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Lessons from PBS

Did one of my favourite things last night – watched wise people on PBS advising me on how to life my life.  I love those guys (so far, it has always been guys.) Even though there’s no doubt that my life is perfection itself, there’s always a nugget to be gleaned. 

Last night Daniel Pink was talking about right-brain thinking – the importance of creativity, play and empathy – which he says will soon take over the world, defeating the domination of the macho money- and machine-obsessed left-brainers who’ve brought us to this pretty pass. I missed the first half of his talk because I was, in fact, engaged in some right brain activities in my office. But in the part that I saw, he said some interesting things. He suggested that we all take the “20/10 test” – that we ask ourselves, if I had $20 million in the bank and found out I only had at most 10 more years to live, what would I do? Would I keep doing what I’m doing now or would I make different choices? The answer might influence decisions you make today. 
He mentioned again the importance of gratitude, finding things every day to be actively grateful for, and writing a gratitude letter to someone who has been vital in your life, then taking it and reading it to them. 
Then next guy, Noah ben Shea, wasn’t as good a speaker but I still watched a bit. He quoted Mark Twain: “Good judgement comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgement,” which I wrote down and delivered to my son. He liked that a lot – a good quote for a 24-year old young man who might occasionally have made a poor choice or two.
“Just over every finish line,” he said, “are the words, ‘Begin here.'”
And he told a great story about creative thinking. He said people going for a job interview were given a kind of riddle to solve: “Your car pulls up at a bus stop and at the stop are three people: an old friend who once saved your life, an old woman who desperately needs to get to the hospital, and the woman of your dreams. You can only pick up one person. Which one is it?”
I also told this one to my boy, who replied, “I’d take the old woman to the hospital.” Surely the right answer. But ben Shea told us that the man who got the job replied, “I’d get out of my car, give the keys to my friend and ask him to take the old woman to the hospital. Then I’d sit and wait for the bus beside the woman of my dreams.”
Incidentally, I didn’t have to take the 20/10 test. No matter how much money I had in the bank or years I had to live, I’d do what I’m doing now – writing, teaching, travelling, breaking bread as often as possible with friends and family. Ben Shea suggested that we ask ourselves, “What business am I in? I mean, what business really am I in?” I’m in the business of stories – telling them, finding them, drawing them out, celebrating them. And there’s nothing I’d rather do. Though if I had 20 million dollars, I’d set up a place in the country or by the sea to do this. And if I only had 10 years to live, I’d … I’d stop worrying about anything but love. 
Because, as a small group of wise and musical men once said, that’s all you need.
Speaking of love – the house feels empty today. Yesterday I took the cat over to my daughter’s place where she’ll live while I’m away. No warm, crabby body on my lap as I watched the wise men on PBS. Still, my empty lap made taking notes for myself, and for you, easier. I’m grateful for that.



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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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