Friday, November 21, 2003

Another Long, Interesting Week

Alas, this was the second consecutive week in which I was far too busy living and doing to be able to step back much to reflect and write about it. But at a certain point of maturity (both in writing and in life--which aren't so very different, really) one begins to accept those natural rhythms. And rather than fight with them, you learn to go with the flow of events and schedules, and catch up and fill in where you can. Most importantly, you learn not to focus too much on what you couldn't or didn't do, but on what went right, on the impossible richness of lessons learned, and conversations sparked. You learn to focus on the glass half full. Or as my esteemed colleague Don Iannone so well put it this week: "Some people may think it's "cool" to criticize. I don't. "Cool" to me is doing something with what you have in life. Use the talents and resources you have to create something new and better. That's what true artists do." For those kinds of pointed reminders, he continues to be an inspiration and a teacher by example to lots of folks. And I needed that lecture as much as most this week--in order not to be self-critical, and use the concepts of appreciative inquiry on myself. And Don, as always, delivers it in timely fashion.

Best Lines I've Heard. With all that in mind, I won't try to do justice today to the handful of wondrous things I learned this week, the events I attended or the new people I met. But I will soon try to paint a picture of a remarkable lunchtime event yesterday at the Cleveland Ritz, the annual meeting of Weatherhead's Center for Regional Economic Issues, where lots of us civic and social entrepreneurs at last got a jolt of hope that our town and region is beginning to get with the program. And I couldn't remotely do justice to an old Cleveland legend named Bill Levy--author of nine books, each better than the other (including a ghostwritten book for the late and infamous Dr. Sam Sheppard)--that I met and mind-melded with today, thanks to our mutual friend Jimmy O'Hare. It was the kind of hour and a half lunch which seemed to fly by in about 90 seconds. And bumping into the sublime Roldo Bartimole at Shaker Square the other night, and seeing him as the beaming grandfather, immediately reminded me of his impossibly soft-hearted reaction to the site of my first son, then a newborn wrapped in a blanket, waiting with all of us for a table in a Lee Road restaurant. The irascible one melted at the site of that new baby (now a 6'-3" Ignatius freshman), which was my first of many later inklings that beneath that Old Testament fire & brimstone exterior lay the tender heart of a social worker, which is what he's really been all these years...

But I will pass along a couple of lines heard in the last week or more which made me stop and laugh near the point of crying. The first is from the energetic Chris King, whose infectious enthusiasm reminds me of a one-person gospel choir, in recounting a tale about going back to school to study art, said she once found herself begging her pottery instructor for more individual attention, telling him: "I'll even fire your kilns for you." (a new pick-up line?). The second: a friend (who must remain nameless), when asked if her marital separation will remain in that state of limbo or move to the end game of divorce, responded brightly that perhaps she should wait until she has someone lined up to whom she could transfer her amorous attention: "maybe I should do a just-in-time divorce." Look for that new trend to be covered soon in a Newsweek cover story...


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