Catching up on some belated posts, I especially wanted to bring attention to this event brought to us by the Rotary International. The keynote speech was by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. Among many other awards, she also won the highest civilian honor in the U.S., the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She is an amazing woman and I was fortunate to have the chance to hear her speech. The keynote was finally put online and it is well worth watching. There are many quotable moments but one that stood out for me was the following:
Compromise requires courage because compromise means letting go of your vanity. A lot of people do not compromise because they think it is a sign of weakness. Compromise is a sign of strength… Compassion allows you to recognize that other people’s needs are as valid as your own.
We all need to find ways to work towards peace and compassion is a great place to start. The challenge is taking the words and turning them into action. We each need to find our own way. Ryan Ozawa and I had the honor and opportunity to share our thoughts on technology and peace at the Peace Forum earlier that day. I decided to share a meditation practice of mine in the hopes that others could find a way to discovery their own form of practice. It's finding out what resonates with you and turning that into action. You can find my presentation here.
As an added bonus, here is Aung San Suu Kyi's speech and QnA with students brought together by the Hawaii Community Foundation and Pillars of Peace. In it she explains quite simply:
You have to learn to be at peace with yourself. To be at peace with yourself you have to face your weaknesses and you have to have enough compassion for yourself not to condemn yourself for these weaknesses. You have the courage to work at your weaknesses, to try to change yourself. Peace requires change and change requires a lot of hard work. And hard work requires commitment and courage.
Graffiti art or street art as I like to refer to these pieces, stirs feelings that range from awe to disgust in those that view it. Born out of the street punk movement dating back to the late 70's and early 80's in the subways of New York City, this was a statement by rebellious youth. Personally I don't condone the defacement of public or private property by illegal graphic expressions but on some occasions I am truly amazed at the artistry. So when I saw these pieces at the Academy Art Center at Linekona, I was quite captivated.
As timing would have it, the two artists responsible for this masterpiece (and one right around the corner) were just finishing up, Prime (on the right) and Estria (on the left). I half expected them to grab their spray cans and run as I approached but this was obviously a commissioned work. Prime holds classes at places like Palama Settlement to teach youth art technique and appreciation, mentoring and leadership development. The artist collective known as 808Urban works with kids in underserved areas like Kalihi. In addition to teaching art they work with communities to create mural art, the legitimized version of street graffiti. I've seen their work in various places like the Palama Settlement and a recent mural at Kokua Foods. Checking out Estria's Flickr site, he's got all kinds of work going on in Oakland and the San Francisco Bay Area. Most of it revolves around bringing graffiti artists together to showcase their work and to collectively work on murals like the Four Guardians in Oakland. It's very impressive, in-your-face, vibrant, "happy to be alive" expressions of creativity.
For the past 4 or 5 years I been putting together my New Years calendar. I usually spend the day after Christmas, rushing around looking for photos from the previous year to assemble into a one-year view calendar. Then I email it to my printer to get hard copies to hand out (in lieu of Christmas cards). This year I am doing the same thing but will a slightly different twist. I posted the calendar in its original 3.7Mb .jpg file format to Flickr, Posterous, Tumblr, WordPress.com, Blogger.com and here. Not that everyone is out there rushing to get my calendar but in the off chance that I miss giving you one of the hardcopy versions (on card stock, glossy paper) you can print your very own. You might wonder why I am posting to so many places. I just find it interesting how these different services are positioning themselves and the best way to learn what they are doing is to try them. I've reactivated my WordPress.com blog since I now can not only post there from Posterous but also directly from Tweetie 2, the popular Twitter client for the iPhone. It's microblogging meets mega-blogging, to coin a term from Matt Mullenweg.
Just a little background on the calendar. I try to find photos which help depict the 5 basic Chinese elements: Wood, Metal, Fire, Water and Earth. The flower arrangement has elements of wood, water and metal (the kenzan), the sunrise is fire and water and the waterfall at Nualolo on Kauai is earth and water. Mochi is for the cuteness factor which isn't one of the 5 basic elements but a requirement for my calendar nevertheless.
June 21, 2009 marks the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. It is the tilt of the earth's axis that causes this long day and as soon as it happens we pass into a period of shortening days. It is the transition from one period into the next. For seven years, my friend Kelvin Ho made it a personal commitment to celebrate the solstice by taking a group of friends into a valley along the Na Pali coast of Kauai called Nualolo. Through this commitment, he and his wife Kat recognize and honor our Hawaiian ancestors who lived and drew sustanance from this land. This was the fifth year in the seven year commitment and the first opportunity for me to experience it. The trip would essentially take one day, to access Nualolo, trek into the valley, give a ho`okupu (offering) to the land and leave by night fall. It was appropriate to take full advantage of the longest day to embark on this epic journey. The day started with a 4am zodiac ride from Port Allen to Nualolo Kai State Park. By 5:30am we were dropped of in the ocean to swim about 50 yards to shore. That was the first gate. The next gate was a much longer swim across a point to access a boulder strune beach. Accessing a sandy beach with a shore break is one thing, but a shore break onto boulders is quite another. This view from the cliff above shows the boulders in the water but all sense of size is lost in the photo.
Once on land we follow the stream deep into the valley. I was quite taken by the fresh water pools and waterfalls. Following the stream into the valley was like tracing a lifeline. Nualolo `aina was lush in vegetation. Much of it was non-native but was the occasional native plant, like alahe`e, naio, naupaka, and the Hawaiian poppy. I was quite amazing to see fresh water springs that tasted sweeter than any bottled water that I have ever had. We took a break at a kukui nut grove with six inches of kukui nuts on the ground. In ancient times, the kukui nut symbolized enlightenment. As I laid there I could feel a heightened level of energy even though outwardly it was very serene. We hiked all the way to the back of the valley that stopped at a sheer wall of rock. It was an awesome feeling to bare witness to the nature of the place.
The vibrance and excitement of SXSW was intoxicating. When I got back last week Wed (3/18). I hit the road running going into the office, sharing cool finds from SXSW, doing the Bytemarks Cafe radio show that evening. Then on Thursday it was the Andy Bumatai show and on Friday it was working on getting Sunni Brown over to Hawaii for a management team presentation. By Friday afternoon, I was feeling the wheels starting to wobble. It started as a headache and a fever. I thought maybe a weekend of rest would do it. But no sooner did the weekend start, it ended. Monday (3/23) was staring me in the face. Sunni Brown was sick (like I was) and made a good decision to fly from Austin to Hawaii on Monday. We talked about it over the weekend and I totally understood. If it was me I would have done the same thing. Suffice it to say it added to my stress level. We found a substitute graphic recorder and had her flown in from the Big Island. Tuesday was back to back meetings going over the executive presentations with our team and the new graphic recorder Suzanne London. Lots of prep work went into capturing the 2-thirty minute presentations. On Wed morning I (with the help of my fellow teammates) schlep over two cameras and tripods. The presentations go without a hitch although the graphic recording wasn't up to the standard set by Sunni. But that's life. Wed afternoon is another Bytemarks Cafe with Alex Ho and Briana Acosta in the studio talking about FRIST Robotics. Thursday (3/26 ) is an all day Health2.0 Conference held at the Kahala Hotel. Very interesting day of presentations, panels and break out sessions on the topic of telemedicine, present and future. Thursday night culminated in the quasi-monthly Manoa Geeks which had 70+ people converge on the Honolulu Advertiser building to geek out on tech talk and pizza.
That brings me to today, Friday 3/27, my day to make a presentation to coworkers entitled: Digital You: LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. By this time my throat is killing me and I am drinking cough medicine every 12 hours. I am told that I will have at least 70 people in attendance and a bunch of last minute show ups. My voice has lost all its projection but the subject matter is my passion and I am hoping that comes through. @Lavagal is in the audience giving me support. I wanted to spend most of my time talking about Twitter but when I looked at the clock it was already 12:45 when I ended the section on FB. I should have timed it better. I start going over the basics of Twitter, microblogging and the 140 character limitation. I then talk about personal branding and about some of the popular Twitter celebrities that have changed their handle to better suit their "brand". As I talk about Neenz, who went from @infinitypro to @neenz, low and behold I get a tweet from Neenz. I am totally humbled and tell everybody that is the power of Twitter. It even facilitates psychic connections!
Cold or no cold, that made my day and week. Life is like that. It deals out a set of cards and it is up to you to make something out of it. If you look back and feel you have lived every moment to its fullest, with no regrets, you then turn around and go forward with the same conviction. Ichi-go ichi-e, each moment is "one chance in a lifetime." Makes life such a fun path to be on.
I just got word of an upcoming show called Digital Imagery in Hawaii 2009 featuring local photographers. The show is juried by David Ulrich and Jerry Omo, Jr. and will be held at the Canon Gallery, 210 Ward Avenue, Suite 701. The exhibition is sponsored by Pacific New Media and is designed to provide a snapshot of the "state of the art" of digital media in Hawaii. According to the requirements, you must have taken the image digitally; i.e., cell phone, digital camera, or scanner. Image must have been created within the past two years and not previously exhibited. The show runs from March 2nd to March 31st. The exhibit opening is on Monday, March 2nd from 11am to 2pm. Several friends of mine are in it including Craig Ellenwood, Lisa Hoang (@windwardskies) and Carrie Matsunaga (@oreogirl). It sounds like a cool show and certainly a great way to spend a lunch hour getting lost in the imagery.
I first met these Bhutanese monks during our annual mochi pounding event at Chozen-ji over Christmas holiday. They of course are here for the BIG Bhutan exhibit coming up at the Academy of Arts. Now that I have a bit of free time on my hands one of the things I've been doing is volunteering at the Academy. It's my way of not squandering my free time while learning something about Bhutanese culture and Buddhism in general. Leading up to the exhibit opening on Feb. 26th, the Academy holds Wed. lectures for their docents and volunteers. Last week the lecture was about the Bhutanese tangkhas (scrolls) and how the Academy's effort to help restore these tangkhas lead to this exhibit. If you look at the photos I posted on Flickr you can see examples of tangkha in states of disintegration. I am assuming the tangkhas in the exhibit will have been restored but not having seen the exhibit yet, I can't be certain. This past week's lecture was quick overview of Buddhism in Bhutan. Buddhism is a fascinating philosophy and religion and I will admit I am only scratching the surface of this deep and varied spiritual path. Needless to say it was very mind expanding and I would recommend attending the exhibit. There will be a special performance of Buddhist ritual dance at Thomas Square on Feb. 23rd at 5:00pm. Bring your cameras because it will be a sight to behold. Stay tune as I plan to cover this exhibit as a blogging volunteer.
Zengo Sai Dan is a short passage in the Fudochi Shimmyo Roku, a collection of writings by Takuan Soho a Zen master in the 1600's. It basically means:
The state of mind should be after you cut and discard where the past and present meet. The principle is cutting between past and present and setting it free. This is the principle of not stopping the mind.
The character in the image is one of Fudo Myoo, a Buddhist protector seen holding a sword in one hand and a rope in the other. The sword is to cut way ignorance and delusion and the rope is to tied up those demons. So why am I talking about this stuff in an ancient Asian context? Because it has a lot of relevance to events happening today. I recently read a very good post by Robert Scoble about getting laid off. It seemed very timely as he wrote it with the workers from Yahoo in mind. The very next day it happened at Hawaiian Telcom. Robert outlines all the things you need to do to move on. What he doesn't explicitly say but strongly implies is don't look back. That is the idea of cutting and making the decisive move forward. Don't let your mind get stuck in the past. I can speak from experience about a time when who I thought I was was directly tied to where I worked. Sometimes doors would open because the people opening those door did so because of who you represented or perhaps your status in the company. You might find that quickly disappears once you no longer have an employer with a recognizable corporate name. The doors might not open so easily. But that is okay. Don't get stuck and don't let it depress you. The quicker you recognize that who you truly are has nothing to do with where you work the quicker it will be for you to project the real you in a positive liberating way. Fudo Myoo represents that cutting away of delusion and Takuan says after you make that cut, move on and don't dwell in the past. Good advice even 500 years later.