Friday, November 18, 2011



GEORGE WEBBER: How is it feeling at 42?
GEORGE WEBBER: What should be…years!
SAMANTHA TAYLOR: It depends. How do you feel?
GEORGE WEBBER: I feel betrayed.
GEORGE WEBBER: Well, you know what they say. Yes, what they say and who say it…that life begins at 40. I’ve already wasted two years, so I realize that I’ve been deceived.
SAMANTHA TAYLOR: I don’t know. I think these two years have been good.
GEORGE WEBBER: Oh, because you are only 38.
SAMANTHA TAYLOR: Lower your voice.
GEORGE WEBBER: Hey Sam, I want you to promise me one thing.
SAMANTHA TAYLOR: You will say…
GEORGE WEBBER: Never…never do surprise me with a party if…
GEORGE WEBBER: Understand me, I’m empty. I have to fill my life.
                                                                                                            —10, 1979, Blake Edwards.

LET ME TELL YA, John Lennon used to sing, “They say life begins at 40. Age is just a state of mind. If all that’s true, you know that I’ve been dead for thirty-nine.”

A couple of weeks ago, I watched the movie “10.” George (Dudley Moore) is a Hollywood songwriter, who goes through a mid-life crisis, so he starts staring at young girls on the street and envies his high-living neighbor, causing great concern to his lover, Samantha (Julie Andrews). One day while driving home, he spots the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen, Jenny (Bo Derek). He decides to follow her to Mexico, where she’s on her honeymoon with her husband.

If all men are entitled to pursue happiness by the U.S. Declaration of Independence, and as Stendhal once said, “Beauty is the promise of happiness,” I can’t blame the poor man. He’s just chasing the Promised Happiness.

Drawing an analogy, if crisis strikes, should I move to Silicon Valley—not the one where your brain gets stimulated, but where you put silicon to different and never-thought zones of your body—, turn into a beautiful barbie, buy a convertible car, and date hot toy boys?

Alas, my Dedicated Readers, we all go through life stages, and crisis usually hits when we are plagued by feelings, aside from the worldly worries, that life has no meaning and, on top of that, that life has an irremediable end. And as getting older, if not solved, this feeling might get pretty nasty, like carrying a ticking time bomb belt, which one day, for one reason or another, will explode.

I got to thinking that there are no treasure maps, nor guidelines; and the human being is so complex that what can serve to a person, that same solution can be dangerous for another. Yet, one thing you got to admit, the human being is a pretty damn good machine. The whir we hear is like the lights flashing on the dashboard warning us “No gas, no gas, no gas...” And you know what happen when your car is running out of gas, right?

To me, it has nothing to do with age. Life starts to have a meaning when we live consciously and purposely, with personal integrity.

First and foremost, we should find out who we are, what our values are, and live according to them. This long inner journey[1] starts off when we stop running around like crazy—as Pascal said once, “All of man’s unhappiness comes from an inability to stay in his room alone”—and stop blaming everybody you may know—Also everybody you may not know[2]—and look ourselves in the mirror, which, unlike your heart, doesn’t conceal secrets. And from that point, we start letting go all our worries and walking up. Slowly but steadily.

Let’s face it, it is not easy to be conscious 24/7. Our mind tricks us into traveling from the past to the future. I read somewhere that we should live in an apartment with a window overlooking a cemetery, in order to recall us that there’s no ulterior reason to postpone life.

Once we know who we are, we will be aware of which song we want to sing. So once identified our goals/purposes, we should undertake the actions toward their achievement. Vaclav Havel, former president of Czechoslovakia and essayist and poet, put it that way, “It is not enough to stare up the stairs, we must step up the stairs.” And it turns out that while stepping up the stairs is when we feel that life has a meaning.

[1] Without an inner journey, life will never live up to our expectations, hopes, and desires.
[2] See, it’s really convenient to believe in Gods.

Copyright © 2011 by THE PYTHAGOREAN  STORYTELLER. All rights reserved.

Friday, November 11, 2011



JONAS CANTRELL: The hard part isn’t making the decision. It’s living with it.  
—Law Abiding Citizen, 2009, F. Gary Gray.

LET ME TELL YA,  undesired first-order consequences are the barriers we face up when we are about to make a decision. If we were able to focus on second-order or subsequent consequences, it would help us to achieve what we truly want in life.

I explain it with three examples.

I’ve been a ballerina for fourteen years, and I accomplished five years of ballet academy, missing the last one because my ankles didn’t allow me to execute ten fouettés en tournant.
Setting aside the fact that I got good grades, it became obvious to me from the very beginning that I had not talent to become a professional ballerina. And that’s why, I guess, that thought never crossed my mind.

Said all that, being a ballerina is a journey of an indescribable beauty. A journey that not only makes you learn and grow but also allows you to express yourself from the inner to the outer world. Yet you must be willing to tolerate some pain.1 Sometimes, great pain.

When I was a ballerina, I hated Mondays. I had to put on the pointe shoes—I used to buy either Capezio or Freed—and practice at the barre, which meant to practice some exercises to strengthen feet, improve flexibility, and find my ballon2. Meanwhile, I got slapped in my bum every now and then because my position of feet, arms, stomach, head, or some of them were inadequate. On the contrary, I loved Fridays. I used to dance contemporary ballet (also modern ballet, flamenco, etc.). This form of dance permits a greater range of movement, giving freedom to the performance. It does not mean you cannot dance modern ballet if you have not performed classical ballet. Yet, your dance would lack technique, grandeur, and stylized movements. In life, my Dear Readers, one must learn the strict rules first (trying to avoid the bullshit, if possible) in order to break them later. The same holds true for dancing. It implies to work on a great share of hours at the barre.

I didn’t first take the decision to be a ballerina. My Mom brought me to a dance school when I was two. From then until I moved to another city to study my career, I had some thoughts on quitting many times, above all, the times where there was no fun at all but just pain. It was hard to go back home exhausted, eager to crawl into bed, but instead had to put my bleeding feet in warm, salty water and do the homework.

So if I had responded negatively to the first-order consequences, I would have missed the second and subsequent consequences, which are:

Tamed hard work and responsibility.
Flexibility and stylized figure.
Live in the Now-Here.
Inter alia.

One summer when I was in high school I enrolled to a typewriting course with two pals. It made sense for them because they wanted to study a secretarial course. Not much for me, though. Yet, at the time, I thought it could be useful to write the essays using the typewriter, until I got bored for two hours hitting the keys. QWERTY POIUY QWERT POIUY…

Life is a funny thing. I didn’t know I was training to become a writer. Ha! So instead of hanging out and having fun with other friends, I successfully kept going to that boring and mechanical classes.  QWERTY POIUY QWERTY POIUY…

Now, I have some typing skills, and I understand that everything we do (or almost) is meant to be for a useful reason.

As I told you in the last blog—What I talk about when I talk about running—, I keep running, although painful sometimes, because of the second consequence. My heart pump-muscle strengthens; pulse slows; feet and legs become strong and firm; it energizes me; and it is a form of meditation and a particular way to discover myself.

(1) Which career doesn’t, right?
(2) As the law of gravitation pulls things downward, have you ever asked to yourself on the grounds of which law we should consider a ballerina performing a grand jeté? Sorry, no points for guessing.

Copyright © 2011 by THE PYTHAGOREAN  STORYTELLER. All rights reserved.

Friday, November 4, 2011



FORREST GUMP: That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run. So I ran to the end of the road. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d run to the end of town. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d just run across Greenbow County. And I figured, since I run this far, maybe I’d just run across the great state of Alabama. And that’s what I did. I ran clear across Alabama. For no particular reason, I just kept on going. I ran clear to the ocean. And when I got there, I figured, since I’d gone this far, I might as well turn around, just keep on going. When I got to another ocean, I figured, since I’d gone this far, I might as well just turn back, keep right on going. 
 —Forrest Gump, 1994, Robert Zemeckis.

LET ME TELL YA, Haruki Murakami and I have two things in common. We run. We write.1

The Japanese writer doesn’t care much about the speed of the race. The same holds true for me. I’m happy running a certain distance determined before starting the race. If I say today I’ll run 2 miles—that’s what I usually do now, 10 miles per week, a total of 40 miles2 per month—, I have to stick to it, comes rain comes shine. On the contrary, writing is a mystery for me. I can’t tell before hand, “Today I’ll write five pages.” Every day I sit down at my desk, comes rain comes shine, though the outcome is always unpredictable. One day I write ten pages, and another I place a comma in the morning and delete it in the afternoon. It’s a mystery.

As one might imagine, my face won’t appear on the front cover of Runner’s World, but I laugh hard when I remember my first short runs. Picture it: red face, harsh breath, heavy heart pounding, and puffing non-stop. Like writing, I gradually and patiently incorporated running into my daily routine, reaching a peak of 3 miles a day.
The ideas for my books come to me unexpectedly: mostly when reading, writing, talking, or zipping down the road. I usually run after five hours of writing, so I guess it’s quite normal that some ideas cross my mind immediately afterward. Except if I listen to music on shuffle. I like to listen to jazz or italian songs degli anni sessanta—che cosa c’èeee—, and if nobody glances at me, I even do a step of dance.

There are days that I feel quite lethargic, but I know I have to scanner that feeling and see if it is just due to laziness. Believe me, the mind always creates excuses. My mission, though, is to pronounce two words: shut up, followed by lacing up my running shoes immediately afterward.

When I was a teenager, I used to run long-distance races. It suited me. I’ve always thought I have a great deal of stamina. Also in life. I could say I’m not a sprinter in life either. Actually I don’t believe in sprinters. I can work hard and long without any outer feedback, with no policeman behind. I just need the policeman to take my butt off the chair. Unlike Murakami, I've never run the marathon, and even if sometimes I ponder over it, at least for doing it once in my lifetime, right now I am not physically capable of. I would need lots of training. Lots not, tons of training.

I run around the Jacqueline Onassis Reservoir. I love the landscape. Those naked male torsos running around are somewhat painkillers. Joking apart, when I walk in Central Park, I feel in another dimension, surrounded by the greenery and the still lake, and while running my retina snaps breathtaking pictures. Lately, it's crowded. Many runners have been training for the NYC Marathon, which will take place this coming Sunday. They call themselves marathoners, but suffice it to say that when it's drizzling, all weenies stay home watching The Simpsons. I wouldn't care to run all alone, but it prevents me from going to at dusk.

Running is not a smooth sail. I feel the pain. Some days harder than others. So when Friday comes, I shout “TGIF: Thank God, it’s Friday” and not because of writing stops—fortunately, it doesn’t—but running does.

So you’ll ask, why the hell you keep running?

Because of the second consequence. I’ll talk about it soon. Stay tuned, folks!

And happy running, marathoners!

(1)Notice, Dedicated Reader, I deliberately omitted complements and adverbs with the sentences “We write” and “We run”. They would destroy the truth that lies in the first sentence.
(2)I like to count the miles per month. It shows me that I run almost two marathons monthly.

Copyright © 2011 by THE PYTHAGOREAN  STORYTELLER. All rights reserved.