Day 69 – Thanksgiving

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Today I give thanks to this happy couple. My parents – circa 1969 at Banff or Glacier NP. They represent what the United States of America is all about.

A country of compassion.

A country of opportunity.

A country where an economic refugee from Germany and a political refugee from Cuba, could meet, fall in love, get married, and carve out a life and raise a family.

All of that happened in a little neighborhood on the far north side of Chicago called Rogers Park.

They embodied the American Dream.

My dad, a craftsman, opened a business with his brother and my mother went to school to become a registered nurse. It took them a little over 20 years to buy a house, which by that time my brother and I were in college.

But it wasn’t all peaches and cream – if I may use that cliché.

My little nuclear family was a place where two very different cultures collided.

Yes, collided. No melting happened in the pot of my family. Although, you could argue German and Cuban DNA did blend to create my brother and me. But that is another story…

From our little experiment – I am authorized to say the American melting pot is a farce, a fantasy, a disillusioned idea.

What does it mean to melt cultures together?

What does it mean to have no diversity?

What does it mean to have no differing opinions or perspectives?

What if there was only one color in a rainbow? Blue bow? Red bow? Purple bow?

Take a walk in the woods, snorkel around a coral reef, canoe along a river through a rain forest.

In nature there is only diversity. An ecosystem is made up of diverse creatures. From microscopic plankton to huge whales. Life on Earth thrives on biological diversity. Any time one organism takes over a habitat – the ecosystem becomes imbalanced. Disease, mass die-offs, decreased food sources.

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Life on Earth thrives on biological diversity.

Why should it be any different culturally?

In my little family, we didn’t blend cultures. We didn’t create a new culinary genre where  sauerkraut is paired with arroz con pollo, lechon asado, or ropa vieja. Although bistec milanesa or empanisado (breaded steak) was very similar to wienerschnitzel – and this little Cuban/German girl loved both.

Dad never learned how to dance the Cuban son – mom never learned to polka. Neither learned the other’s language. A version of English is what we spoke in our household (although I always say English is my second language).

Dad thought my Cuban family yelled too much. And Mom thought my German family didn’t like her because she was a “darkie.”

For better and worse, my parents stayed together until my Dad’s death in 2013. Despite their outer dysfunction – the communication challenges, the short bouts of yelling, followed by years of silence – deep down inside, they loved each other.

As I approach my late 40s, I have finally realized what my parents gave me.

Cultural sensitivity, an ability to be patient with and understand people with accents, a mysterious morphological make up that allows me access into a diversity of groups, and the consciousness to see the humanity shared by all of us.

So I give thanks for them and for this country that made it all happen.

I only hope I can share their gifts with others.

Aloha!

 

 

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Day 46 – Love with Abandon


Love with abandon. You have heard this adage before. You have wished for it.  You may have decided you will never know what this means. But you are experiencing it right now, every day, every hour, every minute.

You are loving Earth with abandon.

You think she will support you. You think she will always be by your side. You think she will care for you.

You have forgotten how your actions impact her. You have forgotten to nourish her. You have forgotten her.

When you wash your hair in the morning do you think about where the soap goes? Do you think she will drink it like an elixir of love?

When you go for your morning coffee do you bring your own mug? Or do you think she will take your trash and make diamonds from it?


When you look at her do you only see her beauty or do you see the wounds that you thoughtlessly imprinted on her? Erroneously thinking your love is enough to cure her.

Do you see those marks? They are yours. Only you don’t want to take responsibility for them. You say they are her problem. You say they were there before you met her. You say “I love you” as if it is a magic spell to break all curses.

It isn’t.


Her baggage is your baggage. That is what love means. True love needs care, attention, and respect. How did you forget?

Now is not the time to love with abandon, now is the time to love consciously.

Only then will you know love.

Aloha.