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frosting and connection.

network connections

cupcakes.

and frosting.

i would talk to my piano students about practicing.  i drew a comparison of the time they spent, the way they allocated their time to cupcakes and frosting.   i would start by saying let’s talk about practicing, whereupon most of my sweet students would roll their eyes, a common reaction to the word ‘practice’.  i would suddenly switch topics to cupcakes and they would happily skip down that path, thinking they were avoiding the ‘practice’ chat.  we would talk about our favorite cupcakes and the very best frosting that could possibly earn the top spot on those treats.  and once we discerned that very-important-information, i would pose a question:

let’s say you have a small cup of frosting.   delicious, fluffy, sweet-as-can-be frosting.  it’s just a small cup – like the tiny sippy cups you drank from as a baby.  and you have a choice.  you can either frost one cupcake with that sippy-cup-full or you can frost all 24 of the cupcakes that are waiting on the counter from the oven.  which will you do?

my students, all brilliant cupcake-lovers and bright lights in the world, would sit and ponder for a second and then reply that they would frost the one cupcake.  otherwise, they would explain, the frosting would be so thin that you would barely know it is there, you would barely taste it, and it would be like there was no frosting at all.   and besides, if they got to eat the one cupcake, they wanted the one rich with frosting.  who can argue with that?

contrary to their belief that the ‘practice’ talk was over, i would clutch and shift gears back to the piano.  “if you have a little bit of time to practice and pieces of music that might be difficult to play, would it be better to hurry through every piece spending a few moments on each OR would it be better to spend that little bit of time on one or two?” i would ask (in student-age-appropriate language).   invariably they would frost one cupcake.

i believe the same applies to connection.  with the advent of the vast array of social media choices, we have applied an ultra-thin layer of frosting to our connections.  we have thinned out the time we truly spend on relationship – pure individual relationships.  we have, oddly, chosen to spend easily-addicted quantities of time and emotional energy on social media “relationships” with people we do not know rather than being in real touch with the people closest to us.  we expect those people to learn of things on outlets and from posts instead of simply telling them, picking up a phone and calling or texting them.

we are not connected to a network.  we are connected to a network.  both of these are true.

the question for me, one that i must look at as well,  is – how much time are we spending on that network, on individual people we love and care about?  is there any frosting at all?

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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the wisdom of lester. [merely a thought monday]

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we have found that little bits of wisdom are all around us.  we were on the train to chicago when we encountered a wise man named lester.  he seemed a gentle soul, a big man with soft eyes, he was sitting across the aisle from us.  he talked to us about his life, about life in general. he had had a long day already, commuting by numerous trains in a circuitous route to go to a job interview; he wanted to make some changes and the interview he had been to was part of that.

he told us of a relationship he was in – nothing that was all that serious – but there was this woman….  the thing that stuck with us was his comment that in the morning as he awoke with her, she was on her phone….scrolling, scrolling, scrolling.  the early sun bright in the room, this lovely man by her side, she was endlessly looking on various social media platforms for what was trending.  “put down your phone,” he pleaded to the side of her that had forgotten he was even there.  “i’m trending.”

we’ve talked about presence before.  we’ve talked about being in the moment and not missing it.  we’ve talked about gratitude and time together.  we’ve talked about how fleeting time really is.  we’ve talked about relationship and listening and appreciating the place you are, the minute you are in.  and yet, in six words, lester said it better – “put down your phone.  i’m trending.”  wisdom indeed.

read DAVID’S thoughts on this MERELY A THOUGHT MONDAY

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49Steps BIGcopy copy 2interrupting is an art form on long island.  i know this. i grew up there.  and, apparently, i carried this forward.  it took d a while (read:  a few years and meeting crunch)  to realize i was paying attention, that i wasn’t ignoring what he was saying when i interrupted…i just knew where he was going with it and jumped ahead.  now, i do realize that sounds pretty rude.  it’s not my intention to ever be rude, so i have tried, in recent times, to w.a.i.t. before i speak…at least a little bit longer.  if you are nearby when jen and i talk, you will think we are interrupting each other, talking in a circular path and arriving back at the point; carol and i have, for decades, conversed in short snippets of interrupted tangents.  regardless of our intent, no one wants to be asked to “pay attention!”

yet, we have all these ways, nowadays (using this word makes me sound old), to not pay attention.   how many videos have you seen where people are walking in a mall (or somewhere) texting or reading on their cellphone and fall into a fountain (or some other obstacle.)  we sit with others and try to hold a conversation, but they are busy on their phone or some device checking facebook or texts or twitter or the news…so many ways to not pay attention, so many distractions.   we see the tragic effects of split focus while people are driving cars.

we are no longer just giving our attention to the moment.  we are interrupting conversation, our work, the activity we are involved in, each other’s safety.  we would be well-served to pay just-a-little-more attention.

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