I'm visiting my mother-in-law who is living in assisted living. As we walk into lunch, we pass a very old man in a wheelchair. I smile at him and say, "Hi! I hope you're having a good day!"
thought he would say something nice back, as I imagined that people in
wheelchairs get ignored. Rather than smiling back he sneers at me and
says, "What are you looking at? You're going to be here soon. Just like me. It's what's waiting for you."
Ouch! And happy birthday to me.
say that old people are cranky. Are they? Or, are they just more
authentic than the rest of us? Perhaps at a certain age, we give up on
the false pleasantries and truly say what we think. After all, isn't
authenticity the new buzzword?
The Internet is full of blogs, TED
talks, articles, and books that claim to teach people how to be more
authentic. Can it be taught? I know one speaker who wrote a book on
authenticity that he had ghost written for him. Oh come on!
all were completely authentic to ourselves at one time as a child.
Clear on what we wanted. What happened in our lives that so many of us
now need a therapist to remind us of who we are, and what we want?
we didn't want to please the elusive THEM, how real could we get? Even
alone, how many of us can look in the mirror and love what we see?
spent my childhood pleasing parents and teachers, my 20's being thin
and cute for men, my 30's being thin and cute for women, my 40's focused
on my career, and now, on this birthday, I'm feeling that I've earned
the right to start telling people the truth.
So, I plan on my next trip to the assisted living home to find that man and tell him, "Thank
you for being my wake up call. Thank you for reminding me that life is
short and how I need to live it authentically. Thank you for reminding
me that sooner than later I will be in that wheelchair with some
arrogant younger person smiling an insincere smile at me. And I hope
that on that day I can truly let the truth rip."
Meanwhile... I hope you liked this blog.
Can humor really bridge the gap between Muslims and Jews?
If you missed my piece on NPR's "All Things Considered," click here to hear about the unlikely relationship between a Jewish comic and a very serious Muslim analyst.
The piece ignited an interfaith discussion, as many commented how they loved how Dalia's and my relationship showed "the harmony of human spirit despite all the external or outer differences in looks, attire, faith, and even dull versus funny professions."
I was truly surprised to see how a small story of my life could make such a difference.
When I first met Dalia Mogahed at ICAN, a women's leadership conference in Omaha, Nebraska, I hadn't a clue that our small connection would blossom into something worthy for the world to listen to. I was definitely surprised when she called later to ask me to help coach her for her next speech.
Prior to her call, I had been watching the evening news lead with another story demonizing a Muslim terrorist. I'm very sensitive about any group, especially a religious one, being singled out because of a small percentage of mentally ill members of that group. Since the "Son of Sam" murders (serial killer David Berkowitz) when I was a teen in Hebrew school, every time someone did a hideous act of violence, I think, "Please don't be Jewish."
I recognized Dalia's call as an opportunity to do some interfaith healing. Studies have shown that laughter and humor build truth. And, when you can laugh at a problem -- it decreases in size. The current acceptance of gay marriage has been attributed to sitcoms showing the gay characters are just like the rest of us. Perhaps, Muslims need their own "Will and Grace" to create their own ripple effect of acceptance.
By speaking the personal stories of our lives, we all can have a global ripple effect of inspiration. Take a helicopter view of your life and see how we all are connected to each other.
Please add your comments to the NPR site.
Last week I gave the best, most effective, motivational speech I have ever given.
It wasn't for a large group. It wasn't on a fancy stage with a spotlight. I wasn't even wearing any make-up. Actually, it was for an audience of one.
A long time friend of mine had gotten himself into drugs. Every time we went out together he was high. It was making me so angry. I thought, "That's it! Why do I need people like this in my life?"
But rather than getting angry and ending our friendship, I got together with him to talk. Rather than telling him what he was doing wrong, and what he needed to do, I painted a picture of the man I used to know. I reminded him of who he was when I met him. The man who was so awake. The man who was so talented. "This isn't you," I said.
We both cried as we held each other.
He called me a month later to let me know that he is living his life sober, not for me, but for himself.
I always tell my consultation clients to get a gig. But the audience you might want to affect most could be the person sitting across from you at the dinner table.
As speakers, we can make a difference, not by telling others what to do with a powerpoint list of action steps, but by listening, caring, and reminding them of who they are. Love is an action step that each speaker needs to do themselves.