Monday, March 13, 2023

#RandomThoughts For the Week

As I have been working away on projects, I pulled together some Random Thoughts I was inspired by and as Norooz is in the air in Southern California and throughout the world :


Count your blessings - not your troubles.
- Dale Carnegie

It is always a good day to be grateful for all of life -
grateful for large blessings and small.
Especially to be grateful for the symbolic blessings -
the rainbows and butterflies that come into our lives
when we least expect and most need them.
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie

If only the people who worry about their liabilities
would think about the riches they do possess,
they would stop worrying.
- Dale Carnegie



The 2023 Farhang Nowruz Street Banners designed by artist Rashin Kheiriyeh

Farhang Foundation announces this year's Nowruz Banner Design as part of its annual awareness campaign for Nowruz 2023

LOS ANGELES - Farhang Foundation proudly announces the 2023 annual Nowruz street pole banner design for this year's Nowruz, The Iranian New Year awareness campaign in Southern California. 

The Farhang Foundation's annual Nowruz Street Banner campaign is now in its fourteenth year, and each year Farhang reaches out to artists worldwide for original designs that exemplify Nowruz, the Iranian new year. This year the traditional campaign required an even higher emphasis on its message. After the struggles and triumphs of the current WOMAN LIFE FREEDOM movement of Iran, and Farhang Foundation's public campaign in the fall/winter of 2022 supporting the movement, Farhang continues on this path by not only welcoming Nowruz this March but also incorporating the Freedom movement's important messaging into the campaign.

"This year, Farhang Foundation had to make the tough decision to cancel our annual Celebration of Nowruz at UCLA, in respect for the people of Iran," said Alireza Ardekani, Executive Director of Farhang Foundation. "Although our celebration of Nowruz will not be taking place this year, we strongly believe that Nowruz is one of the most important annual Iranian traditions going back thousands of years, and regardless of any events and celebrations, we feel that welcoming Nowruz to Southern California and sharing this rich and beautiful tradition with millions of people is of utmost importance. We are so proud of this year's powerful and stunning design, and it gives us great joy to see these beautiful banners flying proudly throughout Southern California."

This year's winning design was awarded to artist Rashin Kheiriyeh. Rashin, based in Washington D.C., has made Farhang history by becoming the first artist ever whose designs have been selected for two separate Nowruz campaigns, the first being in 2017. This year's design is based on Rashin's winning public mural, which Farhang Foundation had the privilege of installing on Pico Blvd in Santa Monica in 2021.  

"I created my design with a woman's silhouetted head in profile and a bird sitting on her nose as a symbol of hope and freedom for Iranian women. After Mahsa Amini's death, I added the slogan WOMAN LIFE FREEDOM in Persian calligraphy designed into the figure's hair and dedicated the design to Mahsa's revolution," said Rashin Kheiriyeh. "I am especially proud to have Farhang Foundation once again select my design for this year's Nowruz campaign, and I am grateful that my design and message may have a small hand in amplifying the voice of Iranians throughout Southern California."

Nowruz banners on Wilshire Boulevard, Sunset Boulevard and Westwood Boulevard in Los Angeles

This year's winning design is currently on view on more street poles than ever before in the 14-year history of the campaign. It is proudly displayed throughout southern California, including in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, the Valley, and Costa Mesa.

The WOMAN LIFE FREEDOM Nowruz Banners will be on display through March 31, 2023.

There’s an old joke: When the Gods wish to punish us, they give us everything we’ve ever wanted. Look at most people who win the lottery. Look at most famous people. Look at most world leaders. To borrow an expression from one particularly unhappy world leader, what do they look like? They look like they’re tired of winning. Because winning isn’t actually as fun as it seemed like it would be…and most of what we want to win turns out to not really be worth it.

This was Marcus Aurelius’ point. When we look at history and other people, it’s hard not to see “how trivial the things we want so passionately are.” But what if you don’t realize that yourself? Or rather, what if you don’t realize that the presidency or a billion dollars isn’t that meaningful until after you’ve given up everything for it? After you’ve traded your marriage or your principles or your youth to get it?

“Now you’re free of illusions,” says a character in Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. “How does it feel to be free of one’s illusions?” The protagonist can only answer, “Painful and empty.” In this way, we are almost lucky not to get everything we want, to not be allowed our trivial passionate yearnings. Because we are allowed to continue in ignorance. We don’t have to do the hard work on ourselves, and really look in the mirror.

We’ve said before that a Stoic focuses on what they control. That is the essence of Epictetus’s teachings, after all. You put your energy where you can make an impact and you ignore the rest–the rest being fear of what other people will think, fear of the potential results, your chances of success, the long hard road that may come next.

To do anything else is a recipe for misery. It’s also, as any experienced leader can tell you, a betrayal of the job, a theft from the people who depend on you. The author Merle Miller once asked Harry Truman–the American president who faced one difficult decision after another–how he managed to sleep or concentrate with all that up in the air. Truman’s answer was that he couldn’t afford to worry or fret or second guess.

“If you’ve done the best you can–if you have done what you have to do,” he explained, “there is no use worrying about it because nothing can change it and to be in a position of leadership…you have to give thought to what’s going to happen the next day and you have to be fresh for what you have to do the next day. What you’re going to do is more important than what you’ve done.”

It may well be that you made the wrong decision. It may well be that tomorrow, things are going to be insanely difficult. And? You better be ready. You better be well rested. You better have all your faculties at your disposal. To spend a minute, let alone an hour or month, worrying? Freaking out? Peering through your fingers as you cover your eyes? This is a waste of energy. It’s time that could be spent productively. It’s effort that could be directed at what you control, at what comes next.

You owe it to your team, to your family, to your mission to do the best you can and then move on. You can’t afford anything else. You don’t have the bandwidth for anything else. You know that nothing else matters.

The reason we don’t get what we want is because we want it too much. We reach for it with too much force. We lack the patience, we lack the poise. In Buddhism, they speak of willful will. More often than not, that is our problem.

In her beautiful book Gift from the Sea, Anne Morrow Lindberg writes on the hunt for sea shells: “The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach–waiting for a gift from the sea.”

It’s our expectations, the Stoics tell us, that get us in trouble. They make us rigid. They close us off. They make us impatient. They make us greedy. They’re also the reason that we miss what’s already there in front of us. In one of his own beautiful analogies, Epictetus says we are like the kid with their hand in the candy jar–our closed hand, wrapped around a fist of candy, traps us, leaving us with nothing.

Life is full of treasure…but only those who have conquered their willful will can possess it. Only those who have learned to relax, who can practice what the Stoics call the “art of acquiescence” can truly accept it. We are not in control. We must have faith and patience. We must not want anything in particular but be open–indeed love (that’s what amor fati means)to whatever washes up on the shore for us.

This is how we’ll find treasure…and happiness.

Of course, this is what a philosopher does all the time. Instead of hiding behind luck’s protection, or instead of continuing to lie to themselves that more, more, more will make them happy, they actually probe themselves. They question their desires. They look into the future and ask, “What would happen if all my dreams did come true? Why would I suddenly be happy then? Why can’t I be happy now instead?”

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