Okay, I know I warned you that it would be all peaceful, calm photos from here on out, but when we learned that yesterday might be our last day of good weather before we returned to Houston, we decided we needed to get up and out and make the most of it.
So, what do you do when you're in Galveston on a misty, overcast day with three energetic kids?
You go to the Pleasure Pier, of course.
Yesterday, at SXSW, the venue where I spoke had a DJ on the sidewalk. These Girl Scouts who attended my panel couldn't help themselves: they busted a move right then and there.
And if that's not a textbook definition of "light," I don't know what is.
Okay, technically this isn't a photograph of light -- light has been in short supply lately around here, it's been pouring buckets -- but this is my favourite flowering tree in Houston, and I've been wanting to share this photo with you for a few days now.
It's been sloggy and sloshy, but it's getting warmer -- and the flowers are definitely coming.
I think winter is over.
This is spring.
And the promise of more light.
This was a good week. Here's the proof:
• Had a long phone conversation with a good friend, Marcus and I have a date night tonight while Alex has a sleepover with a close friend, and I discovered a new breakfast taco place. Score.
• My friend Ernest beautifully describes "going native." As another person who always seems to look local, no matter what country I visit (with the exception of China), this felt really familiar.
• And speaking of Scandinavia, my friend Lola shares photographs of her beautiful city, Stockholm. Feeling a bit of a wanderlust itch, man.
• I'm not a person who is generally seduced by advertising, but this commercial totally got to me. Beautiful.
• Seven international cultural concepts. I should incorporate a few in my own life.
• Almost at the very last minute, I've learned that I'm going to be a panelist at this event this weekend, at 4 p.m.! If you're going to be in Austin for SXSW, I'd love if you'd stop by.
• And finally, for today's song of the day, I'm republishing an old favourite: Home, by Johnnyswim. This video was filmed in Galveston, just south of Houston. And as it happens, spring break begins this weekend here in Houston, and we're headed to Galveston to spend time with our good friends Trish and Carl, and their kids. The last time we all had a vacation together was New Year's 2014 in Santa Fe (where Marcus and I took the photo at the top of this post), and we love hanging out together. Should be a great time.
Anyway, click here or on the image below to watch.
Have a great weekend, friends. (And I hope I see some of you at SXSW!)
I have spent an entire 24 hours traveling in airports and planes before arriving at my destination, taking a quick shower, and hitting the streets to shoot in foreign countries without missing a beat. Jet lag ain't got nothin' on me.
But let daylight saving time fall on a raining weekend?
Man, I am undone for 7 days, minimum.
Yesterday, I gave a talk at a charity luncheon on the topic of the ripple effect of kindness -- like tossing a pebble into a pond, even the smallest act of kindness can have an effect that continues longer and farther than we can imagine. In my talk I shared a few stories, but I loved one in particular, about Bishop Desmond Tutu. I'm ashamed to say that prior to preparing for this talk, I knew very little of his life -- I knew he was an Anglican bishop, of course, and I certainly knew that he is committed to the equal rights of all people, and that his work earned him a Nobel Peace prize. But I didn't know anything about his childhood. So I thought I'd share what I discovered about him with you today, for two reasons -- first, just because it's a cool story.
Desmond Tutu was born on October 7th, 1931, in Klerksdorp, a city in the north west province of apartheid South Africa. He was one of 4 kids, and the only boy. His father was a teacher, and his mother was a cleaner and a cook – a domestic – at a school for the blind.
One day, when Desmond was about 9 years old, he was walking in the slums of Sophiatown, a suburb of Johannesburg. He recalls what he described as “a white man in a black cassock” approaching. The man was Trevor Huddleston, the neighbourhood’s parish priest. As he passed Desmond and his mother, he doffed his hat – and Desmond was flabbergasted. At that time, the idea of a white man showing respect to a black woman -- a domestic, no less -- was unheard of. When he expressed his surprise to his mother, his mother explained that the white man was a priest. At that very moment, Desmond decided that he also wanted to become an Anglican priest. In subsequent years, he learned more about Trevor Huddleston (who was, himself, a staunch anti-apartheid activist), and he came to understand that Huddleston’s small show of respect to his mother was consistent with his theology that, as he says, “every person is of significance and infinite value, because they are created in the image of God.”
We know the rest of the story, of course: In 1960, Desmond Tutu was ordained an Anglican priest, following Huddleston’s footsteps, as he had vowed when he was a little boy. He became bishop of the country of Lesotho in 1976, where he also became the Secretary-General of the South African Council of Churches. He was an outspoken voice against apartheid, comparing the rule to Nazism. The government of South Africa twice revoked his passport, and he was jailed in 1980 because of a protest march. He has worked tirelessly with the United Nations against poverty, HIV/AIDS, racism; and for gay rights, women’s rights, and even climate change legislation. And of course, in October 1984, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He is a prolific writer and author, and continues his work to this day.
Now. There’s obviously no disputing that Bishop Tutu is a brilliant, determined, hard-working, passionate man, and there is certainly an argument that he was destined for greatness under any circumstances. But what if Trevor Huddleston hadn’t shown a simple kindness to Bishop Tutu’s mom that fateful day? What if instead, he had simply been preoccupied with his work as he was walking those Sophiatown streets, and simply passed them, without giving them a second look? Since Bishop Tutu himself says that the encounter was a defining moment of his life, I venture to say that without it, it is at least possible that he would not have become a priest, let alone the Bishop Tutu that we know now. And considering the millions of people whose lives Bishop Tutu changed, it is breathtaking to consider that all of that magic might have simply been triggered by the witnessing of a simple, kind act.
The second reason I'm sharing this story with you is because, as is often the case when I'm preparing a talk, I find myself saying the things I most need to hear myself. This story stuck with me because lately, news events (up to and including one this week about a few University of Oklahoma frat boys who appear to have lost their ever-loving minds) have me feeling, to put it bluntly, really really angry. But I guess the truth is that there will always be news events that anger, won't there? The trick, I suppose, is harnessing anger, and transforming it into determination -- keeping my mission in mind and staying the course.
And remembering that kindness, ultimately, always wins.
My point, I suppose, is best said by that sage of the ages, cartoonist Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert comic strip (stay with me, here). Adams is known for his satirical works, but I think he was being totally straight when he said “Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple, with no logical end.”
And so I challenge you (and me) to think of this as we go through our daily lives. Let's continue to be nice to one another. Let's not hesitate to pay a compliment to a friend, or child, or even a stranger; and let's fight for the disenfranchised, calling out negativity, violence and discrimination when we see it. Hell, let's become addicted to doing acts of kindness -- in little ways, and in great big ways. Because ultimately and collectively, I believe that all these acts of kindness, and the ripples that inevitably result, might actually be the key to changing our world for the better.
Just look at Trevor Huddleston and Desmond Tutu.
Song: Higher ground by Stevie Wonder
Last week, an article by humourist Dave Barry -- about how hard his parents used to party when he was a kid -- came across one of my social media feeds. I remember seeing the headline and knowing that I wanted to read it at some point; irrationally, instead of bookmarking it in my browser, I printed it out, and read the hard copy on my couch a few days later.
I enjoyed it, so I read it to Marcus later -- and then I realized that I miss reading columnists. I'd forgotten how much I loved Dave Barry. And Mitch Albom. And Gail Collins. And even Erma Bombeck, back in the day.
I realize most of these writers still write, but I don't read newspapers anymore. Also, I remember that back when I first started blogging, I thought that bloggers were going to be, essentially, the next generation of columnists: that the really good ones would become famous for their long-form, insightful and incisive observations.
I also find it interesting that when I wanted to read this long article, I automatically printed it out -- I tend to expect my online reading to be short, pithy, before I move on to something else. But if I tend to only read long-form on paper, I don't read papers anymore, and I expect my online reading to take 2 minutes or less ...
... well. Maybe it's time for me to be a bit more patient online, and keep seeking long-form, insightful and incisive observations. Even if it means my printer is going to end up getting a workout.