Friday, October 14, 2011

but I live in Prague!

I had an appointment today at the hospital... the good thing is that the pre-cancerous marks are still not cancer! Woo hoo!

The bad - I've developed an aggressive skin condition. It's treatable (not too effectively so far) but not reversible or curable. While reviewing the care and diagnosis the doctor gave me some flyers, in Czech obviously, and asked if I could have them translated. He said they were important and I need to follow them. I said yes, okay, and then looked at them while he filled in some papers. I can't speak for squat but I can read a bit. And I was not happy with what I was seeing and asked him to confirm my understanding...

This says, no smoking? (Not a problem, I'm a non-smoker).

And this, no caffeine? No alcohol?

No sun?

No cold weather?

And this - what... no water?!?
No chlorinated water, no Prague water.

OK, but, I mean... I live in Prague... All of this...I live in Prague, how am I...?
It's not so important the alcohol and smoke. Don't worry. Just don't wash with the water.

But you told me to follow this...
Yes, but it's not reasonable all these limitations. You live here. You would have no life. It's too much. Don't worry.

food, the Forum and food for thought.

I got another chance to attend Forum 2000 this year and while I missed Vaclav Havel's speeches I did get to hear plenty of others... like the President of Georgia (after the talk his entourage nearly mowed me down, but we were just saying hello, I'm no threat to security, I swear!), the President of Kosovo who was greeted with indignation and protesters, the former President of Nigeria, the former head of National Security from Guatemala, the Speaker of Parliament from Albania, a number of Ambassadors, quite a few Russian (opposition) politicians, quite a few attorneys working against corruption - primarily in the former USSR but other nations as well, and some religious leaders.

Not bad for the start of the week.

Free admission, made sure to pre-register my students so they came too, and the Forum keeps you well fed too.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

mortality and opportunity

It's not the first time this has happened, but it's entirely unsettling for me to hear of yet another peer and childhood friend that has unexpectedly passed away.

This wasn't a super close guy but we were friends growing up - and I admired and respected him then and the man he became. He had an ability to be himself, truly not concerned with societal ideals or other people's perceptions, he knew his strengths and he excelled. He had a gift he honed and he shared with the world, literally. He may not have been the most educated or the most financially successful, may not have worn designer clothing or driven the latest model car, but he had a vitality that is missing from so many who jump through the hoops on their way to their notion of success. He had it. He lived it. Without analyzing it he embraced life and he shared his energy with those around him. He made his name in his field and he left a mark - and he did it with a fearlessness, not only not hesitating but not seeing a reason as to why he should. He took what was given to him and made it more. He didn't change the world but his presence made it a better place.

I've been trying to stay open to new experiences that come my way but too often I'm too caught up with what's right in front of me to take advantage of what is just a few steps away. The same day I got news of his death I got an invitation to go to Poland for a week to participate in a new type of language learning program. It's something I've been interested in and would like to participate in, I did the research on it a while ago, but I wasn't inclined to pursue it as I'd have to take time off of work during the school year. The set-up is nice - no pay but a week in a resort that's reserved for this conference, full meals, pool, sauna, spa, private tours and other activities. I'd have to pay my way to Warsaw but everything else is covered. Thinking about my friend while reading this invitation made me face that I've been wanting to travel more, wanting to expand my experiences - experiences that will benefit me both professionally and personally - and that I'm the biggest obstacle.

I'm going to Poland this month. It doesn't really matter to most of you, but it matters to me. I don't know for sure but maybe engaging in this world in new and positive ways and sharing what you have to offer with others is the best way to honor the life you have. Or maybe it's just my way of honoring the friends I've lost.