My Independence Day

A little more than five years ago, as I stopped, out-of-breath, after climbing the Chemin du Calvaire, my favorite path up to the Phare de la Garoupe, I enjoyed the view (without the snow: pic was taken in Feb. this year) and took one of those figurative backward glances on my existence, and I remember thinking: “Oh shit! Is that really all you could do with your life?” and finished my thought in a fit of coughing and spitting (sorry :/ ).

Then, I told myself “Lilaine, you’re smoking your life away, you big dumbass!”. Actually, I was more virulent and used a much more ‘refined’ vocabulary. 🙂 😛

That’s when I decided to break that twenty-seven-year long relationship and reclaim my independence from that toxic, evil creature, aka cigarette. I tried to give myself a birthday present by quitting on July, 2 but I just couldn’t … Die hard habit, this one!

Lucky for me, the American People decided to kick the Brits butts out on a fourth of July, and it greatly inspired and motivated me to do the same with my cigs butts. Many thanks to them, and to Lafayette. 😀

Five years–and nine more kilograms(20 pounds)–later, I’m able to look forward to getting older and climbing whatever summit(lit. and fig.) I’ll set my mind to… 😉

Deep, full, cleansing breath…. and a loud, joyous shout: Yeehooo!! 😮

Still some work cut out for me on the ‘doing something with my life’ question, though… 😛

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How to screw up, my way

Still reading my stuff? Don’t you get fed up with my confused reasoning and interminable sentences? 😮

So, where did I fail in my past integration attempt?  (Click the link to refresh your memory)

0) I forgot the only valuable preliminary: Utopia does not exist.

1) As I was admitted into some Society, I took a circumspect and quite short exploratory time: wrong. It should have been a silent studious quarantine.

2) In my book, lack of participation feels like integration refusal, or just taking advantage, or even voyeurism. But it’s only my book:  in certain societies, all that is called lurking, and is commonly accepted (I know why now).

3) Upon seeing around some invitation for newcomers to introduce themselves (as is customary in other societies I used to visit), I readily did just that, in my usual, spontaneous way: truly, sincerely, some might call it bluntly, stating my motives to be there and even admitting to some flaws. Double wrong: I shouldn’t have assumed I was allowed to speak and introduce myself without being invited to, and never should have admitted to my ‘wrongdoings’.  I can see now, with some hindsight, that what was meant as an honest, heartfelt introduction might have been perceived as arrogance and defiance. So much for enthusiasm and spontaneity!

4) As enthusiasm and spontaneity are, alas, some of my many flaws, I didn’t wait to be ‘enlightened’ to share my own ‘substance’ & riches. Worked hard to create some pieces and offered them to the Society, as a thank you for accepting me among them and kind of a redemption for my previously admitted ‘wrongdoing’. Maybe I should have clearly stated that? My bad: obviously, it is not customary to offer some present upon arrival in this Society for  nobody acknowledged the gesture. That or I just received a dose of my own medicine, which is not a way a welcoming Society should behave (sounds petty from where I stand).

5) After being subjected to that ostentatious indifference (which in the same context would be considered rude, if not an insult, in my own culture) I didn’t feel secure enough to ask some necessary questions to the only person who deigned to acknowledge my existence upon my arrival. I therefore reverted to the one communication mode I thought was innocuous enough to be accepted and appreciated: humor. Not totally wrong on that one, although I really should stop cracking (really)crappy jokes:  humor is appreciated, along with subtlety, but there’s no room for crap and vulgarity. That way I can understand and readily comply to. The untamed, impenitent joker that I am just had to try and test the waters. My bad. 😉

6) I usually state my mind in a clear, direct, sometimes forceful way, and I can’t see how this way of mine is wrong. Or does it just come out as an aggressive behavior?

7) After a few-weeks-long stand-back-and-lurk  episode (I really tried to do it that way, but couldn’t keep it too long), I started participating again, though I might have chosen another occasion to do it. Then I made another offering  and some cultural sharing and not-so-crappy jokes that seemed to please some of the Society members. And then, a WWI Armistice day of all days, something happened in the Society that I’m certain made many members uneasy and weary.  Heck, even I was weary…for a little while!

8) After that unsettling episode, I should have stayed put and gone back to lurkdom, but I really could not do that. I had unfinished sharing and socializing to do. It’s not in my nature to quit before having tried long and hard. I might have been perceived as being insistent, annoying, or even harassing, though none was intended. Perseverance must be inconspicuous or not at all.

9) Neither is in my nature to hear merely-veiled insinuations or non targeted denunciations without reacting. Directly and forcefully, as usual: a bully I was, apparently (for reacting to a perceived aggression!), so I subsequently took a much necessary (for everyone) leave from that not so hospitable place.

Since then, I mainly lurk there, except when I feel like sharing a little inoffensive thing or two. I do not joke much anymore, they don’t seem to like my brand of humor. 😦

This personal failure assessment is just my way of stating  that some particular errors are hardly, if at all tolerated and can be seriously damaging to the whole integration process in certain societies.

It appears I made a bunch if not all of them. At least, I’m thorough. Through and through. 😛

Of Tolerance, Integration, Multiculturalism and Enrichment…

These past months, a personal experience (and failure, it seems) and some of the presidential election campaigns hot topics here in France led me to consider, not for the first time but with an added perspective (the referred to below as newcomer’s one), the concepts of Tolerance, Integration, Multiculturalism and Enrichment.

I came to the obvious conclusion that any Society (i.e. group of individuals who share some common values and ideas) open to foreign integration -thus accepting newcomers- should first and foremost be willing to acknowledge the very existence of said newcomers, with their inevitable differences, as the Society acknowledges its own individuals in their diversity (are we not all different?). In the next step, in the sole purpose of making integration easier, both Society and newcomers would establish and sustain some kind of communication/interaction, for evident practical reasons. On this basis, the Society would then share its ‘substance’ and principles, further facilitating the newcomers’ efforts to assimilate their new environment. Some ultimate, rewarding, enriching consequence of a successful integration would then be for the Society to integrate in return part(s) of the newcomers’ culture and usages. Where would we all be without this elementary, essential, historical, in one word ‘sine qua non’ principle?

Tolerance, individual diversity and time seem to be the  primary -and necessary- elements to build the richness of a Society. The patient and open combination of all distinctive features and components keeps building the whole, sometimes adopting a newly integrated element as a rule -for the sheer rightness of it-, sometimes restricting another (or suppressing it, for survival necessity) by using an adaptable set of rules guaranteeing that none of the components is damaging to each other and to the  Society as a whole.

During the integration process, the Society expects newcomers to ‘ingest’ and adapt to new, different ways/culture/principles, to abide by the law (and in doing so sometimes having to renounce to some of their ways) and eventually to participate in the Society’s activities. In return, the Society should clearly state its ways/culture/principles/laws and make them easily accessible, and provide a guide who’d patiently and skillfully explain them -sounds like Education, doesn’t it? This is particularly true when said Society is known (or claims) to master the Arts and means of communication* (basically language -in all its subtle uses and tones, and images with all the techno-stuff that conveys them both).

So far, doesn’t that sound a little like Utopia?

Some education and training methods, as well as simply ‘growing up’, are based on the trial-and-error approach. As far as integration endeavor is concerned, though, trying this method is clearly an error, and is potentially detrimental to the whole integration process. Before even thinking of participating to the Society’s activities, a newcomer often needs to acquire  at least the basics in communication skills (language included, of course) and codes, as well as some usages and behavioral rules that noticeably differ from his or her original ones*. An observant reserve  is  probably the safest  way to do that. Obviously, without those preliminary steps, the newcomer is likely to somehow ‘misbehave’.  On attempting to participate anyway (out of enthusiasm, eagerness or spontaneity), and making some mistakes, the newcomer should be ‘coached’ by  some guide who would step in to show (explain) the ways of the Society, or at least point out the inadequate behavior. Then, the initial problematic participation may evolve and  become an exchange as the ‘enlightened’ newcomer starts to share his or her own ‘substance’ and riches, thus making the ‘sine qua non’ principle effective. That’s when multiculturalism is supposed to become a really good experience and a mutual enrichment.

At least, in Utopia it would probably work that way. 🙂

So, now that I’ve objectively (er… I think) considered an ideal environment and a wise and efficient way to achieve integration, where did I fail, in my past  attempt?

To be continued……..

*  In some Societies (like cyber-groups, for example), as a wise person reminded me, the written word is the only interaction medium(no visual clue, no  tone of voice), which makes the communication that more tricky, and the integration attempt that more difficult. The same wise person added that because of  different cultures and interacting ways, what is commonly accepted by the ones can be considered offensive by the others. I got it, H. Thanks. 🙂

… And thank you  to Your Highness for Your wise editorial advice, that I didn’t follow on every point. Pigheaded Frog is my Squaw name. 😉

The bi-zodiacal curse

2012 is the year of the Dragon(Water Dragon), and as I was born in July 1964, year of the Wood Dragon, I’ve inherited this charming and legendary creature’s characteristics from the Chinese Zodiac.

Now, while the Dragon is rather well considered in Orient, Occident has all sorts of prejudices and bad images relating to it, e.g. one meaning of dragon clearly characterizing a particular type of person(woman, actually), and ..what else? Oh, no, shut up George!

As if it wasn’t enough, being born in July makes me a Cancer in our Western Zodiac. It’s a water sign, and I’ve also inherited this charming crab’s characteristics.

I don’t have to tell anyone what kind of things the word cancer brings to everybody’s mind.

So, to sum it up, the  Dragon-Cancer association is mostly repulsive in the  occidental collective conscience. And as far as wood and water are concerned, I can see a couple things that combination might attract : fungus and termites. 😮

A positive note! 😀

THE WOOD DRAGON 1904 AND 1964

Wood has a modifying influence and brings creativity to this sign. Questioning and liberal, Wood Dragons enjoy talking about original ideas and are open to other points of view. They are innovative, imaginative practical and appreciate art in each of its forms. Generally less pretentious than other Dragons, Wood Dragons have an ability to get along with other people. They have the essentials to build a prosperous and happy life for themselves. Still, Wood Dragons are outspoken and at times a bit pushy to quell everyone, even in the most friendly quarrel.

For the fun, what the Dragon-Cancer association is likely to produce in a human being 😮

CRAB/DRAGON: Born in 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000. The Dragon brings a great deal of grandiose to the Crab’s life, and much drama will unfold. While his ego is particularly sensitive, the Dragon’s influence will make him less sensitive to the feelings of others. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t care; a Crab/Dragon will always be looking out for members of his family and his close friends, and be there when he is needed. He’s not likely to be very sentimental, but when he does tell someone he cares, he is very sincere. Keeping his emotional outbursts under control will be a struggle for him, and if he doesn’t learn to do so he will find himself having much difficulty in his career and in relationships.

However, some have another advice  😉

Great emotional vitality is the foundation of this astonishing character’s personality. The Cancer/Dragon is born with all of Cancer’s profound ability to feel life in every aspect. This subject is also endowed with Dragonish pluck. So we have here a forceful and dauntlessly enthusiastic character. Cancer’s eternal black moods will be lightened by the Dragon’s phoenix-like ability to rise from the ashes of his own immolation by his natural pep and vigor. Dragon’s unwieldy braggadocio will be tempered by Cancer’s good sense and dignity. Cancer/Dragon’s got just a soupçon of a twinkle in a very sensual glance. Bedroom eyes with a skylight. Cancer wants to keep this subject home. Dragon longs to race out and beat the world at any game in town. Close contact with this dynamic soulful person is always satisfying. Tender? This person invented snuggles. The sex with this charmer is not to be missed for its…

A curse, I tell you. A simple, flamboyant and grandiose curse. :p

Good Job

A peaceful Archangel sent me a message lately, with a gorgeous image that showed a quote from the Bible, and I’ve been meditating it since I set the image as my current wallpaper(i.e. Win$ appellation for background image)

“Wisdom belongs to the aged and understanding to the old” Job 12:12

I’m sure I’ll end up understanding the real meaning of it, one day, when(if) I grow old…. 🙂

By the way, I found a lot of versions of this quote, since the Bible is (has always been) subject to slight(…) variations in its innumerable interpretations.

With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding.

This one I feel closer to, for I know it often takes a great deal of  time(length of days) to understand (as in observe, study, think about and then include in one’s knowledge) some profound and complex concepts. But one can understand before getting old, and sometimes, it takes more than a human lifespan to finally understand a concept, so understanding is hopefully achieved in the next generations. And when I find myself in times of trouble, in my dreams some Ancient Being comes to me, speaking(or whispering) words of wisdom, let it be. ( Arf…! I really tried to be serious in this post, but it seems the joker is always right under the surface… Lilaine, the Beatles fan) .

And now that the joker is out,

“Wisdom belongs to the aged and understanding to the old. As for peace, well…, hopefully it is the next step. RIP”  Lilaine, inspired by Job 12:12