August 2004 Edition Vol. 4 Issue 7

An Internet Newsletter publication for all CIM Alumni and friends.

    Clem S. Estrera, Jr., M.D.

    Ma. Belen Rosales, M.D.
        Associate Editor

     Ray Castillejo, M.D.
    Binisaya Section Editor

Another Special Edition

“Self-importance is our greatest enemy. Think about it – what weakens us is feeling offended by the deeds and misdeeds of our fellowmen. Our self-importance requires that we spend most of our lives offended by someone.” ---Carlos Castaneda

Human Relationship

Clem Estrera, Jr., CIM Class 1972

Beyond the status quo
    If we look into ourselves, some of us may find that there had been a person or two that have made a major impact on our life. The wisdom, experiences and ideas they have selflessly shared and the attitudes and open-mindedness they have exemplary shown seemed to have made our character defects bubble to the surface as if to challenge us to discover our true selves. Their spiritual principles and philosophies have guided us toward new ways of living, toward a more positive approach to life. They are a stabilizing and inspirational force that consistently gives us insight and courage to search for better alternatives beyond the status quo, and grow. Thus as we have made changes and learned more about ourselves, our unrealistic expectations of others diminished, and we become less sensitive and more accepting. We become convinced that our worth is best measured by who we are on the inside and by the way we treat ourselves and others.

     But as adults, however, many of us believe that we are pretty much sufficient emotionally, intellectually and spiritually, and thus we don’t have the enthusiasm to listen to and learn from the wisdom, philosophy and experiences of others.  Since the thought of the possibility of change rarely if ever enters our mind, we hardly think of opening our thoughts and beliefs for a second look. Yet one of the hallmarks of maturity is a willingness to periodically assess or re-examine the validity of our thoughts, ideas and beliefs, and the appropriateness of our attitudes and behaviors. We have the awareness of the importance of looking deep into our hearts and asking ourselves: Are we to continue the same attitudes that produce the same pattern of behavior that constantly or frequently leads to anxiety, anger, frustration, resentment or disappointment? Are we to continue sticking with our cynicism, self-pity or pride that for so long has alienated us from other people even those we used to know and hang out with? Or, are we willing to be rid of such unrewarding attitudes and consider changing our ways?

    One of the main reasons why we rarely if ever take the wisdom and ideas of others seriously is because we have the tendency to be suspicious and to disagree unless they come from someone whose background we are impressed with.  It’s like choosing a book to read. We tend to be impressed mainly with who the author is, and would believe everything in that book especially if the author got his degree from one of those Ivy League schools, even if what we read doesn’t make any sense, or is inappropriate to our own situation. I myself used to choose the book I read that way until I realized that I was not being honest to myself. I was wasting my time trying to get the message of the book that was way out of my comprehension, and to convince myself it’s a good book solely because of the author – because of the who not the what. And even if I had gotten some of the messages of the book, I could not apply them in real life situations. Indeed I was proud to tell a friend or two and eager to impress them by talking about the author of the book and yet, I could not provide any elaboration of the book’s messages, let alone any of its practical points I’ve learned. I was making a complete fool of myself pretending to understand the book, bragging about it all because it was written by an author from an Ivy League school. 

     Change, however, is something we would rather not do, for change could mean admitting our flaws and weaknesses and our ineffective ways of thinking. It deflates our ego. Further, change requires some adjustments on our part, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, or physical, and human nature favors the status quo. Beyond the status quo, change generates uncertainty, confusion, worry, anxiety and fear of all kinds: fear of the unknown, fear of what others might say about us, fear that our new ways of thinking and behavior may only “tilt the apple cart” as the saying goes, etc. So we get stuck where we are – unfulfilled - with the same attitudes, the same old ways of thinking and the same old pattern of unhealthy and unpleasant behavior. 

A unique relationship
    As an adult, I used to have the attitude that others especially those around me needed change, not me, especially in terms of behavior modification. And yet I was often disturbed by the pattern of my behavior – anxiety, anger and impatience - that was all too often immature and irrational. It caused tension in my life and triggered many of my disastrously impulsive actions. It kept me in a state of dissatisfaction and eroded my self-worth. It frequently dislocated if not destroyed my relationship with my family and co-workers, and sometimes it kept me awake at night.

     A couple of friends that I never expected to be those who could inspire self-awareness got me into soul-searching. They made me realize that whatever I had in my heart and mind needed re-examination, re-evaluation and perhaps removal, repair and restoration. They have made a major impact on my life. These two friends were dentists in our hospital I was working with. We used to eat lunch together and it started when they made me believe that they were interested in me, they’d listen to what I’d say as though I was important to them. As we became good friends, we became more open to each other.  And with all the tact they could muster, every now and then they would make negative comments and criticisms that made me defensive and initially disturbed my conscience because they hit right on my character flaw. I had no choice but to open the contents of my mind and have a second look. Ultimately, our lunch time together became an exchange of intellectual ideas, philosophical thoughts and opinions.

     I thought at first that my friends were picking my brains. After all, they are dentists and I’m a medical doctor, and they are old, at least 20 or more years older than me. But then I noticed that they treated me like their younger brother who needed guidance to smoothen the edges of the rude, rough and rotten behavior that I used to have. They are definitely more experienced in life and had backgrounds in Philosophy and Behavioral Psychology in college before they became dentists. To my surprise, I became eager to listen and learn; they became willing to guide and share their knowledge and experiences. It was like a unique relationship between experienced persons, offering life’s lessons, and a young misguided man, wanting to acquire them.

    It turned out that I was the one picking my friends’ brains. I’ve learned to respect them tremendously. I felt grateful that they came into my life and made me teachable over the years when I often insisted on my arrogance to refuse to listen to and learn from the lessons and experiences of others. Incidentally, one of them was a paratrooper in the U.S. Army and was in the invasion of Normandy. The whole platoon he was in was slaughtered. Only three of them came out alive but wounded. The three of them got the Purple Heart.

    Both of my friends had already retired more ten years ago and one died a little less than 5 years after retirement. His philosophy did not stop him from smoking until his heart started to fail that facilitated his retirement. With chronic bronchitis from smoking to go along with it, life was tough in the end. But he knew what his life was going to be and accepted it in peace. He philosophized that one way or another, we all die no matter what we do. He had the advantage to say that because he had already faced and fought death. He won and lived.

    One thing one of my friends told me that just recently came to my mind is this: “Longevity is the secret of success.” It was told in passing and I never really understood what he meant by it and I did not ask, let alone thought about it. I just assumed that it’s related to age or physical appearance and survival. When I went to the grocery store last Thursday to buy some salad for lunch, I saw my friend. I hesitated to approach and was uncomfortable because he was riding the electric or battery-powered grocery cart. Although we exchanged cards and occasionally called each other on the phone, we haven’t seen each other since he retired because he transferred to North Carolina with a new wife. His first wife died of breast cancer.

    Apparently, he had a stroke about the same time our other friend died and that’s why I did not see him in the funeral of his colleague and haven’t heard of him since then. His left side is paralyzed but he now can walk with a walker and his speech is just a little slurry. He can also drive a car. We could not spend time together because he had to go back to North Carolina in the afternoon and I had to go back to work. He was visiting a friend in the hospital.

    That’s when I spent the weekend thinking about what he said that “Longevity is the secret of success,” and since I felt like writing, I decided to write for another issue of Brain Waves. What he said sounds ironic with my physical-related interpretation. After giving it some thought, I came to believe that what he meant by it is that there are ideas and thoughts that may not be sound or wise, but given the time, they proved to be the most prudent. They would pass the test of time. It essentially tells us what we have always been told but rarely if ever consider seriously if we ever understand – to keep our mind open.

Thoughts to ponder
    Many of us believe that we can create meaning in our lives by limiting our ways to ourselves and our family. I know I used to have such belief until I got a better understanding of human behavior and relationship, and have learned to use philosophy in my approach to life. If you look closely, you will notice that many people who have achieved a pleasant and comfortable life, later on find their lives empty and meaningless. Even the most successful career and the most rewarding family relationship eventually end up empty and run dry. Children grow up and move away. Spouses die. It has been observed that loneliness is the universal sadness of mankind.

    What gives meaning to life is purpose. To have a purpose, we need a challenge and the best challenge we can have is having good relationship with other people, the more the better. Just the thought of such good relationship is enough to make us feel good about ourselves and to keep us from feeling lonely in times when we’re alone. You don’t have to be alone to be lonely. You can be lonely in a crowd. Loneliness is a feeling, being alone is a situation. Yet, maintaining a good human relationship is not easy. In fact, it’s the most difficult. It takes patience, principles, kindness, fairness, honesty, understanding, love, the courage to apologize and forgive, and all other human virtues to achieve and maintain a good human relationship.

    Sad to say, human virtues are what many of us lack, and thus we opt to often avoid having any relationship, let alone a good one with others, and we even break or deliberately neglect and discard the relationship we already have for no good reason. Instead, we blame others for the virtues we are lacking. We blame others for alienating ourselves from them, for all too often blaming is easy than taking the responsibility of acquiring virtues of our own. Yet blaming is the surest way to get stuck in the status quo and to repeat the cycle of unhealthy and unpleasant behavior. When we blame others for our unpleasant feelings or emotions, we set ourselves up as helpless, hapless victims. We learn nothing about ourselves and thus unable to improve the quality of our life. By the way, Philosophy used to mean “love of wisdom.”

    Don Quixote advised Sancho Panza on virtue: “Remember, Sancho, that if you make virtue your rule in life and if you pride yourself on acting always in accordance with such precept, you will have no cause to envy princes and lords, for blood is inherited, but virtue is acquired, and virtue in itself is worth more than noble birth.” On justice, he said: “When a beautiful woman appears before you to demand justice, blind your eyes to her tears, deafen your ears to her lamentations, and give deep thought to her claim, otherwise you may risk losing your judgment in her tears and your integrity in her sighs.” Don Quixote may be portrayed as a paranoid hallucinating old man, fixated on a lady of his dreams that didn’t even exist – Lady Dulcinea – but his advices make a lot of sense. He was not from Ivy League.

Tyranny and slavery
     Most of the human relationships, however, are achieved and maintained by slavery. They exist by enslaving one’s desires and feelings to the desires and feelings of the other. Feelings and desires are precious to someone you have a relationship with, just as your feelings and desires are precious to you. And yet friendly relationships, for example, are almost always subject to conditions, according to the satisfaction of one’s own feelings and desires, not the respect and understanding of the feelings and desires of the other.

    Thus when a friend does something he believes, or he expresses his thoughts, ideas or opinions that are against the desire of the other, and even if they’re never intended to hurt feelings but for some reason they are offensive to the other, it is often more than enough to cause a rift that would lead to the end of the friendship. Whether they realize it or not, many people play the role of emotional tyrants and unwittingly want their friends to play the role of emotional slaves. But no human relationship can exist in harmony long enough in any kind of tyranny and slavery. It is always bound to cause a rebellion often in the form of avoiding and not talking to each other anymore, if not backbiting and gossiping.

     Indeed it’s true what the quote says: “There are no tyrants where there are no slaves.” But like it or not, the world is full of both of them. 

Split personality
     In the best of us there are thoughts or deeds that are wicked, and in the worst of us, at least some virtue. Some of us may have noticed that there is part of us that is bad, that couldn’t care less others’ lives but ourselves, that wants to hate and even harm others, that wants to dominate and even destroy others’ lives or take advantage of them and make their lives miserable. It is that part that may go to an extreme of killing for something it is not willing to die for. It is that part that sees other’s success and fortune as something to be envied and other’s life as a threat to be dealt with, a thorn to be removed, or a poison to be avoided. It is that part that leads us into all sorts of trouble, into an empty and meaningless life or into stagnation.

    But there is also this other part that wants to be good or at least to be better, that wants to love, to pardon or forgive, to grow into nobility, into tranquility of soul. It is that part that wants to serve others and help improve the quality of their life through means one is capable of, seeing such task as an enjoyable challenge rather than a thankless job. This part has a rich sense of enthusiasm even at life’s windy morning like it knows that the garden is there growing to contain all the golden apples, if not the red tomatoes.

    Certainly, God does not create evil. He would not create and bestow upon us all souls of evil. Every one of us has as much potential for good as anyone else, and also has a potential for evil equal to anyone. When we allow the potential for evil to develop and grow, we are bound to destroy human relationships and even life itself, making the world an unpleasant place to live. When we do nothing and just leave our potential for good in a status quo because we don’t want to risk, then we stagnate. For, when there is no risk, there is no challenge; when there is no challenge, there is no purpose; when there is no purpose, there is no meaning. Life becomes empty and unfulfilling.

    Antonio Gramsci, an Italian philosopher of humane socialism was born a hunchback in a miserable peasant hovel. He was so sickly as a child that the mother for years, dressed him the finest clothes she could sew and laid him every night out to sleep in a coffin, expecting him to be dead by morning. As Antonio was growing up, his father was jailed unjustly for many years by Mussolini and the family could barely survive from day to day. But Antonio Gramsci struggled to survive and even succeeded in getting himself an education. He became a teacher but he did not stop the struggle against the social conditions that broke his mother’s health and destroyed his father’s honor. He ended up being a university professor, a deputy in a parliament, and one of the most fearless leaders against fascism. He died in one of Mussolini’s prisons where he wrote beautiful essay about the wonderful world that could be ours if we stopped being fearful and greedy. While Mussolini worked on his potential for evil to develop, grow and triumph, Gramsci worked on his potential for good and left a profound mark on recent European thought.

     For every vice, there is a price; for every virtue, at least a sense of reward. Now that you know your potentials, you should know your choices. Like high blood pressure, take your choices seriously. Make your choice because you want to, and not wait for a situation that you have to. 


Comments and Opinions

"Our greatest happiness does not depend on the condition of life in which chance has placed us, but is always the result of a good conscience, good health, occupation, and freedom in all just pursuits." --Thomas Jefferson


    Those of us with a correct residence address must have received an ASOCIMAI card with questions as part of the survey. Hope you all have answered the questions and mailed the survey card back. It has a return address with a paid stamp already.

    But I’d like to make a comment on a statement that I disagree because I believe it’s inappropriate and an ineffective way of convincing alumni to participate or contribute. It's an approach that is not inspiring, let alone convincing. It is unwittingly insinuating blame and disappointment laced with unimaginative criticism, and is also instilling or injecting shot of guilt that may only turn most of the alumni off and drive them away. Here is the statement: “We are divided, members of different organizations, perplexed and truly oblivious to our own duty to give back to school that gave us our diploma.”

    I don’t think the members are perplexed; the leadership maybe. If the leadership cannot provide clarity in the organization, let alone inspire closeness and comradeship, the members may have to join with similar organization that can, and that would explain the division. Joining with another organization is a sign of dissatisfaction or lack of trust, not perplexity or puzzlement. It's an indication for the leadership to look inward and ask questions: What did it do wrong? Where did it go wrong? What should it do now to attract or get members back to the association?

    It is human nature for a member to ask himself or herself: Is the organization worth joining? Is its cause worth his or her time and money? Has it done what it has promised to be doing? The focus of the leadership therefore is to know what to do and do it to make the association difficult for members to ignore or refuse participation, before jumping into an unsupported conclusion that members are perplexed and are oblivious to the association’s charitable goals.

    The shot of guilt comes from the rest of the sentence that says – “truly oblivious to our own duty to give back to school that gave us our diploma.” First of all, the school did not give us our diploma. The diploma was ours; we earned it, we worked hard for it, and sometimes some of us had to absorb the occasional insults and angers of some of the teachers, just to make it through to get it. We paid our way through school; financially, physically, intellectually and emotionally. Remember the sleepless nights when we were studying for our mid term or final exam? The fear, worry, anxiety, dizziness, headaches, and other physical and emotional tolls that our body had to pay.

     You may have different set of circumstances when you were in the medical school and may have a totally diferent way of looking at it. But it's obvious that we don’t have any duty to the school or to anyone except perhaps to our parents or brothers and sisters who struggled for money to send and support us in the medical school. Diplomas are not like favors given to you that you feel like you owe someone something and thus you are morally obligated to pay back. Diplomas represent years of struggle mentally, emotionally and financially, of hard work and study, of diligence, brains or intelligence, of discipline and patience as well as of frustrations, disappointments and discouragements. You get the diploma because it's yours. You received it because you deserved it. It was the obligation of CIM to give it to you because you had already paid for it not just with money but also with the sweat of your brows and the swell of your brains, blood and guts for 4 or 5 hard years of your life.

    Duty means you have to do it. It's your obligation. It's morally necessary that you do it so that if you fail to do it, you'd feel bad about yourself or feel guilty as your penalty. But is it our duty or obligation to give back to CIM? Certainly, not. Some of us may have a sense of moral obligation because it’s our alma mater, but a sense of obligation doesn't mean duty or "a man's got to do what a man's got to do." You have a choice to either follow or not to follow that sense - meaning that you can wait for the right opportunity when you'd really be happy to do it. In duty, you've got no choice but to do it now if you don't want to take the penalty. In this case, the penalties are guilt and shame that you don't deserve.

    Of course, we, the CIM alumni, should help as much as we possibly can to make us all proud of our alma mater CIM, but it should be because we want to help, not because we have to help, because we believe that it’s a right thing to do, not because it is our duty to do it. After all, it’s one of the best ways of demonstrating our compassion, love and gratitude. Giving to others or helping our school takes nothing away from us; on the contrary, it refreshes our soul.

    It’s my suggestion that once our association has raised more funds, it should increase its number of deserving scholars in CIM. I know how hard if not impossible it is for students, bright they may be, to go to medical school if parents just barely make both ends meet. I know because it’s how I got through. I had to struggle for everything I needed, let alone wanted. I could only afford to get into a 20 centavos movie theatre on weekends that stunk from the mixtures of different unwashed body odors, not to mention cigarette smokes. I spent not only my 20 centavos, but also my blood for the so many bedbugs that overpopulated the theatre. I could not afford having a girlfriend and so I harassed girls who could afford a boyfriend. Just kidding.

    Anyway, if you are a member of the ASOCIMAI and you don’t want to help or you don’t feel like helping CIM yet, don’t feel bad about it especially if you are struggling financially because of children in college and other family problems. Helping and supporting your children to become independent adults are your duty and responsbility because you chose to bring them into this world. Your children did not have that choice. Just keep our association’s compassionate goals at the back of your mind, but don’t block them from elbowing into the front when they do. ----Clem


For Laughs Only

"Critics are like eunuchs in a harem; they know how it's done, they've seen it done every day, but they're unable to do it themselves" ---Brendan Behan

    Due to a power outage at the time, only one paramedic responded to the call. The house was very, very dark, so the paramedic asked Katelyn, a 3-year old girl, to hold a flashlight high over her mommy so he could helped deliver the baby. Very diligently, Katelyn did as she was asked. Heidi pushed and pushed, and after a little while Connor  was born.
     The paramedic lifted him by his little feet and spanked him on his bottom. Connor began to cry. The paramedic then thanked Katelyn for her help and asked the wide-eyed 3-year old what she thought about what she had just witnessed.
     Katelyn quickly responded, "He shouldn't have crawled in there in the first place. Smack him again."

     Two little kids in a hospital lying on stretchers next to each other outside the operating room.
    The first kid leans over and asks, "What are you in here for?"
    The second kid says, "I'm in here to get my tonsils out and I'm a little nervous."  
    The first kid says, "You've got nothing to worry about. I had that done when I was four. They put you to sleep, and when you wake up they give you lots of Jell-O and ice cream. It's a breeze."
    The second kid then asks, "What are you here for?"
    The first kid says, "A Circumcision."
    And the second kid says, "Whoa! Good luck, buddy. I had that done when I was born. I couldn't walk for a year. “



 "It is good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it's good too, to check up once in a while and make sure you haven't lost the things money can't buy." ---George Lorimer 1867-1937, Editor of "Saturday Evening Post"

Re-connecting, Refueling and Revitalizing

Cle S. Estrera, Jr. CIM 1972

A good opportunity
     An alumni reunion or a class get-together is one good opportunity to mend differences and misunderstandings of the past if any, in order to re-establish good relationship with classmates and colleagues. It should not be an event to be avoided but a chance to demonstrate our courage to leave whatever unpleasant past behind in order to meet, mend and make friends once again and enjoy the camaraderie for old time sake.

     There are two ways to deal with the unpleasant past. One is to punish ourselves with guilt, remorse or resentment of the missteps or misunderstandings with others and continue to alienate ourselves. Another is to try to benefit from the past by bringing out the best in us; have the courage to apologize or forgive if it’s what is needed in order to come to terms with the past and repair damaged relationships so we can heal ourselves. Without the excess baggage of the past, we can move on freely in life, loosen up and laugh, letting ourselves feel the excitement and fun we’ve missed for so long. We feel worthy and deserving of the good things in life.

     For the CIM Class 1972, those who may not have known yet, we have our class get-together in Ohio this September 3-6 at Drs. Edward and Vivian Suico’s residence. The information is in our Web site under Class 1972 News. This is your opportunity to meet and spend time with your classmates and perhaps few friends, renew your friendly relationship and re-establish your connection with them. Of course you don’t need courage to come. You simply need plane ticket and hotel reservation. After all, this is not a challenge if you don’t want to look at it that way. This is just fun, a part of life that is good, real good. If you miss this opportunity, you may have to wait for years because we are not planning to have this again in the near future. By that time, as we used to say in Camotes: “Magkita ta pero tagsa na lang tay bungot.” The conversation may run this way: “Ni tambok man ka, Bay. Dili uy, hupong ni.” “Nangonot man ug maayo ang pikas sa imong nawong. Ang face lift ni, nasayop.” “Mi ugdo na man ug maayo ang imong lubot. Ang bag-o ning klase nga diaper.”

     Those of you from CIM Class 1972 who cannot attend or don’t want to attend this get-together, please be informed that we are all going to miss you. We are all going to be wishing you are with us. But it doesn’t mean that we’ll be limited in our fun and laughter because of your absence. Hell, no! With or without you, we’ll have the best time of our life. Just the thought of it coming near, all of us who are coming could already feel the excitement, exuberance, elation, exhilaration, and we could even hear the shrieking laugh of the ladies and the belly laugh of the gentlemen, not to mention that some of us are dying to have the taste of bas-oy, balbakoa, balut, bodbod, bibinka, poto maya, sikwati, nangka, mangga, and other Cebuano delicacies. Uhmmm…yummy!... You sure you want to miss all these? They’re really goooood!.... Don’t say we did not tell you.

     However, the dozens of kalamays Joseph Graciosa ordered from Bohol were intercepted and confiscated by the TSA (Transportation Security Administration). They were sent to the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia because they are suspected to be plastic explosives like C-4. Because no evidence of explosives was found, the FBI sent them to NIH and CDC to be analyzed and made sure they are not biological weapons. That’s one delicacy we’ll not have because even if they find no evidence that they’re biological weapons, the NIH and CDC are going to use them as excellent culture media for bacteria. You don’t buy it, do you? I don’t blame you. After all, Joe did not swear to it. But Joe and I swear that if you attend our get-together, you’d be glad you did.

Living doesn't mean being alive
     A friend told me that to be alive is to break schedules, challenge time constraints, change patterns or routines and do things out of ordinary. He said further that to be alive is to participate in all the fun, all the relationships, and all the activities life has to offer.

     When all of my kids were still with us, we would usually drive somewhere during the weekend. Somehow the girls and their Mom seemed to often have something to argue especially after coming from a shopping mall, and it’s annoying listening to them inside the car while I was driving. But I’ve found an unconventional, out of the ordinary but creative and effective way of stopping them and changing the topic of their unpleasant conversation. I would fart quietly and after few seconds, everyone would stop talking all of a sudden and open the windows. But my son had picked it up. Every time my wife and I have some disagreement and my son is with us in the car, he would fart and once the stink starts to spread, he would say: “Change the topic, Dad.”

     Try it. It’s fun. It’s way out of the mainstream way of settling dispute or argument, of course. But it’s a lot better than ending up screaming at your kids and wife to stop and change the topic of their annoying disagreement. Believe me. With teenage kids, you'd only waste your breath and saliva because they would never stop insisting on being right, let alone listen to reason and logic. They'd fight like anyone else just to be right at the expense of frustration and unhappiness. Like most every one, they would rather be right than be happy. But with this simple and stinky strategy even if it's out of social acceptability, they would feel like they have to stop their argument, or otherwise another ill wind would blow to assault and terrorize their noses. You’d feel more than alive. You’d be laughing your heart out. But don't do it indiscriminately, otherwise it would lose its effectiveness. You see, what the world needs now as the song goes, is not just love, but also laugh.

A curse or a challenge?
    According to the Bible, when the first man and woman ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge, the Garden of Eden was barred forever. God was said to have cursed man saying: "By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." And so the first man and woman were kicked out of Eden into the universe. This is where the authors of the Bible made a mistake I believe, and it’s what my father used to get frustrated and angry with me everytime I tried to explain the reason why I believe it's a mistake.

     I never like to argue about God's words but I just didn’t want to function like a robot and simply believed my parents’ and others’ interpretation of the Bible. I have always believed that if God blessed me with brains, then I should use them to their maximum and make the best of everything in my life. Unfortunately, my kind of philosophy did not bode well with my parents’ religious belief. But during those times, many parents treated their children like machines or robots. They did not want them to think on their own, afraid that their minds would take them to the world that is beyond the ordinary. They seemed to have the unpleasant thought and feeling that when it comes to the mind, there are no boundaries. So they put boundaries for their children because they were afraid what the children might discover in the world beyond.

     Thus until now, I don’t think it was a curse, not even a punishment as the authors of the Bible and some religious leaders have led people to believe. To me, it was a challenge. God, in His infinite wisdom, gave man and woman intelligence and thus it was and still is a challenge to every man and woman to discover by themselves how to use their intelligence properly in order to live and survive. In Eden, they did not need intelligence because everything they needed was there. There was no need to think.

    In the universe or outside Eden, everything man needs or desires has to be learned, discovered and produced by him – by his own choice, by his own effort, by his own mind. Nature gives man only raw materials. It is man's thinking and labor that transform the materials into food, clothing, shelter, or computers for survival, comfort and pleasure. The wealth and whatever else one achieves are the products of his capacity to think. Wealth doesn’t grow on trees, but with the ability to think, you can transform the trees into homes, buildings, papers, beautiful landscape, etc., that in turn provide you the wealth.

     Thinking is not an automatic process; it’s an act of choice. Thinking is actually a difficult and delicate process the goal of which is knowledge, the method is logic, and the result is judgment or decision that leads to action. Logic is very essential because it's the only method that makes sense of your thoughts. It connects all your premises into a coherent conclusion. It doesn't produce any contradiction so that if there is a contradiction, then it tells you that you have an error in thinking. If the goal is not knowledge, the method cannot be logic, and the process is not thinking but wishing. One cannot achieve anything by wishing unless he or she is part of a fairy tale. Thus if you can think well and think about your ability, you can truly appreciate and be grateful of the gift of intelligence God has given to you especially if you believe that what God said to man in Eden was actually a challenge, not a curse. And I do believe that God wants every one of us to win the challenge because He wants to be proud of us. Otherwise He would not have blessed us with intelligence.

    Work and wealth without fun and pleasure, however, are choices that is not healthy or not in the best interest of anyone. After all, no matter how much money a person makes, it won’t do him any good if he feels bad. Thus as much as possible, one has got to have fun and pleasure to recharge his batteries and re-align his bearing. But it is important for a person to believe that he deserves fun and pleasure at least as a way of rewarding himself especially after a hard work, and as a way of being grateful to life. Otherwise he would only go through life to endure, not to enjoy. And he would only be hurrying himself to return to dust.

Yin and yang
     Central to Eastern philosophy is the yin and yang life force which many of us must have heard of. This philosophy explains that yin is the phase of repose while yang is the phase of activity.  In this philosophy, all of life emerges from the harmonious synthesis of these two forces – yin and yang.

     In Western philosophy, on the other hand, which most of us follow, it is the choice between action and repose. Like the American way of life, we prefer the yang over the yin, equating a successful day with the number of tasks completed, or equating success with the money we make.  Since we don’t care that much about the balance between yin and yang, many of us go from one extreme to another – from times of overwork to periods of exhaustion and collapse.

     But regardless of the yin and yang, and regardless of what you are doing, one thing you should know or be aware of is that if you are having comfort, pleasure or fun, you are pursuing the right course of action. If you are having discomfort, dissatisfaction, boredom and weariness, you are following the wrong course of action. You need to make correction. Otherwise your emotional vitality would be chronically eroded and your inner motor would soon grind to a halt. Once that happens, you will be left with a chronic sense of exhaustion and a sense of foreboding and emptiness.

     Someone said: “When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.” So before your inner motor stops if it hasn’t yet, refuel and revitalize it by joining with us in Lorain of the Buckeye state and have some real fun. Believe me. The fond memories of our get-together that you will bring home with you will be like Cole Porter's songs - delightful, delicious, and ...... De-Lovely!

     See you in September .... in Ohio.