The gringa had lived in the Colonia San Rafael neighborhood of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico for over thirteen years, gringa being the local word for an American woman living in Mexico. The old Mexican man with a limp reminiscent of Charlie Chaplin's "Tramp" had lived in the neighborhood too, probably his entire life. The two passed each other many times walking down the hill, and every time the old man saw the woman, he said to her in English that one word that he apparently knew: "mo-nay." Time after time, the same word, "mo-nay." She grew annoyed with him, thinking, "Is that how he sees me? As only a source of money?" It isn't that she never gave to people in need -- she did, often generously, whatever she could. It's just that his one word was so constant and such a habit that it really got on her nerves. Not wanting to encourage him, she either ignored him or said, "No no tengo nada ahorita." “I don't have anything right now.” And walked on quickly. This went on literally for years. At times it almost seemed like a joke between them, him saying "Mo-nay" and she saying, "Nope, nada." And then one blinding hot day, the sunlight bouncing off of everything so much that your eyes hurt, he said something different. "Mo-nay. Hun-gray." She stopped and looked at him, as if for the first time. It had never occurred to her that perhaps he actually was hungry. She felt ashamed, and she took him over to the nearest tienda and asked him what he wanted to buy. His needs were simple: a bolillo--a small loaf of white bread--and a Coke. She bought them and gave him twenty pesos for a refresco later. And she asked his name. "Rubén," he said. "Mucho gusto, señor Rubén. Nice to meet you. Soy Frances," said she. After that, their relationship was different. He no longer was some needy old man, he was Rubén. Sometimes when he saw her, he still said, "Mo-nay" but it was different now that she knew his name and so if she had a few pesos with her, she gave them to him with a smile. And often, before leaving the house, she remembered to think of him and would grab a couple of coins in case she saw him. Sometimes, when he saw her, he didn't ask for money, but asked, in a neighborly way, "A dónde vas? Where are you going?" Or, "¿Acabas de volver del Centro? Did you just get back from town?" And she would talk to him for a few minutes. One day he was walking down the hill with his customary limp that spoke of hip problems, and she said, "¿Adónde va, señor Rubén?" "Where are you going?" And he said, "Estoy caminando para hacer ejercicio y conocer a mis amigos.” “I'm walking for exercise and to meet my friends." And she thought, "Wow, he knows he needs to move his body and he needs to socialize." She thought about this unexpected friendship that they had, and what a gift it was that his presence in her life had helped her shift her perspective from seeing him as someone who was needy to someone who was her neighbor, living life in his way, making the best of his circumstances, just as she was. She realized that he had caused her to confront her own unconscious bias. This was a big step, and she wanted to memorialize it by having a selfie with him. One day he was walking up the hill at the same time she was. "Would it be okay to take a photo with you, señor Rubén?" she asked him in Spanish. He said yes right away. Halfway up the hill, they stopped and looked at the camera. She was wearing her pandemic mask; he was maskless and wearing his battered hat. She stood a little back from him to try to keep "safe social distance." The birds were singing in the tree behind them and she felt happy for this moment. It felt to her like an achievement. There's still a long way to go; no doubt there are many more unconscious biases in my mind and heart. But I, the gringa in question, will always remember Rubén and the gift he brought me. The cost of a few bolillos and some Cokes is a very small price to pay.
“Ayushi, could you wait back?” Mr. Bhati, our economics professor stops me from leaving the class for the period break. “We expect great things from you. Continue to work hard. I believe you can top the state and get the highest in economics this year.” ‘Sir, I will try my best.' I was the promise made eagerly, broken promptly. Dopamine, the pleasure hormone, is released not only after an achievement but also much earlier, in anticipation of it- A lesson I learned last week from Dr. Robert Sapolsky's lectures on neuroscience but one, my subconscious has always known. The reason this happens, Dr. Sapolsky explained, is that the dopamine release acts as a bait to encourage hard work towards success for more. I had chanced upon a shortcut- finding satisfaction in the multiple mini releases, never striving harder for better. I didn't last anywhere near the top. Instead, I was so nervous during the economics exams, I missed the last question. I wrote such elaborate first few answers that I felt short of time towards the end. ‘I knew everything but didn't keep track of time,' I repeat after being awarded the GMAT's penalty on not finishing a section. Twice. A stellar employee makes a major blunder in the second project she leads as an analyst. Yes, me. I crushed on my best friend for over four years, only to break up in a week fearful of the insecurities that started to pop up. He cares, he cares not. What if I start liking someone else? Will I be a cheat? Then and since, as I repetitively failed expectations, I also developed an acute phobia towards commitment. Almost chick, never chicken. Instead, the remains of an unfertilised piece of egg excreted monthly, promising potential, never promise! I didn't make it big. I didn't make it. Instead, I quit the job and made it back to my parent's house hoping to find something I was good at and happy to do. Two years and three jobs later, I am working with my sister to create a utilitarian art brand, still here, in my parent's house. We were starting to do well when COVID hit. Confused, scared with no clarity about the future. The extra hours and limited distractions struck at the rusting pendulum. Oscillating between the regrets of the past and ever-so dreadful ‘expectations' from the future, for once, I am struggling to gain a foothold in the present. Refreshing IG feed every hour no more transforms into an hourly wallow of self-pity looking at friends traveling or getting promoted. The world hit pause and now, most everyone is working from home, cooking, and reading. I fight temptation, delete IG to work, and work on myself. In those hours of uninterrupted introspection, I finally made the long-awaited tear-jerker of a ride 12 years back to when I was made to take accountancy, commerce, and Mr. Bhati's economics as my electives instead of biology, chemistry, and physics because father thought I wasn't dedicated enough to pursue medicine. I had not worked hard enough since. I don't know what contributed more to that prophecy. His words. My rebellion. Both. Sitting on the floor leaning on the wall closest to the router, I type a cover letter to what could have been an application to a med school until my ass hurts and my eyes burn. Desperate to compensate for the last decade, I spent the first few weeks of the lockdown learning to speak in French, cook, garden, write and invest. Days passed, became weeks. The initial enthusiasm started to wane because there was a lot of learning but as many results. I realized I was getting better at things I learned by doing like cooking, unlike those I learned passively about. I had to converse in French. I had to type, scribble, jot. Not just read books on it. Anything is easier read than done. Attempting to do everything, I wasn't doing anything well. I had to streamline my subjects. Call it greed, I chose to start with investing and designing. Impatient to recover all the past losses, I started out to make a few mistakes, costly ones but slowly I am learning to pick better quality companies. We are creating better designs for our art brand too, some that inspire for a happier present, others in the hope of a better future. Now, when someone asks me what I do for a living, I won't mumble that I am a Chartered Accountant and a CFA, distracting them with my academic qualification. As I think back to the still very empty bank account and the room I continue to inhabit in my parent's house, I now have hope. With every unrealized gain I make on the investments and with every positive feedback we get on our designs, I stand a little bit taller, my eyes smile a little bit wider. If tomorrow, I wake up to hear that quarantine has ended, I might not jump out of bed with excitement. After a long shower and a slow breakfast, when I step outside, it will be with equal amounts of hope and dread that the unknown brings. The world would have changed. I would have changed too. For the better.
Heartbreaks are just awful in general but my first heartbreak was where I lost everyone I loved. This heartbreak would teach me that even my own family will be the cause of my first and worst heartbreak. They would be the ones that I needed to be protected from. I was a bit naive and never dealt with anyone lying to me. At 16 years old, I lost my family which consists of my 4 girl cousins , my best friend Jenna , and my boyfriend Jose. My cousin Denise, who started doing drugs at the time, thought that she could blame it all on me. I heard she said things like I bossed her around and made her do all these horrible things like stealing cars, stealing money and I made her sneak out of the house all the time. I couldn't believe what was going on because first off I had no idea what the drug was at that point and I didn't even know she was doing drugs. But it would explain the pure evil I saw in her eyes. She couldn't stop lying and honestly I think after a while she believed her own lies.She kept the lies going with not even caring what this was doing to our family and most of all to me. My other 3 cousins never came and questioned me about it and just chose to forget me. With so many lies and gossip pointing the blame in my direction, they just assumed and believed her. They altogether stopped any contact with me for years. I'm talking about my group of girl cousins who I grew up with. They were there for every birthday, every holiday, every summer, and every weekend to hang out and have sleepovers. SInce we were babies, we have always been inseparable. Their parents stopped any contact with my parents. I was not expecting my cousin to ever do this to me. Next in line, I lost my best friend Jenna who went to school with me. My cousin met her through me and got her doing drugs as well. Once again my cousin and Jenna blamed everything on me so they could still hang out and get high together. In front of our parents, they told everyone that it was me with the drug problem. I broke down begging Jenna to come out with the truth. I was crying so hard that I couldn't even talk. I just remember looking at both these girls who I loved more than anything and saw they didn't even care. They showed no emotion whatsoever as I poured my heart out to them. I was even apologizing for their own mistakes. I was trying to crack one of them but they let me leave Jenna's house that night so heartbroken. I was just devastated. Luckily my parents at least believed me, but I still felt so defeated. Last person I lost was my boyfriend which was my first boyfriend that I ever loved and lost my virginity to. We had been going out for about 8 or 9 months and he broke up with me at the same time this whole drama thing is going on with my cousin and Jenna. I find out months later that he was sleeping with my cousin and doing drugs with her while we were still together. My cousin destroyed my life overnight and I knew I was never gonna be the same. After that, I didn't leave my bedroom and I stayed in bed. I felt pathetic and just worthless. It changed my whole personality and changed my whole life. I turned to drugs months later and I really didn't care what was being said after that. I was already known for being a drug addict. I was not responsible enough to make a good decision on how to deal with the pain. I only blame myself for that though. The pain wasn't my fault. That was out of my control. But the struggle was what I am to blame for. I let so many people affect me. I let them all hold the power to my happiness which wasn't healthy. I think it's safe to say I loved them too much. I learned that forgiving those who never apologized or even acknowledged what they did to me is one of the hardest things I ever had to do. It's been 17 years since this happened and I should be over it right? With this being my family that did this to me , I still see them on holidays and sometimes for birthdays. We act as if nothing had ever happened. I just know if we were to talk about it, the conversation will never gonna go the way I want it to go. I have to keep it bottled in and act like I don't think about it everyday. My cousin is sober now and actually did 5 or 6 years in prison. She has still, to this day, never admitted anything to me about anything. I feel like she totally took advantage of who I was. She knew I wasn't gonna snitch on her and she knew I wouldn't bring anything up and confront her about it. She played her game with all her lies and she knew I loved her so much that I wouldn't blow her cover. Maybe it's my fault I didn't object but my words meant nothing to anyone. You want to know the worst thing about pain? It's only yours. People won't understand your pain. Even the ones that have caused it may not even realize it. Other people will tell you to get over it and tell you to just move on. My cousin may be able to forget what she did to me but I will never be able to forget. More than anything, I wish I could.
"When you truly reflect on life, you come up with such creations. I like the way Adiela has weaved simple poetic stories out of the complex strings of life in which humans remain entangled. From social to soul exploration, all has been done and depicted neatly in this poetic beauty. As a poet, I especially relate to the poetry style that is made very understandable, yet churned out of an ocean's depth." - Ruchika Pahwa Available here: https://adielaakoo.wixsite.com/writer/shop
Aloof? Aloof you say? I'm so sorry if I made you feel that way. It's really not my intention, Though the reaction is of my own invention. You see, long ago I built a wall, A defence mechanism as I recall. So for me to draw close, is still very hard, After misplacing that important trust card. #AdielaAkoo Get Lost in a Quatrain here: https://adielaakoo.wixsite.com/writer/shop
Excited to announce that I have been invited to do a poetry reading at The Alan Paton Literary Festival, being hosted at Eden Lassie, in the beautiful Tala Valley 🙏🌹 Come and get Lost in a Quatrain with me on Saturday the 7th March 2020 from 15h00-15h30 I will be reading poetry from my book as well as some new, unpublished poems Love to see you there 💖 💖#AdielaAkoo
Today at work I overheard someone bad-mouthing me. Not just anyone, though. My manager. The person who had been mentoring and teaching me since I started working at that company only six months back. The person with whom I shared an office with every day. Moments before, I had made a minuscule mistake while talking to a customer on the phone. She was quickly able to correct me before the phone conversation ended, so in the end, everything was fine. Apparently, I was wrong though, and that mistake made it necessary to vent to a co-worker about. This particular woman didn't have a quiet voice to begin with, so it wasn't hard to pique my attention. When I heard the harsh whispers I immediately froze. My ears went into an ultra-satellite mode. I could feel all the blood rush from my head. My hands got icy cold. The thuds from my heart were rattling my chest. My emotions shifted rapidly between anger, sadness, confusion, embarrassment, and betrayal. The next thoughts that flashed through my head were that I needed to put my two-week notice in. There was no way I could show my face around here again. Why do people do that? Why do people have to talk negatively and gossip about others? Unpleasant flashbacks to high school were triggered. It was all childish and stupid, coming from someone who knew better. Even though I tried so hard to barricade them, the tears started to spill out, along with a few stifled sobs. I was truly hurt. I already didn't enjoy being there as it was, and hearing those hurtful remarks didn't make it any easier. Since I was still relatively new, I realized it was inevitable that I would make mistakes. But of course, nobody wants to make them. We want to achieve perfection and excel at our jobs. Nobody wants to be the straggler who doesn't know what they're doing. The person who gets dirty looks or eye rolls when they're struggling to complete a task. This was one of my worst fears coming true. When she casually returned to the office, all my bottled up emotions exploded and I confronted her about it. It all kind of gushed out without me being able to control it. Normally that is something I wouldn't have the guts to do because I hate confrontation. But for some reason this time I shakily stood up for myself, like facing a lion in a den. She seemed shocked that I had been able to hear the private conversation and admitted what she had done was wrong and not appropriate. She repeatedly apologized while I tried to get my crying convulsions under control. I could tell she felt bad, and I'm glad she did. I replay that moment back in my head and am so proud of myself for saying something. If I hadn't, she probably would have kept at it. Even when you don't think you have the courage inside yourself, it'll emerge when you truly need it. This was a brutal reminder to always be kind to others. Even though it's tempting, it's important to avoid the addictive habit of gossiping. You never know who may be listening.
It was the Monday after Thanksgiving 2018, and I took my 7-year-old daughter to a showing of "Ralph Breaks the Internet" right after school. I already knew that the movie theater was this kid's happy place, but this trip ended up being extra special. We were the only two in the theater. Not only did we loudly talk and make jokes throughout the showing, she got up and danced around the empty theater during the credits. I mean, ran up and down the aisles shaking her "groove thing" to "Zero" by Imagine Dragons. And then as we were walking out, she said, "I'm gonna tell them this is the best time I've ever had in this theater." And she did. Bless that teenage concession stand employee that listened to her speech and smiled at me over the top of her head. I think this is the first time I've fiercely hoped my daughter would remember a moment for the rest of her life. But the more I thought about it, I realized that it wasn't my first "memorable moment" at the movies. It's the summer of 1999, and I'm with a large group of friends heading to the movies. We've driven 20 miles to see the new releases playing at the Capri V Theatre in downtown Ottumwa, Iowa. More specifically, we're here to see "The Blair Witch Project." Now I can't remember all of the people in our group, but I do remember that I was the last person in line to buy a ticket and Jessica was right in front of me. Jess and I were both 16 at the time. There were two people selling tickets, and when Jess got up to the counter, one of the employees asked her how old she was. Let me reiterate that. They didn't ask to see her ID, they just asked her how old she was. And as I heard her say 16, my heart sank. "Blair Witch" was rated R, and now they weren't going to sell her a ticket. All of our friends ahead of us in line (some only 16, some older) already had their tickets, and to be perfectly honest, I was pissed off. She told the cashier that she'd like a ticket to see "Bowfinger" instead. I gritted my teeth and bought my own ticket to "Bowfinger" so Jess wouldn't have to go to the movies alone. In case you don't remember that film, it's a PG-13 comedy starring Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy. I'd like to tell you more of the plot, but I honestly don't remember. I was way too angry to actually pay attention. I do remember how Jess kept forcing herself to laugh too hard at the jokes and looking over at me in the dark as if she was trying to "will" me to enjoy myself. It wasn't going to happen. I was way too angry at her for "ruining" my evening. I was angry for her automatic honesty. Which, nearly 20 years later, seems crazy. I was mad at my best friend for telling the truth. I recently read a book by Gretchen Rubin were she writes that "what you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while." And while it's hard to believe that Jessica Eakins was completely truthful every single day, I do know that she was truthful MORE than once in a while. If there is an underlying theme in all my memories of Jess, it's that she was an honest friend that never set out to hurt anyone's feelings... but often told people what they needed to hear. The Capri V Theatre closed a year after Jess died. And I can't remember the last movie I saw at that location, and I honestly can't remember the last movie I saw with Jess. I often wonder if this moment - this "life lesson" at the movies - would even be burned in my memory at all if Jess hadn't died less than five years later. But it is. So strive to be honest... more than once in a while. Even if you end up forcing someone else to watch "Bowfinger."
I recently had an interesting discussion with a friend of a friend on the subject of abstract art and the interpretations and meanings that the audience of such art might bring into it, versus the original intention that the artist brought into the piece at its creation. Having been raised in an analytical setting, I have always been keenly aware of that anecdote, where a university professor is analyzing a novel and the author comes up to the front to correct him. The professor then turns to him and says, "With all due respect sir, what do you know? You're just the author." I've always been of the opinion that once art is released, it ceases to be the auteur's. The creator no longer has any power over it, or over how it is received. Every person that looks upon it will see something different, for both biological and psychological reasons. This applies to every kind of art; paintings, photographs, poems, stories. while they are being created, the artist retains some control, choosing specific colors, using subtle allusions and allegories to at least try to direct the inevitable interpretations in a direction. But once the piece is shared, even if only with one person, the artist must surrender control over it or go mad, because one simply cannot control the meaning that different people, with different backgrounds, having had a different combination of influences upon them, will draw from the piece. For example, take Malevich's black square. When I first saw it, my attention was drawn to how the paint is cracked in the center, but not evenly. If you look closely at the paint that isn't cracked, you start to see shapes, as if Malevich put on a second coat of the paint in those specific places. I see a house in those shapes, an old, wood cabin in the middle of a forest in the dead of night. The reason I see that is because of who I am as a person, because of the influences that were had on me in my childhood, because of secret, subconscious fears and dreams and wishes. Someone else might look upon the black square and see the withered remains of a flower lattice, gone black with age, or a shadow cast by a statue, or the darkness inside of humanity, or whatever else. There's seven and a half billion people on this planet, which means that there are, currently, seven and a half billion versions of the Black Square, originally by Kasimir Malevich. While many of those interpretations likely share quite a few of the traits that Malevich meant to project with the project, no black square will ever exist in anyone's mind exactly the same way as it did in Kasimir's mind as he sat down in front of a blank canvas with a paint roller and a bucket of Vantablack. I guess what I'm trying to say is that every human being is different, and this makes it so that there's no way to predict or manipulate how your audience will receive your piece, because once you've sent it out into the world, there will be no one single [name of piece], but rather a million million versions of it, each version existing safely and cozily in a different person's mind. To try and influence your audience, as an artist, and tell them the "correct" answer, is to, simply put, try to change all of these human beings into copies of you. Because, the fact is, there is no "correct" answer. It's not your piece anymore; you've given it to them, so whatever they define as the one true interpretation of it becomes absolutely true and "correct" - for them. As artists, we must learn to step aside and let our works grow and expand and make babies. We must stop trying to rearrange people's heads to make them like our own, and we must give people the space and freedom to add on to our creations. We must stop trying to plug meaning into them, but rather to let our audience draw out the meaning that was already there. Maybe that's the key to world peace.
I grew up in a big family where atmosphere of friendship and compassionate is in importance. As an older sister, one of my necessaries is share everything and help to my siblings. However, I never understand, why sharing can make my life happier or even give me some benefit.When I was 15 years old, I start studying a lot, due to of my exams, certificate. I dedicated all my free time for studying, but, on the other hand, I didn't help my sisters with homework or my mum with housework. In addition, I limit my conversation with friendsUnfortunately, despite how hard I tried, I didn't get excellent marks from all subjects. It was one the most stressful part of my life, when I concerned about my future, my job, all in all about life. I feel upset. Every time thoughts about what I had sacrificed for this exam, filled my head and made me really anxious. One typical summer day, I was in library. All friends know that you can find me in the library only in the section of math, science and English literature. The exception was that day when I pay attention on the section called psychology where I found a book with simple cover but, famous author Dale Carnegie which called “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living”. This book helps me more even today than knowledge of 10 grades.After reading book, I find a spark of passion for focusing on what I really love to do. Finding my interest in programming and robotics give me a lot dopamine to realize my potential in STEM. I took place in the Moscow, Karaganda, Louisville “Vex Robotics Competition” which my school sponsored and help me to introduce Kazakhstan to other countries. I noticed lack of girls in an engineering or programming specializes. Therefore, I started YouTube blog where I share my background and try to motivate girls to involve in technical sphere. As a result, by sharing my experience, helping my friends to pass their exams and sharing knowledge, money with others, I become happier than in my past life. I started realize that happiness is not having luxury house or brand clothes, happiness is not working at Google or having latest IPhone, happiness is communicating with people, sharing ideas and thoughts, for instance, just telling your problem to other, makes you feel calmer and lightened. The power of giving rather than sharing makes our planet kind. I had a lot of moments where effect of boomerang worked. Once, I was in bus stop, waiting the bus with a teacher. When It came, I went inside and suddenly, realized that I don't have coins for bus, also no money in my bus card. Inside the bus is some people whom I didn't know. That teacher saw me and give me money to pay. He doesn't know me, but he really helped me. Because, my house located far from school, therefore I couldn't walk to there. After several days, I was in queue where woman left her purchase at home and she need some money to buy. I immediately use this moment, give her some money. After this she gave thanks to me. Let is imagine, if we get everything from the Earth but do not return, we might face with ecological problems. If we get all resources from our parents or mentors but, never help them, everyone will avoid us because, even if you don't care about closes who wants to be friend with you. Therefore, if we don't give back, it doesn't hurt only a receiver, it may have consequences on us. For instance, we get everything from ocean. Starting from fish, finishing with energy resources like oil and minerals. Ocean resources provide jobs, goods and services for billions of people around the world and have immense economic importance. Unfortunately, we forget about helping ocean by cleaning shore or stop excessive fishing. We throw bin which everyday accumulates on the ocean. But, if we stop getting so much resources and start giving to him by cleaning or looking after endangered species, it will recover and feed us for a long time. Therefore, it is very important to not push the sense of duty to the nature, family and God. We often raise our kids to get the highest marks, the top facilities or study in the prestige universities, even tell them to get high-paid job. Yes, I am not arguing, but not every parent ask their children end of the school day, “Whom you helped? or What you did to be grateful? or Did he give a helping hand to surrounding?”. In my point of view, raising kids to not compete with society, but to be part of them will help him to be more opened and generous. To sum it up, I want underline that everyone should teach themselves to give, to share and to help. It really makes you a part of something big and if you start helping you do not want to give up or stop, because, it gives you a mass of positive energy and you realize values of life. It helps you to focus on good things and fill life with happy moments. Because, everyone should understand that all of us a big family. And giving instead of receiving helps us to save our friendship, stability and values.
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