Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Local eatery moves towards local/sustainable food

The Arbor Brewing Company restaurant announced today in their blog that they are going to try to develop a menu based around local or sustainable foods. I applaud this effort, and they will be getting more of my business in response.

In brief, they will look at "... all of our options for getting things that are locally sourced, sustainably and humanely farmed in ways that support the environment, support the animals, support the workers, and support our local economy."

Props to them!


Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanksgiving locally

piesIn the continuing "local food" project, I wanted to see how much of Thanksgiving dinner could be done with locally grown and produced food. It started with buying a heritage turkey from a local farmer, and escalated from there. Overall, we ended up with an almost completely local dinner, except for the pecan pie, cranberry relish, and a couple of ingredients.

Here's the menu we ended up with:

  • Narragansett Bronze turkey from John Harnois (Whitmore Lake, MI)
  • Roasted root vegetables: celeriac, turnips, potatoes, garlic with fresh thyme and butter
  • Stuffing from locally baked bread, onions, apples, celeriac tops, butter, fresh thyme, and dried sage.
  • Gravy from turkey stock, butter, flour.
  • Greens: spinach, turnip greens, and kale, with butter and garlic.
  • Cranberry-orange relish from Fresh Seasons market (too yummy to leave out!)
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Pecan pie
Other than the pecan pie, the only non-local ingredients were the flour in the stuffing bread, brown sugar, salt, pepper, dried sage, and bay leaves. I found a source for locally milled (and, presumably, grown) flour. Morgan & York sells a "boutique" flour from a mill in Argentine, Michigan (less than 50 miles from home). I used this flour to make the pie crusts and thicken the gravy.

Everything was delicious, especially the turkey. Honestly, it was the best turkey we've ever had. It was just over 7 lbs, which was pretty much perfect for our family of 4, and it cooked in less than 2 hours. I brined it the day before, and it was perfectly seasoned and nicely moist. The pie crust was also especially good.

Amy has found out that salt is produced in Windsor, Ontario, which is within 100 miles of here, so is local. We've just got to figure out how to get some (preferably without driving to Windsor.) And we could have done cranberry sauce, but we didn't know it -- Amy discovered tonight that Trader Joes had Michigan-grown cranberries -- Naturipe Farms grows cranberries in south east Michigan, although it appears they may distribute them via the west side of the state.

So, how about you? Maybe it's time to start thinking about your upcoming holiday meals. What local ingredients can you incorporate? What exotic ingredients shipped from far away can you do without? And which ones can't you leave out?


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

On electronic publishing, copyright, and digital rights management

The introduction of the Amazon book reader, the Kindle, has spawned a flurry of blog posts. One that piqued my interest is The Future of Reading (A Play in Six Acts), which examines the implications of digital rights management in the ebook realm by contrasting quotes from Jeff Bezos, Richard Stallman, the Kindle terms of service, and others. The comments echo the usual arguments about how DRM is necessary, else the entire publishing infrastructure will collapse economically, and so on. Interestingly, as some readers point out, there is at least one publisher who is successfully publishing e-books with no DRM and apparently making a profit at it.

That publisher is Baen Books. The editor of the e-magazine Jim Baen's Universe, Eric Flint, is writing a column, "Salvos against Big Brother", on copyright, DRM, and why he believes that current trends in both are hurting readers, (most) authors and publishers. You can find the entire list on his "author page" at the magazine, but they're mixed in with a bunch of other stuff. In order, here are his articles:

A Matter of Principle, introducing the series.

Copyright: What Are the Proper Terms for the Debate?, discussing the history of copyright, its original intentions, and how many of the current issues were debated over 150 years ago.

McCauley on Copyright, the text of two speeches given in Parliament in 1841. In Eric Flint's words, "They are, no other word for it, brilliant—and cover everything fundamental which is involved in the issue."

Copyright: How Long Should It Be?

What is Fair Use

Lies, and More Lies, wherein he debunks the claims

The advent of digital media makes it so effortless to copy an intellectual creator's work that traditional notions of "fair use" have to be abandoned. In today's world, any sort of "fair use" will inexorably and inevitably lead to wholesale violation of copyright.

Therefore, fair use must be banned entirely—or, at a bare minimum, have tremendous restrictions placed on it.

There Ain't No Such Thing as a Free Lunch, addressing the question "Is it true that modern electronic devices have made copyright infringement "so effortless" that it has become—or threatens to become—a serious menace to legitimate copyright owners?" His answer is, "No."

In Books: The Opaque Market, Eric turns the issue around, "examining the many ways in which a non-DRM approach to electronic publishing can help the situation of authors and publishers."

Spillage: or, The Way Fair Use Works in Favor of Authors and Publishers, continues examining the issues raised in the previous essay.

The Economics of Writing addresses some objections to the theses posed in the previous two essays.

The most recent essay, The Pig-in-a-Poke Factor, continues the argument from The Economics of Writing.

I'm sure that Eric is not done with this topic, so you might want to bookmark Baen's Universe and check back every couple of months for the next installment.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Acceptance versus change?

At Zen Habits today, the question was asked "How do you reconcile acceptance with striving to improve?" My take on this again comes from the serenity prayer, May I have the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. When I truly understand this mantra/prayer, I also truly understand that acceptance is not "giving up." I do not believe that acceptance contradicts moving towards change.

Acceptance of the world and myself as it and I are, now, means, for me, that I do not have a false view of reality; that I am not looking at the world with rose-colored (or any other color) glasses; that I am not denying reality. Because only when I truly see who I am, what I am, where I am, how I am, in all humility*, can I begin to make real change.

Acceptance thus becomes the basis, the starting point, of true change. And if I live in acceptance, I do not have to strive for improvement. Instead, I can set realistic goals, and a realistic path that I can move along to achieve those goals. Improvement becomes a journey rather than a struggle. It is a journey that I can make in peace, accepting the change as it happens, and accepting, nay embracing, the turns, twists, dips, and climbs of the journey as an adventure.

If I live in the moment, in the now of the journey, I may notice side paths that lead me to a new journey, to a destination I did not envisage at the start, but which is better than the place I was aiming for. If, instead, I strive, heading always forward straight towards my destination, pushing through the underbrush, not accepting the path as it is, my journey will be harder, less enjoyable, possibly unfinishable if I encounter an obstacle that I can't push through.

Acceptance does not negate change. Acceptance enables change.

* Humility, to me, is the state of seeing myself clearly, warts all and accepting who I am. Dictionary definitions that come close are, "The quality or state of being humble in spirit. Free­dom from pride or arrogance. Absence of vanity."


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Knowing the difference

May I have
The Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The Courage to change the things I can,
And the Wisdom to know the difference.

This little prayer has been a key element in bringing about some changes in attitudes and actions. I have a tendency to want to take on other people's stuff. Stuff such as their problems, their activities, their needs, and their words. All of these as perceived by me, of course. The prayer reminds me that I can only really take on my stuff, and that I need to work to know the difference between my stuff and every one else's stuff. My stuff is things that legitimately belong to me, and are the only things that I can have any hope of changing directly. Your stuff and their stuff is the rest of everything. I can never change any of that by direct action.

This may be easiest to explain with some examples.

I'm in a theater, and someone is coughing or rattling their program. It's mildly annoying, but I can ignore it and pay attention to the performance. But, instead, I could very easily start worrying that the noise is spoiling the experience of others around me. (Yes, really.) Can I do anything about others' experiences? Absolutely not! Can I do something about my thought pattern? Absolutely yes! Now that I know the difference, I can change my attitude, stop worrying, and go back to enjoying the performance.

I am working with others on a project. I definitely have opinions about what needs to be done, and how it should be done, whether it's my part of the project or not. I might think that the way another person proposes to do their part is not the best way, and that I know a better way. But I have to remember that if the result of their work meets the requirements, then it oughtn't matter (to me) how they do it. If I try to jump in and tell them their way is wrong, I'll likely engender resentment rather than gratitude. If I know where the boundary is between my stuff and their stuff, and if I respect that boundary, then we'll work together more harmoniously.

When I was in college, a friend was date-raped. (We didn't call it that, then, but that's what happened.) I immediately started plotting how I could help her if she had gotten pregnant. To this day, I don't know whether she would have wanted or welcomed any such help. But my sense of her stuff versus my stuff was so weak, that I took it on, anyway. Luckily for our friendship, I never said anything about my "plans." It probably would have ended that friendship pretty quickly.

A friend annotates the prayer thusly:
May I have
The serenity to accept the things I can't change
(Everyone else)
The courage to change the things I can (ME!)
And the wisdom to know the difference.

I can hardly think of better words to live by.


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Selfish or Selfless?

On the Happiness Project blog, Gretchen Rubin writes about "Why it can be selfless to be selfish, or, how you can be generous by TAKING." She points out that "The pleasure of giving ... [requires that] someone must accept your gift. ... sometimes, you must be the selfish one, asking and accepting."

Yes! That is the essence of true community. Sometimes, we are the givers, and sometimes the receivers. It works best when we don't keep a tally, either. We give when giving is required; and we receive when we are in need, or when the other needs to give. It can be hard. We are taught from a young age that it is rude to take, and blessed to give.

Does it help to know that the giver is receiving pleasure in the giving? Can we receive it graciously without demurral? Why is it so hard to say "thank you", to accept the gift, to not say "oh, you shouldn't have!", to not be already plotting our return gift?


Salvation is not a solo act

Change is easier with a support group. Maybe it's a cheering section. Maybe it's someone to whom you are accountable. Or maybe it's a community that loves you and wants you to live to your fullest potential. In fact, I might ask, is it possible to truly change on your own?

I know that I can't. I need accountability. I need love and support. I wouldn't mind a few cheers, now and then — a few "atta boys". Because salvation is not a solo act.*

So who are my supports? They are many, and varied.

My family grounds me. They are always there. Families are complex, and we each have needs from each other and we each give to each other. I know that I cannot live alone, as much as I might wish it at times.

My church community is increasingly important. It is amazing to me now that I lived for so long without such a spiritual connection. Sunday services provide a community of fellow seekers. My mens' circle has reached an amazing level of intimacy, where I can expose my fears and hopes and find unconditional support in return.

In other mutual support groups, I find that I get so much back when I share of my own fear and experience, strength and hope, ups and downs. By exposing ourselves, we create a circle of trust wherein others can give equally of themselves. In giving, we receive so much more.

I have always found that accountability to another person is a huge part of successful change. When I was in grad school, a group of us signed up for an aerobics class. Because we were all going, we all went. When I tried to do the same on my own, after moving to Michigan, I failed. I needed the accountability to the group. That is why I am now recording my steps on walkertracker.com. There, I have a community who (might) notice if I slack. Even if nobody calls me on it, I feel the accountability, and I keep up my effort.

My thanks to PattiMST3K, whose post on community inspired me to finish this essay.

* Recently, the Rev. Dr. Tandeka preached a sermon titled "Celebrating our Connections: The Only Way the World Can Be Saved". A catch phrase from the sermon was "Salvation is not a solo act." It hit me in the heart.


Friday, November 2, 2007

Local meal #2

On Thursday, I decided to make dinner a local food meal. I had already purchased local (Michigan) gold nugget squash and apples (yes, there's a theme here -- those are items that are in season locally), and I still had some lettuce from the church garden. I cut the squash and some apples in half, put butter, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in the cavities of the squash halves, and put them into the oven to bake. But, I still needed something else to make it a satisfying meal.

Aha! Cheese! The Zingerman's Creamery makes cheese from local goat and cow milk. I braved the traffic (heavier than I expected) to the Creamery and got a nice aged round of goat cheese. They also had Pawpaw gelato, made with Michigan grown Pawpaws. The milk in the gelato is also local, although the sugar, vanilla, etc. are not. I deemed it "mostly local" and bought a small container for dessert.

Once back home, I cut the cheese round in half crosswise and put a disk of cheese into each squash to bake and soften. A few minutes longer, and dinner was ready. Yum.

I'm still trying to decide what to do about including bread products. There is wheat grown in Michigan (30,780,000 bushels in 2002) but I don't know where to find any. Adding bread to the menu certainly simplifies the planning process, but is it sufficient for it to be baked locally? Or does it need to be made from locally grown wheat, too? What do you think?


There are good people in this world

Yesterday, I accidentally left my ATM/debit card in the machine. I discovered it later in the evening, when I wanted to use it to buy ingredients for dinner. At first, I thought about the hassle of getting a new one, waiting a week or two for it to come, etc. Then I started worrying that someone had found it, sticking out of the beeping machine, and was even at that moment using it to buy hundreds or thousands of dollars of stuff on the internet.

When I got home, the message light on my phone was blinking. It was from the bank. Someone had found my card and brought it into the bank. I could come down and pick it up. I was at the bank when it opened this morning, and retrieved my card.

Thank you, whoever you are.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Nothing changes if nothing changes

This seeming tautology, which sounds like a Yogi Berra quote, is actually a pearl of wisdom. It tells me that if I want change in my life, I've got to do something about it. Nothing will change if I keep on keeping on in the same old way.

What can I do to effect a change? Here are some ideas that I've acted on:

  • Read a book on self-change and follow one or more of its suggestions. This blog is a result of a suggestion in Becoming a Technical Leader by Gerry Weinberg. He suggests keeping a journal, writing in it 5 minutes per day. He further suggests that if I can't do that, I will have trouble making more significant changes. This blog is my "journal", although I yet haven't managed one per day consistently.

  • Take a class in something new to you, and use it in your life. I recently attended a workshop at church on developing a spiritual discipline, and I've been trying to put pieces of it into practice.

  • Accept an invitation to do something that you're not quite comfortable doing, but that you wish you could do better. I accepted the challenge of being a "visiting steward" in my church's stewardship drive.

  • Look closely and honestly at yourself. Make a list of your assets and the areas where you'd like to change or improve. Look at the things you want to change and ask yourself why you do those things? What benefits do they provide? What other assets or benefits can you replace those with? Is it easier to make the change now? Pick one and work on replacing it. Then pick another. (This process is at the core of most 12-step programs, but you don't have to be in one to use it.)

  • Take a challenge that you're not sure you can accomplish, but that will be fun trying. I'm participating in a "365 project" on Flickr. For this, I take at least one picture every day and post it to my Flickr account and to the Project 365! group. It has been a challenge, and you can tell from some of the pictures I've posted that I don't always manage to get an interesting picture for the day. Also, I'm way behind in posting. But I'm still doing it, and still (mostly) enjoying it. I think that I look at my world in a slightly different way, on the lookout for photo opportunities, than before I started.

  • Tie your new activity to a social network. When I was in grad school, a group of us committed to attending aerobics together. We did very well, because we reinforced each other's attendance. The Flickr Project 365! group is another, and I'm motivated to keep my posting up, because there are online friends who will see them and give me feedback. I'm now tracking my walking with a pedometer, and recording it on walkertracker.com. I have "comrades" on the site, who will see my progress (or lack), just as I can see them. It helps to keep me motivated and diligent. I started out aiming for 5000 steps/day, and am currently at 9000 steps/day.
What other ways have you found to make changes in your life? How well do they work for you?


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Eating Locally

Today's sermon was "Food Sacrificed to Idols" (I Corinthians 8, 1-13). Or, "A harvest message about the price we pay for inexpensive food; about how our starving souls and the soul of the earth can again be nurtured and fed." What are the "idols" of today's world? The mega-corporations that control some 90% of food in the US. We were challenged to eat one meal a week that consists only of locally produced foods.

That was the second time in two days I had heard the idea, so I knew it was something I had to try to do. Since today is Sunday, I couldn't go to the farmer's market, and most grocery stores don't tell you much, if anything about the origin of the food you're buying. I ended up at the People's Food Coop.

For dinner, we had

Organic chicken breasts, grilled and smoked, "raised by Michigan Farm Families".
Organic green beans from Tantré Farms, steamed.
Squash grown in Homer Michigan, (might have been Sweet Lightning variety) baked, filled with
Applesauce made with apples and pears bought at the farmer's market, and starting to get soft.
Salad comprising leaf lettuce grown at the church,
radicchio grown in an Ann Arbor community garden,
and basil leaves from my back yard.

As I started to plan the menu, I realized that certain ingredients were not available locally, such as salt and pepper, olive oil (or any oil?) and vinegar. I couldn't sweeten the applesauce, because I didn't have any local honey (our white sugar might have been made in Michigan, but there's no way for me to tell for sure.) Luckily, it didn't need sweetening. I could have gotten local butter, but I didn't think of it until I was telling my daughter to put a pat of butter inside each squash. I don't mind the salt and pepper, because those have always been shipped, and the transportation cost per meal is tiny. I'm not sure I could give up olive oil, though. I probably could find locally produced vinegar.

Ok, so that was one meal. It wasn't too hard, but it raised a lot of questions. I can buy locally baked bread, locally made pasta, and the like. But where does the grain come from? Probably not anywhere nearby. Am I not able to have any grain products in my local meals? Or, is "locally made" sufficient? What if I wanted to use tofu? I can buy tofu that was made in Ann Arbor, but where did the soybeans come from? And it's still possible to find local produce, but what about in the dead of winter? Should I be blanching and freezing veggies?

And how about the spiritual aspect of this change? Did making and eating this meal feel different, somehow? Am I enriched by being closer to the producers of my food? Do I feel good that I "saved" some ounces or pounds of CO2 because my food wasn't trucked or flown long distances? Is it a good thing that I'm helping local producers of food keep their livelihoods, vocations, and farms?

I don't know. Certainly, I can answer yes intellectually to most of those questions. I think I'll have to keep doing it before I can know if my spirit is lifted, or whether I'm dragged down trying to find new ways to fix food from a limited palette.

Have you tried, or would you consider trying, to eat at least one meal a week completely locally? What rules would you use to define "local"? How do you think it has/would change your life?


Sunday, October 14, 2007


Recently, I participated in my church's Men's Retreat. The theme for the retreat was Take me to the river. In our "lodges" (small discussion groups), we explored our lives and beliefs using water and rivers as a metaphor. Each lodge session began with a guided meditation/visualization exercise in a river setting. We then explored ideas related to the meditation. I found it to be a great way to explore where I came from and to think about where I'm going and my relation to the community and the world.

One of the themes focused on "watershed moments". One of the men asked "what is a watershed moment?" Well, we weren't sure, so we had to talk about it. Back up a bit... What is a watershed? It is the region which drains into a river, lake or ocean. The Mississippi watershed, for example, covers most of the central US. One interesting feature of watersheds is that they nest inside one another. In Michigan, you might be within the Huron River watershed, as we were at the retreat. Or, you might be in the Grand River watershed by going a few miles west. Both eventually flow into the Great Lakes and are part of the St. Lawrence River watershed. On the other hand, if you're in, say, Colorado and you go west from Denver, you'll be moving from the Atlantic watershed to the Pacific watershed. So, moving from one watershed to another will certainly make a difference in your journey to the sea. It might even land you in a different sea entirely.

From this, we came to the notion that a "watershed moment" is one that has a significant impact on the direction of your life. Interestingly, you might not realize it at the time, as the boundary between watersheds need not be dramatic. But as you continue on your life journey, you can look back and perhaps see that one decision, that one branching point where you shifted from one journey to another.

In my life, there have been many such moments, some having a small effect, as my new stream rejoined the old a few miles downstream, and others making a much larger difference in the course and conduct of my life. In our lodge meeting, I identified one that, now half a decade down the line, looks to have been a big one. It didn't seem so at the time. It began with me seeking help for some troubles in my life. But that one decision had a snowball effect. As I started looking at myself, and waking up to my interior and spiritual lives, the change became more profound. I found my way back to the faith of my youth and started attending church regularly. Shortly thereafter, I joined the First Unitarian-Universalist Congregation of Ann Arbor as a member. I became interested in, and active in, our religious education program, did some teaching, and became a lay leader in the program. I went to a retreat. I joined a men's circle. I am reading and thinking about spirituality more than I ever did.

How big is this change? Did I cross the continental divide? Or am I just heading towards Lake Michigan instead of Lake Erie? I don't know. But I do know that my new journey is much more interesting than the old one was.

What have been watershed moments or events in your life? How do you think they affected the course of your life?


Stretching my comfort zone

I got an email from my minister asking if I would be a "visiting steward" for our stewardship campaign. In other words, would I go visit fellow congregants, asking them to pledge large amounts of money for the upcoming year. I'm not comfortable talking about money, let alone asking people to give money to a cause.

Well... That means I'm looking a "growth opportunity" in the face.

So, I said yes. On Wednesday, I attended a "training" session, where the campaign was explained, and we did some role playing. I haven't made my calls yet, though. I need to have pledges in hand by the end of October. That means that I need to make calls this week to set up appointments to meet in person. At which I will sit down, face to face, and ask them to make a significant contribution. I will need to talk about my pledge, and what it means to me. Whoof! Strangely, I am looking forward to it.

When were you challenged to take on a task outside your comfort zone? What did you do? If you took it on, did you feel fulfilled and enlarged, or did your fears come true? What will you do next time?

(I'm not doing too well at the "write something every day" thing, am I? I have started a bunch of these in my head, but it doesn't count until they're written and published, does it?)


Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Running away

Weinberg (see "Why the Chambered Nautilus") asks some hard (for me, anyway) questions. Here are related questions from the chapter "The second great obstacle to motivating others" that are hard for me.

  • What type of situation do you typically escape from? What is your typical escape pattern?
  • When was the last time you tried to convert some task to a technical task of a type you were better equipped to do? What happened?
He actually asks them in the opposite order and with some other questions between. I put them in this order because the second question illustrates one escape pattern for me.

I am uncomfortable in situations that require self examination. That is one reason I started this blog/journal. Hmm.... I just had a thought. When I was presented with the suggestion to journal daily, I decided to create a blog. Is that an example of converting "some task to a technical task..."?

I did get to spend some time picking a name for my blog, deciding on a look, and so on. I got to search for a nice picture of a chambered nautilus, although I haven't yet figured out how to put it into the masthead. That'll be a job for another day when I'm feeling uncomfortable with the writing task I've set myself for the day.

After some thought, I do see a pattern. Let's say I need to put together a design for a software component or system. That means that I have to think about things like use cases and workflow. I could get out a piece of paper and start writing and sketching. But my first inclination is to open up a design application instead. And if I don't have one, I might spend a few hours or a day finding, download, and installing one. Yes, the diagrams that I make with such a tool can be shared electronically, and they're more readable than my paper scratchings might be. But I think that's really not the point. The point is to turn a task I'm less comfortable with into one I'm more comfortable with. Maybe by the time I get the new application figured out, I'll also have a better idea how to solve the original problem. Or, maybe I won't.

In the broadest sense, I try to escape from situations that move me outside my comfort zone. I can do this by procrastinating, by "converting" the task into one with which I'm more comfortable, and by deciding that need to first get some new tools before I can tackle this new task.

Your homework: how would you answer the questions with which I started this post?


Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Leadership from a position of weakness

Tonight, I was part of a "workshop" whose goal was to develop a set of criteria and priorities for a proposed road construction project. The meeting was packed by members of a local golf club, because a couple of the proposed elements would encroach on their golf course. Feelings were high, and they all had a single agenda, focusing intently and almost solely on the elements to which they objected, although those were fairly minor components of the overall project.

Thus, I found myself at a table where I and one other person were the only 2 out of 12 people who were not members of the golf club. The meeting planners had developed a structure within which we were to work, and each table was supplied with a facilitator. Our facilitator did a great job, but at times was almost overwhelmed with the spate of emotion pouring from the club members. I found myself acting as a mediator, and to some extent leader, trying to help her guide the discussion along the planned lines.

Our first goal was to brainstorm evaluation criteria for the project -- that is to decide what measurements of success were important to the group. The club members, for the most part, were having trouble moving from "I don't want X to happen" to criteria that would be satisfied if X did not happen. But we did manage to get there eventually. I think that my examples and explanations helped that movement, that I helped motivate the group to move from focusing on their joint desired goal to producing a set of criteria, a list of reasons, if you will, that supported their desired goal.

I used a number of tools. I used, truthfully, statements such as "that's an important point" and "I think I see what you're saying". Usually, that would be followed by restated what they said in my own words. For example, one person said "I don't want any trees cut down", and I might have said "I see that is important to you, so one of your criteria would be preservation of existing vegetation?" It sounds almost hokey when I write it down, but it worked in practice.

The facilitator thanked me for my assistance at the end of the evening. So I think that I did help lead the group. In order to do that, I had to be able to see outside myself, to at least partially understand their motivations, and to work with their motivations to help them change "I don't want" into "this is what I want and why."

Have you found yourself in a situation like this, perhaps at work or church or school? How did you deal with it? What might you do differently next time?


... a photo ...

Courtesy Wikipedia


Monday, October 1, 2007

Why the Chambered Nautilus?

I'm reading Becoming a Technical Leader by Gerry Weinberg. The epigraph for one chapter is an excerpt from a poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes that expresses, for me, a potential obstacle to personal growth.

The Chambered Nautilus

Year after year beheld the silent toil
That spread his lustrous coil;
Still, as the spiral grew,
He left the past year's dwelling for the new,
Stole with soft step its shining archway through,
Built up its idle door,
Stretched in his last-found home, and knew the old no more.
That is, simply put, the fear of leaving our old, comfortable way of life (... knew the old no more.)

The poem concludes,
Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
As the swift seasons roll!
Leave thy low-vaulted past!
Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
Till thou at length art free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life's unresting sea!
If we take the risk of growing, of trying new things, we shall at length [be] free and leave our outgrown shell because we no longer need it.

You can read the full text of the poem at Blupete's poetry site.