Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

Wise Friend,

I went to a community dinner. I didn’t like the surroundings. I joined, hoping to interact with people from that city.

In the beginning, I chose a table and sat next to Myra, a lawyer formerly from Mexico City, a lovely lady with a great sense of humour.

Later, Pat and her two daughters joined our table. There was something so humble about her. She mentioned somebody had invited there and she didn’t know people around the room.

I told myself she must have been a single mother and probably that someone invited her for being relatively poor.

Sweet Friend,

I wonder why?

Wise Friend,

I asked Pat if she was working. “I wish I would. However, I’m on a sabbatical after fifteen years working on community committees. I wonder if this isn’t a waste of my degree.”

I replied that it was a fantastic idea, muttering something about being able to afford the break concerning putting bread on the table.

Pat said her husband had been very generous since the children were born.
“Hmmm!!!,” I thought. So Pat wasn’t poor!

Sweet Friend,

Funny, isn’t it?

Wise Friend,

Myra, the lawyer, moved her seat closer and asked Pat from where she knew her. Pat mentioned her full name and Myra seemed satisfied with the answer. I was clueless.

Three of us chatted about children, dyslexia and schools.

Pat left. I told Myra that initially, I had thought Pat was a poor single mother. Myra laughed and said that Pat was the wealthiest woman in the city (I’m not sure if in that community only or, in the city at large). Pat’s husband did not support her financially, as she was wealthy herself coming from an extremely wealthy family.

Myra knew Pat from the media, as Pat frequently had appeared in newspapers and on TV organising this or that event, donating vast amounts of money to this or that charity.

Sweet Friend,

Wow!!! How far from your initial assumptions!

Wise Friend,

Wow, indeed! My dearest son has been begging forever not to make any assumptions. Each time I think back to that evening I smile and my son comes to mind.

I reflect on my experience with these communities. As I travel, I found a way to join events of local communities. I met many comfortable, wealthy women in Sydney, Beverly Hills, Houston, NYC, and elsewhere. Many times, I heard wealthy women dress ostentatiously, wearing glittering fabrics and jewels. I never witnessed that.

I visited beautiful homes and met elegant women, but nothing glittery as such. Clothing-wise, I noticed modesty and elegance. Sometimes, though rarely, some dress in bad looking and or cheap clothing. Maybe some great jewellery though not excessive. ,

Even at evening events women rarely expose their backs, wear extremely short hems or low-cut dresses/blouses.

Now, I’m wondering about these comments about wealthy women, both from the outside and inside the communities as such.

Sweet Friend,

You are very observant about life. Reading your emails is like watching a movie.

Wise Friend,

I went to Houston to meet some new acquaintances. I was there for a week.

Sensitive Friend,

“Acquaintances?” Who, besides the British uses that word? I find people expect me to call them “friends” since calling them “acquaintances” hurts their feelings.

Wise Friend,

I experienced the same. I can afford to be precise with you. Such a relief!

 

I

I toured Houston in stages.

On my way to meeting them at their office, by the tollway, all areas are flat. I lost my way, and I didn’t like the neighbourhood. I knew I was close, but how close?

I was driving back and forth under the tollways/freeways, faced with concrete strips and poles sustaining those strips. It was a dry image from a movie of cities without souls. I imagined myself living in Houston, and I already felt trapped for years in an unattractive city.

On my way back I drove again by concrete sustaining concrete, concrete running by concrete, concrete running under and above concrete. It wasn’t for me!

Also, I could not find even one classical music radio station or even one with political commentaries.

Sensitive Friend,

I don’t remember Houston being so dreary. Hmmm!

Wise Friend,

Next evening, Jeff, one of the guys, hired a 15-seat van and took us around, showing us Houston’s beautiful suburbs. The city has a lovely downtown, alive in the evenings. A stadium built downtown years ago revived the nightlife.

Its medical centre is humongous, a city inside a city. Hospital near hospital, a place to get lost and treated if needed. “If you want to be sick Houston is the city. It’s at the same level with Boston” (I hope we never would need that.)

Houston has beautiful architecture and stunning mansions on charming streets with wonderful gardens.

Some of their high risers have a very delicate design. The Transco Tower, near the Galleria, is tall and slim with vertical lines created by its relief and attracted me the most. It’s the tallest skyscraper in the USA outside of a downtown area. Whatever this means!

Jeff took us around golf courses, and parks, along jogging allays and walking paths.

I asked Jeff about classical music radio stations. He pressed a button and Voila! 92.1. He pressed another button—political commentaries!

It rains frequently, and therefore Houston is lush. Next day, I looked out of the windows their office. This was my fourth day in that room. This time I saw the greenery of this city—a sea of treetops from grey-green to bottle green and in the distance the elegant skyline of Houston downtown. The things our mind filters based on wants, fears and again those so self-limiting assumptions!!

By now, I warmed towards this city.

Many questions welled up. I concluded that I don’t know how to visit a place, that I need to return again and again, force myself to open my mind and with it, my eyes would open beyond my assumptions.

Sensitive Friend,

The same goes for some books. When I joined the Proust club in my city, I repeatedly remarked I had not read it correctly. I had read it differently. Indeed, I had noticed and interpreted things in a novel way from the others, but we all missed on parts, depending on our interests and background.

When I miss on details, guilt overwhelms me for at least 30 seconds.

Travelling, like fine arts, antiques, and music, requires experience continuous drilling, keeping in touch, and probably some talent.

It can’t be done from home, books or libraries.

(Photo – pixabay)

Wise Friend,

Parents need to show children what is beautiful around them, while very young.

Sensitive Friend,

What happened?DXTE34-1024x682

Wise Friend

I’ve become more and more aware of walking by beautiful objects, be it art, flora, buildings and not noticing them. Always focused on the final destination. I remember how families in the neighbourhood went camping, hiking. Not us. We had extraordinary parents. They were not nature people. Their focus was on art, books, and literature.

Sensitive Friend,

That focus (art, literature, music) is about beauty.

Wise Friend,

Yes, but it was not about the beauty in nature. I love what they offered us and how much all that has enriched our lives forever. However, we missed on learning how to look around. It’s not a reproach about them, it’s an observation. Each family with its own quirks.

Sensitive Friend,

What brought these thoughts to mind?

Wise Friend,

Last night I was walking along my street. For some reason, I was slow and looked around at flower beds, at buildings, their hedges and gates. I looked at views between buildings of valleys and mountains. I noticed details I missed for months. I said to myself: “Those first seven years at home!”

When I was an adolescent, and during my university years I went frequently hiking. Long gruelling hikes. I used to be very effective in reaching the destination of the day. The mountains were steep and impressive.

I didn’t know I didn’t see them. I loved hiking, though. During one such hike, a close friend told me, quite annoyed, we have to stop and look around and we can’t just push ourselves to reach the final target. I didn’t like what he told me. I stopped in my tracks to accommodate him. I forced myself to look at nature. I loved it, but my body wanted to start moving. I decided on the spot to let my friend decide the pace.

In time, I admitted I lived in an incredibly beautiful country, and I never saw it, although I hiked all around. I didn’t know how to see. Friends would talk about a place or another, describing them, describing their magnificence and I remembered nothing. I knew something was strange, but I didn’t know what.

Sensitive Friend,

The capacity to identify and discern subtleties requires love, passion and persistence.
This is true of any type of art and true for hiking or mere walking as well. A taught, imbued, and educated love.

Wise Friend,

I started to see (notice the surroundings) only in my twenties. What was the trigger? Maybe, because I lived for a few years in a place quite arid and anything green was a shock to my senses.

Later I moved to a city as green as one can imagine and want. Initially, it amazed me. I never got tired of its beauty.

I remember a street, named Ocean Avenue. Arriving from that arid place, somebody took us to Ocean Ave. The trees took my breath away. They had tall and wide trunks with so many ridges, so rich colours and leaves I could not take my eyes away from them. I went back many times. Then I lost touch with Ocean Ave. Years later, I went there in search of the same feeling of awe. The trees were not so thick any longer. They were still stunning, but they seemed to have shrunk. I was wondering if I was on the same street. And suddenly, I understood that initially, after the young trees in the previous place with not enough water, these trees seemed so full and big. With time, living in this lush green city, I got spoiled with lush trees so when I went back, the trees “shrunk.”

Sensitive Friend,

I went once to visit Australia and friends drove to show me the Blue Mountains. I was beyond disappointed. After the New Zealand mountains or the European Alps! Were these people serious to call them mountains?

I turned my back, and I didn’t return for years during my frequent visits. Five years later, I was curious again, and I went to see the Blue Mountains by myself. I strolled, was quiet, and discovered a splendour I didn’t know it was there. During that walk, I learned how to notice the flowers whose exquisiteness is so subtle, and you better stop to look attentively at details and thus learn to see. Then your soul changes. I was sitting here, and I realised that the first time, I walked by the music and lyrics.

Wise Friend,

That what I meant.

 

(photo http://www.sydneywildernesstours.com.au)

Sweet Friend,

For the first time, I’m going to Nevada. I dislike gambling, but I’m looking forward to seeing the opulence of the casino. I wonder what changed since those old Hollywood movies and now. How is luxury displayed? How are women or men dressed? I’m looking for my tuxedo.

Wise Friend,

I flew once to Reno Nevada for a conference. During the flight, I sat next to a beautiful American woman from Reno, who told me the Hilton hotel has a great shopping centre under the hotel, a grand casino at the entrance and a great night bar ‘The Garage’ in the lobby. I was so excited! While passing through Los Angeles, I had time to buy a gorgeous blood red woollen dress with a turtleneck.

I entered the hotel, and in the lobby, I saw tens of poker machine, an image I distaste, and I forgot what she told me.

I went to a party of the conference. Those attending were aged hippie-computer-geeks with body postures affected by sitting twenty-three hours a day in front of their computers, and not enough hours dedicated to fitness—movements and behaviours frozen in the sixties, looking sad, trying to catch up with times. I watched them dancing.

There was something so grotesque about their sense of dress and dance. Everybody was keen to pick somebody up for a night of “romance.” I didn’t want to see any of them undressed. Among them, there was one dancer who knew how to move. He looked better and fitter. I watched him and with my passion for dance, I enjoyed the only graceful person on the dancing floor.

Sweet Friend,

Anybody in a tuxedo?

Wise Friend,

No.

By the evening, I understood that the poker machines were the casino (duh!).

Nevertheless, I put my red dress on and was ready to walk through the casino. I was looking very well, but I expected to be the most modestly dressed woman. I expected glamorous women with gorgeous evening dresses, with naked backs, great low cut fronts, and men in tuxedos. Everybody was dressed in jeans, sweatshirts and pants. Some colleagues, who liked me, told me I was looking like a model. The ones who never liked me asked why I dressed up. From modesty, though in red, I was the glamorous one. Disappointed but flattered.

I gave in and gambled $20.00. I won a bit in between, lost it all by the end – my tributes to this world of strange fun.

The next day I visited the shopping centre—a lousy array of cheap shops.

Later, I decided to go the ‘The Garage’, I in red, they in jeans. A colleague of mine joined me. I ordered a virgin Marguerite (which I found out means without alcohol, duh!) and then I had a great time watching the locals. They came in couples and danced ‘western dancing’. I’m not crazy about non-couple dancing such as line dancing. I watched only the couples, and I had such a good time. The western swing is so gracious and requires great skills. I loved it. My colleague left. I didn’t want to go to bed. Imagine, being alone, watching couples dance and being happy. Not bad!

Take your jeans and a t-shirt. Leave the tuxedo at home.

Sweet Friend,

Ruined it for me.

Sweet Friend,

Lately, I thought about my son a lot. About the sheer experience of bringing up a child. About him, only a few days old, looking so beautiful. About his first night at home after his birth when suddenly I heard him hiccupping and when I looked at him. He kicked away his nappy, and he was naked. We took him out of his bed unto ours. I stared at him amazed by his beauty and his happy eyes wondering around with a sparkling twinkle and the unique calm of Caesarean born babies.

Then as always, my thoughts drifted to the time when he was two. At that age of my son, I was aware daily how much I loved him and liked him and how amazed I was every day by every little change. It was the age of what I’d call qualitative jumps.

I thought back to the last events during the previous two years before I went to work across the oceans. To the night when we had a fight, he left the kitchen and then came back and with a strangled voice told me: “I love you so much!” He stopped touching and hugging us when he turned thirteen. For the first time in six years, he approached me very timidly and hugged me.

Wise Friend,

I remember well when my son turned nineteen. He didn’t yet develop into a grown-up man. His friends did. When they visited or called on the phone, they had those bedroom looks and voices and talked in a flirty manner with me. I felt like laughing at them and ignored that. It meant nothing. They were playing their games.

When they gathered four-five of them in our little apartment, I always went out for a walk, as I didn’t want my son to notice his friends’ game.

Sweet Friend,

I’m reflecting more and more on what my son is becoming. He is maturing, and I even can seriously consider his opinions about some areas in my life.

He tells me about his decisions. I try so carefully to let him free, to let him take chances afraid he might hurt himself, so willing to let him try while he is young and with no family to support yet.

I so much don’t want to cut his wings, and so much I’d like him to be wise and measure everything.

There is nothing like this experience of bringing up children and wanting to learn from them and through them learn what dignity, life, and healthy freedom are about.

As they grow and become our friends, we forget that at their age we had our maturity and in the process of accumulating years, we might have thought arrogantly we took the wisdom with us, and we left nothing for the generations after us.

Wise Friend,

I’m also discovering that people close to my son’s age are becoming serious conversation partners, so I guess they are growing up.

Lately, when these young people (older, however, than my son) show to be wise and in their ways, mature and charming, I’m taken by surprise. Their talk shows wisdom and kindness, and I am relating to them like to equal minds and souls. I have to remind myself, and I have to remind them I could be their mum.

They enjoy talking with me, and they ask me to forget my age. I can’t and I shouldn’t and I won’t. Some things are not right if one crosses the boundaries.

Sweet Friend,

Exactly, these young men enjoy conversing with us, and I love it!

Wise Friend,

Currently, I’m at a stage when much younger men court me. I rule them out for a serious involvement.

It is much better than before when I was attracting men at least 70 years old. No way!

However, I ruled out a charming twenty-nine year old, as it feels too funny. Pity, though.

There is another man, thirty-six years old, who wouldn’t need ruling out, hadn’t he been such a bore. I’m just slightly older than he. He is reasonably well read with a so-so sense of humour.

However, when he talks he sounds like a schoolboy doing his homework and trying to impress the teacher. I tried a kiss, which was so bad that the rest wasn’t worthwhile trying further, anyway. He also has no children, and he would wake up in a few years he wants to father. By then I would close shop, and I don’t need these aggravations.

Sweet Friend,

Interesting transitions, aren’t they? How would we sense them this way without having the experience of bringing up our own children?

Wise Friend,

No way!
Meanwhile, I enjoy my dance lessons, and I’m passionate about them. It’s fun, romance in a bottle, but they do an excellent job for me.

Wise Friend,

I met a few people today, and we talked about how we felt at the turn of the millennium. By now it’s such a non-event. It saddens me a bit.

Sensitive Friend,

Before the turn of the millennium, I met a guy who used to lead regular millennium-related get-togethers. The Millennial Café.

They analysed similarities between theories or conspiracies developed before years 2,000 and 1,000.

I joined that group once, if I remember well. It was what I wanted and was looking for in my peregrinations around the world: interactions with intelligent and fun people and a great theme. I wasn’t sure whether I was supposed to beep or to be quiet.

Wise Friend,

Yes, there are many such groups in US universities. Are they challenging? Fun, too? Is there a lot of interaction? I wonder.

Sensitive Friend,

It quite surprised me when I entered the small room. I expected a large group of people where I could get lost and listen. I love watching people interact. I took a while to accept that such an eclectic small group can be in the position to influence policy.

Wise Friend,

The strange world of political decisions in a super-power!

Sensitive Friend,

I raised that question, and the group leader told me that at that moment, their impact on policy was fairly circumspect.

How many such amazing little groups sprout in these great universities as ‘secret organisations?’

Wise Friend,

I don’t know, but all those strange voluntary organisations are one of the marvels of the modern world.

I hope you didn’t keep quiet. That would have been a waste of your intelligence as far as I’m concerned. In such groups, you speak when you have something to say or ask. It’s a free for all.

Sensitive Friend,

They wanted to replace the word ‘superstition.’

I was thinking about the tendency of superstitious people to ‘collect’ additional superstitions as their ‘knowledge’ gets richer.  Something like ‘globalisation or integrating the faiths, rites or traditions’.  I became obsessed with finding a word.

I told him. Ouch! “Integrating the faiths” was hardly one of his “superstitions.” Quite the contrary, he didn’t think there was a real tolerance if you can’t accept that the “other” really is “other.” He wanted to take upon the task, to present the group “with an irreducible other, which would drive control freaks crazy.”

Wise Friend,

When you talked about the “integration of faith or ritual”, did you refer to the willingness of people, whose religions are based on many superstitions, to adopt Western habits or rites as part of their superstitious makeup?

Sensitive Friend,

Yes. Had I conveyed it any other way? If yes, Ouch!

I asked a dear friend who had a PhD in linguistics. Clearly, I wanted to impress. She jokingly suggested – “routinised premonitional intuition” – or RPI !!! Quite a mouthful! How are you going to explain such a mouthful expression to non-English speaking superstitious whoever? The intention was not to offend them. This group leader had to use the term in the media and in his communication with people involved in cults or religions.

To my astonishment, he liked the expression. He replied quickly “Why premonitional? Apocalyptic beliefs — the cosmic transformation is happening now — is a condition of heightened (hyperactive) and improvisational premonitional intuition.”

Somehow, I never followed up. What a pity! Life took over my life.

Relentlessly.

Wise Friend,

The intensity I’m feeling now in enjoying art again is so soothing. I feel that I’m looking after myself when I make time for art and for the other silly things I like.

Last week, I drove to New York to attend a ballet performance. I drove back in the snow for the first time in my life-scary.

During the last few days, I was angry with men.

Sweet Friend,

Don’t tell me you are now thinking of them as a sub-species?

Wise Friend,

Not at all and especially not nowadays. Not when having you as my wise friend. I know so many good men. I have a son, siblings, a father – these are all beautiful people, strong, manly, loving husbands, fathers and friends.

Today, I had a few frustrating experiences; not romantic, only professional, but annoying beyond belief.

I met a whole group of men so fragile emotionally. I was staring at them, telling myself I might give up on ever having another marriage. Not with such types. I want a relationship free of weak men. I had this fleeting decision, and I was serene.

Sweet Friend,

I know atrocious women, and I know atrocious men.

Once, Michael, our mutual friend, wrote: “Probably, I belong to the group of men ‘unable to assume responsibilities.’ However, we should not rush here. Sometimes, assuming responsibility requires cutting into “living” flesh. Other times, the hesitation might signal fear to not wound (oneself and others), or just lack of confidence in a specific moment. Whichever you turn it, you can explain why and how each time.”

Would you call him a weakling?

Wise Friend,

No, I wouldn’t.

Sweet Friend,

Your calculations of positives (you’re now serene) and negatives (giving up something you want and need) would end up (please don’t reproach me for writing these) being false, as nothing is sadder than being alone for decades. To go to bed and wake up alone and not spending your life with somebody you may share emotions, sufferings, would be very difficult. Don’t wish yourself such a life. Trust your stars. If you end up alone, as life might be, I trust you know how to enjoy it anyway. This is who you are, enthusiastic and full of interests. Still, without sadness, try to find a man. Don’t lose your enthusiasm.

Wise Friend,

It was just a short moment that lasted 24 hours.

As irony would happen, as soon as I took that sudden decision, quite a few men invited me out. Another uninteresting lot. I must convey something as, at the end of the dinner, they say we are friends with such an emphasis it makes me smile.

They don’t know who rejected whom. In the name of friendship, they ask me to not feel uncomfortable calling them. Would they know how much they bored me? Why would I call, then? Last night, one of them phoned, still in his courting stage. I returned his call and finished in a matter of minutes. While talking with him, I felt suddenly exhausted. I wanted to go to bed and read. I took a shower, my energy returned, I read for an hour, and it was so comforting. I don’t want to become a recluse.

I’ll not give up, though I might never search as I used to do a few years ago.