Sunday, June 5, 2011

Come Alive

by Jonathan Meade

Life wastes itself while we are preparing to live. – Ralph Waldo Emerson


If you had one week left to live, would you still be doing what you’re doing now? In what areas of your life are you preparing to live? Take them off your To Do list and add them to a To Stop list. Resolve to only do what   makes you come alive.

Bonus: How can your goals improve the present and not keep you in a perpetual “always something better” spiral?


I would still be doing what I am do now: work to protect my community from a coal fired power plant that will leave the water and air filthy, and the land unfit for children, gardens, and wildlife. I would do it in a way so passionate and urgent that I can't imagine what that might look like.

Perhaps it would be sharing my ideas and concerns with the young people here, as they have everything to gain from any success I may have with this work. It could be insisting that those who have turned a deaf ear try to listen once with an open mind.

I would take my grandchildren to a museum where they could shout in excitement about what they see, and touch whatever begged to be touched.

Asking questions and listening more so I would better understand what matters to people would be a priority.

I hope the small motions of life would seem rich to me, something to be appreciated for its routine and simpleness (dumping coffee grounds into the compost bucket, cooking with someone and laughing until we cried)    

Telling people how thankful I am for what they have shared with me would saturate everything I do. Writing it down so they have it later would be a real way of doing that.

Above all, I hope I would tell the people I love what they have meant to me, and encourage them to share what made our relationship special with someone else.
by Chris Guillebeau

If we live truly, we shall see truly. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Not everyone wants to travel the world, but most people can identify at least one place in the world they’d like to visit before they die. Where is that place for you, and what will you do to make sure you get there?


There are not so far away places on my "must see" list like San Francisco and Yosemite. There are places like the Sistine Chapel that I have seen but would like to see post-restoration and cleaning, or that I saw as a young adult and would see differently as a "mature" adult. Then there are the places that are awe inspiring like the Himalayas and Andes mountain ranges, and the Great Wall.

In some respects, the "everyday" travels are the most important, and ones which should be valued and looked for as most of us live in "everyday" mode.

With that in mind, I look for the nearby adventures like art exhibits, festivals, and new for me, paddling events (perhaps a good example of making the everyday new and fun).

One ongoing goal is to see a series of art exhibits which came about by the keen eye and collecting skills of Herb and Dorothy Vogle. I heard about them a few years ago, saw a charming documentary about them, and set about finding the 50 for 50 exhibits which are the result of their phenomenal art collection. Information on the Vogles and the exhibits is here.

With that in mind, my friend Kathleen and I celebrated out 50th birthdays with friends and family at the Georgia exhibit of 50 for 50 in April.

I'll get to some of the places on my "must see" list, but seeing, finding, and enjoying the less exotic are equally important.
Post-it Question by Jenny Blake

That which each can do best, none but his Maker can teach him. Where is the master who could have taught Shakespeare? Where is the master who could have instructed Franklin, or Washington, or Bacon, or Newton? . . . Shakespeare will never be made by the study of Shakespeare. Do that which is assigned you, and you cannot hope too much or dare too much. – Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Identify one of your biggest challenges at the moment (i.e. I don’t feel passionate about my work) and turn it into a question (i.e How can I do work I’m passionate about?) Write it on a post-it and put it up on your bathroom mirror or the back of your front door. After 48-hours, journal what answers came up for you and be sure to evaluate them.


Over three years ago a coal fired power plant was proposed in my community. I wasn't knowledgeable about energy production, and as I learned more about what the plant could do to my community, sharing what I learned with friends and neighbors became a priority.

Fortunately there are other people in my community, across Georgia, the Southeast, and country who are teaching me and the public about the very real health hazards, financial risks, environmental impacts,and economic development problems which will result.
I struggle with finding better ways to persuade people to learn more about Plant Washington, or to re-think their support. Until the plans to build this plant are abandoned, asking better questions which lead people to oppose it will remain one way I can be better engaged in this work. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

One Strong Belief by Buster Benson

It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. - Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

The world is powered by passionate people, powerful ideas, and fearless action. What’s one strong belief you possess that isn’t shared by your closest friends or family? What inspires this belief, and what have you done to actively live it?

I had to turn this prompt over several times today but I kept circling back to the same basic thought. The hard part was determining what belief I value and actively live by which isn't shared by my closest families or friends. I am fortunate to have supportive family and friends (since the only family I "chose" was the one I married into 27 years ago). 

Growing up I was taught to be polite and respectful. Sometimes that meant turning a deaf ear to something that wasn't polite or politically correct. In the last 10 years or so, I have decided that not speaking up when someone says something that causes my conscience to shout "NO"is a disservice to my values and therefore to me.

Living in a conservative rural community and speaking out, really speaking out, can be hard. Word travels fast, there is plenty of beauty shop and coffee club gossip, and memories can be long.

These comments compel me to speak up without hesitation:

  • the use of the N word
  • derogatory comments about LGBTQ people
  • insisting that the United States is a Christian country (and all the resulting things we should be doing based on that idea)  
  • comments which belittle females
I'm probably forgetting some other things that prompt a quick response, because fortunately I  haven't heard them in quite some time. Wouldn't it be great if my list quickly dwindled to nothing more important than whether deviled eggs should have relish in them (they shouldn't, ever)?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Day Two of a 30 Day Challenge

Not fancying myself a writer, but interested in writing well, I have committed to a 30 day writing challenge based on Ralph Waldo Emerson's writing (Does anyone ever refer to him as Emerson as we do for Plato and Socrates? Are there so many other writers named Emerson that no one would know which one we refer to?).

I missed yesterday's but am so touched by what some others wrote that I may go back and "catch up" so I get the full 30 days of the project. Waldo  A link to the web site is here.

Today's prompt is:
Your genuine action will explain itself, and will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing. The force of character is cumulative. – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

If ‘the voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line of a hundred tracks,’ then it is more genuine to be present today than to recount yesterdays. How would you describe today using only one sentence? Tell today’s sentence to one other person. Repeat each day.

My writing response is: Listen with your heart and an open mind, and follow what you hear.