Friday, January 01, 2010

A Happy Holidays 2009

Happy Holidays from Sidd, Paul, Molly and myself!

This note comes to you from the lush, coastal, southwestern state of Kerala in India, where we have the good fortune of visiting with family and friends on our first long vacation since 2005. I took this shot as we rode an auto-ricksha back to Molly’s Uncle Immanuel’s place. I LOVE autorickshas: on the one hand their itty bitty 2 cycle engines create a disastrous amount of pollution; on the other other hand, you smell, hear, taste, feel and see your excursions in relative comfort like no other vehicle I know of ; and a good driver will patiently snake thru the most remarkably congested traffic - - “seeing” openings created by the moving geometry of buses, cars, lorries, and motorcycles. More abstractly, this particular scene made me think of how we hurtle thru time and life with friends and family in some manner of capsule - - that is, nested in the trappings of our belongings, with our talents, time and more intangible treasures.

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The Journey Forward into 2010, Copyright 2009, Abe Pachikara

No ordinary year blustered by – in the US alone tens of millions of people lost their jobs and even worse, millions lost their homes. The personal disruption to the fabric of an individual or family from the need to “move out” (massive uncertainty for the adults, potentially new schools for children, derailed college plans for teens) makes me recall a quote by Napoleon which my dad shared many years ago, “ ‘Tis but a moment from the sublime to the ridiculous.” So we are especially grateful that our joys and frustrations in 2009 have been pretty similar to those in 2008.

With that, here are a few observations from 2009:

  • Wisdom Comes Early. Michael Jackson was only introduced to our boys (at that time 6 and 7 years old) via news of his death. They saw an anthology of his videos on news shows and immediately were amazed by his dancing ways. A few days of pondering by Paul were summed up in a question after our daily evening prayers, “Dad, why do we ONLY pray for family? You see dad, there is life and there is death. Michael Jackson died and we did not pray for him.” So since then, (taking last night as example) in our prayers we say, “Help people go to heaven, like Joe Uncle, Thomas Uncle and Michael Jackson” where the latter represents all those who have died recently outside the family.
  • Same Origins, Different Product. Ostensibly 2 or more siblings come from the same ingredients, yet the mix of those inputs can be so dramatically different. Paul is reflective, introspective, and has 1 close friend. Sidd rushes thru his work, enjoys enjoying things, and cannot remember the number of kids with whom he has played each day.
  • Keep Reinventing One’s Self. All of us need to evolve what we do, even if it means experiencing the uncomfortable feeling of being the “newby”. I took a head spinning new role driving cloud computing adoption within Microsoft after 3+ years in the prior assignment; Molly, who right now has what I prefer to characterize as a full-time “product management role” shaping our boys is similarly stepping out of her comfort zone thru the Toastmasters group she has joined.
  • Face Down Your Fears, Chase Your Goals. How many of us have persisted thru a job we truly disliked due to such confounding sweeteners as good benefits, good pay, and a well regarded company name? Well my sister Susan decided “now was the time to move on,” and as the economy was slumping, left her GAO job to find something more engaging. The upshot: an amazing adventure, exploration into avenues otherwise ignored and a new role in organization focused on areas of geniune importance to her. None of this would have happened had she not shaken off her former constraints.
  • Be Young to Stay Young. Elizabeth Buhler was our next door neighbor when I was in elementary and high school in the Canadian Prairies. She turned 110 (that is correct, one hundred ten years old) back in February 2009. That makes her a "supercentenarian" and one of fewer than 100 verified people alive in the world today to reach or surpass 110 years of age. The town of Winkler, Manitoba celebrated. She is so healthy she was only admitted into the gov’t run retirement home a few years ago! Part of her secret: being young in action. Back in the ‘70s, my dad had to treat her for a sprained wrist. The cause – she was exercising so vigorously stepping on and off a chair (read: step aerobics at age 74) she got dizzy and fell down.

We wish you and your loved ones a 2010 that is simply breathtaking. May we all continue to discover, develop, apply and deeply appreciate the many sublime talents, treasures and time afforded to all of us.

Sidd, Paul, Molly and Abe…

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The 4 of Us 09-12-25, Copyright 2009, Abe Pachikara