Prescott is a graduate of Babson College, served as an officer in the US Marine Corps, trained police officers at the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, launched POLITICO Pro Defense, and now serves as the International Research Consultant for his family business, 300 Below, Inc. After cardiac arrest, brief death, and subsequent revival, his reflections on an inspired second chance at life are posted here daily.
Reflecting beyond the day I found out why.
I started writing last night, but I passed out, so allow me to finish today: (irony)
One week ago, my heart dispensed to an emphatic halt. Join me for a moment in celebrating my one week rebound! If you’re willing, I ask merely for your own internal contemplation as means of merriment.
From several new adventures, here are the topics that inspired my own reflection and hope they may inspire yours (*Sunday):
(1) APATHY: Can impartiality enable equality? Coveting envious tangible wares may preclude the strategic use of impartiality and dispassion for the benefit of others. I’m a Libra; scales of balance require objectivity. But not obsession with objects!
(2) CYCLE: The Aladdin Effect follows three symbolic wishes from a poor orphan to reveal the desire for equality, which leads to the struggle for freedom. As a pure heart uses the final wish to obtain freedom for both the wisher and the wish giver beyond desire, the balance of equality, and hence appreciation, may be earned by all.
(3) SQUINT: Listening isn’t just about the obvious notes and words surrounding you. You might stand closer to appreciate the pleasurable company of others nearby.
New York City NYC captures you with honking taxis in the morning and a constant flurry of people walking feverishly in all directions, mostly towards each other; it makes your heart beat faster as you feel like Simba getting lost in a determined inwardly-focused herd stampeding toward their daily destiny. My heart hastens further after hearing of an earthquake on the opposite coast, prematurely flowing forth caches of wine in celebration of moving faults, though it beats just as passionately to know that so many friends and family are improving their outlook between these two, especially in Central Illinois.
First lesson? Brunch at Norma’s. A perfect crunch forms over the top of cinnamon and oat-flake-coated french toast, with a foam-like reaction from its airy innards in between the first and second slow chew. My brother’s sweet tooth takes over, which reinforced his persuasiveness that soon had me trying this solitary bite of pleasure. Le Chef de Cuisine should be honored for creativity on par with bananas foster, but not on cost control as my giant pan of duck hash with two poached eggs arrives. I am only able to finish two bites as yellow ooze coats its meat, and forgetfully leave the remaining pounds of this new takeout dish in the pew following our morning church service. Norma’s menu dares customers to order the $1,000 lobster caviar frittata and expense it. Food is a topic of passion; apathy does not belong in the kitchen.
Fast forward an hour… I honor my mom’s wish before I died. We are sitting together in church. Church is a construct of irony among social classes at times, because every action carried out by its community is often done in the name of God. However, my duck hash is not divine: it’s now littering the Holy floor upon our departure. Instead of taking responsibility, once realization of my forgetfulness sets in, and prompting a cab ride back to pick up my treasure (their inevitable waste), I’d like to think that my good deed for the day has been concluded because, under the optimal circumstances, I contributed to the meal programs of the congregation; in actuality, my weakness has revealed itself and I have justified a cop-out mirage of a good deed… I am human, I am forgetful. My father jokes that the smell of the duck will give a new meaning to the word “pew” once someone finds it laying around.
Diner en Blanc is tomorrow, and one of our guests is from the Dakotas, which inspires a quote for tonight: “the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped.” – Hubert H. Humphrey, 38th Vice President of the United States
This same moral test ought to measure the effectiveness of a congregation and its leadership. PASSION for extracting moral action from followers, effectively toward ALL three of these categories, is profoundly rare and should be commended, but IMHO (in my humble opinion) must also be balanced by the application of apathy and impartiality toward who is served by these rites and who is not. An outstretched hand knows no specific need other than to be served, and not all disciplines of faith and affirmation are open to accepting anyone at the door. Some groups think Harry Potter is evil, others shun LGBT, and still more will prohibit communion by anyone not converted to their specific ways. (I personally don’t think Christ died with a team of legal advisors who placed asterisks on limiting the consumption of bread and wine in remembrance of His sacrifice.) My fear is that generosity may be extended until you get deeper inside a community and then a certain percentage of your own income is either overtly or covertly expected as a tithe. Leaders must lead with passion in order to win and squeeze hearts forth impartially, allowing supporters to know openly through accounting as to where their non-profit contributions are utilized, and ensure our apathy allows us to not be influenced away from our core values and views, which most openly state as well.
Apathy is typically the bearer of bad things when it leads to “sheepism” — blindly and idly standing by as evil takes hold and holocaust, beheadings, or mass rioting against law and order take hold insidiously among society. Luckily even the crowds in Ferguson Missouri are growing wiser to scheming preachers as they booed “Rev.” Jesse Jackson out of town for using a teenager’s death to grandstand for donations. It’s rewarding to see the power of an intelligent crowd used to reveal an imposter and maintain order in lieu of mob chaos. Crowds grow wiser and more passionate through the digital age as they carefully evaluate their leaders for hidden weakness. However, enhanced apathy toward the personal practice of one’s own religion allows us to honor a fair and functional government that contributes to this balance of equality inside open communities, which further recognizes that all healthy belief systems may co-exist freely. I question curiously whether this occurs optimally under the auspices of patriotism.
One quote is posted in front of the church that, to me, allows reflection of the importance for care in religious clarity when embodying apathy:
“You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” – Anne Lamott
As we walked into church, the inevitable fear of boredom towards a long sermon (my God, look at this piece! Haha) gripped me. But instead of long books and hymnals, there was an iPad up front with our teacher for the day. He started talking about the recent beheading by extremist Muslim group ISIS, and that turned my apathy for a sermon into passion about a current topic. I appreciated his candor in learning the key differences between Catholic and Protestant Christians, suggesting that protestants experience God through their internalized faith whereas Catholics experience God through a specific human conduit. I prefer the approach where I may be content with reaching out to God on my own without the need for micromanagement through the perspective of another faulty set of human eyes and ears. I love that he says, “When two or more believers are together, you are among us.” as it makes me think of the two guardian angels that saved my life a week ago.
We stopped by the Ralph Lauren store after church. For the first time I see a $95,000 alligator jacket and feel absolutely no desire to covet such a thing. Nothing else stands out to me either. I am dispassionate about buying anything flashy at the moment, even with a birthday coming up, as I don’t yearn for “physical” objects.
Aladdin, up next, is a musical on broadway that revealed cyclical insights to me. The fable of a beggar becoming the sultan is heavy in and of itself, but this theme was more about the cycle of getting out more than what you put in. The parable is that obtaining equality leads to the desire for freedom, and obtaining freedom leads to equality. It completes a cycle carried out at an interpersonal level with downstream effects for society. Aladdin found a magical lamp which grants him 3 wishes. He wanted to earn equality so he would be relatable to Jasmine. This in turn led to his emprisonment (because he was living excessively in a false outward projection of who he truly was), and the search again for freedom for both himself and his friends, reflected in his 2nd wish. The third wish was to set genie free, which would mean his inevitable return to renouncing his worldly possessions and becoming a pauper, but Jasmine’s love kept him right where he was with equality granted by her father (the Sultan) saying that she could choose who to marry so long as they levied their power equally and together.
Squinting was a realization that took place at the Whitney Art Museum today. The Jeff Koons exhibit was our focus, and walking it revealed a giant scale purple heart hanging from the ceiling and tied with a bow like a gift to its recipient. It was symbolic of how I feel, and the color of purple has its own relevance to me in the state between oxygenation (red) and arrest (blue). I am no longer arrested, and my heart is beating freely again as a gift and second chance to open my eyes and ears to observe the world around me.
That I did, attempting to now witness art through the perspective of others around me. I saw an aluminum sculpture that represented an inflatable, witnessing irony in that we as humans are also inflatable, but shall die, whereas these inflatable objects of art are made of metal and shall remain. As I noticed the mimicked plastic edge of this pool toy, typically pressed and crimped in manufacturing, I crouched down toward the left of the piece. I had made a comment earlier to the family who took our family’s photo in front of the purple heart that their reflection out of a circular kinked mylar-balloon-like sculpture was the perfect Kodak moment as they all stared towards the same piece, reflecting their mutual curiosity into their own inflatable existence. At this moment, the mother, wheelchair-bound, was pushed toward the immortal pool toy to see it straight on. I smiled and looked at her to say, “I really appreciate your perspective. You might bring your view over here and notice the piece from the side here to see how it is connected.” She smiled back and her son pushed her around so that her eye-line matched mine. “It’s beautiful,” she said. Through curiosity we connected and exchanged smiles of kindness.
I squinted further as I walked into the next exhibit floor below, and was reading the explanation of Koons’ work. My eyes went pinpointed and brain cleared for a moment as I heard the subtle humming of the guard near me. I tuned in with my ears. She could have been from the DR, someone’s mother, with latina roots. There she stood, singing under her breath at work so that no one could hear her. Except I could. Her job was to stand still and watch the perspectives of others while preventing them from physically interacting with the beauty present in the room. Yet even under orders to guard the stillness of these immortal sculptures, her mind was racing as an inflatable being, allowing her own creative subconscious to flow forth the rhythm and harmony that were inspired by this very room. I said, “Thank you…” as her eyes changed to confusion and I continued, “for working on Sunday.” A moment passed for processing before she squinted and then mutual smiles appeared between us. She didn’t know what to say, so I broke the momentary silence to tell her, “your music is beautiful,” and continued to pace the exhibit with her rhythm now in my stride.
The next piece of art that resonated with me was three basketballs filled with salt water suspended in a tank of distilled water. I collected basketball cards growing up, but never watched a game, so you could say I was initially disinterested. But the purpose of my visit today was reflection through the perspective of others, and I attempted to see the value in this message. A mother and child walks by, as the kid asks how this magic can happen. Having just read the writing on the wall, I am fortunate to pass on a teaching point: Three spheres loft mid-level, balanced and connected with one another through the optimal weight of electrolytes, symbolic of sport rather than an imprint-free chamber. I encourage the mother to conduct her own experiment at home and show him in a fish tank how it works. They both beam in their own way, and think that is “pretty cool.” Learning retention occurs at the 90% level when you teach others, and I now receive an insight that these balls could be symbolic of my two Guardian Angels and I, for they are just as human as I am, and we have returned to balance our fluids and electrolytes in evolution after full exertion from an otherwise individual-effort sport.
We depart with much more learned than I care now to write here, and head to the southern piers of Manhattan to board a boat hosting an oyster bar. I stop on my way to converse with a Hassidic Jewish family and ask them about their celebrations on their walk through the park today. I want to understand the meaning behind the five prayers they say they do each day, and learn they have a strong community in Chicago, too. I then board the boat with my family to find solace in bounties from the sea: salty oysters, lobster rolls, and fresh ceviche. I order a soda water with Angostura bitters and have a sip of Rose Champagne. The last memory of good ceviche I have is in Miami with my friend Jon May, but a new memory has been imprinted as I squint to see the distant shores in front of me and notice the Statue of Liberty. (I am confused because I thought the Statue was in New York, on an island, but visually it appears to be connected to the shoreline of Jersey City…) A surge of pride enters my heart, as I may have seen this symbol of freedom before as a kid, but I have never truly seen it until this very moment. There is a black man dating an Asian girl next to me, a black woman dating a white man, and all sorts of other endless combinations of religion and race near me here that are showing me just a sliver of equality that walks freely in this city. When equality inspires freedom into your heart, such reflection of freedom around us connects us all to the crowd-sourced patriotism of a truly free nation. This experience alone aids your heart to proudly beat faster. Seeing and carrying the flag of a free nation is just as potent, and there is always one of those to render closer than the nearest Statue or Liberty Bell. I sympathize with the hastening hearts of flag bearers as they have fearlessly carried our flag through past battles. As the sun sets at the bow of the boat, I know that many flags are flying nearby. I reflect that we may end this day grateful to the #community around us all, which brought me back to life and is just as positively inclined to do so for you, as well. Faith and Humanity are alive and well.
This is a good new birthday celebration indeed. We are Americans together, no matter where in the world we reside, and our hearts and hands keep us strong together as one. E Pluribus Unum. Out of many, one.