Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Where is My Identity?

I've never stayed at a hospital. But for my annual cold, I'm never sick. I am the healthy guy. And, what I'm learning these days is that I need to be the healthy guy. I need to be the guy that climbs mountains, never gets sick, skiis all day, easily swims a mile, and eats whatever he wants and keeps the same weight as when he was 35.

Uh oh. Red flag.

When someone says to me that they need something more than food, air, or water, the flags go up. Because food, air, and water are needs. Most everything else is a want. But, when we need something, we will often do loopy things to either prove to the world that we have it (even if we don't), or defend ourselves in not having it, or whatever it takes to assuage some fear that is embedded in not being whatever it is we are needing.


As I've wandered down the medical pathway these past few months, my body is telling me that all is not well. My persona of "healthy guy" is being challenged. And, I don't like that. So, I get mad. And I eat. And I politely reject the care and concern of others. And I stay in my cave and only do what absolutely must be done. What drama!

So, what to do? Breathe. And, breathe again. And ask myself...

"Who am I if I'm not the healthy guy?"

Pause. Breathe.

I'm me. And that's plenty enough.



Monday, May 23, 2011

When are you in your Genius?

There are some things in my life where I am good. And, a few things where I might be great. And there is always the possibility to pursue excellence. But what about genius?

My sense is that there is genius wired into each of us... and we know we are in our genius when we're doing that thing that is almost effortless, where the results that we derive are greater than the sum of what we put in.

This weekend at the Doheny Blues Festival I witnessed genius. John Fogarty and Mavis Staples were there and you could sense their 40 years of performance grace and excellence. But there was also a young band from Germany playing on the "back porch" named "BB and The Blues Shack" and they were in their genius... the lead singer/harmonica, the lead guitarist, the keyboardist... all of them were in pure joy as talent, practice, heart, and soul all came together and the music flowed effortlessly.

I've seen a lot of talented people in my day. Few though give me that choked up feeling where I know I'm witnessing something special. When are you in your genius?



Monday, May 16, 2011

What are we Learning?

"So, what are we learning?" I asked the Neurologist.

He gives me a puzzled expression. "No one has ever asked me the question quite like that. Good question though."

"I like good questions."

"Well, we've ruled out diabetes, cancer, back injury, HIV/AIDS, and Vitamin B-12 deficiency as the cause of your neuropathy."


"But the MRI turned up a tumor in your brain where the neck and head come together. It's benign. And, it's causing you to lose feeling in your arms and legs."

"Okay. What about Multiple Sclerosis?"

"Nope. You're clear. No lesions."

Relief. Joy.

There is something about moving something from the unknown to the known that brings comfort. I don't care how bad something is, just tell me what it is and I can play the hand out. Deal with it. Develop the critical task list that needs to get done. I can deal with a brain tumor. Especially a benign one.

I don't know yet what the path will be from here. But, we'll learn as we go. And, I am grateful and appreciative for the concern and care expressed toward me these last few months.

My takeaway? Every step we take is an opportunity to ask... "What are we learning?" and an opportunity to give thanks for what we have.



Saturday, May 14, 2011

Is it worth the risk?

"If you had gone by our house last Saturday you would have seen people playing dominoes and talking in the driveway and heard kids playing kickball and volleyball in the backyard. It might have looked like a pretty fun time! Well, it was, thankfully, but it was also much more than that. Something happens when people come together and start getting to know each other, something bigger than anyone can quite put their finger on. It's that feeling you get when you're surrounded by people you love and all of a sudden the beauty of it hits you. It's warmth, it's love, it's fellowship, and it's also exactly what the world need right now. The more I learn about all kinds of social ills, the more I am convinced that many of them could be significantly ameliorated if we all took the time to get to know each other. Imagine a world where nobody falls through the cracks because everybody is known: nobody ends up on the streets, no child drops out of school, no elderly person is left lonely or abandoned, no single mother has to raise her children on her own, and no one misses out on the joys of friendship. To know, to care, to love, and to be known, to be cared for, and to be loved. This is true community. So while it might have just looked like a bunch of people having a good time on a Saturday afternoon, it was also a neighborhood coming together and taking that first step toward building community. Beautiful."

So, is it worth the risk to reach out to another, to get to know someone who might be different, to risk involvement?

I pulled this from my daughter Janelle's monthly newsletter on her year-long internship in an inner city neighborhood of Houston. I think she has found her answer to the question... YES! And, she closes the newsletter with...

"In the meantime: There will never be a moment when absolutely everything is perfect, and most things will take quite awhile to be anything good. So, in the meantime, I'd like to keep being grateful and trying to love the people around me. It may just be that the "meantime" is really all that matters and all we have."



(Check out http://www.missionyear.org/)

Am I Listening?

A while back, someone said to me, “Wow, Vince, you’re such a good listener!”  It made me wonder what it’s like to be a bad listener!  So, I ...