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A Thought for Giving Tuesday

“Would you like this wrapped as a gift?”

“No, I’d like it wrapped as an obligation.”

What if we all gave only in ways that made us happy?  No hair-shirt, sacrificial giving performed in pain that makes the deed even more “noble.”  No cautious, statistical gift with well-weighed outcomes.  And no gifts because Dad, Christ, or Culture commands.  What if our non-deductible giving exuberantly gushed forth from that divinely-planted seed within, and we did it just because of the anticipated thrill of the feeling that comes with the gift – like the second and third lick of an ice cream cone?

Doubtless, a legion of stern and ledgerly saints (reveling in their own disapproval) would get very upset.  But I’ll bet the entire total of my 1040-schedule A that the good Lord’s globe would fill with a lot more smiles – and just maybe a lot more giving.  And I’ll bet He’d like it.  What about you?

Wishing You Every Success,

– Bart Jackson


One Day in Tibet

…So we are squatting there, huddled tightly around this tiny tin stove, glowing with embers of yak dung, clutching a stone cup of ink-black tea in our hands.

Now this is good, because the wind outside is blowing its cold and constant 40 mph across the Tibetan plateau at 16,000 feet of elevation, and we are tucked toastily with the nomads inside their yurt – a tent made of pressed yak felt, held up by ropes of twined yak hair, and staked down by shards of yak bone.

And from over in the corner comes Neema who has been churning, churning, churning in her precious wooden churn.  And as she passes, every hand goes out – and thus so does mine – and slap.  A greasy glob lands in my palm.  And I look.  Following suit, I scrape it into the stone cup, watching it ooze and sprawl across the tea’s surface in grey, bobbing globules.

This is yak butter.  It’s intriguingly cloying – at least for the first four cups.  But the grinning nomads who have invited us into their toasty home are really putting it down and my wife Lorraine and I are expected to keep up.


Then sweet-smiling Neema comes by again.  This time it’s a bowl of nearly-ground barley; and out go the hands, and slap! More yak butter.   Following suit, we kneed and kneed and kneed these two until we get something about the consistency of wallpaper paste, but not quite as tasty.  This is the second staple of the Tibetan diet, called tsampa.

The wind continues outside, driving blasts of horizontal snow.  The laughter grows more raucous.  Our 200-word Tibetan vocabulary gets stretched beyond comprehension, but the language of camaraderie melded us together like warm tsampa. In appreciation for their gracious hospitality and feast, we shared pictures of our home torn from calendars we’d brought with us.  As Lorraine and I eventually toddled off to our little backpacking tent, several of the children followed, poking heads and hands inside to examine the strange gear belonging to their strange guests.  (Our down sleeping bags were a great hit.)

So if you are considering making your way to this enchanted land pressed hard against the northern flanks of the high Himalayas – Yes.  By all means go to Tibet.  Experience the globe’s most physically rugged and spiritually rich people.  Find joyful companions.  Explore what Everest is like.  Discover if there is truly a Shangri-la.  But do not, I beg you, go to Tibet for the food.

  Wishing you joyful treks & warm companions,

                        – Bart Jackson


The Healing Shore

HD Thoreau noted of Eastham Cape Cod, that “the barren aspect of land would hardly be believed if described.”  I suppose it depends upon what you are cultivating.  For me, our home in Eastham shores writhes abundantly with life.  Whether it is the view from out of my window on Cape Cod Bay, or walking the hard sand flats at low tide, there stands no more fertile plain for raising up one’s most profound and deepest thoughts.

Or wading heavily amidst the thunderous rhythms of Nauset Beach’s ocean waves as they crash and seethe along the slender sandy strand hemmed by towering dunes and open sea.  Surely, there lies no richer field for planting soul into perspective & the mind into more astute reflection.

‘Twas to this most blessed retreat I came this week after shoulder-replacement surgery.  The quelling of the mind and the release from the daily frenzies of home and office life proffered the utmost recuperation.  With my good wife Lorraine, and later joined by my COO & laughing adventuress Carol Ezzo, we journeyed into the realm of simple re-creations such as finding clams on the flats, half-shell oysters amongst the shoreside restaurants, and bright-plumed birds in remote marshes.  And yes, and in the eve, we even made some amazing strides in our latest book, along with lining up new guests for our The Art of the CEO radio show.  The brain works best when freed from the chaff of distraction – and fueled by good friends and lobster in drawn butter.

Wishing you all a grand summer,

– Bart Jackson

Going up to Jerusalem – The Noise from Within

Below are some brief ponderings scribbled during my wife Lorraine & my recent trip to the Holy Land

From within the stone arch resounded a shattering shout – then another – another – a rhythmic chorus of insistent chants marking some sort of human ritual.  Not so odd really.  This was the old walled city of Jerusalem.  For millennia the faithful of all faiths have gathered here to raise their voices to God as they envision Him.

We had wandered lost somewhere amid the stone-hemmed, covered bazaar, maybe in the Armenian Quarter. We ogled past open sacks of colorful spices, teetering stacks of pomegranates and witicized T-shirts, and religious icons carved in heaps by piecework laborers from the Pacific Rim.  Fine dishpans, sneakers, and jewelry – each of the highest quality, if the lyrical chants of the touts were to be believed.  “Come in.  Let me show you.”

But we were fingering tempting silken scarves and the shattering shouts kept resounding within those stones just ahead.  The hefty stones bore a grey age, each adzed to a cube long before memory – perhaps by a Roman slave or some crusader’s serf.  Each fitted to each forming a heavy archway, Quonset-hut style, but a little more compact.  And through the low doorway, Lorraine and I peeked within.

An aged seller of even older photographs has told us that not so long ago – about the time I was a boy – this stone room had housed pithoi (great earthen jars) of olive oil.  Jerusalem – hub of nomadic trade even yet.

And within this former storehouse we beheld Children.  A little phalanx of shouting youngsters in pristine white Gi’s, practicing in chorus their karate kicks in forward marching lockstep.  About seven years, each was trying to don some fiercely stern aspect, but the fun they were having kept breaking through in smiles (theirs and ours.)  Here in this ancient cavern bounced and thrust today’s children – just like we see at our local “Ken’s Karate Center” at home with its smooth matted floor and well-lit gym.  “Hey, Mom.  Did you see me?  How High I kicked?”  A small parental pack in both yurmalkes and Moslem head dress stood dutifully approving from one corner.  I hope the makers of these stones smile down on its current use.

Hastening hotelward in the wrong direction, I clutched Lorraine drawing her back from a pair of bike-riding youths bouncing athletically down the stone-paved pathways, weaving ‘twixt the piles of precious commodities.  Their shouts of glee universal.

Is it not wonderful that joy is ageless?

More later,

– Bart Jackson

Better Than the Smelling of a Rose

Calf deep in the mud, slinging shovels, pawing at the sodden earth with bare hands, crawling beneath the van’s chassis to shove lumber beneath the sunken wheels.  Bespattered with farm field, we grinned and joked.  Thus began a welcome hiatus from my morning keyboard labors yesterday about 6 a.m.    I had peered out my window and beheld a large white van with wheels buried to the hub tops in Protinick’s cornfield across the way. Its desperate driver stood shaking his head beside the road.  The first half of his K-turn had skidded him into this plight and man, he was stuck solid.  Another nice mess I’ve gotten me into.

It was well below freezing, so I put on shoes, then grabbed a couple of shovels, some rope, and planks from the barn, and headed out to lend a hand.  The van’s owner and I began digging.  Within moments we were joined by a lanky jogger who couldn’t resist a little break in his routine.   After several minutes of moiling about, a pickup truck passed, paused, and backed up close to us.  Together we hitched my inch-and-a-half hemp to each vehicle – dug some more and got in position for the big tow.  (Only in America – a Ukrainian, Oriental, Indian, and WASP all heaving on the same car.)  After all was set to readiness, the pickup surged forward, the rope snapped taut, while the rest of us pushed.  Then slowly the great white behemoth rose from the soil and eased back onto the roadway.   Had it been 6 p.m. rather than a.m., a drink would have been in order.  As it was, we all gave a brief cheer; the van owner thanked us all, and each of us, a little delayed, headed off to our day’s work.

I do not know the name of any of these gentlemen with whom I shared this chilly mud wallow.  They were just good folks who saw a fellow in need and made a little fun out of setting him free.   Ya just gotta love mud and homo sapiens – vital elements of Eden.

Wishing you every success,

– Bart Jackson