One of the more rewarding aspects of being a teacher is the lasting relationships one makes with the students. Nowadays, thanks to social media this is really easy. I learned to cultivate these relationships from some of my old teachers, specially Prof. Aaron Nurick, who has been a friend and a mentor since I graduated from Bentley college in 1987!!
It is important not to be “friends” with the students during their studies, but once they graduate, then I will allow Facebook and Instagram connection.
At any rate, one such old student has invited me to a Film Club he has made with some other old students and friends. I am honored to be a part of this!!
We have an agreed on theme for the month, and about 4 films to view on that theme and then we meet on Discord, originally a gamer’s platform, but now a very complete meeting and group site! I prepare a bit of a charcuterie board and some vino and I join the meeting!
Members are as far away as Australia!
It is a pleasure revisiting old classics like Woody Allen’s Annie Hall, or Almodovar’s Volver, but I also get a chance to see films that I would not otherwise see such as Mr. Nobody or Midsommar.
At this point we have done our first meeting on films with non-linear narratives, we are now exploring the use of color and by contrast our next theme is “noir”. I love this group and the club, maybe it should get a name…
Where are you on your journey of self-fulfillment? Where are you on your journey of peace, inner and outer? Where are you on your journey of finding the real you? Not your things, your mind, or your TikTok likes, but your soul.
If you are on this journey, and I hope you are, and it is a journey, I hope that you pay attention to yourself, that you spend time alone cultivating, discovering yourself, call it what you will, your spirit, your soul. The first step on this long road usually comes about due to failure, breakage: a failed relationship, financial struggle, accidents, whatever. Without this fall, why would you need to rebuild? To re-calibrate? To question anything? Just go on your merry way with your ego, enjoy.
Otherwise, with every so-called failure, you release your ego; you embrace peace, you let go, you become more aware of your inner self. You rebuild and grow –and here is the catch- not necessarily stronger in the selfish way of thinking, but more vulnerable, wiser.
Why are you on such a metaphysical rant, Antonio? You might ask, and I am happy that you ask. You see, I have just read Richard Rohr’s Breathing Under Water and my mind has been expanded.
In his book, Rohr studies Alcoholics Anonymous Twelve Steps from a spiritual perspective and re-frames your pre-conceived ideas of alcoholics!
The book is epigraphed by three quotes from three of my favorite guides:
“I did not come for the healthy, but for those who need a doctor.”
Jesus (Luke 5:31-32)
“Alcohol in Latin is “spiritus” and you use the same word for the highest religious experience as well as for the most depraving poison.”
Carl Jung, letter to Bill Wilson (1961)
“These are the only genuine ideas, the ideas of the shipwrecked. All the rest is rhetoric, posturing, farce.”
José Ortega y Gasset
The first step is the hardest to take: “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.” Most of the time our ego blinds us to our problems. This is why many times only a violent awakening will make us reach for much needed help. That is the first step, realizing you have a problem, it is much easier to dismiss it than to deal with it, and its roots…
Rohr analyzes every step in detail weaving spirituality into each rung of the ladder. It is an illuminating book that everybody should read. Yes, you too.
We all have our addictions our sins, it does not have to be alcohol or drugs –although many times it is. Rohr sees how “breakage” and coming out of it is deeply healing and spiritual. In Japan, when they break a plate or a bowl many times they glue it back together with gold covered adhesive, making the piece much more valuable. They call it Kintsugi, and it makes for beautiful, unique pieces!
“The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.”
Yes, I talk about coffee a lot, and not because I am addicted to the stimulants, in fact during recent fasts, (for colonoscopy prep and for Lenten Fridays) I lived fine without it. And I only normally only have one cup a day. A standard 16oz size, not the Big Gulp Americans drown in. Well, lucky for me I have found a great coffee place in my neighborhood in what is otherwise the suburban wasteland of Southern Florida.
Common Grounds is a great little place despite its common name. The grounds are not Common, since they are single origin, fair trade, organic, all the feel-good stuff, but it makes for a tasty cup. The place is cute with real vintage furniture, a piano you can write on -it gets painted over when it is full-, and friendly, skilled staff. I have yet to try their pastries, but they do look tasty!!
Just as important as the coffee, the time you take to enjoy it, the space, the ceremony, your relationship with the barista, all make up your sensory and spiritual experience. Something that is normally mostly lacking in the big chain coffee shops.
The best company I can find nowadays here is a good book, as you can appreciate from the photos.
So, there you have it, if you are ever around Boynton Beach, hit me up, otherwise head over to Common Grounds!
Taking advantage of my Spring Break, the other day I went with a dear friend to explore Jonathan Dickinson State Park. It is about 45 minutes North of Boynton Beach, but definitely worth the trip.
Since this is a massive park, you can camp, RV, mountain bike, canoe, kayak, etc. But my friend and I just hiked. There are many trails available, but they are all fairly similar in that the vegetation, landscape, etc. is mostly: low pine flatwoods. Although there are also cypress swamps, mangroves, saw palmetto, etc. It made for a wonderful and refreshing as the Japanese call it shinrin-yoku, forest bath, which the Germans call Waldeinsamkeit, although that refers more to the pleasant feeling you get in nature. So more of a resulting sensation than the actual forest bath itself.
The surprisingly beautiful Loxahatchee River crosses the Park. Surprising because it is unexpected and beautiful. There is a little beach for campers to swim, and you can kayak or canoe. If you are lazy there is a little boat that will give you a ride up and down the river!
One must pay attention when hiking to catch little things that would otherwise pass unobserved, like Pink Sundew carnivore flowers, or hawks flying, or a gorgeous woodpecker. We also spotted a nice Gopher tortoise and a copperhead snake (this one was dead, as it had gotten run over as it tried to escape the controlled burning… out of the fire and under the wheel, as the old saying goes…)
Jonathan Dickinson Park, so called for the fellow shipwrecked on Jupiter Island a few miles away from the Park in 1696, also boasts the highest “mountain” in South Florida, Hobe Mountain, complete with its observation tower. It is in fact, an 86-foot sand dune!! Admittedly, the views from the top are cool, since you can see the sea, the Intracoastal, and the massive park. The rangers were doing some controlled burning, which burns dead leaves and brush, but does not kill the bigger trees or saw palmettos.
We also saw the ruins of Camp Murphy, a military radio “school” during WWII.