2011 March

Archive for March, 2011

29 Mar 2011

Squirt Guns and Push-Ups (Bikinis)

1 Comment Relationships, Self Development and Transformation, Technology and Change

When I was a boy, there were few things I enjoyed more on a hot summer day than a good game of war. The sun shining, neighbor kids out en masse, ice cream man due in a few hours…and water guns. I loved squirt gun fights. With enough kids involved, these fights could become battles and we would re-enact our own distorted versions of the Raid on Pearl Harbor (wasn’t their any hand to hand combat at Pearl Harbor) or one of the numerous battles against the Nazis. We could all agree that Nazis were bad.

At my ecumenical summer camp, these games of war were nuanced to the “Raid on Entebbe” where Israeli commandos swept into the heart of Uganda to save 248 Jewish Air France hostages from sure death at the hand of terrorists. We all fought over who got to be the unit commander, Jonathan Netanyahu, who was the only commando who didn’t make it out alive.

What was it that drew me to the hot molded plastic with cool water in its chamber? What was it about the passion and the fury as we swept down at each other furiously squeezing our weapons and simulating machine gun noises? Well, for one thing, we were almost always all boys. Sure, there was the obvious need to release pent up aggression at parents, teachers and bullies. Sure, more than a few of us had begun the Change…strange squirts of adolescent testosterone pulsing through our wiry little bodies, hardly equipped it seemed, to handle these new levels of manhood.

There was something magical about these squirt guns, these tools of young masculinity. Just gripping a plastic Uzi in my hand gave me a certain power, a sense of strength and ability, a certain reach, so to speak. In fact, holding a water gun was like holding an extension of myself. I was able to imagine my manhood reaching out into the world and effecting change.

That might make you giggle. It might make you wince at a culture that equates violence and masculinity. You might run out to the store and buy dolphin squirters for your children. Yet, there is a truth here that transcends projections about violence and aggression that we often associate with little boys playing with guns.

There is a process by which little boys realize that there is something powerful about their penises and while it may not be the ideal manifestation of that process, playing with guns is an attempt by little boys to understand themselves. And, yes, violence is a component of transporting testosterone. It is one of the challenges; a test of strength to use testosterone wisely and for good…

Abercrombie and Fitch this week released a new line of push up bikinis for little girls who aren’t biologically supposed to have a woman’s breasts at nine years old. While I’m as outraged as the next person, I also understand the challenge for young girls to understand what it means to be a female in this world. Somehow, playing with dolls and baking cakes in the Holly Hobby oven doesn’t cut it any longer. Kids know there is something just outside the door, waiting.

Like their male counterparts at nine years old, there is a desperate need to feel safe and in control of oneself as we negotiate a society that is rapidly maturing, encroaching on childhood with a frustratingly insistent intensity. Technology, change, and information is squeezing childhood back toward the crib without concern for the impact it might have on our basic human development.

24 Mar 2011

Coping With The Tsunami with My IPad 2.

No Comments Self Development and Transformation, Technology and Change

Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things…
Henry David Thoreau, 1854

Two weeks ago I stood in line for 3.5 hours at a huge shopping mall to be one of the first to have the option to purchase the IPad 2. My wife and I arrived to the mall one hour before the unit went on sale and found we were already placed behind almost five hundred other “second edition early adopters.”

“Let’s just give it a little while and see what happens,” I suggested to my wife who had already started to slow her pace to a resistant crawl.

“Really? You can’t wait a few days and get it later?”

I smiled sheepishly and grinned.

Within minutes, we had struck up several conversations with our “line mates” who all had interesting stories to share about their first this or that’s. We found an instant kinship with those who also wanted their IPad’s today, not tomorrow.

Ironically, the IPad 2 was released on the same day as the worst disaster in Japan since WW2. In the midst of the excitement and privilege surrounding the purchase of a generally extraneous piece of technology, I periodically checked my smart phone for updates on quake victims, tsunami damage and the threat of leaking radiation.

Perhaps it was my way of staying in touch with reality; perhaps it was a way to assuage inklings of guilt that crept up knowing that I was buying a fancy, expensive toy on a day when people across the planet were in absolute terror and chaos. Perhaps, it had nothing to do with anything.

Two weeks later, I love my IPad. I use it to read the news about the disaster in Japan and then I play Angry Birds. I use it as an aid to facilitate change and transformation in sessions with clients and then I read a comic book.

Sometimes I think about the people of Japan and the fear they must feel regarding radioactive leaks from nuclear power plants and then I don’t think about them. I don’t want to think about their pain sometimes. It’s terrible. I think about Libyans who are afraid to speak out against their crazy leader and then I stop thinking about them because it can become overwhelming to think about them for too long.

I think about the ways I compartmentalize my life and there is a tidal wave of consideration that sweeps through me, recalling moments of trauma and grief in my past when I opted to go sit in a movie as a way to “detach.” I consider moments when I was stressed out about something and I ate three donuts instead of finding a healthy way to confront my anxiety.

What is the appropriate or healthy amount of thought, consideration, commiseration one must offer to another in their grief? Is there such a thing as the right amount?

I feel good about showing up for my IPad on game day because it brought me joy and continues to do so even though people are suffering on the planet.

It is a fascinating process being alive at this juncture of time and space. It is fascinating to even have the opportunity to consider such things.

14 Mar 2011

What’s the Point of Relationship?

4 Comments Relationships, Self Development and Transformation

Forgive me if this seems a bit personal, but what is the POINT of your relationship?

I agree with you… because you love them, because they deal with your crap, because you want to have a family or they look like they’d make a nice baby or two…

I personally believe that the primary reason we enter committed partnership with another person is to grow as an individual! Now that may be hidden beneath the obvious reasons, unconscious to many of us, but have you noticed that the person you love is also the person who seems to get under your skin sometimes?

There’s no coincidence there, and no, this does not mean you are with the wrong person! We choose the person to commit to who pushes our buttons so we have an opportunity to grow and learn about ourselves. Otherwise, when everything is just smooth sailing for the rest of your life together, never a wave or a sudden storm, then you might have a very NICE life, but I have to say, it might not just be boring, it might even be disappointing because you really don’t find yourself challenged to assess yourself and possibly shift some of your behaviors.

Now, many couples don’t like to hear this, but I am very clear that while it is a huge part of relationship to do nice things for your partner, you can not expect your partner to do anything for you. I had a couple on my couch recently and the woman said, “well what’s the point of being married if he’s not going to take out the garbage when I tell him to?” If you fall into this camp, I hate to tell you that you are sailing into a tsunami, not a few little waves.

When my partner does something sweet for me or vice versa, it is a gift, not an obligation. As soon as we feel we have to, we resent it. We all have needs, and we have every right to express those needs to our partners. We just can’t expect them to do anything about them.

Every couple has issues. We all have a problem or two in our relationships however this does not mean we are with the wrong person! However, without a solid, healthy process, i.e. a healthy way of communicating with one another, we find ourselves in trouble. Without a healthy way of speaking and hearing what the other is really saying our problems become the heart of our relationship rather than our process, and that can lead to extraordinary challenges!

So remember, it is the process, not the problems that matter!

11 Mar 2011

Sometimes You Just Have to Call The Wolf…

1 Comment Marketing/Business, Technology and Change

One of my favorite Quentin Tarantino scenes is from Pulp Fiction when the boys need to call in The Wolf in order to help them through a rough situation. When things get over their heads, the boss calls the Wolf! that’s what I did when I needed help with my website and blog. I called my Wolf.

Wolf Bialon is a freelance IT consultant and web designer based out of Palo Alto, CA. After several years as an engineer at Yahoo, Wolf began his own web development company called web-propeller. He is kind-hearted, honest, dependable, professional and reasonably priced. I have worked with Wolf for the past few months to revamp my website and blog and if you remember what they were like before the change, you’ll agree that things run much smoother now!

I’m happy to share my good fortune with you and highly recommend web-propeller for all of your web propelling needs! Now you, too, can call in your own WOLF!


06 Mar 2011

It’s What You Do With It…

4 Comments Relationships, Self Development and Transformation

“Experience is not what happens to you, it’s what you do with what happens to you.” – Aldous Huxley

In the grand scheme of things, I would say I have had more than the average number of “experiences” for the typical white man from New York. I have done a lot in my life over four decades, from traveling within and without, education, work, relationships, bucket list cross-offs, etc. Yet, for a guy who has been so relatively busy for most of his life, my existence these days seems considerably more settled. And I have never been more content than I am today.

Here’s what I learned.

For a long while, I believed the goal of this whole life journey thing was to transcend the body. I figured I was supposed to meditate myself right out of my skin. I assumed it was all about leaving the old bad of bones behind and skipping my soul across the ethers into real freedom. The problem with that approach was that I lost perspective as to why I was actually placed here in my body in the first place. I was operating under the assumption that Human Life was really more of a cosmic reality show to see how long it takes humans to realize they are really spirits and get off the island!

It took me a number of years before I realized that I was missing this very important piece of perspective, but once I did acknowledge to myself that the point of the journey was not to eviscerate the body but to integrate the bag of bones with my spirit like a fine tuned piece of creation, it truly did recalibrate my experience. I have been far more at peace on both sides of the human experience ever since.

I now find myself in a far better position to integrate the spiritual and emotional discoveries I have with my bag of bones. In fact, I have even come to appreciate the body as not just flesh and bone but something to love and nurture in much the same way as I nurture my heart and soul. It’s all connected.

Even illusion is a creation and deserves to be loved!