Joy, Hope And The Plasticity Of People

At a social meetup called “Coffee and Conversation”  I had way too much fun last night (if coffeconversationthere is such a thing as too much fun). It made me think a lot all the way home.  I thought about 3 things: My brother in law’s visit,  what made this MeetUp gathering so much fun and that there might be hope for America despite what appears to be the immaturity of Millennials.

I was given the opportunity of hosting the social meetup, because Mike (the usual host) was not available for personal reasons and Marty who founded the group asked if I would help. The meetup is simple. All those attending are asked to write a questions on provided paper squares (like secret messages we passed in middle school) and add  the folded surprise questions to one of two ziploc bags labeled:  “Current Events” or  “Fun Topics.”

The host (me last night) then passes the bags to a person next to them who gets to choose a question from either bag.  The host then times them giving them 2 minutes to respond. Others just listen and do not comment. The Same Question, goes around the table where all are seated and each person gets  up to two minutes to comment. If they choose not to comment the bags of questions moves on to the next person. When it gets back to the person who chose it originally, the floor is open to for discussion should the group desire. There is one unspoken rule…. treat everyone and their opinions with respect whether yrespect.jpgou agree with them or not! What is this event? Is it a game? Is it rules for polite conversation? Is it a social gathering? Is it conversation for intellectuals?  To me it is a little of all and more as it engenders a lot of fun and a  potential creation of friendship and camaraderie among all types of interesting informed people.  It seems to attract a wonderful variety of people whose tolerance and respect for others in conversation, should be a model for our nation’s future growth.

One question, at last night’s gathering, that took me by surprise read “What was the best thing that happened to you this last week?”  I could not answer it at first, though I picked it from the bag, so I chose not to answer then  but to pass it to my left to Gerrie and then answer it when it came back to me and I had more time to think (another rule: you may pass on a question if you wish).  Listening to my companions share their experiences reminded me of what I would like to share (attitude) so I did when the question finally came back to me. I talked about my Brother-In-Law, Jose.

This is what I said in response to the paper question: About four years ago, Jose’s wife had a stroke. It left her with a paralysis of the left side of her body (she was left handed) and it motivation-2084506_640left Jose with a major challenge at nearly 70 years of age. However, Jose is a model of the potential plasticity of human beings (their resilience) and, to me, one of my heroes in life!  Jose and his wife Margie came to stay with us for a weeks invited vacation at our cozy 2 bedroom villa in Florida (they live in NJ).  When we took them to the airport a week later, on the way home I had trouble not crying. I already missed them too much!  Jose, who always loved people and being an entertaining host, taught me a lot about enjoying life, every day.  Jose never complained about the extra work he had to assume to help his wife dress, walk, shower etc., no he actually made it mostly fun.  Jose and I like to cook so we cooked nearly everything (we never ate out) together in the kitchen and had a great time together doing it (I was the sous chef).  We took long walks together,  when my wife gave Jose a break  from his well accepted responsibility as she spent time with her sister (his wife). We had a lot of fun talking as we walked for miles around our community. We had a dance party one evening at our community social center and there you could see the magic that Jose had created.  Though his wife could not truly “dance” fluidly (as she had to drag one leg and hold on to him for support) he got her up on the dance floor many times and held her hand while dancing with twice as much enthusiasm. He had his joy reflected back at him by the unceasing laughter and smile on her face.  When she was tired and sat one out or if the music was just “too fast,”  Jose often got up on the floor near her and danced with her walking cane (without being shy)  and made her and everyone around laugh with his very apparent enthusiasm (at making his wife smile).  His enthusiasm for life and joy in living was contagious!  By the end of the evening, out of the hundred or more people at the event, many had come up to ask Jose to move to the community as they needed him there!  Others had asked us to see if we could talk him into moving to our community. I wanted him and Margie to move down here too!  It was no wonder that when we left him off at PBI airport and drove home, the air seemed to have been sucked out of the room in the car. My wife and I have a good relationship and we have fun neighbors and what I would call a good life. We are blessed; however, Jose had taught us all something. It was the plasticity of enthusiastic people who rose to the challenge of what others called pain and suffering and turned it into joy. Not that he does not get tired, not that he does not have challenging  moments; however, he has chosen joy and surely makes that his life!

So what made the MeetUp fun?  It was the attitude and intentions of the people sitting at the table with me. Like Jose, they decided that life would be fun, they chose to not let unity-1767694_640anyone’s opinions be cause for negativity but rather an opportunity to learn. They chose to treat each other with respect and Always Be Positive (an unspoken rule). They chose to talk from their heart with integrity and in so doing engender trust and respect from others attending.  They chose to be light hearted and find the best they could. At that particular meeting, I don’t believe anyone choses “current events.”  We were all tired of the political divisions that the media and elitist celebrities have been beating America with for months, since Donald Trump’s election.  It was a good decision for all of us.  However, even when we do choose “current events” which is most often the choice,  this group has learned to discuss important issues in a positive and respectful manner.  If anyone cannot follow this rule (and that is very rare), they are politely asked to change their attitude or not return. In 6 months of attending, this has only happened once.

Finally how is there hope for Millennials and America?  From what I have seen of Millennials (in my case being a senior citizen it is mostly from the media) they are not impressive. They seem to have lost the “Power Of Positive Thinking”  and dwell in fear, anger, anxiety and frustration. They could use a lesson from Jose about how to deal with change in a positive way,  one that too many parents and college professors seem to have let die years ago. Yes, a reward for “showing up” is illogical!  They don’t seem educated despite attending educational institutions for that purpose. They also don’t seem to have the communication skills and social graces to lead a nation. They cannot even talk to each other over dinner  as they would rather text each other while sitting at the same table.  On the other hand, each generation seems to be molded by the challenges of its times. It makes them often look odd and clumsy to their older fellow Americans,  those of the last generation.  This made me think about how my father could not understand my generation, which seemed infected with the dream state of the “The Hippies.”

Driving home from the meetUp, I thought about how odd the millennials were from my perspective as a baby boomer. Some that I knew told me they did not date, Yikes that shocked me! They did not have girlfriends, they did not “go steady” and they did not plan on marrying or rushing to have kids as we did.  Instead they met on social media and sent message to each other painted with Pound signs like ” #BORED,   what should I do?‘ ”  On the the other hand the millennials have adapted to change with plasticity that is inborn in youth and fought for by adults.  They use social media (despite its horrific illusions and deceit) to form groups and keep in touch in some ways.  They use their phones almost like a rudimentary telepathy to track and share what is going on in each others life so they don’t ….miss out.  Many of them still “go out” in groups and dance together, though that millenials-smartphonemay be becoming more of a GenX phenomena.

Years back, Orson Scott Card wrote the Sci-fi book Ender’s Game. It was a story of how a teenager who was good at playing war games was seduced by the military to join a “competition of gamers to end all games.”  In reality the war game he thought he was playing on simulators was a real war and the alien race of insect like creatures (the misperceived enemies) he succeeded in annihilating were a real live civilization!   In essence, his growing up a a nerdy gamer, empowered his civilization to win a war against what was perceived as dangerous enemies.  The lesson?  Growing up different is a way to adapt to a changing technological and cultural environment.  Because it is different from the last generation does not make it wrong or weak, it just makes it strange. Yes they do appear as cry babies but we will see what happens when push comes to shove and they must make it in the real world (out of college).  I would not write them off too quickly.  On the other hand, in Ender’s Game the reality was that because of barriers to communication and cultural misunderstanding, Earth did not recognize that the Aliens were capable of  peaceful interaction with humanity. We missed out on an opportunity to expand our horizons and share knowledge with a whole new life form. It concerns me that communication via FaceBook, Twitter and other media may do the same for our nation, especially as it is more and more in the hands of Millennials. At the same time, if we baby boomers could detach from our TVs and TV Dinners to date, dance organize and keep America running, perhaps the same will be true for the most recent generation.  Keep your fingers crossed and be positive!

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What You Think Upon Comes Closer To You And……

Keep your focus and priority on what you love, for if it is taken for granted… it will diminish or disappear. ~ WOW ~

via Window 1255 – Count your blessings — A Window Of Wisdom

In my sci-fi writing I explore the sign wave nature of all being, the bright and the dark side of the force. It is nice to find the bright side…. here is an example.

Life Out of the Box

Check out this awesome article that Robert from Teacherpreneur wrote about LOOTB and the movement of socially conscious entrepreneurship. He talks about our Skype session we had with him and his kids, how entrepreneurs are changing the way business is being done and some examples. We’re honored to be eoncorporated under this umbrella of social entrepreneurship. But, to us, it was so natural. It’s like what we said on our business page: to this new generation, money is no longer the bottom line. Making the world a better place is. Check out this awesome article and get inspired to start something of your own. You can do it. All it takes is a dream, hard work and a little bit of courage.

To read the article, click: Business Is Good

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Better Than Makeup And Designer Clothing

I had just started my practice a year ago. It was 9:00 a.m. Monday when 14 year old Susan Small arrived at my office, Holistic Vision Care, for her eye exam. Neither of us knew about the miracle that was about to occur. Butterflies probably do know but young eye doctors like me, who did not talk with butterflies, had to await the experience of a miracle to know it. Her mom held her hand as she walked slowly towards my exam room. My first impression was that she was in some way handicapped, as Susan walked with her head down almost as if she were trying to watch where her feet were aimed. Her pants and blouse were somewhat in shambles for a 14 year old girl. They were a bit wrinkled and almost looked like two unmatched parts of loosely fitting pajamas. Her hair hung limply on the sides of her face and was combed with an obvious lack of interest. As Susan entered my small well lit exam room she looked up, at least far enough to see my shoulders, and then to where I had directed her to sit in the exam chair. At that point I had learned something. Susan was wearing eyeglasses with somewhat thick lenses that clearly showed how nearsighted she was. However, I was quite sure the prescription had little to do with her posture as I could quickly read the insecurity in her body language.

Thirty minutes later we were through with her eye exam. She was a good patient but she spoke so softly, I often had to ask her to repeat her replies to my questions. I wrote her a new prescription and then told her mom that I would recommend the very high index lenses that would make her glasses look much thinner. To this her mom replied, “She wants contact lenses, too.”

I looked at Susan and I said, “Great, so what made you decide to get contact lenses?” Susan looked at her shoes and replied hesitantly, “My glasses are heavy on my nose and also my mom wants me to get them.” Now in my experience, to get contact lenses you need motivation. After all it is not normal to poke yourself in the eye and not blink. In addition, to really be able to get them in quickly, as when you are in a rush to get to school as most kids are in the morning, you need to practice lots! To get kids to practice, they needed motivation and Susan did not seem to have any I could hear. There was no enthusiasm in her reply. In addition, when children responded that their parents wanted them to get contacts, they almost never practiced enough to learn and usually quit out of frustration. However, I was going to give it my best shot, as I always did. I had a patient not show up so I had time to do her contact lens fitting. Back then I did nearly everything as we were a small office. I sat with her and patiently taught her how to not blink as she tried to put the lens on. Most girls her age wore makeup and were used to mascara brushes near their eyes. For them it was easy to learn to put on contact lenses. Not for Susan; she had never worn any makeup and she was nearly in tears when, thanks to God’s blessings, she accidentally got a contact in her eye. The learning process was very lengthy for her but I began to sense that she might actually have some reason to pursue this so I stayed with her. By the time we were through and she could at least crudely handle the lenses, I was getting anxious stares from my office manager-optician who was getting stares from patients in the waiting room. My final instructions to Susan was to wear the lenses every day and see me in a week with them on her eyes at least 8 hours. I told her mom to call if there was any challenge. I did expect a call

A week later, I had all but forgotten about Susan. And I have to tell you that writing what you will read next even though it is 30 years, later still bring tears to my eyes. When I pulled the next chart from my door and called Susan Small; a well dressed, stunningly good looking young lady walked proudly across the waiting room to my door. I was at first confused, until I saw her mom walking after her and then it hit me who she was! She looked me right in the eyes and smiled, with that disarming confidence that a beautiful woman has, and then sat in my chair with all the grace of a movie star. Now as I am typing this story for the eighth or ninth time over many years, I will tell you there are tears running down my cheeks. Back then, I had no idea what a hindrance it could be to look through thick glasses that made the world look small, somewhat distorted and out of reach. Seeing this change in her was much like seeing a Monarch butterfly emerging from a cocoon. Since then, I have always discussed the benefits of contact lenses with parents of children who are moderately nearsighted or who seem to not like wearing glasses.

There is a bit more to tell you however. Years later this very capable women moved to NYC and got an excellent well paying job. Each year she drove upstate to see me for her eye exams. It was an hour and fifteen minutes drive to Brewster, N.Y. but quite tolerable on highways. One day I got a call from her. She had torn her last contact lens and back then lenses were not disposable so you did not have spares. She need to come up that Saturday to get a new one. She wanted to know if I could rush it? I said sure. Because lenses were not as reproducible as they are today, back then you had to try on a lens and let us test in on you to be sure it was good. When Saturday came, I pulled her chart and contact lens vials off my door and called her name. I was going to have her try them on. When Susan stood up, it was with a lack of confidence in her step. Her head was a bit down as she walked towards my office. I gave her the lenses to try on and then I went back to finish my current eye exam.

Ten minutes later I again called Susan to check and see how her lenses were working. This time, to my amazement, when she stood up, she stood straight with her head up and walked as proudly as she had years ago. There was magic in the contact lenses! The magic was greater than any designer clothing or makeup artist could offer. The magic was making Susan not feel like an ugly duckling. No amount of clothing or makeup could take away the feeling of peering at a shrunken world that thick eyeglasses produce. Being able to take off the thick lenses that made her big eyes look small and get away from feeling “hidden” behind her frames had been a magical experience too. It was a painful experience that her memories had not forgotten even 15 years later.

Janr Ssor (aka Dr Joseph Ross)

copyright © 4/4/2012, Janr Ssor, Author