Thursday, December 31, 2015

Kyrie Elesion: 2015


Colleen Martin, Erik and Johanna Josefsson, me and about 150 others gathered at Veritas Vineyard & Winery for a masked ball 365 days ago.  The night was brisk but warm enough that the backless gowns were far more comfortable than the suits which a night of dancing gradually shed.  An expansive feast was set before the revelers accompanied by opulent pairings of the fruit of the vine.  Celebrating my 29th New Years with Colleen and my first with Erik and Johanna was a lovely diversion from the melancholy that marked so many New Years before.  For with the passing of each year, I find myself quite often reflecting on that which was in need of improvement in my own life and in the experience of lives with whom I intersect.  My New Year’s tradition has been more requiem than magnificat.  And as I donned my mask – a beautiful Venetian gesso and gold leaf homage to the contrast of light and darkness – I realized that the party marking the end of the year was as much fa├žade as the ornament on my face.

In a timeless ritual, I have constructed a discipline to officially end my siege of lugubrious introspection with the passing of the year.  Having reflected on all my omissions and commissions that represented my unrefined ideal, I turn my thoughts on this day, the last of 2015, towards those who have lit the constellation of lights in my blackest of nights so that, through every passage, I arrived safely at this moment.  Now, for the third year of blogosphered modernity, I wanted to share with you some of my Litany of the Saints of 2015.

Kyrie Elesion

On January 6, 2015 I left the freezing snow of Washington DC for the balmy sun of Gold Coast Australia where Colleen, Christine McDougall, me and beautiful group of about 30 Aussies got together to share an amazing several days deepening our knowledge and practical implementation of Integral Accounting.  Among the gathered was my dear friend and colleague Robert Prinable, together with his lovely wife Bernadette, who would become some of the most valued and trusted friends across the year.  Peter Hojgaard-Olsen and his amazing family, Martin Blake, Jason Andrew and several others were to be not only 2015’s earliest but also most valued compatriots for the coming year.  Without question, one of most cherished acquaintances from the gathering was artist extraordinaire Devon Bunce who opened my eyes to the power of aesthetic story-telling in a way I had never contemplated.  I was to learn that her perspective was to punctuate much of my year. 

My longtime colleague Rodney Woods and I shared the stage at Rev. Jesse Jackson’s RAINBOW PUSH conference in New York before I headed to the Middle East and India to round out the first month of the year celebrating the life, vision, and later legacy of the passion of the late Hon. President A.P.J. Kalam with my dear friends at the Indian Institute for Management – Ahmedabad.  And just in case I didn’t have enough frequent flyer miles in the first month of the year, on January 23 I joined Julio De Laffitte and about 100 amazing, intrepid Aussies and Kiwis on what was to become an Unstoppable experience of life beginning in Chile and then blossoming in Antarctica.  During this trip, I was to meet a host of amazing people who have become of inestimable value in my life.  Matheos Venetis who taught me new depths of gallant vulnerability and tenacity of spirit.  Robin McClellan, the personification of dignified grace in service to purpose.  Lorraine Mill who opened the aperture on my willingness to be seen and perceived.  Kaya Finlayson, the most capable of story-tellers who choreographed the first media artifact in which I saw the best of me exceed my wildest expectations in our celebrated film Future Dreaming.  And Kim Phillips.  On a Deception Island ridge formed by volcanism in the year of my birth, 1967, I came face-to-face with an ancient future guide and accomplice who has fanned the bellows of my life’s refining fire to allow my pure essence to emerge. 

The Spring included the amazing collaboration with Michael Lythcott and Jennifer Carter-Scott at the University of Miami’s MBA for Artists and Athletes where Pam Cole, Bob Kendall, John Kendall and my collaboration with Chris Redman, Russell Okung, Derrick Morgan, Lee Evans, Tommie Harris, Jack Brewer and many others took root; Mak Khan and USHA; more awards for our documentary Patent Wars; Charlottesville living with Katie in streams and vineyards; and long bike rides in the rolling hills of Virginia.  Summer warmed my media credentials with the launch of Kaya’s masterpiece, Future Dreaming; my first animated appearance at the Cannes Lions Festival courtesy of Will Sansom and Dan Goldstein; and the launch of our growing relationship with CNBC courtesy of Adam Tepper’s introduction.  And then came the fall and winter…

In Terra Pax

I’ve spent years feeling like I’ve been observed and not SEEN.  This year, Kaya, Kim, Lorraine, Katie and Robert helped chisel away the veneer I’ve hardened around this perception.  Years ago, when I was writing my unpublished love letter to Katie and Zachary, Sometimes Out of the Clear Blue Sky, I made the following observation:

In business, as with the rest of life, having an innovative idea is more often a curse than a blessing.  For while people may marvel at a complexity or concept, it often becomes a thing to amuse and contemplate – much like the consumption of a Dali painting.  When one gazes at “The Persistence of Memory” the mastery of detail and the surreal are evident however few walk away inspired to bend pocket watches over dead tree branches.  Most of us do not have friends like Dali on the “A” list for Super Bowl parties.  Oh, yes, we’ll have them around at gallery openings or charity events but not in the intimacy of everyday life.  Our society cloisters innovators in ivory towers and gives them titles that both command respect and create distance.  While we crave the creation, we seldom want anything to do with the creator. 

This year, in exceptionally precise ways, I had the blessing of individuals who were willing to directly tackle this source of turmoil in my life.  My dear friend Dustin DiPerna persisted in that role but it was some of the new Saints that had the courage to meet my complacent assuredness with ruthless, meticulous criticism.  Bypassing friendship and empathy and relentlessly demanding accountability and integrity like those who give accounts for souls was the greatest offering made to me this year.  Ironic that this came at the same time as Future Dreaming was unveiled.  It was as though my long-held view that celebrity is a social toxin was being inoculated with a vaccine of truth so as to insure that I couldn’t be seen as being anything other than completely, fully, gratefully human.  My deepest gratitude for this generosity of spirit and intrepid love goes to Kim who navigated with me what has been until now too daunting an undertaking.

Kaya’s beautiful gift in film did more, in one act or artifact, to disseminate a message about which I have relentless passion than anything I’ve collaborated on to date.  Future Dreaming is a defining moment in the present and served to propagate a clarion call to humanity to remember the purpose of living like nothing else I’ve done.  I’ve often stated that I may have offered the canvas and the paint in my words but it was Kaya (and Robert, Colleen, and Lorraine) that crafted the masterpiece.  Working with Robert, Peter, Nadya Peshevska, Kim, Colleen and others in the coming year, Kaya and I look forward to building more depth to this important opus.  In so doing, we all can stop praying for peace on earth and start living it on a daily basis.

Magnificat anima mea Dominum

Being seen as the vessel of purpose gave rise to Mary’s proclamation that we know as the Magnificat.  In all of life, be it personal or professional, it is this that in the final analysis, is the gift of inestimable value.  When one goes from being appreciated to being genuinely seen and valued, the desert of vanity and aspiration melts into the verdant Eden of magnanimous abundance.  This year’s canonization of those who have been my saints is unlike years past.  My year began with a mask and ends with all being revealed.  My gratitude pours out to hundreds unnamed save by inference in this last of the year’s writings.  If you’re reading this, I am grateful to YOU!

Meet each sunrise with gratitude;
Abandon that which restrains your joy;
Reverence those who share your path; and be,
Tenacious in integrity
Indomitable in resolve, and
Noble in thought, word and deed.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Happy Birthday Dad!

Inspired by Lincoln's Gettysburg Address

Four score years ago my grandfather and grandmother brought forth on this continent, a new incarnation, conceived in Mennonite austerity, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are equally fallen.

Now we are engaged in a great ecclesiastical contest, testing whether this incarnation so conceived and so constrained, can long endure.  We are met on a great testing ground of that contest.  We dedicate a portion of our honor as a final resting place for those who have given life, will, and purpose so that this epic question can be resolved.  It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate – we cannot consecrate – we cannot hallow this inquiry.  My brave father who was thus conceived, went far from his home and his community and modeled inclusion and the cause of Civil Rights in the Intercollegiate Peace Fellowship; offered his life and his fortunes for the service, education and wonderment of others; embraced the stranger and the Vietnam-era counter-culture casualties inviting them into our family; raised four sons who were taught the respect and dignity of Creation in all its wonder; and, inquired into the boundaries of beliefs that were thought beyond inquiry.  This world may little note, nor long remember, the great deeds of my father’s past 80 years but it will never forget the effect of his living.  It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished intrepid inquiry which he has so nobly advanced.    It is for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored pasts we take increased devotion to that timeless inquiry into the meaning and purpose of living; living which for so many was cut short in previous inquisitions; that we resolve that those who are passed have not lived in vain.

On this day, December 18, 1935 a 6.0 earthquake hit the Sichuan Province of China, President Franklin D. Roosevelt met with his Cabinet to discuss the economic condition of the U.S. economy and the conflict brewing in Europe, and my Dad, Aaron E. Martin was born.  He has lived a life that has welcomed the stranger, clothed and fed the needy, taught the love of the universe to thousands of students of Astronomy, and modeled grace beyond that which he was shown.

Happy birthday Dad!  You are, truly one of the greats and I’m honored to be your son!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Watering Down Intelligence

I checked into a hotel room last night – the same days as the kick-off of the UN’s COP21 in Paris.  As billionaires and their political puppets convened in a city that is now known more martial law than the light of Liberty to discuss throwing trillions of dollars at the mythical beast of CO2 reduction, I encountered a series paradoxical profundities.  Next to my neatly rolled stack of three wash cloths (I seldom use any) was a sign that invited me to care about the environment by placing my used towels on the floor if they needed to be replaced and informing me that in so doing, I was making a “Green” choice.  Opposite on the counter in the bathroom were two bottles of $7.50 water offering me “crisp taste from the Tuscan countryside”.  The water was conveniently bottled in a single use, plastic container with a lovely accessorized necklace hang-tag promoting its effervescent quality.  And here’s the problem with this picture.  The hotel in which I was staying was the Omni Hotel in San Francisco California, not in, say Florence Italy.  And the unconsidered cost of shipping Acqua Panna water thousands of miles so that I could imbibe Roman goodness while contemplating my green towel choice seemed to be prima facie evidence that we live in a society that doesn’t give a shit about the environment. 

In a country where we invest billions of dollars on public utilities to insure potable water from a tap – a tap, mind you that had no water saving features about it – what are we saying when we offer “green” linens and towels but carelessly place over-priced plastic bottled water in the decision theater?  It seems to me that we’re not only stating our callous negligence but possibly something far more insidious.  I think we’re euthanizing the seed of consciousness that may deign to sprout in our lives to actually select a life that doesn’t require oil-based resin containers, multi-thousand mile logistics, and excessive consumption of cotton-based products.  During the choreographed Parisian hubris-fest, the UN and its illusionists speak of carbon reduction while the following headlines blast across the world:

ISIS Funds Terror Through Sale of Oil
Norway Seeks EU Confirmation of Arctic Energy Commitment
Dealers Cannot Stock Enough SUVs
Auto Sales Set All Time Record in 2015
Industry Giants Offer Billions for Environment

We are not serious about the environment and we’re willfully negligent in our reflexive response to the non-issue.  It is CONSUMPTION, not CARBON that is destroying us.  Communities of persistence around the world – particularly my dear friends across the Pacific – are living in a carbon balance and don’t toxify the earth because they don’t over produce nor do they over-consume.  They live in verdant abundance because they understand how to dance with the ecosystem – not lord over it.

And the deeper reality remains that our economic illusion of unfunded pensions – that ominous Depression-level event in 2017 – that will destroy nearly 23% of the discretionary spending of American seniors in 5-6 fiscal quarters poses a far greater threat to our actual living than does the U.S. and Chinese reckless fossil fuel emissions.  In a violent society in which guns settle disputes, economic hopelessness born of meaningless existence will bomb, shoot, and terrorize humanity way before the sea gets a chance to rise much more.

The leadership that is required is not the gathering of lords of land and industry.  It is the leadership from We the People who can immediately reduce our consumption and increase the utilization of all things for their ACTUAL life cycle.  And that can start with the Christmas season.  Give the gift of presence, not presents.  Imagine someone else using what you have and give it to them.  Make the Commons flow with what’s already in it rather than adding more trinkets to the excess in which we’re already drowning.  Unwrap yourself for those you love and in so doing, you may find a warming that doesn’t kill polar bears but actually gets closer to the humanity that we all still carry.