Monday, June 18, 2012

Viridian Sienna

A  flowering tree whose name no one knew,
cried big tears of flowers and then leaves
all spring and summer long.
By when winter came, it lay deathly bare
They looked away from the eyesore.
At its age, it  should have known
how to make it past the drought.
Cared for itself until the barren acre
all around came alive and bloomed.
This past summer, the tree came alive.
Leaves resplendent green, flowers
blazing like fire - an eyesore still
in an acre of dull and dusty brown

Friday, June 08, 2012

Not So Special

I loved listening to this graduation speech (here is the video) and made sure I forwarded it on to J right away. Coming from a high school teacher makes it so much more significant than the rant of a disgruntled parent. Each time, an adult makes J feel like is she "special", I cringe a little inwardly. I have to fight my natural instinct to tell them to stop. She just about as special as a million other kids and it is very important that she realize her place in the grand scheme of things. In the least it will stave off a lot of disappointment that comes in the wake of misplaced expectations but more importantly, it will give her the impetus work hard at achieving her goals. I long for them to applaud her tenacity and her attention to detail instead. Recognizing, rewarding and encouraging those qualities may actually help her get ahead in life and find success. Everything in that speech is quotable (and kids would be served well to read and re-read it until they learn to tune out all everything they hear about being special) , but here is my favorite part :
In our unspoken but not so subtle Darwinian competition with one another–which springs, I think, from our fear of our own insignificance, a subset of our dread of mortality — we have of late, we Americans, to our detriment, come to love accolades more than genuine achievement.  We have come to see them as the point — and we’re happy to compromise standards, or ignore reality, if we suspect that’s the quickest way, or only way, to have something to put on the mantelpiece, something to pose with, crow about, something with which to leverage ourselves into a better spot on the social totem pole.  No longer is it how you play the game, no longer is it even whether you win or lose, or learn or grow, or enjoy yourself doing it…  Now it’s “So what does this get me?”  As a consequence, we cheapen worthy endeavors, and building a Guatemalan medical clinic becomes more about the application to Bowdoin than the well-being of Guatemalans.

Thursday, June 07, 2012


I read news about Natasha Tretheway being named poet laureate this morning. The name was unfamiliar until then but it was not too hard to find some of her poems to read. The Elegy dedicated to her father took on a very personal meaning for me today. My father was in an accident earlier this morning and now recovering in a hospital. It has been a few years since I saw him last. The picture of him laying unconscious and covered in mud in the middle of a busy market place kept coming back to me as I tried to carry on with a lunch meeting. The realities of his life could not be more starkly different than mine. Yet, there was a time when our lives were one, I lived in his world and in his protection. It is hard to fathom that my biggest source of strength may now be vulnerable.
Along with physical distance and time there has come a certain inability to traverse each others' realities. Then there was another picture of an old man bandaged and sedated alone in a hospital bed, the steady stream of relatives coming in and out to check on him. He is surrounded by people who care for him, those who are there to fill my void. I found myself wondering if I should go to India right away or wait until he was back home so I could actually spend time with him. Finally, after several hours I felt a deep sense of gratitude. He is still alive - I still have a chance to be with him. Today may have been the day, when I received much worse news. I felt blessed that the elegy will wait for another day.