Mahna mahna

mahna-mahnaThe most sophisticated people I know – inside they are all children. ~Jim Henson

We all get consumed by our responsibilities as adults. We commute to work each day like obedient herds of cattle. We put forth our best efforts to improve our lives and the lives of those around us. We dress in our best clothes. We outfit ourselves with the best attitude we can muster. Coffee sometimes helps. It’s easy to get lost in this world of regulations, procedures, and unwritten rules of modern society. Sometimes, we need to break free. With wild abandon.

Beneath all these imposed expectations, buried deep inside is your true self, your inner child, just waiting to bust out. Wild orange hair, furry green tunic and all.

I recently volunteered to serve as coach for a Lego robotics team in our community. The team consists of five boys between the ages of ten and twelve. The program is sponsored by the FIRST organization (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). Among other things, the team is responsible for designing and programming a robot to achieve certain mission objectives. It fosters creative thinking, teamwork, and problem solving within the realm of science and technology.

My role as coach is to administer guidance. The team does all the research, brainstorming, and design. I am simply there to provide course correction if I see them going off on a tangent. I help to educate them on the thought processes involved so they are better able to achieve the goals set forth as a team. The funny thing is, last night they taught me something instead of the other way around. That seems to be occurring much more often the longer I hang around with kids 😉 I like that.

As our team was nearing the completion of another mission objective, various anomalies with their robot design and programming were preventing them from claiming victory. Frustration was beginning to set in and it was showing. And then something happened. One of the boys grabbed the wireless mouse and covertly snuck it into his pocket. As the other boys were attempting to revise the code in their program, the mouse pointer mysteriously and unexpectedly began to take on a life of its own as it danced across the screen.

The devilish grin on the mouse-wielding thief gave it away shortly thereafter. However, in that moment of pure youthfulness, the entire atmosphere morphed from one of frustration to one of carefree exploration and discovery. They allowed themselves to loosen up, become authentic, and in the process become much more productive. The scream of jubilation from these five boys once their mission was successfully completed was more authentic than anything I witnessed that day.

My hope still is to leave the world a bit better than when I got here. ~Jim Henson

Most of us would not think to engage in such “ludicrous” behavior at our place of business. We need to fit in. We need to conform. We do what is expected and required in order to be successful. Or, at least, that’s what we are led to believe. Personally, I noticed the opposite occur last night.

When we take the initiative to break out of our mold and do what is in our heart, we achieve so much more. And we have fun in the process. As you go through your day, be courageous and creative. Dance your own dance. Just like the lovable, furry creature in the video below, find a way to be yourself regardless of the pressures around you. Especially if it means dressing in a furry pink coat, horns, and yellow round lips. You will certainly leave the world in a much better place.

And good luck not singing this for the rest of the day. Mahna Mahna! 🙂

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The rainbow connection

G81-182213After a day crammed with taxing situations funneling through my queue, the most effective therapy involves picking up my guitar, strumming a few chords, and letting the lyrics flow from deep inside. I am magically transported to a different world where all tension and stress melt away. In these moments, a feeling of quiet serenity washes over me and life is good.

Sitting on the floor in our bedroom, back against the bed, guitar perched on my thigh, I look up to see my wife walking into the room. With a smile on her face she asks, “Do you take requests?” After issuing my standard disclaimer that any played song may not resemble the said requested song, she asks me to play The Rainbow Connection. The whosit whatsit?

I sheepishly admit that up until this very moment in my life, I had never really heard the song made famous by Jim Henson and the Muppets. After listening to a rendition by Kermit the Frog and watching a smile spread across my wife’s face, I appreciated the extraordinary lyrics from this classic song.

Why are there so many songs about rainbows
and what’s on the other side?
Rainbows are visions, but only illusions,
and rainbows have nothing to hide.
So we’ve been told and some choose to believe it.
I know they’re wrong, wait and see.
Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection.
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

I have veered off course on several occasions in an attempt to see one of these fleeting views out the car window. What is it about rainbows that make us stop whatever we are doing and gaze in complete awe and wonder at this natural phenomena?

Is it because every color that we can perceive in the world is wrapped into this one vision? Is it because we dream about the mythical pot of gold at its end? Or, is it because there is some magical rainbow connection that we know is there, but simply can’t put our finger on right now?

As I replay these lyrics in my mind, I am reminded that there is something bigger than us as individuals. There are things that we can’t see that are stronger and more real than those things we can see and touch. We need to believe in hope and wishes coming true. We need to daydream and ponder all the most seemingly absurd possibilities in our lives. For it is only in these daydreams that a seed is sown and allowed to flourish into a beautiful garden.

kermit-the-frogThere are two important elements necessary to spawn a rainbow, rain and sunshine. Maybe the rain symbolizes the difficult times in our lives. Perhaps the sunshine represents the happy and joyous moments. In a rather fascinating combination of these symbolic elements, we only witness the beauty of a rainbow when both are present, the rain and the sunshine, the difficult and joyous times. Sometimes our lives seem to get turned upside down and thrown off-kilter. Could it be that we need to view a rainbow in the same way? For, if you look at a rainbow while upside down, it assuredly resembles a smile. A smile of hope, a wish for brighter days brimming with fulfilled dreams.

Life’s like a movie. Write your own ending, keep believing, keep pretending. ~Kermit the Frog

Maybe a rainbow is nothing more than Mother Nature smiling down to let us know that sunshine is waiting on the far side of every storm in our lives. So, the next time you see a rainbow, may it be a reminder to keep the magic of your inner child alive in your heart. Smile back and you may just make your own rainbow connection.