Martin Luther King, Junior Day

So, I wrote about Martin Luther King, Junior day 2 years ago. Someone just sent me an email making reference to the link and I appreciate that. Because I'm happy to revisit to conversation. So 2 things I wanted to talk about here were 1) MLK Day this year and 2) a follow-up on what I said in 2007.

So this year. Two weeks in. As a country, I feel like we have been through a lot in the last year. It's kind of like how I try to explain why people are (usually) so nice in the midwest. I think that when you go through a harsh winter, there's this force that bonds people together; as if they have just "survived" something . Hey, that explanation is as good as any other, unless you tell me that there truly is something in the water ("friendly funk?"). As a country, we are still going through something. Good gawd, it's stressful (I get all itchy when I am under's really charming). I haven't turned on the TV news today and I don't plan to until tonight. It's too-too much.

I was fascinated by the US Air water landing in the Hudson. Not the dynamics of the landing itself, but just the idea that if ever there could be a good time for something like that, this is it. That people want something to believe in. That "Sully" gave us someone to look up to. I do hope we leave the poor man alone after we properly thank him. I have no doubt that some of those passengers will have PTSD, so it's not all sunshine and rainbows. But my point is that something amazing happened where something truly dire was expected. And this allowed us as Americans to stop all our fretting and focus on something good. And boy did we need something good to focus on. And I hope that we all remember that good stuff is coming our way.

And now we have something else. I'm taking MLK day as an opportunity to focus on how far we have come as a country. And in my own "Heather way", my plan is to meditate on it later today. I'm not kidding. I am going into my quiet room, closing the door and sitting quietly to really think about where we have been, where we are now and the incredible impact of the election of our first African American President. Mindful meditation is awesome. Regardless of political party, I think we can all agree that tomorrow is an important day for our country. It feels like progress. I want to soak it in. And so that is what I am going to do.

OK, now the follow-up on what I wrote. Well, there's good news and bad news. First of all, I should probably say that when I wrote that post, I had no idea what life had in store for me. Because when I wrote it, I had no idea that my life would be hitting some bumpy patches (and by bumpy, I kind of mean those nail strips that cops use to stop a car chase). I feel so great right now, so all is well (no need to revisit all that old stuff), but my point is that the last 2 years have been a little to say this....self involved. Not my choice but totally necessary.

When I look back at that blog post, I feel that someone truly earnest wrote that. And while my intention remains the same (to experience other lifestyles), it has played out differently than I thought it would. So going to more cultural events at work: FAIL. But learning more about other cultures, religions, etc.? I think I get a solid B on that. It's funny to look at the comments to that post because there was mention of Australia and New Zealand and the Chinese New Year. Since that time, I have been to Australia. And as of now, I have plans to go to New Zealand (more on that in a future post). And my role has changed since that post to include supporting our global development centers (including China) with research and programs. So learning about different cultures has been more of a trickling of information than a waterfall. But I am enjoying it so much.

As a non-practitioner of any religious tradition, I had also intended to learn more about other life philosophies as a spectator. Funny how life has different plans. With all that has gone on, I felt some kind of need for a guiding philosophy to make sense of things. And I found Buddhism. I don't think that I have done what I have to do to be able to comfortably call myself a "Buddhist". I think of it more as a life philosophy than a religion for sure. But I am using what I have read on the principles of Buddhism in my life. You know, so when I get all stressed out and itchy, I remind myself to be present; to observe the feelings but not let myself be defined by them. See? Good stuff!  And I hope to be able to find a resource for more intensive instruction (any local Buddhists out there that can help me out?). I had thought about trying some kind of retreat, but then the opportunity to go to Fiji crossed my path (because I'll be close-by in NZ) and I decided to make my own retreat. But I definitely am being drawn toward some kind of instruction.

So where I think I was looking for about specific things I could do to learn more about other people, I find that what I was looking for became less of a "field trip" and more a part of my life. And it all came at a time when I needed it (aww, you didn't think I was going to draw that parallel, did you?). I'm now living my water landing. There's always the specter of the cold water, but I am here and I am well.

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