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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The speed of Life

I remember going on vacation to Hawaii for the first time…
The first two days drove me nuts.
Everybody moved too slowly.
That got to win the race attitude I acquired in Hollywood was missing.
The people, the life there, were too sluggish for me.
It felt like they had no destination, no purpose in life, no desire.
It bugged me tremendously.

It was about the third day at a cross road when a local waited for me, smiled and signal me to go ahead – although clearly he had the right of way.
I screeched my tires and made the left turn to a pineapple plantation road.
It was a glorious evening and the smell of ripe pineapple was intoxicating.

It hit me like a ton of bricks: “YOU, are on an island! Where the hell do you think you are going?”
When you are on an island no matter how fast you go the best that you can achieve it is to arrive back at the point of departure.
There is no destination - you are there.

The road ended and in front of me the magnificent blue ocean opened its infinite canopy.
The sun was setting and it was painting the sky in amazing Technicolor hues of gold, purple and red.
I stood there in awe and I realized:
Life is an island –you are already there.
From that day I was never in a hurry again.

Although the Hawaiians natives never tell the tourist; all the roads on the island have a speed limit:
“Happiness”

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The "Grown up" myth

As a child you only have one job – you are expected to grow up.
The idea of staying forever young was not even considered – although right now it doesn’t seem that absurd to me anymore.
As a child you were expected to transform continuously, to reach that magical point of adulthood.
Once you have passed that imaginary line – some time around 18 – you had arrived.
From then on you were a “grown up”; an adult. Job done! Mission accomplished!

Or at least that what we thought… but wait! – Life seems to have a different agenda.
That Promised Land, where you have finished growing up, where you know everything and are in control of everything, never materialized.
Like it or not, life keeps throwing you new problems and challenges.
Like it or not you have to learn new tricks and keep changing.

The idea that you are a “grown up” was a pure myth.
You are and will always be “growing up”…

I remember starting up my work as a video engineer – one of my many career moves.
I had to clean and vacuum behind the equipment racks – not a job for a college graduate, I thought.
“You have to pay your dues” – They told me – “We all start like this but one day when you will become a “senior” engineer you will have your own new, guy going through the “initiation”.

Well, I am the “senior” engineer and that day never came.
Instead of becoming the “accomplished” engineer – that fountain of knowledge for the new generation – I have become obsolete.
The new –computerized – generation is looking at me not like a source of wisdom but like an antiquated, obsolete relic.

After the “midlife” crisis I thought I will finally arrive to that “golden” age in every man’s life.
That age of total fulfillment, of stability, of meaning and reward.
That never happened.

I have no idea who I am and where I’m supposed to go.
It is that “unknown”, it is that “emotional storm”, that “emotional instability” that kills me.
I know I have to “reinvent” myself – the question is: Why, to what end?
To change just to survive?
Well, it seems logical, but to me to survive just to survive never had any meaning.

Without the “grown up” destination life seems just to drag on to its inevitable extinction without rhyme or reason.
We need to find another purpose for our “grown up” population.

The case against "HOPE" III

I was trying to define “worry” and “hope” and it occurred to me that they are brother and sister emotions.
Both “worry” and “hope” are unfounded expectations; one that things will get worse and the other that things will get better – some how.
And both “worry” and “hope” have the same hypnotic power to paralyze action.

I remember growing up under the communist rule.
Life was really hard; things were pretty bad and getting worse every day.
-It can’t get worse than this –people were saying – It is bound to get better.
But things never got better. Not by themselves.

The revolution happened only when there was no more hope left, when all worries and hopes melted into one unstoppable rage.
Action only happens when your worries turn into desperation - or your hopes change to enthusiasm.
Only when you get tired of doing nothing and waiting for things to change you will leave worry and hope behind and start acting.

This is the fundamental “law” of things.
There is no cause without effect and no effect without cause.
If you are not in control of your life somebody else is.
If you are not an “actor” in the “play” of life then you are a “spectator”

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The case against "HOPE" II

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

—Emma Lazarus, 1883


As an immigrant transplant to this land, I cherish this poem perhaps more than any of the other iconic American literary masterpieces.
It embodies, in few but powerful words, the hope of millions that have found refuge and shelter on these shores.

It was the search for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that forged this country.
It was that invitation to all people that aspire to freedom and the opportunity of a better life that made this country great.
It was the “American dream” that powered the most progressive social revolution in the human history.

But now the dream is dead.
We don’t have dreams anymore.
We are not guided by a vision of progress, of a better future,.
We are just dreaming of the “good old days” and the only thing we have is the “hope” that things will get better again.

But things do not get better on their own.
Left to their own devices things just crumble and fall.
Hope without a vision is just an empty promise; a narcotic for the masses.
Hope without action is hopelessness.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The case against "HOPE"

I love reading.
I was 4 or 5 when I started reading.
I do not remember anymore, it was so long ago.
But I remember around 12 I read this book “The factory of death”
It was about the concentration camp at Auschwitz.

The images of death were so powerful that have etched in my memory forever.
People being round up like cattle. People being pushed in train wagons like cattle.
People being hoarded around like cattle. People being treated worse than animals.
People being killed and burned by millions.

I remember this incredible feeling of revolt.
I was mad; how could this have happened.
I wanted to scream at the pictures: Run! Fight!
But the people in the pictures seemed resigned to their faith, unable to run or fight.
That bothered me a lot too.

A year ago the country was on the verge of a revolution.
The people were raising their voices against the war, against the bail outs, against the deficit, against the government corruption and inability to govern.
Now everybody is quiet.

The war has just escalated with even more troops being sent in Afghanistan.
Another trillion of dollars have been thrown at the banks.
The government is more corrupt and more inept to function than ever.
Yet, everybody seems resigned.

Are we blind? Are we cowards? What is going on?
And then I realized something:
As with the Jewish people then and always:
We are not blinded and paralyzed by fear.
We are blinded and paralyzed by hope.

I know many people will not agree with my conclusion…
I sure would like to hear your interpretation of this apparent human “apathy”