A Ways To Go.

Some days, I grow more hopeful with our world. The recent national sensation surrounding a certain homeless man definitely made for some of those days. It’s a heartwarming tale, and I’ve been rooting for this guy and his family (especially the one he had to leave behind).

Ted Williams on Wikipedia

CBS’s wrapup of the story


But on still other days, I’m reminded that our world still has a ways to go. Like today.


a href=”http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2011/01/09/us/20110109_GIFFORDS.html

Prayers are with the victims’ families.


Bouncing Back

I see a lot of people start blogs. I also see those blogs more or less abandoned within a few posts. (I can only guess–maybe it’s just a long hiatus.) And I don’t blame any of them, really. I think keeping one of these updated is pretty challenging. You’d think that things that happen in everyday life serve as good posting topics, if nothing else, but I’m finding that things become part of a routine faster than you can type sketch them in words.

Which still doesn’t really excuse a two-posts-a-month schedule when the author is pretending to keep a semblance of a living blog. All of my writing time’s been going into essays and that little project I mentioned a while back, but I miss writing doodly posts like the ones I had over summer. If you want it badly enough, you’ll get it. Or so they say. Or maybe I have the quote wrong. But my point is that I’m really wanting to write normal posts, so I’ll be somehow creating time to do that in the coming days.

If you’re curious about my exciting college life, it’s been a less-than-stellar week for me: filled with ugly weather, a brutal midterm, a ticket for a red light that I’m pretty positive that I didn’t run two weeks ago,  and a 41-0 blowout on the football game against Stanford. I live pretty positively, but I can’t defend this week from its failure to be awesome. I don’t mind too much, though, because cool things do happen during bad weeks. Which is why I got to meet some of my favorite people in the world yesterday, and this dropped today, among other things.

I promise the next post will be more substantial than this. I do believe that I’ve run the course of how long I can take this one without rambling more. On Halloween night, for goodness’ sake.

Skype and Cynicism

They say people write poetry
To evoke meaning expressively
But you and I know that often,
It’s just BS put more elaborately

So I deny myself when I
Take these verses and design,
For someone more than worthy,
A set of rhymes in lines

For someone that I once compared to Anastasia
And with certain ties to Southeast Asia
Someone I appreciate even more when I
Remember how special they are, break out of my amnesia

You developed such a taste in culture and art
You care for the world with a generous heart
You never neglect on improving yourself
Where it counts you have tact, poise, the smarts

This all describes that someone, yes, you
So why am I writing stuff that you already knew?
Because I think that you sometimes forget
Just how amazing you are, through and through

You, I can’t even describe in diction
And this is fact not fiction
Not quite for the first time in years,
But it’s still a true depiction

I know you won’t let life tell you otherwise
Make you feel inadequate with lies
But in case it ever does,
Well, life’s in for a surprise

So clearly I had a lucky break
Friendships, circumstance does not make
The most reassuring things to have in life:
An extraordinary friend to count on,
And a bakery with the essence of soul.

The Giving Pledge

I really respect people who can give selflessly. When it comes to wealth, whether it was self-made or endowed through that ovarian lottery, the fact that you can just part with that for a greater cause is worthy of praise. I suppose there will always be those few who do it with hidden purpose–media recognition?–but I like to think that most people are better than that.

I heard about The Giving Pledge a little while back, but didn’t think to check out the list until today. It’s quite a list, too–as diverse as it is expansive. As I read, what impressed me more than the big names or the ridiculous amounts of money being donated was the little stories and philosophies that these donors shared through their letters. A few excerpts that I thought were especially meaningful:

“Making a difference in people’s lives – and seeing it with your own eyes – is perhaps the most satisfying thing you’ll ever do. If you want to fully enjoy life – give. And if you want to do something for your children and show how much you love them, the single best thing – by far – is to support organizations that will create a better world for them and their children.”

– Michael Bloomberg

“My wealth has come from a combination of living in America, some lucky genes, and compound interest. Both my children and I won what I call the ovarian lottery. (For starters, the odds against my 1930 birth taking place in the U.S. were at least 30 to 1. My being male and white also removed huge obstacles that a majority of Americans then faced.) …… The reaction of my family and me to our extraordinary good fortune is not guilt, but rather gratitude. Were we to use more than 1% of my claim checks on ourselves, neither our happiness nor our well-being would be enhanced. In contrast, that remaining 99% can have a huge effect on the health and welfare of others. That reality sets an obvious course for me and my family: Keep all we can conceivably need and distribute the rest to society, for its needs. My pledge starts us down that course.”

– Warren Buffet

“When I was in high school, I felt like I was in a vacuum, biding time.  I was curious, but bored.  It was not an atmosphere conducive to learning.  I was fortunate that I found my path and my language.

It’s scary to think of our education system as little better than an assembly line with producing diplomas as its only goal.  Once I had the means to effect change in this arena, it became my passion to do so – to promote active, life-long learning.”

– George Lucas

“I suppose I arrived at my charitable commitment largely through guilt. I recognized early on, that my good fortune was not due to superior personal character or initiative so much as it was to dumb luck. I was blessed to be born in an advanced society with caring parents. So, I had the advantage of both genetics (winning the “ovarian lottery”) and upbringing. As I looked around at those who did not have these advantages, it became clear to me that I had a moral obligation to direct my resources to help right that balance.”

– George Kaiser

The humility and empathy that these quotes echo was what really impressed me. Everyone knows about the philanthropy of, say, Bill & Melinda Gates or Mr. Buffet; but everyone who chose to gave here had something heartfelt to say, and there really wasn’t anyone that struck even my cynicism-rehabbing self as disingenuous.

I think Mr. Buffet hit on a solid idea here: if this can influence as many people as it did, I think it can influence much, much more. It’s like every new person whose name is added to the list is a little more hope that I have for humanity. If a few do it for the publicity stunt, let them–the money will still be put to good use, and there are plenty of genuinely concerned people willing to fill their spot.

This thing just reaffirmed my faith in the willingness of the wealthy to make a positive difference for everyone else. I hope that this list reaches hundreds, and eventually thousands of donors–both big-name and less known. It’s an inspiration, one that I hope will be around for a long time. And perhaps, one day I’ll be ready to make a pledge like that on my own.

August 4th.

Weary, tired, anxious, still taking baby steps
Was I, when we met in bond so closely to be kept
And though I would not say that I’m completely free,
Your vibrant soul was the breath that rescued me

Who induced me to wait daily for
A moment coming twice a day, no more?
I once said to you, in no simple haste,
that if the President of the United States
was in the same room, I wouldn’t care
That I’ll still wish with you; like a prayer
If airplanes in the night sky really were shooting stars,
Their wishes that day still would have nothing on ours

Tell me how, our elaborate nicknames
Our labor in pick-up games
(You know what I’m trying to claim)
The bad reception that we overcame
The shared communion cup, one and the same
The prose we used to write, in noble aim
That Christmas, with chopsticks and bears and exclaims
Tell me how you made it all so worthy of a frame?

Through you I relived
The memories of this someone
Who had been through so much, had fought, had won
And still fuller of life than anyone, bar none.
Through you I understood
A love that makes the world go round,
The kind based on a smile, not a frown
The love with which you surround us around.

You touch the lives of many, and not one’s ill-disposed;
How you do all that which you do, I can only suppose.
I know it matters not, what the world tries to hurl;
For you have a heart bigger than all of that world.

So thank you, for having touched my life
For being the best friend that I could ever ask for
For putting up with my imperfection, my faults
For still choosing to be in my life, and letting me be in yours

For ignoring the lack of rhyme in these last lines!