Posts Tagged ‘insight’

Beeline or Meander

January 25, 2013 2 comments

tree rings

During yesterday’s confirmation hearing to consider whether John Kerry should be the next US Secretary of State, Senator Bob Corker commented to the nominee, “I think you have led a life that has brought you to this moment.”

Well, of course he has. Haven’t we each led a life that has brought us to this moment? No doubt, Corker’s observation was intended to highlight the internal logic of Kerry’s journey. As the son of a diplomat, a war hero and protester, a senator with long service on the foreign relations committee, Kerry’s life, in hindsight, seems to point specifically to this position.

But it probably didn’t always seem that way to him. In the bitterness of a lost presidential bid, for example, don’t you think he might have had moments when he bemoaned his life’s failure to add up? For most of us, life is more of a meander than a beeline. But with and without our help, our experience continues to accrue, endlessly shaping us and the moment we are in.

Even when the logic of our life’s trajectory isn’t so apparent, you can be sure it’s there. It is energizing and clarifying to make a conscious effort to discern that unbroken thread of purpose.

When you look back on the life you have led that has brought you to this moment, what would you say it’s pointing you to?


December 14, 2010 2 comments

Reflection at sunsetA couple of nights ago, at a service convened to sing in the Christmas season, the celebrant invited us to come back often. He suggested that his church, with the music it offers, creates an ideal spot for reflection and refuge from holiday stress.

I noticed how frequently we’re encouraged to “reflect” during this time of year, and I got to thinking about reflection. By its nature a relative term (reflection on…, reflection of…), the word reflection means, from its Latin roots, a bending back. To reflect is to reconsider something in a new light. Like a shadow or an echo or a memory, a reflection measures and translates the substance of the thing being reflected.

When my sister died in a flood four years ago today, there was no time for reflection. In shock, we were immediately occupied with the logistics of saying our unprepared and broken-hearted goodbyes. Yet in the months and years since losing Kate, I have repeatedly bent back to her life and her death in search of understanding and inspiration.

In that reflection I have found insight…

To reflect is simply to learn, and ultimately perhaps, to act with new awareness. More than just a trick of light, a reflection is less tangible but no less real than the thing that gives it being.

What are your reflections teaching you?

The Taste of Change

Photo by Mike SchubertWhat happens when you take a bite of carefully crafted artisanal cheese?*

  1. You are transported zingingly into the present
  2. You judge it: I like this; I don’t like this
  3. You grope to describe it: It’s creamy, complex, dark, light, whimsical, nutty, assertive.
  4. All of the above

The thing about taste is that it’s so deliciously about self. Can you think of anything more personal than your sense of taste? I love it; you hate it. That’s okay. Taste offers a vivid window onto our likes and dislikes.

When we follow our gustatory responses beyond the physiology of our taste buds to broader associations, we can uncover important values: Craft, tradition, patience, purity—the qualities that go into a handmade cheese, for example. Other foods might elicit countless connections: comfort, adventure, abundance, scarcity.

Of course, any experience that stimulates our senses can be used as a springboard for a mini values inventory. We just have to heighten our awareness. What would be the purpose of doing that?

Values catalyze change. By paying attention to what really excites us and what really turns us off, we can ask ourselves, “How can I invite more of this into my life?” or “How can I live in a way that brings me less of that?”

Next time you squirm with delight or grimace with disgust at the table, will you let it wake you up to a deeper insight?

*Apologies to my non-dairy friends who might prefer to look for their value clues in savory lentils or the intriguing bitterness of broccoli rabe.

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