Friday, June 25, 2010

Gift and Giving

Fifty nine years ago, the monk and mystic Thomas Merton became an American citizen.

A day of gift for the nation and for the monk.

A Year With Thomas Merton includes this entry from his daily journal on the stuff of gift and giving,

"All that matters is to give everything, and the quicker the better. Fighting, struggling, rebelling and delaying make it harder, but not more meritorious. On the contrary, less. So it is fruitless to multiply difficulties and delays. Give everything and give it in the quickest possible way. All that matters is the gift. That is what...converts the world and leads us into the joys of heaven even here on earth."

-- tim

Twitter @tjmorin

Friday, June 18, 2010


(EDITORS NOTE: This post is from the book LOVE, YOUR MOTHER which may be purchased here.)

He taught me directly or indirectly most everything I know. Just like Mom. Only different stuff.

Like tossing a baseball. And punting a football. Shooting a puck. Paddling a canoe. Even sleeping in a canoe (to avoid pesky bears in a Boundary Waters Canoe Area wilderness camp).

Dad taught me how to drill a hole, read a level and hammer a nail. How you check the oil, then how you change the oil and, yes, the filter too. And how to check the tires and read a map.

Dad is very good at folding maps. But this he couldn't teach me. I was incapable of learning this. I thank God and believe Dad goes along in thanking God for GPS and iPhone Google maps.

He taught me how you grow up. How so much of growing up is about how you get out of bed every morning to go to work. And how you have to work really hard at working for something, so everything at home can work well.

Dad taught me how to be a husband and a dad, hopefully for the good of my wife and our four kids. He showed how much of being a dad is about simply showing up, being there. And in watching Dad move about so simply, I now know that showing up and being there is not as simple as it looks and sounds.

Dad taught me all this and much more across my fifty-two years. I love Dad beyond words. Mom too.

A lot of my life has been lived pretty well because Dad and Mom taught me well; their primary lesson in life being about the life that I live is mostly the sum of choices I make. And most of my choices have turned out okay, chiefly because of all I learned from Dad and from Mom.

It wasn't until Mom died that I learned the greatest lesson from Dad. And, yes, this lesson also comes from Mom too, though she's now gone from this world.

The night of Mom's birthday in this past March, Dad was sitting at the supper table amidst us kids, and our spouses and grandkids. This was Mom's first birthday during which she wasn't among us to mark the day; the first time Dad celebrated this day alone with us and without his beloved 'Mac'.

Dad wanted all of us to know that Mom and he had many visits about this very moment, when this time in life would arrive in our family, time when one of them would move on in death without the other. When one of them would depart, leaving the other behind.

When you're married to someone for fifty three years, I thought, this must be must be the rawest of conversations.

I don't know this kind of conversation just yet. My wife and I have not had one like it so far. I suspect we're not quite there yet on our journey as husband and wife, as mom and dad, even though we've been on this journey ourselves nearly thirty years. Truth is, it still seems like yesterday when we were having those soul-lifting conversations about making life together, the joy and anticipation of it all.

I wonder if this sense of time-running-in-place ever changes. If it'll still seem like yesterday when my wife and I come around to having the visits Dad told all of us that he and Mom had over recent years. I suspect it will still seem like yesterday, those days when life was ripening.

And then, boom!

Somehow, suddenly there’s awareness that life has toggled you ahead, unconsciously on fast-forward. How you’ve zipped along to those raw and poignant moments that sink way deep, when you realize that all this long living is closing toward the end, even though it still feels as if life just began.

How much deeper can two people go than when they chew on the end of the loaf together; chew on all that life and all that living they have shared together; chew on the end of life and of lives together, at least, as they have been known, kneaded and knotted in and by this world?

“Your mother and I committed to one another that, when either of us dies, life here would continue for whoever’s left behind,” Dad said to us. Though different, though heartbreaking, though rooted in rich, deep and countless memories, Dad said, “Mom and I committed to each other to carry on living life to the fullest extent possible for the remainder of our days when something like this happens. So, you know, that’s just what we’re gonna do now.”

For Dad, so far so good. Sixty days after Mom died, Dad made his way to Florida for ten days this spring. He soaked up sun, and the Minnesota Twins, and Spring Training Baseball action. Oh my! For Dad, life doesn't get any more full than the Minnesota Twins and spring baseball.

Greater than anything Dad and Mom taught me over the years, far greater, is what it means to work toward, and what it looks like to become, and what it sounds like to live together as perpetually hopeful people in an enduring relationship; two lovers who loved to live, and who lived to love in such a way as to see their lover live life to the fullest, in pursuit of their dearest desires, in pursuit of all that life has to offer, and to desire and pursue this even in the aftermath of one or the other dying.

You wonder what that kind of living and loving sounds like?

To me it sounds like the words in the poem ASCENSION from Colleen Cora Hitchcock, a poem Dad read to all of us the night of Mom's birthday just as we gathered for supper. Words Dad and Mom read to one another in times before, words which they believed spoke well of love and of life, and of love of life after life,

And if I go
While you're still here...
Know that I live on
Vibrating to a different measure
Behind a veil you cannot see through.
You will not see me,
so you must have faith.
I wait for the time when we can
soar together again
both aware of each other.
Until then, live life to its fullest!
When you need me, just whisper
my name in your heart...
I will be there.

Dad's life and his way of living now are rich, fresh lessons for me; teaching me words and sounds of love and life, of living and loving, of love alive in life after life.

-- tim
(EDITORS NOTE: This post is from the book LOVE, YOUR MOTHER which may be purchased here.)

twitter @tjmorin

Friday, June 11, 2010

Too Small To Fail

This headline comes from my friend Brad Lehrman, a serial jobs creator and venture capital guy. Brad has the best idea I've heard since America became a bailout nation for those too big to fail.

"Take $50 billion in repaid or unused TARP funds and seed every state with $1 billion in venture capital to be invested by venture pros in the best new business models emerging locally," says Brad.

You know like I know those too big to fail are low horsepower new job engines. Small business and entrepreneurs create most of America's new jobs and have for years.

Brad knows this first-hand. Several years ago he put together a network of angel funds that invested in 20 startups. Today those companies employ hundreds of high-paid workers.

Imagine this.

One guy's creativity and initiative leads to hundreds of good long-term jobs.

One guy!

Brad's got the chops to create jobs. I'm learning this as we work together on the board of a nifty emerging organization focused on next-generation journalism, Round Earth Media.

Imagine if every state organized 100 professionally qualified private sector people like Brad directing $1 billion from a total pot of $50 billion in venture funds to well vetted startups in clean energy or med-tech or social media or transportation or other promising 21st century stuff.

That could add up to almost four million new jobs if each venture pro was like Brad and invested, say, $500,000 in 20 startups that employed 37-38 people each.

"It's not about too big to fail now," says Brad. "We simply can't afford to let good emerging small companies fail or never get launched due to nervous bankers or cautious venture funds."

Let's face it. Cash is the catalyst, according to Brad. Chatter about tax breaks, shovel-ready stimulus programs, great research universities and the like won't solve our jobless problem anytime soon.

Jobs are the only thing that'll fix joblessness.

And, according to Brad, it's the enterprising small business operator who hires fast and who needs cash to get it on.

I'm for Brad and his idea.

We tried TARP. We blew our wad on stimulus. We got distracted by wars and health care reform. Nothing's worked when it's come to creating work. The smart honchos on high are running low on answers.

Time now to fund America's innovators and entrepreneurs.

Time to admit Census Bureau jobs aren't the recipe for recovery.

Time to believe that America is, as Brad says, "too small to fail."


twitter @tjmorin

Friday, June 4, 2010

Honchos on the Run

Big Banks. Big Motors. Big Government. Big Church. Big Oil.

Honchos are dealing with lots of big problems these days.

And those who follow honchos demand answers.

Answers tailor-made for each about how to fix that nasty other out there in the dark drama surrounding us.

You know like I know there's gonna be hell to pay if honchos can't get me the answers I want. Time to get us a fresh crop of honchos with new, sure-fire answers to beat back the evil other always in my way.

What a spectacle to see honchos without a clue acting like they have all the answers meeting up with the self-endowed omnipotence of followers who think griping equals wisdom and action.

Ever wonder if the solution to a big problem begins not with grand answers but instead a simple question? Not for all those honchos on the run, this question is for the rest of us standing by,

How might I respond and focus my energy to make a difference, with guts, creativity, sacrifice to do something, anything to help solve a big problem in some small way?

One other question,

How about we turn off talk radio and cable until we actually work together to fix our big problems?


twitter @tjmorin