The Way We Are

I have always been interested in the lives of the greatest leaders of the world. I think many of us are. 

We call someone a great leader not because of his huge contributions to a cause or his notorious acts… that may just be an effect. The deep -authoritarian- tone of his voice has nothing to do with it either; or his impressive physique. You don’t become a great leader by having more knowledge, a better education, or more financial resources… those are just variables which you may or may not have at a certain point in time. 

I think that it’s the everyday decisions what differentiates a leader from the rest of the people. Think about it; small decisions have to be made all the time and if you see them separately they may seem insignificant but put them all together and they become a big part of your being -they end up defining you-. Small things are nothing but they are so many that they end up becoming everything.  

In addition, great leaders must have their core values well defined. Surprisingly humans share something with trees: strong winds will blow on their way and they are going break a branch or two, sometimes even 10, but if those trees have deep and strong roots they will manage to stay firm and eventually the fallen branches will grow and give their fruits again. In our case it is a sure thing that we will suffer, fear, and be tempted -which will get us hurt and weary- but if our core values are strong then those events won’t change who we really are and sooner than later we will give our gifts to people again.

I analyze myself and realize that I haven’t always made the right calls… that many times I think I know where I am going just to find myself lost and that bad things have have happened along. Then, I remember that we should always be proud of the way we are and the choices we have made even if sometimes it’s uncomfortable to look back at them. Suddenly, it comes to my mind that maybe one important element of leaders is never letting monsters get in the way of their dreams, whispering when they want to shout, or saying yes when they want to say no. You have nothing to lose and everything to win. So go write the story of your life, and if that doesn’t include becoming a great leader, do not think about it… its funny the way things work out in life.

For Love…

For love, you have asked the wind to send me your message
For love, you waited when people left one by one
For love, you have cried without tears
For love, you kept walking when your legs felt heavy as rocks
For love, you stayed away even when you didn’t want to
For love, you have gotten up again

And you still think that I don’t love you?

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Dia de Muertos

Death has always been intriguing to human beings, I would even dare to say that it is THE great mystery of life. Every culture has its own traditions and beliefs when it comes to death:

In ancient Greece, people believed that when souls left our body they would go to Hades, the underworld, but to reach it you would have to cross the Acheron and Styx rivers and the only way to do it was by boat. To do so you would have to pay a coin to Charon, the ferryman, and if you didn’t have money you would have to wait 100 years to take the passage. Therefore people would place a coin on the mouth of their dead loved ones.

People who practice Catholicism believe that when you die your soul will leave your body and go to Heaven if you embraced God and lived the way of life preached by Jesus; go to Purgatory if you accepted Jesus as your savior but died with sin; or go Hell if you rejected Him.

Muslims believe that men who fight for Allah will get to spend afterlife with 72 virgins.

Egyptians believed that the next life was a continuation of this one and therefore buried people with things they might need on their new journey such as food, clothes, jewelry, etc.

In Mexico, we have a very beautiful tradition. On November 2 we celebrate Dia de Muertos “Day of the Dead”. This is a prehispanic tradition that consists on the belief that during this particular day our dead loved ones visit us from the underworld; so we prepare altars where we place their favorite food and beverages (as they will come tired from their journey), skulls made out of sugar, a picture of them, flowers, candles, some items that they used to love, Bread of the dead, etc.. The result looks something similar to this:

Image                                      image: http://proton.ucting.udg.mx/

During this day we visit the graves of our loved ones and remember them. Most people think that in this day we make fun of death and that we celebrate it. It’s not true. Dia de Muertos is a way of honoring the people that are no longer with us but still have a special place in our hearts. It is a way of rediscovering our purpose in life and making that special person part of our present. It is a way of remembering our loved ones and not letting their memory fade away because people only truly die when they are forgotten.

Me, I am afraid of death. I don’t fear the pain, I fear the possibility of losing conscience, myself and my loved ones. The law of conservation of energy states that energy can be neither created nor destroyed -but there are transformations that lead into nothingness-. When I think about it I really envy people of deep faith or people who never question things… Then, I look at a picture of my beautiful family and it makes me think that after all I have nothing to envy and that the shadow we call death disappears in the presence of the light we call love.

All Hallows’ Eve

I remember that some years ago, when I was a kid, I would dress up as something for Halloween and go out with my neighbors all around the block -and beyond- to ask for candies. We would then finish at the meeting point and check out our “treasure”. Some years later my parents would buy lots of candies and when the kids stopped by our house we would put chocolates, lollipops and other candies in their bags.

Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays not only because of the cool costumes and the scary movies but because it is one of those times of the year when it doesn’t matter if you look ridiculous or not and no one cares who you are or how you look like… it is all a big festivity. Nowadays it has a different meaning for me though: It is a day when I see the innocence that I once had in others’ faces; when the selfish me remembers that giving is more pleasant than receiving.

The reason I felt so compelled to write tonight is because I keep hearing many people say that Halloween is nothing more than pure marketing and an empty day; that we have lost our way and that it is just an excuse to get drunk and party. I want to ask you reader not to kill the holiday and demonize it: it is just as bad to be shallow as it is to be self-righteous. Life is so short and kids grow up really fast, lets not deny them the opportunity of having fun just for having fun; on the contrary lets make these festivities more meaningful by participating as a family and fostering those times that many years from now will continue bringing a smile to our face.Image

 

Home

Sometimes I miss home. I’m not talking about my house though. I miss that place where I can be myself, where I really belong. Last night I dreamt that I was there again; a site that seems unknown to me and yet so familiar.

I wake up and realize that I’m not there yet, but then I open my window and gaze at the beautiful pines just across the street; a sense of peace fills my body. They stand strong and tall and it seems like that has been nature’s designated spot for them, but truth is that they didn’t grow up there.

Choose an honest way to live, admire the simple things, share your blessings and forget about your ego… you’ll find out that even though you are not living at your maison de rêve, you can make of any place a home. Stop feeling sorry for yourself; smile because a home is waiting for you.

P.S. If you don’t have pines nearby don’t worry… you always have the stars.

History

Sometimes I wonder if History is worth reading. Most of the times we remember emperors, murderers, politicians, and other people who did little for humanity and a lot for their themselves.

We forget about great inventors like Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Alexander Graham Bell, and other enthusiasts who completely changed our world for the better. Imagine going to work on a horse, walking in the night with a candle, having to wait for weeks or months to hear from a friend in a distant city…

There are also other people who make this world a better place with their talents and who sometimes we forget: musicians, architects, scientists, teachers, writers, doctors… These are the people worth remembering, people who make your life worth it.

Sometimes we should forget about our books, ignore the overrated figures, and use our own criteria… maybe we can find a big inspiration in the person right next to us!

Sadness and Happiness

Sadness and Happiness. These two folks are as certain as Death and Taxes -I haven’t heard of someone who hasn’t met them yet-. The thing is, we should learn how to handle them: when we find Happiness we shouldn’t get sad for fear of finding Sadness and when we find Sadness we should get happy in hopes of finding Happiness…

Today I am sad but I will cheer up because I know that nothing lasts forever and what is wrong now will become right. I’ll keep my head up all the time…

Time

Time is very subjective. Present, past and future are just a function of our linear mind that try to make our world easier to understand. Nevertheless I don’t let the thought of a complicated universe keep me from sleeping: The future comes and gets closer but it never arrives, because when it does it’s no longer future; it’s already present. On the other hand you can’t do much about the past, but to learn from it. Bottom-line is that there are very few things that you can do about the past and future, so focus on the present because it is the only time that exists and that you can work on. Focus on the present and it will give you good memories of your past and hopes for your future.