Expect No Sense [on Merely A Thought Monday]

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Years ago, Doug said to me, “The problem with you is that you want things to make sense.” He was right. I did want the world to make sense. I still do.

However, I have over these many years come to recognize that what makes sense to me need not make sense to others. Doug might have well said to me that my sense-making was not lining up with the sense-making of others. For instance, I want education to be about stoking curiosity in hearts and minds rather than a brain-numbing passionless pursuit to pass standardized tests. High scores are lousy indicators of learning. No sense.

As a student I almost died sitting in a desk. I had to move to think. I still do. Kerri and I hold meetings by hiking trails. Here on Island our neighbors say, “You two are dedicated walkers!” Little do they know – little would they understand – that our walks are work sessions.

Our time here on Island has reinforced one of my favorite studies of things-that-don’t-make-sense-to-me: most people say they desire change but rebel vehemently against it when it arrives. It is a theme of my life, perhaps the organizing principle of my career, to be hired as an agent of change only to be met by a wild tsunami of resistance. White knuckles holding on to what is known, all the while screaming for a new path. It’s crazy.

I used to wonder why they hired me. Now, I’ve come to recognize white knuckle resistance as a phase. It’s messy but it is a necessary step to letting go.

It takes a sturdy ship and plenty of provisions to comfortably set sail for the edge. Most folks like a map and road snacks before they can settle into the car and hit the road to seek adventure. Change processes are like that. Paradoxical. Nonsensical. Just plain crazy.


read Kerri’s blog post on CRAZY


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Catch It On An Index Card

689. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

He was walking down the center of the street. He was wearing a backpack, heavy coat, a thick sweater cap, rubber boots, and was playing the violin. Actually, he wasn’t really playing; he was sawing. He was making sound pulling the bow across the strings – sometimes fast, sometimes slow; there was no discernable pattern. His face was as determined as his march down the center yellow lines, his rubber boots thunking on the wet asphalt. The cars moved over to avoid him as if he was on a bike or perhaps was a traffic cone. I heard an kid say to his friends, “This dude’s needs different boots – he’d keep better time with something less clunky.” I took out an index card and made a note. I live in a mad, mad, mad world that has no idea how mad it is and I like to capture some of the more absurd moments.

On the other side of the street a man in a suit glared at the parking meter. He hissed, “Come on!” and gave it a thwap atop its green dome. He looked at no one in particular and shouted in frustration, “I can get a happy meal at McDonalds faster than I can pay for parking!” I took another index card from my pocket and wrote the phrase; it was too good to let slip unrecorded. It reminded me of a phrase Tom uttered in frustration a few years ago: Sacramento County took over 5 years to approve a map of land Tom was trying to parcel and sell. One day at the county office, after yet another delay, he put his head against the wall and said, “We won World War Two in less time than it’s taking these people to approve a map!” I wrote that phrase on an index card, too.

I went into the Panama Hotel Tea and Coffee House to get an afternoon coffee and to write. There was a young couple posing for a photographer but also trying not to draw attention from the other coffeehouse patrons. It was the best split intention I’ve ever seen. The photographer was aware of the couple’s discomfort so was she was antagonizing them by making lots of noise and moving furniture around and giving them instructions in her big-girl outside voice. The couple shrank and tried to disappear before the camera. I’d give anything to see that proof sheet! After the photo-torture session was over, the barista asked the couple why they were having their photograph taken and they said meekly, “We’re getting married.” Everyone in the coffee house uttered a collective, “Ahhh!” The young couple blushed and disappeared. The photographer, packing up her camera said, “I wonder if they realize that people are going to look at them when they do the ‘I do’ thing. This might just be the worlds first invisible wedding.” I reached in my pocket and pulled out another index card.

Fruit Or No Fruit?

664. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

I have a photograph of my grandfather dressed as Yasser Arafat. It was taken many years ago when he wintered in Florida at a trailer park for seniors. When I first saw the photo I thought he was dressed as Mother Theresa. He was standing in the middle of a group of elderly ladies dressed as harem girls but I missed the context completely. “Why was grandpa dressed as Mother Theresa?” I asked. “Things were wild in that park,” my dad said without raising his eyes from the newspaper. He turned the page and added, “They were always up to mischief in that place. It was crazy.”

My mother came over to look at the picture. “That’s not Mother Theresa, he’s Yasser Arafat,” she said, pointing out the picket sign grandpa was holding. It read, “Cheap Oil!” I’d wondered why Mother Theresa was holding a sign about oil but decided not to ask; there are some things in life that are best left unknown. Grandpa had a smirk on his face (isn’t that an interesting phrase! Like he had a bit of food on his lip, he was eating a smirk and left some traces on his face…). I recognize that smirk because it’s the same look I get on my face when I am up to no good – which is not often. I’m a very serious guy. Really.

“Was this Halloween? I asked. I like the idea of my grandparents trick-or-treating. “No, this must have been New Years,” my mother said. “Yeah, one year he was in a big diaper because they chose him as the New Year’s baby,” my dad said, licking his finger and turning the page. “Do you remember the time he was Carmen Miranda?” mom asked. “Good god!” my dad exclaimed, “He looked funny! Was that Carmen Miranda?” “I don’t know,” she replied, making a cup of tea, “He wore fruit, didn’t he?” My dad looked up from his paper, puzzled.

“No wonder I have an inner sociologist.” I thought, watching my mother slowly dip her tea bag trying to remember if grandpa had fruit on his head before she continued, “Maybe he was Mae West.”