” she repeated to herself and to all who would listen.
Day after day, Joanne mourned her missing tree. Where there had been beauty and vibrant life, there was now a barrenness in front of her home – no singing birds, no swaying branches, no soothing shade, no musical rustling of leaves – just a circle of stones, like a grave marker, around where the tree had stood.
Many months later, a shoot appeared from within that circle of empty red earth Continue reading →
During a reent visit to Disney World, I visited the “One Man’s Dream” exhibit and watched a film about the life of Walt Disney.
Despite many failures, Mr. Disney stayed faithful to his dreams and not only built an enormously successful business empire; he continues to bring joy into the world and to so many people, even after his death.
For me the main take-away message from that film was: Cherish imagination and inspiration. Nourish good ideas. Don’t let then die.
Coincidently, the day after that Disney World visit, I came across a feature about Disney World engineering feats on Modern Marvels on the History Channel.
Again the main take-away message for me was: Keep good ideas alive! The episode even referred to “Keep good ideas alive” being a kind of mantra at Disney.
When I heard that, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to work in an environment that fostered that philosophy!” And then I realized how each and every one of us can do that for ourselves. We can honor our good ideas, nourish them like little seedlings, and help them grow.
We can. And we must, I think.
It’s my belief that we are all meant to be “Imagineers,” whether or not we have any work affiliation with Disney. We all have the gift of imagination. We all get inspired with ideas. Not every thought is a good idea, of course. We do have to distinguish and discern.
But we all do get good ideas. The especially good ideas are the ones that can help make the world a better place, not necessarily in a big Disney-like way. Although, who knows where a seemingly-small good idea may lead? Consider how the Disney empire began with a drawing of one little mouse.
The best good ideas come through our hearts as well as our heads. What good ideas have been gifted to you? Is there something nudging at you now as you read this, asking for your attention?
Besides keeping alive the ideas that use our particular expression of talent, let’s keep alive good ideas for the world. For example, let’s keep alive the idea that every man, woman, and child on the planet can have their basic needs met. Imagine every person having shelter, food, water, clothing, an education and health care…basic well-being.
What a good idea! A GREAT idea! And it IS possible!
Let’s not let naysayers and “bad” news mongers lead us into thinking we are foolish to dream or that we are doomed.
Let’s keep good ideas alive! Let’s help make them grow. How? Begin by visualizing good ideas as real. Nourish them in your mind and heart. See good ideas for the world and your own personal good ideas coming into reality. And each time you see it, say “Thank you.”