Two Perspectives

Every month, I send out an “eLetter” that gives people a brief update on all my book projects, and provides a one-line summary of every blog post from the preceding month. Earlier today I sent out my July eLetter (I was two days early). In its opening paragraph, I mentioned a blog post I wrote a few days ago about my mother-in-law, called “Compassionate Nursing.” Within a short time two emailed replies showed up in my “In” box. The first: I don’t know you and couldn’t care for less what you do sent via BlackBerry And the second (actually, just excerpts): Hello John, There were tears in my eyes, just an hour ago, as I viewed the wedding pictures of you and Ana. Every one told a story, and I especially liked the ones of the two of you hugging loved ones in the reception line. They told how thankful you are for your family and friendships. What a spectacular day that was! Thank you for allowing the rest of us to enjoy it with you. I am so looking forward to learning more from you and in reading the story ‘Compassionate Nursing.’ Before I read it, I will tell you that I am studying to become a certified Doula—one who assists women in labor. As well as being a hairstylist of 32 years, I’m excited to weave this into my life also. (Hopefully, not in the same hour!) Thank you, John, for including me in your mailings. You are appreciated by many, and now one more. Safe travels to your sweet wife and best wishes to you, Sylvia...

Compassionate Nursing

I just had dinner with my mother-in-law. There’s nothing terribly unusual about this; we have dinner every night. But these days, with Ana in Singapore for a few weeks (one week left to go!), when Ana’s daughter isn’t around (as she isn’t tonight), it’s just Sylvia and me. So we chat. Tonight she told me a story about a time when she was a nursing student, at Franklin Hospital in Greenfield, Massachusetts, and about a paper she had to write. The students each had to pick a patient they had worked with, and do a detailed paper on the patient’s condition, treatment, progress, and so forth. She chose a young woman who was pregnant, and had all sorts of complications. The pregnancy was not going well, and the woman had a really rough time of it. To make matters worse, there was no husband in the picture: she was an unwed mother. This was the 1940s: the stigma of unmarried pregnancy loomed large, and unwed mothers had a much tougher time of things than they do today. Sylvia (then all of 18) sympathized with the woman, but decided that her marital status was not relevant, and made a point of leaving it out of her paper. She did a pile of research, documented the woman’s condition and progress carefully, including the birth, which she attended. The birth went well, and the new mother named her baby “Treasure,” which no doubt was quite accurate. When the papers came back, graded, Sylvia was nervous. She had worked on that sucker really hard, and hoped she’d gotten at least a passing grade....

More Globality

Hearing that Tom (“Big Al”) Schreiter is in Singapore, I email him to see if he and Ana might meet up there. Turns out he has just left for Thailand, but will be returning in August. Hey, we’re going in August, too, I write him, maybe we can meet up then. I also write this: Ana and I are in full-screen communication, laptop to laptop, courtesy of Skype. It’s better than Memorex. I sit at my desk at midnight while she picks up her MacBook Air and points it out the window — and I’m staring at a blue Singapore sky and white clouds and yellow sun real time with a blanket of pitch-black midnight wrapped around my home office. Amazing. I can’t decide whether it makes the world feel really small — or really big. (You’ll notice in the photo above that it’s morning where Ana is — and notice the midnight sky out the window behind me.) Here is Tom’s reply: Yes, the world is really small. Think of this: We can only survive in the 3 miles (15,000 feet) from sea level to where the oxygen is too thin … and only about one-fourth of the earth is habitable land … and the next closest habitable area is lifetimes away … There is only a small space in the universe where we can survive. I do a round-the-world travel every three months to see my friends … and I realized, this is all there is where we can survive. Yes, the world is really, really small — so let’s enjoy it! Well said. Indeed:...

Globality

This past Wednesday (I know it was Wednesday because it happened to be my birthday!) I sent a little packet of business cards to my amazingly sweet and brilliant wife Ana, who (despite aforementioned amazing and sweet brilliance) had forgotten to bring them with her on Monday when she left on a trip to Singapore and Malaysia. This evening (Saturday) I just looked up their progress on the UPS web site. Here’s what I learned: June 10: The business cards made it from Amherst, Massachusetts to Louisville, Kentucky. June 11: They left Louisville and ended up in Cologne, Germany. June 12: They left Cologne, skipped through Dubai, and landed at the Don Muang (not Don Juan, though when you say it out loud it sounds just like it) airport in Bangkok, Thailand. June 13: From Bangkok my wife’s business cards made their way to the Changi airport on the eastern edge of Singapore, from whence they snaked their way to Singapore proper, and were (as of 10:44 Saturday morning Singapore time, which was actually still the previous Friday evening in Massachusetts) sitting at the front desk of the Pan Pacific Hotel, genially waiting for her to pick them up. This cost me forty bucks. Forty bucks?! To travel half-way around the world in three days (actually two and a half, in real time), every step of which I can track in complete and accurate detail from my iPhone at home in the sleepy little farm town of Hadley, Massachusetts?! Welcome to...

Transcendent, Double-Chocolate, Organic Premium Vintage Partners

Working on plans for the next book in the Go-Giver series (it’s coming — not till next spring, but it’s coming), I just had an exchange with the wonderful Adrienne Schultz, our editor at Portfolio, the brilliant publishing house (an imprint of Penguin) who publishes The Go-Giver. Reading Adrienne’s note, it occurred to me that John Donne was genuinely writing for the ages way back in 1623, in his Meditation 17, when he wrote, “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” And, that we are all only as good as our partners. Portfolio is one reason — one big reason — that The Go-Giver has been as successful as it has. Man, do I love our publisher. Here’s what I just wrote to Adrienne: Working with you is better than good. It’s unreal, transcendent, delicious, nirvana, double-chocolate, local-organic, and premium vintage. It’s the freshest salmon done to a pink perfection with a delicate mustard-tamari-pinot-noir glaze. It’s duck a l’orange with oranges just picked from the tree out back. It’s crème brulee with farm-fresh ingredients. No, it’s more: it’s Rachel’s famous coffee, brewed two minutes ago, in my favorite stoneware cup. (The one that keeps it extra warm.) I count myself one exceedingly fortunate coauthor. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. There’s nothing better in the whole wide world than having genuinely great...
Page 1 of 212