I’ve been really busy for the last few weeks and so haven’t had time to update my blog, but I thought I’d post this link because it leads to one small practical way that we can do something about the environment. I was watching a documentary on the TV Asahi program “Spaceship Earth” about cleaning up the Ara River in northern Tokyo, when they highlighted a domestic water purification solution that is very easy and cheap to make. It is a mixture of natto (fermented soy beans), yoghurt, dry yeast, sugar (white or brown), and tap water, called Ehime AI-2. It works much like the microorganisms in our stomachs and can be used in toilets, bathrooms, kitchen sinks, and compost containers to break down the harmful bacteria that pollute water.
I’ve always wondered why letting the water run in our homes is such a terrible environmental no-no if all it does is allow unpolluted water to flow back into the world outside. Of course the use of pumps and dams uses lots of electricity and oil, lots of chemicals are dissolved into the reservoirs, and our bills go up, but other than that untouched water is probably better for the environment, not worse. I think the rivers and lakes could do very well without all our fecal matter making a debut in their volumes.
Anyway, on top of looking for a way to keep a small compost bucket on my balcony I want to do what I can to clean the water that leaves my home, too. Take a look and see if maybe it’s something you might want to do, too.
I’ll try to get my next installment of photos up soon!
Between my home and the university where I work lies a stretch of rice paddies that takes me about 45 minutes to walk (or 20 minutes to bicycle). I came here in the middle of the winter while the land still lay fallow, the trees bare, and everything brown and dusty. The sense was of a landscape gone dry and dead, and the state of the dying town where I live didn’t help the overall impression that I had landed obliquely on the moon. Those first few weeks negotiating the dirt lanes on those early winter evenings, coupled with all the baggage brought from Tokyo, while being followed by hollow winds rolling off the coast, really made the whole area seem like some sort of banishment into the Gulag.
So when one evening as I walked home I caught the croaks of the first frog I’d heard in years, it was rather like feeling the first raindrop in a year of drought. Just the sound itself was green. Its voice arose from a hidden embankment, full of confidence and ardor, and hung in the darkness right out of reach.
In the coming weeks the fields transformed as if by magic. Water flooded the empty platters of dried paddies, flowing in like mercury in the burning evening sun, while breezes scalloped the surfaces and prodded the sleeping frogs awake. I never would have thought the soil carried such a rich harvest of voices, but within a month the fields had awakened and the whole world seemed to erupt with the din of frogs, millions upon millions of them, as far as you could lean your ear and out beyond, where the wild reeds and rushes from last year rustled unseen in the shadows.
The sound of the frogs lit up something that I had not felt before here. In passing through the fields I found myself slowing down more and more to stop and simply listen, even though it was always after work and darkness had already fallen. With the neon lights of the mall strip road shining in the corner of my eye and enhancing the depth of the darkness all around me by visually dividing my head from my feet, when I hunkered down in the grass to listen close, it was like dropping into a darkened pond of sound, all else drowned out. The urgency of the frog song, its rhythm and texture, sang to something in me as a fellow living creature, rejoicing in the appetite of being alive. And a little, just a little, corner of my sadness and loneliness began to melt away.
Farmers began to people the fields, planting rice seedlings in neat rows that suddenly gave scale to the duns and russets. And as if this was a cue the hills and copses all around sprang to life right along with the rice. In the blink of an eye there was green everywhere, and first hints, then rashes, and finally swaths of pink and red and yellow as flowers raced under the skies. What only a week before only shook in the wind, now billowed and swayed to the same music playing in my head. The days drew breath and expanded, loosening their belts to allow the light to spill out into the edges of wakefulness, longer and longer into the territory of night time. The walks lost their aura of anxiety and spending 45 minutes or more making my way between points seemed to grow shorter. I actually began to look forward to getting out of the office and crunching through the fields.
The frogs sing outside my bedroom window now. Spring has flourished. Each day more birds arrive, bringing with them new songs of hope. And new names: Great Reed Warblers, Common Gallinules, Woodcocks, Northern Shrikes, and Blue Rock Thrushes.
In the heart of a big city like Tokyo the cliche says that nature exists as but an afterthought. For such hulking carbon-units as us humans that may well seem like the case, but all it takes is a slowing of pace and a pair of good eyes to see that the world around us, all of it, IS nature; we just have to learn how to see.
At the start of August, one cloudy day, in the midst of my summer-long hiatus from work, I decided one day to walk to the nearby Noh River and see what I could see. When I reached the banks I found myself slowly down to a crawl, barely moving along. These photographs are the result of nearly four hours stepping through the riverside grasses and bushes along a distance of only about 100 meters. What I actually saw far outnumbered what I captured in the camera. With the wind and light many of the pictures were either impossible to get, or else would have been uninteresting. If I had stayed longer no doubt I would have seen a lot more.
(What you see on-screen may look like washed-out photographs. The actual versions have much greater contrast, tone, and saturation. If you are using an LED screen you may want to tilt it back a little to allow more contrast and a darker image to show. The difference can really make the photos stand out.)
I came across this article last night, about Japan’s big victory in securing a huge portion of the votes in the International Whaling Commission (IWC) the other day. I’m not going to go into the petty details of how the organization works or what exactly happened. Suffice it to say that this is such an unnecessary development. Absolutely no good can come of such foolishness. What is at stake is not anachronistic Japanese cultural traditions (the argument that eating whale meat is part of Japanese tradition is simply not true. Japanese did not eat meat until very recently in their history, and whale meat only made it into people’s homes at the end of the Meiji era, when food shortages forced the government to seek alternative food sources), but the existence of fellow creatures.
What does it take for people to care about something other than themselves? The planet is our common home, irreplaceable and absolutely vital to our own existence. If for nothing else we ought to protect the planet, together, just for our own survival. We cannot exist without other life around us.
Photo of a Little Egret I took about a year ago during a spring walk along the Noh River near my house. Some of you might remember it.
About three weeks ago I was returning from a long run in the rain when I happened upon two male Little Egrets stalking one another. I stopped along the bank of the river and for half an hour didn’t move a muscle. Just when my bones seemed to begin to turn to ice, the Egrets started dancing. Slow figure eights each, but never quite breaching the edge of the other’s floorspace, and all the while when one dancer approached the inner edge, the other would swing to the outer. They held their wings half open, their necks straight and their beaks high. In silence. When I could no longer stand the cold, I moved and the dance broke up, each dancer taking off with an sharp croak, and once again I was left with the hurry of the falling rain and my own shivering mind.
Funny how the cacophony of birds resides in the realm of stillness, whereas a single blink of a human eye sends the denizens scattering.
This reflection was inspired by New Zealander Pete’s latest post, “Being Still”. Pete’s serene photography and lyrical words is fast making his site, Pohingapete, one of my favorite places to visit these days.
I just finished reading Barry Lopez’s “Resistence”. After I read it I lay in bed as the sun arced past the window, weeping for a long time and yet feeling fierce, too. The questions the book asks threatened to split the fragile veneer of calm that I’ve fitted myself into over the last few years so as to survive this spell in Tokyo without going mad. And it is a form of madness, isn’t it, to hate the place you live, to sit days on end behind the window without ever talking to a friend, or to have lost the joy that once filled me every day in making food or singing songs? I want so desperately to step out of this costume I’ve fitted myself into and not be afraid to run naked and free. I’ve never done well with walls around me and yet, in spite of the turmoil inside, here I am.
Lopez’s collection of short fictional stories highlights defining moments in the separate lives of a group of people who are bound by a need to define their worlds in new ways. In many respects it is Lopez’s battle cry against the shape that society and our behavior towards the natural world has been taking. His lessons are quiet and inward, a plea that we begin to explore our inner landscape and seek value in our participation in the world. His premise, based on Navajo spirituality, that before everything the world is beautiful and we should be learning to fit ourselves into what already exists rather than throw ourselves at redemption, runs through all the stories. Lopez manages to put a face on the ambiguous yearning of those who try to define the value of nature and beauty, amorphous ideals so disparaged by those in love with civilization’s progress.
I’ve been reading a lot of books and websites about seeking an alternative way of living to what the whole world seems to bent on following (“Radical Simplicity” by Dan Price, “The Seventh Cross” by Anna Seghers, “Guns, Germs, and Steel” by Jared Diamond, to name a few…). I guess all my life something beyond the fray has been calling me and that is one reason why I have never been able to quite fit in anywhere, among any group of people. Recently, though, say in the last five years, the sense of, as Lopez describes in his book, “the premonition of disaster” has grown disproportionate to my own need for belonging, and I feel myself on the verge of making a drastic, and most-likely very unconventional change. I need to act before what is swelling inside me turns violent in some form or other.
Recently Andy of Older and Growing and I have been discussing what it means to live an authentic life and how one might go about achieving it. Both of us harbor an almost desperate compunction to reconcile our biological existence with the physical world around us and a mythical comprehension of what it means to be alive. We sense the possibility of such a way of life, but cannot see it around us, except in our jaunts to the mountains.
It just cannot be that the complexity and depth of our minds and hearts stop at the producing and acquiring of possessions. If I recall all the most lasting and joyful moments in my life they almost never involve things at the center of those moments. Even in work and health frugality has nearly always helped to keep things running smoothly. And mentally, freedom from the tyranny of possession has always allowed my mind less pull in too many directions.
At the end of the book, the character Eric Rutterman declares, “It is good to be fully alive.” I certainly don’t feel this at the moment. But it’s where I’ve been struggling to head toward. I hope the steps I am taking this year will help get me there. One part, I hope, will be in the new focus on the redesigned blog, soon to be up.
In the depths of winter the desire comes to you to plant a seed and shepherd a life. You break the soil and drop in the kernel, then cover it up and wait for the world to shiver and wake. The months go by, bringing the Spring rains, the breath of the South, and the beaming face of the Sun, incubating the loam till veins stir to life. And then one day in June, while absently sticking your face out of the window, the green shoots greet you with their luminous green light, little children out to give the world a try.
And that’s what I did four years ago a year after moving into this apartment. I planted two zelkova seeds and watched them grow along the edge of the tiny garden I have. They grew quickly, almost a meter a year, last year about three meters in just three months. This year they were destined to push above the roof of the apartment building, and spread out in a great canopy of sighing leaves. The two trees shielded my window from the prying eyes of neighbors, blocked the searing summer sun to cool my studio, and entertained me with their Bali shadow puppets upon the curtain. In the midst of this Tokyo grey they were two little arms of hope and joy for me. Just the sound of the leaves rustling when I opened my window would elicit a deep sense of relief.
Then, yesterday morning, my doorbell rang. It was my landlord. He’s actually quite an amiable old man, albeit with a hand-wringing, leering-about-money sense of greed about him that never lets me quite trust him. He held his hat in his hands and, bowing profusely, announced that the gardeners would be coming today and removing my trees. “You see, the leaves get stuck in the rain gutters. But don’t worry,” he amended, “They’ll just cut the trees down to their bases, leaving the stumps intact. We won’t remove the trees entirely.”
After experiencing all forms of garden outrage, this was the last straw. In sputtering Japanese (my tongue gets all clay-like when I get emotional in Japanese) I declared, “You’re cutting the trees to their stumps? Just like that? Hokaaay! I don’t know why the hell I picked this apartment with the garden if I can’t use the garden the way I’d like to. I mean if you’re just going to come stamping in here every time you feel like it and rearrange my garden any way you like, then why should I even bother making an effort to take care of the damn thing? Well, why don’t I just make it easy for you? This weekend I’ll get my shears and chop down everything in the garden. Make it totally bare. That way you won’t have to worry about anything clogging up your gutters or attracting any kind of life whatsoever. Okay?”
Needless to say this gesticulating, cross-eyed foreigner losing his cool just rendered my landlord a bit dazed. The smile was gone. “There’s no need to do that! Please don’t misunderstand, you can use the garden any way you like. It’s only the trees that we want to cut down.”
“Ah,” I replied. “Only the trees. Well, I guess cutting them down just to the stumps doesn’t really make sense, does it? I think you’d find it in your interests to get rid of the trees right down to their roots. Otherwise, next thing you know you’ll have them crawling all over the garden again.”
His eyes lit up. “Would you really go for that? To pull the trees out by their roots? That would be most helpful. I’d really appreciate it if we could go ahead and remove the trees entirely. I’ll have the gardeners drop by some time around 10:00 tomorrow morning, okay?”
I know they’re just trees. I’m not supposed to feel anything serious about them, and most certainly not get attached to them. Dogs and cats and horses have their places in our hearts, but trees and cockroaches don’t have souls you see, and therefore their lives are forfeit to casual swiping into oblivion. That they come alive, struggle to continue, and carry out all the same purposes in their lives as you and me means nothing. In the movies people will holler bloody murder if a cat or a dog is mistreated, but no one squeaks a murmur when showing pro wrestlers chewing on worms or heroes’ boots crushing the life out of a cockroach. The same goes for trees.
But for some reason it hurts to see my beloved trees hacked to bits and hauled away. Something in myself feels the chop of the blades. And an emptiness remains.
To make matters worse, the landlord has been marching around the neighborhood chopping down all the annoying trees on his lands. Just up the street a magnificent zelkova stood next to another apartment building, already tall and splendid when I first moved here five years ago. Two years ago the landlord decided, in that typical, Draconian Japanese way with gardens, to lop off all the zelkova’s branches, leaving the poor creature standing naked throughout the years. The only concession was a tuft of sprouts capping the trunk, just enough to allow the tree to scrabble for doses of sunlight. It was but a large stick standing in a parking lot, not really a tree at all.
And after all that, yesterday the landlord ordered the tree to be chopped down and removed.
Five years I walked by this tree every day and not once did I fail to stop and admire it, even if only for a second. Now it is gone and no one will ever lament its passing. What a waste of a life.
This article spells out exactly what I have been strongly feeling these last few years, especially with all the recent mad weather around the world and the accumulated news of such things as the melting of the Arctic icecap, the Antarctic icecap, the permafrost in the Arctic, and of glaciers all around the world; the sudden failure of millions of seabirds in the North Sea to lay eggs, of sardines to arrive at their spawning grounds in the Pacific, of the mass plague of wood bore beetles in the Arctic, destroying entire regions of forests; the record snows falling just here in Japan, the monster storms hitting the coasts everywhere, the huge mudslides in rainy climes, enormous flooding, deserts expanding, rain forests falling, islands disappearing under the waves…
You see all this… if you take the time to gather it together in your arms… and you wonder, “What exactly is wrong with us?” It’s like we’re mesmerized by the lights of Vegas, unable to pull away from the slot machine, even though we’re about to find ourselves destitute. Does it take the vast hand-swipe of God to bring us to our senses? The awful part of it is that we seem to deny the reality of the natural world like some peevish teenager; it still never occurs to us that we are not the center of the universe, that the world will erase us as casually as we step on cockroaches or spray mosquitoes. Our absence will be missed by no one and nothing. Only we make so much of ourselves that we would risk our own existence and the stability of the planet to hawk our wares. The utter callousness and stupidity…
I have written about this often enough to know that a great many people will pooh-pooh me for being too alarmist and pessimistic. But I think it is that so few people want to open their eyes and see just how bad things really are. Or, if they do, they will vigorously shake their heads, clap their hands over their ears, and shout, “No! No! No! No! No! No! No!“. They say, “Miguel, why do you have to be so depressing all the time? Life is hard enough without worrying about things we can’t do anything about.” We have the symptoms of terminal cancer, but by God, we’re going to defeat that notion out of sheer optimism and to hell with the doctor!
I have diabetes. It is incurable. I will most likely die from complications that it causes. And I know what it is to deny an awful truth in yourself. People who love me tell me, “You have to be more positive about the disease, Miguel. Fight it!” Of course I fight it. What else can I do? And yet the kernel of truth resides within me and there is no denying it. It is a hard, impersonal truth, with no feeling this way or that whether I live or die. God, nor any other god, is not going to step in and save me.
I think that’s what the world’s populace is waiting for, some deus ex machina to come floating down from the clouds to grant us absolution and sprinkle fairy dust over the land, curing all wrongs. But volcanoes and earthquakes and floods and hurricanes and tsunamis act like the gods… supremely indifferent to our existence. And like the gods, when the mortals deem to insult them, the retribution is terrible. The Elders of our tribe long ago understood this intrinsically. We make fun of them today, calling them ignorant and backward.
Perhaps it’s, as Lovelock pronounces, too late. If so, our entire civilization is about to end. Can we even grasp that? And if the reality hits home, what can we do about it? Or more importantly, what can we do about ourselves? Is there dignity in extinction?
The rainy season has opened its wings and descended upon the islands. Most people would gripe about the steamy air, constant overcast days, inability to hang clothes out to dry, and the blooming of white mold all over leather goods, but I’ve always loved this season. The air is cool enough to sleep and, perhaps because of the dampening effect of the sound of rain, somehow people seem more subdued and sleeping comes easier among these crowded apartment buildings. I also love the movement of the sky and the veiling of distances. In the mountains the next bend in the trail loses itself in the mists and trees emerge out of the grayness like watery shadow puppets. Mountain tops hide away in the clouds and only reveal themselves after the proper ablutions, and even then only reluctantly. This is the Plum Rain, when hydrangea bloom and the tree swallows fly low over the fields.
Next week the buses that take walkers to the mountains will finally start running again and the high peaks will call me. I’ve been doing my best to get in shape for this, but insomnia and work getting in the way, I’m not as well-conditioned as I had hoped. So I will have to take it slow and set my sights on the bigger peaks at the second half of the summer. Still, just knowing that the snow has largely passed and I can set foot on my favorite ridges makes the heart beat. All winter I have been preparing my pack for much lighter walks and now I get to try it out and see if I can walk without the pain in my knees over the last few years.
For anyone who doesn’t do much hiking the obsession with getting the weight of a pack down may seem a little kooky, but when you’ve schlepped huge bundles loaded down with every latest gadget up half vertical slopes for ten or eleven hours a day, when the ascent forces you to gasp and the descent brings the weight of the mountain crunching down upon your knees, there comes a time when you have to ask yourself what the whole point of the walk is. I’ve seen young men carry packs almost as tall as they are and their whole walk consisting of placing one foot in front of the other without ever looking up. Once one guy pulled out an entire watermelon and complained of its weight! Another time a father carried the entire selection of equipment for a family of five; while he labored under the load his wife and children loudly complained about how slow he was walking, the wife going so far as to accuse him of bringing them all on this uneventful waste of time…
If only he, and me, earlier, had known of ultralight walking. A craze among backpackers the world over now, when I started out only a few people knew of the exploits and philosophy of Ray Jardin, who is largely credited for starting the whole movement. Basically he suggested ways that people might reevaluate more severely what they put into their packs. He and his wife managed to hike the three most important long-distance trails of America, the Appalachian, the Continental Divide, and the Pacific Crest… known together as the Triple Crown… bearing packs of only 8 pounds each, minus food, water, and fuel. Instead of heavy tents they used tarps. Instead of sleeping bags, they used quilts. Instead of the new-fangled internal frame packs so popular among walkers around the world today, he used a simple, frameless sack. And with weight so reduced he walked in running shoes rather than boots.
Other people have taken his ideas further and even managed to get their base pack weights down to 2.5 kilos (5 pounds), which admittedly is on the fringe of comfort and safety. I haven’t been able to get close to this, but I am still working on it. The freedom of wandering the peaks carrying what you need for safety, but without being bogged down by unneeded equipment is an allure that keeps me giving all my belongings a critical eye.
One thing that trying new methods demands is equipment that perhaps no one has made before. Quite a few ultralight backpackers design and make their own equipment. I’ve taught myself to use the sewing machine and have made a number of tents, tarps, hammocks, bags, and rain gear. My next project will be a lightweight backpack and perhaps a new kind of backpacking umbrella. There is satisfaction in making something yourself and then getting out into the mountain conditions and seeing it actually work. What surprised me was just how simply most commercial products are made and how little technical knowledge you need to produce most products yourself. It’s hard for me now to look at a lot of the clothing made by Patagonia (though I’ve come to appreciate much more the ability to come up with all their ideas) and justify the absurd prices they ask.
There are certain things that I refuse to give up in order to lighten the load. I love photography and drawing and so require a proper camera for control over the kind of photos I want and always carry a sketchbook and art supplies. But I no longer carry a fat novel (though I will bring along a thinner book for longer trips) or a white gas stove or heavy gore-tex rain gear. My tent is a filmy tarp that can configured into a storm-proof shelter and my sleeping bag stuffs down to the size of a small loaf of bread (augmented by my fibrefill jacket when it gets cold). It just feels wonderful when I lift the pack now, everything inside pared down to the essentials.
Going ultralight has affected other aspects of my life. Recently I’ve begun to whittle away all the non-nessential belongings in the apartment. If I can apply the same logic to my lifestyle I figure that I will edge myself closer to what really matters in life, and to come harder up against the real world using more of my wits and ingenuity rather than tools of convenience. The simplicity of the traditional Japanese lifestyle.
And with so much cleared away an unobstructed view out of the window at the Plum Rain, falling amidst the green proliferation and the settled pool in my mind.
Pepe, our seven-year-old Red-Eared Slider, has been living with us since we first moved back to Tokyo. I found him (and his former sister Isabella, who died several months later) in a dirty tray at the side of a local pet shop near where I work. The tray had been heaped with baby turtles, half of them dead, and I was so taken aback by the apathetic treatment of the little creatures (Japan has a truly abominable record when it comes to the treatment of animals… you can go into any pet shop here and find endangered species curled up in cages… I once saw a fennec fox sleeping in a tiny cage. Needless-to-say visiting Japanese pet shops is so distressing that I avoid them whenever possible) that I decided there and then, without much thought for the consequences, to save at least two of the babies before they could die, too.
I hadn’t known that Isabella was sick, and the months that followed we watched her die a slow, labored death as her breathing faltered and froth constantly poured from her nostrils. We couldn’t find a veterinarian anywhere who would handle reptiles and so the only recourse I had was to seek help from the then very spotty Internet, through the help of reptile-lover, and expert, Melissa Kaplan. There wasn’t much that we could do, except to make Isabella’s last days as comfortable as possible.
Pepe survived, however, and graces our living room to this day. He’s put on weight. When you pick him up he feels like a large round stone, more than 20 centimeters long. He spends his days basking on the rock in the aquarium, chowing down on turtle pellets, cabbage, white shrimp, and the occasional slice of banana, and, of course, hours and days and weeks endlessly sleeping. Turtles have the basics of life down to an art and use no more energy than is necessary. I’m always amazed that with virtually no exercise Pepe puts my weight-lifting skills to shame, and when the mood strikes him he can react like lightning.
Since I spend my days working at home I’ve often had time to sit and observe him and learn bit by bit the nature of turtles and how they might perceive the world. I never knew, for instance, that when turtles move about in the water they constantly drink the water, tasting it, and since turtles are air-breathers, they can’t use smell underwater as a sense, and so seem to have evolved taste as an alternative way of locating food and making their way through murky water.
I always thought, too, that reptiles, being cold-blooded, don’t carry their own body warmth, but in winter, when Pepe sidles up against the aquarium pane, the glass fogs up with his exhaled breath and a white jet billows out just like someone drinking a cup of hot coffee.
So you’d think that with seven years of watching him I would be pretty up on his identity. After all he sits there staring back at me day in and day out, no matter the weather. So what a surprise when I looked in the aquarium the other day and spotted a white lump deposited on the back side of Pepe’s sunning rock. I poked it and discovered that it was soft, like the plastic outside of a mayonnaise tube. It was round, like a mushroom. I picked up the object and nearly dropped it. It was a turtle egg!
“How the heck…?” I said to myself. I looked back at Pepe and just stared. “Pepe, you’re a she? Why didn’t you tell me?”
Pepe said nothing, of course. She’d been vindicated, finally, after all this time of my calling her a him.
“But how did you…?” Yes, lay an egg. I mean, as far as I know Pepe had had no nightly trysts at all in the aquarium-bound existence she’d been subject to all this time. I know that Red-Eared Sliders can only mate once they reach a certain size and that sexual maturity is not determined by age, but by size (also, in general, Red-eared Sliders’ sex is determined, while they are still egg-bound, by the temperature the eggs are reared in: cooler temperatures produce males, and warmer temperatures produce females. Many paleontologists believe that the demise of the great dinosaurs might have come about because the cooler temperatures brought about by a large meteor hitting the earth might have produced too many males and not enough females), so it is highly unlikely that Pepe could have had her eggs fertilized while in that filthy tray in the store.
Later someone educated me about females producing unfertilized eggs, including the revelation that the chicken eggs that I buy in the store are all unfertilized eggs. Shows you just how out of touch with my own food sources I am!
I like to pride myself on my knowledge about animals, but then people like Pepe come around and remind me of just how many surprises I am apt to encounter in even just one representative of a single species. I could probably watch that immobile little shell of a turtle and learn something new every day if I looked hard enough. It’s sometimes easy to overlook the familiar and assume I know more than I do.
No matter how much I know or don’t know, however, Pepe’s clear and earnest eyes will continue to grab me from across the room and have me gazing back. There is a lot of wisdom in there. I guess it’s never a good idea to assume you know what someone else is thinking.