Friday, May 25, 2012

In Memory Of…


Every Memorial Day week end we take the time, in between parades, barbeques and beach parties, to think about those who gave their lives on behalf of our country’s ideals.

This piece is not about griping or preaching; it is about a reality which       seems to dodge many who celebrate the memory of someone who may have been family, friend or just a local boy/girl who died in the midst of his or her service time.

Most of these kids, with the exception of those we “affectionately” called (with all due respect, earned in spades) “lifers”, went into the armed forces to get away from a miserable or non existent home life, a bleak future or just –back in the Viet Nam era, which is my reference point- because their numbers came up in the draft. Yet, this same group mixture of malcontents, misfits, non-believers, believers and volunteers, eventually became a group of trained individuals who, at some point, decided that in order to meet their commitment and perhaps survive, they had to give their all; including the possibility of giving up their lives. In Viet Nam, some 58,000 soldiers did just this.
In Memory of those who left us...
They were sent to fight to a part of the world which meant little or nothing to the vast majority of them as individuals, an unidentifiable country with a name most could not even spell before getting there; to fight a war which was never officially declared and where they were egged on by a government which, at the same time it was doling out contracts worth millions, was tying their (our, for I was in the Army then, although not in the actual war zone) hands with politically induced limits which almost guaranteed the eventual, disastrous outcome.

After all those sacrificial deaths, what is visually remembered -especially “first paged” by the same press which fed on the daily carnage to spur their own interests- is the picture of that last helicopter with people hanging on as if their lives depended on this last ride out, leaving the roof of an abandoned embassy which, much like a derelict ship, was being left to sink in the waves of a maelstrom...

If we take this and extend the same parameters out to the men and women in uniform who have fought in the different wars our country has been, we find that the over all picture is much the same. Yet, these men and women went, fought, spilled their blood, suffered through incredibly bad physical and emotional conditions and, in always too many instances, gave their lives… because they believed in a system which guarantees that we, as individuals, have inalienable rights which will be, at all times, upheld by a government which has been elected in the trust it will do so.  Sometimes it seems that the elected officials tend to forget this sacred covenant, in the pursuit of their own agenda.
... so that the ones who come behind will have the same rights.
It is at these times that we, as people, have to once again take up the arms of the voting booth, and make sure that those who have betrayed our trust cannot continue to get away with it… And this, friends, is also an intrinsic part of the system for which so many have given their all throughout the history of this great nation.

I will say, not “happy” Memorial Day but… “Proud Memorial Day”. To our brethren in arms; those who gave their lives and to those who, by being their families and friends, also suffered a grave loss. Let’s never forget their sacrifice or the reasons for which they fought and died.

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
  • “La Otra Caja de Pandora”… The Spanish language Blog… “otracaja.blogspot.com”Bienvenidos!!!
  • 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. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Understanding English… (NOT!!!)


As a sometimes ESL teacher, it is my appointed duty to bring understanding of this language to many who sometimes, just shake their heads up in the process of learning this somewhat convoluted tongue we speaketh… (or some such…)

It is more of a crazy language than you might think. After all, it is a handed down hybrid of a language which has roots in Latin, Welsh, German, of course Anglo Saxon and other such original idioms. And in our country, with its storied life during which people from just about every country in the world has come to roost this, Our English, has become a repository of bits and pieces of each and every one of them. Yes, Our English. Remember: for our British Brethren we are those Yanks who speak with a funny accent. And who say funny things. And who reahlly, deah… can’t speak the language in a propah manneh!! Then, of course there are those Aussies and Kiwis somewhere down at the end of the world...

Anyway, let’s take a look at some of the incongruities of our language. I would like to take credit for these, but most are not mine. I have found them in groups or separately but the end result is great…

Did you know there is no egg in eggplant?... or apple or pine in a pineapple…?  Sweetmeats are candies but sweetbreads are meat… Quicksand takes its slow time to let you sink, boxing rings are square and, guess what…? the guinea pig is neither a pig nor does it come from Guinea. If you have more than one tooth, you have teeth so… why don’t we have a bunch of “beeth” when there is more than one booth? Or, for that matter, if we get two geese, why not two “meese”…? But then, you can make amends but can’t just amend one issue…

If you have a whole bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one… what would you call this? Teachers taught… didn’t preachers praught?  By the way… a vegetarian eats vegetables but… what does a humanitarian eat?

Have you ever recited at a play or, better yet, has someone you know played at a recital? But then, we ship by truck and send cargo by ship.

We speak a language where a “slim” chance means the same thing as a “fat” chance and yet, a wise guy is the total opposite of a wise man. Perhaps one of them can explain why a house burns up while it is burning down…  And then you have to fill in the report form while you fill it out. And while the house was burning, the alarm went off by going “on”.

And while we are constantly adding new words which now come, mainly, from the cybernetic universe, English was created by men, reflecting the creativity of the human race which… of course, is not running a race at all.  But it certainly clears up why the stars are visible when they are out but when lights are out, they are… yep, you guessed it… invisible.

I hope you have enjoyed this as much as I…  these are some of the little things which make teaching this funny, crazy language taxing at times… no, I don’t mean those other taxes…

And while we are enjoying this bit of … whatever you want to call it… Would someone please explain to me why our noses run while our feet smell????

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
  • “La Otra Caja de Pandora”… The Spanish language Blog… “otracaja.blogspot.com”Bienvenidos!!!
  • 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.

Differences.


This is a topic which has been touched before but lately, I have been thinking more about it… especially late at night when sleep is, at times, difficult to come by.

Those who know me will attest to the fact that I am willing to accept any view (albeit some a little more comfortably than others), including those that are contrary to mine, as long as they come served on a platter of thought out arguments… even if they are wrong…

There was a time, during my upbringing, when I was told often that different was not good… Even when we, my sister and I, were the product of a broken marriage which in that place and time, was as different from mainstream as could get. I used to question these innuendos (didn’t know what the word meant then…) by simply asking “Why?” Yet, there were few who had an answer and fewer those who were willing to give it. Those were times when children were to “be seen but nor heard”, much less importune adults with “silly” questions.

Only two people whom I remember did provide answers to my constant “why? (yes, I was a headache then…perhaps I continue to be now) questions. My grandfather would often answer them by example rather than words. He was, and still is, as mentioned elsewhere in these ramblings, my lifetime role model. He lived his life with love, care and hard work. He was preparing our road to a future which, unfortunately, did not come to pass. 

The second person I remember as willing to answer my questions, was himself an “outcast” of sorts. My great uncle Eusebio, a man I met one summer; a man every adult in his family –except his sister, my grandmother- would have preferred had not existed. Yet, his accounts of a very hectic life were incredibly rich and full of lore, adventure and the truths of a day to day lived and fought life which help mold a mind. He was not afraid to answer my questions; in fact, he did so with a patience which bellied his gruff appearance. I think that being the only one who was not only willing to listen, but wanted to hear his stories, opened the door to his honest storytelling. He has been featured elsewhere in these posts… In fact, his existence was so well guarded that few in the younger family generations knew about him… I was lucky to be one of those.

In those years, there were others who showed me that “seeing a difference” is in the eye of the beholder. The twists of life that brought me to work in the family business which had been located, by one of those quirks, in what was to later become the “red light” district of my hometown. The people I met during my short tenure there, were considered to be “different” by society at large. They were the outcasts, the ones who made a living by selling their bodies, those who by age 18 had already lived a lifetime of demanding experiences and graduated with a Suma Cum Laude from the university of hard knocks. The kind of education that the well to do products of society rarely get to know or appreciate, but are quick to criticize. They taught me much; about perceptions, about true friendship, about understanding some of the more pressing realities of life (their life), about being different and surviving these so called societal differences.

Then, much later in life, while traveling around the world I came face to face with another type of “difference”; a compendium which separates cultures and people: traditions, religion and heritage. These are differences which are more readily identifiable… Where we can point a finger and say “well, that’s different”… Each country (and often, different groupings within these countries) has its own traditions, to be held unique and truer than anyone else’s; each religion has its own covenants, to be held unique and truer than all others; even when they all say pretty much the same… In most smaller societies (including some in Europe) whoever is coming from the outside to look in, will find a difficult barrier to overcome so as no to be too different.

We as individuals every so often convince ourselves that we are “different” and, if asked to pinpoint this difference, we are hard pressed to really identify it. For, in the end, it is more of an identity crisis than anything else. If you are old enough, you will remember those posters which showed a vast sea of equal looking penguins… and way over there, in the back, there was this little guy with a hat, dark glasses and a red scarf on, jumping up and down and yelling… “look at me… I’m different!!”  Yes, I had one of those posters because I thought I was very different than everyone else.

As life trundled on, I came to understand that those differences are really not that vast or deep. We are all indeed unique in our make up and in the baggage we carry as the result of our lives; yet, at the core of each one of us lies a human being, hidden sometimes way down there but coming from the same original mold and with the same original contents… Most of the differences are of the cosmetic (physical and cultural) variety… and due to the experiences lived. Each view is valid; each person is entitled to express and support his/her view. 

What you must understand by asking that I listen to and respect your views, you open the door to having to, in exchange, listen to me and equally respect what I express as my views.

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
  • “La Otra Caja de Pandora”… The Spanish language Blog… “otracaja.blogspot.com”Bienvenidos!!!
  • 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.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Motivation And All That Jazz…


To motivate someone is important to understand what it is that motivates that person…

Redundant? Perhaps so… on the other hand, not so much. If someone comes to me and tries to get me to become involved in any issue or carry out a change in my habits, that person must be able to present it in such a way that it becomes attractive to me and to my own interests. If not, then my attention will be short lived. During the years I spent giving seminars, there was always a dose of motivation built into them. Sales people are constantly in need of personal motivation, this is an intrinsic part of the personal make up. The following story, somewhat shortened for the purpose of space, was a part of many such presentations.

There was, somewhere and somewhen, a small village on the shores of a paradisiacal island… this was a beautiful, warm piece of land, under sunny skies most of the times and a nice, very comfortable breeze day and night. People came to this out of the way island to enjoy the bounty, peace and beauty this little piece of heaven on earth would give them.

One day, came a very successful, driven promoter and he was totally intent on convincing the poor inhabitants of this island to embrace capitalism and to convert their island home into a tourist resort, making much money in the process (some for them and a lot for him!!). Everyone he talked to told him that Francisco was the man to talk to; he was a leader of sorts. After looking for him, he finally found him sitting on a rock, by the seashore, enjoying the breeze while waiting for the fish to bite.

-“Hi Francisco” said he, with his most convincing smile… “How are you?”

-“Hi” answered Francisco, not really knowing who this outsider was.

-“Do you do a lot of fishing?” asked the man.

-“Only when we need food” answered Francisco…

-“How would you like to be a very successful businessman?” asked the man… and then, as many assume in a similar situation, he thought that he had the attention of the quiet Francisco when he did not answer.

-“Well…” he continued… “I will bankroll you and we can build a fleet of fishing boats; it will be the envy of all the people around”

“Hmmm” came out of the fishing man

Assuming this as a positive reaction, the speaker continued without stopping –“You will manage the company, and make a lot of money”

-“I don’t know anything about management” said the fisherman…

-“Oh, don’t worry…" quickly said the man, thinking he had an opening... "I will send you to school and in two or three years you will become a manager”… “Then in a few years more you will have the fishing fleet and eventually, after you repay the loan I will make, you will be able to retire and just fish for yourself the rest of your life in peace”…

At this, the fisherman just looked up at the beautiful blue skies which were spread over them like nature’s warming blanket, thought about this conversation for a while and said: “Why would I spend all that time and effort, leave my family here alone, study, be in your debt and work so many years so that, in the end… I will be back doing what I am already doing for free?”

Motivation is a multibillion dollar industry. Those who practice it as a "job" tend to look for a perceived (usually from their viewpoint) general weakness in the make up of the audience and simply exploit it. Much like our motivating salesman of fishing dreams. Those who profess the art of motivation well, get to know their audience and strive to find out what it is that truly lights up a fire under the person(s) to whom he/she is talking.

If you wish to motivate someone, address that individual as one, not as a part of an indistinct whole. Find out what it is that will interest him or her to proceed in the direction you wish to take him or her. Do not assume that what interested your last interlocutor will be the same thing that will work with this one.

One more reality check... There will never be a change in the person unless that person is convinced internally that he or she wants that change to happen and, most importantly, that his/her current behavior is preventing this from talking place. Only then will some sort of positive change may take place… Or, at the very least, the door for such change to come to pass will be opened.
 
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
  • “La Otra Caja de Pandora”… The Spanish language Blog… “otracaja.blogspot.com”Bienvenidos!!!
  • 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.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Writing 101… or 303…


“There are three basic rules to write a novel… it is just that no one knows what they are”  Somerset Maugham.

I guess this could be applicable to any kind of writing. There are no rules as to what it is that makes an interesting or well written piece; it is just what comes out when one sits in front of the empty digital page and, hopefully, there is someone out there who will enjoy the end result.

There are no rules to be followed, as far as I know. Well, yeah... in truth there are many and these are put there by pundits who try to keep the language pure and well in order; then there are those of us who simply write for the joy of it and don’t really pay too much mind to what these old stooges say.

Imagine, how could I bring to life someone like my dear, dear friend Cheito, if “I cudnt ben’ the ruls’ to ryt laik he toks’” He’s a good man, but certainly no Shakespeare. He embodies the truth of a great number of people who came to this country and simply try to make a decent living. Just that they have had no chance to really practice their English…

So, what do we write?  What makes a writer?  I wish I knew and maybe I might become one.  When I grow up…  There have been many comments from you, who actually take the time to read and share your thoughts with me.

Today we had an opportunity to traipse through the heart of the actual city of Charlotte. Usually, we don’t get up there (the “downtown” here is called “uptown”… don’t ask me why…) very often; actually, we can probably count the times with the fingers of one hand and have leftovers. It is actually a pretty place; well laid out and with the run of the gamut restaurants, stores, and so on.  We found a Southern Barbeque restaurant which covered the three Spanish “B’s”: Bueno, Bonito y Barato... (good, pretty and cheap!) Then we went for a walk around (somehow we had to re-fit into our belts…) and were able, even for those of us who live here, to discover and appreciate the surroundings.

How often do we live in or near a place of general interest and actually not even visit that which attracts people from afar? The last three times we have gone someplace of interest nearby, have been because we have had visitors. Sad, no? When I tell people we used to live in Miami for some 9 years, the usual question revolves around the beaches. My response, which surprises most of them, is: “I really went to the beaches not more than 4 or 5 times in all those years”

Those who come from out of town in order to play tourist, fail to take into account that we, who live there, are not tourists. We actually get up every day, fight the traffic and the stress, go to work, come back late and are tired… then on the week ends, we had to do all that was not done during the week for the above mentioned reasons. If we had a vacation, we usually chose to go away so we could visit the beach elsewhere, away from Miami… I remember years ago, when working in Manhattan on a daily basis, it took a visit from my sister –then living in Puerto Rico- to actually go visit the Empire State Building, a place I used to walk by every day, but never had visited.

So, today, we embark on a short tour of a nearby town (about 2-3 hrs away) with our visiting family, so they can enjoy the views of the mountains and the small town nestled at their feet.

Being Mother’s Day, it is a special moment to wish a beautiful, loving and peaceful day to mothers everywhere; including those who have recently left us. Their memory will always remain alive, for they gave life… and that is no small feat… Happy Mother’s Day!

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
  • “La Otra Caja de Pandora”… The Spanish language Blog… “otracaja.blogspot.com”Bienvenidos!!!
  • 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.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

When I Grow Up, I Wanna Be…


Looking back… as you grew up, have you been able to fulfill (any) (some) of your childhood dreams?

An early summer morning in a warm, breezy bay town, in the south center of Cuba. A seven year old, getting ready to go off to swimming practices, stares up into the bright blue sky and dreams about the day he is an older version of his present self, and has graduated from medical school, opening an office in this very town, where he and his family have lived for the better part of 4 generations.

The day was a good, lazy day for exploring around town after swimming practices so the boy opted to go to the club in his bike, instead of the usual bus ride. The ride would be a long one, so he left a little earlier than usual. Riding along, he crossed the center of the town park in a diagonal line, mentally saying hi to the statues which were meant to remind all about those who were responsible for liberating the country from the Spaniards… as he weaved around them trying hard not to run headlong into any of the embodiments.

After running the silent, watchful marble gauntlet, he went up on San Fernando Street a few blocks into Prado Boulevard. A right turn while doing his best not to run down any of the street crossing folk and from there, it was a straight shot down the boulevard, into the avenue which bordered the bay and into the club. Some 4 miles as the crow flied (I guess it still is if the crow could fly avoiding being shot by someone who does not care what kind of fowl to put into his wanting rice and chicken pot)… and a nice long ride on a bike. Especially for someone who had not a care in the world.

As that boy would ride his –then state of the art- red and silver 3 speed bike (sold by Sears!) his mind would fly along… the blue skies, the blue bay waters… he could follow the small ferry boats which would, like floating bus lines, traverse the bay from the city docks to several stops until finally making it to the small town at the mouth of the bay (under the shadow and shade of the old, colonial Jagua Castle) and then, after a short recess, start the second leg of their always repeating journey, back to their point of origin.

The Club
After a morning of swimming laps under the watchful eye of the coach and trainer, that boy would have a sandwich lunch at the club cafeteria, to then go out for a “row”, taking out one of the small wooden boats which equipped with two old fashioned, heavy wood oars, made for an excellent exercise after the exercise. Slowly rowing along, he would go by the Cazadores Club, a nearby club, following from the watery way the row of houses of this fairly exclusive residential area of the city. 

At the end of the small peninsula (where the clubs and residential areas were) was the Jagua Hotel, then under construction by his grandfather and business partners. At that point, it was time to turn around and head back to the club. This oft repeated sojourn in quiet waters, so to speak, gave that boy an opportunity to dream about life, about a future, and about those things which could be done in a lifetime. A normal lifetime.
Sunset on The Bay

That boy sometimes dreamed about becoming a doctor who could and would help deliver others from their ills… or perhaps a known writer of stories and histories… maybe a business executive who would get to know the world… of course, just becoming Superman would have been OK also, for it was a simpler world for children back then; simple outlooks and simple projections… not like today’s world where complications –even in childhood- are more the norm than the exceptions.

Summer days were great for dreaming, for making up a life which would be shrouded in greatness, free of worries and problems. That child was convinced this would be so, that there could be no problem big enough to change this outlook…

Of course, life has a way to let us know that what we dream as children is dependant on what the adults around us may –or not- decide. And, sometimes, as was in his case, what adults who had nothing to do with his life, chose to do. Those childhood dreams, depending on perspectives, may have come to pass in different ways. And as life goes into the latter years, when we take stock of all the issues which make up our existence, those dreams are still alive, although perhaps under different guises. That child is definitely still alive, very much so; that wandering and wondering mind is still alive, very much so… and, hopefully, it will always so remain.

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
  • “La Otra Caja de Pandora”… The Spanish language Blog… “otracaja.blogspot.com”Bienvenidos!!!
  • 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. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Untitled.


Every time I sit in front of the empty computer screen, I hope to be able to write a meaningful piece… something that will make an impact on whoever is the reader, to reach that one person who will benefit from having taken the time to stop, smell the roses… and read these posts.

Somehow, it is my belief this has not happened yet. The posts keep coming out like practice runs (almost 300 by now) and, once in a great while, something actually comes out that is closer to that ideal than other pieces… hope rekindles anew and efforts are redoubled… to no avail.  Friends and readers I have not personally met  let me know -via email- how much they have enjoyed the posts; total readings have crept past the mark of 5,000 and we keep on keeping on, hoping to yet be able to actually find that elusive piece which will leave its mark on a special day.

Much has happened over these past few weeks. It seems that every day –make that every hour- that passes brings on new challenges which clamor to have my attention and my time. In some cases I am able to oblige, at other times it is not possible to give that wanted time and attention.

A favorite pastime of mine is to think. Think about what is, what was, what may yet be… this last part may fall sometimes into the realm of dreaming… while thinking about mistakes made (too many) and how they have affected my life up to now and whatever may be yet to come. Those who have shared my life’s timeline (with due respect to FB) along the way were also affected and often have paid a price, not of their responsibility. On the other hand, these are issues which cannot be changed or wished away; life has moved on and so had I to do.

Whenever I entertain myself in these thinking forays, the thoughts will inevitably fall into reviewing those days when my work and circumstances took me around the world, several times. In the beginning with family in tow then, under other circumstances, by myself. The number of people I met along my travels is incredible. The amount of knowledge that has been picked up from these folk is even more astounding. My somewhat "layman's conclusion" is that there must be an ulterior motive, not yet known to me, for all this to have come to pass. And my being still here.

The long and short seminars in so many venues around the world, at times seeming like an interminable repetition… a little bit like that movie where the hero repeats one day on and on… The late night revelries on the shores of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala after visiting the night spots nearby, the very lonely walks along Lake Zurich, on those cold nights when I was debating as to whether it was worth going on (no, not with my life –that has never been in doubt- but with what was being pursued at the time)… many cold and wet early morning walks to a Burger King in London, so as to have my coffee and “scone”, often the only meal that would be had until late in the day.

Actually, despite my complaints, these are good memories for the most part. Those which may actually bring back difficult moments, are usually filtered by the mind; it does a pretty credible job of white washing these background stories, so that we may go on with our lives and leave behind the bad bumps along the way.  Survival of the forgetful... Sort of…

So what is there to write about? A life? We all have one of those. Travels? Many of us have “been there, done that” … Illness?... Why? Knowledge gained?... Nah… what I may cherish as knowledge, may well be boring stuff to many others…

Perhaps I could write of the very slow in coming understanding about who we may actually be and why some of us seem to live very different lives than the norm. The experience gained, the learning about others; the accepting that we human beings are all different and yet, somehow, extremely similar. The spiritual vision that our earthly Gods –as we may call them differently- may truly be one and the same seen under different guises and according to the needs and realities of the culture that looks up to Him (Her?)…

The understanding and acceptance that many of those material things I looked upon as veritable “must have” needs in earlier times, are really not that “heavy” in the overall scheme of things. Even almighty money… eventually it is just a tool which may buy things, but will never buy what is truly important: character, a caring heart and love. 

The ability to listen to others who do not agree with me, and to be able to accept and understand they have the right to express their thoughts… as I do mine. Being in a position to help others, by perhaps giving some counsel born of my accumulated experiences…

Maybe there is stuff to write about after all. Even more important, these are cumulative perspectives and accumulated living experiences which make up me, as yours make up who you are. Every single one individual an important part of the human universe. Learn to be at peace with yourself, no matter what mistakes may have been made along the way; treat each one as a learning experience which, by adding a grain of sand, salt or sugar, helps in the eventual make up of the  resulting person.

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
  • “La Otra Caja de Pandora”… The Spanish language Blog… “otracaja.blogspot.com”Bienvenidos!!!
  • 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.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Needs and Wants.


We live in a universe of needs and wants; these often define our lives and their interactions are more complex than meets the eye.

Yesterday, during a late ESL class (funny, how so very often what happens in those shows up in these…) that we veered away from the established class guidelines (you know, verbs and all that) and we started to talk about life. In English, of course.

As mentioned elsewhere in these entries, the folk who come to these classes are adults; people who truly must learn the language spoken in this country, so as to open up new doors and possibilities. Often, there come up the excuses about why “we could not do the homework”, etc… children, lack of time, long hours of work, tiredness at the end of the day… and all the usual. No, I do not make light fun of this; they are truly hard working Americans who happen to speak little or no English, and are trying to do something about this lack.

So, after the rounds of excuses, I decided to get away from the prescribed evening outline (as you can probably imagine, I often do this…) and embark into a discussion of needs and wants.

-“We live in a society that depends on sales and marketing in order to get ahead” I started… “We all sell something in order to survive”.

As expected, a couple piped up, loudly expressing the fact that “they did not sell anything” –“Maybe not directly” I answered but “you sell a product even if you are a salaried person”.

-“How so?” they countered.

-“Well, in order to be useful at your place of work and assure your staying there, you sell your presence, your knowledge and/or specific skills needed at that position… right?”

-“Yes, I guess so” they had to admit.

Once this was out of the way, we went into the concept of needs and wants. A very short iteration of a combination seminar/motivation presentation I used to give to sales people some years back. And back then I was even paid for doing it while having a lot of fun!!

We discussed their daily lives’ activities and it was the students’ agreement that basic true needs are, indeed, few: food, water, rest, habitation and a way to maintain these. The rest, we catalogued under “wants”. Some seem to be quite indispensible in our world, but remain wants. We would not cease to exist if these were not present. After some discussion, it was also agreed that in general we, as people, will spend our hard earned money on wants before we actually pay for some of the needs. This is not me talking, folks… these are the results of tendency studies done over the years, by people who are much more qualified than I to bring forth these concepts and conclusions.

Going back to the class. A comely young lady, from The Dominican Republic, sells cosmetics. We put this to discussion and she was adamant that these products represented a need for a woman.

-“Do you really think” I asked her “that a woman who is earning her money at a line job will pay you the equivalent of some 5-7 hours of work to buy a product because you tell her that “she needs them?”  I could see that a couple of students were beginning to understand the concept, and I asked one of them… “What do you think?”

He answered: “it is hard for me to accept that someone who makes barely above minimum wage will plunk down that much money just because someone tells her that she needs the product” –“OK” I said… “Then, if not that, what would be the reason that a woman would buy?”

-“She wants to look pretty?” ventured another female student… “BINGO” I said to her.  Then added, “Our saleslady here is not really selling lipstick or eye shadow… She is selling perceived beauty, as the result of using them”… “She managed, without realizing it, to put her wares into the “want” category, rather than the “need” category, which is less convincing”.

Having brought them around to where I needed them to be in order to make my point, I repeated some of their prior words. “You all told me that you “needed” to learn English, but at the same time gave me all types of excuses to let me know why there are innumerable barriers to accomplish this”.

-“Let me tell you”, I added… “as long as you look at this learning process as something you “need to do”, it is nothing but just one more chore in a life already filled with chores”. Then I added “You will never bring yourself to do what needs to be done. The day you truly pass this to the “want” column and accept that you want to learn English, not just that you need to, then the study time will appear and most –if not all- of the excuses will disappear, as if by magic…”

As the class was dismissed, several of the students –including our saleslady- came to the front to tell me how they understood what the message was. How “learning English” would now be put into a want column, rather than a need column.

Every day we make choices that are loosely based on this concept and we don’t even think about them much; our list of desires has to be analyzed every so often. We have to be sure that those items that need to be in the “want” column are put there, and not just relegated to the “need” column. We will tend to reach those goals seen as really wanted, before we do reach those that are just “needed”. In fact, the ratio is almost 2-1. So… check those goals which are truly important to you; put them into the want column of your life… I promise you that your efforts will double and will be rewarded.

Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:
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Veterans Day

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