Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The importance of faith in today's society

I woke up one morning with these words running thru my head "the importance of faith in today's society!" It wasn't something I was thinking about at all, (even though faith is monumental in my life) and I forgot about it as soon as I got out of bed.

I just thought about it again, today when I was talking with my youngest sister Vanessa about heeding dreams and following the sings that surround us.

So much as been said about faith; people have talked about it; books have been written on the subject. What more can anyone say about it? Do I want really want to go there? I am not a theologian, nor a philosopher, I haven't even studied religion, what do I really know about faith?

Faith, for me, is the ability to believe in something greater than ourselves.

Is faith important in today's society? I think so!

We are obsessed with having things. Material possessions are equaled with happiness. But then we have stress, depression, phobias, we are where is all the happiness we are supposed to have?

But when you believe there's a plan for your life, you find a certain peace. This is faith.

Faith enables you to see beauty in the little things. A sunset, apples hanging on a branch, a sleeping baby, the smell of clean laundry, freshly baked bread, and yourself; for you are part of something magestic.

Faith is believing that even though there's a lot that's wrong in the world, there's still so much that's beautiful.

Faith is believing that everyone is your brother, that love exists and that we matter.

Faith is important in our society because happiness doesn't come from having things, but knowing we belong!

Friday, October 8, 2010

love story

He had left home when he was 16 and traveled everywhere, anywhere, smoking weed, reading Marx and swimming in his clothes in the Pacific.

She was a hard-working girl, with her weekly visits to the hair-dresser and her love for soft music.

They met, when she was 18 and he was 20. She tought he was a funny guy, he was always making her laugh. He thought she was the prettiest girl in the whole world.

She got pregnant. He told her that he didn’t want to marry (marriage was so institutional), she cried a little.

They ended up getting married (so much for anarchy), and soon they had more children than they knew what to do with them.

They had their share of difficult times—he was impulsive and stubborn; she was emotional and would overly worry about everything.

But then they had their good times, so many of them!

By now they’ve been married for over 30 years, and have an army of children and grandchildren.

She is as hard-working as ever, he still likes to read.

Sometimes when everyone is home and there are too many mouths to feed, she will serve everyone and if there’s not enough to go around, she will go without. Mothers do that—she is a mother! But he won’t let her, he will give her his portion. She will argue that she doesn’t need it. He will put it in her plate. She will pass it back. This will go on for a bit, until they decide to split it in two and share.

They say they love each other like if it was the first day.
—no need to say it, it’s so easy to see!

Monday, September 20, 2010

It's so nice to be alive...

A few years ago I went on a trip to Germany. One morning I woke up, opened the shutters of the hotel room and spread my hands out as if to embrace the whole world and exclaimed
“It’s so nice to be alive in Germany!”
In that very minute I felt like nothing in the whole wide world could compare to the feeling of waking up and being alive in such a wonderful country.

I’ve said that line about a lot of places ever since. But if I had to say which one has been my favorite I would say without a doubt Hungary, and following close behind Poland. Hungary, because it’s home and I’ve been so happy there.

Coming back to Italy has meant leaving behind a whole lot of friends, a work I loved, and million beautiful memories. I made the decision to come back because of family matters. I put aside my own dreams to help my folks and although nobody asked me to give up anything (it was a choice I made all by myself, out of a great sense of duty), I did it with as much hostility I could muster up. I was intent on disliking everything about Italy, if I was going to give up Hungary, I was going to do it with resentment.

I’m not proud of my behavior, considering that I am all for possitive thinking and counting my blessings, but I felt it was my prerogative to be absolutely miserable this time around.

One morning, I was in the kitchen playing with my baby nephew, the television was on and it was the News Channel. They were showing scenes of 9/11–I hadn’t realized the date in the calendar.
It wasn’t a wake up call–not really. Just a timely reminder that after all “IT’S SO NICE TO BE ALIVE” anywhere in the world.

Still I thought I should come up with practical steps that would help me look at the bright side. Here they are:

-Say each day “It’s so nice to be alive in Italy!”
-Keep a one sentence journal describing the best thing that happened that day
-Say hi to everyone (be friendly)
-Experience Italy. Live with passion!

I miss Hungary, I long to go back, but I’m going to make the best of my time in Italy and gradually turn my “iron” world into “gold”…

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Following your heart

I met Aaron coming down on the night train from Budapest to Venice. He came on in Zagreb and took the seat in front of me. I slept on and off almost all the way to Ljubljana, and then Aaron woke me up to tell me I had to show my ticket to the conductor.
From that moment on, even though we were both tired and many people got on the train at the next station, we talked a lot. I found out he was American and he was traveling thru Europe; he told me how much he likes Italy, he spoke Italian better than I did.
We talked about his studies, and what kind of job he expects to get when he gets back home. He told me he was on a journey to discover who he is and, almost by default we started talking about life--what was the point of it all? What are we supposed to achieve? He told me he would like his life to have some meaning.

I told him how my work with the orphans and the homeless, and my years of volunteering has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Things that others strive for in order to be "successful" have never appealed to me. I always thought there had to be more, there had to be a way out, there had to be a door somewhere.

Recently I watched a movie that I like to call "The Movie that Changed My Life". It's the story of a young man, Chris McCandless, who sets out to find his path in life in an unconventional way. He was a bright, clever guy, who had it all going for him; but he wanted more. And he went out to look for it! There are so many people who are discontent with the way the world goes,and yet they never leave their comfort zone to find their life mission. They are born into a pattern they cannot for the life of them break out of. They search for the light and find lightbulbs. They want wind and they have to be content with electric fans. They toil day and night for a life they hate and nothing makes sense.

When we find someone who is brave enough to break free and sets out to discover their path, we should celebrate their courage! Some people say Chris was selfish, eccentric, crazy, arrogant and naive, a fool. I personally think, what he did was fantastic! My sister asked me jokingly if I will go off to the mountains by myself like Chris did. I told her
"It's not about going off to eat wild berries, it's about following your heart!"

One line that stuck with me, which I think it's the most important message of the movie is when Chris scribbles down "happiness only real when shared". As much as I admire Chris' adventure into the wild, (and in no way do I want to minimize his quest), it takes a lot more guts to know the world is screwed-up and face it! I would be "easy" to run off and create a perfect world for ourselves, whereas it takes a lot strength to stay and change the world from within.

Nevertheless Chris' story inspired me! It gives me hope to know there are people out there who are idealistic and want their life to have a meaning, like Chris, and like Aaron. Hopefully we will remember that living for others is the only success worth striving for, the only real source of happiness.

"...and when we love, God's light shines on us!"

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dávid, Eden and kids...

I spent my last year in Hungary with a wonderful family, who made me feel very loved and as part of their own family.

Dávid is one of the most generous person I've met in my life; he will literally take off his shoes to give it to someone in need. He has a great sense of humor and it's a good listener.

Eden is a top-notch mother and wife. She cooks divinely, and can make a grand meal out of three ingredients and a bit of salt :D Eden is a terrific friend, and was very supportive of all my crazy ideas.

The kids were amazing, each in their own unique way.

I want to take the opportunity to thank them for all the help, love and encouragement they gave me. I spent the best period of my life in Hungary with them; it was magical.

Thank you! I could never thank you enough! I love you so much!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The words we never say...

For all that I am a great advocate of humanity and make a big fuss over people's individual uniqueness--the visit to Auschwitz being my great epiphany on the value of life--lately I had been growing a bit cynical in regards to some people that surround me.

Some of my friends, those closer to my heart, behaved in ways that both hurt and betrayed my trust in them. None of them did it on purpose, and I am sure, part of the misunderstandings were also my fault.
Yet I was so dissillusioned by the turn of events, that I withdrew myself from their company and decided they were not "worthy" of my time and friendship.

Needless to say, the light in my life grew a little bit dimmer; for when we shut the door to leave the world out, part of the beauty of living stays out as well.

During that time I befriended a young musician, and his presence in my life brought back the sunshine, chasing all my shadows away. Perhaps the one significant element of this friendship was the knowledge of its imminent culmination. Every moment together was fleetingly precious--here for an instant, gone in the next interval.

It made me realize, thankfully not to late, that I don't have time to hold a grudge against someone who I think did me wrong. When all is said and done, the things that matter are not who was right or not, not who was to blame. Very much the way a man who has only 3 more months to live, would hardly make an issue of a mere triviality, when time is running out.

So often we leave to the end the words we should say at the beginning. Many times we never get to say them. Too often we think ourselves immortal, and we leave for after, the things that should be done now. But what if there was no after? what if this moment is all we had? what if this is the last time we could say the words we never say? wouldn't we say them? Perhaps even shout them from the rooftops, so that those whom we love will not have the shadow of a doubt that they are important to us!

This happy revelation came to me thanks to the time spent with this wonderful friend of mine, who means the world to me! :)

Because our time on earth is transitory, I want you to know that I love you!

PS: to Nell, KRJ, and Johnny M.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

When we were little

When I went to visit my folks in May, I got a few photos of when we were little that I would like to share with you all

So, here's a visit to Uruguay, 1982. Juan is older than me by a year and three months. I was born in Ecuador, but my parents left a month after I was born. My brother Pablo was also born in Ecuador--and same thing, after a month or so we left again.
We traveled a lot during my first four years: Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay. I don't remember much of that. I remember Brazil because we camped out for a while. I remember quite vividly traveling in the back of a truck in Bolivia, with lots of cholos (refers to people with various amounts of Amerindian racial ancestry) Apparently the train tracks got messed up with a flood, and only a truck could go in that kind of terrain. I remember it was crowed and there were animals--because cholos travel with their animals all over the place. My mom says we kids looked like little refugees, all stained with dust and wet from the rain.

So this is a picture of a Bolivian market place

traditional clothing of cholo women

I don't think I ever learned any word in Quechua, except for thank you: Diuspagarapusunki

Then Sofia was born in Bolivia, and we decided to settle down for a while...between Cochabamba and La Paz, where Marcos was born

When I was 7 we moved to Santiago, Chile and Daniel was born there. Here is a photo of us performing at a school. I'm the one in the pink dress

We stayed in Chile for a year, and then when I was 8 we moved to Uruguay.

Susi was born there, two years later. Uruguay was fun because my grandparents lived there, and we got to experience having grandparents for the first time in our lives.

After Uruguay, we moved to Paraguay. In Paraguay people speak Guarani, this is how you say God bless you: Ñande Yara ta nde rovasá (that's the only thing i know how to say). Actually my mom was born in a part of Argentina where people speak Guarani, but she forgot it when she moved to Buenos Aires. Well, Andy was born in Paraguay. And when he was still a newborn we moved to Argentina. I was 12, and I loved Argentina--the people, the culture, the climate, everything about Argentina was wonderful! But we were there for a year and a half and then we went all the way up to Ecuador. Cristina and Vanessa were born there and it was our home for 5 years.

Juan was with us for a while, but went to Brazil the last year we were in Ecuador.
We then moved to Chile.

In 2001 we moved to Italy. As you can imagine, I have lots of stories to tell, of places and people and what they eat, and the animals, the exotic fruits, and the traditions of each country I've been to. When I was young it was difficult for me to always be traveling. But now I'm quite thankful for the original upbriging I had. And of course my parents are incredible people! I am most thankful for them!