Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Note of Thanks 2009: Personal Reflections of a Year Gone Past

Now that we are on the verge of yet another new year - and the start of another decade - I would like to look back to what this year has had to offer. Personally, it was a very fulfilling year and one of dramatic change of life and circumstances.

I started the year with what I would like to call “fire in my belly.” I had felt dissatisfied with the status quo and wanted something “new” and “better” for my family. So we ended up selling everything we owned in Mexico and ventured into an unclear and undefined future.

My initial plan was to work in the Middle East, in particular, Saudi Arabia. Why? The idea was to set on an adventure, a completely new experience and, frankly, some money. But things as usual turn out different from what one has planned, and we have ended up in Vancouver.

In Vancouver, I have found a lot of support from many people, mainly friends and strangers. This post is especially dedicated to all those who have welcomed and have had unwavering faith in us. During this year, I was fortunate to find various satisfying and fulfilling jobs with unbelievably great and wonderful supervisors. I couldn't have wished for more! I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart on this space. Not to forget our great landlady who has also been very welcoming towards us. We appreciate all your help!

This year has also brought about an unusual experience for me, the making and premier of my first (and hopefully not last) short film with my friend and colleague Sylvain along with a wacky upbeat feature-length screenplay. The response to the short film has been very encouraging even if we did not get selected for film festivals. It was again the experience that counts and that sense of accomplishment and a certain satisfaction one feels despite the obvious limitations and shortcomings of a debut project.

Last, but absolutely not least, I want to thank all my cyber space friends and readers who have been interested in my articles! My blog is my pride and joy and despite an extremely busy, at times overwhelming schedule, I have tried my best to keep posting new material. I wish you a happy New Year and lots of success in 2010 and hope to see you around!

Best wishes to everyone! And lots of love!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Blame it all on Pandora: Holding onto Hope in a World of Pain and Suffering

Naked Pandora sitting on a rock with a closed box

According to Greek mythology, the mighty Zeus was very angry (to use a euphemism for “pissed off”) that Prometheus had given humans the secret gift of sacred fire. So Zeus ordered Hephaestus to create a “beautiful evil” in flesh to tempt and lead astray mankind through her charms.

This beautiful woman was given to Epithemeus as a “gift,” incidentally the brother of Prometheus. Prometheus, speaking from his own experience, let his brother know that one should neither mess with the powerful Zeus nor accept any gifts from him. Nonetheless, Epithemeus disregarded all those warnings and accepted not only the beautiful wife but also a precious jar or box from Hermes, the messenger of Zeus.

The object itself did not pose any threat in itself, yet Pandora was told not to open it. She could look at it as much as she liked; as long as she managed to gain an upper hand on her curiosity, there would be no danger. So Pandora was amazed and kept staring at the precious gift, and gradually the inner voice of temptation would whisper in her ear. Over time, she did succumb to her curiosity, a trait once given to her by Hera, the wife of Zeus, and she actually opened the box.

What did she find inside? Evil spirits in various shapes and forms flew out and devastated the earth below. The place was filled with evil and mischievous laughter, and these spirits brought with them disease, decay, and death everywhere they went. Humans below were then punished since time immemorial with pain and suffering.

Pandora was devastated at the effects of her actions and began to lament her act of curiosity. However, she noticed a frail being that was crawled up in a corner of the box. It was a fairy with broken wings. She took it gently into her hands and kissed its wings. Slowly, this creature came to life, and, soon enough, it was flying all around the place. And she gave this fairy the name of "Hope."

Our first immediate question might be: Was it really worth the endless suffering of billions of people for the satisfaction of a curious itch, Pandora? It would be so easy to blame her! All the suffering shall be her fault, the same way Cain was branded with the mark on his forehead for his evil ways. Similarly, we can blame Adam and Eve for trying of the forbidden fruit even though they were explicitly told not to! Was it worth to curse the human race for a momentous satisfaction of the craving for knowledge?

Or we can decide not to point fingers and accept the facts of (human) life. Suffering exists, yes, we are all bound to die and the countdown towards the inevitable starts with the piercing newborn's cry; yes, we are left in the dark and lack the reasons why and are left with puzzling attempts to answer those classic questions of the human condition.

Yet the message in Pandora's case does have an uplifting tone. We need to hold onto hope. Blindly and stubbornly, against all odds of logic. We need to believe, have faith and boldly take the step into the void, as Kierkegaard would urge us. We need to put it all on one card, as Pascal would like us know. And in the case of Eden, I think it is this kind of knowledge that the fruit wanted to erase from our minds, that yes, a benevolent creator, whatever his or her or its name or attributes, is watching us with loving and understanding eyes.