Saturday, January 15, 2011

Substance and Style



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Here’s More About The Weather In Brooklyn:
I’d forgotten what it’s like to walk around with my shoulders scrunched up around my ears trying to ward off the cold.  I’d forgotten how I had to watch the weather report to see what I’d need to wear when I went outdoors.  I’d even forgotten about long underwear and the importance of dry socks.  But some things you never really forget.  Good lessons, once learned, remain in your memory forever, and come rushing back to remind you when needed.  A good blast of cold weather calls up these lessons quickly indeed.

But This Is Not Just About The Weather:
As I was sitting in the terminal this week and waiting for the train, I noticed how many shapes and sizes and styles you see when the subway trains come in.  I’m usually there at rush hour and truthfully it’s all I can do to make my way onto the right train for watching the people.  I didn’t realize there were so many different kinds and styles and colors of coats and hats and boots – and everyone seems to wear them easily and well.  And as I’m watching I think about when I get ready to go out and how I obsess about having something that looks just right rather than making sure that it is just right.  And then I realize that the people that are doing the best are those who have the right things – and I can’t help but think that in some cases those were obviously not selected for looks alone.  Now that’s a real lesson to learn on a cold day and it reminds me about what Mr. Natural (the R. Crumb character) says: “you need the right tool for the job!” 

So here I am, shoulders scrunched up around my ears in this cold urban experience, waiting for a train, and it becomes clear that substance is way more important than style; as in: if I could only have one, I should choose substance.  And, if you get them both, well, that’s cool (no pun intended); but don’t count on it.  So my lesson this week is all about putting ego aside and learning that when it comes to deciding what to do, it’s more about what’s right than just about what’s cool.  What was it the Billy Crystal character used to say: “It’s not how you feel, it’s how you look; and you look mahvelous!”  Well guess what: feeling good is way better than just looking good!

So my message this week is about pride and doing what’s right:

“Wisdom ceases to be wisdom when it becomes too proud to weep, too grave to laugh, and too selfish to seek other than itself.”  Kahlil Gibran

Of Gibran (1883-1931), it was once said: "His power came from some great reservoir of spiritual life else it could not have been so universal and so potent, but the majesty and beauty of the language with which he clothed it were all his own."

Pride is good when it drives you to doing what’s right and being the best you can be.  Pride is good when it’s the result of your association with and participation in wonderful things.  Pride is good when it causes you to notice and speak well of the things that others do. Pride is good when it makes you sensitive to others, and fun to be around, and unselfish when dealing with others.  Pride is not so good when it drives you beyond good sense, or when it makes you want to act as though you’re more than you are, or when you boast irresponsibly, or when you do things for show rather than for good sense, or when you don’t share freely with others, or when you care more about yourself than others.  Pride can cut both ways: it can be a force for good if you’re good or bad when you’re bad.  Work at being good and doing good today, and be proud of that.

Stay warm and be well! 

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