Can you believe that 2021 is coming to a close? I didn’t think it could be as hard as 2020, but it was. I want to wrap things up with three short stories. They recount moments of the past year that have left me thinking about messages of the past months.
This Is The Voice 🎶 🎼
If you are a fan of the show The Voice, I bet its jingle is playing in your head as you read this title. I am a fan. I remember the very first show I watched. About 10 years ago, I was travelling for work and when I got back to my hotel room, I turned the TV on and stumbled upon an episode of the first season. I love music and I love to sing. When I realized both were combined with an approach a coach would use to giving feedback, I was hooked.
In case you’re not familiar with it, at the onset of each season, four coaches are invited to put a team of singers together. The competitors sing their way forward in the competition through a process of elimination resulting in one person being declared The Voice for that season. It begins with what is called the ‘blind auditions’. Blind, because as contestants sing, the coaches sit in chairs with their backs to the singer. A coach’s decision to invite singers to join their team is based on one thing and one thing only: the competitor’s voice. Not how they look; but, how they sing.
Every year, the talent has improved, and this season is down to a handful of contenders that can blow your socks off when they take the stage. What I find most amazing about the contestants is that it is an assembly of people of all colours, sizes, sexual orientations, backgrounds, and beliefs. While all past winners have always been incredibly talented, they don’t always fit the industry mold of what determines success. The very same mold that suggested the gorgeous Lady Gaga could not succeed because of her physical appearance.
So, here’s an idea: if you’re not convinced of the merit of fostering diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, please watch a show and witness what happens when everyone gets an equal chance. Do you hire people? Perhaps you could turn your hiring process into blind auditions.
This is a choice. 🎶 🎼
The day started early; my husband and I had a long drive ahead of us. The night before, we had spotted a Starbucks close to our hotel, so we made our way to the drive-thru to grab a latte and be on our way. There were a few cars ahead of us, things were moving smoothly until the white Honda civic ahead of us arrived at the ordering board. It seemed to be taking forever. I was getting impatient, I wanted to hit the road. I caught myself thinking “what is taking her so long”? I had indeed decided that if the order was convoluted, chances were this was a woman placing an order. It dragged on.We finally moved ahead and placed our order. When we got to the pick-up window a cheerful barista with purple hair and a big smile welcomed us and said: the guy ahead of you paid for your order!
You know the saying that assuming makes an ass out of you and me? In this case, assuming made an ass out of me and me. Thanks for the generous reminder, Starbucks stranger.
How do you keep your assumptions in check?
Our winter home has a lovely backyard that is filled with birds of all kinds. Morning coffees outdoor are a delightful spectacle. A couple of years ago we planted purple lilac vines which bloom in the spring. I find the colour of the flowers stunning and I get excited when I see them preparing to bloom.
As vines, they trail and wrap themselves around things for support. Before heading north last spring, I was keen to see them grow horizontally to progressively cover the back wall. With the help of my sister-in-law, we installed cables and wires between the posts they are growing on. The idea was to “guide” the direction of their expansion. We did an impressive job with this installation, if I do say so myself! When we got back a few weeks ago, it was clear that the vines did not get the “lateral growth memo”! They were shooting up, thank you. Down came the engineering project.
In a similar but more dramatic vein, if you follow the news coming from BC, you know that 2021 has been a challenging year in BC. The province has been riddled with unprecedented extreme weather events, many of them undesirable record-breaking events and some of which resulted in devastating outcomes. From heat domes to wildfires to atmospheric rivers, hundreds of lives were lost and families saw their homes destroyed by flames or water. It has been a year of gut-wrenching, weather-related news and pictures.
In the fall, one in a series of catastrophic atmospheric rivers resulted in the flooding of the Sumas Prairie, the heart of agricultural activities in the Fraser Valley. Residences were evacuated and many farmers lost animals despite heroic attempts to protect them. These events are simply devastating, locals are nowhere near “back to normal”. One thing I didn’t know, is that the Sumas Prairie used the be Sumas Lake. About 100 years ago, ironically, the lake was drained to avoid floods and to create more fertile land for BC settlers. Of note, the area is the subject of a land claim by the Sumas Nation.
Perhaps you wonder what this has to do with my purple lilac vines, which is a fair query. Humans have impressive intellectual capabilities that can result in remarkable ideas, innovative initiatives and one might also argue progress, as a result. The thing is, we can only take this so far and if we think we can control mother nature… she has news for us. Nature will always find a way forward, more quickly and more powerfully than our intellectual capacity and abilities. Its evolution will follow a progression aimed at restoring balance, whatever it takes to get there. That’s the laws of nature. They trump the laws of man, and none of us are above it.
We have reached a point where we can no longer be oblivious to that reality.
Sending you my best wishes for a joyful holiday season.
My hope is that you and your loved ones create opportunities to gather safely and in a manner that makes your heart smile.
Stay curious, courageous, and kind.