I’ve spent my entire professional career working with organizations where building community was job #1. How is it that there are times even when we’re in groups that we feel alone? What’s your experience of being part of something bigger than yourself and how can you contribute.
Last night I was listening to Leland Kaiser at the Denver chapter of the Association of Spirit at work. I was listening very carefully to what Dr. Kaiser was saying and then he put into words what I’ve felt for a long time, he said the big question is “Are you in a collection of individuals or are you in a group?”
There is a huge distinction between the two and yet for the millions who are part of support groups, therapy groups, spiritual groups, etc. this question is often avoided. I was thankful to have the words because I’ve always made that distinction, it’s asking what’s your personal, spiritual and psychological investment in yourself and the others you call your tribe.
Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto…so who do you have? Who would you like to have in your life? What group(s) do you feel and affinity for and how will you integrate instead of hanging out in a cocoon surrounded by others?
Finally a group of professional athletes who acknowledge and honor their position as role models in the community. A group of prominent professional athletes have started an organization called “Athletes for Hope”. The organization works to get athletes to contribute to community and charitable causes.
A few of the atheletes involved in the project are Lance Armstrong, Cal Ripken Jr., Mia Hamm, Andre Agassi and Muhammed Ali. Each athlete has a commitment to serve their community. This is the pilgrim’s path, devoting oneself to a cause and making the world stop and listen to what you have to say. The impact that professional athletes can have is enormous and having role models to show those entering the professional arena the true meaning of professional is paramount to continued success for charitable causes.
By joining forces across the sports arena, a united voice is created at how important the intentions of the athletes are on as well as off the court. Bill Hybels wrote a book titled “Who You Are When No One’s Looking”. That sums up how a pilgrim lives his life, with purpose, conviction and consistency.
Many of us know more about celebrities and politicians health status than we do about our own health status. We’ve lived through Farah Fawcett’s colorectal cancer, we have been privy to countless celebrities experience of breast cancer, we are aware of Tony Snow’s recurrence of what is now metastatic colon cancer.
Does it help or hurt us to know about these people. When the outcome is good I believe that these public figures offer hope to the many facing these illnesses. When the outcome is sorrowful are we mourning for the individual loss or the collective conscious loss? Does it rob anyone facing these challenges of the hope they need to keep fighting.
Remember that pilgrims walk their path for their own personal mission. Pilgrims look to face the challenges that arise when everything in life is being questioned. It’s an introspective path that can turn into outward expressions of change.
I do believe that famous people bring attention to the realities of illness. I believe that celebrity status will do more on Capital Hill to gain funding than if Jane Doe went before the Congressional committees asking for money to continue research.
Overall it’s a mixed bag so as you walk the journey be cautious about where you put your energies and how closely you follow the journey of others. Be conscious of your journey! Know the outcome you want! Believe that your story makes a difference to many! Live the life of a pilgrim!
It is truly amazing that candidates are running for President and the election isn’t for 19 months. What’s even more amazing is that Elizabeth Edwards is facing a different kind of race, one that her life depends on and one that she’s is determined to win. It takes courage for anyone going through treatment for an illness, but to do it so publicly is courageous.
I believe that when pilgrims commit to their journey amazing results transpire. Elizabeth Edwards is going on a long pilgrimage with no end in sight. If her cancer is treatable but not curable we’re looking at ongoing treatment to keep things status quo, that’s a long road and a heavy load. Her commitment to her family is unwavering. I’ve seen interviews, read articles and followed her journey and I hope she knows that there are many other pilgrims in the world willing to help carry the load, even if all we can do is hold a healing space for her.
We’ve all seen what happens in the face of anonymity…people strive to be known and sometimes will take that need to far. I think about the television show “Cheers” and the theme song pretty much says it loud and clear “a place to go where everybody knows your name”. Isn’t it great when we go somewhere and we’re recognized. It’s one of the key success points for Starbucks. Having been a barista I can tell you that the baristas strive to not only know your name, but your drink and most of the time what’s going on in your life. When the patron doesn’t show up for a while upon their return everyone in the store wants to know where they’ve been.
Could it really be that simple? I work at home and go to the grocery store often so I’m familiar with many of the employees. I probably know “Tony the produce guy” the best. I’m a fanatic about education and he’s finishing his undergraduate degree. I always ask how his studies are going especially around midterms and finals. I know the day will come when he’ll graduate and pursue other endeavors, but getting a big “Hi!” from him makes me feel seen. It’s why we have places we frequent because as American Express says “membership has its privilege”.
I hope as pilgrims you will take the time to create meaningful interactions with others because they will last. Giving someone your time and attention for some is like winning the lottery. We never really know what’s going on for another until we stop and take the time to ask…so stop and ask.
I believe we all take for granted that we have a name and we use it. In fact how many times as a kid did you want to change your name? What would a you with a different name look like, act like, be like? I think a lot about having a name especially after the events at Virginia Tech. One of the reports stated that the young man at the center of this tragedy sat in a class, in the back of the room and signed in on the attendance sheet with a question mark.
I can’t imagine not having the self-esteem or self-worth to write my name on a sheet of paper and have someone know who I am. I find it sad (not an excuse for his actions) that his life was lived in relative anonymity. It’s clear that he had multiple issues, but to be nameless is the equivalent of being invisible.
I urge you to fight anonymity. I urge you to use your name often and with pride. I urge you to swim against the current of anonymity toward a life of being known for who you are and what you stand for. I believe your life will be richer leaving the land of the anonymous and entering a world full of acknowledgment.
When do we say enough is enough? How much energy are we willing to expend on a particular belief? What are we willing to work on with all our might to create change? It’s obviously a sad day as the country deals with the catastrophe at Virginia Tech University. The death of 33 people is horrific. Obviously there will be fallout from this instance for years to come for the students, faculty, staff, parents and the country regarding this incident, but what surprised me today was Rosie O’Donnell’s surrender for a cause.
I was watching the “Hot Topics” segment on The View and she was discussing the Virginia Tech tragedy. She told the viewers about her fight for gun control following the Columbine massacre in 1999. Today on national television, Rose O’Donnell stated that fighting for gun control is feudal. She believes it will never happen in this country and that she spent five years devoted to working on this issue to no avail.
It’s disheartening to think that we all have a breaking point when we believe are actions will not cause change. Are those we’re in disagreement with simply waiting us out? It doesn’t matter if the issue is gun control, the war in Iraq, hunger, poverty, health care, etc. Do we have a finite amount of energy to devote to our convictions or are we simply in need of encouragement, reinforcements and to be heard?
As pilgrims we know that long journeys are exhausting. We understand that we don’t pick and choose our pilgrimages, they choose us. As pilgrims we understand that our convictions are at the core of our being and to abandon them results in some type of spiritual or psychic death.
What’s your pilgrimage and what do you need to keep on your journey?
For most of the country the issue of the Duke University Lacrosse players accused of raping an exotic dancer has come to a close. The North Carolina Attorney General cleared the three men of all charges. There is resolution and that’s what we seem to love, the ability to have a story that concludes with the simple phrase “the end”. Unfortunately it’s not the end for these three young men, in fact it’s really only the beginning.
I frequently advocate having a voice and being noticed, but I’m sure these men would rather disappear into the fabric of their community not standing out at all. I wonder if it will ever be possible in our age of technology for these men to ever get over their unfortunate kinship with this tragedy. Whenever someone Google’s their names the headlines that ran for over a year will pop up and the men will have to relive the moment.
It’s obvious from the press conference that at the beginning of their pilgrimage they need to be very vocal about the pain they’re in and the toll this has taken on their lives. It’s clear that these individual’s threshold for pain has increased and my hope is that with the support of their families they will be resilient.
The journey that ends for most of the country is really only the beginning for these three men who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s odd to think that anonymity might be welcomed, how will they regain their reputations and become seen in a different light?
What a surprise, I was listening to NPR when I heard an interview with Colin Beavan who has taken a stand regarding the environment. For the year 2007 he has gone green, but I’m not just talking being conscious, I’m talking reorchestrating his whole life to support his ideas. To give you an example, he only eats food that is produced within 250 miles of his home in Queens, NY.
While listening to the interview I was surprised at my personal reaction to his experiment. Usually I would probably be judgmental and write this person off as someone who needs a lot of therapy. Instead I became more and more immersed in his story. I look at Colin as a role model, in his case for the environment, but for anyone who has a strong belief they are willing to make sacrifices for in order to take a stand.
I have begun to wonder on a more conscious level what am I willing or feel a need to do about the causes in my life. What will I be willing to re-order my life around so my life isn’t like a piece of furniture with a laminate on the surface, but is solid wood through and through.
We all have that tipping point that sets things in motion. As a pilgrim attributing meaning to the journey is essential. It’s imperative that conviction supports and idea. If we’re going to live a pilgrim’s life then sacrifice becomes a friend not an enemy. It’s the currency we use to support our beliefs and the currency we use to pay our rent on this earth.
I admit that I’ve been a fan of American Idol since season 2. I’m amazed at how the auditioning process has grown and the number of people who believe they have talent. As season 6 progresses and the controversy continues about one of the final twelve I reflect back to the weeks when they showed the auditions of Idol hopefuls. Let’s fact it, there are some people in this world who shouldn’t even sing in the shower.
What caught my attention the most was the number of bad singers who believed they could be the next American Idol. After hearing that there are four auditions prior to getting before the panel of judges or on television there has to be an underlying motivation for these folks. I believe that everyone in this world wants to be known. I’m not saying that we all have to be in the tabloids, but there is an innate need, maybe it’s biological, to not be anonymous.
If the individuals who lack talent are willing to emotional sacrifice themselves for the short spot of notoriety is that okay? Have we created a society that prevents us from getting to know one another? How hungry are these individuals that they are willing to put their dignity and self-respect and at the same time open themselves up to ridicule..I’d say pretty hungry!
Are there other ways for these folks or for that matter for each of us to get fed so that we don’t have to sacrifice ourselves just to be known?