It’s my party, indulge me

Much of my adult life has been shaped by my thinking, or what approximates thinking in some circumstances. While I appreciate logic, I am not always its greatest adherent. I am a fan of congruence and cohesion, but I also find delight in random, weird thoughts that introduce some serendipity in my life and humor in everyone else’s.

Many friends and colleagues are familiar with the filing system that is my brain. I have a set of pictures in there that I pull out from time to time as I need them to figure out reality. Some of the pictures are borrowed, like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Others are adaptations that I have created from the more linear research of others, like The Lewin Report to HRSA on cultural competency in the provision of health services. I developed a pyramid to illustrate the interconnectedness of the seven factors they describe. I find the illustration fosters applications that no simple list can do.

Other pictures in my mind are based on my own research, like the link between internalized oppression and oppressive systems, with commentary on finding psychological independence. For this a colleague and I took the 1954 work of Gordon Allport on prejudice, work that was later applied to lesbian and gay people by Carmen de Monteflores, and showed its relationship to internalized homophobia.

While these visual representations of ideas may put others to sleep, they enliven my thinking and bring me hope when situations feel thorny.

I also think in aphorisms, many of my own making or borrowed from long-gone friends. Some of my favorites are these:

Better late than later.

“For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.” (Mencken)

When the student is ready, a teacher will appear.

Ready, fire, aim!

You can get it good, fast, or cheap, but you cannot get all three at once.

I’m sure you believe you are right.

A great deal of my thinking is also attached to orchestral music and some choral works. Some of my regular meditations are associated with works by Elgar, Gibbons, Handel, and Schneider (with and without vocals).

Where each of these approaches to thinking — visual, verbal, and tonal — lead me is invariably to the same spot. When I was about two or three years old, I recall someone taking my picture with a Kodak Brownie box camera. I recall thinking as I was smiling into the camera that my survival depended on being a good boy who loved people despite what was delivered to me. Over the subsequent decades, my definitions of goodness and love have changed, but my decision has not. This decision has made all the difference in my life and my thinking keeps building arguments about the rightness of that decision.

Still, oddly, revealing that decision feels dangerous and embarrassing. But, as I have recently written, “Fuck it!” I turn 70 today, what do I have to lose?

There are many people whom I love and appreciate. For example, I appreciate each of these people:

Abby for scrappiness

Adam for graceful problem solving

Alex for forgiveness

Andy for courage

Angela for intelligence

Ann Jo for avantgarde leadership

Anne for artistry

Anthony for a steely core

Barb for complete dedication

Barb for commitment

Barbara for crafting life

Betsy for integrity

Blanche for integrity

Brenda for philosophy

Brett for dedication

Bill for rectitude

Brian for persistence

Bryn for social justice

Calvin for joy

Carmen for athleticism

Carmen for hospitality

Cathy for steadfastness

Cheyne for love

Chris for generosity

Christa for social justice

Christopher for tenderness

Colin for persistence

Some of them have been in my life for a few years. Others for many decades. I image that one or two on this list will wonder if I am writing about them. Most likely I am. This love stuff is hard to take, I know.

Others whom I love and appreciate are these:

Damia for complete dedication

Dave for focus

David for love

David for forgiveness

Dennis for affection

Dewaine for experimentation

Ed for integrity

Elna for social justice

Emilee for honesty

Erica for perceptiveness

Erich for awkward love

Everett for vision

Fabienne for courage

Frank for vulnerability

Gatlin for frank enthusiasm

Gerald for fatherhood

Georgia for passion

Greg for social justice

Gregg for affection

Gus for courage

Harriet for generosity

Hector for intelligence

Holly for honesty

Ingrid for integrity

Isaac for social justice

Jacob for courage

Jamaal for nurturing

James for creativity

Jan for investment

Jane for persistence

Jason for winning strategies

Jay for playfulness

Jazzy for strength

Jennifer for willingness

Jennifer for courage

Jesse for manhood

Jim for forgiveness

Jna for intellect

Joe for creativity

John for desire

John for humor

Jonathon for boundless energy

Jose for commitment

Josh for courage

Joshua for fidelity

Julie for practicality

Julie for saying no

Julio for family

Still, as I think of each of these people, I put them in the context of Elgar, remember the impact of their smiles, serious looks, and warm embraces. Those connections, of course, bring even more love and appreciation. So I think of these:

Karen for appreciation

Kate for constancy

Kathy for fierceness

Kimberly for courage

Kevin for manhood

Kofi for brotherhood

Kurt for love

Lance for leadership

Laura for order

Lauren for thriving

Leanne for partnership

Leonard for humility

Leslie for strength

Liz for confidence

LG for creativity

Libby for strategy

Linda for congruence

Linda for commitment

Lois for determination

Mandy for generosity

Margo for humor

Margo for social interest

Marian for social justice

Marilyn for joy

Mark for persistence

Martha for constancy

Martha for strength of will

Mary for integrity

Mary Ellen for passion

Mary Lynn for courage

Marybeth for diplomacy

Maureen for creativity

Michael for brotherhood

Michael for courage

Mike for sexiness

Mike for friendship

Missy for collegiality

Molly for supportiveness

Narra for intellect

Natalie for joy

Nicole for commitment

Nicole for courage

Pardeep for forgiveness

Pat for parenting

Patrick for visual learning

Patrick for beauty

Patrick for joy

Paul for beauty

Paula for intelligence

Penny for wonder

Pete for brilliance

You might expect by now I am weeping. I am. I cry tears of joy as I listen to Handel and recall the gifts I appreciate from each of these people:

Rachel for courage

Ray for forgiveness

Richard for self-discipline

Ronnie for strength

Rhena for beauty

Rose for compassion

Rudy for love

Sably for athleticism

Sally for wonder

Sandra for family

Sandy for integrity

Sara for courage

Sarah for wisdom

Scott for passion

Scott for curiosity

Shahanna for generosity

Shannon for parenting

Sharon for goodness

Shirley for joy

Shon for kindness

Steve for wisdom

Sue for intelligence

Ted for persistence

Teresa for faith

Todd for loyalty

Todd for strategy

Tom for integrity

Tracey Jo for zest

Ty for strength

Vicky for parenting

Wilhelmina for leadership

How can one man be so rich? Seventy years is too short a time to have accumulated this wealth. But it must be real. The sights, the words, the sounds — they all point to love.

Thank you for indulging me.

6 thoughts on “It’s my party, indulge me

  1. I remember vividly when you were facilitating an employee retreat based on the results of an environmental survey. We were breaking for lunch after a fairly polite and withholding morning. You “simply” wrote on the newsprint SLAVES LOVE THEIR CHAINS. It was a reality gut punch for me and I have never forgotten it. Often I have recounted the moment to friends feeling oppressed and trapped. Thank you for that moment and so many more❤️


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