Saturday, July 22, 2017

July 22nd, 40th anniversary of Chinese artist, Pan Yuliang's passing:

   In loving memory of Pan Yuliang who died on July 22nd 1977: I wrote about her life on July 22nd 2012 and 452 persons have read my reflection on her story. Thank you. Today is the 40th anniversary of her passing away from this world. Pan was totally dedicated to her art, ferocious in her love of life, the first Chinese female western painting artist who was invited to teach at the Shanghai Art School in 1929. Rejected so often, she returned to France where she lived for 40 years painting ceaselessly. She was almost penniless; but thanks to a friend, we know about her life and art. Her work and dedication are appreciated today. Here are glimpses of some of her paintings which capture her concept of infinite beauty
   May we see beauty through her eyes today.  

Monday, July 10, 2017

It's summer time: be happy!

My summer balcony plants on the Prairies where I live.
                "Be happy with what you have and are. 
                  Be generous with both and you would not have
                  to hunt for happiness." (W. Gladstone)

Saturday, July 1, 2017

The heart of wisdom is tolerance and patience

We are from the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, one of the most racially and culturally blended countries worldwide. I created this collage of my peoples after receiving my DNA results this week. I was floored by the official confirmation of my mother's wisdom: "yuh have de blood of many peoples; never judge others or else, yuh judge yourself!" She believed that the heart of wisdom is learning tolerance and patience. 
   My father, grand father, great-grandfathers in my family who married local or foreign women, be they Spanish, Irish or Creole had to be understanding and tolerant of each other. Every right they claimed for themselves had to be the same for the new faces they met and embraced. It was not an easy process. Whether they were Spanish, Portuguese, African, Chinese or Mongolian; they were still proud men. Over the centuries ingrained in my own mother was the value of patience, she would often say to me "yuh have de Spanish pride in yuh! Yuh just can't allow anger to take over!" It took me many decades to understand these words and the value of patience. Mother as pictured in the last photo next to my Mongolian father (the baby is me) was a patient teacher. 
   Today I appreciate more than ever the twin 'virtues' of patience and tolerance, the keystone of our family's diversity. Tolerance and patience are not signs of weakness. They were and continue to be our strengths of character. They have been the learning torch of my family's reality for centuries under all kinds of circumstances. Today our strengths - tolerance and patience - are waiting to be rediscovered in a new generation.  

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Time never slows down. Happy Father's day.

                               "In the last minutes of every baseball game, the clock stops two dozen times when you wish it would just run. But soon enough these games will be over. Life, it turns out, is running time. If only a whistle could stop the clock." (Steve Rushin)
   Steve's words remind me of a Spanish expression: "El tiempo nunca se ralentiza. " (Time never slows down.) We all wish for whistles. Yet in some cultures, people simply pause. We remind ourselves it is summer time, let us slow down. If time is not waiting on anyone; let us still enjoy our moments together and forget the whistles, imaginary or real!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Kindness makes a difference

The story of my 'Maytag washer and dryer' is worth repeating to a wider public. On Memorial Day, my old washer died. May she rest in peace - it was time! I have never bought such appliances; so, it was a stretch of faith to proceed to the local stores. I found one manager who was so exceptionally kind that I did not hesitate to purchase this pair. A few days later, a delivery guy installed everything. Quite mundane or so, it seemed!
   In the process, however, a resident ran up to my place that day to inform us "we were blocking her dish!"  I had no idea what the hell she was talking about. Her dish meaning, her "tv dish" and she was in no mood for courtesies. She called the company and police. The Midwest police came, listened and left, informing the frustrated one that the guy was just doing his job. The service person did his work and left as quickly as he could. 
   In an age of loud mouths, the irate person could have caused much more havoc. Yet in the midst of chaos, an efficient sales representative, a calm cop, a 'super' polite delivery person made a difference. Aesop was alive that summer afternoon:

Thursday, June 1, 2017

"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes ..."

"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be anymore pain; for the former things are passed away." Rev. 21, 4.
    Very consoling words from the Christian Scriptures' Book of Revelations. A few weeks ago I was listening to the radio in which the announcer tells the story of 70 year old Japanese gardener, Itam Sasaki who installed a phone booth with a simple disconnected rotary phone in his garden. Here are the images. He wished to speak to his cousin who had died before the tsunami and earthquake of 2011. It was his way of coping with his loss. His garden overlooks the Pacific ocean on a hill in the town of Otsuchi. The atmosphere: the winds, the sea, the inspiring garden lend to the beauty of his wind-phone (his kaze nodenwa). It is not magical; but, its connection to nature helps in ways only a God can touch. 
   The idea of keeping up with a deceased relative is not a strange thing for me as a Christian. My mother visited the graves of her parents on a regular basis and in this unlikely manner, introduced us to them. She often talked softly about mundane topics reassuring her deceased parents that she was trying hard to be a good mother of 5 boys and telling them not to worry about her. She prayed for comfort and in turn, introduced us to a lifeafterlife. When I heard the story of this simple disconnected rotary phone; I could not help but think of her. Over the decades of my life, she kept up this tradition and hoped that I, her eldest son, would not forget our ancestors or as Africans describe the living dead
   After the horrible tsunami in Japan, people in the neighborhood heard about this wind phone and many came to speak to their deceased relatives. In the course of 3 years, over 10,000 persons descended upon this sacred spot. It served a tremendous service to many in grief. Our belief systems take us to many ideas of lifeafterlife and we all want connections. I love this modern twist talking to deceased relatives. I am sure my mother would have brought us here to talk to our grandparents if such had existed in her time.
   May we never forget our loved ones and be inspired by those who cope with death in their own unique way! Peace.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Wisdom quote from Pope Francis:

"Tra le sfide di oggi, guardate il volto umano di coloro che sinceramente cercate di aiutare."
"Amidst the challenges of our day, see the human face of those you earnestly seek to help."