Remembering How to Fly

Photo © Hane Selmani 2015

I think that all of us are like eagles who have forgotten that we know how to fly. The teachings are reminding us who we are and what we can do. They help us notice that we’re in a nest with a lot of old food and old diaries, excrement and stale air. From when we were very young we’ve had this longing to see those mountains in the distance and experience that big sky and the vast ocean, but somehow we got trapped in that nest, just because we forgot that we knew how to fly. We are like eagles, but we have on underwear and pants and shirt and socks and shoes and a hat and coat and boots and mittens and a Walkman and dark glasses, and it occurs to us that we could experience that vast sky, but we’d better start taking off some of this stuff. So we take off the coat and the hat and it’s cold, but we know that we have to do it, and we teeter on the edge of the nest and we take off. Then we find out for ourselves that everything has to go. You just can’t fly when you are wearing socks and shoes and coats and pants and underwear. Everything has to go.

Chapter 22 ‘Train Wholeheartedly’ – Start Where You Are, by Pema Chödrön, The final chapter

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Let’s Change the World and have fun doing it!

When I was younger I wanted to change the world, make it a better place and find some way to connect to it through an altruistic based form of artistic expression. As a musical composer and professional dancer I was fortunate enough to tour Europe, South America and the United States. Living and working, sometimes for extended periods of time, with other people and cultures became an essential ingredient to my life. Bridging between these cultures, my own and the country financing our endeavors (Pro Helvetia of Switzerland) was an integral part of everything I did and something I developed into a core strength and asset, which I leverage to this day.

At the time I was often struck by the odd sense of entitlement which was often present in artists, arts organizations and much of civil society. The sense that the work we did should be funded merely, because we believed it was important and an essential ingredient to society. As things would have it the money ceased to flow quite so readily. I was then in my thirties with a wife and three children in tow. Circumstances required that I approach things differently. Fortunately, over the years I had developed computer and electronics skills which had allowed me to supplement our material needs. This became my fulltime occupation. Initially I continued traveling, leveraging my technical abilities and love of the ocean. I supported oceanographic research on worldwide scientific expeditions. Here again, a world dependent on external funding. I found a happy place enabling the science and mediating between groups of international scientists, the American ship’s crew and the sponsoring institutions on shore.

My wife and adolescent children began needing me closer to home so we relocated to Seattle where I made the definitive transition from externally funded work to self-generated business and for 2 years I worked in a small scientific instrument manufacture’s sales department and then later for Microsoft where I have been for almost eleven years. Here again I gravitated to connecting divergent worlds; first as a lead for the company in the development of international standards and then for the past five years working with government policy makers in Africa and the Middle-East, assisting them to understand the social and economic impacts of technology on their societies as well as helping them understand Microsoft’s business practices and the value of the commercial software model. Working with civil society, international organizations as well as bridging efforts with the open source software community fills a large part of what I do today. I am also internally focused on trying to broaden and shift behaviors towards what I believe to be more inclusive approaches and the moderation of extremes in how we live and work.

Pure capitalistic behavior is no longer socially acceptable, nor the best (most successful) way of doing business. Living entirely from the charity of others without showing some form of return or means of self-sustenance is also not fully functional or sustainable. Public private partnerships are becoming more and more common place and the boundaries between government, civil society and private enterprises are fading. We are witnessing a positive trend in growth of hybrid organizations, for-profit non-profits and “social business” (M. Yunus).

I still want to change the world and make it a better place. My personal mission is to contribute to the sustainability of our planet and improve the quality of life for all of its inhabitants. This requires personal empowerment and satisfaction, the ability to work constructively within my immediate group and in turn for my group’s ability to interoperate and positively contribute to and with the global community.

The interconnectedness of today’s world makes acting without some form of socially global awareness virtually unthinkable. Building this social consciousness and working at the points of intersection between our differences, not eradicating them, could lead to unparalleled opportunities for a broad range of people as well as the world in which we live. I continue to focus upon that and my aim to make a positive difference in the world and have fun doing it!


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when did you forget you were a flower?

There is beauty in everything. Seeing it may require a shift in perspective (or even altitude). A friend’s post on Facebook this morning, commenting on a lame poem from a US politician to his mistress triggered a memory of one of my favorite poems: Sunflower Sutra, by Allen Ginsberg.

Allen’s art may outshine the governor’s – but who knows, perhaps his words were perfect and his objective reached with the intended audience? The beauty within the Sunflower Sutra, a depiction of a dead flower in an abandoned train yard has always left me speechless.

Finding the beauty contained in all things, is where one of the ingredients to living Sustainably Free comes into being. Feel free to replace the word beauty with ‘spirit’, ‘essence’ or another word, which better aligns with your system of thinking.

Do you remember the scene of the flying plastic bag in American Beauty?

We all need to remember this and allow it to enter our lives as often as we can…

photo © 2008 m.thatcher    

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Punny check in :-)

Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, so they lit a fire in the craft. Unsurprisingly, it sank, proving once again that you can’t have your kayak and heat it, too.

From – Jeaneen R. Schmidt CPCC, PCC www.jrscoaching.com

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Singing with a common Voice

The Church of St. Anne in Jerusalem was the highlight of my visit to the city earlier in November: This 12th Century Crusader’s church was build at what is considered the birth place of Anne (Hannah), the mother of the virgin Mary.

The space is extraordinary – and what is truly unique is the sound quality within the church. Church groups and individuals come from around the world to sing in this magical space. The harmonics and overtones are beyond description. A single person sounded like a choir and a choir… simply magical – there was such a pull from the sound that one could not help but join the singing.

Below the nave was a chapel dedicated to St. Anne with the above wooden statue. There was a calm and quiet here that I’ve rarely felt. The music of the singers from above could still be heard, though was reduced volume and added to the gravity of this place.


If you are ever in Jerusalem, visit the church of St. Anne and sing with those who are there. Your voice will carry in ways which are truly free and sustainable.

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Happy New Year!

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having the both/and

Having one’s cake and eating it too was just rephrased to me as you will have the both/and.

Google defines this as

both/and “contrasted with “either/or”, a phrase encouraging the avoidance of black and white thinking that presumes there are no in-betweens, not …”

Clearly there is traction behind this expression as a quick web search brought me to several interesting hits such as



The BothAnd Project is a joint initiative of the Mainstream Media Project & the Harvard Global Negotiation Project

The objective of BothAnd is to shift the national conversation from destructive debate to creative problem-solving by demonstrating new forms of constructive interaction in the broadcast media as a catalyst to a broader transformation of our civic culture. 

Our goal is to replace either/or with BothAnd thinking as a more productive approach to divisive public issues.

Read more…

Even elements of the Catholic Church have a stance on this:

Consider the following proposition as a key to understanding the Catholic-Christian approach to theology:

The proper Catholic-Christian answer to any theological question is always
“both/and,” rather than “either/or.”

At first glance, this might seem ridiculous or contradictory. Isn’t God absolute? Isn’t there just one truth, as opposed to error?  Indeed, this proposal does not imply that a statement and its direct negation are both true (“A is B” and “A is not B”).  It would obviously be false to claim, for example, that “God is Love” and “God is not Love,” or “Jesus is divine” and “Jesus is not divine.”…

Read more…


More to follow as this has been a fun 20 minute search and end of year posting. May 2009 lead you closer to having the both/and and having your cake and eating it too!

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