“It’s okay, honey,” I replied, “but why did it take so long?”
She smiled and said, “The smell of the soap.”
Think of all the great creative minds and the world’s best ideas, and you might come away thinking that creative genius is found by an individual toiling away alone. I think this can happen occasionally, but not often. Beyond that, the ideas may be great, but they could have been improved by having other input. It seems apparent that one person can only take an idea so far until it reaches is maximum potential. At that point, better results can be found by bringing in other creative types to add their own contributions. It’s in this secondary stage that truly beautiful and profound things begin to happen.
Here’s an example: Dear Photograph. The idea is imaginative yet simple: take a new photo of an old photo and write a caption that captures your thoughts about the moment. It’s a nice idea. But when this idea gets unleashed to the creative masses, amazing things begin happening.
There’s a photograph a cancer survivor Eric Richter and his daughter with the caption “Her love was my chemo.” There’s the photograph of a man looking down at the photo of he and his wife on a bench: “Thank you for everything we had.” Or the photo of of a father and two kids standing in a hardscrabble yard: “We had nothing, but you gave me everything.” Or two kids sitting together on a Lazy Boy chair: “Dear Photograph, I wish I treated you better when we were in high school.”
The site is only about a month old and displays less that 50 photos. They are poignant, heartfelt, and beautiful in their ability to uniquely capture two distinct moments at once. You can be sure that this will be a hit. It’s nearly impossible to ignore, and in just a few minutes, you’ll have ideas of your own to share. And I hope you do; I can’t wait to see them.
Go visit Dear Photograph right now. Let me know what you think.
It’s not like I haven’t been here before. In fact, I seem to have a knack for putting myself in exactly the right position to be used as an excellent example of what not to do when raising your children. Examples include the missing Tooth Fairy, the broken collar bone, and the broken arm.
Remembering that broken arm incident actually makes me feel a little better about this, so I’m glad I paused a moment to reflect. Still, this was pretty egregious. It started with the idea that a kids triathlon would be fun…
The kids have been swimming on the North Willow Swim Team for the last two years, including daily practices and two meets a week for the past month or so. They all have ridden their bikes to Bub’s for burgers and back, so I knew that putting a few miles behind them wouldn’t be a problem. (Of course, in the race, they wouldn’t be stopping in the middle to eat The Big Ugly and a milkshake, but still…) And the run, well… let’s just say it ain’t that far.
So they are all geared up and we head to Zionsville on Monday, July 4, for the big event. It should be pretty simple: 7-10 year olds will swim 100 meters, bike 1.8 miles and run .8 miles. All of them can do this pretty easily, so I’m not worried. And, honestly, neither are they. (Except Abby, who is uncontrollable terrified for some unknown reason. She cries for about an hour and refuses to take off her shoes. “They’ll only slow you down in the pool,” says I. She is unmoved.)
At check-in, I discover that the triathlon powers-that-be have designated that competitors will compete at the age they will be on December 31. For everyone but Lily, that’s their current age. Unfortunately for Lily, this puts her in the 11-12 year-old group and changes just about everything. The event she signed up for suddenly became a little horrific: the swim is now 200 meters, the bike ride is 4.5 miles, and the run is 1.8 miles. As far as I know, Lily hasn’t run over a mile at one time in her life. Additionally, when I think about the math, it’s clear to me that she could be competing head-to-head with girls who could be two years older.
To help keep her calm, I keep all of this information to myself.
In the end, they all raced like champions. After watching the older kids kick off the event, Abby set her fears (and her shoes) aside and joined the fray. She and Grace finished 3 & 4, respectively. Abby was just 1:02 from finishing first behind an 8-year-old. Jack finished in the middle of the field, 15th out of 26. There were only three minutes separating him from 5th. And Lily, to my everlasting joy, finished 17th out of 20, just a few minutes from the main pack.
When I asked them if they had fun and whether they were excited about the next one, Lily responded: “I’ll do my next one in 6th grade.” That went completely over my head until Charmaine explained that by then she’ll be 12.
If you’re interested, you can download the complete race results. And here are a few photos of race day:
Sabina Nawaz wrote a post today about setting aside time for silence to allow ideas to emerge and new concepts to form. I don’t think I could agree more. This frenetic pace we’re all on to do more with (seemingly) less time has caused a crises of sorts. If we’re surrounded by even 30 seconds of silence, many of us will reach for our iPhones to check email.
In her post, she talks about coaching executives:
Frequently they tell me about the sacrifices they’ve made for their work: how they’ve slept only three hours the night before, haven’t exercised in months, missed their children’s games. They’re busy because their work is important. They operate under tight timelines and competitive pressures. The stakes are high.
In response, she suggest they try something counter-intuitive: Do less. She recalls John Cage‘s seminal piece 4’33”, which consists of exactly four minutes and thirty-three seconds of silence. I don’t know if you’ve heard it, but you might find it difficult to sit still that long. When the BBC aired the performance, they had to turn off their emergency systems that are designed to automatically fill silence with music. I suspect that your emergency systems would kick in almost as quickly as the radio stations. But silence is exactly what all of us need more of.
If you’re stuck on a problem and the answers evade you, silence can lead the way. If you have writer’s block and can’t seem to find the perfect word (or the motivation to look for it), try silence. If your teenager asks for a car, silence might just work wonders. (Just kidding.)
Nawaz suggest some tips for making your forays into the world of silence successful. Intention is the key, she says:
Set aside a specific time. Find two hours a week. It’s helpful to block out times that are least likely to be requested for meetings: Friday afternoons or before colleagues arrive in the morning.
Turn off the noise. This is not the time to answer emails or tackle a long-neglected project.
Experiment until you find the right format for you. Some people stay at their computers but turn off all Internet access; others journal. Some leave the office to avoid interruptions; they go to a separate building, on a long walk, or a drive into the mountains.
Keep your white space dates. Just as you don’t build muscles by showing up sporadically at the gym, perspective isn’t something you find once and then never need to foster again.
For me, I’ve turned off the radio in the car. I often ride without headphones. The hour I spend in Adoration each week is perhaps the most perfect silence I’ve found. You may find it differently… you may also find that anytime you sit quietly for four minutes you fall asleep, which is really telling you something else entirely.