January 30, 2006

Talking to the Departed

I will readily admit that I am not the most religious person in the world but I would say that I feel a sense of spirituality (and respect anyone's definition of those terms). I bring this up because this past weekend we completed staff and student leader training here at UW Oshkosh. Our keynote speaker was Toby Bares who works for our department and is also a successful men's soccer coach here at UWO.

Toby's speech was moving and very creative. As he candidly told us, while he brainstormed ideas for the speech he recalled a friend who had passed away a long time ago yet whom also had a big impact on Toby's life. Toby imagined what it would be like to 'channel' the words of his departed friend, as if his friend was present in the room addressing us instead of Toby doing so. I was truly moved by a speech that was both inspirational and light hearted as any reflection from a friend from heaven could be.

Loss is hard for all of us. Having someone be a big part of your life then one day not there often leaves us feeling empty and sad. Again, I applaud Toby for not only using his imagination to bring his friend close to our hearts as an audience, but also as an ongoing reminder to himself of someone who was truly special.

It gave me a new twist on an old idea. When I've lost someone, I've written them a letter, usually some time after their passing, as if they were simply away on a trip and I know I'd see them again eventually. The new twist is what would your friend, family member, whomever say if they could contact you right now and wanted to give you some good advice, or recall some funny and happy moments you've shared? What would they say? What if you did the same for a friend whom you haven't contacted in a while and just randomly lost touch with?

I believe that engaging ourselves in reminiscing is always good. Looking at old photos, letters, scrapbooks gives us a sense of depth to our lives and reminds us of the good people we've encountered. I think taking time to creatively write something we think a friend or loved one would say to us now after so many years of distance honors them, and gives us an opportunity to see how those people have lived on in our hearts. It also allows us a chance for some outside perspective while reflecting on our own life (sort of like a WWJD with friends in place of Jesus).

Despite not knowing Toby as well, nor knowing his friend at all, through Toby's heart and imagination there were moments on Saturday night where I felt as if his friend was speaking directly to us. And I thank both of them for sharing a part of themselves with others.


January 25, 2006

Imaginable Immeasurable

This past weekend I was at home with my family. At one point my two nieces, ages 6 and 4 1/2 respectively, started an argument over their pretend jewelry. My mother does a very good job of getting the kids to use their imagination and provided them with some old, slightly tacky clothes for the girls to get dressed up as if they were going to a social. At one point my mother asked:

"Girls, how much do your rings cost?" To which my nieces replied:

"Mine's worth 1000."
"Well, then mine's worth more...it's worth a million hundred."
"I have a ring that's more than 50 hundred."

This got me to reflect on two things, both natural. First is the sense of one upmanship. To have something that is more than what someone else has. Some may say that this unhealthy for kids, but I don't know if I agree. You figure that my two nieces spend a lot of time together, and not too much time with other children right now (although they're both enrolled in different schools, I think they are just starting to form their societal connections). So part of their contrasting each other is a way for them to establish identity separate from the other. Yes, I'm sure there are more positive ways to do so, but there will have to come a time when they don't get the same presents out of 'fairness'.

More importantly is the concept of measurement. Even though their nomenclature is unorthodox (and probably inaccurate) without fully understanding the numeric system they seem to understand each other and that they are increasing amounts. I'm sure a lot of this would play into the fact that their brain is developing and trying to understand and link concepts. But it was fascinating to see how easy it was for them to create their own system without really knowing it. All because of their imagination.

I think for those of us 'older children' we need to be aware that we probably do the same thing. I'm sure that where ever you work there is some protocol for something. Someone had to create that. Someone had to imagine a group of people working through a system. A coach does the same thing. He/she draws up plays for the team for the players to act out.

So the next time you feel like you're not as creative as a friend or a coworker, just remember my nieces, and their invented numeric system.


side note: congrats, again, to Chris West. His notoriety has increased to the point where an assistant coach from a pretty large institution contacted him for information regarding a Wisconsin state player they were scouting.

January 20, 2006

Opening Statement

Now the the website is up and running, I've decided to take a cue from my friend Chris West (see link on the side) and write a regular blog. Expect random anecdotes, and strange thoughts. Don't be surprised to see some reviews of movies or entertainment as well. For now...

Good on Steve Carell for winning a Golden Globe for best actor in a comedy. Certainly after The 40 Year Old Virgin and Anchorman this guy deserves something (almost makes us forget about Bewitched). Even though he lost out to a great actor, glad to see Jason Lee get nominated as well for My Name is Earl. Lee should have gotten an Academy Award for Mallrats and/or Chasing Amy awhile ago. That's right...I said it.

I will also agree with Entertainment Weekly and their comment about the lack of recognizing comedies for best Motion Picture (or comedic roles for Best Actor/Actress). Jeff Daniels (who will probably be nominated for an Oscar) did once say that comedy is harder to pull off than drama.