Friday, July 25, 2014

Week Thirty – #Nowords

Some time not even words can describe how we feel or what we think about something…


This week I find myself writing without words. And as strange and odd as this may sound, the last few days I have experienced something I had never felt before in my life. I set out to write this weekly’s blogs to express how I feel and see the world, pinning my theme on my visit and the events that are happening in Israel. These events and my visit sparked opinions, thoughts and idealisms that I believe in and I have express and share with you regularly as I write my weekly blog, I guess this week the theme is perhaps something I have never experienced and I find myself trying to put together words to describe how I feel.

To find the words to express how I feel let me start by sharing with you two movies I watch on the flight back from Tel Aviv this week. Let me also add that my visit to Israel was cut short due to flight cancellations and an international travel ban to Israel, and not because of the fear of being there. On the way back I was so drained, emotionally, that I took the opportunity to do nothing but to watch these movies for the 5 hours I was on their air, something unusual for me as most of you would know of my principle of using my “me” time to write, but at this point I could not focus on writing (I was struggling to find words to describe how I felt)

The two films I watch, and completely unintentionally in this order, were Divergent and Noah (and at that moment I did not pick them either for any particular reason other than I had heard of them) and little did I know they would connect the dots in my troubled mind.

Divergent is a typical futuristic film about us destroying the world and then trying to live in it. The cinematographic effects of a dull, semi-destroy earth with an endless fence build around the city are impressive and the story line an interesting concept of a new race trying to keep peace in the world by segregating people and avoiding confrontation which would destroy the world again. For me this was an interesting concept as I am a great believer that one of the key sources of conflict in this world is segregation and this film just proves this. The “Divergents” in the film are individuals that don’t fit in any of the five well-organised factions created by the new order in which you are sorted when you become of age (18 years old) and thus become a threat to the peace in this new society in a world build around segregating people with clear differences and privileges. The Divergents are a threat because they accept that differences are good and you can live in a mixed society. In this film the world as we know it has ended and I am not sure the new one looks any better than what we have today. The conflict evolves because of the segregation of people and the Divergents who are trying to change the world.

The second film “Noah”; what can I tell you that you may not already know? It is based on the biblical story of Noah and his Arc and just like Divergent has some amazing visual effects. It is a really interesting film to watch as it portraits a side of the story I had never seen before (I guess I can’t recollect those religious teachings I had when I was at school) but the message behind the film resonated even more after having seen Divergent. In the film, Noah believes the creator (God) has asked him to build an arc and save the world, but without the human race. Noah has seen how we have, as humans, destroyed what he (God) had created and him and his family have been tasked with saving the animal spices and then perish once this is done. Interestingly in the previous film we had destroyed the world and we were trying to re-build it, albeit, not very successfully, so I guess Noah was right. In the end Noah realises that he’s got the wrong message and he is meant to save also the human race and start a brand new world full of goodness and better things; I guess he doesn’t know that it will then be destroyed later on by humans and try and fix it again by the Divergents! Kind of going around in circles every 1000 years! You can see that as I watch the second film I was feeling chills down my spine, why? Because I was on a flight back from Israel where right now we are in the middle of destroying god’s creation and if you are to believe in religion this is happening in the Region/land where his son, who was meant to be the saviour of man, was born and crucified.

I don’t intend this blog to have any political or religious angles or express my views about who is right or wrong. But this week I was blessed with an experience I am not sure many would ever experience, and other experience far too often.

Having spent 2 days in Israel during the war between Israel and Hamas was an experience that left me without words. And I have no words to describe it for many reasons. I think I don’t have words to express myself because I have so many emotions and feelings that I don’t know where to begin. During my stay many Israelis said to me “it’s very brave of you to come and see us” but I didn’t feel brave, I didn’t feel scared either, I didn’t feel worried being there. I was happy to be there and support my colleges in this terrible conflict that is so close and far too common for them. Being there during this time opened my eyes to many things, which many of us would never even think about. When you grow up in a place where you have never heard a siren go off and then have to run to a shelter for cover, there are no words to describe how this feels. Talking to a friend who has young kids it dawned on me how it must be for a young person to grow up with this in your backyard. Again there are no words to describe how it must feel. Some of my colleagues, their children are serving in the front line, again no words to describe how this feel. Seeing a missile being blown up in the sky intercepted by a defence rocket every day, again there are no words to describe how it feels. And then for me having to leave early because the international community starts to isolate a country by stopping flights, I have no word to describe how that feels. Having been there and close to all of this, I don’t know I feel; sad, angry, upset, scared or devastated by these events, I never imagined that being there during the conflict would have such a deep meaningful impact on me, specially, and I do believe in fate, watching two movies so relevant to my experience on the way back because I wanted to switch off my mind from it all.

I am truly grateful for these experiences I gain. I was never scared to go to Israel, I don’t give into situations to determine my life, I believe that if it’s your time to go, it’s your time to go and cancelling my trip or not getting on a plan means I won’t get run over by a bus outside my house, if it’s my time to go. But I do believe that perhaps I was given the chance to share this experience with my colleagues in Israel to make me realised that if the creator once flooded the world because we had messed it up and in the future we will live in a world that again, we messed up and try to rebuild, we should take a good look at our actions now and how we live our lives, because what happened back then and what will happen in the future is an indication that we should not mess up this world by war, segregation and devastation of the human race.  This world was created for all of us to share in harmony and live together, even if you are a Divergent.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Week Twenty-nine – It’s your choice!

They say that life is all about choices and it is also about what you choose to do with your life.

This week’s controversial debate on television is all about people having the right to choose to end their lives. Over the last few years there have been many cases of people who have been diagnosed with terminable diseases and their last few months of their lives have been a nightmare. These individuals’ illness have caused tremendous amounts of pain and suffering as well as putting their families through tough and challenging times, both emotionally and physically, which has resulted in their decision to end their lives sooner rather than later. It is impossible for anyone to know how these people feel, this is one of those moments you cannot put yourself in their shoes. I don’t believe anyone of us could even know what it feels like to be in that situation and therefore we are unable to make judgments over their decision to finish their lives. To make matters worse, in some cases the person may even live for a long time, in pain and suffering both mentally and physically, seeing their lives deteriorate, loosing movement, that independence we all crave, having to relay on family members to look after them and seeing your dignity swept away from you gradually until the day it all ends. So you can imagine why some people may chose to end it all, right now, rather than suffer through months or years of this torture. This is also a close subject to me as I saw my own father go through this for over two years.

I watched in amazement this controversial subject and learned that in the UK is currently illegal to terminate your own life but you can, however, go to other countries where it is possible to put an end to your suffering and rest in peace. This has angered people who want to spend their last moments in their homeland and not in some strange place they have no connection. My jaw also dropped when I heard that throughout the years the church has opposed to this and it’s believed that it is wrong to take your own life, as it is only God who can decide this. I guess what the church does not take into account is that not everyone believes in their God! There is always a balance and there were also some interesting arguments supporting this law, mainly that sometimes people may not be in the right state of mind and therefore may not know what they are doing, or they may be push by someone to do it because they have other motives. All valid arguments that make this a difficult and controversial subject.

But what attracted me to focus my blog this week on this is not the actual subject itself but, in my opinion, the meaning behind it; CHOICE!

One thing you cannot take away from anyone is the fact that we all have the ability to make choices in our lives. Being unable to decide, under the circumstances described above, if you want to live or die takes away a basic human right, the right to make a choice, especially with your own life, which belongs only to you. We make choices every day about our lives, from the moment we become independent, and that is at a very early stage of our existence. The moment we can make choices, we do (as a child); “I don’t like vegetables”, “I want to be a fireman”, “I want to be your friend”. And the more we grow, the more independent we become and make more choices about our lives (young adolescence); “I’m moving out’, “I’m going to travel”, “I don’t want to work”, “I want to marry you”. Soon we discover that life is all about choices.

These choices determine how our lives will shape out. Some times we make good choices; “I’m going to university to be an engineer”. And some time we make bad choices; “I shouldn’t have married so young!” Some time it is easy to choose; “I’m going to travel!” Some times it’s hard to choose; “Should I stay or should I go?” We also have the power to choose how others affect our lives, we can let people annoy us or we can chose to ignore them. And we can choose how we spend our time; you can sit and watch TV all day or go out and have fun. We even choose our moods; when you get up in the morning you can choose to be in a good mood or a bad mood. And even our attitude is a choice; we can learn from mistake and become a better person, or be a martyr and never move on. The bottom line, its our choice how we live our lives!

For me it is clear what is right and what is wrong with this debate; if we have the right to make choices throughout our lives which will drastically affect us and those around us, why are we not given the right to chose how we end our life if we believe it is better for ourselves and those around us? There is no difference in any other choices we’ve made, as we made them fully aware of the consequences of that choice. As long as we have the ability to sensibly make that choice, it is our life and we do what we think it’s best with it.

I think the ability to make choices is so powerful and unique to human beings that it can even change the course of our lives; think about it. I am a great believer that our existence in this planet is a map on which we draw along as we make those choices, choosing the direction we are going. Our map (life) has many routes and each route has a junction (choices). At these junctions we decide, and this decision in turn takes us to the next road to follow. The roads don’t have a destination and they always come to a new junction in which you select a new direction. It’s like a labyrinth, and ever so often we may find ourselves somewhere where we’ve been before, we took a wrong turn, but if we are cleaver enough we will not chose that same road again and try new directions which will hopefully lead us to new places in our journey. Remember life is a journey, not a destination and even when we get there, at the end of our lives, we still make choices that affect everything we leave behind. Those who stay will follow whatever road we chose before we died, and then they will make their choices on how they go on with what we left behind. Our lives, these maps, are all intertwined in one big map called life; the choices we make, the avenues we take at those junctions, affect others around us in their own journey.

Choose to live your life the way you want to, this is the only thing you truly own, your life!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Week Twenty-eight – Keep on going!

When I wrote this phrase some time ago, I had entered a Facebook competition from a page called Authors Publish, which encourages up and coming writers to focus on publishing their work. They had asked for submissions on what inspired you to write in one sentence and after some time thinking why I write I realised that I never get tired of writing. It’s like a drug, I need to do it, even if it is something short, but I have to get my thoughts on paper. This is where I also thought of my saying “I write because someone out there reads” and I still firmly believe that these two sentences are the biases of my passion for writing.

This is also where my personal challenge of writing a weekly blog comes form, I want to push myself and explore my abilities as a writer. This year I want to know if I can sustain a blog every week finding the inspiration to write continuously about different subjects. Although I am now halfway through my life (I want to live to 90 with all my abilities in good shape) I began my writing careers very young, doing short stories. Then my passion for the performing arts pushed me to become a scriptwriter and I shifted to writing those tales in dialog, visualising it on the stage. For years I have focused on writing scripts and about a year ago I had the opportunity to participate on a writing club called Shakespeare’s Monkeys, a group inspired by a friend of mine who wanted to get a few of us together, literally, and write short stories. This was a great challenge for me as I had not written short stories in a long time and I wanted to go back to see if I could still do it. The group dissolved after a year, many where too busy to dedicate time to write the short stories, but I had learned that my ability was still there.

Two weeks ago I finished the second draft of my 4th Musical called “Another day in Paradise” and if you are a Phil Collins die-hard fan you would have identified that this musical is using his songs. My first musical, written in Spanish took me almost 3 years to write and this latest project has been the subject of my attention for the last 12 months.  At the same time a few weeks ago I began to think about a new project. I have never written a book, a story longer than 5000 words and in conversation with someone about my family background, a story extremely complex and intriguing, they said I should write a book about it. But what I realised as I began to put this idea together is that I am not sure I am a book writer. I have never suffered from writer’s block, as you all know from previous blogs I have a very vivid imagination and not enough hours in the day to write, but yet I could not get started writing this story. I tried, I began with an introduction and then I stopped. I could not get pass this. So I left it for a couple of days and want back to it, but nothing! I wrote, I deleted, I then wrote again and trashed it and all of the sudden I was stuck! I went to bed feeling down, I wanted to write, I wanted to get the story on the computer but the more I tried the harder in became. Had I dried out? Had I got tired of writing? I hoped not, otherwise I would be tired of life!

And then it downed on me, I am a writer, but I am a scriptwriter, that’s what I do, and that’s what I love doing. Yes I can also write short stories and blog away, but if I want to tell a story, I have to write the dialog. I guess is like being a sports person, you can’t be good at all sports!

This revelation felt good, and help me re-focus my energy and what I love doing. So often we find pushing ourselves in the wrong direction, just because that’s what we should do. I always felt that if I wanted to be an accomplish writer I should publish a book; this seems to be the right thing. I see people in the train reading great novels and I aspire to have those people reading my stories, so it is only natural that I think I need to write them on a great novel, or an epic book that everyone loves, buys and becomes number one reading book of the year. I guess that’s not where my abilities to write lay and I will never be the next JK Rowling but my stories can still make the silver screen like Harry Potter, I just skip the book and go straight to the film!

I called this blog keep on going because I want to share with you all why it’s important to keep on going on what we believe, on what our passion is but more importantly where our abilities lay. Yes it has taken me 3 years to written my first musical and it will take me many more to write others, I spend endless hours every week writing my blog and scripts, short stories and most of my work has never seen the light of day, it’s not like a book that you write and publish and then it gets read. To achieve my dream as a writer doesn’t mean I have to write a book; to achieve my dream means I have to focus on what my ability as a writer is. Every word that I write, ever letter I use to share my thoughts and idea, has to be done through short stories, blogs and dialog, not the next war and peace!

This is a principle we should all apply to our lives; at work, in our hobbies, in our personal life, if you love what you do, then focus on it and do it well, know your limitation and don’t feel you have to do it all, don’t be a Jack of all Trades and a Master of None. You don’t have to run marathons like everyone else to enjoy keeping fit, you don’t have to be able to play all instruments to be a great musician, you don’t have to have the top job to be the best as what you do. If you are going to invest the time and effort on something, you might as well do it on the one thing you know that every time you do it, you are getting closer to your dream.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Week Twenty- seven – skeletons in your closet!

If you’ve never heard this expression, it actually means that! If you keep skeletons in your closet they’ll find them!

This week the British press have been focusing on a horrific story of a well know public figure, Australian born comedian, artist and entertainer Rolf Harris who for years lived and appeared British television entertaining children and adults alike. He has been convicted with 12 counts for indecent assault on children and has been put in jail for 5 years and 9 months. As I sat and listen to the details narrated by reporters, I couldn’t help but feel different emotions as the story unfolded. Why different emotions? And what was I feeling? Well, first of all Rolf Harris is someone I grew up with since I came to live in Britain, a man who throughout his career focused on bringing happiness to children through his work. This left a chilling feeling inside me thinking how can someone go from being so sweet and kind to children to being literally a child molester, it’s something that doesn’t make sense, I can’t work it out in my mind. Then there is the thought that I’m also a father and it disturb me knowing that this could happen to my children; he was a figure we all trusted and believed as if he cared for kids through his work. As a parent you are always worried about the safety of your kids and keeping them away from this sort of people but when a story so shocking explodes in front of you in the news, leaves you feeling hopeless. I also felt anger, anger because he has got away with it for so long, and no matter what punishment you give him, he is an old man now and has lived his entire life free of guilt and punishment for what he did. And I also felt let down by the system as I heard in the news that he was prosecuted and punished according to the laws of the 1960’s 70’s because that’s when the crimes happened! Yes you are hearing (or rather reading) this correctly! And the sad thing is that the law was a lot linier back then, I guess we hadn’t understood how we should deal with these individuals 40 years ago!

All of those thoughts were going through my head as I watch the news, and every time I saw something about it, I could not help but feel all of these emotions time and time again. Interestingly enough, I also felt sorry for him… I guess I’m only human and cannot help having a balance in my view. Let me explain why I felt sad and sorry for the old man.

Rolf Harris up to now has denied the charges and accusations against him and showed no remorse for what he did, I’m not sure if he is just being cleaver or he genuinely believes he is not guilty. It is interesting to think that he can sit there listening to his victims and genuinely believe he did not cause them harm by sexually assaulting them all those year ago. I guess what makes me sad is that this is only a portion of his private life we now know, and if he doesn’t believe what he is hearing to be true and bad, what else has he done that may be wrong and will, I guarantee you, come out over the next few months and years to haunt him, tarnishing further his reputation and all the good work he did in his clean and almost perfect public life. I am not justifying what he’s done, not at all, on the contrary that’s why I am angry at the legal system that lets him be punished with outdated laws of the 60’s and receiving 5 years and 9 months imprisonment which means he will be out in a couple of years, but his behaviour does show that people sometimes are not conscious of what they do and believe that what they have done is right. You have to be, in my opinion, mentally ill to think that this is not wrong and in desperate need of help.

I decided to call my blog this week “skeletons in your closet “ as I think the biggest learning we can take form this story is that everything you do in your life, will eventually surface and haunt you until you die. Rolf Harris’ terrible actions against children have ruined a whole life of hard work and dedication to his art and sadly he will now be remembered only for his crime. How often have we seen this played out on famous people time and time again? Public figures idolise and respect by many suddenly find themselves being tarnished with an old fling with the wrong person when they were unknown, or accused by actions taken in a misguided youth, or some times crimes you committed and managed to keep under raps finally will catch you up and you will pay for what you did. I guess you don’t have to be famous for this to happen to any of us, although fame seems to bring this to a larger scale because your life belongs to the public who will pass judgement on you!

We all may have skeletons in our closets (big and small); at some point or another we may have done something we shouldn’t have even though it felt right, and we knew at that moment we may regret it one day. Specially when we are young, when we don’t realise that every action we take, every move we make, will reflect in our future and it doesn’t matter how much we think this will not come up at a later stage in our lives, it always does. There is always the possibility that it will come up; that when we least expect it, it will be there staring us in the face, as we regret that moment knowing we cannot change the past.  It may be too late for us to change things we have done in the past and all we can do is pray they will not come back to haunt us, but we can focus on not making the same mistakes we made back then, avoid doing things that one day will be on your doorstep. I want to guide and help my children minimise the mistakes they will make in their youth, and although I can only advice them and help them, they will make their own choices and make mistakes.

One final though on this story, and I have blogged about this before, you cannot judge a book by its cover, you think you know someone and you really don’t. I feel for Rolf Harris’ family who are also the victims of his crimes, they will have to live with his legacy, sadly the wrong one, for the rest of their lives.