October 2004 Edition Vol. 4 Issue 9
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.
Planning a charted course - Part 1
Cle S. Estrera, Jr.
A team of your own
In your experiences with extracurricular activities in particular that you undertook out of love, compassion, generosity, or a strong conviction of its good intention like medical missions, for example, while you were doing the best you could to accomplish your goals, missions or tasks - to help others like the less fortunate ones, or enlighten others with knowledge, wisdom, etc. - had you ever noticed a strange feeling that you were taking instructions from an unknown voice like receiving divine dictation? In your reactions to people and events, did you not get impelling hunches that you couldn’t quite explain? Had you ever wondered why there were times when you felt a sense of embarrassment to use the pronoun “I” in connection with your accomplishments?
In our glory and gratitude, we sometimes experience an unexplainable sensation that all of our thoughts, if they are noble; all of our accomplishments, if they are useful; all of our words if they are worthwhile – are framed in invisible quotation marks. Every elation, every deep satisfaction, every elevation of the mind and heart is the result of a joint effort, of teamwork with a power that is outside – yet within – us. We are the instruments, not the musicians. We are as stained glass windows through which the light shines; only the glass is our own.
In the course of our lives we undertake many things. Sometimes we fail. Perhaps it is because we do not listen. Perhaps it is because we allow hesitation and doubt to prevail. Perhaps it is because we always want something bigger to do, thinking that the little things don't make a difference. Yet the little things we do for others maybe like pinpricks; more of these pinpricks could produce a big swelling. So listen and pay heed to that tiny voice in you that says “you can and you should”, trust your intuition, allow those impelling hunches to guide you, and you’d find yourself sailing through life under your own power - your own team.
I have been asked by a number of fellow CIM alumni in the past whether I did some writing when I was in college or in the medical school. Many of the ones like my classmates and friends who, knew that I did not, were somewhat surprised of my literary ability. It has surprised me too. I did not really give anyone an intelligible response, let alone explain myself to them, and I was not planning to until Purie Onate, M.D. who always has something positive to say about my literary style and ability and it always makes my day, asked me last month whether I once wrote for the Caduceus in CIM. I thought then that I owed Purie an explanation and so others who once asked me about my literary ability and those who have been wondering about it.
I sent Purie an e-mail message of what she called the saga of my literary activity that I also shared with my classmates – the CIM Class 1972. But I realized a week ago that it’s not really fair to simply limit sending the message to Purie and my classmates, for they were not just the ones who had been wondering about my writing ability, and most of the ones who asked the question were fellow alumni other than the CIM Class 1972. So I decided that I might as well publish a more elaborate and hopefully more interesting and entertaining essay about the “saga” of my literary activity in Brain Waves - how did I get interested in writing as a hobby, and what did I do to be able to write better - did I take a course on creative writing? Perhaps by doing so, it could encourage some of the alumni and other readers to think of acquiring or developing an extracurricular skill on their own especially in writing.
No, I did not write for the Caduceus, or during my college years in San Carlos, because back then, I did not know anything about writing, let alone being interested in it. In fact, I hated it or more like scared of it. I almost flunked the English subject of essay writing in college, because my grammar was terrible and I could not finish an essay during the allotted time. No, I did not take any course on creative writing here in the U.S. or anywhere else. But believe me. It only takes desire, focus and perseverance to achieve and develop the skill of anything you want, be it intellectual, be it in sports, music, computer, etc. Keep that in mind, because you are actually more than you think you are. The truth is that most of the time, we fail to realize just how much we have inside.
Every one of us has the potential but we have to explore and discover that potential if we want to grow and keep growing intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. Growing is a process that solely depends on your own choices. As long as you live, you never reach the point where you can stop growing. You stop growing because you give up on it or you chose not to grow. So simply make that journey toward discovering what’s inside you without expectation whatsoever, for anything that is built on expectation is likely to turn into disappointment, making quitting an attractive option. Do it for yourself. Do it for fun. You’d be surprised what you’re capable of. So, surprise yourself.
In search of options
It started about 5 or 6 years ago when my son, the youngest of my three children was entering high school and he was no longer enjoying my company, for he preferred to be with his peers and friends. I began to wonder what I’m going to do with my free time when all my children are gone especially when I come home from work, for my job is only an 8-5 job, and my MOD call is only one night a week and one weekend a month. During that time, I had not considered taking extra MOD calls for money. I thought that I’ve got to plan a charted course and do things my way, to quote the Sinatra song. My wife and I cannot just keep looking at each other without ultimately driving us both to insanity. I don’t like sports that much and I could not afford golf that many of my friends have gotten into. It’s too expensive for me especially in our place where there is no public golf course. My wife doesn’t enjoy dancing and thus after few lessons, she quit taking dance lessons with me. I saw no reason to go it alone.
I took piano lesson, but when my teacher who happened to be an attractive divorcee started rubbing herself against my back and my shoulders and I got turned on, I quit. I did not really know whether it was deliberate “come on”, but after three occasions, I did not want to wait to find out. I was struck out. Her perfume was so provocative. It blew my mind. She was really a good teacher and her favorite was jazz, just what I wanted to learn. But as I considered the situation that if I continue my lesson and she continues to do something to turn me on, then it would become a challenge of my virility.
The more I thought about it, the more it became clear to me that I did not have the strength, let alone the confidence to resist such challenge long enough for me to think of a nice and graceful way to defuse or deflate it, and I was reminded by President Reagan’s principle of negotiation – negotiate on strength, not on weakness. Thus I decided that quitting was the best course of action. After all, it’s a challenge that there is basically nothing new to learn…well... maybe something a little different, perhaps a little more pleasurable, but basically not much that is worth the potential trouble. Indeed this is one of those things that I’m not ashamed to admit and be called a fool that I did not have the balls to take up the challenge and ignore the potential trouble, for to me, the risk was not worth the roll even with the pleasant sensation of the push and pull.
I then took guitar lesson, but just as the calluses of my fingers were fully developed, the teacher that I liked was killed in a car accident. As far as my free time or after-work time is concerned, I saw no problem during the weekend and during spring and summer when the daylight is longer because I ride my bicycle with friends and spend some of my afternoons in our yard cleaning, pruning or planting, and in my vegetable and flower gardens. But the problem is coming home from work especially during fall and winter. I wanted to have more options. I believe that life thrives on possibilities and options. To help us grow, we have to take chances on different things, even if we don’t get what we want. I could not just keep talking to my orchids without one day ending up in a psychiatrist’s couch, and I don’t like watching TV that much except for the news, Saturday and Sunday evening football and basketball and good movies in DVD that I rent every now and then.
A discovery after being a rover
After roving along musical instruments, I decided to try writing for a hobby, a sort of a boredom buster, an option to keep myself occupied - a part of the plan and preparation for what I had envisioned and dreaded to be coming soon – the empty nest syndrome. After all, I’ve had lots of experiences. My life was tough, rough and had plenty of crap, but it also had the experiences that I could write, enjoy and laugh. To paraphrase Sinatra’s song – Regrets, I’ve had many, too many regrettable decisions and indecisions to mention because I never thought of planning a charted course, let alone of approaching life with careful steps. I listened to others and I was always concerned of what others might think or say about me. As a result, I had developed so much fear, guilt, and shame that made me feel I don’t deserve to stand up for myself. These are the regrets of my life, because I could have done a lot more and I would have been a whole lot better person along the way if only I did not concern myself that much with what others think and say about me.
Like probably everyone else, conformity used to always be more important to me than individualism, than just being myself. It had made me insecure, anxious and fearful to do something that I thought others would not approve or not be pleased. It had ruined my creativity and stunted my intellectual growth and development. It took me the first half of my life to understand that many of the decisions I’ve made or did not make which I should have made, and actions I took or did not take that I should have taken, were done so mainly to seek for approval and to please or impress others but me. My others-pleasing behavior over the years had depleted me emotionally and brought me a tremendous amount of stress. I was not my own person. No wonder why I often had the feeling that there was something missing in my life that seemed to create a void like an impassable gulf that sunk to the center of the earth. Thus I’ve figured out that this time, I want to do things my way, but I also want to be nice and fair, because the end is getting near.
Rising above the negatives
Like everything else you want to learn, there is a certain stage you would have to reach before you can begin to enjoy or at least feel comfortable with what you’re doing, even in sports, musical instruments as well as in writing. It means you’ve got to keep doing it, not just to be able to cope with the difficulty but to go all the way to mastery of the things you want to learn. You cannot truly begin to enjoy tennis, for example, until you can consistently hit the ball over the net, or golf until you can hit the ball far enough and into the hole to be able to play and be pleased with your game. You cannot truly begin to enjoy piano or guitar until you can play music or two by yourself. But the problem is, many of us are too quick to criticize ourselves and we listen and concern ourselves more with what others think and say about us so that before we reach that stage, we get discouraged, lose our interest, and quit. You’ve got to rise above doubts, criticisms or negative comments.
During the first several months to a year of Brain Waves, I had the share of negative comments that stung like a bee and floated like a poison in my mind to disturb my peace for a certain period of time like: “Delete my name. I don’t have time to read your articles. They’re too long. I don’t think there is anybody who wants to read them, anyway.” Or, “Remove my name. Your newsletter sucks.” Or, “Drop dead, Clem. I don’t need your kind of philosophy. Delete my name, please.” They hurt, but I just had to do what these unhappy individuals wanted me to and not take their comments personally. I must confess that at times, I had wondered how many more are there like them but who just don’t have the courage or perhaps the time to send their negative comments. But I refused to entertain such uninspiring thought, let alone allow it to dictate my feeling, reminding myself more often that I’m not into this task to make readers happy. I’m into this task to share my happiness and the contents of my heart and mind as my contributions to life. A friend has the saying that God sends rain for the saints and the sinners. So why should I not get it?
Paradoxically, these negative comments only made me more determined to write better and better. And as I went on, I began to understand individuals who are so negatively critical sometimes to the point of attacking you personally, and I felt sorry for them. Their vicious negative comments are their way of expressing their unhappiness and bitterness of their own life and their inability to do anything for themselves. The achievements of others are threatening to them and are making them feel small and vulnerable. Thus they render harsh and hurtful comments and criticisms as a way of disguising their own impotence. But by bringing criticisms and pain to others, they only find despair rather than joy in life.
Wish to inform you that CIM Alumni Day is celebrated annually on the first Saturday of December. This year, it falls on December 4, 2004. The venue is Dr. Jacinto Velez, Sr. Memorial Hall.
Activities start with the observance of the Holy Mass. A program follows for the recognition of CIM Alumni and awarding of certificates to the Most Outstanding Alumnus and the Jubilarians. There will also be s Fellowship with a raffle. The major prize is a full CIM scholarship for the offspring of an alumnus.
Hope you can celebrate with us sometime. It would be so nice of you to give out this information to the other Alumni.
A Jew, a Catholic and a Mormon were drinking at the bar following an inter-faith meeting. The Jew boasting about his fertility, said: “I have four sons. One more and I’ll have a basketball team.”
The Catholic said: “That’s nothing. I have ten sons. One more and I’ll have a soccer team.”
The Mormon snorted: “Big deal! I have 17 wives. One more and I’ll have a golf course.”
An old sailor went to a brothel and chose a girl. As they got down to it, he asked: “How am I doing?”
“Three knots,” she replied.
“Three knots? What do you mean?”
“You’re not hard, you’re not in and you’re not getting your money back.”
Here are some of the U.S. statistics for 1904:
The average life expectancy in the U.S. was 47 years.
Only 14 Percent of the homes in the U.S. had a bathtub.
Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.
A three-minute call from Denver to New York City cost eleven dollars.
There were only 8,000 cars in the U.S., and only 144 miles of paved roads.
The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.
Alabama, Mississippi, Iowa, and Tennessee were each more heavily populated than California. With a mere 1.4 million residents, California was only the 21st-most populous state in the union.
The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower.
The average wage in the U.S. was 22 cents an hour.
The average U.S. worker made between $200 and $400 per year.
A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year, a dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.
More than 95 percent of all births in the U.S. took place at home.
Ninety percent of all U.S. physicians had no college education. Instead, they attended medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press and by the government as "substandard."
Sugar cost four cents a pound. Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen. Coffee cost fifteen cents a pound.
Most women only washed their hair once a month, and used borax or egg yolks for shampoo.
Canada passed a law prohibiting poor people from entering the country for any reason.
The five leading causes of death in the U.S. were:
1. Pneumonia and influenza
4. Heart disease
The American flag had 45 stars. Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Alaska hadn't been admitted to the Union yet.
The population of Las Vegas, Nevada, was 30.
Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and iced tea hadn't been invented.
There was no Mother's Day or Father's Day.
One in 10 U.S. adults couldn't read or write.
Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated high school.
Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at corner drugstores. According to one pharmacist, "Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and the bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health."
Eighteen percent of households in the U.S. had at least one full-time servant or domestic.
There were only about 230 reported murders in the entire U.S.
Aren't you glad you were born 40 or 50 years later when we have all the comforts and luxuries we just take for granted? What do you think the world will be a hundred years from now?
(Source: E-mail circulation from a friend)
“It never rains in Southern California” – so the song goes. But, that is so not true, because it is raining cats and dogs as I am writing this. I would have preferred a sunny day, or better yet, a sunny week-end with gentle, soft breezes and enough clouds to make a pleasant afternoon. I have had many things planned for this weekend. It is three weeks to my daughter’s wedding, and I still have a plate full of small tasks that needed to be accomplished such as… the final meeting with the florist for the floral arrangements, the final meeting with the band for the selection of music, the trip to Costco and Smart and Final for various odd and ends for the rehearsal dinner, and so on and so forth. As it stands right now, I am not going anywhere. I am trapped inside my house because I did not want to venture into the rain, lest I get soaked. There was a breaking news on KABC-TV this morning about a flash flood in the east San Diego County – I did not want to get stranded in the rain.
I was a little miffed, because the rain dared to interrupt my already planned weekend. Nothing really much I can do at this point. Either I continue to get frazzled by this unwelcome turn of events and be unhappy the rest of the weekend; or I can read a book, write about the rain, let nature run its course and be happy about it. The choice is mine.
I watched the raindrops from my bedroom window, as it slowly filled my backyard pond to the brim. I watched the raindrops on that lonesome pine tree I planted a few years ago. I watched the raindrops on the plants that lined the back wall. I watched the branches and the twigs and the leaves sway and wiggle as each raindrop fell as if to tell me that they are happy to welcome the rain and it has made them alive.
A strong gust of wind startled me from my semi-mesmerized state and brought me back to reality.
Looking back, I remembered the times when rain did come to interrupt my peaceful existence. It did rain far too many times in the past. There were times when I wondered whether the rain would ever stop. Sure enough the rain would go away. It always did. The rain always did stop, and the sun eventually shone in the sky.
It will rain again in the morrow – that’s guaranteed - as frequently as the sun will rise in the east. It will be my choice to be like the branches and twigs and leaves to welcome and enjoy the rain.
As it is in our ordinary days of living, there will always be a rainbow to remind us that we can always find that pot of gold; and there will be a sunrise to remind us that there is always a sun in the heavens to warm our hearts and our souls.