Funeral Tribute


Service BookletPrayers for Irina were lifted at St. John’s Cathedral in HK:

English Service @ the main Cathedral officiated by:
Reverend Hugh Phillipson

Russian Orthodox Service @ St. Michael’s Chapel officiated by:
Father Anton Seraphimovich

I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun
my last thread, I shall perish on the shore.
But swear by thyself, that at my death thy Son
shall shine as he shines now, and heretofore;
and having done that thou hast done…
I fear no more.


John Donne


A Tribute to Irisha expressed at the Cathedral Service by:  Joseph Pereira

“Thank you all for joining me today to Celebrate Irina’s Life.

Irina Antonia Sitnicova-Smolina… Irisha to me, touched our lives in her distinctive way and I believe, her bright spirit, will continue to do so through the many fingerprints she left in them.

She will always remain close in our memories and hearts as the beautiful, intelligent and caring woman that she was, immensely proud of her Country and her Cossack lineage, even when such fact would sometimes expose her to hardships.

Her strength and determination was forged and grew from the guidance of her close-knit family, her inquisitiveness and strong sense of self. Irina loved to learn, to explore and was a star student from her early days, a fact that; together with her height and good looks, made her a target for school bullies who kept pushing and abusing her on a regular basis… no matter how much her Grandmother would appeal to the teachers.

As tall and as strong as she was, Irina was born with a faulty “self-defense” gene and was simply not able to physically hurt anything willingly… She couldn’t throw a punch if her life depended on it.

But, she never forgot the price she paid for persevering to be the best… Instead, she used this inner-anger to fuel her determination to succeed and along the way, always fought to protect the rights of those in abusive situations; whether animal or human and many in HK have been blessed by her actions and stubborn determination to do so.

Like our dog “Maximilian Mozart”; simply Max to us, for example… A young pure-bread German Shepherd that had been locked in a small cage, abused by unscrupulous breeders until they were raided and shut-down by the Police, who was nothing but a lump of hairy bones that could hardly walk when Irina saved him a couple hours before he was scheduled to be put-down. I just rolled my eyes when I saw her carry this hairy smelly bunch of bones into our car and wondered to myself, what on earth is she thinking???

But she wasn’t “thinking” … She knew her “NORTH” and was doing what she did best… She was caring and loving ALL life instinctually. And of course, she nursed Max back to the healthy and beautiful 4 y.o. 51 kilo (112 lbs.) mountain of a dog that he is today.

They bonded through the process… both remaining loyal and by each other’s side until the very end. Together, they formed an awesome sight; two mighty “Russian Bears” which; although both peaceful and loving, often seemed to intimidate more than attract those that crossed their path.

Irisha was immensely creative and everything she touched bore fruit and became beautiful… starting with her beloved daughters.

To the Garden; which she transformed from a field of weeds to planting beds that blossomed into beautiful flowers.

To the Sewing Machine; which she masterly used to craft her uniquely designed shoulder bags out of old neckties and other creations.

To recycling and refinishing discarded furniture she would find along her walks, to molding clay; which she used to create the most intriguing figurines and Christmas dolls.

To the Kitchen; where she loved to bake deliciously aromatic breads… Baking bread was as sacred a ritual as praying in this Cathedral to our Irisha…

She would have Chopin or Mozart or one of her favorite Russian Ballads softly playing in the background and loud voices were strictly forbidden in her kitchen as she kneaded the dough, softly talked with it and shaped each loaf into life most of which she then would share with friends and neighbors.

Yet, for all of her persistence, excellent upbringing, education, loyal character, professional expertise and diversified skills, she wasn’t able to significantly break-through Hong Kong’s professional “wall” and most often wouldn’t even hear back from the many HR departments or recruiters she tried to work with…

This fact deeply hurt her even as she tried to hide it deep inside herself.

Like all of us, Irisha desired to be DESIRED.
To be useful and wanted.

So, she loved St. John’s and all of the people within it that welcomed her with open arms and made her feel loved and worthwhile.

People like Reverend Hugh Phillipson officiating this Celebration and his wife Ruth… her team-mates that serve the CLARES and all of you here today.

It was the highlight of Irina’s day to be here as often as she could to contribute to the CLARES and to pray for God’s protection and guidance in her life.

She asked for very little, I believe she deserved everything and now with God; her purpose fulfilled, she is whole and complete.

And so, to Irisha’s St. John’s Family, to all of our dear friends and her Russian family here today, let us REJOICE for her spirit even if it hurts us to do so… for I have no doubt that is what she would want us to do.

May our Irina’s passage from this hectic place to the Peace of God’s side, be a Celebration of Life that brings HEALING and HARMONY and BLESSINGS to all that knew and cared for her.

Finally, know that your presence, your prayers and your unfaltering support continue to be COMFORTING and UPLIFTING to her Bright Spirit, to her family and to me.

They do make a difference and…

We are immensely grateful to you all.”

Copyright, Joseph Pereira 2017-2020

NOTE: The CLARES is a 55+ year-old St. John’s organization, that raises funds for charities through their recycled article sales…

A Bright Spirit…


IAS JPsNotesDr. Irina Antonia Sitnicova-Smolina graced the world on the 2nd of March 1981 in the city of Vladivostok; within the Russian Far East.

She was awarded a PhD in Geochemistry and Geo-ecology, by the Russian Academy of Science and sailed around the world on the Russian tall-ship Nadezhda, as part of completing her thesis addressing ocean temperature fluctuations, tidal shifts, grey whale migrations, etc.

Irina was raised in a loving and close-knit family which fostered from an early age her inquisitiveness and taught her strong values, to be immensely proud of her Country and her Cossack lineage and to develop the brave and righteous traits we all noticed and loved about this amazing lady.

She was drawn to the ocean like her beloved grandfather who; from a very young age, would sometimes take her with him on his sea voyages and, she remained an explorer at heart, an avid reader, continuously fueling her never ending curiosity about everything.
A fact that in 2014, led to being selected by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); and to remain until her passing, as one of the members of the global scientific research team on its ‘Environmental Solution Initiative’ (ESI), actively working on understanding and addressing the impact of the human footprint on the planet’s environmental envelop.

She came to Hong Kong seeking better opportunities, after investing 6 years of working in mainland China with the Chinese Government; developing its environmental awareness programs, and teaching Environmental Science at the Chongqing University. Sadly… she never did find the opportunities she hoped for here.

Instead, she did find a welcoming spiritual home and HOPE in and through St. John’s Cathedral, becoming an esteemed member of the CLARES; a 55-year-old St. John’s led organization, that raises funds for charities through their recycled article sales and… we found each other, fell in-love and built our life together rooted on the foundation of our deep caring and belief in each other and in embracing the wonderful joint journey of nurturing and supporting one another and our families as a team no matter what, as well as, our joint belief in a merciful God.

We enjoyed four wonderful years – of what we thought would be a lifetime – together; although they were filled with professional and financial challenges and disappointments, this only brought us closer and never once came between us… we faced everything jointly and loved each other deeply in-between and through the challenges.

Then, rays of hope begun to shine through as she was offered a position as head of a scientific research team in the University of Padua… we were preparing and very much looking forward to leaving Hong Kong and heading to Italy with plans to build our own home somewhere in Europe; perhaps Portugal, perhaps Italy… didn’t really matter much to us.

We remained excited preparing for the new adventure until the fateful morning on September 15.

Irina and I had a lovely breakfast, we talked and hugged and kissed like we always do. IAS+Max-1BWe did a bit of work together and then at midmorning she told me she was going to the beach near our home for a swim with her dog Max… she asked me if I wanted to go but I said no, that I had things to do. When she didn’t return in a reasonable time, I went looking for her and found Max with his head out of the water, ever faithfully guarding her floating body.

The sea that she loved so much, took and carried my love in its fluid arms to heaven and left me here, broken hearted and grieving to this day.

Most importantly, Irina was a doting mother of two beautiful girls from her first marriage, whom she loved more than life itself and who will miss her dearly along with the rest of us all.

May her Spirit continue to shine ever-brightly in God’s presence.

Copyright, Joseph Pereira 2006-2016

No Point To It…


Droplets rolling down the span of glass between me and Namsan
race each other to the bottom edge
only to drop again onto the next span below.

Compelled by gravity…
No other cause nor point to it.
Sort of like this day…

on auto-pilot.
Passing because time does
with no cause nor point to it.

I had imagined something
quite different from this but
that’s just what minds do…

They are fluid and virtually give form
to impossible things from bits
of meaningless present conditions.

But hearts beat with fulfillment and ache
because they have been touched and…
that is how hearts react to touch.

Copyright, Joseph Pereira 2006-2016

New Possibilities…


LoveMy girls have boarded Cathay’s flight to LAX, under expansive blue Hong Kong skies and majestic puffy white cloud formations.

A good morning to start their new adventure; lives filled with unimaginable possibilities…

May they dream expansively and all of their dreams come true.
Copyright, Joseph Pereira 2000-2014

You are all you need…


At SMU Jul12Just had a delightful lunch with a good friend… unhurried quality time to let the mind meander and share what is individually important, what inspires and move us.

I am grateful for this and thought of you… my daughters; now wrestling with decisions that perhaps, you may not feel prepared to tackle.
Yet, you are so much better than the sum of such pointless fears and; when in-doubt, I know you to be Bold and rise above it all.

I am in a peaceful place for I know that YOU are all you need, all that is required.

May the short video below inspire you. You are much loved and never alone.

Copyright, Joseph Pereira 2000-2013

A Brand New Day…


A Brand New DayOne of the many things my Father shared that made a lasting impression, was his views on the importance of beginnings and endings, these he felt to be key components for one to live gracefully… to accept “gracefulness” in one’s life.

Specifically, that being “graceful” was determined by how one chose to “start” and “end” everything one engaged with and did. Of the two, that the style and quality of how one chose to “end” something far outweighed all other circumstances. Becoming the very essence of what remained deep within us – and much less importantly – what others saw and remembered.

I have had many opportunities to observe and confirm the trueness and power of my Father’s wisdom, but also, to admire the difficulty of living such seemingly simple concept. This because we humans don’t exist in a vacuum… our conscious thinking, reasoning and resulting actions this moment, are very much influenced; not only by all that surrounds us in the present, but also by what we remember… all that we often subconsciously, have accepted and let “sink in”.

Thus, it stands to reason that it is our subconscious we need to be mindful of and keep in-check, otherwise, it (we) could naturally and “ungracefully”, short-circuit our own best present intentions, our very ability to believe in and/or accept ourselves and dare to dream beyond.

So, as we “archive” 2012 and start this brand new year, both my Father’s words and a collection of 10 simple statements from the works of Dr. Joseph Murphy, remind me and inform this note… my sincere and best wishes to you all:

  1. We have the ability and power to attract and choose everything in our lives.
  2. If we think “good”, “good” will follow… we are what we think all day.
  3. Our subconscious mind will not argue with us, rather, it will accept what our conscious mind establishes and directs.
  4. Our conscious mind is the “watchman at the gate”. Its chief function is to protect our subconscious from registering false impressions. Thus, and as our greatest power is our capacity to choose, why not strive to do it positively and well for ourselves?
  5. All suggestions and statements of others have no power to hurt us unless we allow this to occur. As we have the ability to choose what we think and do, the only power we must be mindful of and grapple with, is the movement of our own thoughts.
  6. We must watch what we say and strive to account for every idle thought or word. It is counterproductive to think or say; “I will fail” or “I will lose my job” or “I can’t pass the exam”… our subconscious mind does not know we may be kidding… and it will subconsciously; lead us to actions that may drive such things to happen.
  7. Yet, our minds are not naturally evil. No force of nature is naturally evil. But, the quality of what we think and do will depend on how we choose to use the power of our natural selves. What if we chose to use our minds and actions to bless, to heal, and to inspire ourselves and all people we come in contact with everyday?
  8. What if we were to eliminate “I can’t” from our vocabulary?
  9. We can choose… we are the captains of our souls (subconscious mind) and thus, the masters of our fate. What if we chose Life? Chose Love? Chose Health? Chose Prosperity and to be Happy?
  10. Whatever our conscious minds assume and believe to be true, our subconscious mind will accept and bring to life.

This I believe…

May you all live this New Year presently and one moment at-a-time. May you all not judge what comes into your thoughts and life as either “good” or “bad”, for you are bigger and better than a momentary experience.

May you all boldly craft and live your own versions of success, health, wealth, love… and let such, brilliantly shine as a beacon of light from the amazing human individuals you all are.

Copyright, Joseph Pereira 2000-2013

Grand’pere…


Spike-1AA simple tribute to David “Spike” Shuppert… a.k.a. Grand ‘Pere, who – unexpectedly – rode his new bicycle from a park in Atlanta into God’s presence on the 18th of December, leaving us behind; a mesmerized group of family, friends and acquaintances… all touched by his life in our midst.

He lived and loved instinctively and all-at-once; as imperfect as the rest of us yet, undefeated by the fact, persevering onward and ultimately becoming the loving, caring and pivotal human being that we know him to be.

He moved-on in the same manner and we shall remember and miss him always as such.

To you my angel-friend David – and the rest of us here still – the final stanza of “A Hymn to God The Father” by the English poet John Donne…

I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun

my last thread, I shall perish on the shore.

But swear by thyself, that at my death thy Son

shall shine as he shines now, and heretofore;

and having done that thou hast done…

I fear no more.

Spike-2A

Rest in Peace and Love my dear friend.

Copyright, Joseph Pereira 2000-2012

The power of our humanness…


Regardless of one’s affiliations or belief systems, one of the most important conditions to reach for something bigger than ourselves is being “all in”; a deep emotional commitment permeating all we think and do which inspires and is fed by many along the way… ultimately reshaping who we are by the process.

Then, to recognize and THANK all of those without whose efforts, such achievement could not occur.

It is always inspiring and hopeful to witness when the inner strength imbedded within our human species is so openly expressed; when tears of gratitude can naturally flow from the strength of our own convictions.

Whether democrat or republican, winner or loser, regardless of geography, wealth or gender, it is “being all in” that makes us valuable, authentic and decidedly human. This I believe…

An open letter to my twin daughters…


Babes, this letter celebrates your life and specifically, the win and loss you two have experienced today.

I am extremely happy for you Nina, for having been elected to a leadership position in your dynasty and, my heart aches deeply and in-sync with yours Emily, for not having received enough votes in your own dynasty.

Oddly, the two extremes; happiness and heartache, empower and do not conflict with the immense overall pride and belief I have in you two; the real joy and quality your distinct and unique selves have always brought into all that you two have done and touched. This event today was no different.

Clearly, I would have loved if you both had been elected but, it did not happen that way and thus… I do not wish to diminish neither the sweetness of the victory nor the heartbreak and pain we ALL are experiencing side-by-side as a result of these events.

It is a significant honor to have been selected to represent your peers in the coming senior year, a fact which carries a good deal of responsibility… so Nina, I am proud and ecstatic in-sync with you. At the same time, it is painful to realize that all of one’s great efforts and the real creativity poured into campaigning and everything you touched did not produce the desired and hoped for results… so Emily, I am saddened in-sync with you.

That is the way things work-out sometimes; neither all good nor all bad… winning or losing by itself does not define the truly amazing women you two are, only your individual minds, hearts and actions can do so. We all are what we manifest; what we believe, accept and action for ourselves.

Only what each of you thinks and does matters…. no one else’s opinion or event makes any difference.

Your grandfather once told me that gracefulness – the key to being graceful – is determined by how we choose the “start” and “end” everything we engage with and do. Of the two, that the style and quality of how we choose to “end” something far outweighs all other conditions or circumstances. Becoming the very essence of what others – and more importantly – ourselves takeaway and remember deep within.

How you both transition and move forward from the positive and painful events you’ve experienced on this day, is what will become etched in your minds as noteworthy and memorable… so, it is my hope that you will choose what is true and right; by continuing to be that which “speaks” of the beautiful, intelligent and loving people you two truly are.

I am proud of and blessed by you both equally. I celebrate your victory and cry in your pain with equal passion.

More than anything else, I am thankful and overjoyed by your example and smile because no matter what, I have seen and know that you two are amazing limitless people who – enriched by this experienced – will continue to always do your very best.
That is what you both are and what you both know and do… all that is required. Everything else pales by the beauty and power of this.

I love you both immensely.

Much ado about balance…


People often refer to “balance” in life or in work as if it was something pre-determined and concrete; a line-in-the-sand or a clearly defined goal that once reached, would produce such imagined “balanced” state of well-being.

The problem I have with this is that to me, the concept of “balance” isn’t fixed; rather, it is an ever changing “living” component of our individual lives whose definition is as diverse as we humans are and thus, any discourse about this “balance” – like with art –really is a highly subjective matter.

Who is to say that someone’s hectic and seemingly exhausting life isn’t really perfectly balanced… for them? Or that someone else’s highly organized seemingly moderated and diverse lifestyle isn’t really a nightmare of control and blandness to be avoided at all cost… for others?

In the past few years as “work-life balance” vision, objectives and words found their way into corporate statements and our own wistful vernacular, I have come to consider such as “unbalanced”; superficial “flannel”, which does little more than add noise and possible dissent into our corporate and private lives.

It is a relatively modern trend to view “work” as something singular and different from an individual’s “life”, but I’m reminded and offer that there should not be such a clear distinction between the two; that they are in-fact interdependent, each an integral part of the other and each – at times – requiring that more focus be given to one over the other.

For I can’t imagine living possible; in balanced ways or otherwise, without actually working at producing something in real-time; be it the pollen a flower produces for dissemination by bees and wind, to everyday necessities we acquire by the application and exchange of our life skills, to the contribution we make as we guide our babies to hopefully grow into the “next generation” of productive people.

All subject to daily external influences which impact and alter our lives and how we may have to modify our reactions to engage and deal with such influences moment by moment.

The idea that these and all other evergreen “productive life” components which together contribute to an overall life-on-the-planet balance of sorts, should each have and follow some form of prescribed self-balance – even if we could actually come to agree on what that “balance” should be for us as a species – is flawed and unreachable me thinks.

Have we – in our relative affluence – grown softer and more demanding of what is “due to us”?

Do airline pilots, typically regulated to fly about 40 hours per month, have more “balance” in their lives than the average Western individual working 60 hours per week… or a person working 18+ hours per day in an Asian factory? Which amount of work vs. “work-free” time, and/or “level” of balance within ourselves should we be striving for?

What about our poorer and distant neighbors… the folk elsewhere in Africa and India for example, scouring nearly around the clock for the means of basic survival such as finding relative safety, drinkable water and food of any kind that we, with our self-induced complicated lives, take for granted as a basic given? Do they need or even think about “work-life balance”… or is having the gift of actually waking-up breathing yet another day, hopeful of being able to make it all the way through to the evening with – perchance – some improvement, balance enough?

Perhaps our search for “balance” is a distracting cause; the wrong value to use when assessing ways to enhance our human existence holistically and in a sustainable productive manner. For all of us still breathing – in all of our wondrous diversity – manages to achieve our own reality based version of a “balanced life” if not on a daily basis, certainly over a period of time.

Remarkably, I believe our existential needs remain largely unchanged over the thousands of years our animal species has been around… regardless of gender and varying levels of modern day complexity, we are basically a “caves & commons” species; requiring security and solitude for self-reflection, healing and survival, as well as, communal engagement and interaction to give & take, lead & support, fight & love, reproduce & evolve to live another day.

The fact we may believe this ought to happen more gracefully or in a more even manner, albeit interesting, does not determine the overall worthiness; the blended achievement occurring in our current everyday lives… as “imperfect” as we may think such to be.

* Published in the Good Men Project: “Much Ado About Balance

Manhood…


I clearly recall how throughout my childhood, my father would introduce me to his friends as his son… the experiences and how he did this always making me feel I belonged with them; in my mind as tall and every bit the man he and his friends were. Thus, I weighted and agonized over Father Antonio’s vivid lectures on eternal damnation, just before deciding to risk it all in a darkened church abbey, to share my first kiss and experience what a female breast actually felt like. We were 15, had been practicing all afternoon for a play our church was producing and after such mutual exploration; as I walked my friend home that early evening, there was adventure and joy in my spirit, as well as a lingering erection, all reinforcing the dizzying weight of such early manhood event.

Roughly one year later, below that same abbey, I stood an all-night-vigil over the body of another friend who drowned whilst we were all body-surfing on the beach a few days earlier. My friend with the nice boobs sat with the women and mourned on one side of the open coffin whilst silently, I had my rightful place with the men on the opposite side; where every now and then, one would come by to pat me on the shoulder, reminding me to “be strong” and I – a 16 year old “man” – forced myself to say nothing, to not cry as a hurting little boy would.

Soon after everything in my life begun to reinforce such presumed manhood; hunting with my father and his man-friends, working in a gas-station after school to save for my first car, informing my sexuality as I continued discovering the diversity and intricacies of women’s bodies, getting high and having wild sex under black-lights to Jimmy Hendrix’ licks, saying hell-yeah; when my country told me I was going to be a fighting man… my voice deepened with purpose as did my mind and bravado.

In my 20’s, I was the first man on the line carrying my father’s casket into another church’s nave and stood erect by its side with my left hand on the lid, listening to our favorite Schubert’s “Ave Maria”; for the first time in a long while feeling very alone and unprepared; a child’s soul in a man’s body, carrying the responsibility this first son of the first son now had as the head of our family. Something within me wanting to get the heck out of there and shout – this isn’t right… I’m just a big kid… I’m not ready to bury my father! Yet I stood frozen, said nothing and kept placing one foot in-front of the other, to get through that immensely hurtful day and most of my 30’s.

I continued to do the best I could and grew professionally, learning to fly with and without an airplane. Everything around me relentlessly reinforcing such growing manhood status; better cars, bigger risks, adventures in new exotic places, different women always exciting and quirky, social status and finally; just before crossing into my 40’s, standing once again in another church’s altar and saying “I do”… feeling sure enough about the “sense” of it all to wonder; “why not?”.

Why not? Again I thought as I held my tiny 3.25 pound twin daughters in my arms… why not girls as the first son of the first son; up to now unprecedented in our family? With expanding professional and personal responsibilities I learned to love, care for and watch them grow from far-away places; swooping-in to hug, enjoy and introduce them to my friends as “my daughters”… the thought of succession or manhood never once crossing my mind then or as they grew into the amazing beautiful women they are becoming.

Through my 50’s, I wrestled for the first time with the concept of my own mortality; internal conflicts over being older than my father ever lived to be… and also for the first time, found myself exploring and contemplating what THIS man truly is and how he fits within MY greater concept of manhood. The 60’s loomed on as my daughters reached 16; the circular aspects of my evolving manhood as related by this piece evident, crystal clear and in its rightful place as I realize and embrace all that I and my daughters are today without reservation or regret… sure enough to share with you all here the crux of my self-discoveries thus far as a man…

That manhood isn’t time, age, society or gender defined. That beyond real biological, chemical and cultural differences, manhood simply is another word for what we believe, choose for ourselves and take the responsibility to action… by this, what we attract and choose to accept as who we are. I am now – as a man – every bit the relatively happy little boy I was when my father “showed me off” to his friends. Every bit as sexually curious as when I first groped my friend’s memorable breasts… I still move forward one step in front of the other, not always comfortable but filled with expectation and hope nonetheless.

None of us know how long we will be around or what will happen when it is time to move-on. But I am at-peace and immensely hopeful as I imagine a future impacted by my daughter’s lives… I for one will not tire learning from them and encouraging these amazing girls into experimenting and being all that they were created to be; not as societally directed “women” or “men” but as limitless human beings – the true essence of what I believe Manhood or Womanhood is about. I’ve no doubts I will not be disappointed and, when the time comes, will die with a smile on my face knowing that; because they “are”, all will be well with the world.

* Published in the Good Men Project: “Limitless People

Ingenuity and our wondrous Planet Earth…


A pictorial essay...

Someone in Melbourne (I think) compiled an interesting collection of photographs into a pictorial 2011 Christmas card, which went “viral”.

I came across the image collection through an email from my good friend Frank Cheff.

The images so aptly illustrated both; human creativity and the many natural wonders of our amazing little planet, that I felt compelled to learn more about them and share the result with you all…

May you enjoy it as much as I have.


.
You may see and/or download this pictorial essay by clicking on this link;

Ingenuity and our wondrous Planet Earth…

The Green Thing…


Tom Lund, a very special and dear friend, forwarded an interesting chain-email titled the “Green Thing”, that I found to be noteworthy of the need for us all to have “perspective”, whilst considering how to simplify our lives. So, without further ado, here it is (source unknown) with some minor editing for this blog.

Checking out at a store, a young cashier suggested to an older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment.

The woman apologized and explained, “We didn’t have this ‘green thing’ back in my earlier days.”

The clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.”

Grocery Store #1

A Grocery Store - THEN...

She was right; older generations didn’t have “the green thing” back in their day.

Back then, they returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store which sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so they could use the same bottles over and over in a more genuine recycling manner.

Then, people walked up stairs, because they didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. They walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time they had to go two blocks.

Back then, they washed the baby’s diapers because they didn’t have the throw-away kind, dried clothes on a line by wind and solar power, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts, and kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

Then, there was only one TV, or radio in a house not a device in every room…. and such TV had a small screen perhaps the size of a handkerchief, not a screen the size of the state of Rhode Island. In the kitchen, they blended and stirred by hand because they didn’t have electric machines to do everything for them. They packaged a fragile item to send in the mail by using wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, they didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn… instead, they used a push mower that ran on human power. They exercised by working so they didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills operated by electricity.

Example of an American grocery store aisle.
…and NOW.

Then, they drank from fountains when they were thirsty instead of using cups or plastic bottles, they refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying new ones, and replaced the blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because it got dull.

Back then, people took the streetcar or the bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. They had a couple electrical outlets in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power dozens of appliances and they didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

Still, the current generation laments how wasteful old folks were just because they didn’t have the “green thing” back then…

Whilst it is true that many a selfish old person could use a lesson in conservation from a “smart” young one, it would be wise to have some perspective and keep in-mind that old folk – whom typically don’t like being “old” in the first place – may get pissed-off easily.

Well done Tom… thank you for sharing.

2011 in Review


The 2011 WordPress Annual Report for: “From Here with Love…

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,800 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 47 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

In the desert…


There’s a crescent moon rising now halfway up the prayer tower. There’s a cooler quality to the dry desert air and all of the “sand” colors have been muted into invisibility by the dark velvet of night… the twinkling of lights here and there bringing the firmament up close and personal to the senses and everywhere, the din of Farsi mixed with Russian, French, Spanish and other versions of chattering, all blend into a white-noise language unique to the Middle-East.

Surrounded by every size and shape of slick European cars, the sight of a Volkswagen becomes an incomprehensible absurdity as seen through the exquisite dark eyes of imagined beautiful Arab women bent on impacting this world so different and juxtaposed to all else known.

Another long day comes to a close… and with it, the realization that I left shoes at a stall elsewhere in the city. The shoeshine man is from Cameron and over the course of these past few days we’ve disagreed on football superstars, agreed on the fine qualities of Portuguese creole cuisine and his shoeshine skills, solved a fair bit of a number of Middle-East crisis and have become friends.

No doubt my shoes are safe and having their own adventure with other Arab footwear on this magical night. Looking forward to learning all about such adventures in the morning when I’ll make may way back to retrieve them.

One of the doormen to this grand paradise hotel I’m in is named Birry… he is from Kenya. He opened the foreign car door and eased me into the fine scented leather interior for my ride to the office this morning and he opened the door and eased me out when I returned tonight; Birry ‘s pulling over a 12 hour shift so far, spanning temps from 30 to 45 degree C. whilst wearing a long formal coat over a crisp white shirt and black trousers. Birry is slowly cooking day after day with the most amazing bright smile that some of us would pay thousands to get our own choppers to resemble.

Over the past few days, we’ve discussed and came to an agreement on what the ideal uniform for his function ought to be… we’ve had a few laughs over this.

Bisel greets everyone by our correct last name at the Italian restaurant I seem to gravitate to now and then… she is from the Philippines and smiles a lot when she talks about “home” yet, she quickly reminds me about how fortunate she is to be able to stand and greet people 12+ hours day-in and day-out six days per week, in this very large and pleasantly cool marble carved lobby. She taught me a trick she does with her feet and legs to fool them into not cramping.

Her amazing mind shames me for not remembering to pick up my shoes, her smile and attitude teaches me to be thankful… She too is etched into this experience.

Then there is “L”, she is tall and slim, a uniquely pretty Eastern European woman who followed her Eastern European lover from London to here hoping to have a life with him… alas, it didn’t work out as he left and never came back on the second day of arriving; which she claims these things happen for the best; as she wraps the Juicy Couture hoodies I bought as a gift for the girls. She too touched me and, as we wished each other well before leaving the store, I think we both knew we would remember the connection.

Outside, tall and proud Arab men in their long white thobe’s are everywhere, walking in pairs whilst fingering prayer beads or the silk ropes draped over their chests, they generally keep to themselves… but invariably they look at me; dressed in my Ermenegildo Zegna dark suit, crisp white shirt and gold tie, often say; ” As-Salāmu `Alaykum “… this is a thrill and I dare not say anything choosing instead to smile and sometimes offer a polite semi-bow; for fear of shattering their illusion that I belong… my innocent play reinforcing how remarkably alike we all are in spite of our externally perceived differences.

Easy for me to imagine this place with no buildings; nothing but sand and sky void of all further choreography, to “see” those that walk erect on two legs within it take on a different scale; becoming giants – anomalies – the focal point for all action and life itself. Perceived in this manner, it is easier to grasp the natural Arab ethos that to the outside world may seem like pride and aloofness.

Therein lies the fundamental misunderstanding – the rat hole – most Westerners get lost in me thinks… because we simply have never been part of the great womblike void this mother-desert is, we’ve never been that prominent nor the focus of our own selves… we’ve always had background choreography to replace the need for that stark self-awareness.

It is so spirit expanding and good to be an accidental stand-in on such a complex play.

In the Land of the Blind


.
In the presence of so many blessings
there is deep regret
for blinding foolishness…
erroneous beliefs of permanence;

that all will remain as so manifested…

A continuum; definitions
of cause and effect
luring unsuspecting spirits
into ease.

But all is fluid, one discovers
upon awakening.
Such blessings are jewels to be
admired and treasured…

on the moment, forevermore

Gifts; precious and
of immense importance.
Presents,
in spite of our slumbering state.

For blessings
shower upon us all, within
every unquestioned breath
a gift.    Yet…

these things filter through; distorted
as happy coincidences, or
part of a natural order… or
the result of self-efforts

and thus, beyond our ability
to truly grasp their worth…
yet so full of ourselves
we are.

Regrets yes; over such
missed opportunities
to appreciate and fully see,
these remain…

now vivid, clear and stark
all the more…
the wistful regret of slumber
within a awakened state of awareness.

What shall I say…?

Child do not your heart
shield, from the wonders
you’ll find as your eyes open
and your body moves

in such wondrous first light…

Feel them…
as loving kisses; powerful,
sustainable well beyond
the day’s adventures.

Loose not yourself;
too valuable and
brilliant you are… mistrust
and question the blind’s directions.

Be the Cyclops…!

Lindenhof…


There are bits imbedded within our human-ness that wait… dormant-like, for a clue or a scent to trigger the opening to something that is deep and meaningful; the warmth of comfort… of being where one’s subconscious syncs to (at a most intimate level), as familiar and safe.

“Home” as a concept, lies in the depths of such comfort.

This can be disconcerting for roamers such as me, who have grown to know home as where one happens to be. Thus, such experienced warmth and comfort is the more surprising when it awakens deep desires within of permanence and intimate connections which are strange and foreign to our otherwise practical truths.

A longing for conditions one imagines; the ease between self and the newness of such spontaneous urban settings, the smile of strangers perceived so powerfully positive they effectively override our adopted reality with such present moment’s perfection.

Words and images struggle to relate the experience… how may one capture the melodic chirping of fleeting birds weaved through fragrant rustling leaves and the playful giggles of little people all around a couple; so intertwined into a long lustful kiss they meld with the background… now part of the permanence of stone, brick and mortar unfazed by time and sense of space?

Such as experienced on a recent walkabout in Zurich… touched by the dynamism and beauty of the place and its people.

Father’s Day – 2011


My Father and Me…

He was tall, strong, always kind and bigger than life to me – his son; someone he would break his bearing for, to lean over and welcome me into his “space”…

…Which of course I always looked forward to; from as young as I can remember to an early evening in my early 20’s when we unknowingly exchanged our last hug… he died a few hours later, for his fragrance and essence never changed nor waned from my memory over time.

Through all these years since his passing; as I’ve argued, rebelled, mourned, finally settled on the event and just plainly missed him, I find myself returning to those memories for comfort and reprieve, always reaching the same conclusion; that he is my champion and my “hero” still… to hell with the undeniable physics of matter, space and time…

… For that which is vibrant in one’s heart, mind and spirit truly is “real” in a most powerful way; so it is still between my father and me.

His presence remains through powerful memorable moments such as; tagging along for an evening gathering with his friends and invariably dozing-off on his lap – head leaning on his strong chest, small hands holding on to his large thumb – whilst they chatted away or listened to one of his friend’s piano rendition of a Chopin sonata… the safety of his arms combining with his fragrance and the languid melodic sound, told me all was well with our world… the memory does so still.

Whether holding me as a kid and much later, finally relenting and letting me go start my own adventures, my father exemplified rather than spoke the constancy and power of his love for me; the first son of the first son… an unbreakable link regardless of circumstances.

As far as I can tell, my father lived his life as a constant; with authenticity and balance between who he was as an individual; the elder sibling within a long-established clan, the steady head of our family, the creative professional, the wise leader and as my father. Growing-up, he embodied and demonstrated all I eventually determined to be wholesome, bold and desirable for myself… a personal ethos worthwhile striving to mimic and achieve.

This Father’s Day, several decades and much life later, I find that I’m still actively working on understanding and practicing his essence; to reach parity with his deeply rooted baseline – let alone surpass it – as I had aimed to achieve back when I ventured-out on my own.

So you see Dad, albeit everything is different from what you and I thought and knew back when we were together, nothing has changed between you and me. Your essence reaches and holds me still when there’s need for your inspiration, wisdom and love, and you are loved back unequivocally, with a quality and will that perhaps would not have been possible to feel or manifest had we remained within our physicality; the connection’s strength and trueness somewhat diluted by mundane events and circumstances.

I celebrate your name, your life and your memory father, may you rest in peace and know you are loved well.

* Published in the Good Men Project: “Between My Father and Me

Because they said so…


We can all think of several authors and other sources of “wisdom” focused on distilling complex situations and ideas into catchy headline statements; simplistic and easy for all to remember. Such is the case with one that I recently came across proposing… “Pissed-Off People Are The Single Best Source Of Innovative Ideas”.

The good news is that; blended within the bold graphics and bolder bullet point statements, one can sometimes find jewels of sound logic and truths to be discovered and extracted if one is willing to think-through them and probe. The worry however, is that some may take these headlines at face-value and thus, miss the subtle truths (if any) that may have been intended and/or buried within them.

In the case above, the proposition may make a good headline but it simply isn’t factual or logical. Listening to “Pissed off” (PO’d) people may be a good and fast way to “get the drift” on a topic this person obviously “rants” for attention, but that doesn’t mean such topic is worth half of the commotion it raises… this PO’d person may be an idiot, or someone who likes to find fault with most things and forcefully complain about them… this is a far-cry from such condition being “the single best source of innovative ideas” me thinks.

Frustration and anger (expressed and otherwise) can be powerful motivators to change any status-quo, but so can altruism and community, intellect and responsible values; as well as many other conditions and choices nowadays… which may or may not lead to one getting PO’d, which may or may not lead to anything else.

Ideas – let alone innovative thinking – deserve better than this. They fit and squarely belong within the realm of our curious human nature and ingenuity… as ably inspired by the blossoming of a blade of grass as by one thousand raised voices.

To be fair, perhaps the author meant that it is necessary to reach a PO’d state in-order to truly explore new directions. Perhaps he believes that such anger is the byproduct of being convicted about a solution and as such, should be regarded as a positive force for change. Maybe the author meant to express that apathy is creativity’s own sedative and anger its natural antidote; the result of one’s amplified understanding of what is wrong… thus, a natural trigger for action to make it right. That maybe a PO’d state is a necessary agent for creative innovation to happen… (Such interpretations as offered by several colleagues (1) discussing the topic.)

Two people in a heated argument...

Image via Wikipedia

But we truly don’t know this from either the catchy headline or the body of the material and can only speculate about what the author meant, or accept the statement as is because they said so.

Whilst it is true that humans were not designed to flat-line our emotions; that there is benefit in expressing and getting to know such emotions and their source intimately so that we may decide what is valuable to explore and further pursue and what is not… most often, what generates anything “innovative”, is this process of facing, admiring and exploring such strong swings within ourselves first, which will most often bring our minds and spirits into a more calm, balanced and creative analysis state.

When that happens… people, as well as our selves, will be generally more receptive to listen and actually act on such considered change.

Our mind, spirit and the quality of our conversations are “the source”; all that has ever been needed to bring our species from cave-dwellers to cosmic travellers within a relative blink of an eye. No one’s statement (inclusive of this monologue) should be accepted as definitive or replace our individual responsibility to think, reason and decide what is right for ourselves.

This I believe…

(1) – Lene, Frank, Steve, Colleen, Vlad and Tina

On Age and Usefulness…


Beyond Stereotypes

Social demographic studies show – for all of the improvements and advances achieved over time and still evolving within “developed economies” – that society’s focus (value perception, investment, etc.) continues to be on what generally is perceived to be the most active and productive segments of populations.

A graphic representation of this would be similar to a classic bell-curve where; the Y axis=productivity and the X axis=age demographics map such “active and productive” focus at the upper mid-third of the chart.

In short, both EARLY developmental and LATE experiential rich societal stages receive peripheral attention and such, mostly to help “feed or compensate” for variations within the hi-productivity stages… We’re under-estimating /preparing our youth for global competitive challenges, under-supporting /over-stressing those within the hi-productivity cycle, and under-valuing the contribution of those on the downward slope.

Plainly, the “developed world” has done a mediocre job at preparing, supporting and valuing its population’s contribution holistically… However, this isn’t surprising in-light of the economic and cultural complexities and pressures at-play within such “developed world” and the general morose (the belief that things are the way they are and will always remain so) of those most affected by such imbalance. Nevertheless, this focus isn’t efficient or sustainable as the “effective distance” between economic needs /demands (productivity) and established population usefulness-cycles continues to diametrically polarize and grow.

As I see it, it is myopic to not fully support and tap into the early innovative / late experiential rich potential that is fueled by the power of the human spirit and growing from population’s exposure to wider educational accessibility, ubiquitous information technology and life-sciences efforts that effectively are driving a rise in “quality longevity”…

Image via Wikipedia

Blue=Developed - Tan=Emerging - Red=Underdeveloped

Thankfully, this is beginning to happen and several efforts are now underway within developed economies currently experiencing “insufficient new talent-pools & rising productivity pressures”, aiming to improve such educational inefficiencies and counter-productive displacement (retirement) policies, which in-time should ease the slope (as a more gradual curve) into and from the hi-productivity segment of population life-cycles, but these efforts; which carry yet not fully understood /vetted financial consequences and benefits, cannot succeed without the desire, awareness and the inclusion of productive “voices” from those of us within either end of the current productivity scale to the discussion.

As intelligent humans, we must be less accepting of default stereotyping and instead; truly WANT, DESIRE and DRIVE CHANGE… first within ourselves, then within society as in; developing and assuring wide access to comprehensive/innovative educational curriculums and meaningful productivity options whilst committing the time and ourselves to really engage whilst continually learning and contributing. As well as, shed our all too common malaise… prejudices and “been there done that” experiential staidness that subconsciously keep us from remaining actively engaged, curious and collaborative… looping back often to guide, mentor and facilitate those in the earlier two productive stages even if it isn’t mainstream or “cool” to do so.

To be successful and lasting, Big, Bold Shifts; insofar as “age”, “productivity” and “usefulness” stereotyping must begin first within each of us thus, exemplifying and leading the way to a more efficient, valuable and balanced alternative.

This I believe…

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