blog > 2012 > March

You are a Rock Star, old lady… by Misha Lyuve

Mar 25, 2012

So I am walking on my street and I see an old lady with a walker crossing West End Avenue. The traffic light is turning from green to red, and she is right in the middle of the road. The wind blows and you can see how it rips into her small body while she is holding on to her walker. She has these really big glasses, but I don’t think she can see much. As I help her to get to the other side, we chat and I find out that it is her first time out after the hip replacement surgery. She is on the way to McDonalds. She is in excellent spirits. In fact, she is thrilled.

Now I am done with my errands and on my way home. The lady is still stubbornly pushing her walker – she is a bit more than half way through the block where I left her off…

I set goals. I am in action. I question myself daily, annually and lifely whether I have accomplished enough. I use comparison to others to judge myself… or them. But what’s really an accomplishment? What’s enough?

And all I want to do is scream at the top of my lungs – Good for you, old lady! You are a rock star! - For getting yourself dressed and out of the apartment, walking against wind and traffic. Keep pushing that walker!

Thank you old lady for letting me see how differently a definition of an accomplishment is written for each of us. Thank you for allowing me to appreciate the efforts people around me make to live their lives and push their walkers; how those efforts vary in size and scope; how they are not always seen and, if seen, not always noticed and, if noticed, not always acknowledged.

And what are you pushing?

p.s. Unfortunately I didn’t take a photo of the original lady, but the one here is one of the local troopers.

An Enlightening Ride by Misha Lyuve

Mar 17, 2012

Every New Yorker knows how important it is for your cab driver to take the shortest and the quickest path to your destination.

So on my way from Washington Square to Upper West Side, my cabbie takes 6th avenue up – that would raise anyone’s eyebrows. But when he is starting to make a left turn on 47th street, I can’t help but scream out: “Are you really taking me through Times Square???”

As we are stumbling through traffic among other cabs, vans, ridiculousness (pardon my judgment) of stretched lemos and big eyes of overwhelmed visitors, I am fuming. “What was he thinking?”, “This is outrageous”, “How dare he be so disrespectful of my time” and even “How unprofessional of him” – the guy is about to get it from me.

…Suddenly my mind stops for a second, as if I get pulled out of my head into the space from which I can watch my cab, Times Square and my upset self from the outside. And I realize that I don’t know who this person taking me home is, how long he’s been driving in Manhattan and what kind of day he had. And I can also clearly see different paths in which my life can unfold from this moment on – like me giving him a passionately condescending speech and then being upset myself for the rest of the evening; or him throwing me out of the cab in the middle of Times Square; or me joking with him about the hurdles of New York City driving; or finding out where he is from; or just not saying a word.

When I land back into the back seat of the yellow cab, I’m no longer upset. There is nothing to do or to say, just to acknowledge that sometimes I can feel so much, at the moment it seems so true and wants to get expressed so fast – but it’s better to keep it to myself.

Thank you.

To Kony – or Not to Kony 2012? – Now it’s Your problem by Misha Lyuve

Mar 11, 2012

In a week the Kony 2012 project swirled the world into madness. The sleek, inspirational, easy-to-action campaign ignited interest of many people really fast and brought back as strong of a wave of criticism.

The question now is not whether Kony 2012 campaign is good or bad – but how to translate what it stirred into a real possibility. At the end of the day, it has started a very important conversation about Uganda and Africa and the spotlight of this conversation creates a world of opportunities.

Whether you are a Kony 2012 supporter, its critic or someone who is in between – there is an action to consider.

If you believe that the movie oversimplified the story of the war in Uganda or that the work of local organizations wasn’t properly represented: for once the world is listening, tell the story. People are dying to get educated and to understand how they can make a difference.

If you think that Jason Russel is self-centered ego driven narcissist manipulated by the hidden agenda of U.S. Christian right – don’t support his organization. Create your own and make it as clean and pure as you can – but don’t forget that most impactful things in the world, both good and bad, are accomplished by people with strong passion, egos and beliefs.

Some criticize Invisible Children for spending more than 60% of their funds on promoting awareness and only a third on directly contributing to Ugandans – keep in mind that for an organization with a big vision, whether it is a business or a non-profit, it’s a very reasonable strategy at the time of expansion and in this case the one that probably paid off. But if you really appalled by that, contribute and volunteer with other organizations.

The sensationalism of nowadays journalism and not always rational outcomes of social media campaigns – is the reality of today. Not everything will be aligned with your vision, but there is always an opportunity. In other words: Don’t be just a critic – offer alternatives. Don’t be paralyzed by contradictory opinions, find what works.

After all, Kony might actually be caught this year. And there is still tons of things to be done in the world. #getoffyourass2012