Kleshas and Tanhas

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Posts Tagged ‘family

When the Cloud Bursts

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I realized there’s no reason for me to live on the East Coast after my Winter Break. If my interests alone could determine where I’d reside, I would be somewhere along the Pacific Ocean. Yet, as I drank in the 70 degree weather on New Year’s Day, I felt a pull back home. Home exists somewhere between Virginia and Pennsylvania. If our personal entities could be categorized into body, heart, soul, and mind, college has easily captured my mind and body. Heart seems like it will always reside with my family. And soul; I could not figure out where my soul was when I looked out over the ocean as the sun set.

I had an unexpected encounter in the West with something I have placed into my mind and heart; the homeless. It’s quite a luxury when you can devote certain energies to different activities in your life. I hadn’t realized that I assumed my vacation would lead me away from any scenarios that seemed to exist in my college life. My college life, as I said, consists of my mind and body. Through community service, heart finds its way into my personhood. Apparently heart has also found a way out of it as well. Via selfishness.

The several-hour plane ride to vacation-land is boring. Why? Well, our minds are not entertained as thoroughly as we please. And in this momentary lapse of our mind’s functioning, we lose any responsibilities we had hoped to rid as we embarked on our self-indulgent vacation. The jetlag -an indicator of how far you’re willing to escape your duties- dulls us to the point where on entering the new airport, we encounter a sense of adventure. Even among all the pavement, architecture, and pre-existing community, we prepare ourselves to conquer our novel surroundings.


Immediately after exam week, I found myself in San Diego as if my work had earned me the right to kick back and relax. And kick back and relax I did; even to the point where I found other people making decisions for me –an oddity for the college student!


The sun sets on the West Coast with the same color I witness on the East.

As if I knew something about the homeless, I noticed that San Diego’s distinguishing characteristic was that its homeless were pushed to the water. My dream home would exist on the beach, so why not California? And as I jocularly thought where I’d place my million dollar home, I stumbled upon the homeless. I hate to admit it, but my first (internal) reaction was, “What? I thought I left this back home!”


Maybe Philadelphia does a better job of keeping its scenic sights (limited in comparison to San Diego’s –the Pacific is a winner take all!) free from the reach of the homeless. But as soon as I saw rag-tagged camouflage and trash bags, my vacation-illusion snapped. As I handed loose change from my pocket to distanced eyes, Philadelphia flooded my soul.


Mercy Neighborhood Ministries

To and from Mercy Neighborhood Ministries I encounter some display of economic evolution. Where do the employees of $7.25 and welfare checks live? When I saw an individual pushing a shopping cart, my soul took me back to the West; my mind painted a beautiful image of the beach; my heart felt the familiarity of my family; my body warmed by the omnipresent, perfect sun.


When I recognized the familiar faces as I walked through MNM’s doors, I experienced the same inner tumult from having my vacation-cloud burst. No one here had a vacation. The employees of MNM sure as hell worked hard for a well-deserved vacation. Where did they take it? What kept me from falling into a state of complete guilt were the new faces. That’s where my soul is. The potential. The growth. New faces meant new relationships, new stories. I found myself playing the same Rummy card game from San Diego with Mr. Lee. I still lose, whether I am playing on the East or West Coast.


Written by Jack Viere

January 29, 2012 at 2:45 pm

A Lesson in Thanksgiving

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Clouds are gathering as the sky turns grey. There’s a storm arising. Dukes, princesses, lords and ladies join in the King’s Great Hall. Queen Barbara announces the festivities for the next Holy Day from her throne. The fire crackles with Let’s Make a Deal, hosted by Wayne Brady. The jousting would interfere with the archery contest. So Queen Barbara puts it to her court: “Do we celebrate the feast on Tuesday as initially planned, or

Wednesday, a more convenient time for Lady Caroline?” Lightning crashes heavily outside the windowpane. The wind howls menacingly. Lady Gladys speaks: “Wednesday would be fine.” The hall goes silent; her words echoing off the high rafters. I, as Jack the Jester, am at a loss of words to make light of what she just said. Tuesday was the originally set date; the distance between the dukedoms and earldoms are too far away for such a sudden change in plans to take smoothly. “But my son, the Prince of SomewherenotPhiladelphia is coming for Tuesday!” says Princessa de le Philadelphia Nord. Hell is in the air; it has seeped through the castle’s foundations. We are on the brink of an outbreak of total war.


Don’t EVER screw with the elderly’s schedule! I have learned that lesson from waiting tables for an older patronage. This past week at Mercy Neighborhood Ministries, I relived the reasons why you do not upset their calendar. Aye, the lords and ladies are typically more irritated by change as social conventions and stereotypes suggest. But when more fairly judged, I came to realize that many of these folks do not have their own means of transportation to get to and from MNM. Quite a few of them are rolled in on palanquins carried by loyal knights. Arriving from all parts of Ciudad Philadelphia, some of the lords and ladies come from their own manors while others come from townships (nursing homes) where there exists an even more regimented schedule.

Jack the Jester might not have his own mount, but he does have his own two feet and an abled body. What is something to be thankful for this holiday? Freedom! Maybe not so much in the William Wallace sense, but more along the lines of just being able to walk where I want when I want to. Incredibly simplified, yes, but you cannot access everywhere in a wheeled (palanquin) chair, especially in Philadelphia. Even if the most abled-body knight were to attempt traversing le vias and les rues of the city, he would not make it far in the cobblestone streets. So that would be number one on the list for what I am thankful for this upcoming holiday, the freedom of mobility that my body gives.

Two would be the freedom from a regimented schedule I had no control over. Aye, Jack the Jester attends classes at set time intervals, yet Jack the Jester is trying to learn a more profitable trade to earn a more decent living. Though a fool, he understands well enough that education is his only shot of making it in the feudal world of the 21st century. I make the conscientious effort every day to work on a little something Jack the Jester calls self-improvement. While the lords and ladies of MNM have the wonderful opportunity to also partake in this self-improvement in the Great Hall, I couldn’t say what their home and other activities would have to offer. Maybe they do return to Mansfield Park. Maybe they don’t. But if they don’t have any means of transportation, save for the wheeled palanquins, I can’t reckon they get around to as many things as they would like to. Number two on the list for what I am thankful for this Thanksgiving is the array of choices I have been given.

Jack the Jester


While the two blessings above seem to derive from me contrasting my haves to their have-nots, everyone can be thankful for family. Broken families, divided families, whole families, young families-all families. While I could say that my number three was family, (which I am most-definitely grateful for!) would have no direct correlation to my experiences at MNM. What I have witnessed there is they joy on Princess Virginia’s face when her daughter and granddaughter walk into the Great Hall. It has been said one can see people’s face light up when they’re ecstatic. I’ve seen more than that when family members visit the earls and duchesses at MNM. In Princess Virginia’s case, her face not only glows, her speech becomes angelic. (She, I have guessed, has suffered from a stroke and can communicate through atypical sounds.) While she can sound happy when my service learning partner suggests Philadelphia as a state in a game of listing states and their capitals, that happiness doesn’t even fall on the chart of her joy when her offspring waltzed in unexpectedly. So, my third truth to be thankful for this week is that everyone comes from somewhere; a mother and a father. While the list of complications and issues between family members that I listed above differs for each family, people don’t spring out of holes in the ground!

Origins? of a Normal? Family

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Where does the modern family come from?

I was reading a ping-pong table of statistics in The Way We Wish We Were by Stephanie Coontz. You couldn’t make heads or tails of the numbers that seemingly bounced both ways. Consequently, the essay portrayed the weakness of statistics: they can be manipulated. Pretty easily, actually.

“For example, the proportion of youngsters receiving psychological assistance rose by 80 percent between 1981 and 1988. Does that mean they are getting more sick or receiving more help, or is it some complex combination of the two?” (Coontz.)

Raising an interesting point, I think Coontz did not look far enough back into history in the earlier part of her report. She used the colonial period as the furthest reference back in time. I found this inadequate. Her argument revolved around the fact that lifestyles in the 1950s and 60s did not exist as popular TV shows from that time period suggested. Another decent point made: TV is an inaccurate portrayal of reality. Yet, the other seventeen centuries of the modern era that Coontz forgot to mention (she only used 18-20!) hold some interesting facts; particularly the first century!

There does in fact exist an irony between shows like Leave it to Beaver and The Andy Griffith and the real world hardships in which they aired like the Korean War, the Civil Rights Movement, and the likes. Entertainment feeds off the high lights of life. They bring out the best of people and try to depict a positive image for society to adopt and follow (religiously.)

Gaius Octavian Caesar. Augustus. That’s going back. Quick Roman history lesson. He tried to reinstate marriage laws for citizens. Previously, within Roman society, it was popular for the periodic divorce and remarry cycle to carry out for the sake of gaining power. During his reign, and leading up to it, there was a shortage of marriages among the highest social circles. The image of the young girl being married off to the old man is what were looking at. Adultery was common. Remarriage to these younger females sometimes was a result.

So, to fix the assortment of problems listed above, he made certain laws such as ius trium liberorum (right of three children) that heavily influenced men and women to marry and procreate. There was the incentive of money and tax breaks (of sorts) for those that gave birth to future prospects for public office.

Basically, my argument is that this one man took up the responsibility of forming the glue that holds together what we dub today as the “nuclear family” of the 50s and 60s.

But like the irony with the Beaver and its debut, so too was Octavian’s family. I mean, we are talking about some cousins marrying cousins, affairs, whoring-the works. But, then again, maybe the 50s and 60s (in reality) wasn’t much different. Who am I to judge?

Stepsons, fathers, etc. The woman is Octavian’s wife believe it or not. The angry man is one of the power hungry children that was born of Octavian’s wife through another marriage. The two children in question in Octavian’s (Augustus’) will are Germanicus and Postemus. Neither of them end up succeeding Augustus due to the convenience of murder!

Written by Jack Viere

November 14, 2011 at 4:58 pm