April 2004 Vol. 4 Issue 4
An Internet Newsletter publication for all CIM Alumni and friends.
Clem S. Estrera, Jr., M.D.
Ma. Belen Rosales, M.D.
Ray Castillejo, M.D.
Letting Go (Part 6)
Clem S. Estrera, Jr., CIM '72
What are you afraid of?
For whatever reason, many well-educated people in particular, even among the alumni, are intimidated by the computer. Some are anxious or afraid and would not even touch it, let alone boot it even if the computer is in their living room. But we should all know by now that fear and anxiety are normal reactions to new things or new situations. All we’ve got to do is be familiar with those things or situations and our fear and anxiety would simply go away.
Just think of the first time you went on a date or visit the girl of your dreams in the Philippines. If you had a frail heart, you would not have won your fair maiden. Instead, you’d probably have a heart attack going into the girl’s house knowing that her strict father is inside. Or, if you had allowed your fear to develop into a frightening monster, you would probably have been hospitalized for dehydration from nervous diarrhea (naka-igit) or from alcohol intoxication because you would have to constantly drink to calm your nerves. I know. I know. I am exaggerating. Now give me a break. But was it not how we, boys, basically felt? I don’t know about the girls, but they probably felt the same way too.
So those involved should keep in mind that they are not the first persons to be anxious, scared and intimidated by the computer, and they certainly won’t be the last. But if they allow fear and anxiety to constantly dominate their thoughts, the computer will continue to intimidate and immobilize them like what the electricity did to the Harrisons.
All of us make mistakes but not all of us are willing to admit them, let alone apologize for them. The importance of apology and forgiveness cannot be overemphasized. Life is too short to hold grudges and to give the pain of the past the power over the present. Holding on to the past makes our disappointments, disagreements and disconnections with others go on for years and years. We become nailed to the past, forever wounded, forever justifying our resentments and grudges, forever allowing our feelings to continue making decisions that should be made by our heads. We'll continue to let our emotion rather than reason control our sense of who we are and how we are.
When we apologize or forgive, we disconnect ourselves from the past that has caused us emotional distress or discomfort, making it easy for us to reconnect with others. Indeed it’s hard to apologize and forgive because we grew up in a culture that tends to view apology as a sign of weakness or downright wimpish, and forgiveness as letting someone off the hook for having wronged us in some way. In a society that admires toughness as a virtue, it's hard to admit or do something that may appear to be a weakness even if it's love. Apology and forgiveness are born of love.
So long as you resist apologizing or forgiving, that's how long you are allowing the pain and grudges of the past to dictate your present expectations, and that's how long also you will limit your ability to love and be loved. The question is, are pain and grudges really worth keeping and giving away better than love?
The most difficult part of forgiving is forgetting. No matter how sincere we are in forgiving someone who had wounded us, the memory may stay with us for a long time. But forgiveness has a way of changing the way we remember as well as the way we think of the situation or event. It allows us to practice acceptance, tolerance and compassion. We become more honest to ourselves and less prejudice to others. We no longer have to suffer as victims as we become once again normal participants of life with others. We provide a sort of emotional and spiritual environment that allows our experiences to deepen our wisdom and broaden our perspective.
A wise and healthy choice
Forgiveness has nothing to do with the response you've got from the person you forgive and so is apology has nothing to do whether or not the person you hurt has forgiven you. It's a choice you make and it's not just a good choice, it's a wise and healthy choice. For if you have a hateful attitude especially with a desire for revenge or to get even and thus cannot forgive, or a guilty attitude and thus too fearful or too ashamed to apologize, you’d be taking those you hurt or those that hurt you with you, carrying them like an albatross around your neck, or a proverbial sword of Democles over your head. Your bad feelings can be triggered by someone or something somewhere like you are a remote-controlled toy with a transceiver inside. The trigger or stimulus could be a face in the crowd, a song, a telephone call, an e-mail message, even the mention of one’s name, etc. They are innocuous things, but they are often more than enough to make you uncomfortable.
Obviously, it’s only through sincere apology and forgiveness that you can let go your bitterness, guilt, grudges, anger and resentment so that you can start the healing process. Letting go of them is like removing the transceiver from the toy. The remote control becomes useless. Letting go of them is like closing a wound so it can heal. When you apologize or forgive, you break the negative bond between you and the person you hurt or who has hurt you, setting yourself free from the burden of pain and grudges or the burden of fear and guilt. If you cannot forgive or apologize, you won't be able to gain security and personal freedom because the darkness of the past would continue to shadow your every thought and action.
Now simply consider that if you were hurt or offended by any of my articles in Brain Waves, for example, and you’re nurturing anger or grudges that I’m not even aware of, you would become cynical of any article I write and would avoid reading it. If you do read it, you’d become uncomfortable. You’d always be tempted to cling in anger to me as you keep carrying the burden or keep defining yourself as the offended and wounded one. Just by viewing our Web site or hearing someone talking about me or about Brain Waves would be enough to trigger your grudge, anger and disappointment. You suffer as a victim of event over which you have no control.
Thus you need to do some introspection or self cross-examination to understand the reasons why you feel that way. Why the thought or idea of someone hurts your feelings? Has the idea made you feel threatened or diminished because it's better or greater than what you have in mind? Are you being defensive that instead of looking for messages or something to learn in an article, you seek for motives and thus consider one's opinion as a personal attack? What has such opinion violated - your moral standard or your pride?
It's important to understand because understanding enables us to choose and decide what to do with how we feel. Honest introspection often leads to open-mindedness that would make us favor ideas rather than fear them. Defensiveness builds walls, openness builds bridges that can lead to trust, respect and peace of mind. In defensiveness, our good human qualities like kindness, tenderness, sincerity, etc., are being locked inside by suspiciousness and cynism. Thus our bad human qualities like distrust, envy, oversensitivity, etc., are the ones taking control of our behavior.
A movie and a book
Have you ever seen the movie On Golden Pond? It's a good family relationship movie. The main thing in this movie that I want to point out is the daughter's disconnection with her father that had gone on for years and she did not really know the reason why, because she clings to the past for so long that it has become a part of her identity. After some introspection, the daughter finally discovered that her long-standing rift with her father started when she was a child, when her father didn't have time or interest to watch her execute a dive into a lake. Once she realized why she's had such problems with him, she then accepted that it was not really such a big deal and so, she was able to let go of her anger and embrace her father.
The recent number one New York best-selling book The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown has a significant part of the story that gives us an insight that once we close our mind, we would readily remove from the equation even our once loving family relationship to maintain a long-standing rift for years and years. Sophie Neveu was raised by her grandfather since she was a child because her parents died in a car accident. They loved each other so much that each of them would have been willing to risk their life for each other. But love is often the first we let go rather than the last we hold on to when we feel betrayed in some way.
One night when Sophie Neveu came home without letting her grandfather know, she saw her grandfather and other men and women in the basement of their house having what she thought was a sex orgy. She was disgusted. She left and never came back to the house, let alone talked to her grandfather since then. She also has never opened any of his letters for ten years. Sophie had never given her grandfather a chance to talk and explain everything. He was murdered and his secrets died with him, but his love for Sophie did not. He left something for Sophie to know that his love would go on.
When Sophie found out that her grandfather was the Grand Master of a very powerful secret religious organization and was only doing a religious sex rite or ceremony during that night, she was crushed. It’s all because instead of allowing her love and understanding to sneak their way out, she locked them tight inside, and all she had to show for were disgust and distrust of her grandfather. For once the mind is kept closed, it is no longer interested in learning, understanding and knowing the truth. It is only interested in aggressively guarding and protecting its prejudices and assumptions that it believes to be true without considering listening to the other side of the story.
Life isn't fair. So what!...
One of the common complaints I've often heard is this: "It's not fair. I did all the work and others get all the credit." It's often a legitimate complaint, of course, but it usually doesn't get anyone anywhere. I used to feel that way and in fact, I used to complain like that in my job, because in the state system where I'm working, if you work hard and do a good job, more works are assigned to you and yet others with the same job descriptions like you do are paid more than you are. Further, some of the physicians I used to work with in the system were sleazy and would not hesitate to dump their problems on you while they call in sick and take advantage of their leave. And they would often take their leave of absence on Fridays and Mondays, the busiest days of the week. I guess Fridays are for anxieties of the coming weekend and Mondays are for the hangovers. It has often made me wonder whether these physicians have any work ethics at all, any conscience, or a sense of responsibility.
I was often left fuming with anger and frustration with no other choice but to take care of other physician's problems. I was stressed out, not from the work load, but from my reluctance and resistance to do them. It was always an emotional struggle that would only exhaust me and make me feel like a loser. The truth is, I like it when I'm really working, busy and being productive. It makes me feel I deserved my paycheck. But every pay day when I started thinking that I was doing all the work and others who haven't done much were also picking up their paycheck and were even paid more than me, it would readily throw me off balance and I would lose my rhythm and feel depressed.
The U.S. state government system is not really fair. Promotion is not based on honest and enthusiastic professional performance, but on what school you got your diplomas and certificates from and what university hospitals you had your training from. American physician graduates are offered and paid more and are readily promoted, and yet your job responsibilities are the same as theirs. In fact, you often have more patients than them to take care of and you get the really sick ones. But the fact of the matter is, every government system in the world is the same everywhere and none of them is fair when it comes to job promotion or career advancement. You've got two choices: quit and look for another job, or stay and learn to enjoy and get used to things. But if you quit, how would you know that you will be happy with another job? How would you know that your new job would be a lot better than your present one?
Thus I have decided long ago that I might as well learn to accept the fact that life, anywhere you are, is not fair, in order to be able to get into the form and flow of life and keep my balance. For if we orient our lives with a compass that always points to bitterness and frustrations because life isn't fair, then our struggle becomes endless. We won't be able to participate in the rhythm of life and become whole. That rhythm is called letting go.
Matthew Fox said: "Celebration is a forgetting in order to remember. A forgetting of ego, of problems, of difficulties. A letting go." Indeed life should be a celebration, something to be grateful for. It's a gift of joy and happiness, not a source of complaints and bitterness.
It took me a while to learn to let go my job frustrations and disappointments, but once I had learned to let go, work became a lot easier and more enjoyable. It didn't matter anymore whether my colleagues would report for work or call in sick. I focused on simply doing what needs to be done as best as I can and be done and happy with it. I did not see any advantage of giving so much power to frustrations, anger and bitterness. Complaints had never gotten me anywhere, but had only given me more anguish. Going to work only became a daily ritual of unhappiness. And yet, I was definitely aware that it's not the work itself but resisting doing it that has made work a struggle. Just imagine how much easier if we simply accept what needs to be done and do it.
In voluntary jobs in particular, the most common cause of frustrations and disappointments that would turn off participation is not getting the credit. Indeed not getting the credit has a way of starving our ego. It is human nature to expect credit for what we do. Credit gives us comfort, and we often weigh our actions and decisions in the light of our immediate comfort rather than in ultimate growth and development. If we don't get the credit we believe we deserve, our flash of enthusiasm would readily fade like the afternoon sun on winter season. The pleasure of doing something is gone to be replaced by disappointment or disenchantment. Before long, a grudge or resentment may develop.
Many of us especially when it comes to voluntary jobs, readily tie up our creativity with the credit we get or not get. Instead of doing the best we can, we are more likely to do just enough depending on the credit we get for what we are doing. We become creative instead, of finding excuses for not doing our best. I guess it's human nature to expect credit when credit is due. But if we continue to allow such attitude to dictate our decisions and expectations, we would ultimately lose our sense of curiosity and limit if not diminish our ability to make things happen, to willingly help others, to share our blessings, to be grateful for life, to love and be loved. Life shrinks or expands in proportion to our sense of curiosity, to our willingness to help others and share our blessings with them, and to our ability to love and be loved. They make us feel worthy and deserving of the good things in life.
When we equate work primarily with reward in terms of material reward and accolades, rather than in terms of learning and improving ourselves intellectually, emotionally or spiritually, we are likely to see ourselves as fools when something goes wrong or mistake is made. It's not the mistake per se that would make us see ourselves as fools, but our attitude toward the job that we know beforehand has nothing in it for us. When we are not appreciated, let alone acknowledged for what we have done but criticized or reprimanded instead for making a mistake, it's easy to feel like a fool. Yet if learning something and improving ourselves to become a better person are our primary interests or concerns, we can easily let go our mistakes and continue to do things until they become right. We don't succumb too easily to justifying ourselves with a question - what's in it for me, anyway?
The substance and quality of life has nothing to do with the rewards or accolades we get from others. It has to do with how we make use of our creative imagination to grow, to broaden our perspectives and enlarge our horizon, and to energize and enrich our life, not deplete or diminish it by being creative in our alibis and excuses. Creative excuses never nourish our souls, let alone lift our spirits. And they never make us a better person, but may only make us a bitter Homo sapiens.
Our CIM Alumni Reunion this year will be in Philadelphia on July 7-11, 2004. There will be a change of activities’ schedule. The Grand Ball night is moved up to Friday, July 9. Saturday is for every one to go where they want, but hopefully not going home yet. There will be a bus for Atlantic City, for those who want to go to the casinos. The alumni dinner will be during that night of Saturday.
I haven’t heard yet from any of the members of the board whether we have sold enough raffle rickets to go on with our reunion raffle the jackpot prize of which is the 2004 Mercedes SLK 230. I only have 3 pledges from mine for the ticket so far. I’ve got the feeling that many of the alumni would probably send their money for the ticket together with their payment of the reunion activities. I am somewhat positive that the raffle would go on.
Please be reminded that this year's reunion will be the year to elect new officers and board members. So far, I haven't heard anyone in the alumni planning to make a bold move yet. If you are waiting for the Bush - Kerry debate in order to learn how to win election and lead, forget it. There is no debate in our alumni. All you need is a little bit of confidence that you can do a better job in making changes that would inspire and encourage alumni attendance and participation. Change is not supposed to have automatic brakes, but in our association, the brakes are stuck on the Status Quo road. If nothing else, make a challenge, so our association will have a good chance of moving on and making some turn toward Progress highway so we all can sing: "On the road again...."
Military Space Weapons. Many of the weapons are planned sometime in 2015, but some are in the near-term. Few samples of space weapons as published in Transformation Flight Plan: Countersurveillance and Reconnaissance System - A near-term program to deny, disrupt and degrade adversary space-based surveillance and reconnaissance system.
Evolutionary Air and Space Global Laser Engagement (EAGLE) Airship Relay Mirrors - To significantly extend the range of both airborne and ground-based lasers by using airborne, terrestrial, or space lasers in conjunction with space-based relay mirrors to achieve broad range effects, from illumination to destruction.
Air-Launched Anti-Satellite Missile - Small air-launched missile capable of intercepting satellites in low Earth orbit and seen as a post-2015 development.
Hypervelocity Rod Bundles - Provide capability to strike ground targets anywhere from space.
Space-Based Radio Frequency Energy Weapon - A constellation of satellites containing high-power radio-frequency transmitters that posses the capability to disrupt, destroy, and disable a wide variety of electronics and national-level command-and-control system. It would be used as a non-kinetic and anti-satellite weapon.
Health and Medicine: Frank B. Hu, MD, PhD, an associate professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health, warns that low-fat diet may increase risk of adult diabetes. Reduced fat intake often leads to increased carbohydrate intake, particularly products made from refined flour. This can be worse for health than a higher-fat diet. What to do: Eat little or no red or processed meats. Do eat fish and poultry. Use whole-grain products, such as whole wheat, oats and brown rice, instead of those made from refined grains. Include healthful fats, such as olive oil, in your diet.
Shireen Atabaki, MD, assistant professor of Pediatrics, Children’s National Medical Center, Washington, D.C. who led a study of 100 children with minor injuries concluded that CT scans for kids are overused. According to Dr. Atabaki, CT scans emit significantly more radiation than X-rays – and children are more sensitive to radiation than adults. Significant radiation exposure at an early age can increase cancer risk later in life. CT scans are useful for serious head injuries and can detect intracranial bleeding and other injuries. However, most children who suffer minor head injuries turn out to have negative scans. CT scans also don’t detect some fairly common injuries, such as concussions. Ask your pediatrician if a scan is really necessary – and if so, ask for it to be done with the lowest possible dose of radiation.
After 35 years of marriage, a husband said he wanted a divorce. His wife was stunned. "But John," she pleaded; " how could you want to divorce me after all we've been through together.? Remember how just after we met, you caught malaria and nearly died, but I looked after you? The when your family were wiped out in a hurricane, I was out there for you. Then when you were falsely accused of armed robbery, I stood by you. Then when lost 40,000 dollars on the horses, I sympathized. And when that fire destroyed your office, I comforted you. How could you leave me? We've been through so much."
"That's the problem, Sue. Face it, you're bad luck."
Wife: "Do you love me just because my father left me a fortune?"
Husband: "Not at all, darling. I would love you no matter who left you the money."
An archaeologist working in the Israel desert discovered a casket containing a mummy. He proudly announced: "I have just found a 3,000 year-old mummy of a man who died of heart failure."
Test on the mummy confirmed the archaeologist's findings.
"How did you know he had died of heart failure?" asked a journalist.
"It was simple," said the archaeologist. "There was a piece of paper in his hand that said: '10,000 shekels on Goliath.'"
Two lovers who were interested in spiritualism and reincarnation promised that if either died, the survivor would try to contact the partner in the other world exactly 30 days after death. A few weeks after making this fact, the young man was killed in a car accident.
Thirty days later, his sweetheart tried to contact him via a séance.
"Can you hear me, Joel?" she wailed.
A voice came back: "Yes, Lauren, this Joel. I hear you."
"Oh, Joel, it's so good to hear your voice. What is it like where you are?"
"It's beautiful, Lauren. There are clear blue skies, a soft breeze and warm sunshine."
"What do you do all day, Joel?"
"Well, Lauren, we're up before sunrise, we eat a good breakfast, then it's nothing but sex till noon. After lunch, we sleep till two, then have sex till five. After dinner, we go at it again till we fall asleep around 11."
"Joel, is that what heaven is really like?"
"Heaven? I'm not in heaven. I'm a jack rabbit in Arizona."
There are so many comments, reactions, and critiques of this movie. One wonders why the hullabaloo? Hundreds of movies have come our way - religious, violent, comic, romantic or melodramatic movies, nonetheless we left the movie house and forgot about these movies. I can't remember any other movie that has claimed more attention negative and positive as this one. I'm more inclined to think that this particular movie is trying to tell us something.
The Cinematography of The Passion of the Christ is superb. The camera has presented really good shots, especially close-up pictures so near that the character leaps from the screen; shots depicting human emotions that stay with you throughout the film. The movie is very eloquent that words are sparse. Violence is not the main theme of this film. I must admit I closed my eyes when the whippings escalated. Personally, my threshold for pain is very low; that even as a spectator I suffer. I do the same to all other movies where pain is inflicted upon people. So, when Jesus was whipped, I hurt, and I cried. I felt his pain and suffering. In this scene, the movie was successful in transcending the anguish of Jesus. As the movie progressed, I was more convinced that the brutality Jesus experienced was horribly agonizing and real. Why do you think we have such a hard time watching, or accepting this? What are we denying from? Are we afraid to shake the perfect illusion of a life on a bed of roses?
The character of Mary comes out strongly in this film. My heart went out to her. I don't want to discriminate the non-mothers; but only a mother can feel what Mary felt in those harrowing hours. Not for a moment did she waver, nor was she emotional or hysterical; she was simply an epitome of strength. The flashbacks served as a catalyst that gives one a short respite from the heaviness of the scenes on the way to cavalry. The flashbacks show us the human side of Jesus; something we probably forget all the time. He had a childhood like any one of us; he had a profession like any other citizen. What these scenes say is that .- he was an ordinary human like you and me; therefore he felt like you and me. To put it bluntly, what this further suggests is that, when you are sad, Jesus knows what this means. If you reach out to him, he'll help you because he knows how you feel.
Two messages came strong and clear to me. We read the phrase - love one another - too often that we miss its significance. One of the flashbacks showed Jesus with his disciples. He bade goodbye to them and he said, "love one another." The way he said it, came like a bolt of lightning upon me. That is his one and only request from us is - love your neighbors, love one another. If we can truly do this, peace would be our prize. The other message was uttered before his death, "Father I thrust myself into your hands." It dawned on me that this is what Jesus is always asking from us in reference to our relationship with him - to trust him, to unconditionally give our love and belief in him who will save us from our troubles. A complete spiritual surrender is probably the key to our earthly deliverance.
This movie does not have to be liked, or disliked. The movie does not have to prove anything (anti-Semitic, brutal, superfluous), or make excuses. Go see the Passion of the Christ because it is an experience.
A conscious effort
In all those years I may have looked happy outside, but inside I was lonely and miserable, angry and frustrated, fearful and insecure with passive-aggressive behavior and obsessive-compulsive personality. Any interruption of my routine and structured life was enough to throw me into fits of tension and anguish. I snapped at nurses who interrupted me with phone calls in the middle of my recorded dictation particularly concerning orders they don't understand which to me were so simple. Yet afterwards I would feel ashamed of myself and would often hate myself. I was envious of my friends and classmates, always comparing myself with them and I often ended up with self-hate and self-pity for not having the comforts and luxuries that my friends have. It's like their comforts and luxuries would serve as an ugly reminder of the big blunders I’ve committed in financial investing and the bad decisions I've made in the past. Also, although I hate to admit it, I used to enjoy listening and participating in gossips.
The life I led was brutalized by envy, regrets, self-loathing and self-pity. I wanted it to stop the way it was going or keep it from deteriorating further. I was tired of pretending I was a happy person. I was not being honest to myself. So, I bought a diary book and started recording the day and time I was upset, envious, unhappy, grouchy or angry, the reason why, how did it start, what did I do, and how much did I believe I hurt my children, and how long my anger lasted. Did I overreact? Could I have prevented it or stop it sooner? If so, then what would have been the best way to prevent or stop it? Did I have trouble sleeping? How should I make it up to the ones I've hurt? How should I stop myself from getting involved with gossips? I meticulously recorded everything after I had calmed down from the incidence or after my bad feelings had completely dissipated.
I read and reviewed my diary regularly and there was not much improvement during the first year although I was able to cut down my verbal violence and physical reactions to my kids, but the verbal skirmishes and the yelling contests with my wife as well as the snapping at nurses remained the same although on shorter duration, and so with my envious feelings toward my friends. After another couple of years, I was finally getting confident that I was heading on the right direction. But I still had a hard time dealing with my anger and frustration that come from the same stimulus - when my wife would blame me for our daughters' anger and defiant behavior particularly when they kept fighting against each other like cat and dog. They even stopped talking to each other and started banging doors on each other's face like they hated each other's guts.
Hearing those doors banged made me cringed. I would go out kill my time in the Mall drinking coffee or eating ice cream with my little boy, or in the movies and in the bookstore just to stay away from my daughters' discouraging behaviors. But I realized that I was avoiding the problem, not confronting and solving it. Then while reading a book in the bookstore one evening, this sentence hit me: "People who want their own way demand, take, and order, and not concerned about others' needs and feelings." Somehow I identified myself as one of these people at least as far as my children were concerned, for I had always wanted my own way to control and discipline them. That's when I started shifting my focus on my children's feelings rather than on my own.
So I decided that the best way to show concern for others' feelings is to willingly start admitting and apologizing for my mistakes and irrational behaviors. I immediately started doing them especially to my kids and to the nurses although not much to my wife because she has that habit of taking me to a guilt trip to have a rendezvous with my past misdeeds. Moreover, I resolved to give the best compliment I could think of to at least one person a day, forced myself to learn to appreciate and admire my friends' new cars, house, and other means of comfort and convenience or luxuries that I didn't have, and to show gratitude to anyone by saying "Thank you," for anything.
I also resolved to start saying "I love you" to my children and hug them every time I had the chance. It was awkward and did not sound sincere initially, but I kept doing it every time I believe it was appropriate. My children were a bit surprised and suspicious. Further, I went to the Mall every weekend to buy something only to return it the next weekend. I was surprised and relieved to find that the salespeople didn't even ask the reason for the return. At one time I broke the head of a screw driver I bought from Sears because I hammered it, the saleswoman just told me to help myself and get another one for exchange.
A desired result
Although the improvement was slow in my re-programming, it was definite and I could feel it. After about 10 years total of constant conscious effort, recording and reviewing, the loneliness and self-loathing were gone and I have become more confident with myself. The fear, frustration, worry and insecurity have diminished to almost nothing and I became more positive and enthusiastic about life. For the first time, I've finally loved myself, truly loved myself like a real good friend; more tolerant, eager to understand others, no longer succumb too easily to blaming and complaining, and more honest to myself. It was the beginning of a life-long romance. I also realized for the first time that I've loved my kids so much that I would risk my life in a heartbeat for anyone of them.
Not surprisingly, I became more in control of myself, kinder and nicer, and the staff in our hospital especially my boss started looking up to me for opinions and recommendations. I stopped comparing myself or my family with others and became more appreciative of things my friends had that I did not have, and their family's achievements. I had learned to see my friends' and others' achievements and whatever they have that I didn't have as something they richly deserve because just like me, they worked hard for what they desire to have. If I got the touch of envy and self-pity, I would immediately settle with the rationalization that unlike me, my friends did not take a lot of risks with their money. If they did, then they were lucky. And so, karma is karma. Moreover, gossips lost its appeal on me. And for reason I could not clearly understand, I started getting the feeling like a voice whispering in my ears that I should help or at least offer help to others with whatever I can especially if given the opportunity.
The diary was no longer needed after 10 years. So, instead of trying to change my wife and my children's attitude and behavior to my bidding only to keep getting upset and frustrated because no one can really change anyone, I re-programmed my mind and changed my lousy self, and everyone's attitude toward me has changed favorably and so with my loving relationship with my children as well as my professional and friendly relationship with my co-workers and others. I came to believe that our two daughters' anger at each other and our older daughter's unhappiness, her being defiant and argumentative, her falling grades and what her first year high school teacher considered as depression before we transferred her to another school, were mainly because of me and my rigid, controlling and overbearing irrational behaviors.
The fact of the matter is, no one can ever be successful in trying to change someone especially in the family like one's wife and children. It's because you are trying to do something you don't have the power to. You would only get hurt because your wife and children can't and won't do what you want. The more you try, the more they'd resist and the worst your relationship would become. They would only get hurt, too, because your love comes with strings attached. In a family relationship in particular, your job as a part of that relationship is simply to love, unconditionally, no more, no less. Anything more or anything less would only ruin the relationship by either hurting them or hurting yourself.
Having been a gardener for many years, I've learned to compare humans especially children to a soil. Whatever seeds you sow, the soil determines if that seeds will grow and be productive. Alongside of a garden is a hardened path where you step and walk on. Seeds that you spill or put in this path will not grow but will shrivel and die. When you frequently step or walk on someone especially a child by physically or verbally abusing him with guilt, threats, blames, criticisms, or yelling at him, etc., like a soil, he becomes hardened. His heart will develop a tough, impenetrable shield that the good seeds you are sowing won't grow. He may have few areas of superficial spots where the soil is soft over a hardened rock. The seeds could grow on those spots but those spots are not deep enough to sustain roots.
Thus the child would grow up with shallow or superficial relationships with others, even others in the family. Every relationship he gets into is a suspect. He may also fear commitment. He guards against being taken advantage of and so he focuses more on what can he get out of the relationship rather than on what can he do to sustain it. For in a hardened soil, the seeds you put are often being stolen by the birds and any seeds that escaped the birds and grow in its soft areas, will wither and die at the first contact with the scorching heat of the sun. It's the same with superficial relationship. It starts to break if not wither and shrivel at the first disagreement, argument or a fight. Further, neglected children are like untended soil. There is no place for anything healthy to grow because overgrown weeds have used up the soil's nutrients. On the other hand, softening and warming one's heart with kindness, understanding and love is like consistently tending and organically fertilizing your garden. The seeds you plant will robustly grow and produce blooms that are often beyond your expectations.
If there is anything I desperately want more than anything else as a parent, it is for my children to have a good, pleasant relationship with each other, a relationship that is deep that is based voluntarily on mutual trust, respect and love, not a distant and superficial one that they are forced to have because of their parents' demands and expectations, or their use of guilt manipulations. I believe I have achieved what I have ever wanted as a parent, for as I evolved into an effective gardener, my two daughters' frequent fighting had stopped like someone finally stepped smoothly on the brake, and they started calling, talking and asking each other's opinions and advice, and looking after each other especially their younger brother. Until now, the three of them visit and spend time together with each other regularly aside from coming home on Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays. It's the most satisfying feeling I've ever had being a parent.
The most dramatic result from my behavioral change was that of my older daughter whose depression changed to enthusiasm without the need of Prozac and who went on happily to become the only girl in the history of the most prestigious girls' high school in Richmond, Virginia, who transferred during the second year and graduated valedictorian. She will graduate as an M.D. at the University of Virginia next month and will start her residency training in OB-Gyne at the George Washington University Hospital in the middle of June in Washington, D.C. It's what she had chosen and got matched because she plans to specialize in Reproductive Endocrinology and the hospital has an excellent residency training in this specialty. May be few years from now, she can help make her Mom pregnant again. I want another baby. Just kidding.
The biggest thing for technology in the future is what is called nanotechnology or molecular technology. The research on nanotechnology has been going on since the 1980s although people started to consider it seriously when Eric Drexler, a graduate of MIT, wrote a book about it called Engines of Creation published in 1986. Drexler was a Research Affiliate of the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at that time and also a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University. His book gives us the insight that we all would be better off if engineers and scientists can manufacture intelligent machines or tiny devices that can travel along capillaries and repair living tissues. Hence, the ability to heal diseases, reverse the ravages of age, or make the human body stronger and speedier. Such machines could also be used in many different fields and industries to make life easier and better for every one.
When we talk about machines, we often think of them as something bigger we can see, touch and operate with our 20/20 eyesight. But nanotechnology gets its name from the measurement called a nanometer – one-billionth of a meter. Just to equal the thickness of a human hair, you’d need 75 thousandth measurement. A billionth is pretty darn small. You need an electron microscope to see it.
Nanotechnology is born from the scientific fact that everything on earth is made of atoms arranged in different ways. Drexler wrote that arranged one way, atoms make up soil, air, and water; arranged another, they make up ripe strawberries. Arranged one way, atoms make up homes and fresh air; arranged another, they make up ash and smoke. Obviously, the ability to arrange atoms lies at the foundation of this molecular technology or nanotechnology. Thus the researches the past several years have been aimed at developing bio-chips called molecular assemblers and disassemblers, and nanocomputers.
Nanocomputers will control molecular assemblers, providing the swift flow of instructions needed to direct the placement of vast numbers of atoms. Nanocomputers with molecular memory devices will also store data generated by a process that is opposite of assembly. Assemblers will help engineers synthesize things; their relatives, disassemblers, will help scientists and engineers analyze things. A nanocomputer is thousands of times faster than electronic microcomputer and could fit in a box a micron wide, about the size of a bacterium.
Now that you understand the basic of this technology, you can see that this nanotechnology will alter the world like never before. Quite simply, the world is about to be rebuilt and most likely improved from the atom up. As Nobel Laureate, Horst Stormer, said: “Nanotechnology has given us the tools … to play with ultimate toy box of nature – atoms and molecules. Everything is made of it…. The possibilities to create new things appear limitless.” Just imagine glass windows that never crack, let alone break; bathrooms that never need cleaning; automobile tires that almost never go flat, hairs that don't turn gray, nanoshells that protect transplanted pancreatic cells from attack by immune cells, enabling reversal of diabetes, a disease that seems to become like an epidemic in men and women especially after the middle age; just to mention a few that could become parts of daily life.
The best thing about it is that nanotechnology most likely would use as raw materials infinitely abundant atoms – carbon, oxygen and hydrogen. This technology can arrange them to create everything without disrupting or depleting the environment. It can create medicines, automobile parts, body reinforcements that would make your bones and tendons super-strong, eyeglasses that will never scratch, etc.
Since many of us are in health care, we can think of nanotechnology in terms of more advanced treatments and cures for diseases like cancers. We know how excited the media was few years ago about the mapping of human genome. Thus we now know that DNA is the molecular blueprint for about 500,000 proteins circulating the human body. DNA creates protein messengers that control everything like how you react to infection; when your hair turns gray; whether your eyesight deteriorates; when your skin starts to wrinkle, when your teeth start to fall off, etc.
Each of these 500,000 protein messengers is like an electrical switch. It can be turned on and off. Now imagine one day this nanotechnology will be able to turn off the switches that do things we don’t want like the switch that causes aging or cancer. Obviously, you have the key to ending diseases. And if this nanotechnology can keep the good protein messengers from being turned off, we can extend our youthful appearance, vigor and lean body mass, and postpone aging.
It does sound like science fiction, doesn’t it? Believe me. It’s for real. This year alone Japan will spend $1 billion on nanotech research. Various U.S. agencies have a 2004 nanotech budget of about $850 million. European governments – the U.K., Germany, France and the Netherlands will spend $1.2 billion over the next four years to gear up the nanotechnology revolution. New York State has committed more than $50 million in an effort to make Upstate NY the nanocenter of the US. In the private industries, Japanese giant, Mitsubishi, recently announced a $120 million venture fund to support nanotechnology. American-based companies like IBM, Hewlett-Packard, DuPont, and Dow Chemical are investing hundreds of millions of dollars to spend on nanotechnology research.
The future is exciting, isn’t it? I just hope I live to see the fruition of this nanotechnology. Don’t you? But it’s already happening. Bioengineers at Boston University have already created a nanocapsule that may make it possible to reverse diabetes. We know that transplanted cells are considered by our body as “foreign” and so our immune system would attack such cells and disable or destroy them. These nanocapsules shield transplanted pancreatic cells from the attack by the immune system allowing the cells to continue secreting insulin to maintain a normal blood sugar.
But like any other modern inventions, this kind of technology also carries with it risks and dangers, not just opportunities. Imagine if the terrorists or some megalomaniac get hold of this technology. They could change the world into a dangerous place to live. But risks and dangers have been parts of human existence since Adam and Eve had the apple break. They should not be reasons to stand still, but challenges to move on with courage and confidence. Change must not be allowed to have automatic brakes.
If there is any real hindrance to this technology one day, it will be the media that always amplify and dramatize failures, while ignoring successes in everything where big business industries are involved causing politicians to investigate and then pass laws against it. As Mark Steyn wrote in his commentary published in Richmond Times Dispatch on Sunday of March 21, 2004, that "the media are held in low regard by the public in polls of the most respected professions. They usually come somewhere between Nigerian e-mail scammers and serial pedophiles."