Friday, December 24, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things

These are a few of my favorite things:

A church full of people and families singing "Joy to the World" and "Oh Come, All Ye Faithful"; my dad's voice when he receives my call (even when he thinks I am Brian); my mom's unfailing love of her sons; the memory of being carried on my Uncle Sam's shoulders; having people appreciate me feeding them; patting an airplane good luck as I step through it's door on another journey; an American flag waving in the sunlight; Prosciutto San Danielle; jogging by the White House listening to the theme from "West Wing"; movie bingeing at Oscar time; US Soccer World Cup goals; Barolo and Amarone; stepping foot in a new country; swimming in the ocean at Waikiki; my nieces when they are happy to see me; shaking my friend Lou's hand on Friday evening; eating Maryland crabs with Phil; stepping off the train in Penn Station; when she smiles at me; big days; seeing the honest face of a champion and remembering the feeling; Double Double and chocolate milkshake on the patio of the LAX-adjacent In-N-Out in the sun, watching the planes; Rosa Maria's burrito; seeing Manuel as a father; randomly hearing from Shaun Cunanan; Iberico Bellota porkbelly... u-h-hhhh; having a beer with Brian and/or Tom; Van Halen live, or when I least expect to hear it; occasions that permit me to wear a suit; works of Mozart or Beethoven performed live by great musicians; cooking with KP; seeing TY Flinton walk through the restaurant door and most of the ensuing hours that follow; talking with Stefanie from across the country, sounding like from around the corner; sunsets unencumbered by buildings; riding bikes in Davis; waterskiing diversions; snowflakes; KARAOKE; lunch on Zaytinya's patio; Jennifer asking me how I am doing; seeing old friends; ceviche and a pisco sour in Lima; dinner at Il Latini in Florence; breakfast on Main Street in HB; walking back into Lucy's; sitting atop Huayna Picchu; Fourth of July; Thanksgiving; CHRISTMAS!

I have been so blessed, it would seem silly to ever be wanting for a gift, although I would always happily receive one. Merry Christmas to my family and many friends near and far. May this season likewise bring you joy as you remember too your favorite things.

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Monday, December 13, 2010


"Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine."
- Mr. KFI

I'm trying not to be political here, so please hear me out. There was a great deal of hype centered on a word in the 2008 campaign for President of the United States - "change". Then and since I have given "change" a great deal of pondering... and some ridicule. David Bowie sang about it. So did Michael Jackson and Tupac Shakur; in fact they pleaded for it. What sticks out in my mind from those latter two musicians is that they believed that the world needed to change, but only through individual decisions to make that change from within themselves - from within ourselves.

Of course, change requires power. If you want to change your weight, we usually think of will power. If you want to change a country, that takes a great deal of political power. If you want to change the world, well... a bit daunting, isn't it? One thing for certain is that change happens TO all of us. Sometimes these are blessings, but many times they are a pain in the you-know-what. Shakespeare's Hamlet found himself in a "sea of troubles" and had a great deal of anxiety about how to deal with that. Now even if you're not faced with the small obstacle of a fratricidal uncle/stepdad who is, oh yeah, also your king, I'll bet you've been taken for a ride by Change and perhaps perplexed about how to gain the upper hand. Well, I guess it would come back to power. You have no power to change the heart or the will of another. A wise person would do better to inspire. One may not be a king, but with a regal heart he should lead all the same. Power to change is in showing the way - blazing a path. One cannot control the winds, but can usually change one's own direction. Luckily, we all have a unique capacity to instigate a revolution. Our founding fathers knew that, and many more have known since and before. Be wary of those who tell you to "embrace change"; they are usually the very ones seeking their power over your situation. Be a revolutionary hero and tell the world the changes you intend on making happen. Embrace that.

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas in December

Back by popular demand, it's Christmas... in December. Yes, indeed Christmas is a season of charity, sharing, celebrating... of thanksgiving, of love, and of hope. But, you knew all that, right? Why, then? In a word - joy. Everyone wants joy. Everyone yearns to be able to celebrate life. Well, my friends, 'tis the season. Even if you believe this Jesus character is the center of the world's greatest scam - which I do not - our culture, at least as Americans, has granted us this season to hope for joy. There are carols, and parties, and, and... tubas! Major cities nearly shut down, millions of people travel to be with their families, and prodigals swarm to fill churches to capacity! What the hell is going on?! Well, it's not Hell; it's Christmas.

I only bring this up, because we are perhaps too familiar with Christmas. This is not to bemoan the commercialism aspect. This is not to remind you to believe in Jesus Christ. We are familiar with the trees, the music, the movies, and gift-giving that has become the ritual of the season. What we tend to lose is the joy that life can bring when we let it - when we hope. I forewarned two years ago of a peddler of "hope" that he would not succeed if it did not spring from the human spirit. As children, we learn of hope and the true meaning of Christmas... and we get it. And then, we get selfish. Then, we get skeptical. Then, we forget what this time is all about.

If we are to properly explore Christmas, at the risk of infuriating millions of Christians (yes, I'm that widely read), we must harken back to Groundhog Day. I'm actually talking about the movie - Groundhog Day. Bill Murray (also starred in Scrooged, hmm) played a character who basically was forced to discover the meaning of life, one day at a time, the same day, until he got it right. He was forced to, not only discover, but CREATE joy. That movie was about Christmas, because like Christmas, it was about new life. God willing, we will get many do-overs of Christmas. What do you think it will look like when we get it right?

Merry Christmas.

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