The Mystic Wanderer – Part IV

-“You’re on a quest….I know—I can read faces.”

This commentary was uttered gently but unexpectedly by a fellow student in a course of literary craft in Miami Dade College – Wolfson Campus in 2014, during a brief class break while we were seated next to each other in the front row. As I imperviously kept the conversation going on, she looked at us intently without saying anything. Then, out of the blue, she uttered those words.

She was (and, God bless her, most likely still is) an educated and smart lady that had just arrived from a trip to Mongolia where she had painstakingly recorded their children’s stories. We cannot remember her name but her facial features were seared in our memory. She decided to undertake that perilous trek totally funded with her own financial means because she felt that someone had to do it before that precious cultural heritage would be lost forever in a few generations. She explained to us that the Mongol people relied much more on oral traditions rather than the written records; however, with the onslaught of the digital revolution reaching as far away as their nomadic yurts, the elders feared that the chain of transmission could be broken due to their youngsters’ distractions.

She told us that in her frequent trips to the Far East, she had occasionally come across a guy in the street that had our same absent look, as if we were somewhere else. Or trying to reach another destination than the physical location where we were standing. We explained to her that we wanted to write novels and essays, which she liked. But she warned us that no commercial or academic success would ever totally satisfy us. She told us that we would never leave the road to settle down in comfy places. We looked at her in silence and bewilderment, but we respected her firm diagnosis.

Now we are fully convinced that she hit it on top of the nail. We are, and will always be, on a quest. Discovering new places, talking to different people, sharing the joy and sadness of Living with them.

Note. This reproduction of Peter Bruegel’s The Peasant Dance was taken from Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pieter_Bruegel_d._%C3%84._014.jpg

We have always been avid readers and loyal fans of Thomas Merton, the French – American mystic, poet, writer, social activist, and inter-faith collaborator, who just only happened to be a Trappist monk with a checkered relationship with hierarchy. Not surprisingly, like the great thinkers and movers of the Catholic Church like Saint Francis of Assisi, he was admired and reviled at the same time (can this be possible?) by his superiors in the order who resented his growing popularity all over the world. On December 10, 1968, while he was attending a Red Cross conference in Thailand, he was found dead in his cottage room, presumably due to an electrocution(sic) However, he had a clear laceration in the back of his head and he did not have an autopsy; ever since, many journalists have claimed that he was murdered by the Usual Suspects due to his opposition to the Vietnam War. We will write about him, his works, his influence, and also about the 2018 book detailing his demise.

Note. This image of the Reverend Thomas Merton was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

By The Merton Center: http://www.mertoncenter.org/Poetry/griffin.jpg, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18293738

Man on a Quest.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Salut dernier Compagnon de la Libération!

Chers lecteurs, chères lectrices, chers blogueurs, chères blogueuses:

Bon jour. Hubert Montaigne, le dernier soldat vivant de l’Ordre de la Libération est décédé le Mardi 10 Octobre à l’âge de 101 ans. Fils d’un général des troupe coloniales, il a vécu dans différents pays avant de s’inscrire à l’Académie Navale à Bordeaux. C’est là qu’il réside quand le gouvernement traitre du Maréchal Pétain signe le honteux Armistice avec l’Allemagne en 1940. Quand il apprend que les colonies françaises du Nord de l’Afrique vont rester “neutrales” pendant la guerre, il décide à 20 ans de s’embarquer dans un bateau polonais pour rejoindre le Général De Gaulle à Londres.

Note. Cette reproduction d’ Hubert Germain’s picture dréssé comme un soldat a été prise du Wikimedia Commons/ https://www.ordredelaliberation.fr/en/node/1060

Il participe activement dans la campagne du corps expéditionnaire française en Syrie et en Afrique, finallement arrivant à l’Hexagone dans le débarquement des Alliés en Provence dans l’année 1944. En 1940 De Gaulle a crée l‘ordre de la Libération “pour récompenser les personnes ou les collectivités civiles et militaires qui se seront signalées dans l’œuvre de libération de France et son empire.” Après la Légion d’Honneur, c’est le deuxième ordre national de la République Française. l’ordre est forclos depuis 1946 et seulement 1.061 on été accordées. Hubert Montaigne en a une.

Note. Cette image a été prise du Wikimedia Commons. Par Fdutil — Travail personnel, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19854339

L’insigne de l’ordre est la Croix de Lorraine et elle porte au revers la devise en Latin Patriam servando, victoriam tulit, qui signifie: “En servant la Patrie, il a remporté la victoire.”

Salut Compagnon de la Libération!

Tes autres compagnons t’attendent dans les Champs Elysées pour faire un toast a ta santé!

Salut a tous les héros et toutes les héroïnes de la République Française!

Restez à l’écart. Restez en sécurité. Restez beaus et belles.

Qu’est ce-que vous en pensez? Dites-nous.

Ne me laissez pas seul.

Physician and Nurse Burn-out – Part VIII Stampeding Out

Why would we be surprised that so many Health Care workers are skedaddling?

In an article in the CNBC Business portal, Karen Gilchrist wrote: “According to recent studies, between 20 and 30% of frontline U.S. health care workers say they are now considering leaving the profession. Notably, one April 2021 study by health carte jobs marketplace Vivian found that four in 10 (43%) nurses are considering leaving their role in 2021 – a figure that is higher among ICU workers (48%)”

For all of us who work in the Health Care Arena, it does not come as any surprise that so many of our colleagues are toying with the idea of leaving the profession for good, or at least to find a parallel track with limited clinical duties. On the contrary. More than twenty years ago, we were shocked how the failed attempt by the Clinton administration to reform the Health Care coverage of Americans, literally wiped out the profitability and sustainability of many solo practices, including ours. At the time, we sat down with our wife to discuss options to assure our future employment; we decided to study, with humongous financial and personal sacrifices, both Master and Doctoral degrees in Health Policy and Management at Columbia University.

Note. The reproduction of this U.S. Navy recruiting poster was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Waves_recruiting_poster.jpg

Unfortunately many of our colleagues did not take any similar preventive steps and are now confronted with the stark reality that, even after the sacrifices they have made during the pandemic, they are back in the same exploitative work parameters of yore, with the added caveat that they might be dragooned for the next pandemic. The obnoxious understaffing of hospital wards, the relatively low pay, the long hours of an insensitive scheduling process that messes family life plus the rising incidence of Mental Health problems, worsened after the pandemic, with no foreseeable relief. A few of them are close to the retirement age and their plight will be brief indeed. But what happens to the thousands upon thousands of middle age-professionals? From our personal experience, we know that it takes a long time to efficiently re-engineer your career and stir it to more predictable and pleasant working waterways , compared to the always stormy clinical sea lanes.

A recent Department of Labor statistical study showed that almost half a million health care workers have quit since the start of the pandemic. When will it end? For starters, our politicians in D.C. and the statehouses should stop playing dummies. This is an ongoing tragedy that will have severe repercussions for the health of our children and grandchildren. And it will not be solved by just throwing money at it. Secondly, we , the health care professionals, should participate more in the associations that defend our interests, be at the national, state or local levels. It makes a difference. We confess that for may years we ignored these organizations but for the past few years we have tried to participate in the varied activities of the outstanding Florida Medical Association.

We will make our humble contribution by writing articles on these issues, which will constitute the needed scaffolding for our upcoming book Physician and Nurse Burn-out – Roots and Remedies.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Celebrating Columbus Day

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good morning. Today we celebrate Columbus Day in the USA, a holiday remembering the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the New World on October 12, 1492, in a spot supposedly in Bahamas. During our childhood in Uruguay, we celebrated this holiday too in our schools and workplaces. Moreover, as proud Italian-Americans, we rejoiced in the fact that “one of own” got that distinction.

In the picture above, Gian Luca is posing in front of the most beautiful Bay of Naples…Nápule!!!!

We know that during the past few decades there has been a strong revisionist movement to erase this holiday from the calendar due to the terrible exploitation and even extermination of the various groups of Native Americans by the conquering Europeans. Eduardo Galeano, the late Uruguayan writer, wrote one of the best accounts of that genocide in Las Venas Abiertas de América Latina.

In an October 10, 2021 article in the Retropolis section of The Washington Post, Ronald G. Shafer wrote: “The first national Columbus Day was proclaimed in 1892 by Republican President Benjamin Harrison to celebrate the 4000th anniversary of Italian-born explorer Christopher Columbus supposed discovery of America…But for Harrison, it served another purpose: to help resolve a diplomatic crisis with Italy – and gain support among Italian-American voters – after rioters in New Orleans lynched 11 Italian immigrants the year before.” Clouded by the acerbic political discourse of our divided citizenry, the issue of whether to keep this holiday or not has taken inflammatory tones. At present there are several Italian- American organizations that demand a more nuanced approach.

Let us be crystal clear on this subject. We feel extremely proud of not only being Italian- Americans, but also being fluent speakers and readers of the marvelous language of Dante Alighieri, practicing the cultural parameters of the peninsula and even holding Italian passports, as the citizenship via Jus Sanguinis was bestowed upon us by our grandfather Morizio and our grandmother Yolanda.

Our daughter Noël Marie and our son Gian Luca inherited precious Italian physical/ spiritual traits.

Grazie Nonna! Grazie Nonno! Grazie Mamma!

Auguri a tutti ed tutte le concitadini Italiani ed Italiane!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Boring is Beautiful!

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good morning. Yesterday we perused in front of the refrigerator what to take out to fix our dinner. There were many options but we felt the irresistible urge to prepare gnocchi with a tomato sauce, meatballs included. To overcome that impasse, we consulted our son Gian Luca. Guess what he said?

Even though we have prepared it a few times lately, it is still one of our favorite homemade dishes. First of all we had to prepare a tomato sauce from scratch.  Here it is how it turned out to be. Like it?

We let it stand for 1-2 hours while we watched sports, had a little nap, etc. until we boiled the pasta.

Our son told us it was our best version ever of it, but, with a happy tummy, he always says the same.

Definitely, like in many instances of Life like inter-personal relationships, having an excessive number of choices can be detrimental to make a good decision because you feel paralyzed. Overchoice. We discuss this subject, and many others, in our book Emotional Frustration – the Hushed Plague.

Boring is Beautiful.

Buon appetito.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you President Joseph Biden!!!

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good morning. Yesterday we went to the Coral Gables office of Federal Express to send several copies of our book Emotional Frustration – the Hushed Plague to a few notables to thank them. Foremost amongst them, was President Joseph Biden, on whose watch we could get vaccinated. When he assumed the presidency of this country in the middle of a terrible pandemic, we half-jokingly wrote an article titled Mad Max (Joe) come to our rescue, imploring the help of the road warrior. As the fans of that cult movie know, that dystopian world was precisely set in the year 2021.

Has it been just a coincidence? Who knows…Anyway we do know that, considering the collateral effects that we suffered after being injected with the three Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine shots,  if we had encountered this nasty virus somewhere out there, it would have killed us. Like it did to our dear Uncle José Luis Garbarino in Montevideo last January 6. The Day of the Epiphany. The irony of it.

In the picture above you can see the genteel Héctor, taking care of this all too precious shipment.

Thank you very much, beautiful people of Federal Express, for helping us pay this debt of high honor.

God Bless our dear President Biden and keep illuminating his treacherous path in the D.C. swamps.

God Bless the Unique United States of America.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Our book for U$ 0.99? Who luvs ya, baby?!!!

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good morning. Today at 8 AM Pacific Time (11 AM Eastern Time) the Kindle Countdown Deal for our book Emotional Frustration – the Hushed Plague will start with an extremely low listing price of U$ 0.99 for each copy, slowly incrementing over one week until reaching back its regular listing price of U$ 9.99 on October 12.

Doesn’t it look like a bargain, folks? What can you buy for one dollar? You need this break!

Like the unforgettable Telly Savalas used to say in the Kojak  series: Who luvs ya, baby?

Stop procrastinating and make that little humongous move of clicking your keyboard to buy it. What  have you got to lose? Your Innocence about the realities of our daily social and love interactions?

If you’d rather not know what’s going on in your hubby’s heart, behind that all too polite smile…

We totally understand. Don’t wake up. Ignorance can be a blessing in disguise. Sweet dreams.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

What will we learn from this Pandemic?

“There is a face of Sadness for those that do not have Sadness” Antonio Machado

Awaiting the blissful third shot of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine, we took the time off our busy schedule to watch people from the simple vantage point of our seat. There were a few people waiting for the shot and others filling their drug prescriptions. They were of very different ages, socio-economic backgrounds, and health care needs. But they shared one trait: Profound. Unfathomable. Sadness.

Not a single one of them was chatting about inconsequential themes or laughing off. They all seemed too preoccupied with the daily up and downs of survival in these times where we have all lost our Sense of Future, our trust in a Better Tomorrow. This one and a half years of Social Isolation and Distancing have consistently gnawed at our human capacity to empathize and our commitment to live together. We have burrowed ourselves so deep in our bespoke cocoons that we can hardly notice who is standing next to us, and worse of all, who is trying to connect with us.

In a September 26. 2021 Washington Post article, Karla Adam said: “The United Kingdom, hoping to ease a supply-chain crisis and a Christmas logjam, will grant temporary visas to more than 10,000 foreigners to work as truck drivers and in the food industry…Britain is grappling with a string of shortages: Supermarkets are running out of goods, and restaurants chains like McDonald’s and KFC are cutting items form their menus. The truck driver shortage is particularly acute. Britain’s Road Haulage Association estimates the country needs about 100.000 drivers. The crisis spread over the weekend to gas stations, resulting  in long lines at the pump.”

We are witnessing an Implosion of almost all the known social parameters of yore. Before the Pandemic, there was no shortage of British and European Union drivers willing to risk their lives transporting those huge tankers full of flammable liquids; the salaries were very good, which paved their way for access to a better lifestyle. However, after many of them were stranded in their homes without working at all, something strange started to seep in their tough blue-collar spirits: risk aversion. They appreciated the time off with their families and sharing the great little moments of life: their sons and daughters’ birthdays, their sports and music events, cooking a Sunday dinner with the whole family helping out, watching their favorite team, etc. When they were summoned, a majority had retired or were working elsewhere; it did not matter that most of them had to take a significant pay and benefits cut.

Paradoxically one of the few painters that could grasp the essential grip of Divinity in our lives and has been able to transmit it to humans through generations was a born rebel that drank too much, adored la bonne chaire des femmes and was often fighting with the Catholic Church to the point of almost being excommunicated. But he never was because they were in awe of his unique mastery of the chiaroscuro techniques. His visceral, bloody strokes accentuated the poverty of Jesus and his followers. Intoxicated with the lead from his paintings, he died too young, after a fight in Naples. His name? Michalangelo Merisi. Caravaggio. Master of the Raw Realism that still deeply disturbs us.

Note. This image of Caravaggio’s Saint Jerome writing was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

By Caravaggio – Self-scanned, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15219558

In this painting of Saint Jerome, a masterpiece now at the Borghese Gallery, Caravaggio captured the Doctor of the Church in a moment of pause of meditation in his travails of translating the Holy Bible into Latin in the Fourth Century. He is not depicted as a penitent but as a scholar whose resting right hand is casually pointing at the inkwell at the other side of the table and at the same time at the skull, a reminder of the inevitability of death and the futility of the vainly pursuit of material goods. The red cloak enveloping the ageing saint takes a physicality of supernatural protection from above.

What if the terrible suffering we have almost all of us suffered during the past few months of Pandemic finally has a sobering effect in our endeavors and attitudes?

What if, instead of foolishly pursuing just material comfort, we take a look at others?

What if we stop plundering the Earth’s Natural Resources and find the alternatives?

What if we stop minding our little miseries and start admiring our many blessings?

What if we tell our loved ones how much we love them again, and again, and again?

What if we open our hearts to spiritual values and bestow that gift to our children?

Therein lies the greatest antidote to the modern spiritual angst and the Triumph of Happiness.

As we will all finally undertake the very same journey, we might imitate the poet’s panache:

“And when the day arrives for the final voyage

And the ship of no return is set to sail,

You’ll find me aboard, traveling light,

almost naked, like the children of the sea.”

Antonio Machado – Campos de Castilla

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

We got the Pfizer-BioNtech booster shot!

Dear readers and fellow bloggers;

Good morning. Yesterday, my son Gian Luca and myself got the third dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine in the brand new Walgreens store located in Calle Ocho and Eight Avenue of Miami. 

In this picture you can see how a lovely technician called Elleny (very beautiful but too shy to allow us to take a simple screenshot of hers) administers the so-called booster shot of that vaccine.

Thank you very much for taking care off us with great diligence and patience for this important step.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Thank you God Almighty!

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good afternoon and Happy Sunday. Today we are going to be very frugal with our words as we want to parsimoniously savor these moments of exhilaration after successfully publishing our new book Emotional Frustration – the Hushed Plague and watch it to become a sure, steady success. Here it is how a copy of it looks like in our everyday working station, where we have spent countless hours.

Even with all the dedicated work and inspiration of the Whole World, we would not have been able to achieve our laborious mission without the support of our living family members and the benign protection of all the departed ones, manifested in the spiritual counsel of a much Higher Authority.

In our stoically trekking years along the sand dunes of society’s indifference, we could count on You.

Thank you God Almighty for never letting go of our humble hand to guide us to the desired goal.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.