Sunday, July 27, 2008

Yellow Highlighter ...

… orange or lime green … take your pick from the pallet of hues for giving emphasis to points you want to remember when you’re reading. I can’t imagine life without these handy tools to help me see at a glance what’s important. They are memory joggers I have used ever since I can remember (high school? college?). They are even bigger godsends in these days when our minds are increasingly stuffed with too much information.

But there are other markers for highlighting, and they are figurative, not literal. They work as a cosmic hint for getting our attention--or as bookmarks for a place in memory that we need to note for later follow-up. They can mark a specific incident or verbal exchange. In the moment, they stir a feeling of discomfort or significance, often that we can’t yet identify.

Here’s a recent example, which takes a little intro:

My close circle of women friends—my spiritual support team—take an annual trip near Lake Tahoe to the cabin of one of our members. Over the past couple of years, we have started to do
Soul Collage, a great artsy and intuitive way, essentially, to make your own personal tarot deck. If you’re familiar with tarot and know the collage based Voyager deck, think of a process where you create your own unique version.

Running late, as ever, I was eating my cereal the morning we were leaving for Tahoe. In-between spoonfuls, while chewing, I was cutting last-minute images out of magazines for our Soul Collage session at the cabin the next day. An ad with a $100,000 bill caught my eye. I said to myself, “That goes in one of my cards,” and I snipped it.

I had these errands left to do: chiropractor, get gas, get coffee, and get cash. I hoped to combine coffee with cash, thinking that if I used my ATM card, they’d give me cash back. Not Starbucks’ policy. Drat.

That meant that I’d have to go a few doors down to the Safeway and hit the ATM. My bank, Wells Fargo, has a branch inside the grocery store. After getting my 40 bucks, I put my purse on the little podium with the ATM envelopes and various banking program brochures.

Something caught my eye … a brochure with a $100,000 bill on the cover. The $100,000 bill I had clipped less than an hour before out of that magazine was still in yellow highlighter in my visual memory. I picked it up.

It was a contest for financing your dream, and the bank was giving a $100,000 prize for the best short essay … but the deadline was that day. There were only two ways to enter, by mail and online, and it was too late to post something …

… so I phoned ahead to my friends and asked someone to take their laptop on the trip so I could spend an hour cranking out my 250-word essay. With a little help from my friends—we have great synergy—we titled it Banking on Boomer Insights. It’s a proposal to create a press that would help me and other boomers write and distribute our memoirs and books on other topics of interest to the More Experienced (ME) Generation.

As I say in Hot Flashbacks, we need to reclaim the custom of indigenous people everywhere of giving back our wisdom to our communities … of teaching them how to really live …

… and if learning is the subject, we’ll need those highlighters. I can almost hear them squeaking …

Not only do I hope I win the contest; I’ll be just as happy to know I illustrated how opportunity is in plain sight if we only learn to play the symbols. Think of the chances we pass up just because we don’t get the hints the universe puts right in front of us every day.

Here’s to having the eyes to see yellow—and the ears to hear that delightful squeak


Tim Collins said...

My name is Tim Collins, and I work for Wells Fargo. Thanks for entering Someday Stories, and good luck! We will announce our first prize winners on September 17.

Joyce Mason said...

Thanks, Tim! I'm glad to know someone at Wells Fargo got to hear the interesting synchronicity and backstory to my entry. Whether or not I win, thanks to Wells Fargo for such a thoughtful and community conscious contest. It reflects the understanding that there are so many "regular people" with great ideas and contributions to make. Often they only need to be discovered--and maybe a little financial boost--to be able to share their talents. Makes me proud I'm already a Wells Fargo customer.