Tuesday, November 29, 2005


I sit on my balcony, looking across the Mediterranean and considering this island. This is my first visit to this part of the world and I am struck by how very different this is than my home in America. And yet…there is much here that is very familiar to me…people are people after all and it seems that we are not so far apart. The differences that seem so dramatic at first are actually superficial and transient. I see people for whom this unique and beautiful island is as mundane a part of their day as Pennsylvania has become for me. I am sure that they would find my life just as exotic as I find it here.

I sat last night in a café in Valetta and watched the people that were out shopping and socializing. The city was decorated for Christmas and the activity was all too familiar to me. It was the same families shopping together and the same crowd of young people out to meet and impress each other. It occurred to me that these similarities must cross not only the boundaries of culture, but surely the boundaries of time as well. We look at the distant past and attribute some mystical quality to the lives that were led in those ancient times. Isn’t it more likely that their lives were very much like our own…that they raged against the same injustices and shared in the same joys?

I had believed, when I was younger, that modern humanity had reached some exalted state…that we had advanced intellectually and morally over those that came before us…that society moved ever forward, improving the lives of all of us. Now I wonder…

The small things that I can see over my brief lifetime have not improved. We do not treat each other as well as we once did. There is not the same respect and compassion in the world that I saw a mere 20 years ago. Every culture is subject to its own set of lies. I see that the people of this island believe their lies as strongly as we believe our lies back in America. They tell us how lucky we are to live in this age and how brutal and squalid life was in ancient times…I wonder.

Could this not be another of the lies that we are told…and that we accept without question? Yes, the ancients had to contend with diseases and hardships that we will never know, but they had community and family that have been lost to us. We live long lives, but lives of loneliness and desperation. Only in our youth are we given the support and comfort that I think was a common part of life in the past. When we become adults, we find ourselves chasing things that don’t fulfill us and our lives are filled with a stress that we face alone. I sometimes think a short life of 35-40 years, surrounded and supported by a close family and friends might be better than a long life of 80-100 years. I especially feel this way when I think of how many people spend the last 20 years of their lives shut in a nursing home and cut off from so much of what makes life worth living.

There are many beautiful places here…many things to see and do, but there is a sadness here as well. I find as I get older that the sadness grows and fills so many of the empty spaces of this life. It has become like some background noise that is always there. Not sure that I wouldn’t risk disease and early death for a chance to feel that community…of course I could just be lying to myself ;-{)}.


Thursday, November 10, 2005


It's been a while since I've posted to this blog...too long. I will try to be more diligent in writing my thoughts, probably more for myself than any of you that might be reading as I find the process of doing this very therapeutic. So why have I not written in so long?? The easy answer is that I've been incredibly busy; easy answers are never entirely false, but they generally hide the actual truth of the matter.

I have always found in life that the easiest thing is not to do something. It seems that our constant battle is to keep doing the things that make us live and grow...get up in the morning...go to work...exercise...study and learn...give of ourselves to others...

Even though many of these things enrich our lives and make us happy, getting up the energy to do them can sometimes be hard. It's as if we are subject to some inertia that, if not fought, will leave us absent the will to do anything. I've actually known people that do nothing and give nothing as a result of years of doing and giving less and less...better a quick death than that path. Well...I've had my break and recharged my batteries and its time to get back into life!

I have always fought to keep myself from slipping into lethargy. My experience has been that in doing things that at first I feel that I'd rather not do, I find some of my greatest enjoyment. The pleasure helps me to overcome the next time when I think I'd rather not. If I ever reach the point where I begin to give in to my tendancy to inertia, I've promised myself to take the path of the Indians...I'll go deep in the woods...sit beneath a great tree...and wait to die. Until then, I'll be here and will try to share my experiences and thoughts with you (and with myself).

Best! Norm.