Archive for April, 2014

The Miracle of Intuition, By Any Other Name

Posted in Uncategorized on April 18, 2014 by michaelcogdill

Read the comments under that story I’ve linked to below. Taken in total, what do they say to you? What’s their message, from humanity about humanity?

Before you answer, read on here. Indulge me a moment.

Good Friday is perhaps the most deeply human of holidays. It calls us into the tomb of our own mortality, with the expectation that we are, after all, made to harbor Love and not Death. Love as our raison d’etre. The very reason we’re all here, cutting a path through this wilderness life.

People will act, and speak, and tempt us to react, with twin-barrel hostility. Instead, with accountability made of steel, may we shut our mouths. Listen in the quiet. Hear that? That inner voice? It’s the one we hear only when we stop adding to the noise.

That quiet voice is intuition. We all have one. In his brilliant book, Blink, the great Malcolm Gladwell reminded us of this, and made these statements about that inner voice we so often ignore:

“The key to good decision making is not knowledge. It is understanding. We are swimming in the former. We are desperately lacking in the latter.” Malcolm Gladwell.

“In the act of tearing something apart, you lose its meaning.” Malcolm Gladwell.

To understand the significance of something — a relationship, a life decision, or the death of a stranger — we live best when we live by that intuition. Hear it. Trust it. Trust its radical wisdom, especially in the face of WANTING things to be true, as we imagine them.

On this Good Friday, and the days hence, regardless of your faith or the lack thereof, know that whisper is a gift. A human one. A companion within, urging you toward feeling your way through life rather than over-thinking, and reacting. It is a mortal gift of immortal power. It reminds us we are never alone. That we are more than our thoughts.

Listening to our intuition reminds us we think and act best when the mind and spirit truly get it on, inside us. When we let them be together, and dare I say it, make Love.

So, with that image burned into your Good Friday, perhaps you’ll eventually wonder as you read on here, what does intuition have to do with a body found on a Tennessee Easter Egg hunt, and the comments under the reporting on it? What’s it say about Easter?

To me, it speaks of the supernatural nature of this holiday. The story below whispers reminder that the WOMEN who came to the tomb followed an intuition, while the men who’d followed — and betrayed — the Jesus lain into a borrowed tomb had locked themselves away, full of cynicism and worry, thinking they’d seen the end. The woman felt, intuitively. The men thought, fearfully. The Easter story is a revelation first to womanhood. Women get much credit, richly deserved, for their intuition. Men, you have one, too. Listen to it. Show the mettle to act upon it.

A single human death, no matter who, no matter where, calls us to the truth of John Donne, as he talked about Death tolling for us all. We are all lessened by the loss of one another. But my intuition tells me a single death sets off an eloquent reminder that we are equally mortal. A common humanity of uncommon beauty. Humans not measured by money or status or place of birth, but by the fact we each harbor the same inner voice. An intuition.

As for me, I believe that voice is Divine, wise beyond words. Yes, even beyond the language limits of religion. It calls us to find some quiet. Dare our way into the inner tomb field of our mortality, and then listen. Especially there, in the chill of our humanness, our brokenness, LOVE is in the air.

Peace, y’all. Dare a man say, peace, love and Intuition?

Your Own Worst Critic? Fire The Little !@$%^

Posted in Uncategorized on April 17, 2014 by michaelcogdill

When did you last put yourself down in the privacy of your own thoughts?

As someone whose job is to interview people and turn out their innermost thinking, I can say, there is no such privacy. When you demean yourself to yourself, people know. The hurt rises into your eyes and overflows your life. Easy to witness.

The cinders of self-abuse fly all over the place. They spew, lava hot, off tongues in Wal-Mart lines. Flare in the words of internet trolls. Anonymity on a message board is folly, after all.  Our words identify us.  A soul’s inner roiling always shows. The words brand us. Self abuse is a scarring tattoo, destined to peer above the waistline of how we’re seen by the world.

And, sure, self-bullying is nearly always rooted in what someone else said. Even from a long time ago, the words of another bounce around in you, even now. Still scalding hot. Only now, likely, in your own voice.

Consider this. You get to choose what to believe. People can call you anything. You can call yourself anything, even in silence. But only you get to mediate it. Only you get to decide what’s true, even of yourself.

So much of the news I report draws life from this truth, often tragically so. A gentleman once railed at me in a Home Depot store that he wanted some good news. I challenged him to go make some. I’m sure he’s learned by now it’s much easier to make bad news than good. We wired to believe the negative and doubt the good. Even its very existence. Something in us yearns to act out the grim.

But goodness lives. Thrives. Makes news. From Mother Teresa to Desmond Tutu to the group of kids rallying around a classmate or teacher in crisis, the beautiful DO make news. They’re as human as we are, these news-makers. They harbor dark sides. Their minds echo with criticism. But they are believers in something else, something virtuosic and beautiful, even about themselves.

And they are calling to you and me. Their words, their very selves, trying to chase away that inner critic.

Believe them. Believe in your true self. The one that inner critic has yet to meet.

The Folly of Saving Your Life

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on April 17, 2014 by michaelcogdill

My father was a conservative — with a small c. He lived as a starving boy of the Depression his entire life, no matter how much he earned. He was afraid to live. Terrified all the things he earned would be the last things his times would drop into his world. If he could have horded life — and its girlfriend, Precious Time — he would have held them captive. Kidnapped them for the ransom of not being afraid they’d run out on him.

Alas, my father gone. Life and that girlfriend — Precious Time — caught the last train for the shore my father loved, but never fully walked. They left him behind. He’s in his grave, having left too much of himself unspent.  My father now knows saving time hording life is folly.

Life isn’t made for hording. It’s built for doing. Time is made to get spent. Get conservative with either at the risk of wallowing on spiny-as-hell deathbed regrets.

Spend yourself. Afraid? Then ask, for what — and whom — am I conserving my life? My time? Knowing that Fear will steal both, right out from under us.

Poverty 101? Take An Incomplete!

Posted in Uncategorized on April 8, 2014 by michaelcogdill

After I spoke at an event this morning, the mom of an Auburn journalism student approached, naturally incandescent with pride in her daughter. Proud, but a tad troubled, I could tell.

Someone, or a group of them, at Auburn has been filling her daughter’s head with gloom speak about her chosen profession. You’ll make nothing. Brace for poverty. Steel yourself for a life lush with canned beans and government cheese. (Not a thing wrong with either, by the way).

There is, however, something wrong with educators trying to cap the expectations of a student. Education is about broadening, not narrowing, expectations. No, that’s no sturdy realism they deliver. Nor is it refining pragmatism, teaching a kid she’ll be poor. It is, I believe, a rant of quiet resentment. A seething desire not to see the student out-soar the instructor.

In my college experience, at Georgia and North Carolina, rare was the professor who tried to cap me with low expectations. Those who did, I don’t remember. I recall only those who said, yes, get after it. Your dream is up there. Here are the afterburners of learning. The tools. Light ‘em up and get the hell after it. Work hard. Get there.

I am a student of the liberal arts, and I celebrate this. Yes, I studied journalism, great literature, the humanities that make us human. I did the math, too, sure. But language lit the air of my heart. It’s still my electrical charge. And I am not poor! Not by any definition.  Thank God, I am anything but poor. I have a tremendous lot, and many to thank for it.

But more than this, I am not measured by my wealth, nor by poverty. I take my measure by the capacity to scatter some worth about the place, especially to those on the downside of advantage. That’s wealth. That, in the end, is what this essay is about. That value set should forge its way off the tongue of those professors at Auburn, and every college and university around the globe.  Teach it.  Demand the mindset from your students.  Inspire them, after all.

Students, don’t believe the drivel of little minds with big pedigrees who say because you study this, you’ll never amount to some significant that. You get to choose whether to believe the doomsayers who, so often, were too afraid to dare. Don’t believe them. Haul off and dare. Dare grandly.

It’s up there. You can reach it, with work. What you love will give you the ride.