Tuesday, June 7, 2011


I am often amused and awed about how life operated in circles.  Remember that favorite toy you had as a kid?  Perhaps a game or doll?  And now that we are grown our children want the new updated version of the game or are watching the reboot of your favorite childhood cartoon or television show.  Proving once again that there is really nothing new under the sun.  It is amusing and somehow comforting, I think. 

The awe comes in when you run across something you knew long ago and put away or forgot because it wasn't trendy anymore or you just got too busy.  Then somehow the universe brings you back to it when you need it. 

I was surfing around the internet this evening looking for a quote for another blog post and ran across the official website of Robert Fulghum.  You remember him, the author of "All I needed to know I learned in Kindergarten"?  It was big in the 90's.  Good book.  The premise of it all was how we learned what we needed to survive in life early on.  I don't have all of them,(there's that copyright deal) but a few are when you've hurt someone say you're sorry, cookies and milk are good for you(I really like that one) wash your hands, put things back where you found them and something about being aware of wonder.

Well, it hits me that this is still pertinent for today.  We are so obsessed with being right all the time and making our mark that we don't do that.  Say we are sorry and be aware of wonder, I mean.  We should.  It's so easy when we are little.  You are learning about the world and even the mistakes are important.  Maybe not fun...but you are more careful in the future which is important to learn too.  And to be able to say we are sorry to friends or family?  How easy it is when we don't have an ego on the line.  Sometimes it's rough being a grown-up.

But I also think that to do both of these things show maturity.  It's hard to say we are sorry for anything these days.  It's seen as an admission of wrongdoing.  More, I think it's seen as an admission that we don't know everything and a license for others to use that against us.

But to say out loud "Yes, I was wrong, I apologize for that." takes guts, self confidence, and selflessness.  I also believe that it shows respect for others.  To admit that your truth isn't the only truth.  And your truth may not even be truth.

Which circles us back(see how I did that?) to wonder.  Because to admit you were wrong opens up possibilities for learning and exploration.  There is so much in this life to experience if you're just aware of it.  And those times are wonderful.

I spent so much of my time in Austria open to learning and exploration and I didn't go a week without being awed by something.  It could have been as simple as a new taste,(like Troja's kebaps or the Zotter chocolate) as everyday as entering the library office, as comforting as having dinner with friends, (or as Katrina would say the intern family) or as new as climbing a mountain.

Each experience was full of wonder and wouldn't have happened if I had stayed home thinking that was the safe, practical route.  I was wrong about that.  Yes, it was safe and practical.  But it wasn't right. 

How much do we miss by doing safe, practical, protective things in life?  How often does the universe put signs in front of us by circling us back to what we knew once, but forgot or left behind?

I know a person who firmly believes in karma.  Life circles around vindicating those who need it and tearing down those who need that.  It may take years, this person told me once, but it happens.  It may not be major, but it does happen.  All you have to do is be open to it and pay attention. 

So your assignment for the week is to be aware of wonder.  Report back on what wonder you experienced.  Big, little, simple or complex.  Extra points if there's a circle involved. 

And to kickstart wonder here's something that took my breath away, and was one of those experiences I wouldn't have had if I stayed home applying for jobs and doing my usual routine.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Sound of Music (again)

I was reading an interview with Christopher Plummer(Capt. von Trapp) and he was a little annoyed when people bring up that movie.  He made the point that it has taken on a life of it's own that has nothing to do with the movie itself and his character.

Having spent 2 months dealing with the crazed fans of the movie coming and taking photos, sneaking into the grounds and generally wandering around Salzburg, I understand in part where he is coming from.  

Someone I met went on the bus tour and thought it was bizarre.  Here's where they filmed this part of the movie, and you might remember this from the end of the movie...ect.  Not the normal sightseeing tour at all.
As I mentioned before I did find it a bit creepy when all these people would be standing across the lake and staring at the schloss and taking photos.

Even odder was when people just came into the grounds and started wandering around.  I mean there were signs saying Private!  I had to politely but firmly kick out 3 Asian tourists my last week there.  They wanted a tour.  I should have charged them 10 euros a head and given them one.  Then stuck the money in the library fund.  We could have used it. 

It's also a bit sad, because the schloss itself is much more than a pretty backdrop for a movie.  There's genuine art, architecture and historical interest there dating from the 18th century when the Archbishop built the place.  Now all they want to see is the outside and the seahorses from the canoe scene.

I have on my desktop at work a photo of the schloss with the festung in the background and someone came into the office, saw it and said Oh that's the Sound of Music house.  Sigh.  I don't have problems using it to gather interest in the place, but it bothers me that's all they see.

Same thing with library stereotypes.  There's always something deeper.  We don't often look beyond.  Perhaps I wouldn't have in this case if I hadn't been there.  Maybe that's what I learned.  Or at least became aware of.