Do I want A or B?

Sooner or later we all have to make decisions. Sometimes the right choice appears clear to us, but other times we really have a difficult time deciding. It may be a simple thing to decide, for example, what color should I wear? The choice between black and white is usually easier than the choice between dark blue, marine blue, royal blue, cobalt blue, light blue, blue grey and all blue shades lighter or darker… ( on purpose I didn’t chose grey…)

Babies and toddlers are also confronted with the process of making decisions. It may not be clear to them or to their parents. You have often observed small children when they start to walk and balance unsteadily from one corner of the room to the other. If they fall and haven’t hurt themselves they sometimes wait a little bit before they decide to cry or simply to continue with their efforts. I’m also certain that you have observed children playing… What toy do they usually decide to play with? I know you know… Usually the one the other child is playing with at that exact moment. This decision causes a big stir and ends up in fighting or in the parents intervening to avoid greater trouble.

Children and adults are continuously confronted with choices and decisions. Parents, if being in the position of doing so, usually take a long time, organize many visits, have talks and discussions to decide what would be the best school for their children. I’m sure that you know what I’m talking about. This decision will be made evaluating all possibilities and factors that may have influence on their choice.

Easy decisions may be, for example, what to choose for lunch in a nice restaurant, what to buy as a present for a friend or relative, what radio station should be playing in the car on that long trip, what movie to watch in a rainy evening… Decisions that we have to make every day. Some people may have little trouble and make fast decisions. Others like to think about the smallest details and outcomes and may spend hours deciding. Some other take their time to decide, but are never happy with their own decision, always thinking that ‘the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence’.

(Image from http://martynballestero.com/tag/greener-grass/)

grassisgreener1

Greener grass

Not all decisions are the same or have the same weight. Some will only have a limited external effect, for example, our decision may change our figure adding some weight, if we decide to eat the chocolate sundae for dessert while other decisions will affect our lives.

Should you accept to date someone? Should you take the job? Should you buy a car? Should you…  Sometimes we know that the decision we are making is not going to be right one, but we do it anyway… Other times we are taken by surprise by the outcomes of a decision we take, these may be positive or negative. In the long run it is always easier to look back and think ‘if I only hadn’t…’.

However, what makes it sometimes hard to decide? Let’s say that we have more or less the same conditions for choosing A or B. There are no big impediments, like for example, money, sicknesses, etc. and you’re not from the ones who take for ever to decide. These mentioned reasons are of course knock outs for some decisions. So, why is it sometimes really hard to decide?  As I’m making right now important decisions in my life and my future. I was curious to answer this question and I watched a video with Ruth Chang on hard choices in TED. As I was mentioning before, some people almost never decide, the so called drifters, they let life or others decide for them complaining about life being unfair. Yes, life is not fair and it’s not about fairness. Drifters tend to take the safest choice, no risks.

You may think that decisions that change your life are hard choices, and they are indeed. However, sometimes we know exactly what to do, we feel it or hear an inner voice telling us exactly how it is… If you get a great job offer, you may take, and if you decide not to, it is because you are certain that it is not the best choice for you in that moment of your life.

Now, hard choices are hard because alternatives are equal, objectively there is no alternative better than the other, choices are at a par.  This could be positive, both choices are so good that you have trouble deciding, or they may be so risky that you hesitate with your decision.  AN example of positive alternatives could be the choice between two excellent candidates for a partnership. Some of you may remember the comic book ‘Archie’, where the High School teen, Archie, was in a constant struggle deciding, if he should date Veronica or Betty. Veronica was the most attractive and rich one, but kind of ‘bitchy’ as we would say nowadays. Betty, pretty and good.  Veronica was also taking her chances sometimes dating Archie and sometimes accepting going out with Reggie (Carlos in the Spanish version), the rich and successful guy, though not really a nice guy.

ArchieComicsGang

Archie and friends

How to pick the best for you? How to decide in a difficult situation? Of course there are the very objective methods of making lists and adding points to each factor involved in the alternative. However, such a method is good for the ‘natural sciences’, where everything can be measured and quantified, temperature, height, weight, etc. But how do you decide in for example matters of the heart? Can you quantify?  Mmmm, I doubt it…

Therefore, to decide between similar choices that seem bad it is important to look at reason inside us, and not start looking at reasons out there. Our inner voice usually knows best, though we sometimes start singing aloud ‘lalalala’ to avoid listening… but we know, don’t we?

Another good way of deciding whether to stay or to let go, is the way you feel in that specific situation, if you feel better with someone or in x situation, then keep it, but if you feel better without it or in another place, well then let go. Make it fit by force is not the best idea, think of Cinderella and their sister trying to fit the small cristal shoe to their big foot… Do you get the image?

Cinderella's step sister

It doesn’t fit…

I hope you now know why and how to decide and invite yourself to have a cup of coffee, tea or whatever, in case you have to make hard choices.

Till soon!

Sleeping, no beauty

Beautiful hours of relaxation and recharging energy. That would be an ideal definition of sleeping. Some people usually get a good rest and enjoy closing their eyes while losing their consciousness for some time. Others fear the time where they have to go to bed and sleep. There are others who have periods of good, relaxing sleep while some other times struggle to fall asleep or wake up in the early morning hours feeling as if they had just arrived from a transcontinental flight …

sleeping cat

Relaxed kitten

I’ve come across a lot of different sleepers. I was bewildered at the sleeping qualities of many Brazilians in São Paulo. While waiting to get their turn at the bank, they got there calmly, sat in an uncomfortable chair, closed their eyes and immediately fell asleep while listening to the TV with some sports event. You may be thinking that they were only resting their eyes, as my grandma used to say while she fell asleep every Sunday watching a soccer match or the ‘corrida de toros’, very popular at that time. I was telling you, how I knew that the men were sleeping, I just observed their relaxed position in the chair, sometimes really dangerous as if they were about to slide from their seats like melting ice. I also noticed their paused breathing and I could sometimes look at the REM movements of their closed eyes. Another type of relaxed sleepers, are the road workers I saw during their lunch break in the metropolis São Paulo. At 12 o’clock they interrupted their jobs, usually something very loud like hammering with a sledge hammer or using a paving machine, at twelve they sat at the curbside, had a small lunch and wherever they were, they laid down on the pavement and slept. I remember walking on the street from home to the next market having to pay attention not to step on someones hand or shoe and wake them. If you imagine the noise of a Mexican or Brazilian street, the hardness of concrete and the not always clean sidewalks, you may admire these sleepers. I think they are the champions! In Munich, I have only seen people in deep sleep traveling in the S-Bahn or sub-urban train. Some of them seem to have a lot of practice because they wake up at the right station and get off the train awake. I couldn’t do it, either I’d still be sleeping in some wagon on the road to nowhere or I could fall to the floor as soon as the doors opened. What a talent of those wonderful sleepers!

Other people have lots of trouble falling asleep and they have to take some kind of chemical help. Some drink a relaxing tea following one of the many different recipes all over the world, others like a friend of mine drink a glass of warm milk with honey, some others drink a beer to relax. Another friend of mine has to sleep with an eye mask and his earplugs with a boring story so that he can fall asleep. By the way, his mask is black and he looks like Zorro… and looking at him I couldn’t fall asleep because I was really amused remembering the old Zorro films with Tyrone Power or the Zorro TV-show when I was a child.

However, insomnia or having a very slight sleep is no joke and I really have consideration for those who suffer from it.

Another sleeping condition we have all experienced is the dreaded snoring. Yes, I can almost see your faces… Snoring is seen by some as a sickness, the phenomenon is called sleep apnea though I don’t know enough of the topic to really define it. on the practical side of life. I’ve heard many types of snores. Some quiet like a deep breathing with a low noise, others middle loud, like a small animal making noises, others like a coffee machine releasing damp, and lets get to the louder ones: a lion, a bear, a dragon, sawing trees, falling trees or even an earthquake!

Sleeping_Dragon_by_blackseagull

Sleeping dragon, by blackseagull from Deviantart

The one who lies at the side of the snoring person (not always a man) is not really happy about that. If you have personally experienced this, you know what I’m talking about, especially if you are one of the difficult or light sleepers. The anger you start developing brings you to a state where you start hating the snorer, even if in normal circumstances you maybe love the person… Any remedies against snoring? Not that I know of… There are even extreme solutions like operating the vellum or whatever tissue that vibrates and causes the snores. I’m not sure if it works, but you know the ideas we can get while trying to sleep next to a snoring person, and without exaggerating, loud snorers don’t have to be sleeping in the same room… Just to close this idea, the Brazilian sleepers in banks, buses, sidewalks were usually men  and I don’t know if they were snoring … but women can also snore… thinking of some people I know 😉

This loud problem may have a radical solution for couples. No, it’s not what you may imagine… It’s simply separate sleeping rooms, if you have enough space at home. There are people who defend this idea, to avoid having hard feelings on their partners because of the deprivation of sleep. However, others tend to fix the idea of a common sleeping room as an indisputable sign of a well functioning ‘marriage’ or relationship. Well, in this case you can judge and decide by yourselves.

Why did I choose this topic? First of all because after an intercontinental trip I’m still having trouble sleeping well… I wake up listening how the birds out of my window also wake up and start to sing… I’m usually a good sleeper and I find this situation a little bit annoying >.<

Secondly, leaving the soccer World Cup aside, there was a recent premiere in the cinemas, Maleficent or the other side of the Sleeping Beauty story. Sleeping a hundred years doesn’t sound that bad, does it? I still don’t know how Maleficent got that idea of punishment for a girl that she didn’t even know. How if Aurora loved to sleep? How if she could’t sleep well in the past fifteen years while living with her three god mothers who may be loud snorers? I especially suspect the older one… Mmmm, the one in the red gown.

Maleficent Angie

I found the idea of presenting the story from another point of view very interesting. As in real life, we usually get to know the version of the story of the ones who won or the ones we know, who are almost always automatically “the good guys”. Watching this version, with Angelina Jolie playing the dark fairy, You get a simplistic psychological explanation of her doings. Nevertheless, if you like spectacular cinema with lots of special effects, fairies and other fantasy creatures you may then want to watch it.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1587310/?ref_=nv_sr_1

Sticking to an older version of the story, it is said that Charles Perrault, a French writer retold the story taken from older narrations and called it “La Belle au Bois Dormant”. Later on the Grimm Brothers changed some parts of it and wrote their own version calling it “Dornröschen”. However, both of them excluded the dark second part of the story which is absolutely not for children or soft hearted people… An old version second part was told by Giambattista Basile, who lived in the 16th and 17th centuries, and talks about the prince finding the sleeping maiden, abusing her and she later on having two children because of this act… Well, what do you think about this surprise? Not that nice or innocent as the Disney versions. By the way, Maleficent may have a big impression on smaller children… of course depending on their experience in going to the cinema.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleeping_Beauty

I hope you had a good night rest or will have one depending on the continent you live in.

Have a nice week!

 

The Other Senses

In elementary school and before that, we learn about our five senses.  We use them since the day we were born. We remember the sound of a song we used to listen to in our early childhood. When we smell something nice, for example, cinnamon and oranges, we think of Christmas. When we open the fridge and close the door because of the pungent smell like a blow to the nose, we suddenly remember the cheese we bought some weeks ago and we had forgotten because it was hiding, on purpose,  behind the big bottle…

In literature we find several references and associations to our senses as we come across metaphors. Some of these literary constructs may help us to read with more than one sense while others help us to get the whole picture, e.g. He (or she) is the black sheep in the family.

If you want to read about bad metaphors, and speak Spanish, you may want to read at the blog post “Malas metáforas” (http://boeneker.wordpress.com/2014/02/05/las-malas-metaforas-la-bici-lxix/) of a friend of mine, Heiner Boeneker.   For examples of sublime metaphors you can read the poetry of Ernesto Cisneros, also in Spanish. http://ernestocisnerosrivera.wordpress.com/page/2/

My topic is not metaphors or literature, but our senses, especially the other ones. The first sense that came to my mind was common sense. What does it mean? Why is it called common when it is so difficult to find? Is it true that some of us have more of it while others almost lack of it?

Does common sense have to do with safety, precaution or even fear?  Does it have to do with intelligence or education?   Here the definition: “Common sense is a basic ability to perceive, understand, and judge things, which is shared by nearly all people, and can be reasonably expected of nearly all people without any need for debate.”  Mmmm, all people?  Do we learn it, are we born with it, can we acquire it?  What if we don’t have enough of it? And in our modern times we could ask, can I buy it?  or can I find it in the Internet?

You may laugh at the idea and wonder, but the answer is yes.  http://www.wikihow.com/Develop-Common-Sense.  There is another web-page full with common sense http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/common_sense.html

It’s maybe easier than I thought. However, I’m not sure if this would be the right way to get some common sense.

Another sense that comes to my mind is the so called sixth sense. With this concept I start with the first definition that I found in the all knowing Internet 😉 Sixth sense: a supposed intuitive faculty giving awareness, not explicable in terms of normal perception. As this doesn’t really clarify the term I found another definition in the Merriam-Webster: a special ability to know something that cannot be learned by using the five senses (such as sight or hearing). This one is much better. However, what do they mean with special ability?  Do we all have it? Can we learn it? Are we born with it?  Sixth sense, it is a special sight? Have you ever had premonitions? Are prophecies true? Have you ever had your future told either by a card reading, a coffee reading or maybe runes or bones reading? Well, I have, which doesn’t mean I believe in all that the psychic person told me. It was however very revealing…

There are many films based on many of these psychic abilities. I think of the Sixth Sense (1999) with Bruce Willis. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0167404/?ref_=nv_sr_1   Another example is Carrie with telekinetic abilities, the first version from 1976, a horror classic of the seventies,  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0074285/?ref_=nv_sr_4  which has been recently redone (2013).

The horror movie genre usually uses the idea of a sixth sense and “special abilities” in their plots to achieve fear and suspense.

Let’s leave the imaginary horrors and come back to reality 😉

Another sense I can think of is the sense of humor. I start from the premise that we all have one, good or bad, that depends on our definition.  A good sense of humor, how can we define what that is?  A person who makes a lot of jokes is a person with a good sense of humor? In my opinion, it’s not that simple and I would say no. Does it mean you laugh a lot or do you make a lot of “good jokes” or are your jokes cruel or sarcastic? Do you laugh at the expense of others?  Do you never laugh or almost never laugh?   Mmmm, this is getting more complex…

Is a good sense of humor defined by our house and family? By our nationality or rather the culture we grew up in? Have people who grew up in contact with many cultures a good sense of humor or is it really a personal matter?

Let’s take a look at the things that are considered funny in some cultures. What do we laugh about in Mexico or Germany or the USA?

If we take a look at comedies in TV or cinema, we find out that the most popular ones usually come from English speaking countries. I find it difficult to have access to comedies form other countries, even if I live in the so called “European Community”. What everyone can watch in free TV is American or, if we are lucky, British comedies. Among the newest American comedies we find “The Big Bang Theory”, “Two and a half men”, “Two broke girls”, “Modern family”, “Family Guy” or “South Park”. The brits have “Mr. Bean” and I cannot think of other examples.  Of the Golden Era we all know and enjoy “Laurel and Hardy”.  Are they international, can we all laugh at their jokes? I personally think that yes, indeed, some more, some less.  While living in Sao Paulo I was amazed to learn that a Mexican comedy was so popular there, “El Chavo del Ocho” and “El Chapulín Colorado”.  However, this show never made it across the ocean.

El Chavo del Ocho

El Chavo

Here in Germany there are some popular comedians, and by that I mean popular, which means “almost” everybody laughs with them. Some of the films are “Lissi and the Wild Emperor”, a parody of Sissi and Franz-Joseph which could be internationally understood. Another comedy of Bully Herbig is “Traumschiff Surprise” a parody of Star Trek. The humor is plain and sometimes funny, if you know the originals.

Lissi and the Emperor

Lissi and Franzl

 

Germans in general are not well known for their good or light sense of humor. This doesn’t mean that they don’t like to laugh or that they don’t laugh at all. However, to laugh with them you have to have a pretty deep knowledge of the culture and of the language 😉

German humor is heavy and they sometimes don’t know the limits. That is maybe why they are what in other cultures would be considered as rude.

Although I have been living here for more than 20 years I had to look away from the “humor” in one of the posters hanging these days in the streets. These are part of the political campaign to elect the Representatives for the European Parliament.

Radical poster

Controversial Poster of the right

Does humor have to do with taste? Good or bad?  I imagine that you will agree with me that this goes too far…  This party, a radical party of the far right, is asking “What a… are you going to vote for in September?” With this image they’re referring to representatives of the bigger political parties: the CDU/CSU the conservative right or the Black party, the Green Party, the social democrats SPD in red and the liberal democrats in yellow.

This radical party has not got the majority and is not representative of the country. However, it amazed me that such an offending poster could be used publicly all around the city! Have we lost our senses?

Good or bad taste? Good or bad humor? This last example is not an example of German humor, but only of one small group of people with narrow minds. They want to use hate and fear, if you see other posters in German cities,  claiming that the Islam and their mosques should be in Istanbul and not here in Germany.  Very populistic!

I’m sure that common sense will prevail in the elections so that we can continue with our good humor in this country.