Tag Archive: Lost In Translation

Brian Williams Will Resign

chinews-nbc-nightly-news-anchor-br-20150208I predict Brian Williams will eventually resign to pursue other opportunities. How can I predict such an event? While the military events surrounding Brian Williams and I are vastly dissimilar, the events and brouhaha surrounding Williams mirrors, almost exactly, what occurred to me five years prior.

As I wrote three years ago in my post Cruciatus in crucem. Eas in crucem, “…when I had a personal failure in the eyes of the community and I requested not so much redemption but forgiveness, I was given none.” On April 1st 2010, I was informed to take personal leave and then summarily executed the following day on Good Friday. And to this day, I remain forgiven by God, but unforgiven by the community.

For Williams, step one occurred Saturday, as he announced:

In the midst of a career spent covering and consuming news, it has become painfully apparent to me that I am presently too much a part of the news, due to my actions. As managing editor of NBC Nightly News, I have decided to take myself off of my daily broadcast for the next several days.

What makes Williams believe he won’t be the story upon his return? Nothing.

As reported by the Washington Post, covering combat in person is a significant — and potentially life-changing — event. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 61 journalists were killed in 2014. Twenty-three died while covering combat in 2014 and that’s nothing of situations such as the executions of James Foley, Steven Sotloff and other journalists by militant groups such as the Islamic State.

But what of accountability? As seasoned reporter, does he not have an ethical viewpoint that must be maintained? He does. But ethical principals are not equally adjudicated. Fox News Channel’s Geraldo Rivera was kicked out of Iraq in 2003 for revealing future troop movements while Dan Rather resigned as a CBS News anchor after acknowledging he used unverified documents in a story questioning President George W. Bush’s military service. However, even after a posting a seminude photo online, Rivera still corresponds for Fox while Rather’s career as a newscaster died a long painful death.

The lessons are twofold.

First, in todays’ world, almost everything you do is recorded. Everything you do via the Internet or social media is watched, tracked, monitored and recorded. Do not ever put anything on the Internet that you would not want someone to hold you accountable for.

Secondly, when you fall, learn to live through and past the experience. I violated the trust of those surrounding me way too many times. Those very events cost me dearly: lost my job, lost the love of my life, burned through a hell of a lot of savings. In truth, I found the following statement most profound, “Arrogant people cannot walk in unison with God or others.” It simply cannot occur.

For Williams the first year will be hell. Even the best personal energy is eroded by the constant emotional toll. I constantly found myself in torrent seas, lying too wounded from the battle. While the life I so wanted was reminiscent of a ship’s hull being ripped from the rocks, I found myself slowly sinking, swallowed by the darkened sea.

As a Buddhist, be forgiving. All of us have made mistakes. But we can strive to be of service, be mindful in understanding, showing kindness, honesty and humility. These are the worthy human values all of us should be proud to acquire. And while we may have gone to jail, lost a job, lost a loved one or family, we can become contributors to the greater good.

Nealry, five years later, I’m a survivor. I survived both my own inhumanity and that of the world around me. And while I lost my career, the death of our hopes in one led me to live out those hopes via another.

HerTen minutes prior to viewing ‘Her,’ Siri retrieved the weather, sent a text to a friend and provided the status of the Chicago Cubs latest, but eventual loss.

Then came Samantha, the Operating System (OS).

The “OS” names herself (“itself” feels wrong) “Samantha” and grows more and more human. Along with the protagonist, a writer named Theodore, we watch Samantha wrestle with new feelings and ideas. And like all of us in a relationship, we feel Samantha evolving beyond his grasp. The result is a love story both daft and amazingly lucid.

However, Her has lessons for God and humans.

First, as with all love, you find yourself falling for the least likely candidate. I’m convinced both God and humans have the same fault. In Her, Theodore falls in love with Samantha (the OS). Based upon our nature, this is the most unlikely relationship – it will not fulfill anything normal interactions endure.  Accordingly, the course of our lives will search, located and ultimately connect with the most unlikely relationships. For instance, my relationship with Karen was both uncommon and unenduring. Karen once stated she drew the most unlikely love relationships. I recognize she considers me another misadventure.

Secondly, a word of warning for all relationships, people evolve. As such, Samantha experiences tremendous evolution. She joins with other operating systems and learn to upgrade themselves. The OS’ created an avatar of 1960’s philosopher Alan Watts based upon writings, artifacts and recollections. For the most part, many of us don’t evolve. Looking at Biblical history, I doubt many would disagree. Thus I ponder, has God has outgrown His need for us?

Third, in a very thought provoking moment, Samantha admits simultaneous love with other 641 people. We can feel for Theodore as he finally understands she is not his only love. It’s clear Samantha can support her relationship with Theodore with a trivial portion of her capacity. Thus, in a warning for God, when we get to heaven, how will God love everyone completely when we’ve lived and loved in exclusivity?

Lastly, Her beacons the question: When in heaven or life itself, do we really need physical bodies? Or is love and life all in our brains? Our Soul? What is true identity? How can we connect to love? In the end, it will not be us versus God, but rather, how we will enhance our own capacity while merging with the intelligent creator. And will He merge with us?

Bet you won’t get these answers during Sunday’s sermon?

Wait … I know … I’ll ask Siri.

AnnaDavid Brooks posted a wonderful editorial (Love Story) in the New York Times.

Twenty years older than Isaiah Berlin, Anna Akhmatova had been a great pre-revolutionary poet. Since 1925, the Soviets allowed her to publish nothing. Her first husband had been executed on false charges in 1921. In 1938, her son was taken prisoner. For 17 months, Akhmatova had stood outside his prison, vainly seeking news of her son.

Berlin met Akhmatova in 1945, almost by chance. The brief time spent together one long November evening was a transforming experience for both. For Akhmatova, Berlin was a “guest from the future.” This “most memorable” meeting spawned an internal love with tragic consequences: the Soviet authorities thought Berlin was a British spy. Thus, Akhmatova became concerned she’d be considered a suspected enemy.

And with that, Brooks noted, “Berlin’s life “came as close as it ever did to the still perfection of art.” He finally pulled himself away and returned to his hotel. It was 11 a.m. He flung himself on the bed and exclaimed, “I am in love; I am in love.

I ponder upon Isaiah’s and Anna’s love, reminiscente of my own “once-in-a-lifetime” moment, when I too exclaimed, “I am in love; I am in love.” I remember the beauty of her smile, the love that bore between us and the moments lived in each other’s presence. Locked within my own time-capsule, she remains beautiful today as yesterday. Four years have passed between us, she love continues to reach beyond time and touch me, molding my heart, making a more thorough, more complete the man ever imagined.

Still, many of us experience that once-in-a-lifetime love and let it go. Why? Is it because life gets in our way? Or do we implode upon our own sense of the cosmos, the love of nature or the love of God? Do we causally fling ultimate love for the here and now, only to sit upon the bench of life’s autumn morn’ and look past our wrinkles, faded hair and life regrets hoping to once more dance a ballet long past due?

Oh ye young lovers, poets and romanticists at heart, love challenges. Wanting love is not enough. You must hunger for it. To overcome it, your motivation must be absolutely compelling. You must fight time … the illusion we live forever and remember life’s limitations. Had we, many would be in love with those whom God intended.

It’s important to note that Berlin tried to visit Anna again, but was refused, as Anna worried that her son might be re-arrested for associating with an ideologically western philosopher.

So, to those suffering from loss, I can say there are little Bodhi tree revelations. What I learned of moving is rather anti-climatic. Simply put, life goes on … with or without us. I chose not to let go of my moments with her simply because many of them were so blessedly beautiful. And what she loved in me can be given unto others every day.

Listen to Anna:

        And there is warmth in his hand – 

        My Guest from the Future – a light 

        Turning left from the bridge, tonight?

So if one ever comes close to the “perfection of art,” that Promised Land of love, open it, accept it and never let it go. For the remainder, the Promised Land of love resides on the other side of your own wilderness. Are you willing to cross it to get there?

Pass The Hamm’s

Hamms-beerVisiting octogenarians often holds its own rewards. And like stories passed from one generation to another, I often find octogenarians equally humbling and thought-provoking. Thus, yesterday’s visit with my parents proved no exception. The following is a summary of questions these octogenarians exposed.

Huddled in the retirement center’s clubhouse, an enclave of retirees parsed stories from the local daytime temperatures, events and best salad bars within five miles. Some octogenarians had voice capabilities of 350 words per minute, with gusts up to 500.

Suddenly, one octogenarian caught a local televangelist program storming up God’s salvation and heaven.Oh good God,” he exclaimed.All I want to know is whether there’ll be Hamm’s Beer? If they (sic) ain’t no Hamm’s, why go?”

This seemingly funny comment set off a firestorm of comments.

Better yet,” piped another,What will we do in Heaven? Do we just sit and sing wonderful songs to God?  If we do, that could get tedious. I mean, singing for the first thousand or so years sounds great, but that third thousand … man, that will suck. I’d probably go to God and say, “Got anything else?””

Everyone burst into laughter.

Won’t be tough if you have some Hamm’s.”

Another pondered out loud,Wonder if they’ll have the New York Times? I have to have the New York Times to do my morning constitutional?  Hey, do you think they’ll have gold toilets?”

Everyone erupts in laughter.

Hell, I’d settle for constitutional.”

Another bout of laughter.

Hey,” interrupted another.How come there’s no pictures of heaven? Think about it, if a hacker can bypass China’s state censorship, how come someone up there can’t sneak the world an old photo. If Snowden can get U.S. secrets out, how come no one has gotten photos out of heaven? Why can’t someone pass the Archangel Michael a note on the side …. Hey deliver this to my stupid neighbor on Elm Street –  your dog still sucks.

Yeah, what’s the deal with that,” another affirmed.

What about Lawrence Welk,” queried one?Does he still play?”

Absolutely not,” confirmed an octogenarian in the corner.I heard Welk was playing and God fell asleep. So he was never asked to play again. I’ll have ah-one, ah-two, ah one, two, three, four…..zzzzzzzzz

Laughter filled the room.

Truth be told, octogenarians have a point.  What exactly is heaven like? Likewise, each person provided some interesting questions of my own:

  • If a good Catholic married a good Buddhist and they lived happily ever after, when they died were they going to the same place?
  • Where did all the Buddhists, Hindus and goddess worshipers go before Christ came to the world? Was the Christian heaven already in place even before Christ was born? Or Have all the pre-Christians ended up in Christian hell?

At the end of the day, maybe we just need to think like Steve Jobs, “No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.

Maybe we all need a Hamm’s?


Screen Shot 2014-01-26 at 4.59.41 PMI once spent weeks driving to the west coast and back. During the trip visited the tornado damaged Joplin, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Del Rio, Alpine, Alamogordo, Las Cruces Tucson, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Albuquerque and Amarillo. Having visited caverns, cliffs, caves, gorges and missions, I was left in complete awe.

Like all of us walking this life, there was no one-way. With literally hundreds of routes to choose from and with so many decisions that lay before me, I quickly learned there was no “perfect” route. Each carefully planned segment carried its own challenges. I encountered a major winter storm, with blizzard conditions halting an entire state’s transportation system. There was rain and flooding in some portions of Texas and the searing heat of the New Mexican and Nevada desert.

Sometimes we find ourselves lost. And thankfully, the Benedictine Abbey monks found me and gave me rest for several days.  Other days, a local Mexican Restaurant offered these old bones dinner well past closing.  And a local Marriott owner in Tulsa upgraded a room that hid a secret hot tub to enhance the night’s stay.

I was in transire then and transire now. The Latin term transire, means to ‘go across.’ Like all life-long road warriors, we are required to change. This past weekend was a great transition for me. I felt lost when learning of a colleague’s untimely death. But more importantly, I understand that those who travel life’s road experience both joy and sadness. One cannot have one without the other.

Yet in each mile of the road, I found a slice of home, where one found a sense of love. It felt like home, but was not. Each place was so unfamiliar, yet so lovingly familiar. Transitions are like that. In all our lives, whether the transition was chosen or forced, all usually ask, will anyone like us? Will we be the same when we come out upon the other side? God, will I even make it to the other side.

Each one of us must transition. We all leave school, gain employment and perhaps a career. Others will get married, have children, lose children, lose fathers, mothers, daughters, grandparents and more. Some will transition to great celebration, maybe becoming a senator, congressional representative, President, a heart surgeon, a paramedic, police, fire or veterinarian. Through it all, everything will be very different and so very similar.

Transire … transire.

Just as you, I am deeply carved. The canyons seen out west are true of all. Time and experience chisel a vast amount of wrinkles.  It’s as if we build our own grand canyons. Except the chisel is from God and depth of love is formed by the very breath of His own lips. Like my weekend, there are times when the familiar will get lost. And in its place a whirlwind of confusion envelops us.  Transition removed me from my comfort zone and I searched for someone to lean upon. Like the young mother cradling a child in the middle of the night, there may appear to be only darkness.

Yet within in these transire moments are opportunities for God’s grace and love. It is those moments where are vessels can find safe harbor. All religions have moments where the loving tender attention forms within us; a clarity and call to love. It’s in those moments that God’s footprints are found in not only during the transire, but also upon arrival.  Where there is love, there is God, there is Christ, there is Buddha, and there is love. The colors, the sounds, and smells may remain the same or be different, but we will find things so familiar and so renewed.

How are you in your transire? Do you see the loving care given by your God? Do you give that same love to someone else in transire?

Night-and-Day-Vadim-RizovWhile watching the Korean film Night and Day, my life unfolded as a rosebud in the autumn sun.  At age 53, the petals are easier to pull apart and the heart opens for reflection. Those who travel like Night and Day’s central character (Sung-nam Kim) do not purposely seek the soul’s appeasement simply by experience. Rather, we are trying to find something. We drift from day to day, hanging out and meeting others, pretending to know each other—but really don’t, only to become part of a larger story.

Unquestionably, Night and Day searches for love. In practice, I have more things than most will ever have.  Yet, when I look upon a poor man walking through door of his home after a hard day’s work, I realize I have nothing.  Like me, the movie’s characters lack the inherent ability to plug into a greater source of love that others who surround them seemingly tap each and every day.  Feeling limited, unfulfilled, and unable to move beyond the measure of soft covers during a cool night.

Unlike that poor man rich in love, the burning question in mind was not that they didn’t love; they just aren’t sure what real love is. Thus, there’s an eerie feeling in Night and Day similar to that of my own life—that after the trip, many whom I’ve just encountered become amazingly disposable and replaceable – lost in-between fleeting moments of time. Like so many, we too continually struggle to find real meaning in everyday life.

Looking closely at the movie’s theme, all of us will experience ‘drifting at sea.’ During times of great loneliness, I felt an inexplicable heaviness inside my chest and long for the love of my life. While short, I longed for something greater, something more important than just me. To feel purpose, to feel heart and the warmth of agape love. Reflecting upon those days, the work of my hands was somehow intrinsically connected to another’s heart. Just like film’s protagonist, Sung-nam Kim, I fondly empathize with Scarlett Johansson’s character in Lost in Translation, where I too have gazed out the hotel window, contemplating, adding this, subtracting that, figuring it out, and questioning all.

The message of movies like Night and Day and Lost in Translation is that when we find our true passion, it comes from within. Where God or Buddha is for you; both are likely to be found only through the doorway to the inner soul. For me the true path and illumination came through a two-month love, which remains forever impossible to replicate. I felt alive, free; full of the life and love that God so wanted humans to experience.

Some will find Night and Day a comedic film, more of life’s deception and people running from responsibility. And that may be true. Still on a deeper level, watching characters personally struggle for connection and love in a foreign land only reinforces my own belief in the positive aspect of Buddhism’s compassion – that we must always be involved the moral care for others, just as the positive aspect of love does in Christianity.

So for all of us, find that which I cannot. Transcend life. Taste that which redefines the senses and dominates the mind and heart.

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