Grant Specificity to the Other: Patti Digh

Patti Digh talks about how it’s so easy to see people as “whats” and not “whos.”We do it all the time — businessman, yuppie, mom, punk, black, white, janitor, freshman, guru, CEO. As humans, we are categorizing and story-making animals–using language to create expediency and neatness, and using story to put meat on the bones of those categories, whether true or not. We do it without thinking. It serves a purpose. For some, it aids in marketing, for example; for others, it creates (a false sense of) safety. But it denies the complexity of human interaction. And it also keeps us from mixing it up, keeping us in “gated communities.” The only way out of those gates is to grant specificity to the other. “If the Buddha had two kids, a dog named Blue, a Southern accent, and a huge crush on Johnny Depp, his name would be Patti Digh,” wrote one reviewer after Digh’s grassroots bestseller, Life Is a Verb: 37 days to Wake Up, Be Mindful and Live Intentionally, was published. The book was based on Patti’s popular blog,, which she began following the death of her Stepfather — just 37 days after he was diagnosed with cancer. Patti is a Southern-born master storyteller whose stories are full of humor, poignancy, surprise, pain, and knowing. Patti is the author of 6 books, with her newest The Geography of Loss, scheduled for release January 2014. In addition to her writing, Patti’s consulting work has focused on re-imagining K-12 education. Her comments on diversity, global leadership, and learning have appeared in publications such as The Washington Post, The New York Times, The London Financial Times, Fortune, and The Wall Street Journal.

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