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ORDINARY LAND

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  Thousands of cars pass it by everyday. To most, it just looked like another ordinary urban landscape. In the distance, beyond the broken parking lot with a few area lights flickering on leaning poles lay the concrete slab that was the corpse of the once great Eastland Mall. Gun shots rang out in the mall in 2005 as rival factions of the Happy Valley King’s gang fought it out. They did not kill the mall then, but its decline began. During its life, the mall had many more stories to tell. Eastland Mall began as a dream in 1975, billed a “crown jewel of Charlotte Commerce, a mecca for middle class shoppers, the heart of the Eastside.” The city hoped it would keep the Eastside growing and together, but things changed.  The demographics of the Eastside were strong middle-class with good payrolls from the light industry. Developers saw opportunity. The already successful Southpark mall had opened in 1970 just six miles away. It catered to high end stores and clientele. The middle class nee

VISITING THE DRAGON

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  Deep in the caverns of the medical matrix of the hospital a dragon lives. If you're one of the 1.7 million new cancer cases each year, you know what I am talking about. The formal name for it is a linear accelerator or EBRT machine, but to patients like me it’s a dragon, immense in size. You lay flat before its arms and hot breath, just hoping. Praying the treatment room professionals have it in control, that the out come will be good, that you will survive. There’s the preparation room where others patients sit waiting for their turn. Some for as few as 5 treatments, others for over 40. It all depends on the type of cancer and the prognosis. You get to know each other, at least by first name. All pretense falls away, you are all there for the same thing. Sometimes you ask what they are being treated for. Mostly though, the talk is of how many treatment days are left. They come and go as your treatment progresses. The ones with one or two left are envied by all. Your mind plays w

THE FISH AND THE FISHERMAN

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  John Steinbeck’s “The Log from the Sea of Cortez” is not meant to be a book on business, but has things to say in this regard. The book is about the expedition experiences Steinbeck and marine biologist Ed Ricketts had on a voyage to catalog the different marine species off the shore of California. Steinbeck embarked on this journey to get away from the fame and controversy caused by his book “The Grapes of Wrath.” He needed time to recharge, to reset his spirits, and thoughts.  Experiences he recounts on aboard are thought provoking regarding the business age we are in. An age when so much of what reaches our desk is already evaluated, quantified, and carry with it specific instruction on how our work is done.  Steinbeck writes about the Mexican Sierra fish, one of the mackerel species of fish found in the Pacific. The Sierra can be identified in a lab by counting the number of spines. All done by employing the cold objectivity of a lab technician who opens a specimen package of a d

WITHOUT CAPTION

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  The long empty roads of the high desert captured me. I stopped and got out of my car. The quiet and warmth of the desert wrapped around me. No words, thoughts or captions were needed. Different from the day to day life I had, where everything seemed to require a comment, a decision, point of view, or action.  Maybe this is why photographer Thomas Boivin produced a book of just photos titled “Belleville” This after years of producing photography books with narratives and captions, he arrived at a point recognizing that great photographs spoke for themselves. Ones that captured the heart of life.  I look these days for more of these special places, where I can pause and appreciate the richness of life just as it is.

REACHING OUT

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  Reaching out to meet new people can be challenging even in normal times. Today, the hurdles are greater. Technology and other factors have lessened our face to face social contacts. The irony of todays life is the value gained by short interactions with people is snuffed out by the aversion to strangers. David Sax just wrote about this in the opinion section of The NY Times entitled “Why Strangers are so Good for Us.” COVID, CRIME, POLITICAL DIVISIONS and many more things have deepened the inclination to avoid personal contact with others, let alone strangers. Technology is also a culprit, making it possible to go through an entire day without interfacing with another human being. Examples abound from the fast food kiosk to being able to silence the Uber driver by hitting the no interaction button. It all causes us to withdraw and interact less.  There are many social costs to all this. A certain loss of the richness of life, as David Sax describes it. On the business side, the costs

THE ART OF YOU

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  “Art is not what we see on the wall, it is what we make of our lives.” This quote from the Nomad series is so true. We get so hung up on the 1,2 and 3’s of life, that we sometimes forget to nourish the whole. Life is not all about career, family, the money we have stacked up, or the rewards on the wall. It’s how we move through the world. How we are regarded by others, how we treat others, how we view the breath of life before us, and how deep our passion goes. The question is have we learned to enjoy life fully. There is no one formula for this, that’s the art of it. Over time and sometimes because of circumstances this concept becomes evident to us. We are comforted by the niches we have carved out in life. It is only when we are out in the world unhinged that we discover the true value of becoming as complete a person as possible. People, especially in new situations, care less about the work you do and more about the person you are. Our family is more than just our relatives, it

CLOSED SHOP 170

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 Most of the time, you just pass closed shops and the miscellaneous of street wandering. Sometimes though, you catch a reflection, a pattern, mark or color that makes you pause. A learned blessing it is to be wise enough to stop, reflect, imagine or just enjoy for a moment...