Is it a wonderful world? What do you think? My answer is yes and no.
It’s hard not to notice that while we live on a beautiful blue island in space, we don’t spend enough time appreciating what we have.
While there have always been conflicts and disagreements on space ship earth, the way we humans seem to be taking opposing sides these days is perhaps more dangerous than ever before, especially given the fact that we have the power to destroy all life on earth in a matter of minutes. Luckily, we also have the power to take care of ourselves and the planet if we can learn to live together.
Thinking about this recently, I remembered something one of my mentors said to me a long time ago. I came across it when I was reading one of my journals the other day, and the idea really came to life again. While having a spirited conversation on all things philosophical, my mentor stopped me dead in my tracks and said: “Robert, you can’t choose sides on a round planet.” It got my attention and got me to shut up and listen. As I think now about what he said, it almost sounds like a Zen koan, don’t you think? If I reframe it as a question that goes like this, “How do you choose sides on a round planet?, then that’s got to qualify as a Zen koan!
But unfortunately, we are choosing sides more and more. Rather than reach for agreements and partnerships, we tend to want to hold fast to old lines in the sand while we continue to work on drawing new ones. We’ve been playing this no-win game for centuries now and, if you read a bit of history, you can study the results. It’s not a pretty picture.
I confess that I’m an internal optimist and perhaps I’m so naïve as to believe that we are going to figure it all out … but I certainly don’t claim to have the answers. Nevertheless, one thing always seems to ring true for me. We tend to take care of those things that we treasure which brings me to a new addition to my family. My son recently bought a dog from an incredible dog breeder who named the puppy Schatze shortly after she was born. The name literally means “treasure.” While people often like to name their pets themselves, my son loved the name so much that he kept it. I have no doubt that Schatze will be “treasured” by our entire family for many years to come.
As I was playing with Schatze the other day, I had this thought: What if each of us treated each other with the same respect and playfulness we typically show our pets? That’s an interesting idea, don’t you think? Having a thought like that might help to nudge us all in the right direction.
So why not start treating other people and our planet like the “treasures” that they are? That’s what I did while I played with Schatze and she returned the feelings in kind. We do tend to get back what we put out.
Perhaps this is all getting a bit too philosophical and overly simplistic given the nature our problems; however, I tend to find simple answers to be the most effective. We humans tend to overcomplicate our lives. So let me end this month’s blog by sharing a recording. The song is called “What A Wonderful World” and I know you’ve heard it many times, but have you ever really stopped to listen to it? It was first recorded by Louis Armstrong, in 1967. The words to the song will bring tears to your eyes if you really listen and think about their true meaning.
Here’s the original recording. Listen to Louis Armstrong at his best and see what you think. Does it change the way you feel about the world?
It certainly affects me in a very deep way. I love the song so much that I enjoy playing it on my saxophone just for fun. I’ve provided an mp3 recording that I did a number of years ago that you might enjoy. It’s not even in the same ballpark as the master Louis Armstrong, and it’s obviously missing those important lyrics that really make it come alive. But it always makes me feel better when I play it. See what you think.
The good news is that I’m working on another version based on the three things I focus on in life: (1) Studying, (2) Practicing, and (3) Teaching. I’m committed to getting better, and I know you are as well or you wouldn’t be reading this blog. Just make sure you are studying, practicing, and teaching whatever fascinates you the most in life while surrounding yourself with people who want to grow and improve and build a better life and a better world just like you do.
For me, the bottom-line is this: Our best is yet to come. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.
Now make it a great day because IT CAN BE A WONDERFUL WORLD. The choice is up to each of us.