Monday, August 28, 2017

Recasting History into our Own Image

“This is the way it happened…”  I could start any recounting of an event with that line, tell the story with a sense of strong conviction and if told enough times to enough people, gain a measure of credibility.  In the right circumstance, at the right time, told to a targeted audience, I could make other people believe my stories as the truth, even if I have distorted the facts.  To paraphrase the adage (or variant), “a lie told often enough becomes truth.”  I have always ascribed to the value that honesty is the best policy, so the chance of me not telling the truth is almost non-existent.  But, like myself, I am sure you have come across individuals that have altered “the truth” to serve their purpose.

I remember a few months after 9/11, driving at night to a client (this was when I was consulting) on the border of Virginia and Tennessee.  As I was flipping through the radio stations, I came across some local preacher talking about the Jewish conspiracy and the “fact” that the Jews were behind the attack.  He stated that all of the Jews were notified beforehand to leave the world trade center prior to the attack – obviously, he did not have the conversation with the Jewish spouses and children that lost family on that day.  There are the people that try to change history to say that the Holocaust never existed.  While the number of Holocaust survivors dwindles, some survivors are still alive that can tell the true story.

There are plenty of bad time-periods in all of the nations across the world – whether it was slavery, ransacking, or general brutality.  These are events that makeup nations and, in some cases, have provided rich legends and historical accounts for where we are today.  The lessons they provide in pointing us to a better future are still pertinent today.  In an age of political correctness, pulling down statues, whether in this country (i.e., Robert E. Lee – people forget he served with distinction in the Mexican-American war and was the Superintendent of the US Military Academy, also known as West Point) or elsewhere (i.e., ISIS destroying ancient statues), the truth is still that – the truth.  In ancient times, if you fell out of favor with the leader of a nation, the punishment was having one’s name stricken from the books – in other words, they erased your name from history, altering the truth.

I understand that we all see life through the prism of our understanding and desires.  However, that does not account for the deliberate actions to alter the truth, whether it is placing a grave marker without interring a body (under a false guise), pulling down statues of heroes / explorers that had a small black mark against huge positive accomplishments or providing altered educational curriculum to unknowing students (i.e., some third world / terrorist countries).  Most important is to keep the truth, “warts and all.” 

We are taught that we should be givers (not takers), to help and educate others, as well as ourselves.  Those that alter the truth either do not have full knowledge (will not put out the effort or the time to learn), uses the opportunity to blame others by recasting the truth and, at the end of the day, uses the opportunity to selfishly manipulate the truth.  While we are all entitled to our opinions, based upon our perceptions of reality, we do not have the right to maliciously recast history in an effort to twist the truth so that it provides a different outcome.  

Monday, August 21, 2017

First Annual Memorial Golf Outing

With the passing of Magda, the thought came up as to what is the best way to remember someone that was special, caring and giving during their life.  What actions can one take to reflect and remember the best of someone, so that a legacy can be created?  It is not easy to memorialize someone, to take some real stand in helping to pass on a legacy that reflects some part, if not all, of his or her life.  At her core, Magda was a caring, giving individual.  Someone had to make a decision, and offered up by our friend, Scott - the decision was given a small test, and the results were special.  Recently, we held the first Annual Magda Memorial Golf Outing, with a donation made to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance in her memory.  This is about Magda, a chance to raise funds then use those funds to give and help others afflicted with the same disease that took her away from us.  Raising the money was the objective; golf was merely the vehicle for that cause.

During the warmer weather, one can drive around and see banners hanging over the street, read in the local papers and sometimes, hear on the radio, events named for people.  These can be nation walks (Relay for Life was started by one person), a local run, or other event.   I always wondered not only who the people were, but also, how the events got started.  Like all successes, it has to start with an idea.  While we all have moments where we are inspired by a mere thought, that moment of clarity is only there for the moment.  In each of the events, in each time greatness was achieved, a germ of a thought had to be at the root.  It was following the idea, putting a course of action together, having a sense of purpose and engaging that has caused the events to become bigger than the original idea.

Most importantly, this is about preserving the memory of someone, where each year, we can share her virtue of giving and helping others.  It is interesting to note that in ancient times, leaders would recast history to meet their needs, project (or remove) a legacy by altering the truth for their own benefits.  Fortunately, and especially in our case, Magda lived a life that was value oriented, and was always true to her beliefs, so we can draw upon the facts of her life.  While there were only a few of us involved this first year, we hope to increase the participation next year; such that in years to come, we can have a positive impact on the field of cancer research to help others so afflicted in Magda’s name.  Though saddened by our loss, it will be exciting to help others...

Monday, August 14, 2017

Big Changes at the Zeiler Household

It is official!  Gab is now an adult!  Gab recently received her certification to teach, and, this week she will officially enter the work force and move out of our humble abode.  Take control, baby!  The girl that wanted to teach and believes that everyone should have a chance to learn music is about to embark on making her “why” into a reality.  On one hand, Debbie and I are excited and happy for this HUGE milestone, and on the other hand, we are sad as this means Gab is truly leaving our little bubble, to venture forth on her own.  Do not get me wrong: This is all good and the proper way of things.

I remember when I first officially joined the work force; I worked locally and was able to live in my parent’s house.  For a brief time, the five of us were living under the same roof, even though we were clearly at different points in our lives (one brother in college and the other in High School).  It was great…OK, it was not ideal.  Truth was, I had changed A LOT in college and came back a different person, had trouble adjusting to moving back home and found myself unable to fit back into the role.  The nice thing, however, about that first couple of months, aside from hanging with my brothers, was that I had money in my pocket that I had earned, to spend how I wanted to spend it.  Being into music, that was where I spent my money.  After a couple of years, I motivated to move out with a friend.  That was exciting!  Now I was able to stretch my wings and learn to live by my rules.  I did not mind stumbling, making those mistakes and learning from them – that is what life is about, and, sometimes, where the best lessons come from.  I still went back to my parent’s house (frequently, at first) for meals, advise and holidays.  But, in growing up, this was a big move in the right direction, because for the first time in my life (I learned), I was responsible for myself.

Recently, I had this dream, where I went to a school to visit Gab.  It was not the University of Hartford, but a school where she was teaching.  I walked through the school looking for her, up one corridor and down another.  Finally, I rounded a corner and there she was!  She asked if I wanted something to drink, I said yes and headed to where I must have passed a cafeteria, because Gab said, “Not that way, that’s the cafeteria, we can get something to drink in the teacher’s lounge.”  Teacher’s lounge?!?  As a kid, I remember the teacher’s lounge as that forbidden place that no student was ever allowed into.  We walked into a room with a few teachers hanging out.  Ring! That was not the school bell, but my alarm that went off at that point and I woke up.  OMG!  A few days later, I received the call from Gab that she got the job she is taking!  You got this, Gab!
Our baby is no longer taking baby steps.  Our baby is perched upon the dividing point in life of having been cared for, looked after and education provided.  The baby steps taken up to this point have been in preparation for the adult steps ahead.  As author Andy Andrews says, “Remember, the goal is not to raise great kids; it's to raise kids who become great adults.”  The adult steps ahead lead to a wonderful future, a chance to provide the opportunity to help others learn, appreciate and enjoy music.  The adult steps ahead lead to a bright future.  While Debbie and I are sad that this point in our lives came SO fast, we are extremely proud parents and excited to watch (and be a part of) Gab’s next journey.  Go Gab!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Our Baby is Growing Up! (Bec’s New Bed)

This is a picture of my very happy daughter.  You see, for 18.5 years, Rebecca has slept in the same bed.  “I can’t believe I am still in my first bed…I’m 20 years old!” she said excitedly as we awaited the delivery of her adult bed.  Yes, Bec has been in the same bed from the day she graduated from the crib.  Now this was not a racing car nor a character bed, but a lofted bed with drawers, storage underneath and white railings so that she would not fall out of bed.  At age 20, it is time to recognize that our baby is no longer a baby and has, in fact, grown into a young adult.

Many years ago, I remember having the conversation with my brothers about how in our minds we had finally become adults, yet when we stepped back into our parent’s house, or moved back in from college, they treated us like kids.  As a child, I was upset that I was not recognized as an adult.  Now, as an adult, at times, I still treat my children…as children.  I understand my parents now, because there is a tendency to treat our children as we always had.  Sometimes it is a conscientious thought process to remind myself that they are grown up.

Because Bec is a young adults, we have to remind ourselves (though it is hard at times) that she is allowed to make her own decisions, which we are happy to be sounding boards for her (same for Gab).  This year, Bec made the decision to move off campus with her friends.  I remember how excited I was when I moved off-campus my senior year with two friends.  We moved in to the third floor over an abandoned store with no one on the second floor.  We had access to the roof to hang out.  It was as you would expect a college room to be, it was a great place to hang out and party in.  Compared to my youngest brother’s off-campus housing, we had a quality place.  His place had a front and back, where the back was condemned and falling over, the paint was peeling off the front the size of bed sheets and the drop ceiling in the kitchen had long ago lost its tiles. 

I think that as a parent, we always will want to protect our offspring.  However, just as we learn that every opportunity is a chance to learn and grow, sometimes failure is a part of that personal development process.  We have given Gab and Bec the tools with which to make thoughtful decisions and we will always be there be help, support, cheer on and provide that shoulder or a hug when needed.  Bec has a reason to be happy – it might be just a new bed, but here’s to the symbol of moving into adulthood and all of the wonderful things ahead!