Of all the things that clients (especially men) ask me to help them with, the most common query involves assistance with writing introductory emails. And while I never write emails for others, the request makes perfect sense. After all, most people
“Penn Station,” I told the cab driver. The young, heavy-set man peered at me through his sunglasses and motioned me to get in.
“I’ve got to get to JFK airport by 2:30PM. You think I’ll be able to get there via LIRR or should I cab it all the way?” I ask him, as I get comfortable in the back seat.
“Hmmm. You should be okay. Yeah, you’ll make it. It will be much cheaper to take the train,” he replied in a mild South Asian accent.
“Thanks,” I said. Given his engaging nature, we naturally started a conversation, which went from the weather and quickly veered into the struggles of a cab driver’s life.
“How long have you been driving cabs?”
“You like it?” “It’s really hard work. Not all people are so nice. I get tired, but what can you do? You have to pay the bills.” “I hear you.”
Like most New York cab drivers, he accelerated constantly and braked often, zoomed through red lights, almost nicked a couple of cars and still, never broke a sweat.
“What do you do?” he asked curiously.
“I help a nonprofit organization trying to bring some goodness in the world,” I responded.
“Do they pay you well?”
“Well, no but I get by. I don’t have many material things in life, the IRS would consider me poor, but you know, I’ve realized that I don’t need all that to keep me happy. If I die tomorrow, I want to go out knowing that I’ve made a few people smile.”
The young cab driver, perhaps in his late thirties, looked back through the sliding glass as if extending his hand for a hand shake — “Man, it is nice to meet you. It is really nice to meet you.”
Although we were strangers, both of us felt deeply connected as human beings. And by now, 7 minutes into our ride, we were on a first-name basis. He even spelled his name for me: H-a-k-e-e-m.
Hakeem and I talked a bit about simple acts of generosity, the power of a pay-it-forward mindset and how that can promote trust and connection in our communities. He understood the idea, but it seemed very abstract and foreign to him, so I gave him the example of a Berkeley restaurant I knew about: “So, you walk into this restaurant and you get a meal without paying for it. Then your check says $0.00 — someone before you has paid for your meal, and you can pay-forward for the person after you. You pay whatever you want for someone you don’t know.”
“So who comes to this restaurant?”
“It’s not like a soup-kitchen for the homeless; it’s a place where everyone comes in.”
“Wow, really? That is something.”
Our conversation was one of those lively, happy conversations. We were both laughing it up and sharing stories, when he turns to me and says, “Can I keep in touch with you? I want to help. I want to be associated with this.”
Perhaps it broke protocol for a cab driver to ask for the business card of his customer, but Hakeem and I felt like old friends.
“Sure thing, buddy.”
We traded email addresses as he informed me that he has a laptop at home from which he can check emails once every couple of days.
“You know what you could do, Hakeem,” I suggested in a conspiring tone. “You could give free ride to people every so often, and see how they respond. Imagine the dinner conversation that they will have with their family that night.” “Wow. Yeah. I will do it. Every week, I can give away a $5 cab ride.” After a reflective pause, he added, “Man, I’m moved.”
We arrived at Penn Station. “$14.15″ was the total. I gave him $15, and was looking through my wallet for more when he immediately planted a dollar bill into my hands and insisted that I don’t tip him –
“No, no. Please, please.” It was 15 cents from a cabbie, but in his heart, Hakeem was giving me a free ride and I was blessed to receive it.
As I was heading out, I turn to him and say, “Hakeem, you know how we talked about this pay-it-forward idea; well, here’s a $20. Whenever you feel like it, you give a ride to people and tell them that someone before them has paid for their fare. See what happens.”
Hearing this, Hakeem was visibly moved.
“Really? Are you sure?”
“I will give them your email address too.”
“No, no. This is not about you or I. Ask them to just pay it forward. And here, give them this card,” I said as I handed him a couple of Smile Cards.
Standing on the streets, I looked in through the back window and said, “Alright, my friend, be well.”
Almost speechless, he repeated one last time: “Man, I’m moved.”
So was I.
A few years ago I wrote a story on a husband and wife duo who travel around the county, living in an old van, preaching? the “good news” of evolution.
Their names are Connie Barlow and Michael Dowd. Connie is a highly respected science writer, and Michael is a former evangelical and Christian minister, who once upon a time did not believe in evolution at all. Inspired in part by Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme, Connie and Michael have been on the road for the better part of this decade. They visited our offices and retreat center a few years ago, and have returned several times to share the latest offering of their perpetual speaking tour. Michael does the majority of speaking and he is pushing the edge trying to re-interpret many of the great Christian scriptures in an evolutionary worldview. The article I wrote on Michael and Connie for What Is Enlightenment? magazine is called “Preachers of a New Pentecost” and the first few lines give a sense of Michael’s speaking style.
“Humanity is the fruit of fourteen billion years of unbroken evolution, now becoming conscious of itself,” declares the middle-aged speaker as he walks back and forth in front of the audience, punctuating his points with a dramatic gesture or a momentary pause. The reverend is in his element, and today he can feel that the crowd is in the palm of his hand.
“When the Bible speaks about God forming us from the dust of the Earth, it’s actually true,” he exclaims, articulating his words like a verbal challenge. “We did not come into this world—we grew out of it, just like an apple grows from an apple tree. That statement from Genesis is a traditional way of saying the same thing. We are not separate beings on Earth, living in a universe. We are a mode of being of Earth, an expression of the universe.”
This kind of perspective puts Michael firmly in the general camp of what is increasingly being called evolutionary spirituality. Now what makes all of this even more interesting is that Michael has just recently hit the big time, scoring alucrative book deal for his new book, Thank God for Evolution. And the New York Times magazine just did an article on Michael and his work, linked here:
So what does all of this mean? Well, a few things. First, the ongoing integration of evolution and spirituality is, I am convinced, going to define spirituality in this century. Events like the success of Dowd’s book are some of the first signs of that process in culture. Now it should be said that Thank God for Evolution is very scientifically oriented and he doesn’t really make any major spiritually-oriented assertions that would make hard-core scientists uncomfortable. That may help to explain why he has five Nobel prize-winning scientists endorsing it (which is quite impressive!). But still, it’s also just a sign that our culture is looking for new direction when it comes to the old science and spirit stalemate. We need a new kind of spiritual and philosophical vision that transcends and includes the culture wars, and offers genuinely new ideas and new visions. Dowd’s new book is one of many signs, as is complexity theorist Stuart Kaufmann’s new book I highly recommend both of them.
While both of these books are starting on the science side of the fence and seeking integration from that context, we also need to see serious new evolutionary visions that begin on the spiritual side of the fence and move toward a greater integration. More about that in future posts. To finish, here is a link to one more new
that any self-respecting “
should read. In fact, I’m off to interview the author tomorrow in Woodstock, NY. I’ll write more about it, and him, when I return.
Lets start with what America does NOT need: It does not need a President who is deemed (by the media, the pundits, the chattering classes, the owners of capital, and the mavens of the Democratic and Republican party) “realistic,” “pragmatic,” “knows how government works,” “not too partisan,” or “savvy.”
All these terms are short hand for this: they will accept the existing contours of power (both economic and political) and work within them to accomplish some limited but valuable reforms. In the prophetic tradition of Judaism, we think of “being realistic’ as the functional equivalent of idolatry. Idolatry is: Accepting “That Which Is” as the criterion of “That Which Can Be.”
To believe in God, on the other hand, is to believe that there is something, a force, a being, a reality, an ineffable “no-Thing” or “nothingness” or Ayin or boundarylessness-Eyn Sof, which makes possible at all times the transformation from “That Which Is” to “That Which Ought to Be.” In fact, in my interpretation of Judaism, whatever that is, that is what is meant by YHVH or what in English called God.
That’s why it has always seemed particularly perverse that some Christians call the God of the Jews “Jehovah,” trying to sound out four letters that Jews have always said were unpronounceable. The Hebrew word YHVH is a concept, not a proper name. The root of the concept is HVH, which in Hebrew means approximately what the words “To Be” mean in English-the present tense of the verb to be. And when you put a ‘yud’ (Y) in front of a root of a verb in Hebrew you are indicating future tense. So the word can’t exactly be translated, but it would mean something like “the movement into the future of the Being of the present.” In context, it means the transformative force, that which makes possible the movement from what is to what should be, the force that breaks the repetition compulsion (the tendency in human life to pass on to others the pain and cruelty that has been passed on to us) and allows us to transcend our conditioning history and act freely in accord with our God nature to be loving, peaceful and just.
So we need our next president to be filled with the spirit of God in this sense-that s/he refuses to accept that which is as the framework of that which can be.
Instead of being realistic (an idol-worshipper), we need a president who is unashamed to talk and act from a commitment to that which is best for the planet and that which most advances the capacities of the American people and the peoples of the world to be their most loving and generous and kind selves. And we need a president who can communicate and enthuse the American people and the people of the world with that sensibility.
The central unifying idea of the next president’s campaign and the major focus of his presidency should be a call for a New Bottom Line in American society. Today, institutions and social practices are judged efficient, rational and productive to the extent that they maximize money and power. That’s the Old Bottom Line. Now Here is the NEW BOTTOM LINE for which he should advocate: Institutions (including corporations and governments), social practices, and even person actions should be judged rational, efficient and productive not only to the extent that they maximize money and power, but also to the extent that they maximize love and caring, ethical and ecological sensitivity and behavior, kindness and generosity, non-violence and peace, and to the extent that they enhance our capacities to respond to other human beings in a way that honors them as embodiments of the sacred, and enhances our capacities to respond to the earth and the universe with awe, wonder and radical amazement at the grandeur of creation. .
To make this kind of a focus for his/her presidency, s/he must talk at a far deeper level than merely repeating or reframing the traditional leftist demands for economic and political rights. While s/he should strongly advocate for a Global Marshall Plan, s/he should also acknowledge that these political and economic changes will only be won on a global level when the social change movements are able to address the spiritual consequences of the triumph of corporate globalization: a society-wide depression and repression of what we can variously call the life-force, eros, God-energy or Spirit.
Please note that this is very different from those who talk about spiritual politics but actually mean only this: that it would be politically advantageous and opportune to take the traditional liberal agenda and dress it up with some spiritual or “values” language. So they take the existing liberal/left agenda, with its primary focus on social justice, inclusion of those who have been left out, economic redistribution, and peace-and then they find some Biblical quotes to bolster the case for the pre-existing liberal/progressive agenda. We support all that, but our movement goes much deeper.
I don’t believe that our next president can convince the Congress or the country of the liberal agenda simply by reframing it in spiritual language. For a large section of the American public, the primary source of pain in their lives is not about economic deprivation or non-inclusion, but about the way that the ethos of selfishness and materialism plays out in their personal lives and in the lives of people around them in ways that are destructive and feel terrible. They are wounded and personally despairing about the manipulative, narrowly utilitarian way people treat each other and themselves and the earth. They want a framework of meaning to their lives and to the lives of those around them that speaks of higher meaning to life, shows a path to a life that is not only about maximizing money but about maximizing a meaningful life-in short, they want and need a politics of meaning, and need a meaning-oriented movement that can counter the spiritual depression that surrounds them.
Don’t confuse this with those who simply are trying to put some Biblical quotes in front of the same old Democratic Party or liberal agenda.
The spiritual depression and emotional repression that suffuse contemporary life are the near-universal responses to the globalization of a self-congratulatory individualism, obsessive materialism, and consumption-all provided as compensation for the meaninglessness of our present-day culture. The one-dimensional technocratic consciousness, speed-up of work, perception that we have “no time” to do what we really believe in, and our inability to recognize others in terms that go beyond what they can do for us to advance our own agendas as rational maximizers of self-interest-all these combine to create human beings who, if they don’t explode in violence (like that which we recently saw at Virginia Tech) or self-destructive alcohol and drug abuse, find themselves in varying degrees of disconnection to their inner selves, their feelings, and their capacities to be loving towards others and responding to the universe with joy.
In contrast to this, our next president should encourage the recognition that “there is enough,” that we can afford to share, that the material consumption that drives our destruction of the global environment does not actually yield satisfaction. Such a president should seek a replacement of postmodernist self-alienation with a renewal of Being based on awe, wonder and radical amazement at the mystery of the universe and the mystery of every human being on the planet as a manifestation of the sacred. Our economic, social and political institutions need to be replaced and rethought not only because they are unjust, but because they foster a consciousness that keeps us from connecting to the deepest truths of the universe and make it harder for us to recognize each other as fully free, fully conscious, self-creating, loving beings. In this sense, the globalization of Spirit is the antidote to the globalization of Capital.
Why is it that people who live in the advanced industrial societies of North America, Europe and Japan, the richest societies that history has ever known, believe we “can’t afford” to share what we have with the rest of the world so as to eliminate poverty, hunger and homelessness? It is partly because of our collective paranoia that no one will be there for us if we should ever really need their help that leads us to think our only security lies in endless accumulation, to protect our isolated self-interest in face of a deep inner certainty that others can’t be counted on. And partly because we have a deep emptiness inside and we have come to believe that only material goods can fill it. We buy things to buy happiness, to compensate ourselves for the alienated work, the disconnection from each other, and the estrangement from our own inner selves that constitute the texture of our daily lives.
In our spiritually impoverished world, acquiring ever more things provides an illusion of fulfillment-and a replacement for the deep connection with each other and to the spiritual realities of the universe for which we both hunger and simultaneously deny to ourselves (lest we re-experience the pain and disappointment we had at earlier points in our lives when we allowed ourselves to be vulnerable and then failed to receive the loving and recognition we needed but didn’t fully get).
In addition, almost every child in our culture gets strong messages to focus attention on that which can be useful, and away from the spiritual dimension which has no “practical application.” Indeed, this message has been so deeply ingrained in many of us that we instinctively shy away from the spiritual realm as though it were as dirty as not being toilet trained. We fear that were we to acknowledge to ourselves or others that we actually wish for connection with that which cannot be used or made practical, cannot be subject to empirical observation or turned into a commodity or something that will make us more attractive or salable on the job or relationship marketplace, we would subject us to ridicule and humiliation.
Fearful that we will experience that pain once again, we often build strong external walls to keep us out of touch with this deep yearning for connection to each other and to the universe. Instead of drawing on our own inner resources, we too often find ourselves looking to the media-dominated mass culture for fulfillment and reassurance that our scaled-down sense of possibility is “what everybody else is doing” and hence “the only possible path for us too.” The media is one of the many institutions that speeds up time-protecting us from the quiet moments in which we might doubt the whole way our lives our being lived.
Instead of finding our own pace, we find ourselves rushing about, seeking machines and gadgets that make things go faster, becoming accustomed to media and technology which speed the pace while “shallow-ing” the intellectual and emotional level of our daily consciousness. We learn to forget the past and focus only on the new while devaluing the old, which leads to decreasing literacy and an increasing difficulty in following a complex discussion, sustaining a long-term relationship, or committing to social goals that can’t be accomplished immediately.
Sadly, our social institutions only reinforce this materialist view. Our institutions provide us with the illusion of permanency (pretending we won’t die) and the illusion that the “real world” is the world of power and wealth. Compound this with the patriarchal assumption that we should be tough and ignore our feelings, and we are left with a “common sense” that dismisses the relevance of our inner lives. We are told that spirituality should be left in the home, relegated to the weekend, kept separate from the pragmatic decisions that should shape politics and the business world. On the contrary, the next President should be someone who can help people affirm progressive spiritual values in the public sphere without weakening the separation clause that protects us from allowing any particular religion from becoming “established” as the only legitimate form of spiritual life. I’ve detailed how to do this in my book The Left Hand of God: Healing America’s Political and Spiritual Crisis (paperback, 2007, Harper San Francisco).
This is one reason why our next President should take the Spiritual Covenant with America that we’ve developed in the Network of Spiritual Progressives and make this the center of her/his political agenda. While space here precludes a full presentation, of the idea (you can find it at www.spiritualprogressives.org
- Changing all global and regional trade agreements in which the U.S. is currently involved so that they no longer privilege the most powerful and economically successful Western countries and the elites of other countries at the expense of the poor of the world. Global trade must be both multilateral and equitable. New agreements must provide support and encouragement for working people organizing, being paid a living wage, and providing adequate safety and health conditions and environmental safeguards so that economic growth is encouraged in ways that respect the rights of working people, promotes their well-being, and ensures their dignity and human rights. Trade agreements must also protect farmers, both at home and abroad, encouraging food prices that make it possible for farmers to make a living and poorer people to buy adequate food.
- Ensuring hands-on involvement from peoples of the Western world, starting with the United States. We wish to create an international Peace and Justice Corps which would provide ways for people with useful skills to volunteer two years of their life (at any age of their life) in donating their talents toward the goals of the Global Marshall Plan. To make this viable for professionals and others who have gained valuable skills and who fear losing their jobs, we envision a guaranteed job for anyone volunteering two years in the Peace and Justice Corps at the level of income at which they were working before they entered the program. While participating in the Peace and Justice Corps, people would receive the average salary that they were receiving in the five years before volunteering so that they could continue to help their families (though they would be encouraged to bring with them and spend in the countries in which they were working the same salaries that the people in those countries receive for doing comparable work). For high school graduates, three years of volunteer service in the Global Marshall Plan would be rewarded with a fully paid college or professional school tuition plus student housing and food for four years as long as they were making satisfactory progress in an accredited college or graduate or professional school.
- Using the International Peace and Justice Corps not only to build the capacities of people around the world to ensure their own future economic well-being , but also to deliver certain necessities including emergency food supplies, the building of environmentally-sound housing not only for the millions who are currently homeless but for the hundreds of millions of people soon to be born into poverty before the program can fully succeed, the rebuilding of crumbling city infrastructure, the building and/or rebuilding of dams, levees, roads, bridges, ports, railroads in environmentally sound ways, and the training of hundreds of millions of people with the skills necessary to do well in the economic marketplace and to survive those aspects of environmental collapse that at this point may be impossible to avoid.
- Retraining of the armies of nations around the world to become experts in ecologically sensitive construction of those aspects of their own societies that need relief and reconstruction, including agriculture, health care, housing, infrastructure, education and computers, and other appropriate technology.
- Training for everyone on the planet in techniques of nonviolent communication, respect for ethnic and religious diversity and differences, family and parental support,` stress reduction, child and elderly care, emergency health techniques, diet and exercise, and caring for others who are in need of help.
We estimate that this program, if fully implemented, could cost as much as 3-5% of the GDP of the world. Our commitment is to start with the 1% of US GDP and move from there.
We offer this plan with a commitment to humility and a conviction that it cannot work unless it is understood as deriving from our own commitment to the well-being of everyone on the planet and not primarily as a self-interested plan to advance American power or influence. One of the values of having an international agency to administer the plan is that from the start it will be clear that this plan is not simply another puppet for U.S. power.
We must also insist that the plan be implemented with a clear message that although the West has superior technology and material success, we do not equate that with superior moral or cultural wisdom. On the contrary, our approach must reflect a deep humility and a spirit of repentance for the ways in which Western dominance of the planet has been accompanied by wars, environmental degradation, and a growing materialism and selfishness reflected in a Western- dominated global culture.
Given these distortions, it is central to our mission to convey in the Global Marshall Plan a recognition that we have much to learn from the peoples of the world, their cultures, their spiritual and intellectual heritage, their ways of dealing with human relationships. So part of the program must also include cultural exchanges in which we invite into the cultural and educational systems of Western countries some of the teachers, musicians, artists, religious leaders, authors, poets, and philosophers of the non-Western world. We view this not as a sop thrown to ameliorate possible hurt egos, but as a genuine attempt to recognize that our superior technology and material success has not brought with it a superior ethical or spiritual wisdom, and that there is much to learn from societies that from a material standpoint are “under-developed” but from a spiritual standpoint may have within them teachers and cultures that are far more humanly sensitive than our own.
That is not to say that such a president should be unaware of the Yetzer HaRa, the inclination toward hurtfulness that has been shaped in each of us by our childhoods (as it says in Genesis, God saw that the inclination of people was evil from their childhood). Our president will need a dose of Niebuhr-ian sensibilities. S/he must be aware that all the calls for love, generosity, peace and social justice will face an immediate resistance from the people of the U.S. and the people of the world. And so s/he must take that into account and plan for how to overcome it.
But what such a president should do with that recognition is to develop a public campaign against cynicism that speaks about its roots, and simultaneously a new program for education that seeks to develop in children some of the necessary defenses against the ways that their inclinations toward hurtfulness are fostered in school and in family life.
This is, of course, a hefty agenda. To some it will seem na
Yesterday, Candice and I took our baby boy down from LA to SD to see my dad. We have two cars in our household but when making a long distance trip with the baby, choose to use the bigger (albeit less eco-friendly but safer) SUV. Yesterday, before getting on the road, we filled the empty tank. Price:$100.00.
There was something very symbolic about it landing squarely on 100 dollars even. For months now, we’ve all seen gas prices steadily climb. And we’ve gotten used to seeing spending 70+, 80+, 90+. But crossing that threshold, see all three digits followed two more after the decimal point register on the pump for the first time was a jarring introduction to the summer of 2008, the conclusion of which will send American voters into the booth with a critical decision to make about this nation’s future.
Gas prices and the economic recession we are in (and yes, this is a recession) are just two of the very significant issues we are facing. Now comes news that General Bush has been for months laying the groundwork for a military strike into Iran as a sort of last hoora. And oh yeah, that’s not where uncle Osama is holed up by all reports. Then again, who knows, seems the trail has gone cold since circa 2002, and General Bush’s “dead or alive” hunt is not much of a priority anymore, resulting in what various intelligence agencies are declaring as Al Qaida’s resurgence to pre-9/11 prominence and some sort of imminent attack.
Right – then there’s that pesky Iraq thing which won’t seem to go away. We’re sort of obligated to nation build there after we tore the place apart. Not a liberal rant – it is what it is. We shock and awed the shit out of the place, and all would agree that a hasty pull out won’t stop the unwanted pregnancy that’s already midterm. You think other Islamists haven’t been watching as the US brutally violated Iraq the last few years, building up their venom, rousing their vigilantism? Sorry for the crude descriptions, but sadly they’re apt.
Then again, what difference does it make? Because such scare tactics will likely not work this time around in this election. That and the fact that McCain doesn’t have the same sort of Republican Guard that Generalisimo Bush had in 2004. And truthfully, I think we have some serious nation building that needs to happen here in the home of the brave. There’s an undercurrent of uncertainty and anxiety that is starting to rip through the fault lines of this country. How do I know? Because I am feeling it. I’m not sure where there is a rebound from this scenario we find ourselves in. Pretty sure just buying that Prius won’t do the trick.
And as much as i like to think that that black dude (who speaks so well!!!) is gonna turn this titanic around, I have my doubts he can do it without some Harry Potter-like sorcery.
I had started to write this blog when I started poking around the internet to find some facts to back me up and stumbled upon Tom Friedman’s latest op-ed in the NYTIMES. He says all of the above better than I do, so check it out. Call it a vast left wing conspiracy if you like, but if that’s the case, can I at least submit my gas receipts for reimbursement to the relevant party?
How often do we look forward to see the world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of our hand and eternity in an hour!
William Blake’s view resonates as an eternal song with the spirit! From Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, Blake’s The Lamb & The Tyger (Love & Time) are worth noting as indeed are The Auguries of Innocence which contain the Sand, Heaven, Infinity and Eternity!
And for you… what do you look forward to… what resonates you?
The Ancient of Days: God as Architect – William Blake
With love and warm wishes to you and family
DK with family
A few years ago I wrote a story on a husband and wife duo who travel around the county, living in an old van, preaching? the
What does it take to go beyond the cycle of action and reaction? On a daily basis I see guests at the Chopra Center caught in the trap of emotional turbulence. Boundaries crossed without permission generate pain. The pain provokes a response that is intended to diminish the distress, but often generates a new round of anguish. Over time, conflicted relationships lead to festering emotional wounds, which manifest as physical distress and illness.
Almost always, there is historical validity to the stories we tell that explain our pain and grievance. The question we have to ask is whether the stories are serving us. Sadly, it is often easier to recognize that they are not than it is to write a new chapter.
Changing the plot starts with creating some space and time to allow the beginning of healing. If people cannot interact without an exchange degenerating into an argument, they need to take a time-out. Once some calm is introduced, the parties must decide if they are prepared to transform the relationship into something that provides more comfort than pain. Each person must recognize the need for healthy boundaries. Every of us has core ego needs — to be respected and acknowledged. When we can see through the layers of pain and distrust, we recognize that we all seek similar goals in life
My 8 year-old daughter, Sara went to a Padres baseball game the other night, so we watched the game on television, hoping to get a glimpse of her in the crowd of 30,000 (the camera actually focused in on her for 5 seconds!) As I watched the plays, I realized that every action that occurred was interpreted as either desirable (good) or undesirable (bad) depending upon whether you were a San Diego or San Francisco fan.