Sliding Otter News- Oh the Places You’ll Go

November 20, 2010


Volume 2, Issue 25


Oh the Places You’ll Go

Oh the things you can think if you’re willing to try…

~Theodor Seuss Geisel


Seussucak Cast

Seussical Junior Cast

I know a family heavily involved in the arts. They invited Carol and me to the Bloomfield Middle School production of Seussical the Musical Junior. Given the age of the actors, we went with moderate expectations but looked forward to an enjoyable evening.

As we entered the school, we found adults and kids bustling with excitement. Poster boards tracked the extensive work it took to prepare the show. We tend to take this labor for granted unless we have participated in a theater production.

Once the curtain rose, a whimsical world appeared. The wonderful cast of middle schoolers drew us into the magical world of Seussical, celebrating imagination and creativity. I remember reading The Cat in the Hat, Horton Hears a Who and Green Eggs and Ham to my children. The books seemed silly at first but then captivated me.

The children invited us to put aside our daily cares for a while and live with them in the realm of fantasy. The show enthralled me and left me grateful for my own imagination and for the creativity with which we are all born.

Sometimes we forget we have an imagination and think we are stuck with the task of plodding though the problems life presents us. We don’t think we have any choice and it feels like there is no way out. We think the world is going to pot and we are being dragged along with it.

Living in the Seussical world for an evening reminded me of the endless imagination with which God has endowed us. When we put our minds to it, we can find new ways of thinking about our human problems and transforming them into new ways of living. We have done it for eons and can continue to do so if we trust ourselves and each other enough to work together.

When life becomes a struggle, we tend to see the arts as a luxury we can’t afford and think we must be practical. In the process we become lost in the drudgery of coping with everyday problems. We forget that the arts allow us to fly free from our bonds and use our imagination to find new ways to think and act. Rather than an escape from reality, the arts are a way to practice thinking of the world in new ways. We learn to transcend problems we are tempted to see as insurmountable.

I left reinvigorated by Seussical’s imagination as well as by appreciation for the community effort it took to create this magical evening. I applauded the coming together of children and adults to create a wonderful world into which they invited us. I am grateful for their sharing the possibilities of our creative imagination. Thank you Sarah, Justin, Alex and Hudson and the rest of the Bloomfield Middle School Community.

Life Lab Lessons

  • Do you plod through life?
  • Do you allow your imagination to have its say?
  • Do you feel stuck?
  • Do you trust your creativity?
  • Find someone with whom to celebrate the arts.

Sliding Otter News: Juggling Feelings, Emails and Text Messages


Sliding Otter News


November 6, 2010


Volume 2, Issue 24


Juggling Feelings, Emails and Text Messages


Sneakers on a Telephone Wire

Sneakers on a Telephone Wire

So when you are listening to somebody, completely, attentively, then you are listening not only to the words but also to the feeling of what is being conveyed, to the whole of it, not part of it.
~ Jiddu Krishnamurti


Tone of voice suggests excitement or depression. Blushing suggests anger or embarrassment. Tears suggest sadness. All of these hints help us make sense of other people’s words. Without them we are quite likely to misinterpret feelings or miss them altogether. Even with this extra information, we might not be sure how someone else feels. But it’s a start.

At one time, the only way we could communicate was by talking directly with each other. Back then people weren’t in a hurry and could take time to hear each other out. They asked questions until they understood what each other meant.

Over the centuries, we have developed many shorthand methods of communicating. At the same time the pace of our lives has quickened considerably. These days we want everything immediately and take affront at having to wait more than a few seconds for anything. In the process, we have been cut off from rich sources of information.

The telephone deprived us of seeing another person as he or she talked. Emails deprived us of hearing tone of voice, accent, and how fast someone talked. Text messages have cut even our typewritten words to the bare minimum, often using shortcuts for words and expressions, at least IMHO (in my humble opinion.)

What are the advantages of emails or text messages over more complete communication? We don’t have to wait to share our messages. We can also converse in shorthand. As long as we are sharing brief information, there’s no problem. The disadvantage is the loss of emotional information. If we want someone to know how we feel we are limited to trying to describe our feelings or resorting to emoticons (smiley faces.) It has often been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Emoticons might well be worth less than a single word. They relay about as much information about our feelings as a stick figure does about a person. 😦

I recall once having a misunderstanding with someone very close to me. Due to distance and different time zones, we tried to resolve the issue by email. The more we tried, the worse it got until we finally talked about it face to face.

Sometimes we don’t have the luxury of face to face communication. If we must resort to electronic shorthand, we would do well to remember the limitations of technology. Being aware that our feelings or intentions might be distorted, we can take care to clarify what we mean and how we feel. If we are not sure, it always helps to ask what the other person thinks we mean.

Life Lab Lessons

  • Be aware of your feelings about what you say or write.
  • Realize that you might not always clearly communicate how you feel.
  • Be especially careful with email and text messages.
  • Be sure to clarify feelings you think are attached to incoming messages.
  • If you are not sure what feelings are being suggested, check it out. 🙂