Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sad Realities

This weeks conviction of the pedophile, Jerry Sandusky, the Penn State football coach, is a small reflection of bigger issues and problems in our world's sexual psyche. This issue is far more pervasive than the average person wants to admit...and for many of us who have had direct experiences fending off unwanted sexual advances from sick people in our own families or circle of brings up a number of bad memories and sad realities about our society and it's denial of even normal sexual appetites.

There seems to be an inherent tendency to block out or push away realities such as pedophilia. We have now seen hundreds of years of abuse in the Catholic church via skewed and ridiculous views on sex overall and denial of sexual gratification to priests, nuns and of other religious persuasions as well. There are VERY FEW cases of persecuted perpetrators relative to the immensity of the problem. This is GOLBAL denial.

I think puritanical and unrealistic religious teachings are at the core of these sick obsessions that seem to be so pervasive, especially among so many religious or "respected" members of our society. If you deny animals their instinctive drives, even the most basic forms of animal life will go a little nuts in their behavior. Is it any surprise a more advanced human species is going to act out in even greater, complicated ways their denied gratification? I am obviously not defending pedophiles...but as usual I always try to get down to the bottom of why people do these things...the cause and effect that I believe is there. Yet, there comes a time when you have to protect the innocent from the realities of this un-treatable condition called "Pedophilia"

I still sometimes wonder personally why I at such a young age would "block out" the attempts a family member made on me and still like him "normally" for so many years? What is it about our young psyches that doesn't allow us to confront or report these kinds of actions to our parents or other loved ones? What makes us think it is so "dirty" or incomprehensible that we should bury such experiences in some dark corner of our young minds? I sometimes think maybe we are just trying to protect our own innocence and not give up our childhood fantasies of peace and tranquility too soon. It is tough even for adults to be honest about their sexuality. Why should we expect kids to be any more honest or up front? Yet, this natural "coverup" just continues to encourage the behavior in those so inclined. Its amazing with how many and for how long these perpetrators get away with their actions. It seems to be a case of institutional "denial".

I applaud all the young men who had to come forward and reveal all these nasty past secrets with Sandusky. While it was understandably his only plausible defense, I am amazed that even with the vast number of complaints against him...over 48 counts of which he is convicted of 45...that Sanusky can still claim innocence and that he is being "framed" by all these disparate young men from his past. I saw this in my own experience where the perpetrator, even when confronted with a variety of victims, could not admit or see himself at fault. Unfortunately, this is a very normal state of mind in the history of studying pedophiles.

There is another sad reality to all of this. Physical contact is a very base need in the human condition. Babies and children who grow up with lots of attention and physical affection tend to become more secure, open and caring individuals. At least this has been my reading and personal observation over the decades. People who DON'T get touch and affection tend to have many problems socially and even sexually. I have grown to appreciate those cultures, mostly European and African, who develop without obsessions about nudity or guilt about natural normal sex. In many parts of the world societies are much more open or unconscious about nudity and sexuality. While I'm sure they have their occasional run-ins with deviant behaviors, I have a feeling they are much more direct about how they deal with that. In our more puritanical cultures of Western Civilization, we tend to hype and focus on the occasional exposure to sex and obsession if you will. We take great delight in living through the experiences and "secret lives" of others.

The saddest reality of this theme is that because of bringing to justice these coaches, priests and other high profile individuals who have come into the light...we will now have a new "obsession" about pedophiles. Even affectionate parents will find their actions being scrutinized by strangers around them.

Of course I am applauding the verdict while still appalled at the number of people and Sandusky himself who continue to deny deny deny. Sadly, now millions of people will not be comfortable with grown or older men getting close to their children, physically or otherwise. I for one have always gotten along well with children and have been physical with them at times in wrestling and rough housing as was common when I was a child. Kids eat it up once they trust you. Yet, there have been a couple times where I sensed friends being uncomfortable with my hugging or wrestling with their kids...primarily I believe because of all these people now being outed. I find myself purposely guarding my contact with kids so as not to make people uncomfortable...even though I believe kids need, and it is natural to want, touch and affection. Unfortunately, these people like Sandusky have caused the world to become a more frigid, guarded place to live in. Another sad reality among many in these modern times.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Its how you Finish...

Lately I have been noticing a lot of "come from behind" victories in various sports...and even in yesterday's Belmont Stakes horse race. In the horse racing world we saw the winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, "I'll Have Another", denied a chance to be a "triple crown" winner by being hobbled the last week by a career ending ligament injury. While this is an unfortunate example of how fate often intervenes with potential history making accomplishments, it goes to show how even in the horse world ones health is always the "wild card" in determining if we can accomplish all we set out to do.

In the Belmont race yesterday, it appeared "Paynter" was in control from the start only to have "Union Rags" come from behind in the final quarter to win by a neck. The Belmont is the longest track in the triple crown at 1.5 miles and to that extent favors the distance runner over the sprinter. As I've gone through life I have time and time again noticed how many of us are great at "sprinting". We look good in short spurts, but when it comes to planning or pacing ourselves for the long haul...we tend to fail miserably. It appeared that Paynter ran out of gas on the home stretch compared to Union Rags who came on strong at the end. It's how you finish that counts in most races.

I consider myself a "late bloomer" in many things. I have felt moderate satisfaction in various challenges I have taken on in life, but never have felt I had my big "home run" moment with the bases loaded. Many of my goals and pursuits have come to me relatively late in life. I finally settled into a mutually satisfying long term relationship with a woman in my late 40s. I finally found "home" in Latin America in the past decade. I am just now getting serious and focused about a "retirement plan" in my mid 50s. In many things I am in a late life sprint towards reaching my potential...and I plan to finish STRONG!

I have seen and admired many "sprinters" in my life. You know...the people who initially or immediately impress you with almost fanatical passion for what they are trying to do in life. They are like a blur of motion and conditioning, seemingly unstoppable in their quest for life domination. Yet, sooner or later, many of these people get tired of the race, take their eyes off the goal and simply fade into almost non relevancy. You see many people as they age saying "if only I..." or "it is too late now, but I would have loved to...". Many of these people have too prematurely submitted their wills to public perceptions or fates that aren't necessarily finalized yet. Who says you can't find personal or economic success in your 60s or 70s? Who says you can't find love in your waning years? Who says you have to retire at 65 or some other perceived milestone?

I have often found encouragement in articles or lists of people such as THIS ONE who either made their success in the later decades or overcame many failures before finally succeeding. Since I have had my share of failures or MODERATE successes, I would obviously find these stories stimulating to keep me going at times. After all, I have always favored the following two quotes on the subject...
The only real failure in life is the failure to try.

There are no failures – just experiences and your reactions to them.

Most everyone gets off to a bad start in life. We tend to be surrounded by friends, family and societies who try and tell us what we CAN'T or SHOULDN'T do. They try and tell us how ordinary and "bad" we are for not fitting in or wanting our own way. "No" is usually the first word many babies learn in life. For many of us it takes DECADES to overcome the devastation of our negative programming...and most never fully recover from it.

I am happy to say that I have found a number of people in my life who are super productive and passionate about life and what they are doing...even in their 60s and 70s. I play tennis with a couple guys who have completed 80 and still play a tough game. The idea is to never give up on your realistic goals or passions. If you stop using it, you will lose it... that's one of my mottos as well.

Life is about energy, inertia and motion. When we stop living, we start dying...and its not a pretty sight. So...from the nucleus of our beings...let’s all determine to finish strong...going out in a flame of fire or desire. After all, that's how most good stories end...a courageous FINISH.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Credit for Excellence...

The highlight of my Sunday was watching Tiger Woods birdie three of the final four holes of the Memorial Tournament to win his second tournament of this year. The drama and irony of his win struck my fancy from many angles. There are many life lessons to be learned in observing this phenomenon.

Anyone who has attempted to play golf will understand the difficulty and significance of playing the game at a level where you can beat the best in the world more than once in a season. Golf is an individual sport. There is no one besides yourself that you can blame or give credit for your results. To play at the highest levels demands the greatest discipline, focus, talent...and yes, some perceived luck. Luck that you had the opportunity to ever learn the game. Luck to have the money and background it often takes to play the game. But, as I have always believed, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

I have written on this blog before of my continued admiration and support of Tiger Woods even though he has obviously shown himself to be an imperfect man...just like the rest of us. While he has been forced or chosen to live his life in the public eye due to his talent and competitiveness, he continues to do so with little apparent shame or excuses. His excellence has made him a lightning rod for criticism...and in some cases outright hatred. The venom I read and observed from the revelations that his marriage and fidelity levels were at a lower level than his golf game had me often shaking my head in wonderment at the fleeting value of fame and fortune. My how we humans love to shoot our own wounded...especially the ones we used to have on a pedestal.

I understand the public reaction to some degree. Society puts a lot of pressure on people to live up to certain standards that are oft times impossible to maintain. Many of us grow up living our lives to the expectations of others...our parents, families, friends and society as a whole. Very few of us ever get to the point in life where we can afford in our psyche to say "f--k that" and do what WE want to do. I have personally felt for Tiger as he has had to handle the reactions and opinions on a worldwide scale to his personal life. He has been betrayed by friends and fans alike who have criticized and kicked him when he was at his most vulnerable, weakest moment. The problem is that he went along with the sponsors and promoters in the world of golf who used his image and paid him mega millions based on his excellence, his competitive spirit, his dazzling smile...and as an example of a perceived "minority" being the best at something the world values highly. He actively promoted this image so should not be so surprised that the common people were hugely disappointed and even angry when they found out their hero was NOT perfect and was in fact acting out his "lower nature" much to our chagrin. My how we humans love illusion but hate reality...

I now predict that if Tiger Woods continues restoring his focus and winning ways, he will become even more beloved than when he was a 20 something year old multimillionaire with a beautiful blonde wife and a mega-yacht. He now has the potential to become the example of a fallen star who came back and made even more of himself than we ever thought he could. Having tried to play golf in my life, I am in awe that in such a reasonably short time Tiger could rebound from his personal tragedies of domestic failure and physical injuries, reinvent his swing, and by sheer determination return to dominate a sport that is nearly impossible to dominate. It must have been especially sweet for him to do this at Jack Nicklaus' tournament and nearing Jacks record career tournament win number at 36 years of age...almost a decade sooner than Jack did it. I would also argue that today's field of great golfers is much larger and in better shape than the golfers of just 20 years ago. I shake my head in wonder at this feat.

As I have reflected on myself in view of this subject, I continue gaining personal understanding and insight into my life. While I admire excellence in golf, music, tennis, writing, business and many walks of life...I see myself as a moderately advantaged guy for my age who has never really been the BEST in anything. Like most of us, I admire the best but have never had the vision, discipline or focus to BE the best. In some ways I see this as a blessing. I have to this point lived a life full of variety. I have always had many, sports, business, people, animals, travel...and to a degree have probably had my own share of ADD (attention deficit disorder). If I get bored with something, it loses my attention and I move on quickly to something else. To be the BEST at something would have required sacrifice of other fulfilling interests or experiences in my life. I really have few regrets apart from bunches of money lost here and there along the way.

I have had my share of ups and downs in life. I have overcome a few obstacles that have been in my way at times...and I have recovered from some significant failures. Yet, I pride myself in that I have never stopped pushing forward and spent little time looking BACKward or being bitter at fate. I continue to value friends and experiences of the past, but I mostly judge myself by what I will accomplish in the future.

Excellence is a demanding goal whether it be in sports, relationships or in business. I admire it wherever I see it...and I fortunately am surrounded by people in my life who are achievers. Excellence is all around me, and I am letting it rub off and inspire me.