juliespeaks

The unvoiced thoughts and ideas of a septegenarian.

GRATEFUL

GRATEFUL

My thoughts began to drift as I was driving home today and a question popped up. Aside from some family members, to whom, and for what, am I grateful?  Only a few came to mind and I started to feel – I don’t know- cheated, I guess. I trembled to think that at my age there should have been far more   Nonetheless, I’m grateful to these few.

I am grateful for having had the experience of interacting with two learned professors. One had the patience to plough through all of Shakespeare’s sonnets with me and introduced me to Plato, Socrates and a chunk of ancient Greek history. The second, a professor of linguistics as well as an artist, daily provides my brain with the manna it craves and challenges me.

I’m grateful for one friend who, in ten words, once said something to me that resulted in sending my children to an excellent Jewish Day School from which they graduated as knowledgeable, committed Jews.

I’m grateful to Helene Hanff, author of 84 Charing Cross Road, who not only amused me but introduced me to Quiller whose lectures on the Art of Reading and The Art of Writing taught me much.

I’m grateful for people like Mother Teresa who remind me how good man can be and for those like Elie Wiesel who don’t let me forget how evil man can be.

I’m grateful for having had a seventh grade English teacher who provided me with a thorough grounding in the art of writing and instilled in me a love of   books, as well as a teacher who gave me an appreciation for the beauty of the Hebrew language.

I’m grateful to two people who consistently tolerate me at the Bridge table and continually teach me more about the game.

I’m grateful to one man who taught me how to laugh again, gave me a love of gardening, and opened my eyes to the extraordinary ability of very young children to learn.

I’m grateful for having grown up at a time when Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole and ‘Ole Blue Eyes filled my head with lyrics I’ll never forget.

And I’m grateful to all libraries which give me access to the world’s knowledge: books to entertain, teach, challenge me.

This seems a paltry list. Certainly I could mention Martin Luther King and others who stood for equality and human rights; Jonas Salk and his ilk who gave us solutions to medical problems; those who invented a myriad of things that enhance our lives, but I am not here speaking of humanity at large – only of those who  touched me personally.

For whom, for what, are you grateful?

Julie Rose

julierose601@gmail.com

Leave a comment »

THEM AND US

THEM AND US

When I first began this blog I promised there would be no discussion of politics.  Aside from voting I have no interest in politics. This is as close as I’ll come to that subject.

It never ceases to amaze me how much different various cultures are. I once visited the Asian Museum in Golden Gate Park and left with the distinct impression that the Japanese were a peaceful people and the Chinese were militaristic. (Don’t ask me how that squares with the existence of Kamikaze pilots.) It’s unfair to draw such a conclusion but that is the impression the exhibits create.

I’m not a student of the culture of any country but I’m a bit envious of some which prioritize ideas and philosophies far different from those of the citizens of this country.  I continually ask myself why we have not incorporated some of those ideas into our lifestyle.

A partial answer might be that, compared to cultures with centuries of traditions, Americans are infants on the cultural stage. From the start our philosophy has been one that says “Work hard and pull yourself up by your bootstraps and hurry up and do it now.”  Of course there’s more: there’s respect for freedom, a willingness to help the downtrodden.  But there isn’t much in the way of being spiritually conscious. By spiritually I do not mean religiously. I mean an awareness of, and appreciation for, those things that nourish the soul: love, beauty, friendship.

Look at the ancient Greek respect for beauty; the Indians respect for nature; the tranquility prized in Japan; the French high regard for food and the way in which it is eaten – all unmatched in America.  The manner in which food is presented in a Thai restaurant reflects a consciousness of beauty not seen in most American restaurants.  A Japanese garden is tranquil; conducive to relaxation and, introspection.  How many places do you know of that invite you to sit, absorb the beauty of nature and think?

When my children were growing up I wanted to regularly take them to the opera, a symphony, a ballet, but the cost of four tickets was prohibitive.  Not so in some European countries where the arts are subsidized and tickets are close to gratis.America is far wealthier than some of those countries so if they can do that, why can’t we?

If I compare the architecture of a Buddhist temple with a cathedral in New York, or Chicago or San Francisco it seems to me the Buddhist temple says “Come in. Seek greater peace and tranquility.” The cathedral says, “Look at how grand and magnificent I am.”

We sit down to dinner, often made from frozen foods or carry-out, gobble it up in  ten minutes and rush off to a Little League game or plop in front of the TV for hours of mind-numbing ‘entertainment.’  An Italian family sits down to a dinner of five, home-made, courses and spends two or more hours enjoying their meal and the interaction between family members.

When the Japanese Shoguns were overthrownJapansent delegates throughout the world to study the educational, economic, welfare, health care and political systems of other countries.  Its goals were to emulate the best of the lot. They were smart enough to be willing to learn from others. Has the U .S. ever done anything comparable? Isn’t it possible the health care system of Sweden or Poland or any other country is better than ours?  Could it be that if we emulated the educational system of Russia or China our kids might not score lower academically than the kids in half a dozen other civilized countries?

Israel, like America, is a nation of immigrants. Most of those immigrants are taught Hebrew and become independent and self-supporting within six months or less.  We, on the other hand, find ourselves facing numerous problems occasioned by those who do not speak and read English.  Why? Israel’s methodology isn’t a state secret: it’s not written in code.

This you may not believe. There are some remote South Pacific islands where it is common practice to hire an older woman to introduce a young man to sex.  WHAT?  That’s right. Betcha ten bucks those boys become lovers par excellence.  That is not something to easily dismiss. Is there something to be learned from that practice?

I really don’t care who our next President will be but I’d be grateful if he or she was someone who did not wear blinders: someone who recognized we could learn from others and did something about it.

Post a comment.

Julie Rose

julierose601@gmail.com

Leave a comment »

UNREQUESTED ADVICE

UNREQUESTED ADVICE

Generally speaking it’s not a good idea to offer unsolicited advice but when you have lived 70+ you have learned a few things and it’s difficult not to share what you have learned with your loved ones. It’s unfortunate that some of those things are learned too late.

Had I known earlier in life what I know now, there are things I would have done differently. In the hope that my children and grandchildren wouldn’t make the same mistakes I made, I wrote them a letter a while back and told them what some of those things were. Here are about half of them:

  • I would have home schooled my children.
  • My home would have been filled with good music and there would have been firm, restrictive, rules on the use of the TV. I might have thrown it out.
  • I never would have started to smoke.
  • I would have worked harder to develop and maintain friendships.
  • I would have lived abroad for at least a year, explored the world’s great museums, wandered in Tuscany,  attended an opera in Rome, a concert in Vienna.
  • I would have made one more trip to Israel and participated in an archaeological dig.
  • I would have learned to play the piano.
  • I would have studied Latin.
  • I would have adopted a child.
  • I would have become reasonably proficient at some sport,  probably tennis.
  • I would have returned to school and earned my doctorate. I can’t tell you why.
  • I would have taken classes in photography, bought a decent camera, taken long walks in a forest and photographed flora and fauna.
  • I would have spent more personal time with each of my children. I might even have bit the bullet and gone shopping with my daughter.
  • I would have encouraged each of my children to become proficient at some musical instrument.
  • I would have taught my children to play Bridge.
  • I would have taken my kids to the opera and the theatre more often than I did.
  • I would have worked harder to have my books published, completed two unfinished novels and written a cookbook.
  • At least once I would have owned a convertible – car not couch – a red one.

There’s more but those are primary. Whether or not my children and grandchildren will benefit from that letter is open to question. Probably not. Their goals may be far different than mine but at least the letter gave them some insight into the woman who is their mother and grandmother.

What would you include in such a letter?

Julie Rose

julierose601@gmail.com

Leave a comment »