We May Even Become Friends

Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends. —Maya Angelou

This week my day job involves interacting with my colleagues from 19 branch offices from around the globe. These people, some scientists, some marketers, some journalists, some younger, some older, have flown to Madison from PacAsia, South America and Europe. We meet in Madison, WI, in January to talk about aligning our efforts as we work to support the work of scientists around the globe.

When we sit down around a common table, we treat each other differently.
When we sit down around a common table, we treat each other differently.

We could have these meetings using video conferencing technology, and indeed throughout the year, we often do have such meetings. Emails and instant messages fly across cyberspace from continent to continent on a daily basis, but the yearly meeting where we all get together and interact face-to-face lends a whole new dimension to the work we do and how we do it.

Meeting one another and spending the afternoon at a painting bar sharing a meal, a blank canvas and acrylic paints brings out the humanity in all of us. We learn that our colleagues in France and in Switzerland also have young daughters who dress up like Elsa and sing “Let It Go” over and over and over and over and …well, you get the picture. Continue reading “We May Even Become Friends”


iStock_000016219318XSmallWhen I was in college, I remember a day when two of my friends gathered in my dorm room for a lazy day. The weather was bad. We were mentally worn from our various studies. Somehow we had managed to tune into a Metropolitan Opera broadcast of Die Fledermaus (The Bat). This was an unusual performance in that the libretto was sung in English and modernized so that the situation and comedy would appeal easily to a 20th century audience. It is the only opera that I have ever enjoyed.

But, I don’t think it was the opera at all. Continue reading “Friendship”

Visitors to Tame the Night

The snow blew cold across the earth
A solid blanket of white
Nothing living seemed to stir
No visitors to tame the night

I wrote those words a long time ago—long before I moved from the Southeast to the Midwest, long before I had ever experienced a blizzard. Yet somehow I managed to capture the essence of whiteout.

What is it about a visitor that tames the night? What is it about sharing a hot cup of coffee and some freshly baked bread that makes the wind less fierce and the air a little warmer? Continue reading “Visitors to Tame the Night”