Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Little Feathers: Who's Got Your Ear?

Little Feathers: Who's Got Your Ear?: I remember the first time I ever heard a warning about the plethora (thanks for the word, El Guapo) of bad advice out there. I was 18, and a...

Who's Got Your Ear?

I remember the first time I ever heard a warning about the plethora (thanks for the word, El Guapo) of bad advice out there. I was 18, and a teacher told me to be very careful about granting authority. I was a naive 18, and tended to think that if an adult said it/wrote it, it must be true. Especially if they were famous or powerful. Or dead and published. It was really good advice.

We all know the dangers of listening to only one viewpoint/agenda/news channel. We begin to believe that one group is morally or intellectually superior. I keep wondering where Walter Cronkite went. He was someone we could pretty much count on to tell us truth. Now who has our ear? The outraged or the outrageous? Neither of which is as interested in facts as in persuasion?

And how about something as simple as healthy living? If we cut out every food, every activity, every thought process that someone out there is touting as destructive, what in the world would we eat? Even the nutritionists who study constantly keep changing the rules. Who is a real authority on health? I have come to the conclusion that there are still some things no one knows about the body. And it's a foregone conclusion that nothing we do will ensure a long and healthy life. You can't take the accidental/tragic/unknowable aspect from life, no matter what you do.

Financial advice? Sheesh! Millionaire of the Month Club. And how about the biggest one--how to live a good life and be happy? We either reach for our goals, strive every minute to be better/stronger/smarter, or we stop the madness, embrace each day, live in the moment, smell the roses. Or a thousand varied paths combining those. Can someone else tell us who we are and how we are to live? Should we listen if they do?

How to parent? More confusing and complicated than ever.

Every one I know of says,does, and advocates dumb things sometimes.  I used fen-phen for heaven's sake. Talk about dumb. And I shudder to think of all the poison I drank in the form of diet soda. And yes, when I was a teenager I wore....sauna pants! I would love to say I have learned not to engage in stupid behavior, but I'm not there yet.

Imagine if things were black and white. If we knew how to fix the inequities of the world without making more mistakes. If we knew for sure who to believe. For now, we all need to listen for that voice that rings true. The ones who seem motivated by service, to the good of all. Who's got your ear?

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Little Feathers: Unexpected Gifts, Surprises from Boston

Little Feathers: Unexpected Gifts, Surprises from Boston: I knew we would eat great seafood. I knew we would enjoy the historical museums, the little glimpses of America's struggle for independe...

Unexpected Gifts, Surprises from Boston

I knew we would eat great seafood. I knew we would enjoy the historical museums, the little glimpses of America's struggle for independence. I knew we would love being on the Boston Harbor, cozy in our room in the historic Boston Custom's House right by the water. I've wanted to make that timeshare trade for years. I knew we would enjoy the different culture, different vibe of a Northeastern city at Christmas time. But I didn't see some of it coming. I love surprises, and Boston was full of them.

We Texans (after living here 40 years, I guess I count myself one) tend to think people south of the Mason Dixon line are friendlier. You know, just nicer. It's a Southern ego thing, I think.  But the brusque sounding people of Boston have a niceness of their own. It may seem a small thing, but whenever we pulled out a map, whether on our phone or in our hand, on the street or in a bustling subway station, someone always stopped to see if they could help. Men, women, young, old, long-time Bostonians (from their accent) and new arrivals (from theirs) stopped to see if they could help us get from here to there. Like the woman out walking her dog who took us a block in the right direction, telling us about her life. Like the man with the Eastern European accent,strong enough that I had to watch his eyes and hands to be sure that what I heard were the directions he was giving, who stood outside with us and kept talking til we got it. And the people standing in line at Giacomo's who wanted to be sure we knew where to go for the best dessert. I'm telling you, people in Boston are nice.

For me, the most wonderful surprise happened at the Lighting of the Tree on Boston Commons. Over and over we heard the story of how the people of Halifax, Nova Scotia have sent a glorious Christmas tree to Boston for almost 100 years. Their memory is long. In 1917, Halifax suffered a disaster. Over 2,000 people were killed in a terrible explosion. Boston sent a relief train the very next day. Halifax never forgot that generosity. This year, once again, they sent a thank you gift to Boston in the form of a beautiful 49' spruce tree. That is a wonderful story, in an of itself. But what I saw and felt at the tree lighting is also a wonderful story.

When I first heard about the tree lighting, I wondered if many would gather on a cold night in a city that had known terrorism not that long ago. In light of the recent attacks, and the fear that is a natural result of them, I wondered if Bostonians would show up en mass. They did. Mostly young-ish, not much gray hair in the crowd (my handsome husband and I excepted,) very diverse ethnically, the crowd surprised me with their enthusiasm. They sang along, bouncing around on the fast songs, swaying on the slower ones. The sophisticated looking 30 somethings in their black wool coats and hats smiled and sang. So much for judging people by their clothing, huh? When the tree was lit and the fireworks went off, I thought everyone would make a quick exit. But they stayed and sang some more with Santa. It was actually very sweet, and for a reason I can't quite put my finger on, it was very hopeful. And very American. Not really because it was Christmas, as there are tons of Americans who don't celebrate that holiday. It was a feeling of community, of solidarity, of courage and joy all rolled into one. I won't forget it.

I loved walking the city, seeing the residential streets, the big banking centers, the well-preserved small historic buildings in the middle of the metropolis. And I loved the seafood! Holy shellfish, Batman! The North End is filled with smells of garlic and seafood, small family restaurant after restaurant bustling with appreciative customers. Street performers and lots of decorations made the city seem festive. But it was the people that made Boston seem magical. Boston Strong, yes. And Boston kind, as well. Way to go, Boston. Thanks for the gifts, the surprises, the memories.