Monday, March 26, 2012

Alcohol and Atheists.


No, this post is not a combination of the above ingredients, just that they are the topics which separately today bring me to the typewriter. Well… to the computer…

As it often happens, the morning light overflows into the window, then the day moves right along behind it and, before you know it… daylight is almost gone over the other side of the orb. This morning, on my way to English class, I had the local NPR public station on. Usually, early in the morning, this is the one I most listen to, because all news is served on a clean platter and there are good commentary segments.

This morning a segment on alcoholism caught my attention. Unfortunately, only the middle portion came to me, since it had begun before I got into the car and, by the time my faithful chariot was being parked in front of the school, the segment was not yet finished.

However, there was enough time to hear something which brought home a comment my son often made. In the beginning, I thought it was his way of joking about his alcohol related problems; then it turned out to be a real issue as he would expound on his thoughts. This morning I heard that, as it turns out, recent studies show that alcohol will do more actual physical damage to the human brain than other drugs, including cocaine. It seems that heavy alcohol use will actually destroy the gray matter, inhibiting its growth. This apparently came as somewhat of a surprise to the commentators, who were up in arms about this heretofore little known aspect of the evil of alcoholism.

Long after he had cleansed his life, my son Eric would, in the midst of a conversation when talking about earlier times, draw a complete blank about issues which had gone on then and, after not being able to remember, he would usually say: “that must have been in the gray cells I lost during my drinking times” and he would smile that shy, semi guilty and somewhat ironic smile of his. Now, it turns out he was right all along. I do not know if his comment was due to specific knowledge, or that it was his way of talking himself out of an awkward moment but, it has now been proven through these recent studies that he had the right of it.

Alcohol has proven to be a social ill that causes great harm; on a social scale, a familiar scale and an economic scale. Now it looks like the damage is much more permanent than it was thought before. We have accepted this drug in our society as a “tolerated” evil and often look the other way. It was only living through the hell it caused in my son’s life that I came to understand the true damage that heavy use and dependence can bring about. Also, I was able to come to know and understand the inner strength Eric showed in being able to fight this monster to a functional draw.

Be careful… social drinking, if left unchecked could quickly become needs drinking… then it may be too late to turn around… Just be aware…

Now, in order to switch gears… In the news, this week end, there was a bit about a “convention” of Atheists in Washington, D.C. We know there are folks who choose not to believe in any Higher Being, other than what they can see in the mirror in the mornings. That’s OK, it is their right to think that way and we must respect it.

However, it seems that some of those who spoke to them were inciting an “all out war” against religion, against any kind of spiritual belief. Those of us who profess to believe, in their eyes, are utter fools who should not be allowed to feel this way and to express our thoughts about this issue.

Seems they feel, as many of those who rant against the establishment usually do, that only their point of view is the valid one and that those who profess an opposing viewpoint, should not be allowed to have it. That’s where we part company. I adhere, in these cases, to the adage that says “your rights end where mine begin”. In other words, and I will borrow the motto of our great USMC… “Don’t tread on me”.

I do believe that we all have the right to profess our beliefs, be they whatever they may be. If you want to convince me to think the way you do, then discuss your issues with me, present your arguments logically and I will make a decision. And if that decision happens to be in conflict with your non-belief, then accept and respect it.

And, in the end, if you truly believe there is no God… then go on with your your life and simply ignore those who do believe.

After all, if you are totally convinced of what you profess as an Atheist, then… What is there to rant against? … Huh?

Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:
  • Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
  • Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora
  • Any comments please send to otherboxp@yahoo.com
  • Remember:  We are “On Air” every Sunday night at 6:30pm EST (GT –5hrs).  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/theotherbox If the link does not work, please just copy and paste to your address bar.
  • “La Otra Caja de Pandora”… The Spanish language Blog… “otracaja.blogspot.com”Bienvenidos!!!

Friday, March 23, 2012

A Day to Remember…


Every day is an important day to remember, but there are some which become special moments on the road of life… even if, at the time, this is not so apparent.

As a recently fractured life began to retake some sort of shape back in the mid 60’s, my wondering (and wandering) persona found itself looking over the beauty of the Caribbean once again, when I went to Puerto Rico from Richland. This had been the longest flight sequence yet for me (Hmmm… little did I know what was to come…) and it was tiring. The plane landed in San Juan sometime after noon, and the moment my feet took that one first step unto that beautiful island, my body felt as if it had stepped into a full blown Turkish bath, with wet steaming air blowing my way.

What had brought me all the way, literally, across the then known world to me? A series of letters exchanged with my father, a man I was yet to meet. Sometime back, while in Richland, a first and somewhat hesitant letter had come from him; in this, a long missive (he did like to write….) he told me about himself, his life in Puerto Rico with his second wife Laura and about their son –my little brother- Fernando. In that first letter he opened a potential door for me to cross and come to the island, without actually saying so. I think he knew it was too soon to put this request in writing.

That letter was answered… eventually. This answer began a correspondence which, in a small way, allowed me to begin to know this man about whom all I knew were the comments from his childhood friends, at least those I had known in Cuba. I have to say that my mother never made any comments; she and my grandparents never said anything bad about him… mind you, nothing good either but, at least my mind was open on the subject and, I think, this permitted me to start this communication process. For that opportunity I will always be grateful to my mother and grandparents. Their behavior also taught me to have enough respect not to make hasty judgments, even when coming across situations which might invite this.

Years before, while a growing child in Cuba, I had seen the looks and had felt the odd behavior (not understanding it) of some folk who would look at my sister and I as some sort of “ill begot” children. Of course, they were utter fools but their behavior did reflect the reality of a society which did not approve of anything out of the established patterns and divorce was, most definitely, a deviation from this societal pattern then. Especially when there were children involved.

This was a society structured under draconian “churchian” rules and these were not very tolerant. My salvation was, once again, the presence of my grandfather who, in being a 33rd degree Mason, had little love for the institutional church. He taught me to think and to question (even though he did not like much to be questionedbut accepted this as a sidebar to my education) and to understand that there is always another side to every issue. I do believe this early subliminal training opened the possibility of my coming to know my father.

At one point, nearing the end of my high school term in Richland and coming on to graduation, the reality of what had to be done came to roost on my lap… my then foster parents (blessed be their souls!!!) had done some work on my behalf and were able to get a work scholarship to the U of Portland, a Jesuit school in Oregon. In the meantime, my father had been communicating with my sister as well, who was herself in the midst of a dilemma. Our uncle and aunt, with whom she had gone to live, were being (he was, the rest went along for the ride) transferred to South America by the company where he was a comptroller. She could go but, in doing so, would lose her right to come back to the States. And the question was posed by my little sister… “Are you going to PR?”… then she added… “If you are not, I am not either”.

That led to a series of decisions on all our parts; I would go but not until mid August. I would follow her, who was going earlier in the summer, because our uncle, aunt and family had to be in Peru by the first week in August. Assurances were made that I would indeed go, and the long goodbyes process began for me, as soon as the school year was over. As it is wont to happen more often than not, my departure was delayed due to administrative snafus, right and left, and it was not until mid September that I was able to actually travel. I think, by then, that my sister was beginning to think I was not coming.

So, here at last, I was getting off the plane and walking to meet this man who was waiting for me with a smile on his face and his arms wide open. A man I came to know and love. This was an important day; the day I finally got to meet my father…

But the most important day of all in this sequence?  A day way back, about a year before, when I decided I was going to give that man an opportunity and actually answered the letter he had sent. A decision forged in childhood, by an open minded grandfather, a rarity in those days and in the culture in which I grew up and by which I was formed. 

Every day is an important one; every decision made will have an impact in life, some more than others but we will never know which may be a life changing decision. Sometimes the least one is the one which will affect us and our families, or future families, the most. Take care when a decision is to be made and do not treat it as a trivial issue… it may turn out not to be.

Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:
  • Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
  • Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora
  • Any comments please send to otherboxp@yahoo.com
  • Remember:  We are “On Air” every Sunday night at 6:30pm EST (GT –5hrs).  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/theotherbox If the link does not work, please just copy and paste to your address bar.
  • “La Otra Caja de Pandora”… The Spanish language Blog… “otracaja.blogspot.com”Bienvenidos!!!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

An Obstinate Individual.


“Obstinate”:  “…unwilling to change or give up an idea or attitude…”

This little entry could be called “In Defense of Obstinacy”… More often than not, every time the word is uttered as a definition of someone, it takes on a negative veneer; a connotation of an un-free spirit, tethered to an invisible chain which only allows limited movement of the mind and body… especially of the mind… a stubborn fool.

Yet, most of the truly great achievements of humankind have come through the very obstinate behavior of a few. A small number of hardy souls who refused to give up on their dreams and who, eventually and despite many obstacles, made what many thought a crazy idea into a beautiful reality...

Disneyworld and its iterations come to mind. I wonder how many times dear Ol’ Wally heard the wisdom mongers tell him that a stick mouse would never fill up a park with paying people… He could not even get a loan to get his idea started but he did not give up; first he built one and then followed with several others. These are now the standard by which any “Theme” park is measured and, by golly!!! … millions of folk do come in to see, and be seen with, that bloody mouse and its retinue.

How about Good Ol’ Col. Sanders… well, yeah… a non-functioning Colonel but one nonetheless. He brought KFC to life after he was well into his late 60’s… He was totally convinced that his fried chicken recipe was better’n anything around back then. And he went door to door until this was established as a fact. I have no idea of how many millions of chickens have gone to the Great Chicken Coop in the Sky, so that a bunch of hungry people could chew on their breasts and legs.

There are many stories like those above which are used by motivational speakers,  when they want to make people feel badly about heir own lack of action and their passivity in life… about the possibilities they are letting go by. We could bring forward many other tales, stories of people who succeeded simply because they outlasted the barriers by refusing to give up. We praise them for their dedication, their single minded view of their goal(s) and their, basically, one track mindset.

So why is “obstinacy” such a negatively connotated (huh??) term?   It is more often linked to the concept of stubbornness than to that of determination. Personally, I do not agree with this. I firmly believe that a degree of obstinacy must be had in life, if one is to achieve any of the goals which he/she has set. This means that, at times, there will be other issues which will be put “on the back burner” while the main one is pursued. Often, to the chagrin of those who would prefer this not to be so. It is true, failure is a real possibility; but then, so it is with anything we endeavor to accomplish in life. And the higher the goal has been set, the more difficult it will be to achieve.

Today’s emerging society relishes the concept of political correctness and others of the same ilk; we seem to run into a rather selfish mantra that tells us to follow the least efforts highway. The road which will least tax our abilities and which will present the smallest amount of obstacles and challenges. Our children learn their rights before being able to distinguish right from left; teens believe that “blinging” is a way of life, and not just a life limiting expression for some. These children grow totally unprepared for the realities of what it means to be “on your own”; they have, however, learned along the way that self indulgence is “good” and that sacrifice is a fool’s errand.

What was the last goal that truly ignited your heart and soul with a passion which was difficult to express? Did you follow up on it? Did it become a lost dream? Did you think that, perhaps it was just a little too “far fetched” to be possible?

Do not so easily give up on your hopes and dreams, for they are at the core of your lives; They fuel your very being and they become a reason for going on, often in the face of the worst challenges that life will throw at you. In fact, these are the very moments when that inner core has to be relied on… trusted.

Do you want to go through life as a “spectator” or as an “actor”? As someone who watches while others try, or as someone who is not willing to let the days go by and watch them as they become a never ending number of columns in a limited almanac?

Every day is a choice to do or to let go; every minute is a beautiful opportunity to show to oneself that one is willing to fight for what one wants; don’t ever give up, don’t ever let the choices be made by others because you are afraid or because you “don’t want to go through the trouble…” You may actually be able to take control of your life and to walk the path of your choice; more often than not, the  more difficult one to follow.

Obstinacy… definitely an underrated quality.

Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:
  • Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
  • Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora
  • Any comments please send to otherboxp@yahoo.com
  • Remember:  We are “On Air” every Sunday night at 6:30pm EST (GT –5hrs).  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/theotherbox If the link does not work, please just copy and paste to your address bar.
  • “La Otra Caja de Pandora”… The Spanish language Blog… “otracaja.blogspot.com”Bienvenidos!!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

“Cuchi Cuchi Pa’ Tí…”


I am not too sure I remember the exact use of the above saying, but it was meant along the lines of “just for you” but in a not too nice a manner…

Anyhow, this is the state of things around here… Just for you, I am sitting here and trying to fill in, dutifully, a few lines that can go on to that “never land” cybernetic universe. The one that allows me to reach you in the US, Russia, India and points in between… all without lifting a finger… well, just to put it down on the corresponding key and, with one single stroke… send it all on its way!

This morning, early in the morning, there was a one-on-one class of ESL. It was with a very pretty young lady, who wants to improve her pronunciation because in her professional circles, it is not too cool to have a Hispanic accent. Go figure… some of the folk who come have such a thick Germanic accent that it is almost impossible to understand a word they say. But they are "OK"... Yet, this professionally prepared young lady is afraid because she has a, mind you, light “Spanish” accent. I guess that a European accent is “kooler” than a Hispanic one, given the current status of affairs around.

We see a little bit of everything; we become teachers, advisers, counselors (not the professional kind, mind you) at times confidants and, all in all, basically offer a shoulder to cry on for some of these folk. Every one is a story and each one has a history. Many are of very humble origins and come here, as we know, to pursue the American Dream. A dream that for too many who were born here, seems to be scuttling away faster than we can run to catch it.

But for these folk, whatever little they can obtain here, is more than what they had before and gives them an opportunity to give their children something they could, perhaps, grow into. In exchange, they often give up family, friends and a life. A life that to us is perhaps a poor one, but to them was all they had. Sometimes they come in to class and it is easy to see they are down. I ask: “Did you talk to your children today?” the answer is usually yes… and they miss them, and their families, terribly.

At other times, when they come to class at night, after often working 12-13 hours nonstop, there is a very tired bunch of questions in the air… “Is this really worth all?” “Am I giving up my life for something which will be worthwhile for my family?” “Is not seeing my children for so many years truly worth what I may be able to give them in return?” I do not have an answer to these questions…

Perhaps I have experienced at one time or another some of the loss and the frustration, the feeling of impotence of not being able to have a say in your own life… but never to the extent these folk have lived it. There is an air of resignation at times which turns into, after we finish a class which I try very hard to turn into a “motivational” show, a somewhat reborn facade of resiliency and of hope not completely lost.

There is little I can say about these immigrants. Yes, there are far too many people who live, work, raise a family and pay taxes in our country and who do not have the appropriate papers. Most have taken an unforgiving chance just to get away from an environment which will kill them and their children. The travels and dangers they go through in order to make it here, are far beyond whatever you or I could envision. Every step of the way is hounded by the cold breath of probable death… Their hope is to get here and make a little something out of nothing; several do succeed at this. It is a sub-world, a world where hope mixes with the fear of being found out; where faith is truly tested on a daily basis and where giving up is, simply, not an option. The alternatives are even less appealing.

I will not be a judge on this matter. It is far beyond my reach and scope, since I also was –at one time- an immigrant without papers; I just happened to benefit from a different epoch and a situation arising from an international altercation, over which I had no say. These people do not have that cushion; they only have their wits and their dreams; and they are willing to fight for them.

All I can ask is that, for those who do their utmost to integrate and offer a working hand, doing what is right –within their very limited scope- there should be a light somewhere, a light which may allow them to understand that they will be helped and received. Should there be an additional price to be paid? As with “time off for time served” a much too common arrangement for people who have committed much worse deeds against society, perhaps their years of toil, fear, limited possibilities and hard work should also serve as “time off for time served” in any arrangement which could be brought forward. 


Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:
  • Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
  • Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora
  • Any comments please send to otherboxp@yahoo.com
  • Remember:  We are “On Air” every Sunday night at 6:30pm EST (GT –5hrs).  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/theotherbox If the link does not work, please just copy and paste to your address bar.
  • “La Otra Caja de Pandora”… The Spanish language Blog… “otracaja.blogspot.com”Bienvenidos!!!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Taking a Walk on the Wild Side…


Well yes, this sounds familiar I know… that is why, with my regards to Mr. Reed, I changed the name a bit…

Why the wild side? It is turning out to be one of those Monday mornings when all call with one problem or another; even though all have their eventual solutions, is that “in the meantime” that bugs the living daylights out of me. Sometimes I do hate Mondays…

We, as good and upstanding citizens (quiet in the gallery!!...) we are, go forward every day with a smile and the determination to make good on our intents. There are far too many times, however, when this desire goes astray because the final results may be resting in the sometimes questionable efforts of too many hands. This is the world of international private trading; a world with an extremely high learning curve, too many cooks (crooks?) in the kitchen and too few people who come forward with honesty and transparency as a trademark.

Some 15 years ago I became initially involved with this strange world that has its own rules and its own pitfalls. I have to admit the trip has been very interesting, although extremely trying at times… too many places, sometimes more than I can possibly remember. Visits with members of the Arab Royal Houses… my lord, they must multiply like rabbits… I thought we Latinos were bad, but we reproduce with only one woman (usually… and no comments…) but the citizens of Arab countries could create a brood with as many as four women at a time… definitely an advantage, at least in the repro department.

At one time, during a 6 month Switzerland stretch, I got to meet with at least 6-8 members of the “Royal Saudi House” and it was kind of funny… must have been the "black sheep members" for they barely had enough money to cover their daily shared expenses… and we were talking about potential millions… in this business, the less one has, the larger the transactions become. Especially at the beginning, when one knew very little about the ins and outs and everyone filled their mouths, and one’s ears with millions and millions… the roll of the tongue becomes easier with time. Also, with time, one becomes very leery of the talkers… they usually have nothing to back them up and are trying to latch on for a free ride whenever possible. Then, eventually, smaller and real numbers take over and possible transactions become more of a reality. It becomes a matter of survival until that "eventually" comes around.

After 15 years I can finally say that I am now in a position to actually achieve something; the time and costs of that learning curve needed to reach those who can actually make this “something” happen have been high. There have been shared experiences with several people –some having become good friends- who have died along the way. Frustration, constant pressure and desperate moments have been a major part of these outcomes, I am sure. They failed to separate emotions from business and this lack of separation will erode most people’s resolve; especially when hard earned possessions are lost along the way… as well as families and health... separations from family, these are the ones that hurt the most for, once this intimate contact is diminished it becomes almost impossible to regain.

This is a business of extremes… there have been very fancy dinners at lakeside villas in Austria, and nights spent sitting on a bench in London for lack of funds to pay the hotel. There were trips into the black forest in Germany, to visit medieval castles in order to meet with some “players” who, in the end turned out to be more “layers" than players and had not much to offer other than the fancy fronts. Then there were many one-meal-days because there wasn’t enough cash to buy two. And always the same mantra from everyone one came across… “I have direct access to the principal investor” but, on questioning, none could answer simple questions which were designed to test just that assertion.

For better or for worse, this has become an integral part of my life. Every day I have conversations with potential clients, sometimes jumping from dateline to dateline… Hong Kong to Brasil, back to Europe and so on… I thank the good lord for Skype… I remember phone bills that went up into the monthly thousands… incredible, now that I think back about it.

On the other hand, on a definitely more interesting personal front, and a more appreciated one… some dear friends have been met and made over the years. Usually, as with cops and those other groups that tend to be for insiders only, they come from the same fronts. People who are survivors of these very circles and who understand the whys and wherefores… no questions asked. With them, one at times finds the knowing understanding that can only come from someone who has experienced the same highs and lows. They are keepers… as much as it may be possible to apply that term in these turbulent waters.

This subject matter has been somewhat off limits for me in this ranting we affectionately call “blog entries”… no particular reason … perhaps the wounds are still a little raw in some areas … not easy to talk about them. But then, unexpected events happen which help clear one’s vision; we can then learn to understand what truly important issues in life are, and which ones are those that only have the veneer of importance.

If I can bring that lesson home and actually understand it, then these years and these experiences will have not all been in vain…

Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:
  • Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
  • Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora
  • Any comments please send to otherboxp@yahoo.com
  • Remember:  We are “On Air” every Sunday night at 6:30pm EST (GT –5hrs).  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/theotherbox If the link does not work, please just copy and paste to your address bar.
  • “La Otra Caja de Pandora”… The Spanish language Blog… “otracaja.blogspot.com”Bienvenidos!!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch II….


Every so often we seem to, in a manner of speaking, veer off course in the course of everyday life…

This has been the case with these entries. Each day, at the “crack of dawn” … well… sometime during the morning, the new commitment to sit and write is made anew. And everyday, it seems, the Fates conjure up different situations that do not allow me to meet this somewhat unsure resolve. Not unsure due to not wanting to get it done, unsure due to the amount of issues which are taking up my time and keeping me away from the computer. I could do it from my phone, but it would take forever to one-finger my blog in…

So, why this one today? As it happens, yesterday I was looking at some pictures; some of the very few that still are in my possession, and there were some from one outing we had, as a then family, with three of my children, their mother and grandmother. This was in Santiago, Chile where we lived as a family for about 16 months, prior to moving to Buenos Aires. “Abeba” (an affectionate term for “Abuela” , Grandmother) had come to stay with us for a few weeks and we had gone to “El Cajón”, a pass carved into the mountains near Santiago. This was then (some 30 years ago) a one day trip. Literally. The road was open one way (up) in the morning until 11:45 or so and from 2pm on, it was a one way down road. It would have been much too dangerous otherwise. And, oh yes, the whole thing closed at 7pm.

So, what was so interesting about it, you ask? Going way up into the upper middle Andes and looking down at the world from that height. It was truly awesome. This was a sight to put some cowering into your heart and mind. You begin to realize that, as human beings, we are physically insignificant in front of Mother Nature… It really brings you down to earth, so to speak.

We had prepared for the trip, taking with us some cold weather gear as well as some fare to be eaten up there. One set of items which were thoroughly checked, believe you me, were the car brakes. Although with somewhat of a zig-zag to it, the road was an old fashioned hard packed gravel road and it took a while to traverse up and then down. You can imagine that bad brakes (or a worn clutch) could be somewhat impacting on your fate.

Once up at the top, we did have a great time. Not too much exercising, the air was a bit thin and oxygen was not in full availability to our starving lungs. But the View!!!... OMG!!! This made the trip and the risks well worth it.
Chile is a long and narrow country. On one side the Pacific and on the other, the ever present and very high Andes Mountain range. Like an exo-skeletal backbone which keeps the rest of the country in place. People are good and hard working and, at the time we went to live there, Pinochet was still on the throne. It was during our year there that elections were held and that he, unlike other dictators we have known in the general area, accepted the results which unseated him. Mind you, by a very narrow margin and with a sort of “everyone-in-a-coalition-against-Pinochet” kind of Ad Hoc political party. The resulting society is a modern society, perhaps the most modern in South America, coupled with a relatively young median age.  When I lived there, I was about 40 years old and, believe it or not, at the top fringe of the corporate executive age.

That day marked an important moment. For some reason my son Eric had been a little reluctant to go. We (he and I, privately) talked about it and it came out he was afraid of going all the way up there. My children had never, until we went to Chile, been out of the US… much less up an old road to the seeming top of the world… Definitely a long way from Connecticut… He did finally make the decision to go, and actually enjoyed the trip quite a bit, wanting to return (which we could, for reasons beyond our control, not do) to, as he put it, the roof of the world. He became bolder after this, and also willing to try new ideas and was a bit more open about himself and his thoughts.

So much time and so many things have occurred since that day. Two of the protagonists of that trip are no longer with us; Eric and his Abeba. At least in a physical sense.

All these memories and some more came back while I was looking at these pictures yesterday. I remember the day as if it was just a short while back; the exhilaration of the trip and the perceived danger of the same (very real, by the way), the beauty of the mountains and of the pristine environment. The awed silence on first walking upon the viewing platform. These, and others like them, are the memories which keep our loved ones alive within our hearts and minds for a lifetime; they are those moments in that have a very special meaning and which will always be there, to be reviewed on “instant recall”.

El Cajon, Santiago de Chile, circa 1985.  


Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:
  • Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
  • Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora
  • Any comments please send to otherboxp@yahoo.com
  • Remember:  We are “On Air” every Sunday night at 6:30pm EST (GT –5hrs).  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/theotherbox If the link does not work, please just copy and paste to your address bar.
  • “La Otra Caja de Pandora”… The Spanish language Blog… “otracaja.blogspot.com”Bienvenidos!!!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

On Being a …


I am not really sure what to put in next …

Every beginning of every day is an opportunity to do well by someone else or, to the contrary, not so well. Then, on the other hand, some days one does not do at all.

During this last stretch of I don’t really know how many days, my head has been the pedestal upon which several hats have perched. On the one hand, the teacher of English to several regular groups of students; a teacher/business counselor to another small group, a private set of students… on the other hand, a father figure to the owner of the academy where I teach, for we spend together several hours a day and she is really trying to make a go of the business; then, there is that third hand... being a friend/advisor to my overseas business associate, whose faith and perseverance are severely tried every time (of course, the fact mine are as well doesn’t seem to count…) that carefully woven transactions seem to unravel before our very eyes… we have to keep on trying.

Then, on the fourth hand... or... foot, maybe?...there was the patient (in a medical sense) who spent two days on a water and cleanser diet in order to have a test performed. 7 pounds lost in 48 hours!!! Maybe I should try out for one of those reality shows where people go on and fight off excess weight… I was so thoroughly cleansed that I may not have to go to confession anytime in the next 10 years… no matter what I do.

The long and the short of it is that every day that comes ‘round, brings a new set of possibilities and probabilities with it; life is a perennial school in which we eventually graduate as Suma Cum Laude with a major in “Rolling with the Punches”, and a minor in “Putting on a good Face”.  

Actually, it is fun to go through every day The Good Lord gives us. I get to think about what it is that can be done next and to still dream and plan for the future, even as the present marches on its sometimes murky ways. Between corrections of time vs. “tyn” and explanations about what a preposition is and how it should be used, and listening to a good group of people grapple with the nuances of the pronunciation of our English language, these days go by fairly fast.

But then, there is so precious little time left to sit and write… I am disconsolate… days go by and the poor computer sends me little messages of forlorn solitude, left like a little used piece of equipment which sits there and longs for the days when pages and pages of stuff came unto its little screen… I walk by, look at it and send a mental message of faith and patience… “Don’t worry, little feller… I promise I will be back and sit in front of you and stare at the empty screen while my mind tries to focus on whatever it is that may come next… just like ol' times!!! I promise!!! I am not sure it listens, but I feel better about the whole thing after such a promise. It seems to look a little perkier, as if saying… “yeah… you say that all the time, but… just this time…. I will believe again” And life goes on.

There are wondrous things in the making; a group of colleagues and I are pushing very hard to bring them about. I look forward to the moment it becomes, for I know the result will bring a better life to many people; people who at this time are not even aware that a better future might just be dependent on our being able to accomplish our goal. How’s that for reinforcement of that old saying that goes  something like “Somewhere there is someone discussing my life and I was not invited”… how often is this a true statement! Many more times any one of us is willing to accept, I’m sure.

Well, back to pushing. Today’s entry falls under the “I-just-wanted-to-stop-by-and-say-hello-and-let-you-know-I-had-not-forgotten-you” category. No morals to this story, no deep meanings, no major memories… just another day and another paragraph.

See you soon, I promise!!

Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:
  • Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
  • Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora
  • Any comments please send to otherboxp@yahoo.com
  • Remember:  We are “On Air” every Sunday night at 6:30pm EST (GT –5hrs).  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/theotherbox If the link does not work, please just copy and paste to your address bar.
  • “La Otra Caja de Pandora”… The Spanish language Blog… “otracaja.blogspot.com”Bienvenidos!!!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Actually… I Only Have to Run Faster Than You…

…said one deer to the other one, as they were trying to escape the hungry wolves.

Ever hear that story? In one of several iterations, this one features two deer, running away from a hungry wolf.  As one turns to the other and, in between ragged breaths yells… “we have to outrun the wolf”, the other one yells “Actually, I only have to run faster than you” in response. The moral of the story is that, basically, in this world of getting ahead at any price (to oneself or someone else) everyone seems to be out there for him (or her)self.

Events and moments which could well be much like the one depicted above are very far from uncommon, and we ourselves have been involved in some like them from time to time. Of course, in those, we have always slowed down to try and help the other party escape the hungry wolf… right?

OK, you can plead the 5th amendment if you choose… no problem. We understand as we quietly do the same.

Living in the past is not the idea behind these postings that sometimes come across as perhaps too nostalgic; it has never been. The “snapshots” which are often presented to you, are meant to depict a way of life which no longer is… also, and primarily, they are to become a sort of small written legacy for my own children to perhaps begin to understand the culture from which their parents (or, in one case, one of the parents) come. My son loved to read these postings; every time we talked, he had questions. And I know that at least one of my daughters also reads them every so often… She actually wants more “snapshots from the past’…
          
It was a simpler life, a simpler world without any of the current amenities and toys which we so much enjoy touting now. No cell phones, no computers, no I-Pods/Pads/phones and, of course, no internet; we had very basic TV without Emma, Ophra, or family “talk shows” depicting all the ugly personal issues for the world to see… of course, no one living at that time –in our hometown, anyway- would participate in these just to have 15 seconds of fame(or infamy)… (OMG… HOW COULD YOU LIVE THAT WAY !!!... I can hear some young reader exclaim...)
        
Going back to the original title statement, it was also a time when greed and selfishness were more controlled. Over the last 3 decades, we have become a society of “me firsts” which calls for our own fulfillment before we even consider helping someone else. Yes, it is true that one has to be content in order to help and spread the contentment around but, achieving that state of mind does not necessarily mean to hoard and amass just for the sake of having more.
       
Most of what we now see in TV and in the harangues given to the general public from current crop of “self-help gurus” revolves around the concept of immediate self fulfillment and of the “me first” attitude. Sadly, this message has found its way into the preaching of more than a few pastors and churches. Seems they believe that the message from the Bible will not be as successful if not couched in these self aggrandizement terms. Not so much “fun” to follow a message of self containment if not supported by a message of promised riches and wealth. Too bad.
         
 A few generations back (how many years in a generation, anyway?) one would not even think of walking by someone in need of immediate assistance without stopping to offer help. Today, more than one documentary has been filmed where people just look the other way, go around or even, in one occasion, actually jump over a body lying on the ground. We live in a society which cares more for the perceived needs of a stray animal than we do for the real needs of a homeless person. In my book, not a good sign.           

The moral of this story line is that we, as human beings, are simply passengers of this so called “spaceship earth” and it is up to us to cooperate with one another in order to continue to inhabit this planet and to be able to pass it on to our progeny. Whether we agree or not with our neighbors, there is actually room for more than one opinion in our societies. We cannot be so boring as to spouse the myth that only what I think is the right way of thinking. Is one of several… and each is dear and important to he/she who is a part of it.
    
Maybe, there is something in these snapshots which may act as a trigger to help you accept that not all that is from the past, needs to be put "out to pasture”. Now, if you and someone else were running away from the wolf, in one of its many guises… would you help your fellow runner or… simply run faster to save yourself?


Be Well … Be Back!!!


Final Notes:
  • Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
  • Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora
  • Any comments please send to otherboxp@yahoo.com
  • Remember:  We are “On Air” every Sunday night at 6:30pm EST (GT –5hrs).  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/theotherbox If the link does not work, please just copy and paste to your address bar.
  • “La Otra Caja de Pandora”… The Spanish language Blog… “otracaja.blogspot.com”Bienvenidos!!!



Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:
  • Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
  • Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora
  • Any comments please send to otherboxp@yahoo.com
  • Remember:  We are “On Air” every Sunday night at 6:30pm EST (GT –5hrs).  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/theotherbox If the link does not work, please just copy and paste to your address bar.
“La Otra Caja de Pandora”… The Spanish language Blog… “otracaja.blogspot.com”Bienvenidos!!!

From Wally’s Pond… Again…

This will become entry #400 for this blog. It started late 2009; a means to pass convalescencing time from my cancer treatment and the firs...