Reason to Rejoice

Hidden pondI was walking on a trail in the Watchung Reservation with my three dogs. It was a hot day and this is the best time to go into the woods were the temperature is typically 10 to 20 degrees cooler. There were very few people in the woods, most likely because a Saturday in August draws people to beaches and pools. It was a pleasure and though we did see others in the woods it was very quiet and I felt very isolated.

I sat for a few moments to give the dogs a rest and to watch and listen to nature unveil itself around me. I sat on a log and I was able to spot some deer about a tenth of a mile away. I also spotted a woodpecker. Later while walking I would see some other birds but most are skittish and once they hear me they move so fast I can’t identify them.

Still as we walked through the woods I couldn’t help but wonder how many persons walked through here. I thought back to the times of George Washington and his men and how they probably passed through here on the way to the battle of Union. I thought about the local Indians and how this was their stomping grounds.Then I looked at all the tress that lovers and travelers carved their initials on.

So many people have passed through here. Some may have thought themselves important. But nature always brings you back to reality as the awesomeness raises my own awareness of my mortality and lack of importance. I am humbled as I walk among the trees many that may be as much as one hundred or more years old.

It dawned on me. Life is a gift and the short time we are here we need to appreciate and use to the best of our abilities. By working towards the greater good with a true love for life and the life of all around us we become a very important part of the life of the world. We become givers of life to the next generation and to those that live around us. Now that is an important function and responsibility.

We all have a responsibility to live to our fullest. That is the gift we call life. So I left the woods feeling invigorated and joyful.

I wish all my walks were as productive!

Have a great life!

Miguel Perez-Santalla

2006- Revisited

From: January, 2006

It was about one year ago I made a difficult change in my life. It didn’t affect many people. It was simply that I had decided to befriend and get to know a homeless person. I felt like St. Francis, I had an aversion to the destitute of society and I needed to break that association and come to know them as children of God.

It so happened that there was a colored woman who every morning would sit in front of the St. Patrick’s Cathedral gift shop on 51st street (right over a grate where heat would come up). I remember before the first day I approached her I used to look down at her. I remember there was always crumbled food next to her and I thought it was disgusting. I always averted contact with people like her believing that many are drug addicts, alcoholic etc. and that I should not give them money because I may be supporting their habit. So though I knew in my mind they actually have the same gift of life from God that I have, I treated them like lesser people.

Then I made the effort. It started at first I would just give her a few dollars a day, which made me feel better. However I truly did not change until she asked me my name. Her name was Ann. She had a beautiful smile when you spoke to her. The crumbs she placed on the ground where there to feed the birds. She was an avid reader and enjoyed science fiction. She smoked cigarettes, but only two or three a day. Every day I saw her brought me great joy. She would ask me about my family, my children, my weekend, and my business trips. I would ask her about her health and if she needed anything. She always said she was fine.

Then one week she was not in her spot for a few days. I was concerned and hoped she would come back soon. On Thursday morning she was back. She told me she has a heart condition and had been in the hospital. I told her I would pray for her recovery and I asked her to quit smoking. That was a few months ago.

Recently, I went to mass with a coworker who I had gotten a Mass said for his departed grandmother. I saw my friend enjoy the mass and feel close to his grandmother a year after her death. We came out of the cathedral and went across the street; I was sharing with him my morning routine and so I introduced him to Ann. Ann said to me, “You’re really happy this morning.” I said I was because my friend Gerry was with me. Gerry said hello and I gave her some money and we said goodbye. It was a special morning.

The week before Ann told me one of her favorite book collections is “The Lord of the Rings”. I was planning on bringing her the full collection in paperback as a gift. Then sadly the day after I spoke to her with Gerry she was not at her normal spot. It has now been almost three weeks since I have seen her. I looked for her at lunch time in different buildings with public parks where she told me she is often found. I did not find her. I have been praying for her everyday hoping that she is well and that I may see her gain.

Sadly I fear that she may not be coming back. I know she would have good and bad days with her heart condition and she often talked it down. Now I am thinking that I may not have done enough to help her. I should have tried harder. I know that I did not give to her as much as she gave to me. She opened my eyes and my heart to the love of God. Her concern for me, a person in a much better state in life, made a significant impression on me. She truly cared for me as a true friend. She had love, the kind of love that we should share and have for all people. She had a truly Christian heart and I will strive to be like her.

I still hold hope that she may come back. But if the good Lord took her I am certain that she is in the bosom of his love. I will continue praying for her everyday not knowing for sure what has happened to her. And if she is in Heaven I know that she prays for me to our Lord.

With love in my heart I say God bless you Ann wherever you may be.

Die for Truth

Over the centuries there have been people willing to courageously speak the truth. Even when the path of least resistance would have secured their own prosperity. The path of least resistance, silence, when one looks at the history of man is the road that allows evil to have its way.

Slavery of the masses has always been achieved by the powerful minority through the ascent to evil by silence and inaction. The threat of punishment or being cast out has been enough to keep people under control. Political correctness is that same ploy used throughout human history. Sadly many would rather bite their tongues when they see evil rather than risk retribution.

Then of course there are those that will risk all to make change that is just and proper. To the men and women who throughout history have stood tall in the face of injustice and tyranny I have the greatest admiration. I pray that if such a challenge were placed before me that I have the courage to do the same. I feel it is better to die with love of truth by our words and deed than to live with complacency towards evil and cowardice in the soul.

Live and Let Die

I recently have been to a few steak restaurants. Interestingly enough you may know that I have not eaten beef in over a month. Still, these visits have raised a new observation. Many of the restaurants are now owned under group names and chains that are beholden to their investors in many cases equity firms. This means they need to show returns.

To show returns I see that prices have been raised across the board. Portion sizes are also ridiculously large, in my estimation to entice the greedy ego to spend more than necessary. This becomes a profitable business but it may be a good business at the moment but I really do not believe we will see continued growth in that sector. The reason is because I see that on the flip-side the major corporations who are beholden to their investors whether public or private are squeezing their employees pay to improve their returns in price earnings.

This means that the investment community is squeezing from both ends of the spectrum. This is why as many in our society have observed the rich become richer and the middle working class is slowly disappearing and becoming part of the struggling working class. When the people don’t earn enough to go to fancy steak restaurants of this ilk, they will disappear. You have to live and let live, earn but still pay just wages. But it is becoming more apparent that some in our society believe in live and let die.

NO- A Good Word

NO is not a bad word. It is an affirmative and confirmation of a direction. I like the word very much, the words I don’t like are “maybe”, “I’ll get back to you” or “I’m not sure”. Yes is equally a good word and for the same reason. Any other response that is not yes or no is often a delay tactic. Of course there are times that we may not have an answer and it is legitimate to say you will respond later  but the goal should always be to come back to someone with an affirmation either in the positive or negative. Any other type of answer leaves the other person in limbo and is quite rude if we perpetually keep them in the lurch because we lack the resolution to say “NO” or “YES”. In other words, don’t waste your time or anyone else’s by putting off something that could be answered right away. This is why I say I like to hear NO even if I don’t want it, it gives closure and enables me to move on.

Constant Longing

TwilightEarly morning sun
A welcome guest
Too short when it comes
A light-fest

Rising become easy
Like a lover’s kiss
She wakes me
I rise for this

The joy it brings
It warms the heart
Smiles abound
Great way to start

Days filled with laughter
And wonderment
Life enriching
Life’s compliment

She begins to fade
Less time for me
I grow afraid

Darkness comes
No rising light
Taking over
The coming plight

Dreams of her
Will keep me going
Her every word
Bright and showing

Be the light
For others to see
Chase the black
Out to sea

Peace and love
Triumph always
Battle charge
Opens pathways

A swift return
This I pray for
A hope that’s full
A dream I care for

Rising sun
Come back to me
I miss you so
Don’t let me bleed

Your light fills
Every essence
Without you
Life lacks presence

Opening eyes
I see your rising
All is right
Blinding and uncompromising

© Miguel Perez-Santalla

Goya Crackers

This morning I was sitting outside enjoying the beautiful Saturday morning and watching the birds. I had prepared myself a cup of black coffee and crackers with cream cheese. The crackers I was eating today back in 1973 were unique to this small town in New Jersey.

The memory of me being 12 years old and showing up to play baseball with a bag of them flooded my senses. Not more than half a mile from the house I live at now stands the same dugout where a nervous and not very good child baseball player showed up one spring day with this surprise.

Little League Team

I showed up with a bag of Goya Crackers. This Latino company selling predominantly to the refugees of Cuba and immigrants from other Latin American nations was basically unheard of in Mountainside, New Jersey. In fact back then the closest place you could buy them was at stores in the town of Elizabeth which had at that time one of the greater Latino populations, which really wasn’t too big either.  Now you can buy these crackers at almost all the major grocery stores in NJ.

Goya CrackersThat day over 40 year ago, the crackers were a hit. The team asked if could bring them regularly. I am sure I did bring them a few more times but the only memory that sticks with me is that first day. I remember the kids clambering over me asking for more and eating them like there would be no tomorrow. I probably struck out every at bat, but I sure felt like the team hero that day.

Some times I wish that I could relive a moment like that. There is never really a way to do it but to linger on the memory and share it with everyone this morning just puts a smile on my face. I hope it brought one to yours as well.

Eternally Onward

Eternally Onwards

The age of reason
Has come and gone
Deceit and pleasure
Are number one

Young I thought
Life is long
Now times goes by
A passing gong

The thrill of life
Is in the learning
Living on the edge
Lacks all discerning

Wisdom comes
Too late for most
The body is weak
Our soul’s host

Truth and beauty
Sounds like a chime
Yet evils lurks
Throwing on it
Lies of slime

To seek true joy
In life, ain’t easy
The right path
Not for weak kneed

Many go wrong
With thoughts
Of second chances
There is no going back
No happenstances

Cherish the beauty
Open your heart
To love
Then it will lift
Heart and mind
Way up above

In an instant
This plane is gone
Only good spirits
Spring eternally on

By- G. Miguel Perez-Santalla

Copyright 2015

A Beautiful Place

I had bought a pair of binoculars at least 10 years back at a garage sale. These were in perfect condition. I had no idea what I would use it for and at the time I was going to many baseball games with my sons. Whenever we had nosebleed seats we would bring them along. It’s not very helpful to look through binoculars while at a game. You miss the action trying to track it down. For the most part they have sat on the shelf in my office for many years.

Recently I mentioned we had Robins nest in a pine tree outside our bathroom window. I was able to watch them through the whole process. Nesting, laying the eggs, sitting on the eggs, the hatch-lings, raising their young and finally the young leaving the nest. I began to get curious about the beautiful creatures we call birds.

I bought a book on birds in New Jersey. I got my binoculars out and now I am trying to take note of all the birds and their names. I am checking them off in the book and keeping a journal of my bird spotting. But to be sure I check the correct bird name I need my binoculars ….. my eyes are not so sharp anymore, even close up.

This morning I went for an early morning walk at 6 am. It happens that is when all the birds wake up and start their day. I was able to spot four different birds on my walk. As I was walking I had an interesting revelation.

The birds fly about gather food and enjoy the beauty around them. We humans on the other hand think we need to acquire or make beauty. Spending money on this or that thing. I am not saying that is all together a bad thing but some worry about it way too much. Many feel they need to keep up with the “Jones’s”.

If we step back and behave more like birds we will find more peace and harmony in our lives. They care about the basic necessities and worry about taking care of each other. It seems like loving each other is their top priority. They don’t fret about many things. When the chores are done they sit back and enjoy the beauty that already surrounds us.

Simply put, the focus should be in making our homes a place of love like the birds do. If we do that then beautiful things in life will become more abundant. And they aren’t things you can buy. Our homes become the beautiful place.

PS: The most common bird in my neighborhood is our tenant’s family, the American Red Breasted Robin.

NJ Robbin

Fourth of July 2007- Heckel’s Attack

gang 1 - Copy
Part of the Heckel Gang at Debbie’s 50th

Thursday, July 05, 2007 8:58 AM

The Fourth of July festivities was in essence a battle scene reenactment of sorts. The day started gray and gloomy, rain threatening from the onset but the set up moved on undaunted as tables and chairs were cleaned and set up. Meanwhile the inside the house the rear guard was preparing all the food. It was 3 o’clock when the first foray began, groups of guests arriving in 3 to 5 at a time. A volley was sent, deviled eggs, artichoke dip, meat platters and vegetable platters held them off. Then within the next hour the battle was set most of the guests had arrived. The second volley was sent spare ribs, shrimp and steamed clams galore. While at the right flank drinks of all kind were being mixed as beer and wine were flowing freely. There was a lull as some rain fell and slowed things down but 5:30 the full attack was made. Two grills were going; Kabobs and Italian sausages were going on one, as the other loaded Burgers and Hot dogs. The table was set, all amenities were unleashed, German potato salad, three been salad, eggplant parmigiana, sauteed peppers and onions it was an endless cornucopia of food. The final assault was devastating; the guests had no idea what was in store. There was a long table with desserts that make children jump up and down with excitement. All the glory was evident as the goal was accomplished, Smiles streaked across every face as theirs eyes set upon the crescendo of the feast. German chocolate cake, Meringue pie, Dirt cake, Fruit Trifle, Cherry cheese cake, Fresh fruit of all kinds, brownies with and without nuts were delivered with coffee and tea. The joyful groaning of the conquered was heard, as the men told their tall tales, the women gossiped, the children ran around joyfully and laughter was heard everywhere. Unfortunately the town cancelled the fireworks last night because of rain but one of the relatives had an assortment of fireworks to please the crowd. The last of the guest left gleefully at about 9 pm.