Monday, December 30, 2013

The Year is dead… Long Live The New Year…

Every year, when we come to its end, the review is almost a requirement.

So this year is no different. What happened in 2013; what should’ve perhaps happened… what shouldn't have… Sort of ... “what happens in 2013… stays in 2013…” Not.

Let’s start by saying that all that did or did not happen… wasn’t by “happenstance”… It was caused by each and every one of us, by our action or inaction at a specific point in time. Whether individually or collectively.

In this, our country, it is the general buzz that there are 3 primary topics of discussion/division:
  • The Great Political Divide… Those who support the current President and his policies and those who do not. This particular issue is an ever growing battleground; some trying to expand what is a political efficiency discussion into a race based argument; not justified under any circumstance.
  •  Health and economics… Perhaps good bedfellows, perhaps not. Yet, these two seem to go together. The economy is suffering from a cosmetic revival while the national debt keeps growing by leaps and bounds… The health issues and the attending Obamacare program have made promises that yours truly, after 37 years in the insurance industry, finds very difficult to bring to reality without a major overhaul of the insurance platforms in this country. This does not happen by mandate or overnight. It will take tons of money, time and political determination, not to mention balls. Do we need this overhaul? perhaps we do, but I don’t think this is the manner in which it will be brought about satisfactorily.
  • A widening rift between some of the religious beliefs which are more commonly practiced in our society. In a country where religious freedom, acceptance and tolerance was (yes, was…) the byword, we now find that there is an almost deliberate attempt to undermine this concept. Judeo Christian beliefs are under attack when professed openly, while practicing folks and leaders of other religious beliefs feel free and empowered to openly attack anyone who does not agree with them. Without anyone having the courage to denounce these uncalled for behaviors. This is not heading in a good direction.
Closer to home, the usual ailments which come along when the minutes, days and years and with them life, insist in continuing their ever onward march without stopping for a spell, a moment of rest or even contemplation. Most folks continue to fight on but some have left us along the way, perhaps going to a well deserved rest… In the end, nothing to complaint about and nothing that cannot be remedied… except, of course, for those who moved on…

Elsewhere in the world, there are the usual fledgling countries, the countries where there is a perennial internal war, the countries that try to fix the world around them but can’t fix their own issues and those countries which, try as they may to change the course of life-as-usual, continue to take stabs at each other, either openly or surreptitiously… or both.

In other words… life goes on as usual…

Happy New Year!! Happy 2014 and many more after this one!!!

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

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Instructions For Life

A couple of days ago, there was an entry that was titled.. “Life isn’t Fair” and a dear old friend who actually takes the time to read and comment, sent me these… Thanks Doug...

1.Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.

2. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.

3. Follow the three R’s:
          - Respect for self,
          - Respect for others and
          - Responsibility for all your actions.

4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.

5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.

6. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great relationship.

7. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

8. Spend some time alone every day.

9. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.

10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.

11. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.

12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.

13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.

14. Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality.

15. Be gentle with the earth.

16. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.

17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.

18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.

19. If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.

20. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

After reading them there is little I can do except pass it on to you, except that with the best of intentions and the best of trying, there is always that bit of happenstance, that bit of not looked for luck or encounter. As another dearest friend also reminded me after reading the entry… there are unexpected encounters at the flower shop in the springtime…

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 

Holiday Shopping

We are a buyer’s nation. Probably invented the concept of marketing but, like an unruly child, this gets out of hand every so often...

... and the holidays are just the perfect season for this to happen, since it is the time when most people will, greatly aided by sales and marketing folk, let go of any amount of money (whether needed for something else or not…) in order to “give great presents” which, for the most part, will probably be forgotten after a while.

I spent some “quality” time at a major mall a couple of days ago. My wife had a hair/nail/etc. appointment and after dropping her off, my car (yes, by itself!!) took me over to the nearby mall, a fairly good size and well established buying center. There being not much money in my cards or, for that matter in my wallet, my time was spent looking around at all the goodies which were being offered (especially in the electronics world, today’s starchild of the gifting universe)… fascinating stuff; even when you know the item(s) will become practically obsolete within 6 months of purchase time… a self perpetuating line of products, if there is any.

After a while, I became pretty bored with the whole thing and went for a double tall latte… otherwise known as coffee and cream with a bit of foam on top… but if the plebeian name were to be used, it would only fetch half the money being charged… Since there were no seats available at the shop (it was Saturday afternoon and you could barely walk in the mall) I went out to the main hall and looked for an available seat, where I could relax and enjoy my barista’s creation…

Once seated, the main attraction of the afternoon actually started… people walking by… there were all sorts, sizes, shapes and colors… younger ones, middle aged ones and older ones, who probably came along for the ride... and most likely were regretting this decision by now. The dress code was universal funky; from well dressed to eclectically attired, to barely dressed. Being already past 3 in the afternoon, most of these folk had already spent a good part of the day at the mall and their faces showed it…

Many of them were from overseas (dress and language giving many hints to that effect) and they were loaded with packages… the husband looking bedraggled, questioning his own sanity and wishing he were anywhere but in this jungle, while the wife and children were looking for the next store to attack.

At one point, one of these soon to be extinguished species plopped (literally) down on the seat next to mine with his 5 (approx) year old boy hanging on to him, like little monkeys hang from their mothers in the jungle. The boy’s carriage was being occupied by a load of packages from different stores and, as it sat parked in front of them, with a leg over the wheels for protection, they both promptly fell into a slumber… either one as tired and fed up as the other with this whole thing…

And where were the ladies of this group? Going through the offerings of yet one more store… After a good while, his reverie was interrupted by his young daughter who came running out of the store to get him…

-“DAD!!! .. HOW COULD YOU???? ... WAKE UP!!! ... come inside… mom is ready to pay” … With an audible sigh he woke up his son, slowly got up and carted the carriage into the new store and, as he shuffled in, he was  looking for his wallet and the –by now- equally worn out cards, while making room for the new packages to be added.

As each person walked by pushing, pulling or carrying their packages, whether with a smile, a frown or just that bored-to-death look in their faces, there was a story to tell and I, dutifully, continued to make up these stories for my own entertainment…

And, of course, in the midst of what was becoming a very juicy tidbit of a tale, my phone rang and I was summoned to pick up my wife at the hair and nail shop…

Holiday shopping… definitely not a bargain!!

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

Monday, December 16, 2013

Life Isn’t Fair...

This is the most common excuse we hear (and utter) every day, whenever something happens not according to our wishes

Actually, when all is said and done, life is much fairer than most of us would be, were we in a position to wield that unforgiving power of fate. Of this I am sure…

A virtual reality check comes in to play whenever I feel inclined to use the above mentioned excuse for self pity… Invariably, it tells me that whatever it is that is happening, it is happening because I –yes, I (or you, if you prefer) and none other- brought it about. A decision made or one not made along the way, conveniently ignoring warnings which are sent on a regular basis into all our seemingly dulled receptors during our happy way to the mishap.

If you, who are now reading (I hope) this, have also read a number of entries along the way, you do understand that often my rambles take on a life of their own and go into different directions… and I do not try to say or even imply they are all truly coherent… but… they become a part of the writings. They reflect my mind (what’s left of it, as my son used to say –jokingly, I prefer to think) and how it tends to work…

We all make many mistakes along the way (Ohh so you also forgot to read the "Instructions For This Life" manual?) and we all, at one point or another will try and pass some –or all- of what we call “fault” to another person, often an innocent recipient of our own inadequacies. Seems this has become a universal game at which most of us have become very proficient. Think about this…the last time you made a decision which turned out to be drastically wrong… when called to your attention, did you immediately say “YES, it was MY fault” or… did you spend the next few minutes desperately trying to find an alternate recipient for the responsibility of it all… Be honest now….

Learning to say “yes” and “no” at the appropriate times will take away many opportunities to get involved in issues which will, for sure, take a wrong turn along the way. Actually, it is easy to say “yes”… we tend to want to pleaser for in doing so, we are more liked… Saying “no” firmly when needed to is an art which takes a lot of learning and soul searching. Most of us never learn to say “no”… it is not easy. At best, over along span of years, life will teach us over and again that this is a trait we must acquire… yet we keep on ignoring these lessons.

“Life” is not unfair… it is actually the fairest of all judges; it will hand down decisions based on what we have done or what we have failed to do… we cannot really hide anything from this very stern judge, try as we may.

My comments are only based on my experiences and looking back to those moments when I have also said … “life is unfair”… on trying to be honest and fair myself, I have to –often grudgingly- accept that whatever happened was the direct result and reaction to something I had done, or failed to do.

Today, I can actually say “no” when I think this is the right answer. It has not been easy to get here; the road is littered with far too many mistakes… On the other hand… the mistakes we have made (and will make) along the way create the experiences that tell us who we are and where we may be going… of course, making new and delightfully different mistakes on those new roads... hmmm!!!  

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

Thursday, October 24, 2013

It’s Been a While…

Clouds gather… on one side we see dark skies and on the opposite side the promise of light…

How often do we find ourselves in the midst of a “swerve” moment… when forces of nature (whether mother nature or personal nature) can, in a moment’s swing, define an outcome which will probably impact our very lifestyle and future.

The worst feeling, at least for me, is that of impotence; of not really being able to take charge and do our own definition. To have to watch, as a simple bystander, how these forces play upon themselves and perforce, on us. I have learned over the years to observe and to absorb; these are not easy tasks, for they require inaction at times when action seems to be called for. Yet, in some of these very moments, any action at all would bring very negative results.

Some, perhaps most, people would probably say: “Well, it’s better to die trying than to do nothing”… Perhaps so…but, then again, perhaps not. In the same strait is the person who speaks simply because he or she has a dire need to hear someone talking at all times, even when what is being said has no meaning or substance… it becomes just… well, noise. Someone who sees him/herself as a “doer” feels that same unstoppable urge to do, even when doing is not necessarily the right path to follow…

I am far from being a scholar or a philosopher –even when we are all a bit of both, especially the latter- but I do have a heap of years spent dealing with other people, in good, indifferent and bad times. In these “travels” much has been learned and, sadly, it has become quite clear that the old saying that “no one learns from somebody else’s experience” is quite true. That has become a basic understanding of the “learning to observe” part. Very few care to listen to what someone else may be able to say and, as a result, help them avoid what may well be a bad experience.

It has also become clear that the easiest way to eliminate foolish comments or questions is to actually say what you think regarding whatever it is that is being asked or consulted. Usually, this is not conforming to what the other person wants to hear. End of questions…

So… these are the rules I try to follow (not always successfully, I’ll grant) and which have been learned during these years… Of course, this does not refer to idle chit chat… just to sharing one’s experience…

  1. Don’t give an opinion or counsel if this is not asked for;
  2. Say what you think, even if it means the other person may become mad at you;
  3. If you have nothing to say… say nothing;
  4. If you have nothing of value to add, don’t.
  5. The constant sound of your voice is only appealing to you, not necessarily to those around you…
I had these thoughts in mind today… they are now shared with you… I know… maybe I should have kept them to myself…

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
  • “La Otra Caja de Pandora”… The Spanish language Blog… “”Bienvenidos!!!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Mid Life Crisis… in retrospect…

Elliott Jaques coined this term in the 1960s to identify a period of time when adults come to realize their own mortality and how much time may be left in their life.

Around my eight years of age, there was this lady who lived in-house and took care of the children (my brother, sister and little ol’ me) while doing some light housekeeping work… I guess taking care of us was considered heavy enough work… Her name was Calixta and she also had what was -unbeknownst to me– a “special gift”… she would at times go into a trance and while in this state, was able to “see things”. I am not sure about these bouts but the fact is she did say many things which would eventually turn out to be true.

One morning, in the midst of one of these, she looked at me through somewhat glazed eyes and said: “you are going to travel far… you are going to go many places in the world and will stay away from here for many, many years…” To someone who was then around nine years of age and whose travels to that moment could be –at best- called “regionally focused” within Cuba, these mutterings seemed to be crazy… but then, at that time Castro’s coming was somewhere in the distant future yet.

Well into the late 50’s we had a relatively normal life. Yes, there was this revolution thing going on but to us children, this was a far away story happening somewhere else, not “here”… This state of affairs changed abruptly on the night of January 1st, 1959, when the “Era of the Castro Bros.” began. This would be (still is) characterized by total loss of private property, lack of basic needs, mental and literate poverty, and by fear… a polarizing fear that pits members of a family against each other and neighbor against neighbor.

This event marked a pivotal change in my life as I knew it until then… After several ups and downs during the initial years of the People’s Revolution (Caribbean version) a decision was made and I left the country. It was about this moment in my life that the first blog entry was written some years ago…

Sometimes when we look at years that have gone by, there is an undefined feeling of (un)accomplishment that comes about. Then, I began to actually take a look back (in preparation for the future, of course!!)  into these 50 or so years that have passed since my coming to this great land… This is when one actually realizes that it has been -so far, for I expect this to continue on- a voyage which is nothing if not fantastic…

I left my country without many expectations but with much trepidation… New life, new everything… The initial adapting shock was made easier by many people who became special in their relationship with me. Friends, classmates, that special girlfriend… Then, I traveled on to Puerto Rico, where for the first time I met my father and his new family, to include a grand step-mom and brother. College to be followed by US Army “volunteer” service during one of our more controversial interventions… Vietnam.

First marriage, a beautiful girl-child (still beautiful, though not a child anymore…) first real job(s), mingled with radio “personality” work in NYC and Connecticut… A dream come true... Then my dive into the world of insurance, where I would spend my next 35 professional years… Then… a second marriage, which brought 3 wonderful children into being… Travel around the world (literally) in the mid 80’s, followed by the experience of almost 5 years of living in South America. Then, the end of the second marriage and eventually, the beginning of the third… which engendered continued travel, now no longer in the insurance world, but looking for a bright financial light which seemed to get away just when we thought it was there at our fingertips to be held and enjoyed…

In the midst of all this, we lived through social upheavals to rival the early civil war era, saw the first man walk on the moon and the first space station… became fans of Star Trek and witnessed the birth of several ST inspired gadgets… the most ubiquitous being the (in)famous cell phone… remember “Beam me up, Scotty”?... Saw the birth of the computer and eventually the internet and its spawned social networks, electric cars and many more… survived the end of the world in both 2000 and 2012… and hope to survive a few more endings. On the very negative side, let’s not forget to mention folks who have taken over their own countries while trying to forcibly emulate the Cuban model… to the sorrow of those who live within… And, yes… infomercials… Ugh!!

It has been an exciting trip full of emotions… joy, despair, illness, recovery, deep sorrow –with the tragic loss of a very special son- the happiness of a new and beautiful granddaughter –hope for the continuum- and an endless supply of optimism and hope for the future yet to come…

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
  • “La Otra Caja de Pandora”… The Spanish language Blog… “”Bienvenidos!!!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A Conundrum... Political Style.

Co’nun’drum:  “something that is puzzling or confusing”… “a difficult problem that seems to have no solution.

One of the primary reasons governments do exist, besides all the hoopla we are given on a regular basis and regardless of whether they may be considered good, bad or indifferent,  is simply because a country cannot be run by general consensus. I know… “We the People” and all that goes with this is truly an altruistic concept, but far from a practical one. This is unfortunately truer in a country as complex and as varied as our own, right here in the Good Ol’ US of A.

Town Hall meetings are a good concept… of times gone by… they were perhaps very valid in earlier moments when face to face meetings were of the utmost importance, since there were not too many other means to make yourself known then. Today, because of the fact we are an expanding electronic society, ever busier, more knowledgeable (well, in most cases) and ever more needful, these meetings have become a quaint reminder of what once was; a good political device to garner special interest votes, perhaps some ideas and most assuredly face time and press coverage.

However, when it comes to those major decisions which will impact the lives of you and me, the average citizens, these are made behind well closed doors, far from the maddening crowds and from those like… guess who? you and me, whose lives they may actually change. Decision makers don’t want any pesky folk around when they may have to go against all that was promised at one time or another (not that they don’t do this regularly anyway…) and who may present a knowledgeable and loud complaining voice.

A good example of votes not perhaps representing the will of a true majority is the “Electoral College”. This body was instituted long ago and far away when the average voter was uninformed, fairly illiterate and not very trustworthy. It was thought the average voter couldn't make an intelligent decision… mainly men voted then so there might be some substance to this…

Today, the voter field has changed much but yet, the governing body(ies) insist on maintaining this college alive because in many ways, facilitates control over the voting patterns in important areas, often giving convenient impressions of large winnings when the actual margin of popular victory is quite small. This is especially true in states where a 1% majority takes all the marbles. The Electoral College should be abolished and each man and woman of voting age should be able to cast a direct vote that is actually counted. And that counts. Conventions be damned!!

As stated before, I agree with the hard truth that we cannot run the country by general consensus; God knows how unwieldy this would be. Not very popular decisions have to be made and they would be impossible if opposing viewpoints take the stage… we see this enough in Chambers. However, leadership has to be based on having the courage to do what needs to be done; to actually move the parts and accomplish what is necessary for the best interests of a majority of the people, not for the best interests of some of the people or entities. And no, I am not espousing a “socialist/populist” brand of control… many years ago I left running in my haste to leave one such government behind… well behind… I know in my own flesh how much damage these fools can inflict.

Often, political decisions are the warm leftovers of a compromise… But… isn't compromise good...? I dare ask… supposedly it takes into account the needs of several parts and incorporates these into the final solution… What?... you say Not So???... Well, this accommodation happens in theory anyway, although in real life it often fails to bring the desired results. A “neutered” decision (intended to please as many as possible while actually accomplishing little) is nothing but a reflection of a neutered leadership.

Hmmm… too much to think about… too many sides to an octagon. Truth, however, only has two sides: truth and untruth. There are no middle colors and no middle possibilities. Politics, on the other hand, has as many sides and colors as it may be convenient to have at a given point in time and circumstances.

Enough of this nonsense… for now.

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
  • “La Otra Caja de Pandora”… The Spanish language Blog… “”Bienvenidos!!!

Friday, August 23, 2013


Well… since I am not a cow, I guess what I mean to say is that I am “pondering” about many things…

It all started during one of those ESL classes which I have the pleasure to give. The book for this particular class requires some serious work on “perfect tenses”. You know… the pesky could’ve… would’ve… should’ve… and all those assorted verbs with “have” as the assistant. But as we delved into the topic, there were some questions within the lesson which actually sparked some interesting and, at times, insightful conversation… all in English, of course…

One in particular dealt with a person’s self perceived weaknesses and strengths. Another with dreams not accomplished yet and a third simply asked… “Have you had a difficult moment which has helped you learn something important?” As you can imagine, the people who come to these evening classes (mostly adults with some baggage in their trunks, so to speak – including their teacher) don’t really expect to walk into a semi-confessional moment but being a small and well knit group, they all responded truthfully.

There were stories about childhoods lost or fondly remembered; about the difficulty in adapting to a new culture, about challenges met … some with success and others with failure… friends made and friends lost… Dreams of starting or increasing an owned business… of traveling to exotic and not so exotic locales… Actually, the two evenings turned out to be quite interesting  

Perhaps the most telling answers were to the last question about that difficult moment in life which sparked a positive learning experience. I am not about to put on paper what these trusting folks said and shared with us, in closed quarters. But being the "nice" person I am, what came to my own mind and which was shared (only fair, right? ... they did ask me) with the class, will be also shared with you.

Actually the words came almost without much thought to my mind and, with perhaps too short a time, flowed through to my mouth and out they went…

-“Having Cancer was a blessing” I said… at which point they all looked at me with a questioning, almost a “ha ha… here comes another typical comment…” look. But no, I held their gaze and said -“yes, it was” and added -“obviously, surviving was the biggest blessing, but having gone through the process was also a blessing of a different kind”…

Well… it is true, all of it. Even if to my own mind I didn't go through the pain and suffering many who have had this illness have experienced, it was an eye opener. The people I met; those who showed courage in the face of probable death and those whose reaction was to sink into a mental funk. To many this last response could be understandable, to me… never.

I learned that the mind is a wonderful instrument, it can be our biggest ally and it can also be our bitterest enemy. In my case, a new zest for life was found, a new way to look at everyone around me; the fact that every moment has to be enjoyed, lived and the realization that, regardless of the road we may find ourselves on at any given time, ‘tis the road life has put us on and it has to be traveled. Might as well enjoy it!!

This last was brought home with the untimely death of my son; we never do know when we will be taken away from this life and it is a shame we leave so many possibilities and probabilities untried and stones unturned… all because we may be going through an unhappy, selfish moment or because we think that we deserve better. Maybe we do… then again, maybe we don’t.

So yes, this was a blessed event. My eyes were reopened to the wonders of my life, to all the good had and yet to be had, to all the learning moments and the people who helped me learn. Also, to those who have gone but whose wonderful, warm and loving memories will stay with me as long as I breathe.

In fact, every moment we live it is a wonderful learning and enjoyment opportunity… don’t miss it!!  

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
  • “La Otra Caja de Pandora”… The Spanish language Blog… “”Bienvenidos!!!

Monday, August 12, 2013

From Wally’s Pond… Round 2 (or) 3…

Sometime ago, the idea of calling an entry “Introspective Philosophy Entry” was a bit too much, so it came to me … Why don’t I just call it “From Wally’s Pond”? Sort of a tribute to “On Walden Pond…” I think there were one or two entries under that heading, and the contents of this one actually qualify… I think…

If you have read some of these posts over the years (well… we are going on the 4th year of the blog…), you know there has been no intention ever to hide the fact that I do believe in the Spiritual aspects of our persona. My upbringing was somewhat eclectic, for it was based on a heavy dose of Catholicism, cushioned by a Mason grandfather as well as an everyday dose of “Spiritism” as practiced by both, my grandfather and my mother, as well as a number of domestic employees with whom I grew my infant years.

Early in my life, I was present and participant –though with limitations- at many sessions of these practices, as evidenced in some earlier blogs where this has been discussed at length… As I grew into my adulthood and eventually welcomed (well… what other choice?) my “olderhood”, there have been many occasions to discuss religion and spiritual as well as philosophical ideologies. It has been a blessing; also an eye opener, since in most instances at the end of these most civilized discussions, most come to realize that the cloth from which we all have been cut is pretty much the same and that “religion” such as it is practiced, is more of a human structure. Yes, based on higher leanings but human nonetheless.

I believe. I say this without any glimmer of mists, hidden meanings, or of being blasé about the concept. I believe in God and in Christ. I have felt the strength of their loving company at times when, alone, I would have faltered and completely fallen. They took me by the hand when I was alone and destitute; when I faced cancer and through the ultimate healing of the same and then during the most terrible moment of my life, when my son died in an accident. I know for a fact that, in being spiritually alone, I would have not made it.

Some will say this is an emotional crutch; that explanation is also Ok because indeed it is that as well. But it goes beyond this easy concept. It goes much farther and further than what can be expressed in easy-to-crow platitudes.   

One of the religions I have had the chance to discuss in good detail during my travels is the Hindu Religion. There are many spiritual guidance laws and these "laws" which follow, are specifically direct and much deeper in meaning than what appears at first look. They are meant to help us understand that when something happens, it is not life’s specific intention to bother you or me specifically; for, in the end, we are pretty cosmically insignificant as individuals. But not so as part of that beyond the physical grasp whole... If understood, it teaches that when something happens we have to accept it and take what it brings, learn from it and when it goes, we have to let go without regrets.

The First Law says:
"The person who comes into your life is the right person” No one comes into our life by happenstance; everyone around us, who interacts with us, is there for a reason, to help us learn and advance in each situation.

The Second Law says:
"What happens, is the only thing that could have happened” Absolutely nothing of what goes on in our lives could have happened in a different manner. Not even the most insignificant detail. There is no… “If I could have done something different… perhaps something else might have happened” Not so. What did happen is the only thing that could have happened, and it had to be that way so we could learn a lesson and go on. Every situation in our lives is perfect … even though our ego and mind resist this as reality and often may choose not to accept it.
The Third Law says:
"At any moment that something begins, is just the right moment for it to do so". Everything begins at the right moment… not before, not later. When we are ready, and only then, for something new to begin… it will do so.

The Fourth and Last: 
"When something ends… it ends”. Just that. If something or someone has ended its/his/her part in our lives, it is life telling us to evolve; it is better to leave it at that, to accept the experience and to move forward enriched by it. 

I don’t think it is a coincidence you are reading this; if this text is coming to you today, it is because you are ready to understand that no two snowflakes are the same and that none will fall in the wrong place.

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
  • “La Otra Caja de Pandora”… The Spanish language Blog… “”Bienvenidos!!!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Flowing Words

There is something to be said about words and what they convey… happiness … fear … sadness … joy… 

English is a language which encourages communication at a straightforward level; some might say basic level. While I do think it is somewhat simpler than Spanish, I disagree with its being lacking in nuances… just read some of the Bard’s work and it is plainly seen that it can have indeed many shades.

Spanish… well… it seems to have been created by confused and somewhat scrambled minds, longing to shout out to the world this is a language for lovers and dreamers; a language best used to describe the stars and the universe which holds them in its bosom… Why the preceding? Some of these passages come from the Spanish blog… Interestingly, when I sit down to translate, there is a lot of poetic license to be had… luckily… I get along well with the original writer. He won’t charge me royalties.

Nature... a gift...
Mentalists who claim to know, tell us that nothing is impossible in this life …nothing we really want to do is outside our reach. Just imagine… if you want to reach the moon and give it a try… and you only make it halfway… think of all you have seen and learned along that truncated trip… all that you didn't know before. Just knowing you can try, allows you to dream, to look to a possibly better and different future and to a road full of wonders, new thoughts and views…

An old saying asks us to stop along the way and take the time to smell the flowers that Mother Nature gives us for free… In our “Oh So Busy” day-to-day world, we rarely take a moment to do it. When we do take it, we are given names like “dreamers” and “fools” who waste precious time. We worry so much about what others may think or say that our lives become unwittingly defensive and somewhat lost.

Unfortunately, it takes many years of survival and learning to be able to get to the point when we can honestly say we do not worry about what others may think … When we have accumulated enough emotional and maturity mileage to be able to say (and mean) “If you don’t like what I do… how I look or how I think … then… LOOK THE OTHER WAY!!! What a shame it takes for most people so much needless wear and tear and so much of life’s time to get to this important understanding…

Take the time...
Many friends and acquaintances of mine have issues and problems to spare, and precious little time in which to deal with them. I can’t truly say, no matter how much I would like to, that I am free of that weight; yet, those problems I carry along have materialized due to decisions made and I accept this. Along the way I have tried to walk a road that, because it has been longer and more difficult, has taken me to many places and people I would have never known otherwise. Is this a fair exchange? I will always think so, although I am sure this is not the right road for all to follow.  

I am anxious to meet the worlds I have yet to see while remembering with happiness the ones I have already lived; each has had its joyful moments and its painful moments; each one is the master of its own story line where we become a mere player within a continuing saga. Sometimes we are in a Fairy Tale… sometimes in a bit of history… sometimes in an incredulously sinister passage… Each one has its reason to be and each one requires us to pay a price of admission; if we are willing to pay it and to allow ourselves to be led, we can perhaps find ourselves in a comedy, maybe a horror story or who knows?... a beautiful love tale.

To enjoy it... 

Some years (OK… OK… many!) ago, during the end of my first infancy in Cuba, I had a radio show. There was this introductory verse I wrote to start the show and which I then re-wrote and adapted in English, to do the same for the shows I later hosted in CT and NYC… a very promising but sadly truncated “radio personality” career…

“Take my hands … Come with me…
Dare to dream… Dare to fly…
Don’t be afraid, I will not let you fall,
Let’s fly together in joy and peace
And explore what may be…

I promise you will not regret it…
Take my hands … Come with me…
Dare to dream… Dare to fly”

Fifty some years later, this is still my life’s motto… I hope it will never change.

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
  • “La Otra Caja de Pandora”… The Spanish language Blog… “”Bienvenidos!!!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The “Knickers” of Juanita la Mulata.

When we grew up in a country of those called from the “Third World”, in simpler times long gone, we had the chance to live experiences which in the so called “First World” countries would never happen…

But… before we go any further, I want to establish we are all inhabitants of the “Third World”… the coveted first world is a little too close to the sun and we would all burn to a crisp in seconds…

In my childhood years, in that beautiful island of Cuba, we lived a very different World then than what we have here, or there, or anywhere for that matter. We could roam the streets freely, the worst fear being that of becoming distracted somewhere and getting home late or, in a worst case, being the victim of a very unusual street accident… We could play with our friends, family and neighbors, constantly making someone else (or becoming ourselves) the butt of what now would be … GASP!!!... a politically incorrect joke. My Lord… to call someone “Negro” (Black) or “mulatto” (Mixed blood) to their own face!!!  To us, it simply was (and still is) an endearment term. But… how would all those who now turn red just by uttering “African-American” react? Methinks we tend to exaggerate far too many of the ideologies which are in vogue and which do nothing but create a fence around our minds, effectively cutting down the opportunity for direct, simple and open communication.

In those early years of mine, in that beautiful island to which I refer, there was social and racial prejudice. To say the contrary, would be to say a lie… But he thing is we did not have the brand of explosive and vitriolic prejudice which we tend to find in this, our adopted culture. 

¡Ah…  Juanita la Mulata! Even to my then still somewhat innocent eyes (Well… they were, you know…) as a young “old” child, she was a beautiful and very voluptuous woman in the prime of her sensual life... and she lived across the street from us. Setting the stage… my family lived in an old house, one of those houses built around the turn of the century (last century, that is), that you’ll find in the center of old towns. My dear grandfather, God Rest His Soul, had rented this shortly after his marriage, somewhen in the early 20’s… The rent was frozen (not just in NYC this happens, you know) and over the years it became a very low rent for a centrally located house.

My grandfather could have easily bought a house in then fashionable Punta Gorda area, with a beautiful view to the bay but… as a thrifty man, he opted to save his money for business investments and for his grandchildren’s education (including me)… something which I am sure the Castro bros. appreciated when they confiscated all the private bank accounts (as well as the banks) in the country. Besides, as a traditional “old-timer” he preferred to remain in that house, full of memories and where his only son grew his short years in this life, before a bout of TB took him away… He liked to walk every day, going the 2 blocks to Central park (Parque  Martí) and crossing it, in order to get to his office on the far side… this route took him by the Cathedral which was not only his “business” block neighbor but an old spiritual and ideological antagonist.

In these older quarters of the city, we had the “cuarterías”. These were older, large homes, which had been sectioned into “sub mini-apartments” where one or two of the original home’s room(s) became an apartment for a family. From here, the name “cuartería” since “cuarto”, in Cuba, was the name given to a room. In the city of Mexico they are called “vecindad” (vicinity) which lends the place a higher degree of given “sophistication”…

Well… let’s get back to Cienfuegos, which is the focal point of this discussion… Right across the street from my house, there was one of these cuarterias. The resulting mix of its inhabitants was more than interesting for it contained whites, blacks, mulattoes… even a Chinese family or two. Some of my childhood playmates came from this veritable mansion, although if truth be said… set in decadent ways… and they came in an assortment of sizes, colors, sounds and flavors. Maybe this is why some of my private school classmates didn't come to visit me at home often… too bad… they lost the opportunity to get to know Juana La Mulata…

In a country and culture based on restrictions born of an even earlier era and very dominated by the church, the concept of “sex” and Gasp!!!... to openly talk about this was a decided taboo. We could be excommunicated for life (all of them, here and thereafter…) It was also taboo to exhibit the totally indecorous female intimate clothing, for all the youthful flights of fancy they might engender. This was a moral challenge which had to be resolved in the practical aspect, when during summer mornings the knickers of Juana la Mulata were openly hung from the drying ropes to sway in the breeze, waving like a proud multi-color clan flag, while they would slowly dry in the tender care of the morning air.

The neighborhood kids, much like stealthy little bandit apprentices, took our turns to eavesdrop on these forbidden sights while imagining them covering, like chaste guardians (though easily removable from their post... that is... we heard...) those intimate parts of Juana la Mulata, this magnificent specimen of the Caribbean woman. Especially those ample buttocks which, when covered by these scant knickers and a very flimsy summer dress, would drive the neighborhood men (and several of the older kids as well) crazy as she walked by… each side moving like a small boat… up and down with every step… I mean… wave.

What delights!! To have been born in that “underprivileged” third world… To have shared in that crazy lifestyle which gave me such an unfair advantage over my eventual friends in that coveted “first world”. Not all are memories of the club or school or family gatherings. 

Many of these memories take me to a different world, a different plane; seems the world where I now live everything must be measured and categorized by what and how we say it… pasteurized, homogenized and deprived of flavor. 

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
  • “La Otra Caja de Pandora”… The Spanish language Blog… “”Bienvenidos!!!

Doña América and other memories.

I know she has already been mentioned somewhen along this line of sometimes unhinged memories as they relate to moments of my life , but y...