Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Fears are Tangible

Here we are, the white-haired bunch, spending an August afternoon parked in our easy chairs, sun hats and comfortable clothes, snacks, extra covering in case the wind picks up, ready to listen to young people entertain us with their beautiful sounds.

Old people love young people.

Time stops for us when we see a fourteen/sixteen year old collecting his wits and budding skills to produce a sound in a public setting. This audience is all smiles; with not a bit of malice or criticism toward them. Why, some are reminiscing about their own experience standing in front of an audience of strangers playing together in a band for the first time. The body language is mostly the same, stiff, hesitant, swaggering or downright trembling with fear. I'm guessing the young man on the cell phone while his colleague is making announcements is the least fearful of this audience.

We have learned to recognize most of our fears in our recurring dreams, in the underlined and repeated conversations with each other, in the packages of supplies we stock up just in case.

Guessing the fear in the faces of these young people is easy enough. At their age, I recall few clear paths out of fear, except to listen to adults and practice. Obedience and shame worked wonders at keeping fear at bay.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Stranded at Disneyland

Did you know that when you left your home it
was for the last time
that your special nick- name was dropped
and you had to wear a new badge
and that your family
your toys
your language
your food
your friends
your very identity were no longer yours?

Did you know what Allegiance meant?

Stranded between what you were and what you would become, your journey took decades, continued in your children and grandchildren for centuries in the future.

Did you know that when and if you returned to visit you would be branded with the brand of the new place, though that brand didn't fit you right? That everyone would never share with you again the stories of olden days since you were no longer able to remember such days?

Did you know you would be shunned for daring to leave the others behind?
Did you know you would be shunned for not sounding at all the way the new others sounded?
Did you know that an A student could suddenly become a D student?

Did you know that you would become stranded even at Disneyland?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Welcome to America!

No matter where you land in America for the first time, it will strike you as part MainStreet and part Frontierland. Old buildings will remind you of the old  European capitals and new buildings/bungalows will remind you of those cowboy movies you watched as a child. Clothes, food, mannerisms, expressions will remind you of all the Clint Eastwood's movies you saw at the local cinema.

People all over the world know a lot about America because products like Coca Cola and Malboro cigarettes have introduced the world to Americans and American tastes.

I liked Elvis, The Platters, poodle skirts and rock-n-roll. I knew about hamburgers and drive-ins where teenagers hung out. I had studied English at my high school and earned A+ on every test. I knew enough vocabulary to offer my opinion on everything. I loved everything American.

"How did you like the trip?" my Uncle asked after I landed in Los Angeles. I had slept most of the time, and had no opinion. He was  smiling  and nodding in a self-congratulatory way when he spoke to me in English. I smiled back and responded in Italian that it was very long. "No! You are in America now and must speak only English."  I nodded again, and within minutes, I knew that I had underestimated the whole language thing. I didn't understand, though I did sense the enormous difficulties I would encounter.

That night, I dreamt I was deaf and dumb. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Of Friends, Family, and Voyages

If you grew up and spent your life in the same place, your families and friends have witnessed most events in your life. Some people know this rooting in place is important, and they treasure the instances when everyone shows up at an event, when  they can catch up with each other on anything that happened out of sight just spending an hour or so at the local coffee shop.

At seventeen,I knew this life intimately.

Because of an enormous desire to travel and experience the world, I left my family, friends and hometown for the great adventure awaiting me in America. Did I have any hint of what was waiting
across the ocean? Did I contemplate the effect such a move would have had on the rest of the family? Did I analyze the pros and cons, the long term consequences of such a voyage?


Did I find all the things I had anticipated? Yes and no.
Did I miss all the people and things I left behind? Yes and no.
Would I recommend such an adventure to others? Yes and no.
Knowing what I know today, I would have a long talk with that seventeen year old....
(to be continued...) 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The lure of a new path

Not all paths are alike, though each moves us to abandon the known
the dark night of comfort
that can choke the air
in that familiar way.

A walking path with secret recesses
and vistas
surprises us with ups and downs, hides the
obvious, squirrels its booty
until we're ready to appreciate them.

Funny how a new path never tires us.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The negative effect of the positive.

We crave to escape our daily lives while reading other people's posts, perusing travel magazines, re-posting other people's vacation pictures, fantasizing ourselves in the same vicinities even when nothing in our present condition can make that fantasy a reality.

Dream big.
Dream often.
Never give up.

We are fed such pablum from the time we are babies. We are shoved into libraries and museums early in life to wet our appetite for big things even when our eyes were opened just long enough for our mother to nurse and change our diapers. By five or six we were  enrolled in some sort of music or dance class, as well as a soccer team, or a craft class to discover our true calling and develop all of our abilities.

 Dreaming big was our parents' shot of vitamins for themselves and for us too. Not working hard at pursuing such dreams would have been a  let down, a major disappointment not just to our parents, but to a whole lot of the adult population that tirelessly produced pictures of the future in rosy colors, saw only the positive things that were to come our way if only we worked hard and believed in that dream.

It must be that humans' DNA has been constantly altered by the infusion of positive spin, the true antidote to grim situations that could barely produce food and shelter in most of our short stay on earth. How else do we explain the natural aptitude for self-positive-talk we all possess?

The building of Great Expectations: 

The phenomenon may be a modern phase. I know,  I'm as guilty of living under its big umbrella and promoting its benefits as anyone.  We have nothing else to replace it. Why, when we begin to doubt its existence, Anxiety, Depression and Fear lurk right around the corner. Instead, we pull ourselves up, dust ourselves out, and sing a happy tune no matter what. If our dreams have not come true is because we have not worked hard enough; we have not built the skills and the desire hard enough. If we begin to have doubts about our dreams, then the slippery slope is before us, and we are doomed to a life of self-doubts, a life of failure.

How we attack these doubts is simple. The pharmaceutical industry is happy to show us the way.