Adonis Diaries

Archive for May 18th, 2015

No matter what’s your age: Are you living passionately?

Hi, kids.  I’m 71.

My husband is 76. My parents are in their late 90s, and Olivia, the dog, is 16. So let’s talk about aging.

Let me tell you how I feel when I see my wrinkles in the mirror and I realize that some parts of me have dropped and I can’t find them down there. (Laughter)

0:41 Mary Oliver says in one of her poems, Tell me, what is it that you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Me, I intend to live passionately.

0:56 When do we start aging? Society decides when we are old, usually around 65, when we get Medicare, but we really start aging at birth.

We are aging right now, and we all experience it differently.

We all feel younger than our real age, because the spirit never ages.

I am still 17. Sophia Loren. Look at her. She says that everything you see she owes to spaghetti. I tried it and gained 10 pounds in the wrong places.

But attitude, aging is also attitude and health.

But my real mentor in this journey of aging is Olga Murray. This California girl at 60 started working in Nepal to save young girls from domestic bondage.

At 88, Olga has saved 12,000 girls, and she has changed the culture in the country. (Applause)

Now it is illegal for fathers to sell their daughters into servitude. She has also founded orphanages and nutritional clinics. She is always happy and eternally young.

2:18 What have I lost in the last decades?

People, of course, places, and the boundless energy of my youth, and I’m beginning to lose independence, and that scares me.

Ram Dass says that dependency hurts, but if you accept it, there is less suffering.

After a very bad stroke, his ageless soul watches the changes in the body with tenderness, and he is grateful to the people who help him.

2:52 What have I gained? Freedom: I don’t have to prove anything anymore.

I’m not stuck in the idea of who I was, who I want to be, or what other people expect me to be.

I don’t have to please men anymore, only animals.

I keep telling my superego to back off and let me enjoy what I still have. My body may be falling apart, but my brain is not, yet.

I love my brain. I feel lighter. I don’t carry grudges, ambition, vanity, none of the deadly sins that are not even worth the trouble.

It’s great to let go. I should have started sooner. And I also feel softer because I’m not scared of being vulnerable.

I don’t see it as weakness anymore. And I’ve gained spirituality. I’m aware that before, death was in the neighborhood.

Now, death is next door, or in my house. I try to live mindfully and be present in the moment.

By the way, the Dalai Lama is someone who has aged beautifully, but who wants to be vegetarian and celibate? (Laughter)

4:23 Meditation helps.

4:26 (Video) Child: Ommm. Ommm. Ommm.

4:30 Isabel Allende: Ommm. Ommm. There it is. And it’s good to start early.

4:34 You know, for a vain female like myself, it’s very hard to age in this culture.

Inside, I feel good, I feel charming, seductive, sexy. Nobody else sees that. (Laughter)

I’m invisible. I want to be the center of attention. I hate to be invisible.

4:57 This is Grace Dammann. She has been in a wheelchair for six years after a terrible car accident. She says that there is nothing more sensual than a hot shower, that every drop of water is a blessing to the senses.

Grace doesn’t see herself as disabled. In her mind, she’s still surfing in the ocean.

Ethel Seiderman, a feisty, beloved activist in the place where I live in California. She wears red patent shoes, and her mantra is that one scarf is nice but two is better. She has been a widow for nine years, but she’s not looking for another mate.

Ethel says that there is only a limited number of ways you can screw — well, she says it in another way — and she has tried them all. (Laughter)

I, on the other hand, I still have erotic fantasies with Antonio Banderas (Laughter) — and my poor husband has to put up with it.

6:04 So how can I stay passionate? I cannot will myself to be passionate at 71.

I have been training for some time, and when I feel flat and bored, I fake it. Attitude, attitude.

How do I train? I train by saying yes to whatever comes my way: drama, comedy, tragedy, love, death, losses. Yes to life.

And I train by trying to stay in love. It doesn’t always work, but you cannot blame me for trying. (Daydreaming is the most passionate adventure of all)

6:39 And, on a final note, retirement in Spanish is jubilación. Jubilation. Celebration.

We have paid our dues. We have contributed to society. Now it’s our time, and it’s a great time.

Unless you are ill or very poor, you have choices. I have chosen to stay passionate, engaged with an open heart. I am working on it every day. Want to join me?

 June Cohen:  First of all, I never like to presume to speak for the TED community, but I would like to tell you that I have a feeling we can all agree that you are still charming, seductive and sexy. Yes?

7:34 IA: Aww, thank you. (Applause)

7:36 JC: Hands down. IA: No, it’s makeup.

7:39 Moderator: Now, would it be awkward if I asked you a follow-up question about your erotic fantasies?

7:43 IA: Oh, of course. About what?

7:45 Moderator: About your erotic fantasies. IA: With Antonio Banderas.

7:48 Moderator: I was just wondering if you have anything more to share.

7:51 IA: Well, one of them is that I place a naked Antonio Banderas on a Mexican tortilla, I slather him with guacamole and salsa, I roll him up, and I eat him. (Laughter)

Playlist (6 talks): Talks to make you feel good about getting older


Fearing cultural atrocities: ISIS advancing on Palmyra?

To me Zennoubiya  (Zeinobia) is more famous than Palmyra.   Zennoubiya  was the last Queen who ruled over Palmyra and its vast empire that stretched to Egypt. A roman emperor managed to defeat her and take her prisoner to Rome.

Tadmur is the name in the Amourian and Aramaic languages, which means the invincible.

The ruins of Palmyra have long enchanted visitors, its famous queen Zeinobia occupying the same iconic status for Syrians as Cleopatra does for Egypt.

But the once-bustling Silk Road hub (built 1,200 years BC) and known in antiquity for its community of artisans and merchants of varied ethnicity and religion is now in the crosshairs of the terror group Islamic State, whose fighters have looted and destroyed historical and cultural artefacts in Iraq.

“Palmyra constitutes one of the most beautiful and impressive panoramas to have survived from classical antiquity,” said historian Tom Holland. “Its ruins are as beautiful as they are well-preserved.

“More than that, though, it is a monument to the great melting pot of cultures that bordered the eastern flank of the Roman empire: the same melting pot that would ultimately serve to incubate Islam. Its destruction is too awful to contemplate.”

Palmyra’s fall does not appear imminent – the Syrian regime has repelled the initial incursion into the city, which is also of vital strategic and political significance. But government resources are stretched thin and the historic city remains in danger, with Isis renewing its assault on its eastern border and consolidating its hold on nearby towns.

An assault on ancient Palmyra would have symbolic value for Isis, targeting one of the remaining markers of unity that could be valuable in a postwar Syria.

Calls to “save” the historic city, made by the chief of Unesco, raise questions about the international intervention against Isis in Syria, with western officials seemingly more concerned about the loss of ancient artefacts than the daily death toll in the hundreds

Still, local activists and experts agree the loss would be incalculable.

“We know the world cares because there are so many historical artefacts even though people are dying every day from oppression,” said Ahmad al-Nasser, the pseudonym of a pro-opposition activist in the Local Co-ordination Committee for Tadmur, the modern name for Palmyra.

“The ruins of Tadmur are symbols of civilisation that generations in Syria were raised with, and the most important thing for Syrians is to preserve these artefacts that tell the history of every Syrian.”

Syrian officials warned on Thursday that Isis was just a kilometre away from the historic city, endangering the Unesco world heritage site’s magnificent ruins

But on Friday fighters from the militant group appeared to have pulled back from the eastern outskirts of the city to positions two miles away. The Assad regime launched over a dozen air strikes against Isis positions east of the city, and Syrian state TV said regime troops had pushed the militants back.

Activists said both the regime and Isis had summoned reinforcements, but that the battle was likely to be drawn out.

While government forces are stretched thin after recent losses to northern rebels in Idlib, and Isis may rely on suicide bombings and possible sleeper cells in the city, Assad’s army is determined to hold on to it.

The loss of the city would open the road to Damascus and Homs, which fell to the regime after an excruciating two-year siege, and would sever supply lines to the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, where the regime is struggling against the encroachment of Isis.

But what distinguishes this particular battle from the dozens that take place all over Syria every day is the setting: ruins that are the pride of Syrians of every ethnicity and sect. The story of Zeinobia who stood up to the “conquerors” of the Roman empire resonates with Syrians today.

“Obviously I’m deeply concerned, very frightened, very afraid that once Isis gets its hands on Palmyra, which they may well do so sooner or later, that this is going to have a catastrophic effect on one of Syria’s most important sources of heritage,” said Amr al-Azm, a pro-opposition former Syrian antiquities official. “To see that destroyed is, I think, a deep blow to this sense of identity, and it will be an irreplaceable loss.”

Isis has destroyed numerous cultural artefacts and heritage sites in Nineveh in Iraq, after sweeping through the province last summer in a lightning offensive. The advance on Palmyra has triggered fears of similar “cultural atrocities”.

Irina Bokova, the director general of Unesco, appealed to all parties to protect the site from destruction, but analysts say it would be difficult to drive back the militants without air strikes by the US-led coalition, which would directly aid the Assad regime. Intervention to protect the ancient ruins would also risk appearing to minimise the previous suffering of millions of Syrians that did not prompt international action.

Experts also say that outrage over Isis attacks on cultural heritage encourages the militant group to continue its desecration of historical sites and plays into its narrative.

“Damaging the site is also an act of psychological warfare,” said David Wengrow, professor of comparative archaeology at University College London, whose work focuses on the Middle East.

“Then there is also the element of calculated provocation, to show the world that people elsewhere care more about ancient temples and statues than they do about their fellow human beings, that we are the true barbarians and idolaters.”

Azm said the combination of the impotence of the international community, the impunity with which Isis acts in destroying and illicitly trading in historic treasures, and the rhetorical outrage over its acts, convinces the terror group of the value of targeting the region’s heritage.

“It’s like when a thief enters your home and holds you hostage and they’re looking for something valuable and you keep staring at that one spot under your bed,” he said.

For many Syrians, the destruction of historical sites goes beyond tearing down bricks and stones. “This conflict is going to have to end one day,” said Azm. “When it does, Syrians … will look to common denominators that helps them identify what makes a Syrian Syrian – the incentives that make them live together.

“And they’re going to look for the symbols that help hold their society together, and cultural heritage in general is one of the few areas they do agree on, that they can rally around and use as a focal point to rebuild and restructure their lives,” he added.

Destroying Syria’s past is also destroying Syria’s future.”

Andrew Bossone shared this link

“Then there is also the element of calculated provocation, to show the world that people elsewhere care more about ancient temples and statues than they do about their fellow human beings, that we are the true barbarians and idolaters.”

Ruins that are the pride of Syrians of every sect are in danger, threatening the basis of any future unity, but western intervention would be seen as suspect|By Kareem Shaheen





May 2015

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