Tag Archives: Boston

Throwback Thursday: 8 Major US Cities As Seen by Your Great-Grandparents

Here are some of the most iconic American cities, now bustling centers of commerce, entertainment, fashion, and media. They were important in these regards back in the day, too, but by the looks of these photos you’d never know it!

All of these images come from about the late 19th century, which you can tell by the horse-drawn carriages and old-fashioned clothing styles. We live in the 21st century, surrounded by all kinds of cultures and styles and immersed in contemporary issues and concerns. It’s important, though, to remember where we came from, and that we are part of a long line of individuals who have lived in, experienced, and help built this country we call home.

And what’s more, these photographs are just so darn precious. Take a look!

Boston – Newspaper Row, Washington StreetOld-Photos-of-Big-Cities-30

Philadelphia – Broad Street

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San Francisco – Bay Bridge

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New York – Grand Central Station and Hotel Manhattan

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Chicago – Wabash Avenue

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Detroit – Woodward Avenue

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Los Angeles – South Broadway

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Washington D.C. – Ninth Street

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And one bonus from New York… (Wall Street!)

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Images sourced: Fludit and Los Angeles Past

Thich Nhat Hanh’s Greatest Teaching on Love and Mindfulness

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The first time I was exposed to well-known Buddhist monk, peace activist, and author Thich Nhat Hanh, who visited Boston over the weekend, was when I read his book, Miracle of Mindfulness in a college course on Buddhism. I still recall one of our homework assignments for the class. We had to wash the dishes…which was awesome for my roommates. I’d pulled dish duty. A monk said so.

But, the assignment wasn’t to wash the dishes the way any of us typically wash the dishes, dashing off a chore so that we can move on to something better. Instead, the assignment required us to wash the dishes while being fully present and mindful. Never mind what happens next. We were learning through real-life practice that the powerful moment–the only one over which we have any guarantee or influence–is the one happening now. Don’t wait until later to be compassionate or kind, attentive and aware. A mind does not get stronger that way. It stays distracted and anxious about what comes next… And after that?… And then what?

On Sunday, in Copley Square, I was again reminded how miraculous mindfulness can be. I went with the expectation that I’d sit quietly, among hundreds of other people, in the presence of a revered Zen master, but didn’t anticipate much more. I knew it would feel meaningful and maybe solemn. I imagined we’d hear car horns or passing Duck Tours as we meditated. Quack, quack! I hoped he’d speak a little bit. Hopefully, we could hear and understand him. I momentarily wondered if it was unsafe to congregate in an open and vulnerable public space doing something spiritual, possibly viewed as religious. After all, we were in front of a church, among hundreds of Buddhists, yards from the Boston Marathon finish line, where two bombs went off five months ago to the date.

Trinity Church’s Reverend Dr. William Rich acknowledged this fact as he introduced Thich Nhat Hanh, who was now sitting under the hot sun clad in a knit hat and multiple layers of robes and meditations shawls. Wasn’t he melting? It struck me that it couldn’t be a coincidence, this event to sit in peace and healing near an area subjected to so much suffering a short time ago. The week before had also marked the anniversary of 9/11, the reverend noted. We were still at war and now considering military action in Syria. The day before marked the Jewish holiday of atoning for sins, Yom Kippur. In any number of ways, no matter who you were, the message of the day was clear. We are here to be together in peace. We’re here to practice greater awareness and compassion because the world needs both right now.

Small and centered, the 85-year-old Vietnamese monk in a knitted hat.

Following his introduction, Thich Nhat Hanh did something surprising to some. He said nothing. He didn’t even open his eyes. Instead, he sat silently and meditated, signaling for a typically pulsing cross-section of the city to join him. I don’t recall car horns. Definitely no quacking. A few small children giggled or cried briefly in the crowd, but mostly, it was very quiet.

When he eventually spoke, about 25-minutes later, the famous monk said only this: Breathing in, I am aware of my breath. Breathing out, I am aware of my breath, a simple mantra to set the stage for a talk that would succinctly and poetically teach a diverse group what it means to be mindful and how it creates peace. Next, he said: Breathing in, I enjoy breathing in. Breathing out, I enjoy breathing out.

The mantras and teachings gained momentum from there. We breathed in and out qualities of a mountain’s solidity and stability, water’s stillness and reflection, a flower’s freshness and beauty, and space. Breathing in, I have the element of space within me. Breathing out, I feel free… Space: free. Nothing was too heady. No one was left out. It was the most simple yet moving talk I’ve ever witnessed on meditation or Buddhism. If I was exposed to this teacher first in college, I was now getting schooled in a whole new way.

Then, the talk dovetailed into territory I would not have predicted for an 85-year-old celibate monk: love. It could have easily represented love for a family member or friend, but to hear a monk use the word darling in three different types of mantras suggested romantic love, and it made everyone smile. Darling, I am here. Darling, I know you are here. Darling, I know that you suffer, and I am here for you.  

“The most precious thing you can offer your loved one is your presence,” he said. “To be present means to be there. How can you love, if you are not there?” His voice was gentle, but the message reverberated. Love (romantic or otherwise) doesn’t work if we’re distracted or hiding– behind suffering, the TV, iPhone, alcohol, who knows. We all have our means of avoiding reality, some healthier than others. To love means to understand suffering, our own and our darling’s.

He linked the two segments of the talk seamlessly– the meditation, breathing, and mantras– with his thoughts on love. We practice meditation so that we can restore our presence and feel more stable, free, fresh, and beautiful. “You cannot buy it in a market,” the adorable monk cautioned in his sing-song accent, of the level of presence needed for true love. “You have to produce it yourself.”

Somewhere along the way, my tear ducts started producing an abundance of water. I was overwhelmed. It was too beautiful maybe, the day, his words, the fact that my present moment looked, felt, and sounded the way it did, and I was sharing it with hundreds of other people, some of whom must have been having a similar experience. Their suffering was all around, their love, too. I felt a hand on my arm, which startled me. It was a kind woman offering a tissue. I could hear others nearby also weeping. Monks and nuns were chanting now, singing the name of Avalokiteshvara, the saint of compassion, and a cello played. Damn cello, gets me every time. Vast blue sky space stretched overhead, and the ground on which we sat felt solid and stable. We were being restored.

The Buddhist monks and nuns chanting… also the cello. Sniff.

Life will always contain suffering, and it will offer opportunities to cultivate compassion, grow love, and strengthen our minds through presence and practice. Copley Square will always be the place where we went after the marathon to leave flowers, candles, sneakers, and letters. It’s where people cried and prayed  Often, they felt hopeless. Today, a proper memorial resides in the same spot, on the periphery of where Thich Nhat Hanh’s meditation event occurred. The earth, there, hugging the edge of the space where so many people sat in peace and thought about love.

I still hurry through the dishes most of the time, and while writing this post, I wolfed down an apple and peanut butter so fast, I barely tasted either of them. My spoon scrapped the bottom of the bowl, and I thought, heyyy, who ate my snack? But, then, a teacher or moment reminds me of the miracle of mindfulness and skill of being present. How I can always practice, beginning simply with breathing in and breathing out. And, sometimes, the expectations in my mind are blown away by the real-life experience.

 

Originally published on my website, Om Gal.

How to Talk With Your Kids About The Boston Bombings

The round-the-clock media coverage of the events in Boston is understandable. Our anxious minds find something soothing about information — even if the news is scary — because we want desperately to understand what’s happening. We want to know that everything will be okay. We want to know the bad guys have been caught.

At the same time, the media’s relentless analysis can give the impression, particularly to children, that the world is a terrible and frightening place, and we are all just one-step away from harm when we walk out our front door.

For that reason, it’s important for us to highlight the positive aspects of this story as well. Not in a Pollyannaish-way that suggests everything is fine, but in a real way. It’s necessary to talk about the people who have opened their homes to others, sent food to first responders and provided an outpouring of support and kindness to those in need.

A popular post on Facebook this week is a quote from the beloved children’s television host Mr. Rogers: 

When I was a boy, and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.

My daughter was 3-1/2 when two planes deliberately crashed into the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers in New York City. It was a devastating experience that traumatized our country. As a former New Yorker, I was deeply affected by the horrible images I saw of my hometown.

I thought long and hard about how to explain this event to my preschool-age daughter in a way that her young mind could grasp. I worried that the way I described the events would influence her view of the world.

I finally told her, “A few people did a bad thing and hit the buildings with their planes. And now thousands of people are helping to make it better.”

I hoped that explanation would ease her into the realities of life. Yes, sometimes bad things happen. Really bad. But there’s also good in the world. A lot of good.

What to tell your children about these events will differ depending on their age:

  • Young children should be shielded from violent or graphic imagery on television and the Internet. They need to know that they are safe, secure and protected by the adults around them.
  • Older children might have questions about the event and why it happened. Answer their questions and explain the details without getting overly sensational or frightening.

And keep in mind that we adults can be easily overwhelmed by the constant barrage of news, too. For me, as I follow the media’s coverage, I am reminded that terrible things happen in life. I grieve for the families and the community affected. And then I think about the courage, bravery and kindness of the people who helped. I think about the good in this story because it’s always there.

6 Steps to Renew Your Faith in Humanity

slide_292525_2349011_freeBy Dawn Gluskin

In light of the recent events in Boston, many of us are walking around with heavy hearts. We search for answers. Why? How can such evil exist in our world? We grieve for the lost lives and suffering felt by our one human family.

While me may never get all of the answers we seek, and despite the senseless tragedy, it’s important to keep our faith in humanity and our spirits lifted. Yes, while some people out there have lost their way, we are all generally good at heart and this goodness far outweighs the bad. Now, more than ever, it is important that each of us do the work to be the change. Only light can drive out darkness. You matter. We all do. Everything in this world around us is made of energy. You better believe yours affects the world around you. Even seemingly simple actions can help raise the vibrations we emit around us, and thus contribute to collectively raising the consciousness of the world.

Here are a few suggestions that can help us be responsible for the energy around us in a positive way:

1) Limit the amount of news we intake. Yes, it is important to stay informed, and we all want answers and updates. However, our media tends to focus on the very negative. Balance your need to know with your need to keep your own spirit lifted. Instead of focusing on gruesome details reported over and over by the hyped-up media, seek more uplifting and heart-warming stories (yes they do exist!). In Boston, many put their own safety aside to run towards the explosion to help others. Think about our brave first responders and how selfless they are every day of their lives. Make a conscious effort to turn the channel or surf to another page so that you can fill your mind with more of the goodness that surrounds us all.

2) Mellow out. We can all get overstressed at times, which tends to bring out our very worst. Maybe it manifests in laying on the horn in traffic and giving a one-finger salute to a fellow driver, or perhaps it’s a grumble and a furrowed brow at the grocery store when somebody gets in line a split second before us. In any case, it feels so much better to just be happy and is also better for the world around us. Try some proven funk-lifters:

  • Practice deep breathing, which sends a message to your brain to calm down.
  • Go for a walk and soak in some nature. Exercise is a natural mood-lifter and being close to earth helps you to feel more grounded.
  • Do yoga!
  • Jam out to your favorite music.
  • Laugh it up. Call up a funny friend or watch a silly video. Studies show that laughter reduces stress hormones.

3) Let it go. When we bottle up our emotions, the pressure builds up inside. If we don’t let off some steam… it’s not going to be pretty! A journal can be your best buddy to confide in. Let all of those toxic emotions out via pen or keyboard before somebody else feel the wrath of them. Just the act of outwardly expressing our feelings can help to heal the hurt.

4) Practice random acts of kindness. Even something small can have a huge impact as the ripple effect ensues. When you do something nice for someone, they are touched and want to pay-it-forward and do something nice for someone else and so on! Here are a few kind gesture suggestions to incorporate into your routine.

  • Stop to hold the door open for someone.
  • Make a point to smile at everyone in your path
  • Let someone in front of you in traffic
  • Buy a stranger a cup of coffee or pay for the order of the person behind you, if you are feeling generous and have a little extra cash.

5) Power of Prayer. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be religious, there is a great power in surrender, the acknowledgement that there is a force beyond us all. Whatever your beliefs, it can’t hurt to take a few moments to visualize sending your light, love, and blessings out to those who need it. Ask for guidance on what you can do to help make your own positive impact on the world.

6) Be love! This can manifest itself in so many ways. Call an old friend out of the blue, let your loved ones know how much you care, reach out to someone in need, hug your family a little tighter and be totally present for them – turn electronics off and really be with each other.

These are just a few suggestions. I’d love to keep this list growing. What are some of your thoughts on keeping the vibrations ringing high? Please share some of your own ideas in the comments below!

Photo credit: Getty images

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Dawn GluskinDawn Gluskin is a multi-passionate entrepreneur and author. Despite her experiences as the founder & CEO of a technology firm that has experienced rapid-growth and national press recognition, her definition of “success” is not defined by these accolades, which have oftentimes come at the price of high-stress and misalignment. Instead, she believes in listening to the whisper of our souls which gently tug us towards our life’s true purpose. She finds much joy in her writing and coaching, sharing her journey and truth with others. She feels blessed to be “mommy” to two sweet little girls who teach her so much and she lives with her loving family in sunny Florida.

Why Tragedies Like the Boston Marathon Bombing Inspire Greatness

Screen Shot 2013-04-17 at 12.56.54 PMWhy? That’s the leading question from many when they think about the Boston Marathon bombings earlier this week, especially since there still remains much speculation around the reasons for this event. What possible level of anger, madness, or beliefs could justify inflicting such horrible pain and harm on innocent people? Though we await answers to some confusing and difficult questions, one thing we do know is that in the moments after the explosions, our best as human beings showed.

We are programmed with a fight-or-flight response when presented with danger or change; it is there to keep us safe. But on April 15, more people disregarded this impulse and, instead of running away, ran toward the explosion to help the brave first responders. Badly injured victims had strangers holding their hands, talking to them, crying with them. From the darkness of tragedy can come greatness. We find our courage. We stay instead of run.

Americans are tough. Though we may get upset and raise our voices, we quickly forget ourselves and focus on the ones in need when one of our own is hurt, challenged, or needs help. We run to the scene, not from it. We become selfless, responsive, and more aware of others. We show up. We find our grit and resolve. This is who we truly are.

In tragedy we unite. It was that way on 9-11. It was that way when the tornado destroyed much of Joplin, MO. It was that way with the shootings in Tucson, Columbine, Aurora and Sandy Hook Elementary. It was that way with the
Boston Marathon bombings. At our core, we Americans are amazing, selfless and compassionate people.

But why does it take a tragedy for us to step into our greatness? We are obviously capable of this response on a daily basis. We can choose to respect and care for one another, even when their house hasn’t been destroyed, their limbs damaged, or their loved ones lost. We have the ability to be powerful, bold and courageous in dealing with differences and challenges without first needing a tragedy to compel us to a greatness response.

Regardless of our backgrounds, we are connected; we are Americans. And as Chad Finn, Boston.com Columnist wrote, “No, we are not all related. But in times of trouble you’d better believe we are all family.” As a family, we instantly come together to lessen the pain and help in any way possible. Our collective effort, genius and spirit response can be epic. So how can we rally with this same energy, focus and passion in our everyday lives?

Last week, I spoke to 120 teens at a Rotary Youth Leadership Assembly. I shared how these teens could start to find their personal greatness road in life – to show up as a leader of their own lives. Start young to strike out violence and hatred as the automatic or conditioned response. Start young to care more about others, in every moment. We can choose to build a world that solves its issues and challenges through discussion, mutual respect and ideas, not bombings, violence and vitriol. They truly saw this as a possibility.

Boston, my college town and home to many family members and friends, and the determined athletes and enthusiastic spectators are the latest victims in a violent world. A violent world considers violence as a legitimate solution to challenge and conflict. This behavior fills our television shows, movies, video games, and Internet. This is how many see the world because this is much of what we see in our world.

Explosions At 117th Boston MarathonIn response to violence and tragedy, we impose few limits on our support. We find the energy, the strength, the courage, and the commitment to stay, help, inspire, and deliver – we bring our A-game. In many of the daily events of life we show up with our B-game – our petty, small-minded, and selfish responses. We fight with each other. We blame and attack each other. We forget we are family.

In moments of tragedy we see how capable we are for empathy, effort, tenacity, support, love, compassion, and resilience. Without tragedy, I know we are still capable of the same powerful emotions. We can learn ‘daily greatness’ responses from life’s tragic circumstances. We have it in us. We can choose to always bring our A-game, to all events in life. The result can be a more compassionate and responsive world. I want it to be possible. I believe it is possible. I know it is possible.

The horrible events at the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15 will never be forgotten. They’ll change the way everyone thinks of this historical day in Boston, and next year, as Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said, the marathon will “be bigger and better than ever before.” Bostonians banded together. Americans came together. Our greatness showed. We weren’t heroes; we were just family, doing what families are capable of and what they do best. My thoughts and prayers are with the runners, their families, spectators, volunteers, the first responders, and all of us who watched in horror from other parts of the country. May we all heal from this pain, and unite in our commitment to support each other more often as family and commit to creating a more peaceful world.

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Jay Forte is the president and founder of The Greatness Zone, an organization providing practical tools, programs and resources to help us know ourselves, find our fit and transform our world. He writes and speaks on living our personal greatness and is an advocate for raising the collective consciousness about and the responsibility for showing up to our work and life with passion and purpose.

Photo credit: Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Photo credit: Bill Greene/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Rebecca Pacheco on the Boston Marathon Bombing: Now What?

Monkeying around with Heartbreak Bill yesterday morning. We still love 26.2.

If you know me, you know that I love the Boston Marathon. I ran it in 2009. I cheer myself hoarse and crazy as a spectator. I prepare athletes for race day and help them recover afterward with yoga. I’ve scoped many favorite spots to watch over the years: the finish line when it was blistering hot in 2004, Coolidge Corner as a 20-something living in nearby Allston, Kenmore Square where I swelled with pride when my absurdly fast and dedicated roommate at the time ran by (the noise is deafening there, especially when the Red Sox game lets out). When I worked at Boston magazine, I would dart up Mass Ave. from my office, to watch at the intersection of Commonwealth. I loved it there because the crowd wasn’t too thick, and I’d grown to recognize the kindly police officer on duty over the years. Bless him for looking the other way as I scaled a lamp post to cheer for friends with one– jubilant or near delirious– mile to go. Yesterday, this was the precise location where thousands of runners were halted, as reports surfaced of two bombs detonated in quick succession at the finish line, killing at least two people, injuring dozens, and turning the scene of Boston’s high athletic holiday into something resembling a war zone of blood and chaos.

I was at mile 20 of the course, known as Heartbreak Hill, on a day that broke my city’s collective heart.  

One moment I was cheering runners, including the American Red Cross marathon team, along with its coach Dan Fitzgerald. The next, I was too somberly aware of how important its work is.  There was a tragic and twisted irony in cheering Red Cross chief executive, Jarrett Barrios, who was having a long, hard race at mile 20, in one moment, and in the next, frantically calculating that he likely finished during the blasts. He was OK, stopped at mile 25.8, near my favorite lamp post.

The concern from family, friends, and fans of my site Om Gal (many of whom I’ve never met) via calls, texts, tweets, Facebook, and Instagram was immediate and unforgettable. My dad, the emotional first responder called; he never panics. My brother, who factored that I may have jumped into the race for the last 6-miles with a friend, as he did for me in 2009… My mom, who already knew I was OK but was in tears at the thought that it could have been me running, or her spectating, or anyone…

And, that is the saddest, most bottomed out feeling. It may not be me among those who lost their lives or limbs or my loved ones (you realize you love them all, really, on days like this), but it’s someone’s someone. It always is. It’s a hollowed out feeling that on the other side of moments when a B.A.A. volunteer directing runners across the finish is saying, “You’re all winners.” There are times of profound darkness, seconds later, when all of us lose.

Which leads us to the question we’re all asking: what are we to do next? As Bostonians, those all over the world standing in support of us, as yogis, as athletes who live for finish lines and never expect to die on one, and as citizens of the world. We need to do something right now. What is it?

We can pray.  

My god daughter, sent via text, from her mom and my best friend in CA, with the message: We carry you in our hearts.
My god daughter, sent via text, from her mom and my best friend in CA, with the message: We carry you in our hearts.

We may not be doctors, but we can pray for doctors and medical staff in area hospitals. May they have all the resources they need, in body, mind, and spirit, to do their lifesaving work. We may not be therapists, but we can pray for those who witnessed the carnage first-hand. A close friend crossed the finish moments before the blasts; her two small children were in the stands watching. They are unharmed but terrified. They do not want their mom to run another marathon. We can pray for government and law enforcement officials seeking answers and future safeguards. We can pray for each and every person whose life brushed too painfully close to yesterday’s traumatic events. Our collective heart can choose, right now, to eradicate harm and violence of any kind, in thoughts, words, and deeds, and as often as humanly possible choose love over fear and peace over hatred. This is the only way to change anything.

Prayers don’t need to be articulate or dogmatic. Maybe you’re not much for God, but the way I look at prayer: it never hurts. It’s your heart speaking a truth, for good. If the concept of prayer doesn’t speak to you, you can mediate, which is simply the act of sitting in the presence of our own mind with the conscious intention to cultivate peace for yourself and others.

If you can’t wrap your brain around that right now, which is entirely OK, you can do something of service for someone. It doesn’t matter whom or how big. Just pick a someone. Give them light and love. Give a smile, a handwritten card, or a meal because they need one. Give blood. Give time and energy to someone troubled who needs it to feel more whole. When your work is done, the card mailed, the vial full, the sandwich devoured, do it again. Do it bigger. Or, do it more humbly. Because that’s the thing about peace and healing: there’s no finish line. It is our daily work. It’s what we do next and always.

What I did when I got home from the marathon course: prayer and meditation.  Because it never hurts.

What I did when I got home from the marathon course: prayer and meditation. Because it never hurts.

 

Thumbnail photo credit: Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters

Bombs Go Off in Boston on Marathon Monday

bh6fwfvcuaa-pwbAccording to reports on social media, several bombs exploded today near the course of the Boston Marathon. Full coverage has not yet emerged on the incident, as reporters are apparently “in lockdown at race headquarters.” According to the New York Times, though, a considerable number of runners and spectators were injured in the blasts, which went off roughly four hours after the men’s race began. The New York Daily News has reported that at least three people were killed in the explosion. By the looks of photographs that have surfaced from the morning’s events, the scene was chaotic, smoky, and even bloody.

The Boston Marathon is the oldest annual marathon in the world, held every year on Patriot’s Day. The event hosts over 20,000 runners each year, with more than half a million spectators gathered to cheer the athletes on. It is sobering that such at attack would occur at an event that celebrate human athleticism, as well as American independence. Though perhaps that it the message intended by whomever is responsible for the bombs.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to those in Boston today, and to everyone affected by the attacks. Our intent is to create a space where people may grieve, discuss, and continue working to build a society free of such hateful violence.

 

Update: The Associated Press are now reporting that two people were killed in today’s explosions.

FALL OF THE KING

I’m obsessed with sports. It’s the most unusual thing, considering in my family no one else could give two shits about sports. To her credit, over the years my mom has diligently paid enough attention to back page headlines so as to keep a conversation going with me about the Superbowl or World Series or whatever.

My dad? Not so much. The only competitive somewhat sporting event i ever recall his attending when I was growing up was a local spelling bee. In a show of defiance, I intentionally screwed up the word "lama" – take that your holiness.

Through the years, I’ve had moments of fandom of varying intensity. But being that I am a loyal Boston fan (Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics, and even Bruins), my teams almost always tend to be "in it" to the end which inevitably leads to both the highest of highs, but also the lowest of lows. For years, I tried to resolve the spiritual core of sports (that’s what we Chopras do after all) and couldn’t really decode it. For becoming totally emotionally and spiritually attached to something you cannot control, on the face of it, represents the antithesis of everything spiritual.

Then again, there is something deeply spiritual about surrendering yourself so completely to something that you have absolutely no control over. Linking your own emotional fiber to countless others and riding the wave of emotions to higher (or lower) states of consciousness can be a very cathartic and non-ego experience.

Then every once in a while comes a story like LeBron James (aka the former KING JAMES) that transcends sports and taps into a much larger – dare I say Spiritual domain. At their core, Sports allows us to see ourselves at the pinnacle of human potential. The true champion must not only outdo his competitors but also achieve a quasi physical and psychological synergy that enables true transcendence beyond the game. It’s what allows a real sports fan to ultimately admire greatness – the Michael Jordans and Joe Montanas, the Alis and Gretzkys, even the Jeters and Kobes (hard for me to say as a Sox and Celtics fan, respectively).

So when  a guy seeming equipped with all the physical gifts to possibly reach that level of greatness, that transcendent plain that inspires all of us sports fans, and then "chooses" not to even try, well it’s a hell of downer. Here’s the thing: I get LeBron wanting to play with his buddies. I get him wanting to win championships and win fast. I get him being 25 years old and wanting to mow through South Beach and all of its virtues. But to do it all at the expense of being GREAT – I don’t get and I don’t really want to get. The great ones don’t choose the easy way out, they don’t choose to play Robin when they’re qualified to be Batman.

All week I’ve listened to arguments from the other side, including my sister who tried to convince me that maybe the LeBron way was an example for a new model of winning. I say no way – I’m old school that way. Winning is about being the best, competing, scoring more, and being crowned the victor. I’ve never been into the New Age version which says it’s not about wins and loses, it’s about how you play the game.

Bullshit – it’s about W-I-N-N-I-N-G and the euphoria that comes with aiming to be the best and then being the best. It’s also why losing feels so horrible and lowly. In fact, I’d say there is only one thing worse then losing. Choosing not to compete at all.

See you later, King James. It was nice knowing you.

Why Did I Run A Marathon?

There are no hero shots, declares my friend Christina over a Thai food lunch a few weeks after the Boston Marathon. By then, I’m ambling down stairs easily and catching up with friends whom I haven’t seen since my monastic marathon training routine began several months earlier, but the travails of the 26.2-mile trek are still fresh. Christina is referring, specifically, to one particularly painful truth: My pictures look like shit.
 
Hers do too, she insists (she ran the race just one year prior), and while I can’t vouch for her photos, I can say, with confidence, that mine look at once pained, deranged, and near-dead—and that’s before the finish line. I won’t even address those taken by Mom following the race, back at my apartment. What, crawling on all fours in favor of walking? Me? No comment.
 
These are not the images that I envisioned, the ones that sustained and motivated me on frigid, dark mornings in February when my only resources for staying warm were picking up the pace and visualizing my triumphant finish on Boylston Street in April (eventually, it would be April, right?). In reality, any photographic evidence of my sense of achievement or elation upon crossing the finish is largely obstructed by some guy name Mike B. (it’s written on a piece of duct tape on his shirt, with a Sharpie). I’m not sure how he managed to set a pick after running 26.2 miles, but he completely blocks what would have been my hero shot. Thanks, dude.
 
I guffaw into my tom yum soup while Christina and I recount all the horrible photos captured by friends, family, and official photographers along the course. She looks gaunt and dehydrated. I simply look as though I’m on death’s doorstep. The drastic contrast between marathon expectations and reality is both comical and disappointing, but it also reveals a great deal about the journey. My time, too, is vastly slower than projected, which admittedly remains a sore spot, so does my right hip, but I digress.
 
Having completed my first marathon means a lot to me, but not in the ways that I anticipated or even hoped it would. Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "The reward of a thing well done is having done it," and that rings true here. I have no hero shots or a time worth boasting, but I have done it.
 
It’s safe to say that I’ll never play in a Superbowl or a World Series. I’m terrible at tennis, so Wimbledon is out, and considering my phobia of biking too fast downhill, you won’t see me in the Tour de France in this lifetime. But I’ve run the Boston Marathon, a historic, iconic athletic event, with hundreds of thousands of spectators, who at times- bless them- cheered for me. I shared the road with Kara Goucher, Ryan Hall, Colleen de Reuk, the Hoyts, and all those elite Kenyans. Sure, I was hours behind them, but I understand, on some level, what their journey was like that day, and no photo captures that feeling.

PeaceWomen: Theatre and Peace

No, the title isn’t a typo. PeaceWomen is the name of a theatre piece I wrote about the female Nobel Peace Prize Laureates. Since 1901, twelve women have won the Nobel Peace Prize. Just twelve. Their writings and their lives fascinate me.

Because I, too, Nobel Laureate or not, am a peacewoman, I spent many years reading the words of these women, and because of my theatre background, it made sense to me to create a solo performance piece as an opportunity for a dedicated performer. So far I haven’t found that actor, but I will.

What I have created is an invitation to have a theatre community do a reading of my piece for World Theatre Day! Am I excited! First, the director has cast women and men as the peacewomen, and the reading is colorblind as well. Learn about World Theatre Day briefly:

“It was first at the 9th World Congress of the ITI (International Theatre Institute) in June 1961 that President Arvi Kivimaa proposed that a WORLD THEATRE DAY be instituted. The proposal was carried with acclamation. Ever since, on the 27th March, World Theatre Day has been celebrated in many and varied ways by ITI National Centres, of which there are now almost 100 throughout the world.

“Set up in 1948, by UNESCO (United National Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) and world-renowned theatre personalities, the International Theatre Institute is the most important international non-governmental organization in the field of the performing arts, enjoying formal relations of consultation and association with UNESCO. ITI seeks “to promote international exchange of knowledge and practice in the domain of the performing arts, to stimulate creation and increase cooperation between theatre people, to make public opinion aware of the necessity of taking artistic creation into consideration in the domain of development, to deepen mutual understanding in order to participate in strengthening peace and friendship among peoples, to join in the defense of the ideals and aims of UNESCO.”

The thing about the reading at Tufts is it made me think, yet again, about peacewomen and the theatre. Their stories are theatrical in their very nature. As I created PeaceWomen, the thing that touched me most about these women who have worked, and continue to work, for peace is that each one began her peacework because of SOMETHING PERSONAL. Some personal upset in her own life prompted her dedication to peace everywhere. I think this is the only way real activism happens. Whatever our cause, we adopt it because of something personal. That was a huge revelation for me at the time.

And so, may I invite all those in the Boston area to a free reading of PeaceWomen by Dr. Susan Corso on Wednesday, March 25th at 5 PM in the Balch Arena Theatre at Tufts University? It should last about an hour. And please be sure to introduce yourself to me! (I’ll be the one with the red ponytail.) I love the combination of theatre and peace. I think many people consider peace boring, a stasis, not a dynamic. There are as many definitions of peace as there are people on the planet, and believe me, if even half the ones I’ve heard are accurate, they’re plenty theatrical!

P.S. The link to PeaceWomen will take you to the script posted on my website. I am always glad to allow others to do the show for a small donation. Consider it for your peace group! And if you’re in need of a speaker, I’d be glad to visit and talk peace.

Visit Dr. Susan Corso’s website or subscribe to Seeds at www.susancorso.com.

originally posted on Ode Magazine

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