I Need your suggestions

Most of what I write is what comes to me to be written. I would love to have you suggest topics. I may or may not be able to develop a page, but I would do my best to find my thoughts on any recommended stuff. Worth asking. Please email your suggestions to: syog@sbcglobal.net.

Summer is here, so we anticipate taking walks in the construction zone near the former Harrah’s Ranch. At one time, it was one of the most beautiful estates in Reno. The senior Harrah built a castle as the family residence and raised exotic (Kobi Beef) on his many acres. Today it is all being turned into a vast number of expensive homes which will all be large inside but no more than 6 feet apart! There will be little room for gardens and yards for outdoor living, but the purchase includes membership in the Castle with a gym, indoor pool, dining room, meeting, and card-playing rooms, etc. 

In past papers, I’ve described where and how we live, and I believe our facility was once a part of the ranch. In any case, we have interesting walking sites and many parks close by. Also, as the trees and gardens grow, our walks will be that much more enjoyable. 

Our love for the outdoors has not diminished because we are old. Still, it’s painful to realize that being in the forest, mountains, and even travel is not ours to do anymore. Yet, we try to get the most out of our walks. 

There’s a lesson here, and I am sure it has to do with me telling you to do it all before you can’t. Don’t wait for a time down the road. Travel now. Taste the good wines and foods, visit historical sites, enjoy family and friends, read a good book, and hold important dialogue now. There is no time like the present. As a matter of fact, the present is all there is.

This day is yours now—It will be gone in a flash–Enjoy each moment.


Why Dialogue is Important to Me

When I write, I write what I feel and think now; as I’ve written in the past, this is nothing more than my opinion. I can not and do not represent anyone else. And, when I write, I hope for your feedback. It tells me a lot if I hear from you. Whether you agree, disagree, are confused, or do not understand, I’d like to know. I value any communication between us in any form. I also realize that listening to and trying to understand another is rarely easy. In fact, too many do not listen, which makes understanding out of the question.

That is why I often write on the subject of Genuine Dialogue. It goes without saying that I think its lack is the root of many relationship problems. For some leaders, communication is often a mere monologue. Conversely, for some followers, not being present when others attempt to communicate is just as problematic. In these circumstances, little or nothing of value can occur between them. What a loss.

My engagement with dialogue began at an early age. After all, what did I have to say as a kid speaking to myself? As I remember, When I was with my family and conversation failed, I hated the arguing. When that happened, I ran to be with my friends, where plain talk was valued.

I knew early on that I preferred the conversational exchanges with my friends. Home was a different story. There, being the fifth in line, I could only observe. Between then and now, I learned that conversation is the best option compared to the other forms of communication. And Genuine Dialogue takes conversation to the next level.

I speak and you hear–You speak and I understand–We get along fine.


My memory bank is still operational and clear, and I continue to make withdrawals. Most of these memories are positive, and I view some of them as crossroads where choices were made. Some were mine, and some were not. Along the way, many events and people played essential roles in the directions my life took.

A brief example: I took and passed a test in high school to be placed in the Navy V5 program, which meant the possibility of being a fighter pilot and 4 years of college. It turned out that I am red/green colorblind, which kept me out of the program, so I joined the Army. My desire to enter the war dictated my actions, so I quit High School and left for basic training. The rest of the story I’ve told.

All humans are subject to the pull and push of life. Some of us are lucky enough to be born and raised where the environment and our parents allow us opportunities galore to be what we choose to be. I grew up during a full-blown depression, living in tight quarters shared with my family. My siblings and I all looked forward to getting out of school, finding a job, and earning enough money to bring home with some left over to spend on small pleasures. The 2nd World War brought an abrupt end to the depression, and opportunities exploded for most of us born in the U.S. Still, I could have been born in a little village in Ukraine—but that’s life and the luck of the draw.

Now, as I age well into the nineties and continue to withdraw from my memory bank, I conclude that I am, and have been, a very lucky pup. I hope you feel this way about yourself.

Memories of past–Some good and some not so good-so life is lived.


More on Memories

Since it appears my memory papers are interesting to my readers, I’ll continue with them. Often I’m unable to sleep because when my memories flood my consciousness, they are so clear that I learn some things that I was unaware of at the time. These recollections are so vivid that I am there for all intents and purposes.

Today, I’m only present. That is, I spend no time worrying about what was and will be. So, when these nocturnal memories occur, I succumb to them as I rest under the covers in our very comfortable bed. These memories take over entirely, and (I think) they appear clear and defined in ways that would have been impossible during the time the event occurred. I think I know why because in those moments, I simultaneously had my hands, feet, and head in so many things that clarity wasn’t possible.

Furthermore, memories of my family and certain others are etched in my bones. My eighteen years with family were a lifetime and did much to shape who I was and who I became. Yet, other events and key players also played an enormous role in my life.

The one year I spent with the three Japanese prisoners of war. The few hours with the captain of our company on Okinawa. The experience of sharing time and dialogue with my excellent Inner Circle and other staff members at my many programs. These and other events, when present as memories I have while trying to sleep, are as sharp as if they had happened only hours ago. Plainly, my mind and memories continue to work well. At my age, I am thankful for this opportunity to take advantage of this mental and emotional gift,

Haiku: Aging is a fact—-Do not run away from it—-Helpless, in any case.

More Memories…

Yes, I had a Japanese family (short-lived) created by war, and I have my real family. We all have that, and probably multiple other families. Only one is of blood, and we are born into it. No choices are given here. All our other families are created by events we may or may not have control over. My experiences in Okinawa were all events I had little influence over. As I’ve recounted in past papers, they were: The capture of the soldiers, the drive to the compound, my being assigned to create an outdoor warehouse, and being able to select a few prisoners to help build and run it. These were all things that came my way. I was simply a pawn on the chessboard of life.

I love my blood family. They individually and together gave me much of who I am even to this day. Yes, eight of us lived in tight quarters. It was the Army that gave me my own bed. Sharing one bathroom/toilet is no small challenge, but we had no choice, and we made it work. Clothes, of course, were handed down and often shared. We discarded nothing.

My mother was “love” itself, and I feel warmth and love when I think of her. She loved to dance, and every Friday evening, she did that at the Odesa Club gatherings where Russian was spoken. She came to the U.S. at 13 from a small village near Odesa, Ukraine. She had 12 brothers and one sister; she slept on the stove in the kitchen as a child. 

 My father was a cabinet maker who learned his trade in another small village near Odesa, Ukraine. They met in the U.S. before the 1st World War. My father labored for the WPA during the depression. He was a silent and very good man who loved my mother and his children.

I cared for them all and became a street fighter responsible for protecting my family and friends. I was cared for as best they could all do. My Japanese family cared for me, my friends cared for me, and my blood family cared for me. It should come as no surprise that I do my best to care for others.

Aging Because that’s What All of Us Are Doing

It is interesting that many of my readers like my papers on aging and want more. In the Senior Village in which I live, I am one of the oldest. The Village doesn’t offer Senior Care, as the facility is really an apartment complex with many resources. There’s a dining room and bar, indoor swimming pool, exercise room and equipment, movie theater, and meeting and game rooms.

It’s not a resort, but like a resort. Our apartment is about 800 sq. ft. with two bedrooms. One of which we use as our office/computer room. Our living room features a big picture window that looks out on the Sierra Mountains and Mt. Rose Ski area. 

All 135 apartments are serviced by maintenance people who fix what needs to be fixed. Also, our apartment is cleaned once a week. We are fortunate to have excellent management and staff who are always there for us if needed. Everything is under one roof— Two buildings connected by an inviting lobby.

The two bedrooms apartments are the most popular. While the Senior Village (Revel) has a large and growing waiting list, a few studios remain available. It has been open for two and a half years, and we were, with about 25 others, the first to move in. By the way, we checked all the other Senior Villages in Reno and concluded this was and is the best.

Singles (primarily women) are the majority; surprisingly, most are from the east coast. They are in Reno because their adult children and grandchildren live here. Wise move.


What Visiting Means to Us

We are not unique when it comes to being with friends and family. We love and enjoy every minute of our time together. While we never know what our conversation will be about, it’s always an excellent dialogue because we are there for each other and fully present. It’s the best.

We know the gift that each visitor is to us. They often bring memories, and we share them with gusto, laughing, and sometimes shedding tears full of gratitude. But sharing brings to the present happenings in the past that we had no idea took place. As guardians, Lenette and I were the envelopes that youth, being what it is and ought to be, pushed, pulled, and manipulated. We hear their stories now and love to listen to them. They broke a few rules and crossed lines. Still, youth needs to be youth; of course, they were. As adults, they all turned out to be our kind of people.

The beauty of these visits is twofold. Reliving stories from our past together and having some serious discussions about the present. And how can these conversations not be serious? Our visitors do not worry about themselves but about their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Nothing about our world is as it was, so reliving the past is a good thing, at least temporarily. Still, few of our visitors live only in their history. We experience them as fully present and very aware of the problems that our nation and world face.

We share it all. As I said above, we share genuine dialogue in the present as we did so often in the past. Being able to experience this is something we all hold on to and value. We all enjoyed the benefits of genuine dialogue at our camps during the 50s, 60s, and 70s and during the workshops we held in organizations throughout the country. Most people do not have this good fortune, but we do and love each moment we are together.


One Page Papers

I enjoy the process of writing one-page papers. The subjects come from you or me, and I allow each word to suggest the next until the thought is developed and a paragraph is achieved.

Being a former storyteller, folksinger, leader of organizations, and student of the world, I still feel like creating. But now, I am a writer of my thoughts and those others suggest. So, feel free to do so.

An example is my recent paper about Beethoven’s 9th. I have loved the classics and opera as far back as I remember, and as I wrote, I owe this to my brother Pete. As an aside, in the fifties, when I picked up 8 to 10 kids at their homes and drove to Malibu Canyon, I would sing and tell the stories of the operas. Yes, and I sang the parts of both the men and the women. I know the kids enjoyed it because they often asked me to repeat my performance.

And life goes on… In the sixties at Camp Shasta, the kids, staff, and I made a deal. From the morning to after lunch, I played recordings of their music on the loudspeakers. In the afternoon, we’d play the classics. The give and take that was camp worked!

Today we live in a world where our camp’s philosophy could not work. Not because learning to live well with others and be responsible for oneself is old-fashioned, but because I believe the concept is too complex and removed from technology, which rules our world for most people today.

Again, I come back to the problem that is one of leadership. By that, I mean leadership that nurtures and seeks to grow those the leaders are responsible for. This has nothing to do with technology but everything to do with “dialogue.” In my world, dialogue is an equalizer.


The Boy in an Old Man’s Body

For some reason (while at the computer), I decided to listen to Beethoven’s 9th. I know this music from early childhood while sitting with my oldest brother, Peter, listening to the classical records he collected. I could have been five or less, but I clearly remember that he wanted me to listen with him whenever he bought a new record. I owe him much for that and more.

Beethoven and classical music, in general, have played a significant role in my life. It began with my brother, Pete, and continued well into my life. Listening today brought tears to our eyes. I write “our” because Lenette heard the music, came into the office, and saw me sitting back and conducting with a pencil. She cried, and I teared up too because this is what I used to do all the time… And life goes on.

I’ve written of the serendipitous moment on Okinawa when I cast a shadow on the tent of our company’s captain. Beethoven’s music drew me from my guard station to listen to a quartet he was playing on a wind-up record player. He, and that moment, contributed to changing the path I was walking—and it was an extraordinary change.

Back to the 9th Symphony. In my opinion, Beethoven wrote this monumental music for the world and not just for the Germanic people. It is literally an “Ode To Man” everywhere. It goes beyond genius in both the music and words. The 9th moves me to tears as it brings to mind the condition of our world today.

I grieve for the young of our world. I feel that technology alone does not hold the answer to what is and what will be. Those of the opposite opinion overlook the importance of dialogue. Are meaningful relationships possible without dialogue? I think not. Any other way of communicating is so much less than dialogue. If that is the case, COMMUNICATION REMAINS THE PROBLEM TO THE ANSWER.


Leadership Under the Scope

Relative to the population, only a small number of people are leaders. These few lead the great majority of people. So, who are these?

Some are entrepreneurs, and those who choose to become an intrapreneur do so for several reasons. One is to make money, and another is to do social good. Some can accomplish both, able to prosper while accomplishing social good. Being independent and self-sufficient must play a big part in committing to this life path.

Yet, entrepreneurs are not our only leaders. Political, military, economic, educational, and other areas spawn leaders. Some lead by virtue of knowledge, experience, and skill. Others lead only for the love and lust of power, regardless of cost. Dictators are an excellent example of this. Welding ultimate power over others might be considered an “aphrodisiac,” and it could be for some of these strongmen. Naturally, most people suffer under this type of leadership, and in the end, it must self-destruct. History tells us this, but in any event, truly great leaders are as rare as diamonds on the street.

As an educator, I chose the social path with hopes of also making a living. Events dictate the direction of our lives to all of us. Still, whether we let them push or pull us depends entirely on our being present and open to the event, opportunity, or challenge, as the case may be. Speaking for myself, I have been tossed, pushed, and pulled by numerous events that did change my life. I allowed circumstances to dictate my paths relative to what I was becoming at the time. Being a leader was not a conscious calling, but it was what I ultimately needed to become.

Leaders, few can be—Love of power not the way—Dialogue is key.