October 5th, 2010
“I live for today, not for yesterday.
The theology of time has long ago disappeared, today.
For the past and the future would always meet,
and existence will walk by your side.”
At the end of the day, there is no choice. The truth cannot be ignored. Life is not like a play. We do not get to rehearse. No amount of practice will bring to light a more distinguishing role. That is why at all times we must absolutely, positively be ourselves.
I know my eyes are dark like the color of deep lake water on quiet moonless nights. Their guarded unrevealing nature, however, has tangible advantages. They are instruments of protection from the capricious nature of fate and the unswerving gaze of others. You may ask questions, draw conclusions, stare rudely, or turn away, but you will never be able to penetrate the miserable circumstances of my chronic pain and disfigurement. Only I must reconcile the concrete with the abstract, and find courage to awake each morning in a misshapen prison of hard-hearted facts, crushed together in a small space.
At least I am not boring. You cannot describe my features at the risk of simplifying them. Where else can you dispense with illusions, so quickly?
I admit my eyes also appear frail on occasion, worn out from life, disenchanted with a body ordained by fate. Some days their inexhaustible disappointment influences my walks along the beach. Under a jeweled sunset with water lapping at my feet, I glance out to sea and solemnly challenge the ocean for a wave to sweep me away.
On the other hand, during gifted moments of illumination, my eyes display a certain dream-state delicacy, which is gentle, round and well focused. With elegance and certain pride, I allow them to take in the world and organize it like a camera’s lens. They absorb shape, embrace color and scan for activity even in hard to reach places. They scrutinize people, investigate things, and examine ideas down to the smallest detail. Hidden among dark shadows where the great unknown is said to exist, they explore for answers. As they search, organize, test, observe, and draw conclusions, I am the director of my own secret destiny. This is the one place where no one else’s attempt to judge or define me even vaguely by my appearance is of any great consequence.
I acknowledge my dark hair has a will of its own. A few loose strands in the front trickle down my wide expansive forehead like rivulets of water. Though dense and shoulder length this black cape draped around the back of my neck has no mission or sense of place. Thus with insufficient coverage my McCune-Albright’s syndrome is pushed out into the world, fully exposed and deeply vulnerable.
I know my face is the shape of destiny, seen from a distance with imaginative ease, viewed close at hand in a mythological sense. Its reflection in others grows in proportion to the view they have of themselves. Look at my expression, how muscles move, and lips form a smile, just like you. See how capable I am of sadness, humor, and joy in harmony with all of life. Yes, it’s true, we are more alike than you think. So, imagine my surprise to discover, on occasion, how flat and shallow some people cut and paste their first impressions. It’s disturbing enough to sit alone and contemplate why the universe forms as it usually does in celestial experimentation without being reminded that the luckless star in one prophetic moment had to be me.
I know the appearance of my body resembles large stones in a rapid river, stripped and polished to the flow of the current. I understand the elemental reason of nature: that nothing is certain, everything is elusive, and time eventually wears away the thin veneer of flesh and bone from each of us. Physical limitations I must endure with fateful reluctance. However, what matters most is what I aspire to, even if only to combat the inevitable force of life.
I refuse to accept physicality as my only defining element. I will not half-sleep through life, regardless of a body reformed in it’s own limitations. Quite the contrary, for I have discovered true liberation on the days I awake astonishingly free from the flow of restriction.
Despite poor health, I am a poet. I write to justify life and make it appear logical. I compose for pleasure. I produce words not as fabrication, but as proof of a destiny, no one can ignore. At times, I fail. The struggle is long and arduous. However, sadder, much sadder to contemplate is the thought of no fruit on the ground, whatsoever.
My longing for expression is pervasive. This tremendous passion for language has rescued me from the oblivion of that other life, where only appearances garner respect. I unite with all poets who seek to fine their way through the labyrinths of wording, structure, and emotional complexity. Silence is our common enemy. Phrasing poses an intractable problem. Once you go so far, you risk falling off the edge. Redemption is a completed poem. The rest is insignificant. The eyes, a mouth, lost among thousands of others slip away in anonymity. Have you forgotten that memories fade, but poetry lives forever?
I write to understand the ephemeral nature of creativity. Yet, other more concrete possibilities pass through my life, so I also take the initiative to paint, for is not the soul of love manifested in physical things, as well? In either event, both give rise, full and complete, to a state of happiness as rich as I can imagine.
It has been suggested some of my images are dark and melancholic, while others reverberate with illumination. This is right on both counts. More importantly, each at one time was like a child yet born, eventually brought into the world through my own singular vision.
I paint to show human imagination can take many forms. I am not restricted by the dark, heavy, elemental nature of fate, which some see in my work, nor the translucent state of positive energy, converted into physical presence, which others observe. Rather, what is happening to me, what I choose to focus upon, is the development of my own creative process. I know my heart demands expression to reduce the shame and despair. I paint to feel the heat from each canvas. I produce to scorch away youthful dreams and disappointment. Imagination is the driving force.
I must see things differently. Understanding is my goal. Knowledge is my key. My resourcefulness is an outlet given hope. Any reasonable explanation will suffice that explains away the distressing reflection seen from a mirror. Anyway, after the fact, let each work speak for itself. Of greater importance to me is that I dearly love them all.
Finally, there is another face I must reveal for it is covered in moments of loneliness. It is the face of isolation, rejection, and fear. It’s wearisome enough to occasionally lay head down in hand and be quiet. Perhaps at this time, my soul fills with pity. The world is heavy. The lights are dim. The pain from my rare, medical condition is fully formed and constant. I brood for a while.
I also know on these days that eventually my supreme faith will assert itself. Storms do subside, winds inevitably cease, and the sun will emerge bright and glorious.
There are many projects I have accomplished, many more still on my mind and not enough time to sufficiently address them all. This frustrates me. Still, I am grateful the gift of life includes many generous, loving souls who continue to play a significant role during crucial times in my struggle to survive.
As you might imagine, it’s not easy to live on the edge of this perplexing contradiction. Nothing will change for appearance sake. I cannot shut the blinds. There is no place to hide. So, I work on becoming exceptionally optimistic. I adjust and hypothesize. I set goals. I remain a man of substance. In other words, I alone decide the narrative of my compound being. I am unique. I am capable of any undertaking. I am Mauricio Saravia and I will create my own mythology.
I have faced constant pain, sorrowful looks, and financial insecurity. I have faced creative challenges, extended love, and many a feeling of joyful experience. I have endured uneasy awareness, strangeness in my own body, and the unknowable future. However, I am thankful for the melody of my mother’s supportive voice, the ability to write, create music, plow the narrow fields of a landscape in painting, and feel the triumphant rush of a life well lived.
Sadly, Mauricio passed away in 2008 at the age of thirty-eight. Therefore, his thoughts and ideas as expressed in this narrative are mine alone and I accept full responsibility for the content.
My inspiration was a reflection of many hours spent in conversation with his mother, Maria (Marisa) Eloisa Damele, who introduced me to Mauricio’s poetry, paintings, music, and family photographs of him growing up. Her unconditional support throughout the entire writing process is deeply appreciated.
Marisa also provided me with important videos. I watched her son’s gentle mannerisms while he walked along the beach. I heard his patient, soothing voice in response to questions about his artwork. This knowledge base provided a standard of measurement without which I could not have created a word. Finally, special thanks to photographer Faye Sadou for contributing her beautiful portraits of Mauricio, and photographer Maria Ventura of Ventura Imagery for her stunning photographs of his paintings.
Saravia…The Official Site
Saravia – One Man. A Dream. His Journey.
Mauricio Saravia – Painter – Musician – Poet
July 5th, 2010
“To be or not to be, that is the question”
Decidophobia is the fear of making decisions. In his book, Without Guilt and Justice: From Decidophobia to Autonomy, Princeton University Philosopher, Walter Kaufmann describes those with decidophobia as “people who lack the courage or will to sort through the different sides in disagreements to find the truth. They would rather leave the deciding of what is true to some other authority. Once the decidophobe has relinquished authority to decide the truth, then they will accept as truth anything argued by that authority.”
Every day in the synthesis we call life, demands upon our attention summon decisiveness. Sometimes events happen, which are predictable. We take our cue from past experience and make rational decisions. Other times, a simple unexpected problem does not conform to our preconceptions, which can lead to misguided choices, emotional upheaval, or intellectual confusion. Ill-defined problems, vague goals on the job, insufficient perspective in relationships, and troubled financial problems all mask uncertainty. Uncertainty prompts confusion. Confusion acts like a magnetic field to attract denial, conflicting emotions, and low self-esteem.
How good are you at making decisions?
- Can you rise to the occasion as circumstances warrant?
- Do your hunches and intuition pay off?
- Can you count upon reason to gather information, consider alternatives, examine consequences, and then make a calm, thoughtful choice?
- Do you get positive value from your decisions?
There are three types of people in the world: problem solvers, poor problem solvers, and non problem solvers. The first has more control over life, the second operates on a form of autopilot, and the third runs a gauntlet of difficult, unresolved situations.
Everyone wrestles with life challenges. Problem solvers, however, are proactive. They do not tolerate uncertainty or ambiguity. They define the problem, create a course of action, and move toward resolution. They accept risk as part of the process. One does not always feel safe along the way. Sometimes the process is nerve-racking. Stress and anxiety occur. So does regression and progression. Nevertheless, well-learned behavior enables problem solvers to think and reflect. They look at the entire picture, rise above its parts, and respond decisively.
Poor problem solvers
Poor problem solvers lack the fundamental ability to perceive certain conditions. Consequently, they fail to initiate an appropriate action in response. They are usually not very competent or rational in making decisions. Insufficient conceptual or practical skills often lead to deficiency in judgment. They can’t find the root cause. They miss the point. Patterns, contrast, subtly, and nuance often elude them. False hopes, second thoughts, and inflexibility circumvent decision-making skills. Lacking insight, they frequently wait until the last moment to make decisions.
Non problem solvers
“It will go away on its own.” Non problem solvers leave their story hanging in the air. Often they are unsure how to act or what to expect. They do not fully understanding what they want to accomplish. They do not know what type of outcome they want. They construct inadequate theories and embrace knowledge that is false, misleading, or incomplete.
Non problem solvers procrastinate. They hope things will change, which of course they do, but not very often in their favor. In greater situational complexity, where specific combinations are critical, they cannot distinguish between fact, fiction, or belief, so they scratch their heads for some promise of an answer.
Decisiveness as a source of power
In difficult decision-making situations, we can change the way we think and act. We can learn to focus intensively in a specified direction toward a specified end. We can draw upon the depths of our feelings, emotions, and attitudes to make sense of shifting conditions. We can work through time constraints, inadequate life experience, irrational fear, and unreasonable perceptions. We do not have to assume powerlessness. We need not succumb to anxiety.
Through training and guidance, anyone can develop problem-solving abilities. Behind the picture, natural skills and resources can be made accessible upon demand. Through a variety of practical, measurable, tangible, achievable steps you can learn to:
- Exercise greater control over the habitual way you think, feel, and behave
- Learn to concentrate, evaluate, and decide an appropriate course of action
- Improve your information-processing capacity
- Decide, not to decide, for appropriate reasons
- Develop risk-assessment skills and realistic goal setting abilities
- Reduce stress, anxiety, and feelings of lack of control
Tips to remember
Here are some tips to remember in the art of clear thinking. Problems are not one single slate of color. They do not exist in an empty space. They were caused by different combinations and may only be resolved by blending a variety of different ingredients: knowledge, intuition, experience, support, and absolute determination.
The next time you get into a decision making situation, ask yourself:
- What is the exact nature of the problem and how did it occur?
- What evidence supports, or repudiates my opinion of the problem?
- Have I carefully considered my options?
- Is any additional information necessary to make an informed decision?
- Which course of action is best for me to implement?
- Am I realistic, emotional, impatient, or too patient?
- Where can I go for assistance?
Inevitably, decisions between good and bad, bad and worse, right and wrong are matters of personal choice. Choosing between them, or not at all, defines your destiny.
June 28th, 2010
Dedicated to Joanna Field
“I began to have an idea of my life, not as slow shaping of achievement to fit my preconceived purposes, but as the gradual discovery and growth of a purpose which I did not know.”
So here we are, you and I, elementary particles living life on a beautiful, but precariously rotating grain of sand called Earth. We’re out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by time and space, conjecture and belief. Delivered from the cosmos, upon whatever cruise ship dropped us off, religious or scientific, is not of importance to me in this particular blog. Rather, my curiosity is focused, for the moment, directly upon what to do, now that we’re here!
- How shall we learn to understand ourselves?
- How shall we comprehend the world around us?
- Must we depend upon a foundation constructed by others?
- Can we freely choose to decide what is most important, and then act upon those conclusions?
The search for purpose and meaning in life presents many a predicament. On the one hand, our temperament and instinctual characteristics are mostly genetically sketched out at conception. The essence of this selectivity is indispensable because it drives the whole range of our nature to seek order and connection between our self and others. On the other hand, we can just as easily make wild assumptions, based upon their value and moral agenda, and be led far astray from our own internal truth.
Furthermore, the very heart of life is capricious, many-sided, eternally moving, stirring, changing, and virtually incomprehensible. Thus freedom to enjoy peace of mind, express individuality, and reach the full embodiment of self-worth, is often in conflict with the present, outside world. Any wonder stress, anxiety, fear, apprehension, disconnection, frustration rage, and anger occupy the subconscious?
Perhaps, in part, that explains why so many people happily embrace moral, ethical, and philosophical convictions with little resistance. Firstly, it’s easier. Secondly, external influences like family, friends, television, and the Internet, arrive in unavoidable abundance. Thirdly, some beliefs, customs, values, traditions, and doctrines have merit. They provide a measure of stability. They ease our restless nature. They “fix” our character.
But look more closely. There is another side of the coin. Quite often, these dominant sources of influence reflect rigid, unimaginative, and intolerant thinking. Inevitably, learning becomes quite impossible and adjustment to the world very difficult. Although, it’s true, we are not dependent on our own experience alone for information; it can also be very dangerous to have someone else push you into an idea for which you are not yet ready.
Every person has his or her own particular narrative. Each of us is driven by a unique combination of fundamental concerns. Only as individuals, with any degree of certainty, can we determine for ourselves what seems important, what is real, and what is worthy of further pursuit or complete and utter avoidance. Of course, a mental training system can help channel one’s direction. Nevertheless, the underlying motive must originate from within.
In her book, A Life of One’s Own, by Joanna Field (Marion Milner), the author takes us on an individual pursuit of a “sense of new possibilities in richness and thought.” We learn of her challenging growth experiences and experiments along the journey, sometimes “drifting without rudder or compass,” other times convinced she was on the right track.
Joanna is persistent in trying “to find out what kind of experience made me happy.” Her search is the embodiment of a self-directed spirit. Her daily diary postings were, at once, charming, naive, cautionary, even desperate, as she attempted to lead a truly authentic individual life.
Like Joanna Field, you have many options:
- You can seek to stretch your capability of acting with conviction and determination
- You can live and work independent of what other people think
- You do not have to be micromanaged by external circumstances
- It’s not necessary to drift with the crowd
- There is no reason why you cannot learn to enter a new world of possibilities and richness of thought
- Even an ordinary way of looking at things can take on greater meaning
A search for purpose and meaning is not without obstacles. The journey requires focus, persistence, questioning, even disappointment. Coming up with theories along the way help us understand our own psychological functioning. Will the process stretch our comfort zone? Possibly, but then what is life without the full spectrum of human emotion?
Joanna’s search for purpose and happiness eventually led her to conclude a state of conscious awareness was the key to understanding oneself. Without consciousness, freedom of expression was virtually non-existent. Without understanding, she realized she was at the mercy of “blind thought.” Only through conscious understanding could she, “develop my own rules and find out which of the conflicting exhortations of a changing civilization was appropriate to my needs, and not from borrowed, mass-produced ideas.”
In search of ultimate, exclusive meaning, it’s necessary to distinguish ourselves from others. Ironically, it’s exactly this individual explorative, experiential process that very well may bring us all together, not in philosophical bondage, but in the formulation of new respect for different branches of knowledge from the same family tree.
June 21st, 2010
In defense of kicking, grousing, and bellyaching
“We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.”
Sometimes we just have to let it all out. Take those positive thoughts, that Zen in the workplace attitude, and chuck them out the back door. Forget about art therapy, meditation, or breathing heavily into a bag. Let go of physical exercise and written affirmations. Ignore reprogramming your mind for success. Disregard intrusive upbeat sentiments. Throttle the urge to grin and bear it. I think, on occasion, a little cranky whining, whimpering, complaining, venting, exhortation, or even a burst of anger, is good for the soul.
Not too long ago, I received an email from a highly indignant business coach who took offense at some form of crass marketing technique sent his way. This guy ranted, raved, and attacked the culprit with sarcasm, causing quite a stir and received several empathetic emails in response. See, griping works! This coach was social networking, even in his time of irritability. Others responded with their own kvetch. Apparently, a great time was had by all.
The inexorable laws of life occasionally demand some sort of emotional, proportional response:
- The wife who is late for dinner after her husband spent all day in the kitchen
- The demanding boss who gave your job to his distant relative
- Lost keys, a dead battery, or flat tire
- Slow drivers in the left hand lane
- Obnoxious neighbors with unruly children
- Incessant barking dogs
- Loser sports teams
- Sanctimonious talk-show hosts
- Leaky plumbing
- College graduates who constantly correct your grammar
- Economists who cannot forecast trends
- Meteorologists who cannot forecast weather
- Vending machines that eat your change
My wife and I live in the Pacific Northwest. For many years, a woodstove was our only source of heat. Seven cords of wood were essential to keep us warm each winter. Living on five acres of heavily forested land helped me gain the experience necessary to accomplish that goal. Plus, using a chainsaw along with a four-pound single bit axe, a bucking wedge and a splitting mall, made me feel macho. When the wood was finally downed, cut, split, stacked, and ready to use, my wife also thought of me as macho, which is a very good thing indeed!
Nevertheless, there was one perpetual problem. Chainsaws lack compassion. They have a determinism all their own. Stihl, Echo, or Husqvarna brands are all equal culprits. The correct oil mix, sparkplug gap, sharpening, and bar length do not matter. The odds of getting your chainsaw started, on the first few pulls, while deep in the forest, are virtually non-existent.
You can prime the pump. Tension mounts. You can keep your blade sharp. The brow furrows. You can talk, plead, and reason with your chainsaw. You can place an accurate kick with steel-toed boots. You can yank on the pull starter until your arm falls off. Nothing happens! This is the perfect opportunity for a full-force, stress-reducing, primal scream loud enough to empty the woods of all living creatures. After a while, I would regain my composure, quietly sit down on a moss-laden log to eat my lunch and enjoy the view. Eventually, I’d win. Every year, before the first snowfall, my seven chords of dried, carefully stacked wood, proved I never, ever give up. However, howling helps!
In the meantime, as for your own crabby behavior, never worry about negative feedback from other people. Only the most insensitive individual would fail to commiserate with you in the face of your own crisis.
Yes, it’s true, empowerment, emotional control, and thinking synergistically have their place. Yes, each year a new crop of personal development books, podcasts, and motivational seminars are ripe for harvesting. These are good tools. Sometimes behavioral manipulation can help set up new thought parameters and provide vivid examples of creative intuition. Any dialogue that motivates human behavior to develop an exceptional useful ability is beyond griping about.
Nevertheless, there are certain situations, which do not lend themselves to energizing, crystallizing Buddha thoughts of peace:
- Customer service reps that shine you on
- Grouchy postal employees
- Irritating customers
- People who constantly whistle in public
- Running out of toilet paper at a crucial moment
- Movie theatre chatterboxes
- Wall Street bankers
- Egocentrics that know everything
A good kvetch is worth its weight in emotional gold. You remove negative energy, reduce frustration, and release the backflow of pent up irritability, all good stuff.
Developing one’s full potential means acknowledgment of life’s complexity in its many actions and reactions. On the one hand, as a mature, adult, this includes the possibility of learning to control one’s emotions. On the other hand, who is to say an occasional good gripe, at the right moment, is truly without merit or meaning, even if one feels like a child afterward.
June 14th, 2010
“Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice;it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.”
―William Jennings Bryan
What’s your business plan, to move forward, or to slide backward? Of all the opportunities that life presents a small business owner, adaptation to changing circumstances can be the most challenging. It’s a dual pursuit. You have to support daily, demanding activities, which require your full attention, yet still find time to engage in the difficult art of planning for an unpredictable future.
Unfortunately, in a vast and rapidly evolving economic landscape, it’s easy to fall prey to the worst possible situation: an unyielding philosophical and technological reluctance to adjust with the times. Instead, the temptation is to cling to outdated modes of operation, steadfastly bury your head in the sand or engage in wishful thinking. Rather than try to figure things out it’s easier to remain passive or falsely assume you understand more than you actually do.
Sometimes our senses are fallible and, in the course of daily life, we make poor judgments. Everyone has a unique set of life experiences that color one’s view of reality. However, outmoded beliefs, and antiquated business practices, no matter how cherished, eventually block one’s ability to compete.
Meanwhile savvy consumers searching for easier methods to shop, even for products they purchase frequently, discover an explosion of choices and buy elsewhere. Over time, as technology and innovation continues to drive new products and services, greater access to them erodes your business!
The FBI: Flexible Business Intelligence
Flexible Business Intelligence is one way to mount a spirited effort against unpredictable economic changes. It’s a frame of mind from which you draw upon your decision-making skills, the power of imagination, and aggressive action to investigate options. Flexible thinking enables you to put your whole self into searching and questioning, to increase awareness, explore information, and distinguish differences. You begin to recognize possibilities and opportunities where others see only fear and doubt.
Flexible Business Intelligence is characterized by the ability to manage change with calmness, clarity, and a certain amount of objectivity. When people talk about change, the conversation often revolves around external events, and thus, beyond one’s control. However, if you view the development of new ideas as a logical consequence of conducting business, instead of a threat or limitation, you regain control to make wise choices and accurate decisions.
In the past, a small business community could thrive over larger corporations because of its maneuverability. Independent merchants could discover and develop new ideas that very often eluded well-established corporate institutions. They could relate and respond quickly to the needs of local residents. Innovation and invention were products of their own devising to service those needs, which could not be met by larger corporate entities.
Now, the largest corporations in the world can compete successfully with each small business for the attention of every local customer. That’s Flexible Business Intelligence at work even among the giants. Nobody’s education is ever complete. Live and learn is a wise motto.
You can never eradicate competition. It’s not your basic adversary, anyway. Studies show self-limiting beliefs and negative habit patterns, more than anything else, contribute to business failure.
Flexible Business Intelligence, of course, cannot guarantee success. It does, however, reflect an attitude of self-responsibility at the higher end of the scale since one is more positive, optimistic, self-confident, willing, and able to adapt. These are characteristics, which all successful people with a strong sense of internal accountability, share in common. Working knowledge, intuitive skills, and flexibility are the only true sustainable resources for a real competitive advantage.