Tick – Tock

As humans, it’s found deep inside us: the need of possession. We need stuff, a lot of them, to make us happy, and we want the stuff to be ours, now, if possible.

We first want toys, later better clothes, gadgets, a car, a house, money to gives us freedom to do what makes us happy, travel. We believe material goods will gives us the freedom, and we are willing to do whatever it takes to get just the right amount of money.

But when do we reach the right amount? The more we have, the more we spend, the more money we need. It’s a vicious circle, in which we get stuck at a very early age, and which doesn’t leave us that easily. We invest every little time we have, and energy, to get the money to push us forward in this circle.

“People were created to be loved, things were created to be used; the reason why the world is in chaos right now is because things are being loved, and people are being used.”

We constantly dream about what would life look like if we had just one more thing. We put our happiness into that material good which is still missing. We work to have it, and when we finally do, we move on to the next one. Basically, we’re never done. We’re never happy with what we have, but we’re always thinking about what we’re missing.

Ever since we get our first job, our view of possessions changes. We dream bigger, and we constantly want more possessions, more expensive, to show off with, and to prove to the world that we’re doing great, and we have a perfect life.

We get into a competition with everyone around us, for the title of: “perfect life“. That perfect life is judged by the type of phone you have, the clothing store you shop at, the size of your car and the brand, the type of house you own, and how many, the type of furniture you have, and so on. We become a walking price tag, in a crazy society, and we must be better than the others.

Possessions give us a certain status. By a crazy thinking process, we become better humans. We’re better than the others, because we have more money, which can buy us more stuff. We feel superior, because we have access to things others don’t. And we love our things. We love our things so much that we end up judging people on what they own, and choose our friends depending on the financial aspect of their lives.

Life turns slowly into a race to the finish line. We race into making more money, buying more stuff, and we end up with a full house, and an empty home. We fight to “be better than others”, not realizing that the only person we should be better than, is the person we were yesterday.

Money doesn’t makes us better than others. Money can buy us more things, but it will never buy us the most important ones. No amount of money will change a darkened soul and a bad attitude towards others. And still, we believe money does that. We believe money makes us stronger and immortal. Well, that’s just not true.

We waste our lives making more money so we have have more stuff, just to realize time flied by us, we’re old, we missed on actually living, just to win the race against others. But did we win anything? We gained materially, while we lost spiritually. We lost our more important possession ever: TIME. Tick-Tock!

“The trouble is, you think you have time.” – Buddha

What does having a job actually means? We get paid, for our work right? Wrong. We get paid for the time we give away. We receive money, for the number of hours per month, we lose. They’re gone, and you can never get them back, no matter how many possessions you gather on the way.

The older we get, the more we realize the value of time, and the more we regret on wasting it on the wrong things. Life is too short to be stuck in any situation which doesn’t make you happy. We believe money gives us freedom, when actually, it just takes it away. We want to work now, save some money, so we can enjoy life later. What if later doesn’t come?

I recently found out about a tragic story of a person who worked his entire life, and retired 2 weeks ago, with the wild dream of finally cycling, travelling and enjoying life, as he didn’t had the time to do so, while he had a job. Later didn’t happen. Later was taken away from him, when a heart attack put an end to all the dreams…

Trading time for money, might leave you with no more time to spend the money. We weren’t born just to work, earn money, and die.

Even if it might look like time is free, time is actually priceless. There’s probably one of the only things in life, we just can’t get back, regardless of how much money we have and what we own. Time is constant. Time doesn’t go slower for anyone. Time is unmerciful. Time doesn’t care. You either value it, or you will learn its value when it’s too late.

“If you don’t master your time, it is of much higher probability that you will become an unconscious slave to people who have mastered theirs.” – Brandon A.

Time is the best teacher, but we’re very bad students, and sometimes learn the lesson when we run out of time. We waste time on living in the past or worrying about tomorrow, while forgetting to live today. Today is all we have. Yesterday is gone, and tomorrow is never promised.

Life is all about finding that perfect balance. Life is about learning that we pay with our time for everything. Money is just a human invention, time is the real currency, and you can never alter the account in your favor.

Remember, you were born for great things. Don’t let your time be taken away from you. You’re never really busy, it’s all a matter of choice. Choose wisely when you give your time away! Tick-Tock!

“One day you will hear the sound of time rustling as it slips through your fingers like sand.” ― Sergei Lukyanenko


If you enjoyed this post, you should Follow Me On Twitter twitter-follow-button and Like My Page on Facebook Like_Me_Facebook_buttonfor more updates.

Eastern vs Western Europe – The Equality Inequality

You might believe the entire European space is pretty much similar, and all countries are equal in rights and obligations, but this is just not true. Spending a longer period of time in both the Eastern and the Western part of Europe, the differences become more and more obvious. Even if the imaginary borders are dimmed by the existence of the EU, it’s interesting to see how distinct the two geographical areas are.

Cultural variety is always welcomed in any community, but when the differences make it all the way into every detail of the life of an individual, I can’t help but wonder why there’s such a huge gap in the quality of life, in two countries separated by only a few thousands of km.

Communism, which was strongly present in Eastern Europe pushed the development of the countries from the former communist block further back, with quite a high number of years, but the differences aren’t limited only to development, but they go much further than this.

Food Quality 

I know it’s said that Romanian dishes are absolutely amazing, tasty and people come back from all over the world, just to taste more, but what I mean by quality, is the quality of the products which make it in the supermarkets and are available to a large number of the country’s population. This aspect you don’t really notice on a short trip to the other corner of the continent, but only after you live there for a while, and you are faced with a few serious shopping and cooking sessions.

In the west, with the presence of so many food safety associations which actually do a good job at monitoring the market, every fruit and vegetable has a very beautiful smell, the colors and alive, and the taste is right as it should be. The supermarkets can’t allow bad looking or expired products to make it on the shelves, and every such product, in case it makes a person sick, can turn into a serious lawsuit, and a drop into reputation, which is not that easy to recover from. The salami is made out of actual meat, the meat in the stores looks healthy and colored, and the cheese goodies smell delicious, and look like they are made in accordance with the right procedures. Besides, the butter won’t go bad in a few days, even if kept outside, like I was used to and the chocolate with milk, does taste like milk, and no extra sugar is added on top of what’s needed, in order to distract from the real taste.

In the east, most of the time, the fruits and vegetables and not ripe enough, or are well passed their best by date, but are still kept on the shelves (after the date is illegally changed), and you can see flies having a party in the middle of the supermarket, especially during very warm summers. The color is faded, the taste is not present, and the smell is nowhere to be found. Sometimes you can’t even tell the difference between cucumbers, tomatoes and pears. Also, buying fruits and vegetable with fungi is quite common, but because the food safety associations are not present or way too corrupt, such products stay legally on the shelves.The salami is 3/4 fat and other animal remains, and only 1/4 meat, and the meat looks quite suspicious and sick. Even if you want to pay more for a good product, you can’t find any type of cheese which isn’t processed and processed again, and processed again, until you are left with a white ‘sort of cheesy’ block.

Bad quality products combined with low wages means access to a limited amount of vitamins and minerals, and a very poor, heavy diet, which leads to medical issues. And you wonder why you still get sick, even if you have a balanced diet, exercise, and you do all the right things. What you buy simply doesn’t have the right properties, in order to keep your body healthy. And when you get sick, you face an even bigger issue.

Medical Treatments – Inefficient Medication

It happened to me quite a few times so far, to get sick during my travels, and I must say this is quite a serious issue, if it happens in the wrong location. Buying medication which doesn’t work, is quite common for the east. You go to the doctor/pharmacy, they prescribe a bunch of pills, you take them for days/weeks on end, and you barely recover, slowly. Every now and then a new very powerful medicine comes on the market, which gets you well in a few days, and causes cancer, if used long term. Eh?! But, yet again, if you did this all your life, then it seems quite normal.

Getting sick in the west, means buying the medicine, taking 3-4 pills, and you feel like a new person. Wow, they actually work!? The same medication looks different in the west, than it does in the east, even if it’s the same brand, and the ones you buy in the west actually do what they are intended to do.

If you get really sick, there’s no worse place to be than in the East, as besides not getting access to the right medication, you might not get access to any treatment at all, as the hospitals don’t have pills or basic hygiene supplies (they often send the patients to go buy them themselves – quite useful when you can’t get out of the hospital bed), and the best doctors already left for the west, looking for better paid jobs.

Infrastructure 

For a traveler, this is quite an obvious deciding factor when it comes to the level of development of a country. Better roads (highways) and public transportation means better access to all locations of the country, better people flow, which leads to the workflow moving where the jobs are. The better the access, the better the development, as even the less developed areas improve gradually.

Driving around Europe, I must say, you can travel everywhere from everywhere in about 1 day, up to the border with the east, where only one country, from one end to the other, takes you just as much as the rest of the continent took you.

Poor road quality and the absence of highways dictates the access of the population to a better paid job, or to a job at all. As in Romania, even a 30 km distance from the towns around the capital, is too much to do, by public transportation (which sometimes works, and sometimes it doesn’t, because of personal reasons of the company’s owner, or legal issues, when they get caught by the police, operating the cars without licences) development outside the big cities is slow, if present at all.

Poor roads means less tourists, and less investments from abroad. Less contact with the outside, means the mentality stays the same, the education level doesn’t improve, the financial situation doesn’t get any better. And this reflects into everything, especially traffic. Compared to the west, in the east the traffic changes dramatically, and frustration, selfishness and carelessness takes over, turning the roads into a constant circus performance. For a driver, going from west to east, it can become very confusing, and your civilized driving style changes, when you’re constantly bombarded with stressful and absurd situations on the road.

Financial Situation – The Deciding Factor?

And, it all comes down to money. Again. You are poor, you can’t compete with the west, so you can’t expect better from the food you eat or the treatment you take. So you get the remainders from the richest countries in the EU.

Worse part is that living in the same location for too long, you begin to feel that’s normal, and you can’t understand that there’s actually something very wrong with the picture described above. Even if local smaller producers sell better quality products, not everyone has access or the financial power to actually buy those products. So they settle for what’s available in the supermarkets… In the end, if you can’t afford better, you can’t sue them either, right?

Companies, legally, are under no obligation to market an identical product under the same brand, in the European space, which means that the newcomers into the EU, receive the lower quality products.

You might believe this is all, but no. Bad financial situation means less access to education and medical care, less education and treatment means no chance at improving the current condition. Not improving the condition, means the mentality of the people won’t change, the stress level won’t reduce, and the society won’t evolve. And it only gets worse, for countries which are already behind in terms of medical care, education, infrastructure.

Being poor is a state of mind, and is constantly fed by the environment and the society. Not fighting for better, not making the right investments, not caring for own health, not being united as a community, brings down the quality of life, and the hope of it ever improving.


If you enjoyed this post, you should Follow Me On Twitter twitter-follow-button and Like My Page on Facebook Like_Me_Facebook_buttonfor more updates.

 

Life After Death – Influencing the Journey?

I realize this is a very delicate subject for most of us. We all lost someone close to us, or we know someone affected by the loss of someone dear to them. After getting a bit older, witnessing more and more funeral rituals becomes part of everyone’s life. For me, a few questions came to my mind, and as the last hours spent with the deceased are so important for the last goodbye and their ‘journey’ to eternity, leaving those without an answer seems very much wrong.

After my family was affected, a few weeks ago, by the loss of a relative, a whole war started in the family about what needs to be done in order for the soul of the dead person to reach heaven or wherever it’s supposed to go. Sure, everyone has an opinion, and apparently if you don’t follow theirs, something bad will happen to your deceased loved one (something bad kind of already happened, by the way).

Considering that the practice varies from country to country, and even worse, from one area of the country to the other, I can’t help but wonder: WHO got it right? If what we do after their moment of death, matters so much, and we are going to influence in a negative or positive way their journey to eternity, then what is the right thing to do? What if a different culture got it right and we didn’t? What if the funeral practices from one area of the country are right, the rest are wrong, and only the souls of those people will reach eternity, leaving the rest of us out? Oops …

I’ll give you a closer look to a few such rules which need to be followed in Romania, that I am aware of (many more are out there, but I’ll point only to a few), which are meant to guarantee a spot on the best possible cloud in the sky.

So … someone dies. For me, that’s it. Game over. Sorry, but whatever you do afterwards won’t change a thing for the one who sadly past away. However, most will disagree with me. And this is why, when someone dies, you have to cover the mirrors in the house, kick the pets out as they are not allowed to go under the table, give away food (to feed the soul up to 7 years after their death), plates, cups, clothes (to wear on the other side), cutlery, money (they need to pay some sort of bridge tax to cross to heaven), towels, cloths, shoes, pay priests to say prayers (the prayer is more like a reminder that the person died – yes I can see that myself), light candles (they don’t have any light unless you do this – is heaven in the basement or something?), place certain objects in the coffin, for the journey to the after life (if they don’t have those objects, they can’t cross into eternity), and also cook a specific type of food and bread, which are also extremely important for some reason I can’t recall right now.

Even more, you have to do the ‘give away’ ceremony every other 3 days after their death, until the 40th day, from where you start counting every 3 months or so, not including holidays like ‘the day of the death’ when you have to give food again to the ‘dead’ unless you want them to wait at the gates of heaven and starve, while other souls eat. These mind games played so well by the church and the elderly of the society puts the family of the deceased in a lot of financial and emotional distress, for the next 7 years after the death of the relative. And you just have to do it, unless … consequences!

Now, let’s pretend I believe all this. But, from what it’s known, isn’t heaven that place where you let go of your body presence, and you become a beautiful bright light, shining gorgeously while sitting next to god? And all the pain and sorrow goes away, and you spend a beautiful eternity in your best shape possible? Then why all the rituals above? How are you going to use plates and cups, and eat the food, if you have no hands or stomach? Also, use the clothes to dress … which body?

tom-cheney-two-d1Basically, from what I can tell, you only get to heaven if you have relatives to take care of everything for you. What if they don’t? What if you have no one left alive to do this for you? What if they can’t find your body anymore, like it often happens after a natural catastrophe? What if you die in the war? What if you simply can’t afford it ( a real problem for most people in my country)??? And the ‘what if’ list goes on and on. You know in what all of this is translates? MONEY. Yes, the rich ones go to heaven, the rest … oh well, bad luck. Maybe next time. Not even the after life isn’t fair, huh?

Now, that we clarified how the situation looks like in Romania, let’s take a look at a few more cultures from around the world, and see what they believe is to be done right, when a love one dies:

Famadihana

Malagasy people of Madagascar practice Famadihana (turning of the bones), a ceremony which consists in digging the bodies of their ancestors from the family crypts, rewrap them in fresh cloth, than dance with the corpses around the tomb to live music, as a way to remember their dead loved ones. After a short ‘fun’ trip around the village, they bury them again, until next time.

Philippine traditions

The Benguet blindfold their dead while the Tinguian dress the bodies in their best clothes, and place them next to the main entrance of the house with a lit cigarette in their lips. The Caviteño, bury their dead in a hollowed-out tree trunk and the Apayo, bury their dead under the kitchen.

Sky Burial 

Or dissection, is a funerary practice in the Chinese provinces of Tibet, Qinghai, and Inner Mongolia. The human corpse is cut into small pieces and placed on a mountaintop, exposed to animals, especially predatory birds, which help dispose the remains. They believed that there is no need to preserve the empty body so they allow nature to use what it can take.

Hindu funerals

A lamp is placed by the head of the body, rice balls are placed in the coffin, and a necklace and garlands of flowers are placed around the person’s neck, before cremation, as it is believed that this will help their soul to escape quickly from the body. Afterwards, the ashes of the deceased are sprinkled on water of Ganges. If the deceased one is a child or pregnant women, they just throw the body in the water, and let it flow into eternity, as they are pure.

Coffin hanging 

This ancient ritual involved the displaying of coffins on high cliffs, believing that coffins need to be close to the sky so that the dead can be closer to heaven, leaving ghosts and spirits free to roam around the hills and rocks.

Strangulation

The funeral ceremony taking place in the South Pacific Island of Fiji, based on the ancient ritual of Sati, involves killing of the dear ones of the deceased as they should not be left alone in the other world, making the process of death less painful.

Again, these are only a few examples of other rituals which need to be followed in order for the dead one to reach eternity. The question of who got it right is still out there.

What makes us think, as a society united by the phenomena of death, that we are better than other societies and our actions taken after someone’s death will guarantee OUR dead loved one a spot in heaven, while others will be left out? What about the other cultures from all around the world? What if dancing with the death or hanging the coffins on a mountain top is what does the trick, and we’re doing it wrong?

The priests love to make us believe their way is the way. If you don’t pass the ‘church inspection’ on the way to heaven, you can’t get there (and yes, you only have to pay your way out of the land of the living). And we pay … And we do what we’re being told. In the end, the church is the most booming business in Romania. In a society where the elderly hold on with their teeth to religion, in order to get to eternity, how can it not be a good business? Tax on pain is quite high, and if people are trained to follow blindly what they say, why not?

Personally, I believe the rituals have little to no influence at all on the journey to eternity. We don’t do them for the one who passed away, but for the people left behind by the deceased. We do them all for ourselves, in order to bring peace to our hearts and fill the empty space left by the death of someone we love.

For the deceased, it makes no difference if you give them food and clothes, dance with them, or feed them to the birds, while they are not with us anymore. It seems like we are holding on to their death, by buying things as they would still be alive, in order to keep their presence in our lives. But what we miss seeing is that no ceremony will ever bring them back, and no ritual will matter, if the generosity and love wasn’t shown when our relative/friend was still alive.

A person we love will always be with us, in our hearts and minds, no further ceremonies needed. We don’t simply forget someone who was an important part of our lives; we just continue our lives, and take them with us everywhere, in our memories and hearts.

The Thank You Letter

Some of us are used with taking it all for granted. The house we live in, the water that comes out of the faucet, the car we start in the morning, the food we have on the table, the electricity which powers every device in our home, and the list goes on and on.

But, have you ever looked around you and realized the work others put into building everything and keeping it all going on a daily basis? Have you ever considered the very fragile balance of the nature which allows us to live the life we live today?

The world around us moves because all of us make it that way, on a daily basis. It’s like a huge machine, and every little turning wheel must work in sync with the others. And you are also part of this, a very important piece of the entire system, and you contribute every day, to make it all grow. You, are another turning wheel, and without you, the closest wheels will slow down.

Take a few minutes and become aware about your surroundings and the actions you perform on a daily basis. How many people contribute in order to get you going, and maintain the balance in your life? And please consider not only the people, but also the cosmic balance. Do you realize how lucky we are to live on a planet situated so perfectly on a orbit around the sun, that actually allowed life to evolve? If this balance is lost, the Earth can become the next Mars or Mercury.

Civilization as we know is possible thanks to the research, effort and dedication of some brilliant people in our history, and to the people who took those inventions and brought them closer to our home. Life as we know it today, started when some key inventions were put into practice.

The sewage system is probably one of the largest steps in reduction of disease and improving the quality of life. Removing human waste from the city is what took Roman Empire to the next level, by stopping disease spreading, and is what keeps your city nice and clean as well. Whenever you flush or open the tab, remember the system requires constant maintenance work, so someone is cleaning the pipes for you.

Life expectancy went up thanks to the evolution of medicine. So many researchers dedicated their entire life to finding cure for diseases, or inventing devices which will increase your recovery chances, in case it’s ever needed. Doctors spend their entire life continuously studying and are ready to attend your health state at any given moment of the day or night.

Living in a civilized world means you open your fridge door and food is there waiting for your, after you finished your weekly shopping session at the local supermarket. Or maybe you don’t bother with cooking, and you eat at your favorite restaurant. Take a moment and think about how much work is put into getting the food there, for us. Bringing water where is needed, and removing the waste, made agriculture possible. We all have easy access to food thanks to the farmers who dedicate their life to caring for the crops, and the truck drivers who deliver the food, cross country or continent, where is required. This wouldn’t be possible without oil, and mechanization. Have you ever wondered how dependent our society is on oil? It keeps us going, day by day!

All these efforts would be in wane if we wouldn’t have power lines. It’s impressive how much constant work is put into an electricity plant. Think about it, just to power it, we need either coal, gas, oil or nuclear power. Without a constant supply of these resources, making electricity simply wouldn’t happen. What would you do with an unplugged fridge and a disconnected stove. Not much, right? We pushed ourselves, as a society, to the limit of what we can do without electricity. If we don’t have power, there is no working sewage, food, medical aid. Basically, our world stops. When you switch on the lights next time, remember how many people maintain the power lines, so your home is powered and heated.

We love our freedom and we can’t wait to travel more, but would we be able to see the world without roads and means of transportation? The invention of the wheel and later, of the engine, made our world go round. We can transport our food, visit places, relocate,  thanks to all the researchers who invest so much energy into making us mobile and safe.

We went places, but would we have a home to come back to, if not for all the construction workers, and the dedicated people who work on quarries, to extract the building materials needed for our hoses and buildings? What about the metal and wood workers? Without them, we wouldn’t have any tools, and without tools, construction and invention would be slowed down, or even impossible. Our buildings wouldn’t look at all the way the look today, if not for all their work, right?

At the base of any civilized society are rules and safety. People like policemen and firefighters, have more than a job, what they do is a lifestyle. They keeps us safe. Most of the job they do, is done behind the scenes. You don’t even know they are there, but they keep society in order.

choose-wisely

The ones above are only a small example. Just think about it. Everything you use was made by someone and it still runs because someone puts a constant effort into keeping it going. Every device and appliance was made after years of research and trials and needs electricity / gas / water to run. Without a constant background effort from others, life as you know it, wouldn’t be possible.

Considering this, take a few moments and be thankful for the lifestyle made possible, thanks to the effort of so many.The question is: how do you contribute to other people’s lives? If more people would ask themselves this question, life would become so much better for everyone.

Remember, you are also a small turning wheel. Your actions do matter. Choose wisely!