Final Respect

The story of the 11 year old Chinese boy who died last month of brain cancer but not before donating his organs, is a sad yet an uplifting one. But the photo of the doctors paying their respect as his body is rolled our with his mother crying in the background hit a nerve.

Respect

Has the doctors’ bow eased the mother’s pain? Has it evened out the sense of injustice, calamity, senseless loss and tragedy for the child that died at the age of eleven? And how, why and who took the photo at that critical moment? Or maybe – just maybe, could it be staged?

The photo and the story behind it, made me think of Akira Kurosawa’s Roshomon and the interpretative labyrinth of possibilities and subjective truth.

But in the end, it’s all irrelevant. According to the story in China Daily, the little boy wanted to become a doctor to save lives. He somehow knew that he could do just that it if he donated his organs – so that was his way to come as close to a dream that was never meant to be. And he convinced his parents that this was the right thing to do.

The photo that echoes many more than a thousand words, was interpreted as being all about the doctors paying tribute to the choice of the dead child. Yet, this photo could be about many things:

  • The doctors’ tribute and final respect to their patient who donated his organs;
  • The mother’s despair in spite of the doctors’ bowing to her dead son and his decision to save lives;
  • The poster photo for a marketing campaign for organ donation;
  • The reminder that every ending can also bear the seeds of new beginnings and possibilities and ultimately hope.

The way I see it, it’s all about determination and clarity and subsequently focus, especially when it comes to figuring out what exactly the dream is, where it will take us and how it will change our world or the even better – the world at large.

But I am also a romantic. Unavoidably, I was touched by the bow, the appreciation, the gratitude shown by the doctors – the ultimate tribute and respect to the little eleven year old boy who lost the battle to cancer.

Whatever emotions, thoughts, puzzles the photo brings up in you, Pirandello said it all in his wonderful poignant play, Right you are! (if you think so!)…

Home And My People

tmp_5400-travel-quote-1-21-141032489725Being new to Houston, I was amused to find out there is a “Houston, we have a problem” festival! Hmm… somebody has a sense of humor. Good omen :-)

I hit my new city last Friday. Yes, I missed the floods. No, I did not miss the heat and the humidity and from what everyone tells me, “I ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”

But really, how much can the weather influence any of our decisions? (OK, I know – it can and it does, but I am being positively upbeat here). So, Houston, here I am – yet another city in my book of cities I’ve lived in.

Newness does not bother me. I have lived in many continents and countries, and I wear a watch that shows multiple time zones. I’m really good at calculating time differences as my mother and so many of my friends live thousands of miles away, and I usually start getting birthday wishes several hours before my birthday, from friends farther east than me.

I am a TCK a.k.a Third Culture Kid. Over the years, I have learned to adjust and adapt and enjoy the ride of the bumpy transition to the “foreigness,” the new, the unknown. For me, the move is simply a boost to my thirst for exploring new things. Yes, there is uncertainty and anxiety and a certain dose of adrenaline for conquering yet another milestone on my internal mapping.

Plenty of difficulties from making sure the phone has enough battery or you can plug it into a car charger as you drive everywhere with Google Maps; your anchor safe zones need to be reinvented so you can feel safe in certain routines which will take some time to fall back into the normalcy of the daily schedule; your best friend is sleeping when you wake up and vice versa so you have to wait to share whatever news…

It’s not easy but having my son and his family here and especially the new guy in my life – my six month old grandson – makes it worth trying.

I miss my other home. I miss all the people I love – my people – who are not close by. I miss the blue Aegean waters, the sunsets, the views and hundreds of little and bigger things. And then, I also cherish these things I find here which are not over there, on the other side, the other home on the other side of the Atlantic and my other set of homies on the West Coast where my daughter now is.

But over the years, I’ve learned that home is not a place, only where the people you love, are. And I am so grateful to have my people … anywhere they are.

 

Lies, Truths, Life

“How good of a liar are you?” I was giving a talk last week in front of a group of smart young aspiring entrepreneurs – and we were discussing the pros and cons of opening up to people you don’t really know. I challenged them while asking them to lie. Yes, lie!

While we all lie – from little lies to bigger lies to twists and turns and small distortions which end up making the conventional parts of our lives – we also learn to cut through the BS of small talk, boasting, “politicking” and spin. And in order to know the truth and what’s real you need to experience the lie. The exercise was not a morality test but an experiment in getting out of your comfort zone, listening, being bold, being you while keeping your shyness. It was a debate on the axioms “cash is king” versus “people are kings.” It was all about business – yet the art of business cannot be an art without the people who make art out of their business.

Pamela Meyer, author of Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception gives her analysis in her TED talk:

“… When you combine the science of recognizing deception with the art of looking, listening, you exempt yourself from collaborating in a lie. You start up that path of being just a little bit more explicit, because you signal to everyone around you, you say, “Hey, my world, our world, it’s going to be an honest one. My world is going to be one where truth is strengthened and falsehood is recognized and marginalized.” And when you do that, the ground around you starts to shift just a little bit…”

So, just learn to shift through the sand – pause and think and never take anything for granted. But don’t neglect to shut out negativity: 100 people could tell you how freaking amazing you look today, but if one person says you look like crap, those 100 positive messages won’t matter. And it’s up to you to figure out those truths that matter and the lies that don’t.

Change

changeGreeks were loud and clear yesterday. Political ideologies aside, they voted for change.

The range of emotions is interestingly distended.  Elation, fear, excitement, trepidation, anger, disappointment. It’s understandable: It’s a huge change and it will take time to adjust and absorb the transitory loss of balance.

Dodging risks and seeking rewards are prioritized differently by different people. Some of us are less risk averse than others. In my book, I don’t want “to be neither scared stiff by too much novelty and change nor bored by too little.”

Winifred Gallagher’s New: Understanding Our Need for Novelty and Change” gives some interesting perspective.

“…Like individuals, societies struggle to balance the need to survive, which prioritizes safety and stability, with the desire to thrive, which requires stimulation and exploration. For most of history, this tug-of-war has inclined cultural change, like the biological sort, to occur not in a smooth progression but in an uneven, unpredictable process, of fits and starts that scientists call punctuated equilibrium. Something new, whether climate change, an important tool such as the plow or computer, or a political upheaval, prompts a period of innovation that takes a society to the next level…”

So, while the dizziness from the sleepless election night has not yet faded, manage the fear of the newness. Make sure you give yourself time to think. Try and understand if you’re talking about something you really know something about or if you’re just regurgitating some talking head you heard on the news last night or this morning. Especially that…

Uncertainty: Just like rock-climbing

A friend sent me something about dyno today – a movement in rock climbing where the climber must let go of everything, leaping through mid-air in order to surpass an otherwise insurmountable obstacle. Sscareince I am not a rock-climber I took it figuratively and did my usual imaginary leap. After all, this is the Age of Uncertainty.

Living in Greece the feeling is exacerbated by political and economic turmoil and impending change. National elections this coming Sunday is all we all talk about. Yes, the public agenda is dominated by possibilities, exit polls, prognostications, doomsday scenarios, “Grexit” speculation and future outcomes. And the cacophony of politicians is deafening while our brains are desperate for some quiet time to reflect and regroup.

And here comes the rock-climbing and the jump, the dyno, the forward movement on the hard rocky surface of our reality. We each have our own dyno move inside us. Take it as the equivalent rock-climbing ‘thing,” our risk, our leap, our bet with our own limits.

“…If you have ever had the chance to watch elite climbers, you can see that their climbing looks graceful, effortless, almost like a surreal dance. How can they hold onto seemingly nothing at impossibly steep angles? How do they move from those unimaginable positions to other equally unimaginable positions further up the wall? ­­Aside from having a very advanced level of fitness, they have mastered several essential skillsets that allow them to climb in the most effective ways possible. Fine-tuning these skillsets, or techniques, allows them to ascend through a series of moves with optimum efficiency. The utilization of energy in the most efficient manner is the driving principle behind elite climbing technique…”

So, what will it take to take advantage of our own energy? Won’t life will go on regardless of the election outcome? We will do what we all must do to go on.

While crystal balls tend to be inaccurate plenty of times, our own intuition, awareness, flexibility, creativity and consideration of alternatives and possibilities can help us. The better we understand the forces that shape our lives, the better we can exercise some control over them. The pain is unavoidable and sometimes necessary. People change when the pain of the status quo becomes greater than the fear of making the change. And yes, the possibility of crashing down hard is real.

But maybe once in a while, just think like a rock climber – and try practicing your own dynamic jump.

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