What we learned in business school


Marveling at children stringing seeds
for the birds, today, I thought of Farid.
Farid sat next to me in Accounting class.
And in Project Management,
we ran a fictitious company together,
(sounds like headline news, doesn’t it?)
The three of us:
Farid, the Lebanese, with prayer beads,
the girl with prosthetic leg and a crutch,
and me, shaky hands holding on to cheat sheets,
Every one of us grasping for our safety net.

During breaks, there was chatter about
kids, dogs, jobs, and stock market.
Farid sat with prayer beads, silent.
I asked him what he was doing.
Contemplating, he said.
Contemp… what?? I raised my eyebrows,
as broken as my broken English.
One needs silent time.
One needs to mull things over, he clarified.

Farid reminded me of my grandmother
who would slice out nice fat chunk
between the day and the night
to sit on the sunk edge of her bed,
her bare feet planted on the rag rug solidly.
She whispered nightly prayers,
rosary beads, slipping through her fingers
like dew drops: drip, drip drip,
the sound that put me to sleep.
Her rosary was my first abacus.

I never did master the math of Hail Marys
and Our Fathers on grandma’s worn rosary beads,
and then completely failed inflation,
return on investment, and supply and demand.
But we hang the seed beads for the birds today
on the snow-dusted crab apple trees,
and suddenly it becomes possible
to feed what is here in infinite supplies.



About BeeHappee

Where have all the bees gone? Where have all the flowers gone? https://beehappeenow.wordpress.com
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23 Responses to What we learned in business school

  1. noblethemes says:

    Very warm, home-spun, beautiful memory. Thank you for sharing! πŸ™‚

    • BeeHappee says:

      Thanks, Jonathan. I don’t even like this piece much at all, but I was doing some research on some Buddhist and Muslim prayer beads, and many memories came back quite vividly, I could not get my classmate out of my head. And it has been 15 years since I graduated! Wished I could remember the textbook material as well. πŸ™‚ And of course the Catholic tradition of rosaries. We have the whole Hill of Crosses covered with crosses and rosaries people bring there for good luck and prayers.
      Thanks for the support!

  2. Yes!…silent time is important!… and deep silence goes well beyond the patterns of time. I fed the outdoor birds again this morning, as usual. πŸ™‚

    • BeeHappee says:

      Silence can get a bit scary sometimes, like falling down the black hole, no?
      Birds had gotten super active this week. Someone posted a photo of 6 bald eagles on one tree in Batavia, IL! Soon we will be checking out our favorite owl and great blue heron nesting places. πŸ™‚

  3. nicoleaugust says:

    When my grandmother came to live with my parents, she used to walk the hallways at night saying her rosary when she couldn’t sleep.

    • BeeHappee says:

      πŸ™‚ Grandmothers, the masters of rosary. It makes sense, it would calm the mind. I had to do it at one point, but I was a kid, and last thing I really wanted to do is to sit there reciting a million of Hail Marys. I remember at this old house where I had to go to study Catechism for the First Communion, this old lady was teaching us, but there were chickens in the yard, and all us a bunch of 7-8 year old kids kept staring out the window and messing around, while she kept insisting we read the Testaments and prayer books. You find a lot of old women with Rosaries in Lithuania and they sell so many colorful rosaries all around the churches before mass (and sugar candy for kids). But seeing my classmate, the 20-something sitting with prayer beads is what got me.

      • nicoleaugust says:

        What, you got sugar candy ! πŸ™‚ :). They sold rosaries and such at the back of the church, but definitely no candy.

        • BeeHappee says:

          Yes, I am not kidding. πŸ™‚ How else are you going to convince kids to go through long and very boring catholic masses. They made the whole business and custom of the church sweets in Lithuania. People sell home made candy right in the churchyard before the mass or after. I remember a bunch of ladies just laying the stuff on the blankets on the grass. Of course every kid begged their grandma to buy some, and which grandma would not. I have no idea if people even needed permits to sell that stuff. In this article (couple pics there too), this man says he is 72 and he has been selling for 60 years, since he was 10! :
          That candy tasted better than store bought candy. Someone mentions a recipe of just boiling sugar and then adding some vinegar to it.
          We were at a 1890s farm last year, and they made candy the 1890s style on the wood fire, with mint extract and all, then rolled, cooled, cut.. When we asked to taste, they could not give us the smallest taste, because – they have no FDA permit. Makes me smile, because in the old country you just did not have to worry so much about permits. My mom still send me some of that church candy sometimes, as a souvenir. πŸ™‚

  4. Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature says:

    Sounds like an interesting class made up of unusual people. My sense is that you touched Farid’s life.

    • BeeHappee says:

      It is curious how when we look back, we do not remember things that we studied the hardest, the formulas, the prayer books, the poems learned by heart. Instead it is the people, the light that those people exuded, the laughter and smiles, the invisible blanket of peace that wrapped us, some slight vibration in the air. . . We did have an interesting crew, a girl from Argentina with beautiful eyes, a man from Vermont, passionate about his handmade chairs and sailing lake Champlain with his sons and grandson. I am grateful to so many souls who popped into the scenes making them all more colorful.

      • Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature says:

        It’s true. All the interesting people who appear as cameos in our movie. I don’t remember a lot of things I learned in school as much as the people either. It is always interesting to see how people we meet fit into our lives. Some for a moment, a semester, a couple of years or forever, and then what we remember of them, if at all.

  5. Hariod Brawn says:

    Perhaps faith is an equation all of its own; its own proof to those who would hold it as such, like the bird feeders? Delightful work Kristina, for which many thanks.

    • BeeHappee says:

      Yes, indeed, faith is life, maybe the simplest formula that is too tempting to complicate. We either flow with it, or get blind sided and fight the current. Thank you much for stopping by.

  6. shoreacres says:

    When I returned to Liberia on my own, for a six-week visit, I asked directions of a young man in Monrovia. He ended up inviting me back to take a meal at his family’s home. It was a touch awkward at first — I don’t think the family expected to see him with a western woman in tow — but we all ended up sitting on the floor, having our meal, and getting along famously. A couple of the women spoke Liberian English, so that helped. At the end of the day, he gave me a string of Muslim prayer beads. I still have them, of course.

    Your post made me think of the Black Madonna I wrote about in my current post. I wondered if Lithuania also had a Black Madonna, and when I looked, I found the fascinating history of the Virgin of Ostra Brama. Do you know of her?

    • BeeHappee says:

      Linda, that is a nice story of your Muslim prayer beads. I am glad we all have some stories of prayer beads. πŸ™‚
      I love this poem by Naomi Shihab Nye where she says:
      “The Arabs used to say,
      When a stranger appears at your door,
      feed him for three days
      before asking who he is,
      where he’s come from,
      where he’s headed.
      That way, he’ll have strength
      enough to answer.
      Or, by then you’ll be
      such good friends
      you don’t care.”
      Thankfully our world still has some of that generosity.

      Yes, I saw your post of Madonna, although had not read the whole article yet. Now you will drag me out of my laziness, now I am really interested. πŸ™‚
      The Virgin of Ostra Brama, yes, we call her God’s Mother of the Gate of Dawn. If I dig through my photos, I have a few pictures of the gate. I have a photo of me as a 3 year old standing in front of that gate with parents and grandpa. I knew of it as very old and famous painting, and people making pilgrimage to it, but for example never even knew of this story: “In 1702, Vilnius was captured by the Swedish Army during the Great Northern War. The Swedes, who were Protestants, mocked the painting, forbade songs and prayers, and caroused around the Gate of Dawn. One soldier even shot at the painting (the bullet hole can still be seen on the right sleeve).In the early morning of Great and Holy Saturday, the heavy iron gates fell and crushed four Swedish soldiers – two died instantly and two later from their injuries.The next day, Easter Sunday, the Lithuanian Army successfully counter-attacked near the gate. The commander, grateful for the victory, bestowed a large silver votive offering upon the chapel”
      Yes, I remember John Paul II visiting the gate in Vilnius. Ah, thank you very much for bringing this up, very interesting.

  7. Your story is far more valuable than ROI. Especially for me (as I trudge through an MBA myself). In the final estimation, it is useless knowledge if we cannot understand kindness, contemplation, and other timeless virtues. Thank you for sharing such a meaningful story! –Paul

  8. Michael says:

    I love the times we share a path with new people for a bit, when we are colleagues and learners together. And also how the mind finds these connections, between the children stringing beads and an episode from another time. There are all of these connections zinging back and forth inside of us, all of these patterns that echo in different areas of our lives. They don’t really make sense on the one hand. They are like artifacts. But on the other hand, they seem the most meaningful beads the mind strings together, these moments that are all linked throughout our lives…

    Lovely writing again, Kristina!


    • BeeHappee says:

      Thank you very much for your kind words, Michael. You mentioned connections of these moments that our minds find (of course, the mind is so busy looking for some sense in patterns), and it just made me smile, because just today we discovered this very funny connection. Before my son was born, his two year old sister wanted to name him Orange (we did not know if it would be girl or boy). Well, he was born, his name is quite different from Orange. But…. Guess what his absolute favorite color is now, five years later? πŸ™‚
      So we string and we string all these things, for better or for for worse. As long as we don’t obsessively attach to them, and can feed all those beads to the birds, I guess we are ok.

      All the best,

  9. Fijay says:

    Well …I HAD to check out your blog and your writing AND pictures are truly beautiful:)

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