Words of wisdom

The December 27th edition of Krista Tippett’s Speaking of Faith featured an enlightening and inspiring interview with Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen. Dr. Remen is Clinical Professor of Family and Community Medicine at the UCSF School of Medicine and author of the books Kitchen Table Wisdom and My Grandfather’s Blessings.

Here is a sample of the wisdom I heard from Dr. Remen, whose perspective has been shaped by her personal experience facing Crohn’s disease.

“Science defines life in its own way, but life is larger than science. Life is filled with mystery, courage, heroism, and love. All these things that we can witness but not measure or even understand, but they make our lives valuable anyway.

“I have no answers, but I have a lot of questions, and those questions have helped me to live better than any answers I might find.

“The most important questions don’t seem to have ready answers, but the questions themselves have healing power when they are shared. An answer is an invitation to stop thinking about something, to stop wondering. Life has no such stopping places. Life is a process whose every event is connected to the moment that just went by. An unanswered question is a fine traveling companion. It sharpens your eye for the road. (From Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories that Heal).

“Sometimes what appears to be a catastrophe, over time, becomes a strong foundation from which to live a good life. It’s possible to live a good life even though it isn’t an easy life.

“The view from the edge of life is so much clearer than the view that most of us have, that what seems to be important is much more simple
and accessible for everybody, which is who you’ve touched on your way through life, who’s touched you. What you’re leaving behind you in the hearts and minds of other people is far more important than whatever wealth you may have accumulated.

How would I live if I was exactly what’s needed to heal the world?”

If this sounds engaging and inspiring, I suggest you listen to the program.

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Just one of those days

Boston Common from my hotel roomNor’easter coming up the coast, meeting cancelled, I spend most of the day in my hotel room at the Ritz Carlton, overlooking the swirling snow and the Boston Common.

While business meetings and traveling are staples of my life, a series of improbable events lead me to this place at this time.

How many people in the world stay at the Ritz Carlton? How many in the hotel get a room with a view of the Boston Common? How many happen to be here on a snowy day, with time to ponder the swirling snow?

Photo courtesy of my Blackberry.

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NH Presidential Primary

Voting dayThe 2008 New Hampshire Presidential Primary is over.

The votes have been counted — although they will likely be recounted; the candidates have flown off to Michigan, Nevada, and South Carolina; the phones have stopped ringing with messages from the campaigns and pollsters; the daily mail is noticeably thinner and lighter; some candidate signs have disappeared from the lawns; and it’s probably easier to find a hotel room these days.

About the only echo from Tuesday’s primary is the continuing discussion of why the polls were so wrong in predicting that Barack Obama would sweep the Democratic vote, when Hillary Clinton prevailed by almost three points (39.0% of the Democratic votes, versus 36.4%).

Beyond the theater of the primary season, which is always interesting and entertaining, it’s amazing to watch and participate in the process of selecting a presidential nominee. From my life experience, rarely does one have the opportunity to have personal access to a man or woman who may one day be the President of the United States. It’s quite a different perception from watching the 30-second attack ads and having the troubling sense that “we the people” no longer have access to our national government.

The rest of this year’s primary will test the historical importance of New Hampshire having the first primary in the nation. While the small size of the state and a strong tradition enable retail politics, the lack of diversity has been cited as a reason for allowing other states to have early contests (e.g., Nevada) or moving to a national primary (e.g., Super Tuesday). Whether this debate was a factor or whether it was the wide open race and the importance of the upcoming presidential election, it is very gratifying that 526,000 turned out to vote in New Hampshire. That eclipses the previous high turnout of some 396,000 in 2000.

New Hampshire set a good tone, and I am hopeful for the country.

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Perfect morning

An ideal start: a run through the Boston Common and along the brick streets of Beacon Hill, on a crisp and clear morning, the temperature around 40.

Conveniently ending across from Starbucks — one of my habits — then watching the people come and go. They are beginning their days, and I wonder about their lives and commitments.

Walking back to the hotel, I enjoy a long, hot shower. Along the way, I check in with Andrea, Grant, and Lori, wishing each of them a good day.

This morning, I have plenty of time before the meeting, time to think about what is important and to enjoy the gifts that have graced the beginning of my day.

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