This week, it’s Carnival Legend, which developed sailing speed technical problems. Within the last month, it was Carnival Dream with lost power and stopped toilets and Carnival Elation with steering system breakdowns. Worse, Carnival Triumph, a 4-turned-8-day cruise in the Gulf of Mexico, garnered wall-to-wall coverage as 4200 passengers were slowly tugged and towed to Alabama. They reputedly endured stopped toilets, sewage on floors and walls, low-to-no-to-bad food, stuffy stinky staterooms, and a lot more. But they came ashore alive and relatively well.
Far worse, January 13, 2012, Costa Concordia ran aground at Isla dl Giglio, Tuscany, Italy with 3,206 passengers and 1,023 crew aboard. Some 32 people died, 2 are still missing and presumed dead, and 64 more were injured. Costa Concordia is owned by Costa Cruise, which is in turn controlled by, you guessed it, Carnival Corporation.
Certainly the Costa Concordia disaster was a catastrophe in the sense that people lost their lives and others were hurt. What’s most disturbing about this episode is that it all seems, even now after months of investigation, so unnecessary. In my estimation, Captain Francesco Schettino is guilty of criminal negligence, dereliction of duty, and an assortment of other crimes rooted in his incredibly unprofessional and inept leadership, or I should say the lack thereof. His actions and inactions contributed to if not caused the grounding. On top of that, he abandoned his ship. He and other top crew members are facing indictments, trials, and possible prison terms.
Aside, though, from the clearly tragic Costa Concordia incident, the rest of Carnival Cruise’s problems should be characterized more as corporate managerial challenges than as bona fide catastrophes. Yet media dutifully portray each cruise ship incident as unbearable pain for the passengers.
With due respect to the older folks caught in these ship snafus and with due concern for children who might have been scared, Carnival’s cruse ship problems are not that significant. Certainly not the end-of-the-world scenarios played out in media. People were discomforted and annoyed, but they still had something to eat, were not in life-threatening situations, and were soon headed home.
Put these cruise “catastrophes” alongside a host of other more dangerous situations around the world and they just don’t measure up.
People are living in the midst of civil war (Syria), in refugee camps (Lebanon), under oppressive dictatorships (North Korea), and in impoverished environments (Haiti). These people are suffering. These circumstances, not cruise ships with broken generators, rank as human catastrophes worthy of media attention.
So let us continue our concern and care for the people harmed by Costa Concordia, and let us keep the rest of the incidents in perspective.
In the shrinking…No, strike that. In the shrunk world in which we live, surrounded by pervasive communications technology and every-minute-of-every-day media, nearly nothing can or does happen, well, just privately. Virtually everything is or will be known. Nothing “stays” anywhere. Ask celebrities.
Tiger Woods understands what I just said. So do a long list of male politicians. How many can you name who’s “private” affairs didn’t remain private, even when they so wished they would? John Edwards, David Petraeus, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the beat goes on. No, nothing that happens just stays undercover, or in these cases, under covers.
In scriptural terms the opposite of “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” is “Be sure that your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). Or as the legal community puts it, “the truth will out.” Mothers know this; somehow they always know, remember?
What happens in Washington, DC doesn’t stay there. What happens in the Middle East certainly isn’t limited to the Middle East.
What happens in our own hearts doesn’t stay in our hearts either: “But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matthew 15:18-19). So it’s too bad, actually, that what’s in our hearts doesn’t stay there. We’d all be better off.
When has the human race ever been without war? The Pax Romana maybe, but not many other times before or since. It seems we are forever working to prevent war, preparing for war, in the midst of war, or winding down wars one after the other.
Recently I wrote an article called “Waging War, Pursuing Peace.” I tried to understand my own thoughts and feelings, my own perspective, if you will, on this never-ending issue.
I despise wars and the destruction they work on humanity, nations, cultures, and economies. I’m not a pacifist, but I yearn for peace and think we should all work for peace.
“War is hell,” General William T. Sherman famously said, and he should know for he and his troops left a trail of burning and bitterness through the South during the Civil War that is yet felt today.
War isn’t glorious, though combatants and civilians caught in its grip can be heroic and admirable. War is destruction and death.
But peace at any price is too costly. At times wars are moral and essential to combat evil.
So what we should pursue is not just peace but a just peace.
Want to lose weight? Just try my foolproof Say What? Diet. It works every time.
That’s right, you don’t need to buy expensive diet books.
You don’t need to purchase even more expensive fitness machines.
You don’t have to join time-consuming, maybe costly workout clubs or organizations.
You don’t need to enroll in a One-Size-Fits-All-Diet endorsed by a Super Model who at this point in her life has never used this diet.
You need not pore over calorie and carbohydrates books, learn enough chemistry to qualify for a degree, or memorize 20 skinny habits.
That’s right, you don’t have to do all those things. You just need to do two things, consistently and correctly, every day.
Say what? This can’t be true.
Oh but it is. Are you ready? Here’re the two principles defining the Say What? Diet:
1 –EAT RIGHT.
Notice I didn’t say Eat Less. You can eat less and still not lose weight if you’re eating the wrong foods. Later, after you learn to eat right, eating less is a good portion-distortion-reducer, but to get started, just learn to eat right.
As I noted above, I don’t believe in finding the one super diet that works for all human beings and bodies. I believe in finding the diet that works for your body. Find the diet that works. What’s that you say? “Works” means the diet that helps you lose weight in a healthy manner. So find that diet and EAT Right, everyday, every meal.
2 – EXERCISE RIGHT.
Very few human beings can lose weight consistently—unless they’re ill—without exercise. To lose weight you need to Exercise Right. This means, like the diet, finding the type of exercise, the routine, the amount of time, and the intensity that works for you. What’s that “works” thing again? Finding the exercise that helps you lose weight. If your exercise doesn’t help you lose weight all you’re getting out of it is weariness.
Exercise in a manner that “fits” you. I’m not a jogger or runner. Never have been and never will be. I don’t possess the endurance and I don’t like it. I do like to walk and I like to bicycle even more. When I walk or bicycle “enough” I create enough burn, crank up the metabolism, and lose weight (that is, when I’m also eating right). You discover what works for you. Then do it.
From time to time your body will hit what I call a plateau. You stick on a number on the scale and can’t seem to get past it. This is normal. Ways I break through the plateau include: 1) Eat not just right but significantly less for a day or two. Or, 2) Exercise not just right but significantly more for a day or two. Either one or both generally does the trick.
Dieting is a multi-billion dollar business primarily because people are looking for and willing to buy what might be the “Fountain of Thin” or the “Brass Skinny Ring” or the “Silver Weight Loss Bullet.” In other words, they’re looking for magic short cuts or fancy formulas.
Same principles and process in dieting. This is why I say dieting and writing have a lot in common.
First, Desire is important. If you don’t really want to write a book or lose weight you clearly never will. So desire is essential. But is it enough? No it is not. To borrow a scientific phrase, desire is necessary but not sufficient.
Whether you want to consider desire and dreaming the same thing is up to you. But I think a case can be made that they’re different. Desire is a want. Dreaming is the creation of structures for the want. Desire is aspiration. Dreaming is inspiration.
Second then, for me, is the Dream. It’s conceiving, birthing ideas about what a book, or what we in a mirror, look like. But is dreaming enough? No it is not. This is thinking about writing, thinking about dieting, thinking about doing. But dreaming involves no action. The world has no lack of dreamers. It’s doers, whether writing or dieting, we need.
Third is Decision. Our desire is so strong, our dream so compelling, that we must, we absolutely must decide to take action. No decision? We keep dreaming but never achieving. No, now we decide. We begin. But beginning, difficult though it is for many, is not enough either. Multitudes begin a marathon but few finish the race. We need something else.
Fourth, Drive is both the engine and transmission wrapped in one ongoing resolve. It’s commitment to one’s decision, hazards be hanged and come what may. Drive brooks no slacking off, no dalliance, no cheating, nothing short of being totally in the zone. Drive is based upon our own sense of honor. We have the desire. We dream of success. We decide to take action. We now drive to the finish line because we cannot abide anything less.
Fifth, Doing is the all-important final ingredient. We don’t just begin we continue. We’re not involved in an act but acting. We get the job done, day in and day out. We stick by the stuff.
Writing and dieting, I think, are amazingly similar, at least in terms of process. We Desire, then Dream, and finally if we reach down inside ourselves we Decide. And oh then there’s that undeniable Drive to Do.
Here’s the final secret: The more we Do the more it feeds our Drive to keep Doing.
That’s the writing process for me. That’s dieting for me. No question the process is work, but the good news is the process works.