Saturday, October 28, 2006

Let´s Go Fishing

This week’s quote was: “A wise master doesn't educate his student by giving him the answers; a wise master is the one who teaches his student to find the answers within himself.

All too often we give people the answers and the information they need just to find that even so, they don't manage to survive on their own. My father used to tell me that if you want to ensure survival, you can't keep giving a person fish. Instead you give them a rod and send them off to go fishing for themselves.

Every week I'm challenged with the task of teaching and training a group of people in working with their tools of the trade. New options, new services, new applications or simply a refresh of the ones we already have; the idea is to train them to become more efficient at their jobs.
To get information through, as clearly and completely as possible without having a room full of bored or sleeping souls is the weekly mission; and so one learns techniques to keep them interested. This takes inventing and reinventing teaching methods.

This week however, the lesson was given in a completely different way. So different that instead of teaching of the services, the students were given half an hour to research, prepare and teach the lesson to rest of the class. Divided into three groups, each was given a certain aspect of the service to research. Thirty minutes, Online Manual and a box full of paper, pens, glue and assorted stationary… I appealed to their research and to their creativity.

Give a person a pole and tell them to go fish; their next reaction tells you a lot about who they are and what they're capable of….

There were those that merely stared at me in shock; those that dove into the information highway and then there were those that headed straight for the goodies box…
Upon given a task where do you start on your plan of attack?

Having being divided, most members of each group knew little or nothing about each other. There was little time however to build team spirit. I was surprised to see some groups come together by throwing themselves into the challenge… others had to be pushed and nudged into working together.

As the teacher or the trainer, this had to be the most rewarding of classes I'd ever given. Each group needed different kind of support. Some lacked in information, some in creativity and other in just general motivation. Some however needed only more time to put their ideas to flight… these were the groups that inspired me the most even though my true challenge was those that had little or no sense of direction.

Giving the very last lesson of the week, the box of goodies was slightly slimmer and in lacking compared to the first lesson in the beginning of the week and there were those that excused their lack of imagination on lack of utensils.
What is one man's garbage is another man's treasure…
The very last group to present their presentation was without a doubt the most creative of all the groups throughout the week.
They used a piece of cardboard that no other group would touch and made a big cardboard cellphone. Cutting out a screen, they made square screens with the answers to the questions there were given to research. Two members held the cellphone and removed the paper on its screen to reveal the answers. Another member read the questions whilst another read the answers out loud and there was even one more member to go “beep” each time the answer was revealed.
The presentation was a laughing success and had I been grading such kind of effort I'd give the group an eleven out of ten points due to their correct answers, creativity, simplicity and amazing performance of team spirit.

Not only was it a great exercise to stimulate ideas, I'd say I had just as much fun as the students who thoroughly enjoyed the lesson. It got me reflecting a bit more on the subject of teamwork.
Who am I in the team?
Am I the information seeker?
The creative one?
The one who speaks for the group?
The one who encourages the team?
What is my role?
With the 360 degree evaluation coming up, I felt the weight of responsibility on my shoulders as I am to evaluate my own work and the work of my colleagues.

One can take so many conclusions on answering these questions. What I do know for sure is that each week, each time I'm given a group of people to inform, teach or train; I have an opportunity to hand out fishing rods and make a difference. I look forward to the feedback of those who work with me for a better positioning of my place in the team.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Let it Rain...

Drenched!!! From head to toe, my umbrella did nothing to protect me from the sheets of water thrown down from the clouds above me.
All the angels and saints in heaven must be on strike because they've all left their taps running. Instead of dodging puddles, I found myself unsuccessfully looking for any indication of solid surface under the pools of water flowing over Lisbon’s streets and sidewalks.
At first I hurried as fast as I could to avoid getting too wet, but I realized that the battle had been lost when I felt that squishy feeling inside my boots. From that moment on, I slowed my pace to a pleasant walk where I imagined Sinatra proudly clapping at my version of “Singing in the rain”.
The great thing about singing in the rain… is the fact that there isn't a soul around to hear you!
I managed to avoid unwanted spray showers from passing cars by sticking close to the walls, my efforts however, proved very poor as not even my underwear managed to arrive home dry.
It would've been nice to arrive home to a towel and a warm smile that followed with “baby let's dry you up…” but I'm in the least grateful for not being greeted with something like “where the hell have you been”.
I've been spending more time than I should at work. I could blame old obstacles and new challenges or the fact that someone is on holiday but the truth is that I'm there later because I want to be, because there's nothing to come home to.
Watching tiny rivers stream down my window, I contemplated the advice I gave a friend earlier.
Find someone to love and hold on to that person.
Did I really say that? That sounds like something a really old person who’d forgotten what love is all about would say to someone like me.
I know for sure I wasn't trying to blow him off with some general, unfelt and unthought-of answer; so what was I thinking?
Either I'm getting old, or maybe old bags really have something when they say it's as simple as finding someone to love and then holding on…
People invest so little these days… or too much… but mostly too little.
Listening to drip drop song on my window sill, I sit in the darkness drying my hair with a towel and reveling in the warm feeling of dry pyjamas…
Right now, I don't think I'd rather be anywhere else in the world than right here… sitting on my bed, listening to the heavens hum the age old lullaby that guarantees me a peaceful sleep tonight. Perhaps I'll be blessed with sweet dreams… the kind that you wake up from with a stretch and a smile. Either way, I know I'm going to sleep nice.
I don't feel alone even though I'm the only person in the room…
Lately things seem so clear, even when they don't make any sense.
Somewhere along the line I gave up trying to make sense…
I fear it's a phase, though I'm not quite sure I want to climb out of it.
These days, I've given less thought about the things I can't resolve immediately.
I'm not sure if that's a good thing, but it leaves me feeling good about fate and gives me peace of mind…
Like the rain… I love it when it rains, just listen and not think of anything but the falling of the rain… Nothing in the world leaves me feeling more centered or secure.
Let it rain,
Let it fall,
Let it pour cats and dogs and may no spot be left dry as God washes the world with his tears… tears of joy, of sadness and of pure emotion…
Let it Rain.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Not only is this my movie suggestion of the month but it's also the kind of movie that will make you stop and reflect a little about the kind of decisions you'd make should they be possible.

I always said that I'd be a happier person if I could dictate to my heart how it should feel; the way I see it, I'd save myself a hell of a lot of trouble…
I'd never considered though the possibility of forced Amnesia…
Or better yet… Erasure…
The possibility of erasing something or someone from your mind.
Imagine it…
You're happily living the relationship of your dreams when one fine day you accidentally catch your reason for living, screwing your best friend's brains out, a sport he's been entertaining for a while…
It's the kind of knowledge that tears a person a part, drives one to drink and causes the suicides of people who can no longer take the slow procedure of going insane.
Go ahead, picture it and feel it if you can…
The psychological torture.
No matter how long you imagined it; it felt a second too long didn't it?
And yet, this poor sod, who's one in many would have to live with this kind of anguish for days… weeks… months… until finally restoring his mind to some sane shadow of what he normally was before the incident.
But what if you could save yourself from it… forget you ever met that person.
If you could completely erase everything and every memory about them…
If you could… would you?

This question bothered me for the simple reason that it would eliminate the whole concept of “everything happens for a reason” and it would change my whole course of life, how would I learn my lessons if I can't remember them?
Who would I be if I hadn't gone through what I did?... or in this case, remember what I went through?
And then the question that bothered me the most is… if I could wipe my slate clean from only once incident or one person… what or who would I want to forget?

I pondered this for a while and came up with no concrete answers… In my mind I remembered times I wanted to erase and then moments later I'd want to unerase the very same ones.
Maybe I should start with the school bully, or that first boyfriend that went wrong, perhaps I should focus on the ex… or that one heartbreak that shook the very essence of me…
But all those I've already come through and survived to the point where they don't bother me anymore and in realizing that, I came to the conclusion that the person to wipe out should be the one presently taunting my dreams.
He invades my thoughts, steals my concentration and shakes my self-confidence.
A nuisance that neither fulfills destiny nor fades away and when I'm meant to be focused on more important things, I find myself wondering what he'd think about them…
Salvation!!!! Bring on the zapper… the dude in my dreams has got to go!

And yet…
I hesitated when I realized that I'd no longer wake up with that sensation that he's by my side, the smile on awakening from a dream with him and the warm feeling I get inside each time our eyes meet…
When we look at each other that way, I wonder if he's feeling what I'm feeling…
But the phone never rang, the sms didn't come and the e-mail wasn't replied to…
That's the kind of torture I'm talking about! The kind of distraction I don't want or need in my life and the weakness I had to get rid of eventually… so why not straight away?!
I looked for every piece of evidence that linked me to him, every written letter, every photograph and every memory I had of him ready to be lost and disposed of…
I hadn't even realized that I'd collected so much…
Looking myself in the mirror, I smiled with a certain amount of relief that finally all of him would be gone and I'd move on with someone else.
I couldn't help notice however, how calm my heart was taking the whole situation.
Well that's a change! For a stubborn heart you sure aren't putting up much of a fight right now!
My heart however, calmly told me why it had already won the fight.
“You can wipe away the memories; you can take every special moment and destroy it so that it never happened and you can forget that you ever felt attracted to the man…
But I won't forget, I'll never forget the timber of his voice and the depths of his eyes and when you see him for the first time, it will all just start over again because you can't and you won't escape the fate that was written for you”

And with that… I put away foolish thoughts and resigned myself to the fact that I can't control what I feel or go through and it's up to me to choose what I do with whoever and whatever happens in my life.

My heart is right, if the magnetic pull that attracts (or repels) me to a person could be explained then it could also be dealt with… but it can't and it's the emotion that needs to be lived to be understood. If there is such thing as reincarnation then it could explain why two people feel like they know each other forever upon their first encounter.
It's odd to think that I could've lived a thousand different stories with one person and even stranger that I can't remember what they are but I can inexplicably sense that I like/dislike, trust/distrust the person in front of me from the beginning. Is it extrasensory instinct or is my heart remembering a story my mind erased?

Watching this movie, I perfectly understood why God would choose amnesia each time a person reincarnated. How else would they overcome the eggs that can't be unscrambled?
A new beginning? Another chance? Do people keep coming back together until they've fulfilled their destiny and if so… why?
Have you ever watched someone walk away and felt totally at ease? I've been told that one tends to feel an overwhelming sense of relief at that moment, like an invisible chain is broken… karma they call it, the death of karma.
And then there are those who take your heart with as they leave and you know, that even though you may never see them again, the resolve is far from over.

I'm glad that Erasure as I've baptized it; isn't possible.
It would be a very tempting option to have to deny.
I believe in climbing over my obstacles instead of under them even if it takes longer than I'd like… as the song from the movie itself suggests;
“Everybody’s gotta learn sometime…”

What would you want to erase?
Would you ever erase me?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Hook Got Your Tongue?!

Have you ever listened to someone that spoke to you with an admirable passion just to realize that it's all bullshit?!
Your first reaction is to think that they’d make a great politicians considering that it's all talk and very little or no action. The blame is always elsewhere and although they know all the solutions, they advance with none.
Their eyes water, their lips twitch and all through their criticizing, you stare at them incredulously and pray to all the saints in the heavens that they would just stop and listen to themselves!

There are people so self-centered in the world that they simply can't see past their own belly buttons. They can't fathom why the world can't see their suffering due to the fact that things don't go their way and for some unquestionable reason, the world is to behave as they see fit and owe them the living they imagine themselves worthy of having.

I recently read a piece where the writer sordidly criticized the behaviour of another person for being childish. The person was accused of being immature, defensive and intently decided on “not growing up”. There were no examples given of the person's behaviour to justify such classification and the writer somehow still revealed that when asked why he had given the person a nickname with an immature connotation, the writer “cleverly managed to not answer the question”.
Gee that shows a hell of a lot of maturity!
In order to guard the identity and integrity of the writer at cause, I've decided not to point out the facts which indicate why he should be the last person to label anyone immature.
However, I would like to share my general point of view directed at anyone who thinks they're good enough to judge another person…

There's an old Portuguese saying that says: May he with the house of glass throw the first stone. Considering the basic concept that no one is perfect, what gives you the right to label someone for their faults?
People are not objects that can be label and catalogued!
If a person has a reading disorder it doesn't necessarily mean that they're retarded.
If a person has had bad luck with the partners they’ve chosen doesn't necessarily mean that they're “A sucker for punishment”
If a person believes in their dreams, it doesn't particularly mean that they haven't grown up!

In my opinion, a person who judges, labels and catalogues is a person with no perspective or consideration for his fellow man.
Just because you don't agree with a person's behaviour doesn't give you the right to classify them for it.
Its one thing to criticize behaviour and another to label the person for it; and in order to correctly criticize a person's behaviour, it helps to know all the facts and reasons behind it… otherwise it's nothing more than hot air.

Do people not look themselves in the mirror anymore? Gee whiz! It's already such a bloody mission keeping track of what to better in ourselves to go around playing Judge and Jury!

The way I see it, courage is a sign of maturity. When a person comes up to you and directly asks you why you've given them a particular nickname it's because they're interested in the reasons and intend on reflecting on them.
Cowardice is a sign of immaturity, to dodge a question as not to have to answer truthfully is clear indication of a person who doesn't have the courage of his convictions.

If you talk the talk then you better bloody well walk the walk!
I read somewhere recently that a true master first does what he believes in before preaching it. So if you can't take responsibility for the things you say, be wise enough not to say or in this case… write them.

That some people get away with playing eternal victims and then still have the cheek to point fingers at other people who are doing the best they can.

A critic is a legless man that teaches running.

My advice to Peter Pan is not to worry about her reputation. Worry instead about your character because your reputation is only who other people think you are whilst your character is who you truly are.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Lost and Found

Photo Source: Unknown

I left my heart in South Africa, I lost my strength in Paris and my mind is wandering somewhere in Portugal… where exactly I'm not sure, but I'm guessing that it's between work and university.
Where is my soul… shhhh!!!!
Don't call her… she doesn't want to be found.
She’s lost and doesn't know where she is,
She doesn't know where she wants to go…
And in this doubt, she’s in bliss.
Eternally divided between desires, dreams, wishes and responsibilities.
She doesn't feel like deciding right now.
Ahead of her is Love, Hurt and Struggle… none of which she’s ready to embrace.
She hasn't decided whether she’ll smile or cry first…
Let her be.
She’ll sit on her bum and watch the world go past whilst building the strength to pick herself up again.
She doesn't need your help, she just needs time.

Forgive me my friends for not writing sooner… I promise to make up for lost time the minute it becomes mine again.

Song Suggestion – Lost (Anouk)