Thursday, January 13, 2022

An inspiring moment at the piano



This year Christmas was a bit quieter than most; there were five of us (our family of four an Jennies father) gathered here in Atlanta on a warm and beautiful day.  We exchanged gifts, cooked a delicious meal, and really enjoyed the time together.  Jennie’s sisters and their families were out of town this year, sharing the holidays with their “in-laws,” thus our “quiet five”, vs a more rambunctious twelve, gathered on Christmas day.

In the afterglow of the holiday meal (an attempted reprise of an incredible meal the family shared on an incredible vacation in Italy a few years ago) we found our way to our living room and Don (Jen’s dad) sat at the piano and began to play.  It’s been an inspiring and humbling experience to marry into this incredibly musical family; filled with talented singers, songwriters, performers and musicians that span genres and instruments. While I don’t know exactly how many instruments Don knows how to play, he is an accomplished and talented pianist and organist.  On Christmas day, as he sat at our little piano, he began playing Beethoven ( I think) from memory and it was exquisite.  There was no music on the piano, just the little painting pictured above, just this eloquent music being reproduced from memory.  Outside of a sticky/broken “D-Key”, the little piano held up well and we just all quietly sat in the living room appreciating the artistry and talent on a warm/sunny Christmas afternoon.


After a few minutes, the music changed a bit and while I could tell it wasn’t exactly the Beethoven we had heard before, I wasn’t at all sure of the musical source.  Now it’s not a bit unusual for me to be musically “in-the-dark” with this family so I sat quietly for a bit truly enjoying the musical change. After a few minutes I quietly asked…. “Don, is this still Beethoven or is it another composer?”  Without hesitation my father-in-law said, “no Bill, it’s not Beethoven, I am playing the painting on the piano.”  Now I know I am not the brightest bulb in the pack, and that is especially true on all things musical, but his response stopped me in my tracks.  “Playing the painting Don… what exactly to you mean?” was my honest question.  He described the red flowers in the painting and then played a theme that to him expressed the flowers…. And then described the blue and green “foliage” and proceeded to play the musical theme that represented those images then very casually put the two themes together and went back to playing the music he had created from the image on the piano…. he went back to “playing the painting!”


In life and I think in families we often take too much for granted, and this story is meant to take a pause and simply recognize an amazing, creative, inspiring moment.  I am lucky to be part of this family (regardless of my limited musical prowess) and feel very fortunate to have witnessed that moment pf creative inspiration.  Maybe it’s common for musicians to pick up their instruments and “play a painting,” but to me that moment will stand out as a distinctive and powerful moment of a unique, inspiring and very talented person…. My father-in-law Don!

Thursday, January 6, 2022

January 6: Redux


A year ago today our county, and the world, suffered an assault that is still reverberating today.  Senseless violence and aggression lead to an event that I for one hope we never forget and always learn from.  The closing paragraph of Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” is so appropriate for all of us to remember:


But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.


Our dedication to these historic words, Lincoln’s admonition that we remain “dedicated here to the unfinished work” is so powerful today.  It can’t be assumed that a “government of the people, by the people, for the people” is inevitable and self-sustaining; it requires all of us to WORK to make this country, our society, and the world broadly a place of justice and peace.  


Earlier today, President Jimmy Carter penned an Op-Ed in the N.Y. Times focused on this exact topic.  The closing paragraph of that article is also an important reminder and a call-to-action for all of us:


Our great nation now teeters on the brink of a widening abyss. Without immediate action, we are at genuine risk of civil conflict and losing our precious democracy. Americans must set aside differences and work together before it is too late.


Last year, early on the morning post the Capital Insurrection, I shared this essay on my blog; I share it again today as a reminder of our “unfinished work” ahead.



January 7, 2020:

Early this morning, I sent the following "note" to my team at Bolthouse Farms.  Its rare that I post these types of communications on this blog, but at a very challenging and troubled moment in our country's history, I wanted to share these thoughts....

Early this morning, I got up with a fresh cup of coffee and reflected on the horrific images from our Capitol in Washington D.C.  I am angered, horrified, and deeply saddened by the acts of mob violence and domestic terrorism… and in the quiet of the morning I am highly motivated to speak out against those actions (and those inciting those actions) as an American and as a Bolthouse Farms person.


Since our founding in 1915, generations of Bolthouse Farms people have always had to work hard to do their/our honest work.  Everyday across our history we have had to work hard to overcome challenges, to take care of our land, take care of our facilities, take care of our people and to grow our carrots; to make all of our products, and to serve our customers and communities. We work hard everyday at Bolthouse Farms to Grow, Make & Serve.  This central idea of “working hard to grow, make, & serve” has always been at the heart of this company, a 105 year “young” idea that is never more true and relevant than today.  We don’t stand for lies, bullying, violence, and destruction, and we never will.


As an American, I am reminded that we must come together and work hard for a more just and productive nation.  Our communities face so many challenges, but through coming together and working hard together we can (and must) accomplish great things.  Very early this morning, after the congress reconvened and finished their constitutional work to confirm the results of our recent election, the Senate Chaplain closed the proceedings with the following prayer.  I found it encouraging and inspiring, and I share it with that same spirit…


"Lord of our lives and sovereign of our beloved nation, we deplore the desecration of the United States Capitol building, the shedding of innocent blood, the loss of life, and the quagmire of dysfunction that threaten our democracy.
These tragedies have reminded us that words matter and that the power of life and death is in the tongue. We have been warned that eternal vigilance continues to be freedom's price.
Lord, you have helped us remember that we need to see in each other a common humanity that reflects your image.
You have strengthened our resolve to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies domestic as well as foreign.
Use us to bring healing and unity to our hurting and divided nation and world. Thank you for what you have blessed our lawmakers to accomplish in spite of threats to liberty.
Bless and keep us. Drive far from us all wrong desires, incline our hearts to do your will and guide our feet on the path of peace. And God bless America. We pray in your sovereign name, amen."