Sunlight flooding landscape and vision-scapeSurrounded by ubiquitous green - trees, grass, stems, ivy
Dancing with my beloved upon waking
A quiet home space
Water running, shadows on the floor
Hot shower, typing fingers moving
Mind open, hearing, seeing
Pictures of family, Earth, bodhisattvas
Old wood, bamboo, wicker, ceramics
Icons everywhere, cushions, an altar
Decades remembered, a present moment
Full of feelings, thoughts, anticipations
Tapas lunch with my beloved
Pizza dinner and ice cream with kids and grandkids
Tomorrow’s party in our home filled with family
What is this life? For me, for others?
How create a world that works for everyone?
When I was young I did not think that I would live a long time. Both my grandfathers died in their early 50s although my grandmothers both lived into their 80s and 90s. The decades start piling up mysteriously: the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s . . . Is 71 a lot or a little, normal or extraordinary? My wife of 35 years died at 60. I was 59. I have now lived 12 years longer than she. This is so weird. We got married in our 20s and grew up together. How can she be gone these 12 years? Having remarried, my beloved wife is now 59 going on 60. I am worried. What might happen next year? I hope that she will live a very long time. In the meantime, my age advances. A psychic friend told me a few years ago that I will live a very long time. I don’t know if she is right but I will find out sooner or later. What is this notion of a lifetime anyway? Jesus died at 33, Martin Luther King Jr. at 39. The oldest person alive today is 116. Actually my real question is the one I have asked my whole life. How can I be useful? What can I contribute? How can I offer my ideas and skills to help others, to bend history, to catalyze a compassionate civilization? When I was a little boy my great aunt, who lived to 103, used to say to me “Rob, I hope that when you grow up you will be a useful man.” This stuck with me and I have been asking myself ever since, year after year, how I might do this. By some measures I have done a lot. I have worked in over 50 countries promoting sustainable human development in poor communities and in powerful organizations and now teach graduate students models and methods of innovative leadership, strategic planning, organizational development and project management. But how long will I be teaching, consulting, speaking and writing? How long will I be healthy in body and mind? Will there be a time when I am no longer “useful?” How useful am I now? To whom? By what criteria? And then there is the certainty of death. May I let go of this life in gratitude. And what did I contribute to the civilizing process? Did I help mitigate climate chaos? Did I help create societies in which each being can realize her/his full potential? May the next seven generations do so! May it be so....................
Photo above: My mother, dad and me