Thursday, June 24, 2010

Prejuicios y otros demonios

Por qué tenemos miedo a lo desconocido? Cuál es el trasfondo de no querer entender o aceptar más allá de nuestra zona de confort?

Alguien en algún momento nos dijo como debíamos ser, pensar, vestir y sobre todo, qué podíamos decir y decidir. Crecimos con ese patrón de conducta y temimos al poder de desafiar lo establecido. El concepto de regla es preconcebido, sin cuestionamientos, sin lugar a razonar.

Tener disciplina y guía cuando estamos tiernitos nos ofrece la posibilidad de crecer sin riesgos. Pero, nos garantiza vivir plenamente? Quién dice que lo aprendido y mamado es lo que más nos conviene? A quién le debemos gratitud por sentir limitantes constantes, por creernos capaces de juzgar a quien difiere de nuestro patrón recto de vida… y esto sin entrar en las profundidades morales de lo bueno y lo malo, si no a la simple estrechez de lo que no aceptamos.

Caminamos rumbo a la madurez pensando siempre en no fallarle a los demás, en no desafiar a la sociedad, en cumplir con la obligación de ser igual a los demás (o mejor), pero nunca nos permitieron entender o descubrir por qué; no nos enseñaron a tomar la responsabilidad de ir más allá, con todo lo que esto implica: caer, retar, sentir el rechazo, no ser aceptado, ser marginado, equivocarse… pero también descubrir otra forma de llegar, crecer, mejorar, volver a empezar y, muy probablemente, valorar lo aprendido desde la plataforma de la convicción.

El que se ha atrevido a salirse de los parámetros termina, inevitablemente, encontrando nuevos círculos de aceptación. Por qué no podemos coexistir? Por qué tenemos que migrar de un círculo cerrado a otro? Que nos impide ser únicos en cualquier lugar? Es el miedo a estar solos… es el temor al rechazo… a la crítica…es la nostalgia gregaria… es la falta de autoestima y la poca seguridad que nos acompaña desde nuestra infancia, cuando día con día nos embalsamaron el alma con el agridulce temor a Dios y nos enseñaron con ejemplo la poderosa arma de juzgar.

Una vez que aceptamos la posibilidad de ser distintos, que nace la necesidad de cuestionar, que decidimos crear nuestra propia verdad, empieza la lucha interna que muta diariamente entre coraje, valentía, tristeza, unas veces euforia y otras frustración, pero que no se siente como algo natural, algo que siempre debió ser. Caemos constantemente en el error de culpar a otros y envidiamos a los que aparentemente viven en paz.

El abrirnos a no ser conformistas no nos da derecho a faltarle el respeto a los demás. Qué difícil es quitarnos el nudo en el estómago ante lo que no consideramos familiar, normal, correcto. Pero debemos entender que no necesariamente lo es por decisión propia; lo que fue infundado no es real hasta que no nos convenza. Si en la lucha por tumbar nuestros arraigados prejuicios caemos en la intolerancia, entonces hemos escogido la batalla equivocada; hemos cambiado viejos demonios por nuevos.

No se trata de rechazar todo aquello que nos hace ser quien somos, ni tampoco de cambiar radicalmente nuestras creencias y valores. Simplemente es un proceso de cuestionarlo y convencernos de aquello que nos sirve para ser libres, sensibles, competitivos, generosos y sensatos, dejando de lado aquello que nos limita, nos infunde temor, nos hace creer superiores y nos hunde en un sentimiento constante de culpa.

Tomemos responsabilidad de nuestras decisiones y seamos leales y sinceros con nuestro compromiso de crecer diariamente; dejemos de culpar a los demás por lo que queremos ser y no somos. Aprendamos a compartir y aceptar que en esta vida, nadie tiene la verdad absoluta; todos tenemos derecho a equivocarnos, a experimentar en carne propia para subir un peldaño en la escala de madurez y tolerancia. Debemos convencernos de que si bien la perfección humana no existe, tampoco debería existir la mediocridad.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bread and circus

Sao Paulo, Brazil; June 15, 2010

Brazil in June… more precisely, Brazil in mid-June of 2010… A Brazil ready for South Africa and with the hope of the sixth - World Cup Championship.

Today was their first game and the people in Sao Paulo (not to say the rest of the country) were oh so ready. The streets were filled with flags, green-blue-yellow colors flying everywhere, and more importantly: businesses and schools only worked half day on a Tuesday. Yes, that is right: HALF. At first I thought, this should be a random concession given by the particular company where I am consulting for, but then, after all my local colleagues were eager to leave before 1: 30 PM (for the record the game was scheduled to start at 3:30 local time) and we were not able to get a taxi due to the massive calls requesting transportation at the same time, I started to wonder.

The streets were packed, the sounds of fire crackers and horns out loud and my colleague and I decided to stop at a shopping mall near by my hotel to grab a bite to eat and, well why not, to watch the game (while in Rome…). To our surprise, the mall was not crowded at all, and once we’ve got the fourth level where the food court and restaurants were located we realized not only offices and schools closed for the game… the majority of the restaurants were closed too! The only people inside some of the restaurants were their own employees, still wearing their uniforms, getting comfy for the event (because every single one of them had at least, a small TV, if not a HUGE screen).

We found one of the few places opened to the general public with - of course – a TV and watched the game while eating and trying to work; the first half was rather boring (nothing happened, not even a scary closed play), the opponent was a weak and scared south Korea, that was probably to overwhelmed by the idea of facing the legendary Brazilian national team – nothing else but the penta-champs! I have to admit that I am not too excited about the world cup since I don’t really follow soccer in general, so I was just joking and making funny remarks while waiting for Kaká to show us some skin. It was during the second half that both teams scored, two for Brazil -each one followed by screams, horns and claps coming from the apparently empty mall - one for Korea, but no shirts off (damned)!

I understand about sports, about passion and euphoria… it is not that I don’t know what it feels to see your team play and especially, win. But this is not just being fanatics or sports savvies… it is in their culture, in their blood; the country in general live for it. It happens every four years but it is something they embrace and await on daily basis. Their team is their hope; it is their way of feeling accomplished. One taxi driver told me one morning: “there are 157,000,000 national soccer team’s technical directors in Brazil” and everyone feels like they know what should’ve been done and what is wrong with the team, until it wins.

After the match was over, the images on TV from different public areas in the main cities of Brazil reflected millions gathered to celebrate, with music, drinks, singing and dancing like it was a carnival, and it was just the first win! What it is going to happen if the team makes it to the finals? And further more if they (god sped) are the CHAMPIONS!!!!

The world cup fever is everywhere; from Europe to Asia to Latin America, it is alive and flowing. Feeling so apart from it makes me realize how easy it can be to get involved in the collective hunger of having something to feel proud about, despite the fact that, especially in undeveloped countries (or should I say “under development”), the socioeconomic times are not the best; insecurity, corruption, lack of justice and opportunities, human rights being violated are the daily news. It just doesn’t feel right to get distracted and derailed from reality up to a point where the whole country gets the day off to watch a game… it seems like encouragement to remain numbed and how small a treat it takes – for some, even a tie is enough to celebrate wishing for the other teams within the classification group to be worse in order to pass to the next round.

For a country with five championships and the main exporter of professional soccer players to the European leagues, it almost seems normal to breathe and live for “futibol”. For other countries, it may be the national pastime and the perfect way to enjoy a couple (or more) cold ones after work. Mexico: what is your excuse?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Top 40 before 40

June 10, 2010

Some years ago I started thinking about all the things that I always wanted to do or achieve but never had the time, courage or means to pursue. By setting a goal based on an important milestone in life, I will try to complete as many as possible before my 40th birthday - exactly one and a half year from today.

Some of them I already did, some won’t be able to do, but at the end, the idea is to enjoy the process of planning and performing, as well as documenting every single one of them.

Here’s the list of my top 40 before 40:

1) Skydiving – risky but liberating. I have been flirting with the concept since I can remember and every year the idea seems to vanish.

2) Write a short story - that can turn into a novel or just something to remember me by.

3) Go to Greece – Athens and the Islands; experience a real Greek night with real Greek drinks and authentic Mediterranean style, honoring my recently discovered Greek name background.

4) Take singing lessons – if anything, just to keep singing – it can only get better.

5) Go to a Yoga retreat – nature, soul and spirit for at least one week. Oooommm.

6) Take a trip with my sister – anywhere, just the two of us.

7) Go to a baseball world series game - anywhere…but aiming for Fenway.

8) Take a sabbatical month in Irish countryside or the Italian Toscana – with my husband, my dogs, my laptop and my full inspiration to write

9) Go to a wine tour in Argentina, Chile, Spain or Napa Valley

10) Take my 4 goddaughters to a field trip – just us, no parents. How about Disney?

11) Go to Boston for St. Patrick’s Day weekend for the whole Irish-American experience: DKM concert, South Boston parade, pre-concert drinks at McGreevy’s, breakfast at an Irish Pub.

12) Take my father in law on a trip - to Spain, to Italy or Argentina, his choice, his rules.

13) Go to Cooperstown - on induction day?? Totally a plus.

14) Go to Michoacan to the Monarch butterfly sanctuary with my mom and Mia. They are in love with butterflies and I want to see their faces!

15) Go to Turkey with my husband – he has to experience with me the tastes and beauty of this magical country.

16) Take high cuisine classes – I want to learn how to bone a duck and make my own Filo dough; the seasoning? That’s all up to me to discover and improve.

17) Learn another language – leaning towards Portuguese or Italian.

18) Train Murphy – he has to be an educated dog before I am in my 40’s.

19) Go to the end of the world – more precisely, to the Argentinean Patagonia. I have to feel the ice and drink scotch (or wine) in that relaxing totally natural environment.

20) Read at least 50% of Borges’s complete work. We have it all, it is our collection, is about time to make time for it.

21) Get in shape! I have to make sure to be at my best before my best decade.

22) Go to a romantic getaway to Zihuatanejo…stay at Tides in one of their lagoon suites, watch the sunset and enjoy the sunrise with the best travel partner and friend I have ever had.

23) Join a charity; analyze the best choice for us and become part of it. Make a commitment with a cause compatible with our beliefs and life.

24) Organize and maintain our book collection, library stile – with indexes, files and library cards, not only for the book information but with space where we can write our book comments and personal ranking.

25) Go to an authentic Tablao Flamenco – feel and hear the passion of that gypsy music.

26) Adopt a cotton de Tulear – it was our favorite dog for the longest time, and never had the chance to find one.

27) Go to Montana – it is a state that has always intrigued me. Legends of the fall completed the effect.

28) Visit all the MLB Baseball parks where the Red Sox play.

29) Go to one of the Red Sox’s spring training

30) Go to a Red Sox – Yankees series, both in Fenway and Yankee Stadium

31) Take the Cooper Canyon train in Chihuahua, Mexico. Hopefully with the Sternberg’s.

32) Re-organize my childhood pictures and print the best digital pictures for the last 10 years to put them all in nice chronological albums; technology is good, but paper photos are timeless.

33) Go back to Guadalajara with my husband and the Sternberg’s. It is part of what we are and what we’ve become.

34) Take the California Coast road trip – US Route 101 all the way to Napa.

35) Finish Purple Red, my first children story.

36) Go to Eastern Europe – Czech Republic, Rumania and Hungry to be precise. Russia too? why not.

37) Research my family’s true background – for once and for all, to unveil the myth of my Irish heritage.

38) Go to a U2 Concert… I’ve never been to a rock concert in my life (believe it or not), so let’s make my first time grand.

39) Go to my best friend’s 40ed birthday celebration – and remain as close as we have been for more than 15 years.

40) Have a baby; find the path already written for us to become the best parents we can be.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Life according to me, lesson 21

Is when not feeling at your best that you realize how many good days are wasted sweating the small stuff. Wake up every morning with a good plan for the day and always make room for the pleasant day may not be an option.

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