So, I’m in Rio de Janeiro, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The people are beautiful and friendly and the beaches can be exotic or inviting – it all depends on your mood. But, I’m really here to visit my aging parents. Rio is the city of my birth.
Anyone, with older parents knows how difficult it is to see our loved ones struggle with things that used to be easy to do. To witness their health wane. In my case I also have to deal with the distance between Los Angeles – where I live – and Rio de Janeiro.
My visits are always full of mixed emotions; happiness in seeing them and stress for not being able to stop life’s unstoppable march.
By nature I am a caretaker. When my late husband became ill, I spent the better part of two and a half years taking care of him. I was by his side every minute of his journey. My husband died at home by my side. We slept in the same bed till his last night.
Through all my experiences of care taking, I have learned that we can only give if we take care of ourselves as well. If we don’t fill up the well, it will eventually dry out.
Pain is part of the human experience. There is no way around it. Even if nothing tragic ever happens in your life – yes, there are a few of you out there – one day you will have an aging parent. One day for sure you will have pain.
It is in these times of emotional stress that we need to remember to willfully seek beauty. As sure as I am that we all deal with pain so am I that we can all have beauty. It is all around us. We just need to open ourselves up to it.
Beauty comforts inspires and fills up the well.
Diligently taking breaks to renew our emotional well allows us to go through the different pains life brings us from time to time. It also allows us to give more.
If you are today going through a difficult time find the beauty in your world. I know it can be difficult. I know you can easily dismiss it by thinking “I have no time for this”. But, you do. And it is the only way you will be able to sooth yourself and others. Go out with a friend. Do something that is fulfilling to you. Beauty is pain’s antidote.
Yesterday I saw an amazing documentary – Waste Land. The film follows renowned Brazilian artist, Vik Muniz, as he travels from Brooklyn NY to Jardim Gramacho in Rio de Janeiro- the largest garbage dump in the world.
If never thought twice about throwing out a piece of paper or a plastic bottle, watch this film and you will through any effort to dispose of your trash in the correct way. The mountains of garbage are astounding and it makes you wonder if we are not well in our way to be buried in it.
But what is transformational are the people portrayed in this documentary; women, men and children making a living by going through the garbage to find and then separate recyclable materials to sell. Doing all of it with a sense of pride and community.
The subjects of this documentary are mostly illiterate, but their sense of contentment is huge. They are able to turn working in a garbage dump into a society of individuals who are doing a service; recycling and thus helping the environment.
Vik Muniz created a series of portraits of the garbage pickers – together with them – using photography and actual garbage. The pieces have been sold all over the world and have raised over $250,000; money being used to help the community. The president of the garbage/recycling pickers at the end of the art project was flown to London to watch the auction of his own portrait. The documentary – about Vik, the garbage pickers, and the art project – was nominated for an Oscar.
The garbage pickers who are people living in shacks who work sifting through garbage are now shaking hands with environmentalists from all over the world, going to art openings, museum, auctions, and being guests in television shows.
There is a scene in the film where Vic Muniz discusses with his wife and assistant if it is correct to open such doors to this group of people if most likely at the end – when the art and documentary projects are finished – they will go back to their lives of picking through garbage. The wife is uncertain but Vic asks her: “If I offered you to fly to London to see things you never seen before but told you at the end you would go back to your old life, would you want to go? Wouldn’t seeing other things in the world force you to come up with a plan to live differently?”
For the last couple of weeks the topic “we are who we are” has been very much on my mind. Using myself as the basis for my thinking I wondered how many of the changes that have taken place in my process and behavior belong to age and how many to an investment in my own development. Followed by the question am I still the same girl who grew up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil just older and wiser?
I’m in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the city and country I grew up in, visiting my parents.
I have not lived in this city for over twenty years, and so being here is always very emotional as I reconnect with past feelings and history.
I am here staying with my parents who are now in their 80s. I’m aware of their frailty and our time together coming to an end. I’m not living the pain of loss, but I recognize the beginning of my own grieving process. I honor my feelings while I create new experiences.
As I deal with my emotions, thoughts come to my mind: would it have been easier if I had let past disagreements have broken us apart? Would it be easier now, if I had stopped myself from loving them as much as I do?
As I entertain those thoughts I realize that’s what so many of us do with our relationships, wishes and desires.
I must ask you again to indulge my story telling ways as I go around the world to make my point.
Saturday night I watched Valkyrie with Tom Cruise. The film tells the story of the last attempt by German officials to assassinate Adolf Hitler.
It is not a great film but the real story is; men who saw wrong and risk their own lives to make it right.
I often talk and think about what gives meaning to our lives. These German soldiers, Nelson Mandela, and many others throughout history, show us in a clear way what it is to believe in something so much that they are willing to lay down their lives for it. But having meaning in life doesn’t have to involve life or death or big statements. To most of us it means connecting to what is important and giving it its due respect.
I have always been a person who has had a talent for adapting to new circumstances. I was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, lived in NYC and now live in Los Angeles.
I have left my family behind (when I moved to NYC), a bad relationship (when I left NY) and now in Los Angeles I live as a widow.
When I was growing up, I was an outstanding student and everyone thought I would get to do something that involved mathematics and physics but I ended up getting involved with the arts.
As I struggled through the years to make a living, I often heard how I had wasted my talents in a life that to outsiders seemed to be very hard and without the chances of bringing the success they were sure I would have had if I had followed the scientific path.
I must confess, I too, when life got really hard, thought I had made a mistake and wished I could have gone back in time and done things differently.
I get all choked up when I see a fire truck or an ambulance rush by and all the cars move out of the way. It’s not that I’m attracted to the pain happening to someone else, it’s that my emotion comes from observing that for a moment a great many people come together to assist someone they don’t even know.
I was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and then lived in NYC for many years. For some reason in those cities people don’t really pay much attention to ambulances. But here in Los Angeles all the cars move out of the way. Maybe that’s the reason why this event has caught my attention, the ambulance determined to get to its destination on time so it can save a life and all the surrounding drivers assist in the mission.
You might be thinking “why is she going on and on about ambulances?”
I really like this post by Terry Tillman because it talks about stopping long enough to recognize the existence of others. I see you.
I often thought a lot of the violence in Rio de Janeiro (my birth town) came from the fact the middle and upper middle class in fear and/or desperation of not knowing what to do, chose to ignore the poor living on the streets. I’m talking about not even look at the street people. The result of that group behavior is that the homeless and the poor became non-people. But people can’t be non-people for too long, so they steal and kill. I’m here. Can you see me now? Of course this is the extreme of ignoring others. But think about how we would all profit if we actually were present when we came in contact with others?
Recovering Businessman, Seminar Leader, Speaker, Author, Coach, Scout
Remember those scenes in Avatar, when the people of Pandora would look each other in the eye and say, “I see you?” Well, these three little words may have a much deeper meaning–they are part of a time-tested tradition and greeting that we can use today to feel more connected, centered and purposeful.
About 20 years ago I was on a safari in Africa (Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda). As we traveled through the villages and Serengeti savanna I noticed a recurring event. When one of the indigenous people would approach another, they would pause, face each other, look directly in each others eyes for five to15 seconds, say something and then continue on their way. This would happen in populated villages and in very remote areas where there may be only one human every 20 square miles.
After a couple weeks of noticing this I asked one of our guides from the Samburu tribe what the natives were doing. He said they were greeting each other. “How are they doing that? What are they saying?” I asked.
“One of them says, ‘I see you.’ Connecting through the eyes, the other replies, ‘I am here.’”
This touched me. I’ve traveled to and worked in 94 countries so far and have seen many different customary greetings–hand shakes, bowing, kissing on cheeks one, two or three times, hugging, touching foreheads … but none quite like this. I have a file I call “Fancy Stuff” for things that tickle my fancy, and that illustrate or demonstrate a truth or useful principle. This goes in that file…Continued
Do you remember your first kiss? Mine was on a motorcycle at the top of a mountain when I was thirteen years old. The boy I was kissing was seventeen. Earlier he asked if I wanted to go for a ride on his motorcycle. I said yes. I was so excited, I knew my first kiss was going to be happening soon. So I hopped on the back of his bike and off we went.
We rode around until we got high up and could see all the streets and houses below. We were in the mountains in the state of Rio de Janeiro, where I grew up.
He turned his bike off and we both got off. He was nervous but managed to ask if I wanted to be his girlfriend. I too was very nervous but also managed to say yes. And then it happened. His lips moist and full touched mine. Then without being taught anything I just instinctively opened my mouth and my tongue and his touched. All these amazing feelings started rushing in and at age thirteen I was being baptized into the sensual world of adulthood. Read more
I’m in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where I was born and raised. I’m here visiting my parents and friends I still have from when I was a little girl.
When I travel, I’m often reminded about how important it is to take a break from the place and situations I live in. Let me explain: seeing other people and locations that have no direct relationship to my day to day, helps me see things from a different perspective.
When we never take a break from our life, as beings of habit, we tend to respond and see our lives the same way time and time again. I’m not saying issues go away. But I am saying we get to see them in a different way. We get to put them in a different perspective.
Solution, inspiration and energy come from allowing creativity to exist in our lives. Creativity requires time, space and change. So if we stay stuck in our routines, whatever they are, eventually our lives become stuck.
Now, I know not everyone can take off to Brazil. And not everyone can take off at all. But we all can take small brakes within our time and financial constraints. We just need to be interested in doing so.
I’m suggesting in being creative and courageous to try out different things on a regular basis to give ourselves the different perspective that a trip to a foreign country can give us. Going hiking, to a museum, to the beach, bike riding, checking out all the different “meet-up” groups (www.meetup.com) in our area to join new people and do different things that are attractive to us, buy half-priced tickets to a concert or a play, are just a few ideas on how to take a break.
What I’m trying to say is let’s find things that take us outside of our comfort zone and do them on a regular basis. Staying stuck is easy, changing our perspectives takes resolution.
Making a list of what these things are, and crossing them off as we go along, is a good a way to make sure we will follow through on this idea of shaking things up.
Life goes really fast and our purpose is to grow as human beings, learn about ourselves and others and find contentment. Being stuck is not a path to happiness. Feeding our creativity is.