Socrates Would Like the iPhone

The iPhone 5 has been out for about a week now and, according to reports, over 5 million have already been purchased.  That’s good for Apple and for all of us techno-geeks that love new gadgets.  It’s faster, lighter and allows owners to take really cool panoramic photographs!  I won’t be buying the new phone but only because I have the 4S and my contract with AT&T isn’t ‘up’ yet.  Yes, I’m one of those techno-geeks and I love all of my gadgets!!  But I am also more aware than ever that the central reality of having all of this connectedness is that I am more deeply imbedded in the CROWD than ever.  The crowd surrounds me, informs me, distracts me and entertains me.  The crowd includes close friends and family along with people I never physically see.

Why would Socrates love the iPhone?  Because he was a connector.  He cherished his friends and was intensely curious about their lives.  He lived in and was energized by life in the city.  The city in Socrates’ day was where learning happened!  So, when his friend Phaedrus suggested that he join him on a stroll outside the city walls, Socrates was incredulous.  ‘Forgive me, friend,’ says Socrates.  ‘I am devoted to learning; landscapes and trees have nothing to teach me–only people in the city can do that.’  Well, who am I to argue with Socrates?!  But, he’s dead and I’m not so I am going to assert one thing about the importance of separating ourselves–whether by going for a walk outside the city or simply turning off some of our gadgets–from the crowd periodically.  

William Powers, whose work, Hamlet’s Blackberry, I cited in an earlier post, offered this bit of wisdom:

“Everyone needs to create a gap between themselves and the screen–the gap that opens up when you turn it off.  When you do that, something miraculous happens.  You regain the best part of yourself and the best part of life, the human part.”

Enjoy your gadgets.  I certainly do.  But remember to take a little time (Stop) and regain (Discover) the best part of yourself and life…the human part!

On Optimism

Matt Ridley, author of the best-selling book The Rational Optimist, had his work summarized by the Reader’s Digest on March 21, 2012, and updated on Saturday, April 14, 2012, in an article titled “17 Reasons To Be Cheerful.” Here is his reason No. 17 that stated “optimists are right:

For 200 years, pessimists have had all the headlines — even though optimists have far more often been right. There is immense vested interest in pessimism. No charity ever raised money by saying things are getting better. No journalist ever got the front page writing a story about how disaster was now less likely. Pressure groups and their customers in the media search even the most cheerful statistics for glimmers of doom. Don’t be browbeaten — dare to be an optimist!

I know that I’m not as optimistic about things as I was when I was younger.  Today, I use words like ‘realistic’ and ‘pragmatic’ more than I ever used to.  However, not too far beneath the surface so as to be completely lost, I still look at folks and think they mean well and do good.  I am intentional about noticing the nice things that people do and the very good things that happen in our world.  To do this requires Stopping, though.  I have stopped watching Cable TV with its non-stop negative news.  I have stopped following politics closely because politics is the farthest thing from anything approximating reality.  I have stopped looking at the homeless as ‘losers,’ which they most certainly are not.  In fact, on that last item, I have gone way outside my personal comfort zone and sat with folks on the street to engage them in conversation.  It’s my way of bringing this concept of ‘Noticing‘ to reality.

So, to be an optimist requires a few changes–most of them pretty easy to implement.  Stop.  Notice.  And, for the record, I believe in you, your service to others, your love of family, country and God.  I just do.  No apologies from this optimist!

Sense of Wonder

The title of Rachel Carson’s classic work, The Sense of Wonder, made me think, what if we approached our life’s work not with the anticipation of challenges, deadlines, profit, and problems but rather with WONDER?  Perhaps, like Carson, we would begin our day’s journey of service to others as a walk through a vibrant forest full of sights and sounds that evoke awe and a sense of wonder!  It’s not so hard to be inspired by the wonders that surround us in nature.  Visualizing a serene body of water, perhaps a slow moving stream, we don’t think of the volume of water, erosion or floods.  Rather, we hear the musical tones of its flow and delight in the deposits of cool spray on our faces.  In a word, it’s wonder–ful! (Click ‘Tonto Stream’ under Blogroll)

Patients in hospitals are not ‘admissions,’ ‘visits’ or ‘frequent flyers’ but rather ‘souls’ with stories to tell.  And if we, whom they have entrusted their whole self to, approach with wonder, how much more likely is it that healing–their’s and ours–will happen?

There are many lists of things to do to improve the patient’s perception of care (perceived but not necessarily real).  In my vision for the future, we will approach souls with the sense of wonder reserved for the highest form of God’s creation.  And we will step into these precious lives, walk alongside them quietly and create the opportunity of healing!

“The lasting pleasures of contact with the natural world are not reserved for the scientists but are available to anyone who will place himself under the influence of earth, sea and sky and their amazing life.”

–Rachel Carson

The Sense of Wonder

Is that a mountain stream that I hear in the distance?



Just read One Square Inch of Silence by Gordan Hemton and was moved by his thorough handling of finding quiet places in a noisy world. He quotes Mother Teresa: ‘We need silence to touch souls.’ he goes on to say, “A quiet place affords a sanctuary for the soul…it is a place to feel the love that connects all things…A quiet place is a place to open up all your senses and come alive.”

Where do you find your quiet place? Hint: Stopping gives us a much better shot at finding it.