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

There are Memories and then… There are Memories…

   Today, being Saturday and most things that needed to be done being so done yesterday, there was some time in which to do not much, so HB...