A poem from the future

ideas.ted.com

Editor’s note: This poem kicks off a new “Question Worth Asking” series: “How weird will the future be?” First up: a piece from poet and TED Fellow Ben Burke.

[Dear Helen- So sorry. Didn’t have time to write that poem. But my future self sent me one yesterday. So we’re good. Crazy, right? It’s totally legit and actually from the future, so no need to double-check, you’re probably too busy anyway. Happy New Year!  – Ben Burke]

Edited_RECORDER

THE TRANSHUMANIST’S LAMENT
or
TOO MANY RIVERS, NOT ENOUGH LAKES
or
OH, FUTURE — YOU SO CRAZY

I arrived in the basket that was weaved here before me
And I stayed in any place with a roof that would store me
I have lots of belongings
But didn’t pack for the trip
I got here, they put pants on me
And then the world gave me the slip

I’ve lived as slowly as…

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Borrowing stories

Lettergrade

The internet may have felt particularly full of garbage this past week, but I have been extra appreciative of personal bloggers, and how their stories have helped us communicate during the worst and most necessary debates.

The Ghomeshi sexual violence scandal began to break a week and a half ago, and immediately made social media a particularly fraught place to run into your friends. Whether the topic was guilt without prosecution, the complicity of the CBC, the role of gender or the responsibility of the accusers, big solid lines were drawn, emotional sides were taken, people… surprised (and dismayed) each other.

It has been a fascinating read, watching how the focus and vocabulary of the conversation has changed by the day. I have been super charged to see how personal blogs have fundamentally affected the conversation.

You wrote the script out

The story initiated and then advanced in segments —…

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“Thank You For Your Service.” What Do You Really Mean By That?

Forming The Thread

Instead of a thank-you, I’d like something different:  I want you to pay attention, stay informed, and get politically involved.

In recent years, more veterans are letting us know that they find it a little off-putting to be thanked for their service. The exact reasons vary, but I have my own, so count me among those who find it awkward at best.

I wonder just what people really mean when they say “Thank you for your service.” Maybe I should start asking. Why are you thanking me for my service? What did it do for you? What does it mean to you? I wonder how many of these well-wishers could even really articulate a solid answer to that question.

Here is what this veteran thinks: “Thank you for your service” is a pretty lame substitute for the public’s failure to be at all engaged, or even a little bit interested…

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Not Perfect, But All Right

upwitscreek

IMG_0629

2014 has not been kind.

On a cold, snowy day in January, when my husband was in Tokyo, my 10 year old son received a lifelong sentence. It began with a sick visit to the pediatrician followed by another sick visit to a gastroenterologist. As I sat across from this woman, who I disliked as soon as she entered the room, I could not imagine that my son’s world was going to permanently change. After a brief examination and a denial of all symptoms from which she was sure he was suffering, she stoically pronounced “he has Crohn’s,” which only made me hate her more than I already did. She prescribed antibiotics and advised that he would need to be examined under general anesthesia.

That night, my son slept in my bed. I spent most of the night feeling his forehead, making sure he was still asleep, plotting the death of…

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Words Not To Say In Front Of My Kids

Dysfunctional Literacy

I tell my kids they can think anything they want, but there are some things they'd better not say. (image via wikimedia) I tell my kids they can think anything they want, but there are some things they’d better not say. (image via wikimedia)

I told my daughters this morning that they’d need to take a sack lunch to school tomorrow, and they laughed at me.  I wasn’t expecting them to laugh.

It took me a moment to realize why they thought sack lunch was funny.  When I was their age (around 35 years ago), sack lunch wasn’t funny.  I carried a sack lunch to school every day, and nobody laughed.  I think I even called it a sack lunch.  Everybody called it that.  But somewhere along the way, kids picked up on the word sack, and a new source of humor was created.

Now I can’t say sack in front of my daughters; I have to say “brown paper bag.”  If I had two sons, maybe it wouldn’t matter much.  But…

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What Happens When You Go Viral: On Wanting to Give Up

Such Small Hands

I recently found out that the hit count on my Relevant article back in June was over 1.6 million. The editor told me it was the second-biggest traffic day in the history of their website. That’s mind-boggling to me.

If you had asked me a year ago what I thought it would mean to have a piece get that much exposure, I would have assumed it would be my big break. That it would boost my blog, lead to freelance opportunities, help connect me to the right people. That it would be my open door into the world of professional writing and publishing. That it would bring me validation and satisfaction. It would reassure me that what I’m doing here isn’t pointless and that my story matters.

Do you want to know the truth?

It hasn’t done any of those things. For a few weeks I received a lot of…

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“To All My Facebook Friends” (2)

Before I Became a Great Writer

Aternatively,
We could unplug ourselves
Off Facebook
And start writing
In journals.
Alternatively,
We could write
Each other letters
And make frequent trips
To the post office.
It will take too much of our time,
Of course, but our correspondence
Will be longer
And the pleasure of conversing
Will be drawn out.
Anyway, a conversation
Via social media
Mediated by computer monitors
And profile photos
Isn’t really much of a
Conversation, is it?
Anyway, I want to see your
Handwriting, feel the strokes
Of your pen with my fingers,
And smell the ink and paper.
You don’t have to write and sound
Like Jane Austen, although that would
Be great, as well.
You can write like a cardiologist,
I wouldn’t mind.
There are nuances in our handwriting,
You know.
Alternatively,
We could lie on roof tops
And gaze at the distant galaxies
And talk about our dreams.
Alternatively,
We could…

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