Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Coffee Cup Philosophy

This may come as a surprise for you, but I spend some time each day at Starbucks. It is truly part of my “Third Realm”, that place where no one bothers you and you can regroup, re-assess and look to your inner Juan Valdez for guidance. It’s also a place where you can pick up a bit of philosophy, found on the side of the Starbucks’ coffee cups, called “The Way I See It.”

Last week, I read “The Way I See It”-the author writes about how she and her cousin were born a week apart, but the cousin was raised by illiterate farmers in Cambodia, and stayed on the family farm, while the author moved from Cambodia to Southern California and has now received her Ph.D. Separated by a week in age, and thousands of miles of geography, the two cousins come from the same stock, but their lives have, and will continue to take wildly divergent paths.

The same day, in a moment of synergistic serendipity, there was a special shout out to “Doogie Houser, MD” on…wait for it…”How I Met Your Mother.” At the end of the show, Barney (played by “Doogie” himself-Neil Patrick Harris) types, sitting at a blue “DOS” screen, about the lessons he learned that day. I love these little “in jokes” (a Doogie Houser tribute 20 years since it was broadcast), but this was done in a moment of self-reflection by Barney…so it got me thinking.

At any point in my life, I could have taken a different turn…a different path. I wonder how lucky I am, that I grew up in a moderately upper-middle-class town, with exposure to culture and educational resources not available everywhere, even in this country (to hammer this point home, I recommend Rory Kennedy’s documentary “American Hollow” about Appalachia). I can thank my parents for that, and frankly, since my father served in the Army in Korea, I’m very lucky I didn’t grow up in a suburb of Seoul, South Korea instead of Boston. Oddly, at any moment in anyone’s lives, any little decision made by people beyond your control could impact your life forever.

Tonight, I participated in a first time homebuyer forum. In the faces of these potential buyers, the single people or the young couples, I see the hope of a new generation of homeowners. But I can’t help but think that for each of them, or of us, there’s an illiterate cousin farmer somewhere, not nearly as lucky as we, even if we don’t see that.

You’ve been a great audience. Now, for a few words from Richard Gere-“Free Tibet”.


Anonymous said...

Who is this? Is this the kinder gentler Eric? Are you taking lessons from your sister? Are you really appreciating what you have? Are you taking a step back from your frenzied life and realizing what’s important? If you are, good for you.

I did notice though that it was one of your shorter blogs. A little bit more self reflection might do you good especially since tonight is the Idol gives back episode and we all know how that affected millions of us last year.

I have to say I like this version of Eric, but I know in the not too distant future the cynicism and sarcasm will all come back.

Eric Weinstein said...

My sister!!!???

Eric Weinstein said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Have you ever seen "Sliding Doors"?

Anonymous said...

Excellent post: I suppose that the American Experience has been a gift to many (but NOT all) of us, who are living lives far richer than would be possibly had some plucky forebears not decided that the grass really IS greener (to say nothing of those of us with mixed heritage, whose parents would NEVER have connected on the Olde Turf)