31 Oct 2004, 4:44pm
Life Anecdotes Poem Drafts
Comments Off on Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween

breathe the steam
wet string-limp muscles
a typist and a teapot.

Links: My only recommendation is to check out the new and improved www.valleywritersguild.ca.

No, (pausing for a moment), let me think.

I could drum something up– want to see the most poetic 440 error screen I’ve seen?

This is interesting too — quizzes — want to see how rich you are, monetarily,
or how gifted you are?

(I’m only surfing in on those sites, not endorsing or not endorsing their purposes. Not sure how I feel about being part of viral marketing like this.

On one hand, if it serves my needs, why not wear the McDs cap, on the other hand, if I can avoid being an unpaid member of someone else’s agenda, why shouldn’t I? Cooperation and smooth path not sweating the big picture or pixilation vs. “autonomy”, parallel economies of non-compliance with moral-economical lives I don’t support.).

Anyhew, yellow jacket swarm of thoughts incoming so better get feet back to the ground and make practical tracks.

Menu: (future) tomato and cucumber sandwiches, and (past) 3 consecutive meals of cereal. (been a busy bee!)

Soundtrack: Washing machine, dishwasher, police sirens, ambulance, shouts from street level and Yann Tierson music [Oddly enough, not significantly interrelated]

Feel pragmatic and calm. (Only literal bees under bonnets just now.)
Can you tell I’m supposed to be a bee? (It looked much better in the planning stages.)

Happy Halloween.

23 Oct 2004, 9:47am
On the Peace Path
Comments Off on Communicating with Angry Folk (mood: contemplative)

Communicating with Angry Folk (mood: contemplative)

Paradigm shifting beneath my feet: Remember people, not information about people.

What/How to communicate when your bias and energy levels are very different or you can’t get a fix on the intimacy level the person wants? In time with observation, you get better I’m told.

[Because another new eureka is that questions unanswered cause as much stress as a question with only one answer, I’ll run the understanding (parlour or anywhere) game suggested by Robert Conklin. (His eg. why did someone honk horn, look rushed? Imagine as many possible backgrounds to scenarios as possible to step into someone else’s life.. He’s late for work. Someone’s giving birth in the back seat. He’s stressed because he’s just been robbed and lost his job, he believes in speaking up for himself because no one will do it for him, he just got cut off in traffic and nearly hit by someone else and is feeling defensive, he slept in, he’s on his way to the garage and if he idles the car the engine will seize up, he has to keep going because someone great is waiting for him at home and every minute away is agony. Keep going yourself and see how many more frames of reference you can imagine. It buildings understanding greater than dismiss the s.o.b.)]

So, remedy for out of synch and testy moments: Use all the senses of proxemics, pause, tone, facial expressions, your powers of observation and actually ask without baggage. Or come back to the person later. Let them alter the silence. Or not. Let the relationship develop. For all the messy fields of data to resolve themselves into coherency which will take time but you weren’t planning to die today anyway were you? So let it roll. Patience.

But what about when your agenda is to actively listen now, (totally psyched) and you are being baited or rebuffed? There should be click, but isn’t. Let is go. It’s about people, not skills, not information. Life’s too short to drag over. Let it go. Not the lazy path of least resistance but the less followed course of waiting alert for a better opportunity.

What if the person isn’t interesting in engaging you healthily but wants a rant board and you aren’t prepared to give it just now? Stretch. Let threat drop within you. You can handle anything. Can you keep defenses at minimum? Hear what they really need. Is it to be heard, not to have a solution given? For them to express before they let it go? To clarify their thoughts? How genuinely important is it to them? How characteristic to show upset? Do they only want to get someone on their bandwagon? To get someone else angry to blow their top vicariously? To defray nervous energy? To intimate to you their fears and deepen connection? Idle tongue running? Don’t you jump to conclusions. And you can deal with yourself later. Would it do better or worse for you both to lose your cool?

If its not what you want, how do you redirect without shutting down or out? How do you decide when to walk away or how permanently? What is minimum force of anger to not overreact? Live and learn.

Once angerphobic, Johnny Moore reported in ‘Are brainy people allowed to rant?’e come round to the idea of anger as energizing,

I believe the world of organisations gets stymied if we subscribe to a narrow view of politeness and being positive…I really distrust the idea that some emotions are "negative" and others "positive

With one turn of my mind I can wholeheartedly agree. But with a turn of my gut, I get dissonance. Anger and receptiveness can’t coexist. Anger is a hardener. New data can rarely be admitted when anger is the bouncer. Anger only works if you can also let go of it again as easily as you grasp it. (Or is it then, performance art not genuine emotion?) Tightly contained anger can be a tool. Let loose, lived with, it destroys the hater but not hated.

Ticked off? Poem on it from 2000’s Ploughshares:
Patience Is a Virtue by J. Allyn Rosser, excerpted here:

“Let bygones be bygones,” say the weak-willed.
Ha! Watch where a bygone goes, and bottle it.
Appreciate your anger. Let it build…"

Powerful poem. (It would be hasty to buy the book on the basis of one poem but here’s another by the same poet, in Misery Prefigured from Southern Illinois Press, March 2001, ISBN 0809323834).

Everything has a time and place. Everything in moderation. Traditionally I would asterisks that and said *except for anger and a few other vices. I still have a lack of tolerance towards intolerance, anger, closedness, simplistically backing away from my own extremes as unacceptable while fine for others. I don’t have even passing resolution on this. A resolution is decided of course and then reinforced.

I have been [where] anger seemed to be the default mode of communication. While providing a degree of comical relief for everyone else within ear shot, endless ranting catapults us into the grand flush. This was anger that I had no time for. It was senseless [not] part of a larger process working toward something beyond itself — Experience Designer Network

K, I’m done thinking for now. And whaddya know, not even a headache to show for it. :-)

23 Oct 2004, 3:27am
On the Peace Path
Comments Off on Active Listening (mood: contemplative)

Active Listening (mood: contemplative)

Thoughts circling around the issue of the roles of ease and threat in the communicative dance and how to get it familiar and right. What constitutes well-done active listening? ? When faced with a world view that doesn’t map to yours, how do you keep yourself open enough to dissonance to hear and to not harden into a tiny subset of reality to clutch to the exclusion of the rest and of everyone else?

My thoughts are running wide circles obviously. A couple thoughts to start out and see what gels.

  • You train people to talk to you or not talk to you. — Robert Conklin
  • Bury the hatchet but remember where you put it. —Chinese Proverb via Wikiquote
  • Three feet of ice does not result from one day of cold weather.
  • Luke 15:7 "I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents
    than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent –New International Version, Bible
  • (Huh. Never noticed that before. 99% of us are wasting time in thinking we do anything morally wrong. Somehow I don’t expect that to be a popular interpretation for people on one end of the sin-selling business. :-p)
  • Before you can communicate your ideas you have to communicate your caring — overheard teacher

The fourth quote points to the underlying premise here which is that there is no subjective, moral better or worse but only outcomes that please you more, open doors that please you, or close off opportunities that would have liked.

There’s a time to not share yourself, but receive. Counter intuitively, jumping in with how you relate, your parallel samples or devils’ advocate counterexamples doesn’t build rapport, but steals back the floor from beneath someoneyou are trying to connect with, in some cases. Did you already know that?

Say too little and the conversation lapses to silence and then on to new people presuming your disinterest. Yet blurting, overlapping speech, questions to push forward (as much as being in my family culture signs of kinship, familiarity), can be just plain rude. Where there’s a formal pause between members of exchange, it is not a sign of their awkward discomfort or power struggles that needs to be interceded with “real chat”. (Who knew?) Blurting looks like not listening, and is not being in a listening frame of mind but a sharing frame or an organizational frame that can be unwelcome. (Funny how being explicitly being told that in a way I could absorb makes a difference).

Also — this just in — if conversation is going like a ping pong, that doesn’t mean active listening is achieved.
Conversation is not a demonstration sport, not a competition sport. Maybe not even a sport at all.

Even with the motions of mirroring subject, sounds, postures, agendas doesn’t mean that there is real solidarity. You could still be at cross purposes. This is obvious with ingenuine salesmen, slick players, but can also be the case when it looks like two like-minded people are on the same page. It doesn’t mean there is a conflict or will be. But just as lack of fighting doesn’t mean peace and fighting doesn’t mean lack of love, smooth nodding, conversation doesn’t mean agreement or even comprehension. Blast!

Active listening is more than paying attention. New extension: It is receiving. That is not to say the listening is a passive object or receptacle. It is empathy, emptying out self of bias, shifting your frame of reference to the other.

Active listening is not trying to force the narrative into the pattern of knowing you have already set up, but a jigsaw puzzle that looks at the disjointed disorganized narratives that is conversation, and patiently lets it flow. It’s enjoying the moment (a lovely revelation to this hedonist), presuming the good of the other, setting your reactivity on low but not disengaging. No glazing over of eyes, yet not speaking. Ooh, mais pour une bavarde, c’est dificile.

Active listening is at its core, caring and getting that across not by explicit compliments but meeting the other where they are at while taking that Type A personality and giving it a busy signal for now. It is a dance of the willing, the synchronized, the skilled and the lucky. It is diverting energy from reacting and deciding and categorizing as it comes, trusting you’ll remember the messy ensemble because it matters to you.

Words of the Day: clam up, calamity or calm

20 Oct 2004, 7:43pm
Buddhism, Various Religions Divertions Islam Light Philosophies
Comments Off on Faiths, religious and Otherwise

Faiths, religious and Otherwise

Right now we’re in Ramadan in Ottawa. It’s a month similar to the Catholic notion of Lent, of giving up ease a little appreciating God a little more. In Ramandan, you’re thinking of the poor, will distribute food directly or money for the poor, open your house to one and all, and spend the daylight fasting if you are able to.

It is also Navrati. We’re in the last third of the Hindu puja period, the one devoted to Sarasvati, the goddess of study, of the meditative process in acquiring knowledge and of all things that flow including water, music and language. Her 64 arts include vocal music, stencils for henna, conjuring, garland making, making music with water bowls, massage and care for body and hair, conundrums, stock breeding, fabricating machines, developing memory, poetic meter, verse, puns, manners, disguise and rules for success. Love that full-roundedness!

The 2005 Multicultural Calendar is ready to be ordered. I’ve got it every year for years. 480 religious, ethnic and national holidays and observances for 12 religions and a whack of countries with a description of each holiday, solar and lunar. This year the art is on a theme of dance and most likely up to their usual standard of sumptuousness.

From email rounds in case you missed it…

Have you been guilty of looking at others your own age and thinking … surely I cannot look that old?
You may enjoy this short story.
>While waiting for my first appointment in the reception room
> of a new dentist, I noticed his certificate, which bore his
> full name. Suddenly, I remembered that a tall, handsome
> boy with the same name
had been in my high school class some
> 30 years ago. Upon seeing him, however, I quickly discarded any such
> thought. This balding, gray-haired man with the deeply lined face was
> way too old to have been my classmate.
>After he had examined my teeth, I asked him if he had attended the local
>high school. "Yes," he replied.
>"When did you graduate?" I asked. He answered,
>"In 1971, Why?"
>"You were in my class!" I exclaimed.
>He looked at me closely, and then the SOB asked, "What did you teach?"

To me I hear the narrator with tongue in cheek and glint in eye at what a riot it is how true that is. In faith, we are all subject to time. Even if nothing had been said, gaze and body language would have said as much of the words.

We’re all in this wild ride of aging thing. Better than any other option really. Most of us do best under time or other constraint to fight against. That said, can’t say for certain I’d refuse certain immortality of body if my mind and EQ could keep developing. Ah well, live or live well.

This anecdote resonates and stays with me on many levels. As well as in a lot of other common things, it sets the principle that we we have more commonalities of perception than we’d like to admit, like just wanting to get gratific

12 Oct 2004, 11:56am
Photos Poets
Comments Off on International Writers’ fest and Wordlympics

International Writers’ fest and Wordlympics

I guess its a blessing to be too busy doing to be blogging.
But before any more time passes I want to put up a few pics and
links from the latest poetry whatnots. First links to the savory

And a couple poems from online with sources, first:

“Please oh please hurl
Bricks at institutions,
Else children will grow up
Thinking bricks only make walls.”
— by Mumbai journalist Harish Nambiar at Chowk in Wannabe

over roast lamb
in a/c tents
they discuss poverty

–by someone with the pen name Temporal in Ironies, at Chowk

It’s a pic-nick-fest from shots “stolen from stage”
at the International Writer’s festival. We missed photographing
some of the people in the John Newlove Memorial Issue launch on
October 2, 2004, but who we have are here with cropping more quick
and dirty than pretty but time presses, and I press back and on:

The music, and MC Amanda

The book is available for $5 while print run lasts
at the www.Bywords.ca store

More pics from the Writer’s fest site

Menu: Apricot bread pudding, mixed
grain rice with spinach, cheese sauce, brocoli, broccollli,
Brussel Sprouts.

Sound track: things slammed into drawers
and keys jangling as I’m bustling out the door. Pick up the hubby?!
Knew I was forgetting something! 😉

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