Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta numbers. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta numbers. Mostrar todas las entradas

martes, 26 de abril de 2016


   The water felt really nice, wrapping his body in a very warm and soft cocoon as he went from one side to the other of the pool. Jim had always put aside a couple of hours of his schedule to swim because he enjoyed it a it relaxed him. He didn’t like to have massages or go to the sauna or things like that. Only the water was good enough for him. If he was visiting a place by the sea, the first thing he did was checking out the beach and swimming a bit. He preferred swimming pools, because of the lack of sand; he didn’t mind seawater from time to time. He found it to be a little more challenging but fun too.

 Jim had learned to swim from a very young age and had developed a very healthy relationship with water. Whereas many kids his age were scared of water, he had always loved it. He never forgot to ask if a party in some friend’s house involved a swimming pool and he made sure his mom always double-checked. Only once he went to a party with a pool and had to sit b the side and se everyone have fun and not him. So from then on he was always prepared.

 As a man who worked in the stock exchange, many people thought he would always go to the gym or do more intense exercising. But he only loved swimming and that’s how he maintained a nice body and a healthy lifestyle. He ate well. No diets or anything but just very balanced and swam every single day without fail.

 One day, his daily routine was stopped by a car crash. He always drove the same route to get to the gym to swim and it made him insane that the traffic was so heavy that he didn’t move art all for thirty minutes. Eventually, he arrived late to the gym but used the two hours anyway, without really thinking about how that changed his whole schedule. As he did his exercise at night, right after work, it meant that he would have dinner two hours later and that he would check his emails later too and sleep less than normal.

 But he didn’t care or maybe he didn’t noticed. He got to the gym and used the pool and when he was out, he was surprised to see the place was deserted. Only a couple of cars were left with his in the parking lot and when he got home it was almost midnight. He had some salad that he always bought premade, with lots of vegetables and stuff. It was a bad call because the aching muscles because of he swimming got combined with an aching stomach that found hard to digest some veggies at that time of day, with no energy left.

 He checked his emails like at two in the morning and there were many. He only got to reading about ten and answering even less than that. He was tired and he fell asleep in his couch.

 The next day, he was very late for work. He showered for only a couple of minutes; instead of the ten minutes he normally took for that. He also put on clothes that didn’t really look that good, which was strange because he had always been the kind of guy to pay attention to detail. But he was so tired he could barely see what he was putting on his body. The worst part was when he remembered, once at work, that it was a day filled with meetings with many people from different companies. The good thing was that the meeting took place at work but he wasn’t prepared at all for them.

 His coworker Julia had to step in quite often to correct number he was saying or to clarify things that were confusing because of the yawning. Every single group of every company could see that Jim was not in his best shape and moment. He hadn’t really shaved and he had quite a shadow, which made him look careless. His clothing, including two socks of different color and a pair of shoes that didn’t match anything, did not help his case either.

 Yet, he attended to the meetings all morning until lunchtime. Normally, he used to go to a very nice vegetarian restaurant that was close by. They had a really great variety of food for people that didn’t ate red meat or any kind of meat. But Jim was so tired that, when he went to his office to grab his jacket, he fell asleep on the desk and was only woken up by Julia, two hours later, telling him she had to attend to the first meeting of the afternoon.

 The rest of the day was even worse for him. He couldn’t really get the numbers and the names rights, he confused one company with the other and yawned almost with everything he said. He eyes looked terrible and so id his hair and everyone could see it. The thing was, most of the people in the meetings knew him, because they did exactly that once a month and had always being so prepared and charming and on point. Now, he was just a very horrible train wreck.

 When time came to go, Julia advised him he shouldn’t take the car back home, advising him to better grab a taxi or something like that. But he just nodded and ignored that comment because he had to go a swim, like he always did. So he went to his car, put on some loud music to really wake him up and drove all the way to the gym closing his eyes in every red traffic light and singing quite loudly when he felt he was about to go to sleep.

 Because of that reckless idea, he hit another car in the back and had to give all his insurance information and was late for the gym, again. He had lost time and money again and he was just exhausted. But he kept pushing himself for some reason.

 In the pool, he was able to swim nicely for the first ten minutes or so. But then something happened and the lifesaver in there had to get him out of the pull and give him mouth to mouth. When he woke up, they had called an ambulance and the paramedics were in the locker room checking him for water in the lungs and such things. He assured him he was fine but they insisted on taking him to the hospital to run further tests. He said no once, twice, three times and then grabbed his things and went to his car

 Jim felt frustrated because he hadn’t been able to swim at all. He felt weak now and something had changed in his life and he didn’t like it at all. It was like giving up on the one thing that made him stable. So he just hopped in the car and drove as carefully as he could and thanked the day for being a Friday. He would sleep until late and would still have time to do all the things that he could normally do on a Saturday. Besides, he was arriving home early.

He made himself a cheese sandwich and just watched some TV before going to bed. He fell asleep very quickly and, the next day, was able to wake up really early and really catch up with his schedule. He did everything by the book and was happy that the day was a very good one for him. The weekends had always felt like the worst time wasters ever but now it seemed he had discovered a way to make them have a meaning.

 That was until he collapsed in a large sports store where he was checking out bathing suits and earplugs. Then everything got like darker and he just fainted. Paramedics came soon and, this time, he didn’t woke up until they were in the hospital. They explained him that he did have water in his lungs but that part wasn’t really the worst one. They also told him he suffered from a rare condition caused by stress where people eventually collapsed because of all the stress they put on their bodies.

 He argued with them, saying he didn’t really do that much exercise and that he loved his work and so on. But the head doctor told him all of that wasn’t important at all. The point was that if he kept living the way he did, he was going to kill himself from exhaustion. He had to make some radical changes to his life and he had to make those changes soon because his body was just done with his lifestyle.

 Jim spent an entire week in the hospital, as they ran some tests. He felt useless in that bed and wanted to run out of there and swim some more and then do his work. He wanted his life back. But then the words of his doctor sunk in: his body was done with who he was and now he had to change every single piece of that.

lunes, 7 de septiembre de 2015

Not unique

   It’s amazing how sometimes you can torture yourself with so many stupid little things. I guess we want life to be so controlled, so perfect and calm that anything that poses a challenge or a sudden change makes us nervous. I personally don’t like people who say, “I like challenges” because no human with a proper brain would like to be proven wrong. What people that say that phrase mean is that they are not afraid of confronting themselves, but that doesn’t mean they are going to conquer their fears, it only mean they are going to face them. Fear is something very relative, almost having a world of its own. When you say you’re scared at night in a dark street, it is not the same fear that I experience when looking at a spider, even if it is on a TV screen.

 Anyway, we tend to make everything so big, so scary just to tell ourselves we can overcome it. Problems and dilemmas are now, at least in appearance, more stupid than ever before. I mean, people think it’s a problem to have fat on their bodies or to dress one way to a formal event and not the other way. These are dumb examples but they are the truth. People now have put their challenges at the same height of their apparent skills of when solving problems and facing life. They are so afraid of anything than even putting on a skirt or jeans is a life threatening decision. The idea behind this is that people face smaller problems, challenges, than they would usually do, avoiding the larger ones almost always. But when life comes and surprises them, they turn it into a drama only they can understand.

 Now that’s stupid. We are humans, a species that is quite abundant in the world, so thinking only one of us has experienced something that others haven’t, and it borders madness. We have a really big problem realizing that we are not unique; we are not as special as we have led ourselves to believe. The truth is, and always will be, that we are animals and, as such, our lives and pretty similar, no one really standing out. What makes humans stand out is the society and the rules we have built ourselves. It is not through nature that someone takes power over others or experiences a life of riches and others experience poverty. It is through the human condition, which can always change, at any time.

 Let’s say someone is born into a rich family. We would think that said person has been a very lucky one as money guarantees many things in life that, in any other way, you wouldn’t get. It wasn’t nature that gave that person’s parents’ money, it was the society they live in. And that same society can turn the tables on that family and make them poor, make them starve an d know what it is to have nothing on your stomach for four days in a row. It isn’t nature that took it all away from them, it was Man. In nature we are nothing too special but in society we can be the best or the worst, depending on how we play the game.

 Now, what does this have to do with those things that torture us everyday? Well, society made those too. They made us be aware of things we do not really need to be aware with. Like the economy, some other things are meaningless in a real way. We have created them as humans, and they can be easily replaced at any time. That’s what has happened with the technological revolution, where one device is replaced by the next with the simplest of decisions. And, by the way, those decisions are never taken by only one man or one woman. They are taken by a group, no matter the size, and that’s what changes things. That’s why there are no more beepers and only smartphones, that’s why we want to control every person’s move and thought these days.

 The things that torture us have often much to do with those things we still can control. It’s funny but even if we think we have no control over something, we always do if it has been created by mankind. We cannot cure cancer and we cannot make a storm at will but we can make human things go our way. How do you think some people rob banks or create them? It doesn’t matter which one is it because the trick is that we can do whatever we want with it only because it has been created by us. We can always change things that we have done; it is only what happens beyond humanity that simply cannot touch.

 That said, we have done many great things, we have advanced in our evolution and have even forced a bit forward. That’s the most significant relation on how we have affected nature but we still cannot control that evolution. If we could, we would already have people living in other planets and on the bottom of the ocean. But we haven’t because we are still severely limited by nothing other than ourselves. The only way we can achieve these things it’s by reorganizing the world we have and creating new technology based on us. Because that’s what we have been doing for some time and what we will keep doing for a long while. Of course, not all of us are going to participate because evolution doesn’t need all of us but it does need a group.

 The realization that we are left behind is a great worry among humanity. It is practically the same than knowing you are alone, although you’re not ever really alone. We just feel that way precisely because we have been led to believe we are special, when we are not. It is true that our intelligence and ability to solve problems is quite remarkable but it is quite impossible for it to be unique. If other intelligent life exists in our cosmos, we wouldn’t be special at all and we are not now because it isn’t something of a single specimen but of a whole species. The fact that we are so many, makes us less special.

 But our numbers make us prone to surviving, even if we don’t really have that in us. Because not many people have real survival skills but the fact that we are so many, like ants, makes us difficult to eradicate unless a proper way to destroy us was invented. And it has, by us. There are artificial diseases and weapons that could destroy every single human on the planet and it would only take a few seconds. It would only involve the decision of one person, not even a group, to do that. And the fact that humanity has given power to one above others is simply ridiculous. That proves that we are not as smart as we think we are because we have basically told some people they can annihilate us whenever they want, they have our permission.

 It’s all because we live in a world of fear. We are not really free or will ever be because we tie ourselves down with the same ropes that some groups give us. Self-confidence, fear, angst, sadness… So many more that we use against each other, only to makes us feel a little less us and a bit more unique. What do you think a person who kills her or himself in the gym is looking for? They are not there to improve their health, no matter what anyone says. They are trying to achieve a physical state where they can be above the rest, be a little less them and a little bit someone better. That’s what has made this “physical” revolution a success: we hate ourselves and the fact that we are so, for lack of a better word, normal.

 I’m not saying that people that go to the gym hate themselves but most actually do. And not only them but all of us but every single person that had forced change into their lives because they feel they will never stand out if they keep behaving like the simple and boring organisms that they are. We try so hard to make everyone feel so unique and special, that it is a great pain when we realize that no matter what we do, we will never be really unique. We can put everything on us, we can take things away, but we are always the same people, no matter how many costumes we put on. Our personality is different, from person to person, but it is not unique either, just particular.

 And that should be enough from us. Why singling us out to the world when we know we all have the capacity to do exactly the same things? We can all be singers and actors and engineers because we all have the capacity to be each one of those things and many more. What we decide in life, however, it is matter of the current conditions we live with and our personal convictions and tastes, that are also no special but at least they differ a bit from person to person because, as we all know, we are all made from the same stuff but we are not copies of one another. We are very similar and not identical and that should be enough for us to stop tormenting us by everything and start living for real.

jueves, 8 de enero de 2015

Adele and the Island

  Adele exhilarated but undoubtedly happy and eager to see and learn more. She was diving, not very deep but had been doing it now for about three hours and she had no intention to stop. So many beautiful creatures were there, so much natural magic that she had no intention of leaving, no matter what happened.

But at lunchtime, the rest of the team was famished and in need of food. Adele had to concede that she too was hungry and they all came back to port to have a nice dinner of shellfish and recently caught sea bass. It was delicious although it seemed weird to be eating a creature she had just seen swimming free in the ocean.

Adele was, in no way, a vegetarian or a vegan. She had no intention to be either. The woman knew that humans need to feed and it was natural to do it, as long as the resources were not depleted. In here, this small island just a few kilometers from the mainland, the consumption of fish and all other animals was controlled and they were very careful not to risk the environment, which actually gave them the money to keep their island pristine and beautiful.

The woman, aged 35 or so, had come here for good. She had visited the island several times with family, friends and past boyfriends and had decided she was meant to live there. She looked up for jobs in the island or near it and had found that the harbor restaurant needed a waitress and also someone who knew numbers to properly run the place. And Adele was just right for both jobs.

At first, Ron thought she was bluffing. He had established the restaurant twenty years ago and was very careful when hiring people to work there. He looked for people that not only worked but also loved the sea and respected the food. He had interviewed at least a dozen people, two dozens for both jobs and no one had caught her interest, until Adele came by.

She confessed she needed to get way from it all. The woman didn’t say her reasons for that but assured Ron that she knew how to make people feel welcome. Adele handled the owner of the restaurant her resume and told him she had worked with money before and had always been entrusted by her employers. As a matter of fact, she had never been laid off. She had always just moved on because, as she put it, she needed to keep on rolling.

Ron decided to hire her for both jobs but warned Adele that he needed both jobs taken care of very specially and that he wouldn’t be very happy if she left one for the other or left one of them unattended for long. He was sure she wasn’t going to be able to cope with both positions at the same time. It was simply too difficult.

But surprisingly, she managed to do it just fine. Adele was a dedicated person and, once she put her mind into something, she was unstoppable. She had decided to work the numbers when the orders got slow and even asked Ron if she could stay one more hour a day to leave everything in order. She rapidly picked up a nice pace in the establishment and was soon the preferred waitress of visitors and residents alike.

As she didn’t work the weekends, Adele spent them diving with the local enthusiasts that numbered around a dozen. They would leave in a rather small boat to a spot near the island, filled with fish and other creatures, thanks to the presence of a beautiful, unspoiled coral reef. For Adele, it was the best. She felt relaxed in the water. Besides, she also felt like an explorer, entering a new world each time.

What made her a great waitress too was the fact that she shared all of her diving stories with the people that came in the restaurant. Every dish they asked for was a short story told by Adele about a certain kind of fish or an interesting anecdote about diving. And people, most of them at least, really enjoyed her stories and even came back for more.

It was worrying, though, when she had no stories to tell or when she felt somehow “not there”. It happened rarely but Ron noticed it always happened towards the end of the month, the exact time when the mail boat would come into the island to deliver packages and letters. Any person living in the island that wanted a faster service could get a personal mailbox in the city in the mainland, at least sixty kilometers away.

When Ron asked Adele about why she seemed sad or simply away, she answered she would never put her two jobs aside. And so she did. Adele never let the work pile up, even in her “strange days”. She was a very responsible person. Anyway, Ron wasn’t asking her how she felt because of work but because he was worried about her. Both him and his wife had become very close to Adele and it hurt them that she had decided to be so private with her life, not telling them anything about it.

Eventually, they stopped asking him what went on with her mood at the end of each month. And it didn’t happen because they didn’t care but because they knew she would never say anything. So they just stopped and she didn’t even noticed. She kept on working and telling her stories and diving and being sad for no apparent reason.

That was until a letter came, almost one exact year after she had arrived to the island. Her many friends on the island, practically all the inhabitants of the small piece of land, were preparing her a party to celebrate her first year as an islander. The party was to feature the ocean, seafood and a case of beer specially brought from the mainland.

But that last letter changed that. The day of the party, she didn’t go to work. She wasn’t in the house in which she had been living in for the last few months and wasn’t diving anywhere near the island. Many people had seen her read the letter right in the harbor but, after that, no one really knew where she had gone.

Many said she had boarded the mail boat, arguing with the man that drove it but finally negotiating with money. Others were sure she had gone to the Big Tree, the only so called park the island had on it. It was really a small square of grass with, in the middle, a huge tree giving shadow to a couple of houses. It was a popular spot for lovers or people that wanted a peaceful place to think. Others said she had resumed working or gone to her house, but they were proven wrong very fast.

So, for many days, no one knew anything about Adele. Ron was especially upset, as she had left her two jobs hanging, for which he didn’t look for a replacement. He told his wife that he was sure Adele was going to come back, eventually. But as the time passed, that thought began to dissolve in time.

A young woman named Arisha replaced Adele as a waitress and Ron decided to take over the accounting duties. Anyway, the restaurant was fairly easy to handle and it was only during the holiday season that he really needed a lot of help to keep the place running properly. Anyway, Arisha was a very dedicated young lady and, although she wasn’t really experienced and didn’t tell any stories, she did the job right and was sure she could do better.

It was during the holiday season, in a really hot day, when the mail boat arrived and a letter addressed to Ron arrived to the restaurant. He was busy cooking some burgers so he only opened it at night, when he had done everything to make the holiday visitors happy. Walking home, he realized the letter was from Adele and quickly opened it, reading it outside his house.

In not so many words, Adele told him she was ashamed of herself and the way she had left the island, to the extent of leaving everything she had owned in the small house she had inhabited in. She told Ron that the reason why she had left had been simple: she couldn’t bear staying in one place too long. She had never liked that, even if she felt at peace and she certainly did in the island. Anyway, the real reason was that a former lover, a man she was going to marry once, would write her every month to tell her he still loved her deeply. She avoided him, even if she felt still guilty, until the last letter came in.

The man who loved her had suffered an accident and was in critical condition. Adele left everything to be with him but was not able to get there in time. He had died. She stayed, even if she wanted to live, to see him being buried and to see her family again. But that was just another signal to leave.

She wrote Ron from a ski resort and told him she would love to see him and all her other friends soon, in due time, once she felt she was strong enough.

-       “To be honest, I will never be strong enough for anything. I had no idea what I had around until I lost it because of fear and insecurities. Anyway I hope I see you again, wherever, whenever”.

Ron shared the letter with his wife and kept it in a drawer, waiting for the day he could see Adele again to talk and tell her it was ok to stop running, as no one had never been chasing her.

martes, 11 de noviembre de 2014

Can you feel me?

He had done it before and knew what it felt like. But he kept doing it, not caring for the aftermath, how it hurt afterwards.

It was so easy now, not like it may have been for boys and young men decades earlier. These days, all you had to do was grab your phone, download an app, put up a picture and voila. That was it. Thousands of men available, just by touching a few commands, just by responding to a message or sending one.

Of course the images were laughable. Most tried too hard to get noticed so they uploaded pictures where their bodies were shown in full exposure. Many were taken at the gym or in a bathroom.

Our guy, he just took a selfie on the street and that was it.

For the last six months, he had intercourse with several men. Sometimes even two on the same day. Always in their homes, their workplaces or sometimes in cars or parks. He didn't really thought much of it, not before or during the moment. It was the aftermath that hunted him.

Curiously, it wasn't the unprotected sex that bothered him. Most guys used condoms so he didn't gave it much thought. What pierced through his head was that emptiness he felt during the process. He had sex to pass time, to forget, to feel liked for at least a second. He wasn't keen on finding love or looking for it. He just needed someone's touch sometimes, and to feel needed or wanted. That was his turn on.

But it all disappeared pretty fast after it had all ended. Most guys rushed him out of their homes and it was understandable: many had couples and were even married, to women. He had even known some of them had children.

The truth was that he felt numb, sometimes during sex but always after it. He didn't really care for anything. He was desperate to feel something but many times couldn't. Physical arousal was rapidly meaningless, empty and hollow.

One day, going to meet a guy, he realized he had lost his cellphone. He had no idea if he had lost it or if he had been the victim of theft. Anyhow, he didn't have the exact address of where he was going as it was noted on a message the guy had sent. He waited until he saw a familiar sight and waited for the bus to stop.

It wasn't a pretty neighborhood but he kind of knew all about it. He had been raised in a house not very far from there but hadn't visited in years. His family had sold the house more than twenty years ago and there were things he didn't remember.

He decided to walk around a bit, eat something and then go back to his house. All the houses looked as if they hadn't been cleaned for years and there was a lot of garbage on the side of the road. It was sad, to be honest, to see how a place could just freeze in time, in such a negative way. It had never been a nice place but it was sad anyway.

The boy saw an internet café and was tempted to go inside but something came over him. It was maybe better to spend the day without any electronic devices, specially not the kind that may make him go to a place he now had no intention of going.

He did enter a Chinese restaurant and asked for the menu of the day, which had lots of rice, soup, a drink and a dessert. All of it for a good price. He was glad to be the kind of person that never left the house without money. He didn't have much, but enough for the meal he craved.

As he ate, he detailed every corner of the restaurant: red and gold veils all over, dragon statues that looked like made of gold but obviously weren't, a Buddha figurine and a one of those white cats that greets people with a paw. It was nice and almost empty. Lunch time had passed so only two tables were occupied. The other one was taken by a young Chinese girl doing her homework or so it seemed.

As the boy finished the soup, a man came from the kitchen and started arguing with the girl, in Chinese. It had always fascinated him how, as different as languages may be, we all have the same facial expressions, body language and reactions.

The man went back inside and the girl continued with her work, typing on a calculator and writing in a small notebook.

 - Is the business good? - he said.

She raised her head an looked at him, a bit confused.

 - Sorry... The rice is really good.

She then smiled and said the recipe had been brought from China by her grandmother and it had been in her family for years. He asked if she was doing homework but, as it happens, she was doing the numbers for the restaurant. Her father had entrusted her with this responsibility a few months ago but now thought it may be too much for her to handle.

The boy said he was good with numbers so he could help if she needed to. She hesitated, so he took a bite of a spring roll. But then the girl stood up and took her things to his table. She explained what was troubling her and in a matter of minutes, the boy had cleared the issue easily.

As he finished lunch, he helped her get everything in order. The father came back and was surprised to see his daughter talking to a client. The boy thanked the man for his food and asked for the bill. The man did not say a thing to his daughter.

The boy then wrote his email in the girl's notebook and told her to remember him if she needed help again. She said she had actually been looking for a tutor, as she needed to improve her grades to one day be able to handle every single aspect of the restaurant.

The man brought the bill and he was introduced by his daughter. The boy thanked him again with a handshake and told him he was going to tutor his daughter, as he realized she was eager to have the best Chinese restaurant in town.

The man seemed very happy, shaking the boy's hand and smiling. After he left, the girl and the boy talked about the business and not much about each other. He then saw what time it was on a clock in the wall and decided to leave. They bid farewell and, some time after, he was on the bus en route to his home, to his family. And for days, he didn't even thought of getting a new cellphone. He finally did in order to be in contact with his friends and family, all the people he had banished of his life and was now getting to know again, feeling them closer.