The smiley face. The smiley emoticon. They’re all over my offline and online world. I spotted these cookies at a Noe Valley cafe this morning. I just had to capture them and share them with you. If you do a Search for “happiness” or “instant gratification” or #American I think you may just find these. The sweetness and comfort of sugar and the warmth and power of a smile generates the Pollyanna state of mind that we need to keep us buoyant in this weird world.
These smiley cookies are labeled as “Holiday Cookies” and convention dictates that we should try to be kinder, gentler and happier during the Holiday Season. Shouldn’t we try to be that way all the time? Or at least project that? I’m trying. See, that’s me in the photo below during SantaCon San Francisco. I’m smiling. 🙂 SantaCon is an annual event inviting hundreds of people to dress up in Santa like costumes on a Saturday in December. In San Francisco, the masses first congregated at City Hall and then walked up to the Polk Gulch/ Russian Hill neighborhood for a pub crawl. It was a fun experience. Find out if it happens in your city. Or just start one.
SantaCon San Francisco 2011
So that’s how I roll. Armed with a cookie and a smile. That’s my dual weapon of hope for the New Year. What’s in your arsenal of hope for Twenty Twelve? 2012 –> 🙂 🙂 :-] :-}
I’m excited to participate in the San Francisco private screening tonight of In the Land of Blood and Honey as there will be a panel afterwards featuring speakers from the Global Fund for Women and the Human Rights Center at UC Berkeley. It’s a film re-living the Bosnian genocide of the nineties and tells the story of two Bosnians from different sides of a brutal ethnic conflict. There is a lot of press surrounding the event because of the face associated with the production. This is Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut and I believe she also co-produced and was involved with the writing. She’s all over it, but not in it. Here’s an interview with Angelina Jolie by Charlie Rose in YouTube format. The interview appears to be broken up into different videos so this is just ‘Part I’ and you’ll have to follow “screamingangie11” if you want to continue with this channel sequence. I think the beginning of the interview which also includes a trailer of the film will provide you with a good sense of why she embarked on this project.
I’m also excited for tonight since I get to see my friend Karen who was out of town for the Holidays. She’s very passionate about human rights in the Middle East and Taiwan. I look forward to participating in one of her Amnesty International events in a couple of weeks – another screening featuring My Tehran for Sale.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a film in a real movie theater setting. And the subjects for “In the Land of Blood and Honey” and “My Tehran for Sale” sound very compelling. Film, Human Rights, Foreign Lands, Culture and Politics in San Francisco. Not a dull blend.
I took this picture on New Year’s Eve in Union Square, San Francisco:
The Sparkly Rainbow Guy was out in full force in Union Square. He seemed to be hustling for attention for a while until this lady approached him. San Francisco is full of performance artists. Whether you want to dress up or dress down, whether you want to dress in full regalia or or simply play a role, whether you are crazy or non-crazy, all are welcome in this town. You are free to express yourself.
2011 was an explosion of self-expression all over the digital landscape. Social media is about self-expression and we witnessed major political change globally through this medium and because of this medium. And I believe you will see more acts of self-expression committed by citizens of nations trying to make institutional change in 2012 and beyond.
I remember meeting a New York transplant who told me that his friends back East call San Francisco full of “crunchy” types. I look at it this way. New York has New Yorkers. Paris has Parisians. And San Francisco has people who understand the value of self-expression to change the world.
There are no coincidences or accidents. Just serendipity. Serendipity is hard to define but I think you’ll know it when it happens. It’s when something pleasant or even magical happens to you when you least expect it. From the day I found a home in San Francisco to the very end of Twenty Eleven, I have been blessed by serendipitous events. I was led to my current residence by the kindness of a stranger in Huntington Park who has also become my neighbor, and I celebrated New Year’s Eve with absolutely no plans except a somewhat random decision to head to the Fillmore District near the Western Addition neighborhood. And after finding a parking spot in less than a couple of minutes (serendipitous parking karma on NYE!) and venturing not more than half of a block, we spotted a place that looked stylish and appropriate for the evening:
The restaurant/lounge presented a good vibe and friendly staff. The atmosphere felt more like rat pack supper club or swanky jazz club, rather than the sleek San Francisco affair that one would envision with the trendy SOMA set. After pleasant conversation with new friends and some dancing we rang in the new year with the proverbial champagne and sparkly disposable accessories. It was a good night. I would like to return to try out their dinner menu, or for drinks after a performance at Yoshi’s.
It was a beautiful celebration. Very serendipitous. How many times have you experienced that space in time when things just work for the best without trying? I look forward to many more moments of serendipity in 2012. Planning can be good but perhaps life can become more interesting when you stop figuring out the details. Try living differently in 2012. Stop being such a control freak.
I’ve been thinking of this concept of mentorship. Through my young adult and professional life I have always been encouraged to seek out a mentor. And we seem to read about it a lot in career advice columns, blog posts, self-improvement literature, etc. And yes, I have had a handful of more wise, experienced individuals guide me through challenging and uncertain times, both men and women. Not sure I would call them mentors though.
Here’s the observation that I’ve made. It becomes dangerous when the mentor is treated as a hero. Then the mentorship experience becomes hero worship. This creates limitations on your self development. You fail to develop to your fullest potential because you become so focused on BEING your mentor. Do you really want to be a second-rate copy of your Mentor or a first-rate you? So here lies another meaning of “bcc”: do you want to become a Blind Carbon Copy?
Here’s a simplified analogy regarding the above. Steve Jobs died this past year in case you didn’t hear. He is probably the first person associated with that brand called Apple. There was a lot of attention focused on him after he died. Lots of people were sad. There were a lot of tributes written about him. He was worshipped and he continues to be worshipped. He has been deified. So the question I’ve heard is “Who is the next Steve Jobs?” And it continues with “Who is the next Mark Zuckerberg?” Or “Who is the next Arianna Huffington?” Or “Who is the next Angela Merkl?” Or “Who is the next Margaret Thatcher?” (Huh? That was a curve ball, right?) Yes, I look forward to watching Meryl Streep portray the Reagan era politician in “The Iron Lady” which is coming soon to a theater near you. These questions are silly. Seeking out “The Next” whatever creates limitations and ceilings on inventing something different that can change the world in even a greater capacity. Sure, the aforementioned people have made a major impact on the world but that does not mean that they represent the absolute potential. Mentorship and learning from great leaders has value but be careful not to diminish your own ability to do amazing things. Do something different.
Sometimes this is what I do on Friday afternoon before an evening out. I seek to entertain and educate myself by checking out YouTube. I had a recent discussion with a date about Arianna Huffington and why she is such a Big Deal in the media and blogosphere. So I decided to find out what Search results YouTube (Google) would produce for “Arianna Huffington”, the woman who has been called the “World’s Most Powerful Blogger.” And I found this piece from 2007 uploaded by GoogleTalks where a very pregnant Sheryl Sandberg then of Google, now the COO of Facebook interviews the New Media titan.
Aside from her explanation of how she transformed from a Conservative to a Liberal what I found interesting was Ms. Huffington’s insight about the concept of fear. Women and men handle the feeling of fear differently. Nothing too earth shattering there. But what kinds of things are women fearful of? Ms. Huffington illustrates her point with the concept of the “Evil Roommate” which lives in our brain and tells us mean or undermining things. The Evil Roommate exists in the minds of both men and women. But here again lies the difference. For example, women wake up in the morning and the Evil Roommate may whisper something like this to them, “Look in the mirror, is that another wrinkle?” or “Those jeans are tighter on you because you threw them in the dryer, right?” She goes on to posit that it’s not about the absence of fear which will move us forward, but of mastering it. I think this thought approach applies to human beings in general. Both men and women have different perceptions of what may cripple them mentally and/or emotionally but perhaps it’s a matter of first identifying the nature of the fear and why it’s given permission to exist in our minds.
Ms. Huffington is an interesting personality to listen to. Her thoughts about the perception of the “outspoken woman” and what needs to change to move women forward are not revolutionary but she speaks to the themes of human dignity and the democratization of the Voice. Human beings feel valued when they have a Voice that is acknowledged and heard. So regardless of whether you agree or disagree with her political views or maybe just don’t like her, in the big picture she reminds us about the beauty and power of the blogosphere to deliver Truth from ordinary people. The emergence of New Media has granted a voice to ordinary people who can blog about things that matter to them up to a potentially institution-changing and revolutionary way. I do understand that a double-edged sword exists where any non-Truth can also be broadcast by an ordinary person with evil intentions to destroy the World. But the global activism that this form of communication has spawned just in 2011 also amplifies the new era of individual self-fulfillment and attempting to “do good” in the world. So the next time the Evil Roommate rears itself, press the mute button. That Voice does not earn the right to be heard.