22 July 2020

The Mindful Asshole on Donald Trump

“Please hold for Mr. Trump.” It was a soft woman’s voice that came out of the phone speaker three of us sat around. There were a number of other voices, all men, coming thru the speaker as well. I imagine what they must all look like. Dark navy suits. Polyester red ties from Macys with the bosses name and ‘Made in China’ on the back. A giant floor long suite somewhere in Trump Tower.  

Chicago winds flex the plastic glass of the Hancock building on the 20th floor as we wait to speak to Trump about his condo tower going where the Chicago Sun Times is standing.  It broke my journalist wanna be heart that the Sun Times was fleeing the city for cheap rent but that it was being replaced with a Trump Condom was salt on the wound.   

Trump comes on and his voice is pleasant and cheerful. I sit next to Matt in front of Dana’s desk. Dana seems impressed but Matt doesn’t. I don’t know what I look like but I’m not impressed. Trump gives us basic info on the the Builders Risk and tells us about the contractors. His voice drops a bit, like he’s sharing a secret, and complains that it’s tough to find competitive bids in Chicago for such a premier project.  Matt asks why and Trump complains they are too high.  “I just don’t get it,” Trump says. “I could do better in New York. I thought Chicago would be easier and a whole lot cheaper.”  

I get the sense Trump is feeling us out for referrals since our office writes a lot of contractors. Trump goes on, “I tell these guys their bids are too high and they tell me they can’t go lower and make a profit. So I tell them, like I do in New York, that they should be willing to do the job for a loss because the publicity they will get for doing a Trump deal will more than make up any loss.”  Matt and I turn to each other and smile. This isn’t how Chicago works.  But Dana is with Trump a hundred percent and I wonder if he’s just kissing Trump’s ass. “I think we can find contractors that would understand that strategy.” says Dana as Matt and I look at him in disbelief. 

What a show. It took Trump 10 yrs to tear down the Sun Times and replace it with what many in Chicago know as Trump’s, “Penile Implant.”  I think about that call a lot. Over the years, I heard about Trump’s reputation and that of his buildings. It was no secret.  But why, I wonder, if you have all that money do you ratchet the folks down who are doing the work and then stiff them on top of that.  But, that was before mindfulness came into my life. 

An incredibly abusive father, a missing mother, hidden family origins ( claiming to be Swedish when they were German), phony family legends, sibling rivalry and lots and lots of money. I think of that and Mary Trump’s book and I understand. I really do. What would any human being be like growing up in such a warped environment?  Pretty fucked up, say a lotta people who treat the mentally ill.  

Every human being has a story and we never know the whole one. So we judge and say they’re morons or worse. Today, its easier to do than ever with the anonymity of social media. I try to remember we are human beings and some of us are luckier than others. Being wealthy is no guarantee for anything other than paying your bills on time. With this amazing look at the Trumps, I don’t think paying your bills on time means anything...anymore. 

13 July 2020

Mondays are for The Mindful Asshole

“I haven’t always been mindful, but I’ve always been an asshole...and that’s okay.”

I’ve been practicing mindfulness now for about five years.  The more I practice, the easier it gets.  “Let it Go,” is a mindful expression for saving oneself from frustration and anger. However, ‘letting it go’ is not that easy.  This is usually where the experts tell you to, “keep at it, you mustn’t give up,” because the pay off is huge.  

About three years ago, maybe four, I discovered a short cut. All you need is a little imagination and a smattering of empathy for this hack and you’ll be amazed at how quickly you too will be able to, “Let it Go.”

For instance, at present, I’m in India going on five months. No idea when I’ll be able to leave. India is a loud country. There’s a lot of horn honking, loud talkers, loud arguments, morning mooing cows, and slamming doors. The door slamming started a couple days ago when a new tenant moved into the apartment next to me. Every morning he slams his door leaving and every night he slams his door coming. He also slams his door when he leaves and returns from an errand. Usually the liquor store. 

This door slamming can go on till very late and as hard as I tried to understand the annoying exits and entries, I was nowhere close to, “Letting it Go.”  Until I remembered my short cut. Here’s how it works:  

I asked myself, why does he slam his door?  I came up with two theories, 1- He’s deaf.  Or, 2- This is the first door he’s ever used.  1, was ruled out because I saw him in the parking garage ordering Take Away on his cell phone. Mindfully, I gave the second theory serious thought. This is where an imagination helps. 

Living in a tent in Jaipur is not unusual. And tents have doors but they’re made out of canvas and impossible to slam. It’s more of a ‘whiff’ or sometimes a zipper.  Both impossible to slam. Suddenly, my empathy kicked in and I thought how wonderful it must be for this man to finally have a real wooden door that opens and closes and yes, even slams. That has to be a wonderful sound after years of whiffing and zipping. And who am I to get upset about it?  I feel happy for my neighbor and suddenly, ‘I let it go...’ because I understand and feel like I know my neighbor a whole lot better. 

A little empathy and some imagination are all you need to avoid anger, resentment, frustration, and upsetting a neighbor who is 30 pounds lighter and 40 years younger. This compassion enables me to access the peace in my heart and I transform my world by transforming myself. Not completely... which should be obvious, but I’m working at it. 

Next Monday, The Mindful Asshole considers Donald Trump and a phone call I had with him about 25 yrs ago.