Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Hallway

How do you feel about hallways?

Do you find them menacing, fearing what's behind each door?

Or, do you see each door in that hallway as a possibility for something fresh?

Are you the type of person who hones in on the threshold at the end of the hallway; does it glisten at you, fuzzy and bright? Or, do you like to see what's behind each door as you make your way toward the end?

During this hot (and blogless) Summer of 2010, I have been in transition. I've discovered a new neighborhood, moved, altered my lifestyle, and reassessed my personal and professional goals. I have (and I know you knew this was coming!) been in the metaphorical hallway.

I find hallways a bit daunting because, as you traverse them, you have way too much time to think. For me, that means you have time to worry if you have the strength to make it to the end of the hallway. In your weaker moments, you might even contemplate running back through the door through which you came -- even though you know very well that what you'd find there is a return to unhappiness and inertia. At least you know what's in that room!

Hallways can be restful at times, invigorating at others! They can fill with a fog of uncertainty, or sunshine. They can be tedious as you make stride after stride and seem to only move an inch closer to your destination at the end of the hallway. Being alone in the dark, because hallways are a personal journey of the self -- can also be scary and lonely.

Personally, I am rarely tempted to cross the thresholds of other doors on my way toward the destination door at the end of the hallway. I might open a door or two and peek inside out of curiousity. But I stay on track because just to enter that hallway in the first place took tremendous concentration, assiduous contemplation, and momentous effort. So, if I've actually opened that door with full knowledge of where I'm headed, I'm not going to risk that hard-earned path toward a more organic and satisfying life.

But how about you? What are your experiences with Hallways of the Soul?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Is America A Melting Pot Or Not?*

In case you don't know me personally, I'll preface this blog by stating that:

1) I am a very proud American. I wear red, white and blue every 4th of July. Our nation's anniversary is my second-favorite holiday (after Halloween; refer to earlier blog for details).

2) I'm a third-generation native California, and feel extremely proud that my children are fourth-generation native Californians. (Because most Californians move here from other places, we are a rare breed.)

3) I believe that one can be a patriot (a person who adamantly loves one's country) without being a nationalist (a person who believes their country is better than every other country).

Furthermore, one thing that even my closest friends might not know is that I am absolutely scandalized that anyone would punish or even scorn any person for displaying an American flag in the United States of America. (I'm referring to the case in which some school-children were punished for displaying the Stars and Stripes on Cinco de Mayo:

(I do recognize that these students were likely trying to start fights with the Mexican-Americans with their flag-flaunting. But punishing them for displaying their own country's flag was not the appropriate action to address their confrontational behavior. Punishing the troublemakers for their provocative words or aggressive actions would have appropriately addressed this issue.)

For the record, I'm also against flag-burning. Incendiary statements can be made without setting fire to the flag. [Yes, pun intended. :-)] The fact that they live in America enables dissenters to express themselves without persecution. So to burn the flag as a statement of free expression sends a (shocking but) dissonant message.

But, to get back to my main point (about America as a melting pot)...

In elementary school, I was taught that one of the things that makes America great is the fact that we're a "melting pot" -- a colorful conglomeration of people from all over the world. My continued belief in this philosophy is not just a result of my continued love of Schoolhouse Rock's "The Great American Melting Pot" song, but observations and experiences I've enjoyed in my adult life. Here are some examples of why I love Melting Pot America:

My Lifestyle

- I drank a cappucino (Italy) and ate a croissant (France) for breakfast this morning.
- Yesterday I enjoyed English Breakfast tea and crumpets.
- Last week I savored some Thai Fried Rice with Thai Iced Tea.
- I haven't seen an Indian movie for a while. The last one I saw in the theatre (in Hindi, with English subtitles) was My Name Is Khan.
- I may have some Green Tea (Japan) later for its good nutrients.
- I've been thinking about the message from the fortune cookie I selected when the kids and I ate Chinese food a couple of weeks ago.
- This weekend I look forward to chomping on chips and digging into a yummy cheese enchilada, accented with a frothy margarita!

(Must I go on? I could, ad nauseum! I'd enjoy it, too; so just ask!)

My Friends

Plus, I literally have friends from across the globe -- some who look like me; others who look nothing like me. Some who share my Californian accent; others with accents markedly different from my own. All of these people enrich my life, and I likely would never have met many of them if America were not such a melting pot.

Our multiculturalism is the very thing that makes the United States of America one of the best nations in the world. For we absorb and (used to!) welcome people from almost every country across the globe. As a nation, we benefit from the unique strengths and perspectives that these immigrants (and by immigrants, I mean all non-indigenous Americans -- whether this generation or numerous generations back) bring with them. Some of us even apply our amassed strength and resourcefulness to assisting other nations in humanitarian efforts [e.g., in Haiti ( and Chile (].

Also, those in favor of Arizona's SB 1070 might want to keep in mind that, in the Southwest, the Mexicans were actually here first. Sure, we fought them until they moved further south. But Arizona, Southern California, New Mexico, Texas... Anyone who lives in these sections of the United States lives in what was once Mexico. In modern times, most people (claim to) agree that the historical persecution of native peoples was wrong and not something that we should repeat. But it looks like some people only believe in tolerance for native peoples when it's convenient, or when the economy is thriving.

Also, as a note on Mexicans and the U.S. economy, most of the people the proponents of AZ SB 1070 want to expel are the poor. For white collar workers typically can afford to acquire necessary documentation. They have access to companies who will sponsor them, or they are educated enough to figure out how to acquire a green card or similar documentation. The destitute Mexican people do the work that most other Americans (who are wealthier, because they have been here longer) refuse to do. So are they really taking jobs away from anyone? For more on this point, check out:

In addition, the United States is HUGE. We still have plenty of room for everyone.

Now you might argue that it's not the people themselves to whom the pro-SB 1070 Arizonians and their adherents object, but rather the illegality of their entering and living in the United States without the appropriate paperwork. But I ask you: Raise your hand if your ancestors -- the first people in your family to enter the United States -- came here legally. The Puritans did not come here with the blessing of the British, but rather to escape mistreatment in their country of origin. Sound familiar? The people escaping the Russian pogroms and Nazis did not come here legally. They fled at great risk, fearing for their lives. Sound familiar? Many Irish people and Italians also crossed the Atlantic to U.S. shores -- not necessarily because they were in danger, but in hope of a better life. Sound familiar? I won't go on because I'm sure you get the point.

So, in summary, I'll answer my own question:

Yes, we are a melting pot. What's more, we should be a melting pot, because that's what makes our country great. We should celebrate our diversity and devote our minds to how we can improve our economy, rather than focusing on the poverty-stricken people who (just like our ancestors once did) come to America hoping to live in peace and prosperity.


* This blog is in indirect reference to the Arizona's Anti-Immigration Law (SB 1070). According to The New York Times, this law would make the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and give the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally. Learn more at:

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Identity and Work

I'm revisiting the concept of Identity today due to a realization I had about myself related to Identity and Work.

Here's what I noticed:

The less I identify with a project, the easier it is for me to complete it, and the more fun it is to complete.

Don't you think that's odd?

Doesn't it make more sense for me to enjoy working on things with which I identify? Don't you think that, if you are personally invested, you can complete the work faster and with less struggle?

I would have thought that taking pride in one's work goes hand-in-hand with identifying oneself with it. But I do take pride in my work, even when I don't identify with it -- perhaps even more so when the work is completely unrelated to my life and self.

Perhaps this seeming contradiction is related to poor self-esteem. Maybe, if I don't value myself, then identifying with a project devalues it in my own eyes. I really like working on projects that don't relate to me, and I tend to finish them quickly.

Perhaps it's something as simple as me projecting my anxieties onto the work that causes delays and distress. Maybe it's just this kind of over-association between who I am and what I do that causes me to evade personal projects (such as posting my thoughts on this blog) and embrace others (such as editing instruction manuals).

Does anyone have any thoughts on Identity as it relates to Work?

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Congratulations, Olympians!

I think this year's Winter Olympics in Canada have been amazing. It was the first year that the Winter Olympics caught my attention.

The USA/Canada hockey game today was the best game I've ever watched (although the 2009 Super Bowl Game is a close second, thanks to that amazing last-moment Steelers catch).

Does my love of this game make me un-American (since we lost to Canada)? Of course not! We were FANTASTIC out there. We went into overtime, in CANADA, playing HOCKEY. How amazing is that?

(Also, because I'm an international as well as an American citizen, I have to say that Canada not winning would have been pretty depressing. That said, we certainly didn't make it easy for them!)

It might seem odd to those who know me outside of Cyberville that I'm taking the time to blog on sports -- particularly since I haven't blogged in months. For I'm not exactly known as a sports fanatic. I typically would much rather read or watch a foreign film than crack open a beer and watch the Lakers. But sports (including the Lakers, of course!) have become a part of my current lifestyle. All told, I've actually watched more sports in the past two years than I had for the previous 36 combined.

Dramatic life changes yield strange results sometimes -- like chemical reactions in which the original substance can never revert to its prior state.

Anyway, I just wanted to say: Bien fait, Canada!

And thanks for being such wonderful hosts.