Monday, June 20, 2011

128th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
When Your “I”s Are Too Close Together
You Can’t See Anything

Mike showed up again with his charming wife, Rachael Saturday morning at the Rincon Market. He’s a systems engineering student at the university and is thinking seriously about starting One Can A Week in his neighborhood. He said he’d have breakfast first and then join me for a talk about the process.

My dad loved systems engineers. He was VP of Production for a number of famous shirt manufacturers such as Arrow and Van Heusen and relied on these professionals to help him keep production rolling. I guess if he were more mechanically inclined he would have become a systems engineer himself, but instead he majored in philosophy. That decision turned out to be important in my life as you will discover down the page.

Systems engineers are those special people who see and can manage complex and complicated projects involving many disciplines. Just think about how many different professions are involved in building a space station or a product like Oreos. They are very detailed oriented and highly conceptual folks.

When Mike came back to my display table, he opened up the conversation by asking why I started One Can A Week. This was the beginning of his fact-finding mission. I could tell he was wondering if his philosophy was consistent with mine.

There were many reasons, I told him. For instance, as I was driving to the Rincon Market I was thinking about how neatly our food donation program fits into my approach to life and that seemed the right place to start our dialog.

The only thing of value we have is our word. If you do what you say, all is well, but one question from anyone can cause doubt. One Can A Week is structured, engineered, if you like, to counter any doubt, supported by Community Food Bank receipts and quarterly food donation reports.

Next, we covered the idea of focusing one’s attention on others. This is easier said than done because most of us put self-imposed constraints on our time by acquiring material things and family obligations. This eventually becomes a perpetual motion machine paid for by a job which may leave precious little time to devote to others. Early on I decided helping others and few possessions was the life for me. My dad was very instrumental in this decision

One day when I was a teenage, he brought home a letter he received from a job applicant and handed it to me. I started to read it when he interrupted me. “I just want you to look at the letter,” he said.

There were three paragraphs and apparently dad circled all of the “I”s . I counted 30 some When I looked up he said, “If your “I”s are too close together, you can’t see anything.” To this day, dad’s lesson on paying attention to the world and staying committed to others is always on my mind.

Mike had one more question in his quest to discover the make up of a potential One Can A Week organizer. Why aren’t there more people picking up the gauntlet in more neighborhoods? This is my personal opinion but I believe people think they know things and they really have no idea how the world works. “I can support myself, why can’t they?” “Just tell them to get a job.” “We spend too much on education.” And other silly questions and statements.

What could we know; we have only been out of the caves for 12,000 years. That is such a small amount of time in the scheme of things it is nothing but arrogance to believe we know anything. (See chart below to get a different perspective on life and the passing of time.)

Just the other day, another friend of mine who is also named Mike, sent me a link to photos of a man in Costa Rico whose best friend is a 17-foot crocodile. Reptilian brain or not, this wonderful creature feels emotion. We have so much to learn.

My new friend Mike really perked up when I told him the crocodile story and he wanted the link. Mike is a good interrogator and a good listener, too. I think he is going to do just fine with One Can A Week and most everything in his life.

All Humans are Born with a Blank Slate and Then They Forget
We look at a picture of a 4,000-year-old Pyramid in Egypt or an illustration of a 12,000-year-old cave dwelling site in Europe and we have difficulty imagining those things that happened such an incredibly long time ago. It is almost impossible to relate to or grasp that we are directly involved in such ancient history especially if we are viewing those photos or drawings on our laptop or iPad. But we are related and in reality it wasn’t that long ago.

If you change the time prospective, it seems quite within reach as it should be. If we use a linear scale of human longevity, say a lifespan of 100 years, then from our grunting cave man and woman days to today, June 20, 2011, 120 people in a row, where born and died. (That’s how many folks are in the illustration above.) In other words, one person was born, lived to 100, died and another one was born on the same day for 12,000 years. That’s a checkout line of 120 people, something you may run into at a Wal-Mart super sale or hit movie premier.

If we limit their linear lives to 50 years, there would have been 240 people since the damp cave days. If we stick to the 25-years-per-generation figure, there were only 480 people in the time measuring line. Think about a nearly full 380 Airbus which seats 520 passengers.

We’re only in the very, very early stages of human existence on the planet Earth and we can’t forget that fact. We don’t know much about where we are or why we are and to pretend otherwise is unwise.

Cereal Sunday
The Community Food Bank always suggests people donate cereal for kids. (Non-sugar coated, of course.). This week a couple of neighbors heard the word and loaded us up with a huge shopping bag full.

We collected a total of 202 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $56.50 … a $25.00 check and $31.50 in cash.

See you Sunday.


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