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Einstein’s Warmth and Wonder

When Jerome Weidman was young, he was invited to visit a rich old friend who had a lovely big home. After supper that evening they went through to the drawing room. Other guests were pouring in and the servants were arranging chairs for a musical recital. Jerome said he was not able to listen to heavy music and sat with some ear plugs in his ears. At the first interval he took out his ear plugs.

An old gentleman sitting next to Jerome took him by the arm and led him to an upstairs room, which was a book-lined study. The old gentleman introduced himself as Albert Einstein.

“Tell me,” said Einstein, “Is there any kind of music that you do like?”

” Yes,” said Jerome, “I like songs that have words.”

Einstein proceeded to put a record on the turntable. Jerome knew the voice and the music, it was Bing Crosby’s “When the Blue of the Night Meets the Gold of the Day”. Einstein let the record play a few phrases then stopped the record player and asked,

“Will you tell me please what you have just heard?” The simplest answer seemed to be to sing the lines, which he did.

The expression on Einstein’s face was like the sunrise. “You see!” he cried with delight when he was finished. “You do have an ear!”

He mumbled something about being one of his favorite songs, something he had heard hundreds of times, so that it didn’t really prove anything.

“Nonsense!” said Einstein. “It proves everything! Do you remember your first arithmetic lesson in school? Suppose, at your first contact with numbers, your teacher had ordered you to work out a problem in, say, long division, or fractions. Could you have done so? No, of course not. Precisely!” Einstein made a triumphant wave with his pipe stem.

“It would have been impossible and you would have reacted in panic. You would have closed your mind to long division and fractions. As a result, because of that one small mistake by your teacher, it is possible your whole life you would be denied the beauty of long division and fractions. So it is with music.” Einstein picked up the Bing Crosby record.

“This simple, charming little song is like simple addition or subtraction. You have mastered it. Now we go on to something more complicated.” He found another record and set it going. The golden voice of John McCormack singing “The Trumpeter” filled the room. After a few lines Einstein stopped the record.

“So!” he said “You sing that back to me, please?”

He did with a good deal of self-consciousness but with, for him, a surprising degree of accuracy. Einstein stared at him with a look on his face that his father had as he listened to him deliver his valedictory address at his high school graduation.

“Excellent !” Einstein remarked when he finished. “Wonderful! Now this!”

‘This’ proved to be Caruso in what was to him a completely unrecognizable fragment from “Cavaleria Rusticana”. Nevertheless, he managed to reproduce an approximation of the sounds the famous tenor had made. Einstein beamed his approval.

Caruso was followed by at least a dozen others. He could not shake the feeling of awe over the way this great man, into whose company he had been thrown by chance, was completely preoccupied by what they were doing, as though it were his sole concern.

They came at last to recordings of music without words, which he was instructed to reproduce by humming. When he reached for a high note, Einstein’s mouth opened and his head went back as if to help him attain what seemed unattainable. Evidently he came close enough, for he suddenly turned off the phonograph.

“Now, young man,” he said, putting his arm through Jerome’s. “we are ready for Bach!”

As they returned to their seats in the drawing room, the players were tuning up for a new selection. Einstein smiled and gave a reassuring pat on his knee. “Just allow yourself to listen,” he said. “That is all.”

It wasn’t really all, of course. Without the effort he had just poured out a total stranger he would never have heard, as he did that night for the first time in his life. Bach’s “Sheep May Safely Graze.” When the concert was finished Jerome was able to add his applause to that of the others.

He has heard it many times since and will never tire of it. Because he never listens to it alone. He is sitting beside a small, round man with a shock of untidy white hair, a dead pipe clamped between his teeth, and eyes that contain in their extraordinary warmth all the wonder of the world.

~ by Jerome Weidman who is author of the book, “I can get it for you wholesale” ~

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Unconditional Love

I was in a local grocery store the other day when suddenly I heard the sound of breaking glass behind me. I turned around to see what had happened. A young mother had turned away from her shopping cart for a second to look in one of the freezers.

That second was all it took for her growing, baby boy to test out his newfound ability to grab and lift things from his seat in the cart. Unfortunately, the big jar of spaghetti sauce was more than he could handle.

I smiled when I walked back to help and saw the look of utter surprise on his face. His arms were still outstretched where the jar had been a few seconds before. On the floor below the puddle of red was slowly oozing across the aisle.

After making sure that both Mom and baby were alright, I headed down the aisle to get help from a store employee. As I glanced back at them, though, I saw something that truly warmed my heart.

The baby had finally taken his eyes off the shattered jar and looked up at his Mom. Instead of scolding him or even giving him an angry look she smiled down at him with eyes full of gentle understanding and unconditional love.

Her tender gaze and kind smile never changed, not even when a friend gave her some good-natured teasing about the mess. I knew then that this Mom was going to give her son a lifetime full of laughter and love.

I think that God must smile down on us with that same look at times. We are His beloved Children and yet as hard as we try, we often make a mess of things, too.

We want to learn to love. Still, we stumble, we fall, we let important things slip through our fingers, and even break a few hearts along the way. God never gives up on us, however. He forgives us and fills our hearts, souls, and lives with His gentle understanding and unconditional love.

May we learn to love each other as He loves us. May we all learn to live our lives in joy, laughter, love, and understanding.

~ Written by Joseph J. Mazzella and used with permission. Joe is both a sensitive and loving person as well as an insightful writer. His website is well worth the visit at http://www.angelfire.com/wv2/joecoolwv/index.html ~

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A Room with a View

Two men who were both seriously ill occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window. The other man had to spend his time flat on his back.

The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation. Every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.

The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside. He came to know the window overlooked a park with a lovely lake.

Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young couples walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene. One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by.

Although the other man couldn’t hear the band – he could see it. In his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.

One morning, the nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.

As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.

Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed.

It faced a blank wall.

The man asked the nurse why his deceased roommate had always described such wonderful things outside this window.

She said, “He always knew how much you enjoyed and where encouraged by the beauty outside the window.”

Take a look. What can you do – right now – to put a smile on someone’s face and make them feel a little bit more happy. Will you? Now?

Thank you. The world is now a little bit more loving 🙂

~ Author Unknown .. plus a little help from Sandy ~

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Are You Serious?

When I entered the business world I had a goal. A goal to make a lot of money. I succeeded and thought I was rich. Yay. Success !!!

But then soon – all too soon – I found out there was more to the story. What Rockefeller and Kennedy knew and taught their kids is once you have it, the rest of the story is to keep it.

New Year’s Resolutions are like this. To make goals to change our lives is just the first half of the story. Antoine de Saint-Exupry stated it well: “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

Am I serious? I am now making my New Year’s Resolutions. One is the goal I had a long time ago when I entered the business world, to make a good amount of money. For me. For my family. For others to help build their lives. But I know it is just a wish if I don’t create a firm plan to make it happen.

A plan that is concrete. That identifies exactly what I need to do and break it down step by step. To monitor these “baby steps” a day, a week, a month at a time and make changes in my path as wisdom and patience dictates.

There is a old cliché that says this well: “Plan our work and work our plan.”

I am serious. I plan to change my life in 2018.

Are you serious? Will you make goals and put them in a drawer? Or will you keep your goals on the table? Focusing on them and making them a reality step by step.

Let’s change our lives in 2018. Do it for us. Do it for our family. Do it for others to help them build their lives !!

~ The author is C. F. Sandy Pofahl ~

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Spitzer vs. Reagan

Eliot Spitzer, former Governor of New York, offers such a sad illustration of the opposite of humility. As I have discussed this tragedy with friends on Wall Street and others, I hear an interesting theme repeated regularly.

Most are not troubled by his actual bad behavior but rather by the contradiction of his behavior given Spitzer’s crusading style and judgmental actions toward others. The former Governor railed against corporate evil doers and even spoke out against prostitution rings. He referred to himself as a ‘steamroller’ and threatened to take down any and all who stood in his way.

My friend and mentor, John Whitehead, experienced the wrath of Mr. Spitzer in an unpleasant exchange. Whitehead, former co-chairman of Goldman Sachs among his many accomplishments, stood alone on Wall Street for his integrity and kindness. The fact that Spitzer would attack and threaten John for urging the prosecutor to be measured and careful lest he destroy good companies and reputations, tells much about Spitzer.

As a young White House staffer during the Reagan years, I found myself one day in a smallish room off of the oval office. Present along with President Reagan were the troika, Chief of Staff James Baker, former attorney General Edwin Meese and the late Michael Deaver, head of White House Communications, and for some inexplicable reason, I was there.

What struck me most profoundly about that hour was the kindness and lack of judgment of President Reagan. Anytime one of his political enemies, such as Senator Kennedy, was mentioned in some less than flattering way, the President would strongly speak up and point out their virtues and fine traits, and in Kennedy’s case, how that remarkable family had suffered.

I counted at least four times that he acted so nobly. I wandered back to my office with the thought in my mind,

‘I want to be like that.’

The Spitzer moments offer a teachable opportunity for me. May I look within, change myself first. Our nation is a contradiction on so many levels. One that jumps out is that fact that we are the most permissive society ever, and yet we are the most judgmental.

Change must begin with me. The bar is high. Judge not, lest you be judged. A lot to think about.

Thanks, Eliot, for the reminder.

~ The author is J. Douglas Holladay who was a general partner in Park Avenue Equity Partners, LP and a Senior Fellow of the Case Foundation. Prior to Park Avenue he was a senior officer with Goldman, Sachs and Company and prior to this he held senior positions in both the State Department and the White House. ~

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