Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My birthday, and "another journey around the sun complete, another just beginning"

Today is my birthday. In Facebook friends post "happy birthday" and other good wishes on my 'wall'. I take a drink from my water bottle, and I check my iPod Touch to get the latest weather report. Also this morning before I left my place, I was listening to my iTunes, and I checked my cellphone for text messages...

Then I started to think, back in 1989: I was not drinking from water bottles (unless it was from my water canteen when I was camping), I was listening to music via my CD player, and if I wanted the latest weather report, I had to turn on the TV.  And cell phones? Well, since I was not Gordon Gekko (5 points if you know this reference WITHOUT going into Google) I could not afford one and besides, you  might as well carry a 5 pound dumbbell with an antenna. Oh, and on the subject of Google and of course computers, back in 1989 I was happy with (fellow computer geeks listen up) my Laser 128 computer, a clone of the Apple II series, and the internet....well lol


So I started to think about my life back in 1989 since that was the year that I started to discover more about the world, about myself and, I became a college student:


Back in 1989....


I was a college freshman in Puerto Rico. I went to Universidad Interamericana (Inter American University) or how most of us called it: la "Inter".
My college plans: get a degree in Political Science, then Law School....

Some historical events from 1989: the demonstrations by students at Tiananmen Square, the USSR pulls out of Afghanistan, the "Solidarity" movement in Poland is in full force, the beginning of the end of Apartheid in South Africa, the fall of the Berlin Wall...

Some of the music from 1989 I was listening to: "18 and life" by Skid Row, "I'll be there for you" by Bon Jovi, "Janie's got a gun" by Aerosmith, "Patience" by Guns & Roses, "Free Fallin" by Tom Petty, among other songs I liked. (Note: I learned to play "Free Fallin" on the guitar and I remember many nights, hanging out with friends and all of us singing that song to the top of our lungs "....and I am freeeeee.....free fallin'......."  lol)

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Life had a lot of surprises for me. There are too many to list so I will stick to my next time in college,

Back in 1996....


I was a music student in Boston.  I went to Berklee College of Music.
My college plans: get a degree in Film Scoring and/or Music Synthesis, then write/compose music for movies, explore the connection between computers and music...

Some historical events of 1996: Taliban forces capture the city of Kabul in Afghanistan, the 'Mad Cow' disease makes the news in Britain, Boris Yelstin comes to power in Russia, elections in Bosnia...

Some of the music of 1996 I was listening to: "Wonderwall" by Oasis, "Crash into Me" by Dave Matthews Band, "Tonigh, Tonight" by the Smashing Pumpkins, "Change the World" by Eric Clapton, and the 'lost' single "Free as a Bird" by the Beatles, among others (Note: Released by the end of 95/beginning of 96, there were many conversations and debates among many of my friends at Berklee on how "Free as a Bird" was 'rescued' and recorded, mixing an old tape of John Lennon's voice in a way that could work with the voices of Paul and George, was this a "real Beatles" song, etc),

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More and more surprises in my life... definitely too many to list so I stick to my next time in college,

Back in 2008...


I come back to college (again lol) but this time at Purdue University.
My college plans (and still current plans): get a degree in Religious Studies (with studies in Philosophy) and Theology courses thru the Purdue/Notre Dame program, then go to seminary to become an Episcopal priest (an MDiv) or a Theologian (an MTS), or both....

Some historical events of 2008: a man that would have been called a "negro" decades ago in this country becomes president of the United States, Fidel Castro steps down permanently after ruling Cuba since 1959, 400 Buddhist monks participate in a protest in Tibet, Vladimir Putin leaves his post as president of Russia to become prime minister....

Some of the music of 2008 I was listening to: I was not that impressed with the music scene coming out in 2008, instead I was listening to some stuff from a few years before that, like the "American Idiot" album (2004) by Green Day...and as always a lot of Jazz, Rock, and Classical, among some other stuff. Plus, getting books has eclipsed getting music :)

Among my new interests of 2008 and forward: reading books like "The Republic" by Plato, the writings of St. Augustine, theologians like Paul Tillich, Karl Barth, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Clodovis and Leonardo Boff, Hans K√ľng, spiritual thinkers like Thomas Merton, philosophers from Plotinus to Jean-Paul Sartre... Oh, I was introduced to 'improv comedy' at Purdue, and what a great bunch of people! I even took an acting class, and my final scene will stay with me for a long time.

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And now, it is 2011......


No lo puedo creer....unbelievable.  It really is 2011.  As I look back a few things come to mind:

First, I really thought (back 1989) that later in life I would understand everything about women. Because of course as of 2011, I really know EVERYTHING lol.....well, let's just say I am not as clueless as I used to be and, if I have some advice to my fellow college students it is the following: Guys, learn to listen. Do not try to fix her problems every time, just listen. And you don't have to be a big tough guy every day. She will appreciate a bit of silliness...I know someone does ;)

Second, I may actually finish a degree. I am almost there. There were too many times in my life when I thought my life felt like a ship without a compass.  It feels good to have a compass, and not the one from Jack Sparrow. Going back to college was a risky decision for many reasons but I do not regret it one single day. It was one of the best decisions of my life.

Third, I thank God for the role that the Episcopal Church (and the Episcopal Campus Ministry at Chapel of the Good Shepherd at Purdue) has played not only in my life these last few years but also in shaping my ministry. It is this same ministry that has also allowed me to have friends from other Christian denominations. (Part of the title of this blog entry was inspired by a Methodist friend) I also include my Buddhist friends, along with my Pagan friends. Also, the LGTB community and the Non-Theist community at Purdue have not only given me great friends, but also new perspectives regarding life in this planet.

Third, I am thrilled, excited, and happy to see my vocation slowly taking shape.  Not just a vocation that will take me to new places but also one that is full of so many incredible possibilities. Over twenty years ago when I "felt" the call to the ministry I always thought it was funny; images and thoughts of "Father Mario" or "Rev. Mario" made me laugh.  That calling would come, and go, and come back many times through the years, and I always thought "that's not me".  I am happy that I finally stopped one day and asked myself:
"Wait, why is this funny?"

That takes me to number four: possibilities.  I can say from experience that life is full of possibilities. Some come once or twice, some come many times, some come only ONCE.  It is important to be open to possibilities and NEVER say "I can do that later".  You first have to ask yourself:
Why do I want to do this 'later, and 'when' is this 'later' going to be?

My Christian brothers and sisters: you will understand that God will show us many possible paths.  And the path we choose will shape many other paths in our lives and the lives of others in the world.  So what path will you choose?

To my Atheist (and Non-Theist) brothers and sisters: you will understand that the universe is infinite.  With this comes infinite possibilities. This may also affect the lives of your fellow human beings. So I ask you as well, what path will you choose?

I hope we all walk a path of love, of respect, of compassion.

In the last few years my family has truly been a rock to me. Their love, their compassion, their faith, and their sense of humor, without them I simply would have not made it this far. I am truly blessed to have them in my life.

I have so many other things to say on what a friend posted on my Facebook wall as:
"Another journey around the sun complete, another just beginning".

But I will stop for now. And please allow me to say to you:
peace....

Mario
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