Would you rather be acknowledged for your “usual competence” or your “unusual competence”? The former, of course, right? It’s great when your abilities have a good reputation. The latter is just plain insulting.
Exploring this a little further, though, with some sort of competence (hopefully), would you rather be underestimated or over?
One of the most difficult of many, many things to wrap my head around on September 11th was the fact that the Towers had people in them. Of course I know there were people in those buildings. I just could not conceive of the amount of people on each floor, in each company, lobby and cafeteria. I would look at the skyscrapers with their beautiful blue backdrop and have to work hard to picture what the inside looked like before that morning, before things would never look the same again. Although I’d been to the top of the World Trade Center, I’ve never been in an office in a high-rise.
Since that day, whenever I see footage of the twin structures or similar architecture reaching for the sky, I purposely think about what’s going on inside, recalling movies and TV shows set in such a place to give myself a reference. I guess it’s my way of making sure I never forget, that I understand.
Try it some time, with any building, it doesn’t have to be a tall city slicker. A house, a school, a local hospital, a corporation in your area. Because once you get past imagining what the layout and decor are, you can’t help but think about the people. Who are they? How are they related or connected? Do you know them or someone just like them, maybe even yourself?
We may not all be built the same but we’re not that different,no matter where we work, live or play. And maybe that’s how we all can understand.
“Words can hurt. But they can also heal.
Let’s all play doctor more often
and be sure to practice on ourselves.“
—- Sister Rain
While at the Pro Football Hall Of Fame in Canton, Ohio, my husband, nephew and I entered a theater to experience their A Game For Life exhibit. With holographic images and 360-degree sound, we learned how great the odds are to make the Hall of Fame, direct from football legends themselves. It quickly became apparent that the high-tech production was geared more towards younger visitors. Since my vision loss didn’t allow me to see the images, I focused on the words:
As I listened, I found myself getting goose pimples and I just as quickly realized that they were talking to this 50-something woman as much as the young man sitting between his uncle and me. Since my sight left the stadium I have had to rely on all these qualities more so than any other point in my life. Two other words, Negative and Limitations, were also discussed, the message being that neither will lead you to victory in anything you are trying to accomplish. Amen and Hail Mary to that!
Although the latest technology was the method of delivery, these are old lessons. I’ve never had to climb a rope or think about integrals or derivatives since I graduated from school, and they are not skills I need to be taught again. This playbook, seemingly meant for children, can be put to good use for a lifetime. As a matter of fact, although there may not be cheering fans, TV cameras or a huge salary involved, our success depends on it, especially when adversity wants to tackle us and not let us back up.
No need to win one for The Gipper, that’s already been done. Win for yourself, every day, at every age.
“A hoodie keeps daddy’s head warm
and is a fun place for Piper to perch.
Sometimes you’ve got to use what you have
in new and creative ways.”
—- Sister Rain
It has been awhile since I’ve toured a manufacturing facility. During my corporate career I’d spent a considerable amount of time on a production floor, my marketing positions requiring trips out into “the plant”. I was a tour guide at one company, showing visitors the process of making ceramic tile.
This week I was a touree at an organization founded in 1883, currently employing 500 people. The latest equipment is utilized in fabrication there, yet I was fascinated by the manual, labor-intensive process of making their product. Workers were running high-tech machines but there was an equal amount of artists performing their craft. That’s right, in 2019, in a town of 6,000 in Pennsylvania, art is being created in a manufacturing operation.
One hundred and eighty-eight years is a long time. This is what America once was from sea to shining sea. Due to my vision loss, I don’t see detail, but from the guided narration coming through my headset and the outline of human versus robot, it was easy to recognize this was no mechanical assembly line, devoid of skilled experts and, dare I say, heart. I was filled with a sense of pride I did not expect. And hope. I know all about profit and loss, overhead and competition. And I am not ignotant to the struggle of a United States manufacturer. I have lost a job I loved because our doors had to close forever. But all I’ve thought about since I walked the yellow-lined tour route marked on that cement floor isq: America remains. It exists. And was is a privilege to witness.
“The people we remember for doing great things
are those who feel obligated
to share their ideas and inventions.
Could success be as easily explained as that?”
—- Sister Rain
Over the holiday I spoke with a man who is enrolled in a master’s program and he told me that it will be five and a half years until he graduates. “You do it to learn, not to finish,” he explained.
We’ve all heard the expression, “It’s all about the journey, not the destination.” Some of us even live our lives based on it. But how do we reconcile smelling the roses with plowing the north forty so there’s a harvest next year and food on our table? Looking around, exploring side streets off the beaten path can still get you to your goal but probably not on schedule. When our livelihood is on the line how can we possibly allow ourselves to risk missing a deadline? And yet, if no one ever did take such chances, invention and innovation would not exist. In a race to the finish line, eyes straight ahead finds you on the podium far more often than creativity, right?
I admired this man’s attitude about the next 66 months and didn’t doubt for a minute that he’d be in a cap and gown in June of 2024. I did wonder, though, if his approach was the first lesson he had had to learn in this phase of his education or was it his personality to take this approach in all areas of his life? If naturally predisposed to this method of living, did that mean he never completed things on time? This question shows you my inherent lean towards being a Destiner and not a Journeyman, but I work hard (as Destiners do) to be more the latter. The diploma of the young man I met at a Christmas party will be dusty on the wall before I master this lesson. But I’m so glad that for a few moments one December evening, our journeys found us at the same destination.
Sitting in a doctor’s office waiting room, I paged through a magazine more out of habit than the ability to see to read it. A large, bold title, “Death By Yogurt” caught my eye and I showed it to my husband, joking that this was obviously an issue for the visually impaired. Well, at least the headings.
He said, “You don’t eat yogurt anymore.” I had just been thinking earlier that morning that I need to get back to the dairy protein as my daily breakfast, instead of my carbs and coffee.“I need to get back on that train,” I said to him, “but I lost my ticket. I’ve lost all my tickets.”
“Well, you better find them,” he replied, in a smiling version of tough love.
He wasn’t telling me anything I didn’t know. Fall trips led right into the holidays and if there’s ever a time to lose track of your regimen, November and December are it. Professional plans, projects at home and daily routines are discarded without a thought. The days and weeks blur together until you find yourself on January 2nd, standing on the platform that is your normal life, barely remembering which trains are yours let alone where you left your boarding pass somewhere around the time you made your Thanksgiving grocery list.
It’s time to get our paperwork in order and get organized for the year not ahead, but here. I’m going to spend the next few days reacquainting myself with my trains and their schedules and come next Monday morning, when they leave their stations, I will be onboard. I’ve got places to go in 2019 and so do you.
By the way, I’ll leave a magazine on the seat for you. Just look for the LARGE, BOLD titles.
This morning, I woke up to light after what seemed like a lifetime of darkness. I couldn’t believe it, it must be a dream. Everything looked different and I felt like my life was starting anew, way beyond the day 2 of a new year. My limitations were gone, my time of disability immediately feeling like it had belonged to someone else. I am, once again, a complete, fully functional Sister Rain.
My husband has returned to work after two weeks at home during the holidays.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
We got this. We’ve certainly been through worse.
GLIMPSES INTO “THE HOLIDAY OF TOGETHERNESS 2018”:
Day 10 of 11:
Me: “Alexa, how many hours until 9 a.m. Wednesday morning?”
Alexa: “There are 37.7 hours until 9 a.m. Wednesday morning.”
I’ve never run 26.2 miles and never will. But at that moment I knew that the last .2 miles really are the toughest, just like they say.
At 8:26 a.m. I return to our bedroom after my breakfast.
Husband still sleeping.
I open the blinds.
I turn the headboard reading lamp on.
Then the ceiling light.
He says he needs a minute to wake up.
I pull off the covers to assist him. We are, after all, partners.
I take his pillow.
I use it to fan him.
And just like that, my 2019 finally begins.