Do I Dare Disturb the Universe?
          For I have known them all already—known them all—
          Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
          I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.

 
Here comes another predictable year—the same people, the same problems, the same patterns played out over the months. Before you know it, it will be the end of December already.
 
Except for this: someone—maybe you—steps in and intentionally and thoughtfully disturbs the status quo. You do not do this for your entertainment or because of some perverse schadenfreude, but because there is a small and insistent voice in your head that says we can do better, we must be better.
 
          And should I then presume?
          And how should I begin?
 
Look about you. Do you see chaos, efforts in all directions? Call people to a clearly defined end and provide a means to get there. Is a tidy rule-following culture suffocating everyone around you? Add a touch of chaos by breaching a useless, discriminatory practice. Interrupt the prevailing West Michigan Nice with a question that makes you and others uncomfortable. Bring forth that radical idea you’ve been pondering and expose it to public dialogue. Wonder out loud about orthodoxies to which you no longer pander.
 
          I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
          I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
          And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat and snicker,
          And in short, I was afraid.
 
Of course you’re afraid. We all are. You’re unprepared for the consequences, too. And you’re probably not the smartest cookie in the jar. Speak firmly to the monkeys in your head and do it anyway.
 
It is time to disturb the universe.

 
Title and quotes from T. S. Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
RUTH / CHANGE / Jan 5, 2012, 12:14am / Comments (4995)
What Color Was Your Year?
You know how on a rare morning or evening the light takes on a certain quality that gives everything greater depth and intensity? How you look in awe at the way this light has transformed the natural world of grass, trees, and sky and even everyday objects? How you imagine capturing those saturated greens and blues and reds and browns in clear bottles and storing them in a neat row on a white painted shelf so you can feast your eyes on them during a string of bleak winter days?
 
Those were the colors of my year.
 
Since January, 2011, my world has been populated with people of deep grey, stubbornly clinging to the past, people greening up with new tools and whole new paradigms, and people fiery red with passion. I was enchanted by the variety, the spicy mix.
 
During this past year, I’ve held ideas up to the light at different angles and watched themes emerge as if by magic. I’ve tinkered with the subtle shades of leadership. I’ve played with the colors of visual meetings. I’ve mixed hues from the worlds of business and nonprofit.
 
Indeed, my imperfections have been cheerfully exposed. I’ve taken old failures off the shelf, dusted them off, and gave them a new sheen. I’ve practiced new skills awkwardly in public. I’ve created products and shipped when they were still flawed.
 
A new role, a new heaven and a new earth: I’m seeing it all fresh again.
 
What color was your year?
RUTH / Jan 3, 2012, 6:38pm / Comments (881)
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