Friday, February 05, 2016

An Open Letter to Serena Williams

to win the Australian Open. 

By Dr. Mel Waldman

Dear Serena Williams:
During the 2016 Australian Open, a mammoth snowstorm swept across the U.S.A. The deep snow covered New York City while you and the other players played in the sprawling heat of the Australian summer. And with the 16-hour time difference, I often watched matches in the middle of the night throughout the 2-week period.
You see, I am an aficionado of tennis. Although I haven’t played tennis since the early nineties, and in my heyday was only an adept amateur player, I am now a passionate voyeur. My hungry eyes swallow the rapid sweeping movements of the tennis balls and the cheetah-like motion of the players. I taste and breathe the sultry landscape of the game. Indeed, I devour tennis as if it were my Last Supper.
And I thank you and your sister Venus for feeding American women’s tennis with female power, intelligence, and grace and transforming the game into a transcendent sport and art. I am thankful and joyous.
For most of your 2016 Australian Open, you played at the top of your game and were in the zone. The night before your final, I drank soothing sizzling hot coffee at a Brooklyn Dunkin’ Donuts and told my friends, “I believe Serena Williams is the greatest female tennis player of all time.” One of my friends disagreed and we got into a passionate debate. An hour later, neither one of us changed his opinion. We agreed to disagree and wished each other well.
The day of the final I thought about the 2015 U.S. Open and how Roberta Vinci had defeated you in the semifinals. This loss had not changed my perception of you. Your outstanding record speaks for itself. You have nothing to prove to me or any other human being. Great players have bad days too. On any given day, anything is possible.
The night of the final, my wife Michelle, a long-time fan of yours, told me she’d watch the second half of the match. “I want to see Serena win. Tell me when she’s winning. I’ll watch her win and get her trophy.”
I turned the TV on at 3 A.M. The match started about 3:30 A.M. I watched the match alone. During the 1st set, I became concerned. But after you lost the 1st set, you won the 2nd. “Serena won the 2nd set,” I cried out. “Wonderful!” my wife shouted from the bathroom.
Serena’s in the zone, I thought. But then you struggled in the 3rd set and Angelique Kerber
won the Australian Open.
“Serena lost, Michelle,” I said mournfully.
“Oh, no!” she said with disbelief.
During the trophy presentation, you were gracious and generous toward Angelique.
Before going to bed, my wife said, “Serena’s a great champ and a beautiful person.”
I stayed up for a few hours and thought about the final. Now, days later, I am writing this letter. Why? This is my gift to you, Serena Williams, the greatest female tennis player of all time.
I have created a short spiritual and psychological guide to your winning your 22nd Grand Slam singles title and tying Steffi Graf’s record. Please read and enjoy.
1. THINK, FEEL, AND VISUALIZE THE END YOU WISH TO ACHIEVE IN A TOTAL, HOLISTIC EXPERIENCE.
Begin at the end and imagine it is a reality now. Everyday, summon all the sensory memories of the 21 Grand Slam finals you won. In your creative mind, re-experience and relive the thoughts, emotions, sensations, and spirituality of joy and success. Hold and caress your 21 Grand Slam singles titles trophies. Ask your team to help you recall and evoke the reality of winning the final.
2. CONNECT TO THE SOURCE OF ALL LIFE.
Everyday, find a quiet place and meditate in silence. Empty your mind of all negative thoughts and emotions. Rediscover a place of serenity. Think, feel, and visualize holistic memories and sensory images of beauty, love, and peace. Let go and immerse yourself in this beautiful place of serenity. Return to this place in your mind as often as possible.
3. CHOOSE A MANTRA.
It is a soothing sound, word, or phrase that is repeated by someone meditating or praying. A mantra connects you to the Source of all life. (OM is an example of a mantra.)
4. AFFIRM AND FEEL YOUR TRUE IDENTITY.
Everyday, immerse yourself in I AM.
I AM beautiful.
I AM loving. .
I AM joyous.
I AM peaceful.
I AM blessed.
I AM powerful.
I AM free.
I AM one with the Source of all life.
Create I AM statements of positive thoughts and emotions. Think and feel and fully experience your I AM Identity.
5. UNITE POWER AND LOVE IN YOUR MIND when playing tennis in the Grand Slam Final.
In my poem about Andrea Jaeger entitled The Habit of Love, I wrote, “What is the spiritual flow of a tennis ball rushing at you at 100+ miles per hour?” Former tennis champ Andrea Jaeger became Sister Andrea Jaeger, a Dominican nun in the Episcopal Church. At 16, she was Number 2 in the world. At 19, her career was over after having 7 surgeries. She didn’t want to be Number 1 because she could not find love and compassion in tennis. She turned to the Church to express and fulfill her love.
Yet I believe that a dialectical union of power and love is possible and necessary for ultimate success. When you return to the finals, imagine you are in a place of serenity, an inner landscape of peace and love, and your game will flow naturally. You will be powerful and triumphant.
6. REPLACE NEGATIVE THOUGHTS AND EMOTIONS WITH POSITIVE THOUGHTS AND EMOTIONS.
Everyday, think, feel, and visualize and return to a place of serenity. Recondition your mind so that on any given day, when playing tennis, you can summon and evoke a meditative, trancelike state of optimal performance.
7. FINALLY, ADDRESS THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM-your conscious and unconscious resistance to winning your 22nd Grand Slam singles title.
I believe the pressure for you to always be great and perfect is a terrible burden. Your world-wide fans love you but expect you to win every time you play tennis. Are they kidding? You’re a human being like the rest of us. Sometimes you’re in the zone and win easily. Other times, you’re not in top form but win with much effort and will power. But some days, your game doesn’t flow, you struggle and fight yourself and lose. That’s okay too! Losing sometimes can be liberating. Failure may free you and lead to success.
When you’re ready to win, you will obliterate your doubts and conflicts, make peace with yourself, and believe.
Please consider my suggestions for winning. Rediscover a place of serenity and win from a beautiful place of love and peace. With love, your game will flow majestically with the power of the Source of all life.
 Sincerely,
Dr. Mel Waldman 
Dr. Waldman is a Brooklyn-based psychologist as well as a self-proclaimed poet, writer and dreamer.









Friday, January 29, 2016

A Recipe for Love

Note: "A Recipe for Love" is a short story that I am about to send out to literary magazines. Comments or suggestions from readers are welcome!

Wind scoured the side of the house and skidded across the back yard.  It was winter, but we hadn’t had a single snowstorm, and here it was the end of January.
Inside, we were standing at the counter with two cans of fresh tomatoes.  A huge yellow onion.  Four fresh cloves of garlic. 
My friend Jen had come to visit me from Amherst. And now I was going to show her how to make my favorite spaghetti sauce.  The recipe calls for capers.
Jen was reading from a heavily-stained three by five card.  I was cooking.  She would tell me a step, and then our conversation would wander.
“It’s just not me,” she said finally.  “I mean, what the heck was I thinking? I’m out there on Route 9 in some guy’s pick up truck and it’s one thirty in the morning?  What was I doing?”
I looked up at her.  “If I’m not mistaken, I think what you were doing was making out. Or, whatever?” I smiled.
She blushed.  “Oh but that’s craaazy,” she said, stretching out the “a” in that way she does.  When Jen says crazy like that, blood kind of flushes her face and she laughs and her voice flies up into a bird’s high register.  She practically squeaks.  It’s one of the things I love most about my friend Jen, the way she says the word crazy. 
I shrugged.  “It all sounds very nice to me,” I said.  “What’s the next step?”
“The next step?” She looked at me blankly, her head still making out in the truck I guess.  “Oh, sorry,” she said turning back to the recipe.  “OK, so now you dice a large onion and brown it in olive oil.” 
“Oh.  Well.  I know the recipe says a whole onion.  But I watched my grandmother make sauce for years, and she never used more than half.”
“Well, OK, that’s fine.  You also need two cloves of garlic.”
“Oh no,” I said.  “Not two cloves.  I use four.  Just don’t tell my husband, because he thinks he hates garlic.”  I set to work.  Jen watched as I peeled the brown skin off the onion.  I could feel her eyes on me.  I could feel her thinking.
“Hey, I need a big frying pan from that cabinet down there,” I said, pointing with my knife.  “Would you mind getting it out, and the cover too?”
Jen crossed the kitchen and retrieved the pan.  Handed it to me at the stove.
We were quiet for a moment.  “You know what I need,” she said. 
“What?”
She sighed.  “I need a recipe for love.”

I looked up.  “Oh Jen, that is a very sweet thing to say. And you know I would write you one in a minute, that is, if I had one.”  I slid the chopped onion into the frying pan. “How much olive oil do I need?”
Jen read from the card.  “It says a third of a cup.”
“Yeah, but I just pour enough to cover the bottom of the frying pan.”  I turned the front burner on high.
Jen started laughing.  “Claire, why exactly do you have me reading from this recipe card anyway?”
I looked up.  “I thought you wanted to learn how to make my secret caper sauce.  So you can fix Rick a romantic dinner.”
“I do,” she squealed, “but you aren’t following any of the directions.”
I frowned.  “Sure I am.  It calls for two cans of tomatoes doesn’t it?”
“No, it calls for one.”
“Oh well I always use two.  Can you open them for me?”
She laughed. I handed her the can opener.  For the next few minutes, while Jen opened the cans, neither of us said anything.
“Maybe,” I said.  “Maybe you just need to take it a day at a time.  I’m a big believer in staying in the moment.”
“Yeah, maybe,” Jen said.  “Except one moment leads to the next, and then the next, and soon it’s a day and a week and, suddenly before you know it it’s a month later and he’s in your house repairing the doors.  He’s gonna totally take over my life.”
She set the lids into the trash.  “I just think my life was fine the way it was.  I was happy.  Yeah, I was alone, but so what?  And then, because of that dimwit in my office, I did it.  I did that stupid Speed Dating thing.  What possessed me?  Whatever possessed me to listen to her?  You know what’s going to happen.  You know how it will all turn out.”
I was stirring the onions.  I looked up.  “I do?”
“Of course,” she said.  “These things,” she had both her hands up in the air, waving them almost the way my grandmother used to.  “These things just never work out for me.  Think about...” her eyes closed.  “Think about…”
“Stop,” I said.  “Don’t you dare say his name!”
“GGGGRRRRR.”  She growled and grit her teeth.  “But you know how it went.  I spent seven years with that man, and then at the end I find out that he’s got a five-year old daughter.  A baby by another friggin' woman.”
I stopped.  Inhaled. Handed her the spoon.  “Here, you take over stirring.”
She did.  I went to the glass cabinet and reached up to the top shelf and grabbed two wine glasses.  I went to the dining room to the wine rack.  I took out my favorite bottle of red, a Montepulciano de Abruzzo, made in the region where my grandparents were born, in two tiny villages tucked beneath the snow-covered high peaks known as the Gran Sasso, due west of Rome.

I came back into the kitchen.  As I did, Jen had the three by five recipe card back in her hand.  “I think we were supposed to chop up some parsley.  And we were supposed to put oregano and basil into the oil.”
“Oh you are exactly right,” I said. “But turn off that stove for a moment, will you?”
She looked up at me.  “Why?”
“Because we are not ready to make spaghetti sauce.”
“We aren’t?”
“No.”
I reached into the drawer and pulled out a corkscrew.
She looked at me, confused.
“If you are going to make sauce the right way,” I said, “you gotta be in the right state of mind.”  I wiggled the cork out of the bottle.  It popped with a very satisfying thwunk. I poured each of us a tumbler of wine.
“Here, sit down and drink this,” I said, handing her a glass.
“Thanks,” she said.  We settled on the stools in the kitchen. We sat there without saying a word.  I heard what I call “the Sunday afternoon sound,” the football game, droning on and on in the background.
“I don’t have a recipe for love,” I said finally.  “But I know how my grandparents made it through.  One thing they did, they had wine every day.  Not a lot.  Just about three or four inches.  They were simple people.  And they had a kind of faith in things.  I think that’s what we don’t have enough of sometimes.”
“Yeah, well faith is fine for some people,” Jen said, “but that’s not me.  I’m not the religious type.”
“Neither were they.  My mother’s parents were not church goers, well, not so much.  But they had faith.  Things happened to them.  Some very, very sad things.  But somehow they never lost hope.  My grandmother, Mish, she lost her first baby, Dante, when he was nine months old.”
I sipped calmly from my glass.  Jen said nothing.
“What happened was, my great grandmother Clementina had heard about this new vaccine.  For diphtheria I think.  It was the early 1920s and she was a kind of forward-thinking lady. And also, back in Italy, she herself had lost a baby to pneumonia.  So my great grandmother told her daughter, my Grandma Mish, that she better get baby Dante vaccinated right away.”
“And?”
I inhaled. Shook my head “The vaccine was bad.  He died within hours.”
“Oh my God,” Jen said.  “That’s so so awful.”
“Yeah, I’ll say.  He was this gorgeous blonde baby, a rare and precious thing in Italy, blonde hair.  He was a real cherub in the one photo I saw of him.” I turned to face her.  “But what’s amazing is, my grandmother got pregnant again almost right away.  And you know what she named the new baby boy?”
“Let me guess…”
I nodded.  “Yeah.  Dante.”
“Somebody else might have avoided that name like it was contagious.  But my grandmother, she had a kind of faith in life.  She was quiet, but she was strong and stubborn.  She believed that one way or another things were going to be better.  Or, at least, things were going to be different.  She always used to say, in Italian, “in a day, a Pope is made.” Meaning everything can change totally. Overnight.”
“Yeah, I’ll say it can.  So what happened with the second baby?”
I drained my glass.  “Oh, well.  My Uncle Dante lived until he was 89," I said.  “He was my mother’s oldest brother.  A really great great guy.”
I stood up.  “So, Jen, maybe if you can think about letting go of the past.  Convince yourself that this relationship isn’t that other one back then.  Tell yourself that things do change for the better. ”
“Maybe.”  She spoke the word in almost a whisper.
I went back to the stove.  Turned the burner back on.
“You really gotta let yourself believe that Jen.”  The flame soared up under the frying pan.  “Hey, I have an idea.”
“Oh, maybe I should have a baby or something?”  She giggled.  Jen is turning 50 next week.
“No.  I think you should write a story.  Did you ever think of writing a story?”
“Claire, I think of writing a story almost every day.  I’m a writer, remember?”
“Jen, come on, I mean, did you ever think about writing this story?”
“This story?”
“Yeah, a story about this.  A love story.”
“I don’t write love stories, Claire.  I leave you to do that.”
“Well then, just write a story about your life right now.  Write about this new guy.  Write yourself clean of the past.”
“Claire, don’t you remember?  I did that.  I wrote the novel.  I tried to tell it all.”
“Yeah, you did, you did a great job too.  I love that novel.  I love the way you dealt with…” I cleared my throat. “HIM.  But now, now you need to write the next chapter.  Write what happens when you meet the new guy.  Write about Rick.  Make the story go the way you want it to.  Make it everything you want it to be.  Make the love come true.” 
“Oh Claire, you are such a dreamer.”
I shrugged.  “I guess I am.  But what’s the harm in it?  Rather than sit around being scared things won’t work out, just write the story the way you want to see it happen.  Make up your own recipe.”
Jen finished her wine.  “Right.  Like the one you don’t follow to make this sauce.”
I smiled.  “I never saw my grandmother ever once use a recipe.  And she was the best cook on the planet.”
Jen got off her stool.  “Do you want me to chop the parsley or not?”
“Yeah, chop the parsley.  It’s in a plastic bag in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator.”
I started to stir the onion again.  Oil spurted out at my wrist.  “Oh and while you’re at it, pull out a carrot.”
“A carrot? What the heck do I need a carrot for?”
I smiled.  “Grandma Mish’s secret ingredient.  To sweeten the sauce.”  I held up the three by five card.  “I know, I know.  The recipe says, add one teaspoon of sugar.  But that’s not what I do.  Grandma always said that spaghetti sauce came out sweeter if you dropped in a carrot.”
“That’s craaazy,” Jen said as she handed me the carrot and set to work washing the parsley. 
I stood next to her, peeling the carrot.  “Yeah, my grandma was kind of crazy.” Suddenly an image of Grandma Mish flooded me.  I saw the halo of grey hair, tied in a bun behind her head. I saw her soft bosom, where she always rested big loaves of crusty homebaked bread as she sliced them up for dinner.  I saw the huge serrated knife heading straight toward her chest.
The rest of us would cringe, terrified she would lop off her breast. But she was fearless.
I blinked.  I don’t know if was the wine at work on me, but standing there, suddenly I could see the flesh of a baby, right in front of me.  I could see into a set of watery grey eyes.  A newborn was squawling.  His head had a fuzzy blonde layer of hair.  A thick little clump sprouted up over his brow.  His face lay nuzzled there right against my grandmother’s giant bared breast, his pink wet mouth rooting for the sturdy nipple.
I watched her sitting there in the dark, nursing.  Rocking through the night. 
It was less than a year after she had buried the first baby.  The questions pressed beneath my tongue.  I felt them thick and heavy, weighing against my heart.
Did she cry when she felt the milk leaking into that new baby’s mouth?  Did she hold that tightly swaddled warm bundle of life thinking about the baby that had gone cold?
How did my grandmother manage it?  How did she ever manage to move on?  And how could she possibly have given the second-born that name? Dante?  

THE END


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Freedom for Imprisoned American Journalist!

I don't know if you've been following it, but Washington Post journalist Jason Razaian, who was arrested and jailed in 2014 by the Iranian government for basically doing his job, has been freed after 544 days of captivity.

Back in 2014, he was accused of being a spy and was thrown into the Evan Prison, the worst prison in Iran.

This morning we read this in The Washington Post:

VIENNA — The United States and Iran moved into a new era of international relations Saturday, with the implementation of a landmark agreement on Iran’s nuclear program on a drama-filled day that also saw the release of imprisoned Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and four other Americans.


It is indeed a happy day for Razaian and his family and the other four Americans.

“Friends and colleagues at The Washington Post are elated by the wonderful news that Jason Rezaian has been released from Evin Prison and has safely left the country with his wife, Yeganeh Salehi,” said Frederick J. Ryan Jr., publisher of The Post. “We are enormously grateful to all who played a role in securing his release. Our deep appreciation also goes to the many government leaders, journalists, human rights advocates and others around the world who have spoken out on Jason’s behalf and against the harsh confinement that was so wrongly imposed upon him,” he said.

We so rarely get good news. This is such a welcome news story!


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

New Year's Resolution: Quit Smoking!


Change is always possible.
She says that to her husband one night
At dinner.
He looks up from a puddle of
thick yellow polenta on his plate.
He blinks.
Sure it is, he mumbles.

She brings her goblet of wine
to her lips
in her two hands.
Steadying her eyes on his,
She sips.
The air around them turns warmer.
Almost like the table is burning.
Almost like the sun has gotten closer.
Or more focused.

You don’t say.
She nods a little as if to make her words
Stand out.  Sharp.  Like the sauce that covers the polenta.
A red splash.  Spicy.
The sauce he doesn’t eat
because it gives him such heartburn.
He scoops the corn mush up onto his spoon,
And for a while he busies himself
bringing the spoon back and forth to his mouth.

I wonder sometimes, he says,
mashing the polenta over his tongue,
enjoying the warm comfort of it.
What does it all add up to?
He swallows.  And why we are here. 
Sometimes I just wanna know.
Why?

She shrugs.  Her lids go slightly lower.
I might wonder that too, she says in a hush.
But then I just know.
In meditation
I go
To the place I know
Matters.

She stares into
the polenta he fixed
the polenta that
sits there now
as round as yellow
as a noon day sun

a hard fact:
life isn’t easy.
It’s a study in unhappiness
where change is always possible
but as unlikely as it is
necessary.

She inhales now.  She gets up and
crosses the room
her bare feet slapping the wood floor.
She searches a kitchen drawer for her cigarettes.
She comes back to the table.
Bends one knee.  Sits on her foot.

She lights one of the cigarettes
She has promised she wasn’t
going to smoke anymore.

On her plate
sits the polenta
she hates
with that splash of sauce
he ladled out of a jar,
he thought she might enjoy.

You might try meditation

she says, the cigarette dangling
from her lip.
He looks up smiles. Shrugs.
She waits for him to say
Something he doesn’t say.
She stands and
carries her plate
to the sink where she forks
the yellow mess on the plate right into the garbage.
She runs the cold water in the sink.  A fleck of bright ash
Falls into the water, goes out.

I’ll do those up, he calls out to her.
No matter, she says. I have time. 
She reaches for the apron.
Ties it behind her waist.
And sets the cigarette in the charred seashell
she uses as an ashtray.
She sets her hands into the sink.
And he carries his plate to her.
And he burps.
And she thinks,
Change is always possible.
I think.
  

Thursday, December 17, 2015

POCO HAS A BOYFRIEND NAMED BURT!!

My darling puppy, Poco, who turned two years old this week, has a new friend named Burt (he lives with his owner Nancy across the street in Lenox, MA where we are now living.)

The two dogs are almost exactly the same size, and they have similar temperaments. Poco is black and white and Burt is completely black. They are both adorable and lovable and sweet and friendly and furry and well, just exceptional in every possible way. :)

And when they run side by side they look like they are velcroed together!



So now when I say to Poco, "Do you want to play with Burt?" (which is almost every day) she jumps up and heads straight for the front door.



Sunday, December 13, 2015

Everything is a Miracle

It was Einstein who said
either nothing is a miracle,
or everything is -- 
a jagged mountain range
lilacs in bloom,
a peacock unfurled,
sun on your arm,
the touch of a stranger.
Be surprised 
by nothing at all,
or by everything that is.

--Maryanne Hannan, a poet living in Upstate New York

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Welcome all guests

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

from "The Guest House" by Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

Special thanks to my friend Sharon Flitterman-King for presenting me this poem on my birthday!



Wednesday, November 25, 2015

November Morning






















Sunlight on the back lawn.

Crisp brown leaves.

November light.

I want to put it all down in words, no I want to crush it against my chest no I want to inhale it all and freeze the moment. I want I want I want I want I

Calm down.

Gaze serenely out the window.

Breathe in.

Hold your breath a moment.

Breathe out.

Watch the thoughts that take over.

Smile.

Sunlight bathing the tall trees.

Blue sky. 

Beautiful November morning.

Breathe.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Miracle that is Modern Technology

It all started with two cups of curried rice.

My husband -- an extraordinary cook -- mistakenly made two cups of rice instead of one. He'd added turmeric so the rice was bright yellow.

When we finished our tofu and broccoli, we wondered what to do with all the leftover rice.

"Can you freeze cooked rice?" he asked me.

"I'm not sure, you better look it up," I answered.

That's when the magic happened. He turned to his cell phone and switched on Google, the person we refer to as "the talking lady."

"Can you freeze cooked rice?" he asked.

It couldn't have been more than 10 seconds later that Google cheerfully announced that you could indeed freeze cooked rice, even if you were only saving it for one day. "Freezing the cooked rice will keep it from sticking," Google said.

I was at the sink washing dishes. "I can't believe this," I said. "What kind of world do we live in when we can get answers to so many questions in the matter of seconds?" It felt like magic to me.

And then this morning I had the same magical feeling. I got up before dawn to meditate and chant. I checked email and there was a message from my sister-in-law Fawn. She and my brother are enjoying an adventure in Italy and Fawn had taken a photo of a fabulous fruit and veggie store. She attached a photo of my brother chatting it up with the owner of the little store.

She had emailed us just an hour before (5:15 a.m. our time, 1:15 in the afternoon in Italy.) The email gave me a run of goosebumps. Here was the modern version of a postcard, arriving instantly  --instead of the way it used to be, when the postcards arrived a week or two after you were home from your trip.

What an amazing world. We have problems up the gazoo, but meanwhile, we have technology that is bringing minds and machines closer and closer together. Can you imagine if someone from the 1800s could see what we have become? Can you imagine someone from the 1950s, or the 60s, or even the 90s? Or even 2005.

I taught a journalism class at Georgetown in 2009. I called it "Journalism Upside Down." In other words, how were blogging and the Internet causing chaos within traditional media outlets. Newspapers were dropping like flies while blogs were flourishing like kudzu.

Imagine this: a student came to class one night and shared an exciting news event involving TWITTER. Senator Claire McCaskill had actually TWEETED (strange word we thought, kind of birdlike) from the Senate floor. We all marveled at this new "social media."

I asked the J-school grad students to consider this question: "Is it possible that at some point in the future we will get serious news from Twitter or Facebook or blogs?" It seemed rather far-fetched at the time, but we took up the question anyway.

And here we are today in a world where cell phone videos instantly make major headlines. Where social media is the breath of life to every political and social cause; where millions of people sign thousands of petitions by email every day; where viral messaging can bring the world's spotlight on horrifying police brutality. Or institutional racism.

The other day, I marveled when I saw a short video filmed as students protested institutional racism at the University of Missouri. The protests brought down Missouri's president. Once again students were showing how powerful social media can be. The protests, according to CNN, "took shape after the student government president took to Facebook in September to complain about bigotry and slurs."

That's what social media can do in the modern age. It is thriving as so many traditional news organizations are withering away.

I had another aha moment when that short video showed protesting students trying to block the reporters and photographers from covering the protest. "Give us some space," the students screamed. "Leave us alone." 

Here I was seeing something I never thought I would see: protesters who weren't dying for media attention! Remember all those 1960s marches on Washington -- protesters did everything they could to hook the press. (Remember how the press always played down the number of protesters?) 

Yesterday's New York Times featured a debate about why young people -- particularly young people of color -- distrust the news media. 

Today we live in a world where social media makes every single human being with a cell phone a reporter or a photographer or a videographer (those iPhone 6 cameras are amazing!) No longer is news gathering restricted to a select group of media elites. Nowadays every individual's voice can be heard en masse. 

Technology has done wonders for democracy.

Who knows were this speed of light technology goes next? I'm fascinated to find out.