What Remains of You

Flattr this!

We moved into a new apartment last month, my partner and I, in a beautiful and lively neighborhood of Amsterdam. Strangely enough on our second day in the house, as we unpacked the massive pile of boxes, a loud discussion burst out in front of our building, which included a good amount of crying by at least one female. When I looked outside to see the source of the noise, two police cars had pulled up and officers slowly put on blue surgical gloves as they tried to calm down the young woman. They seemed in no hurry to enter the building, but when they finally did I could hear their footsteps just above my head. Within minutes they thumped down the stairs and were back outside. More civilians arrived, these men and women would also join the vigil outside. An hour or two went by. A city medical examiner arrived, solemnly greeted the people, and continued up the stairs, again the action going on just above our bedroom. Hours later, in the middle of the night, a large funeral car with a team of two formally dressed individuals is outside. I’m awoken from my brief sleep to the sound of thunderous footsteps and struggling in the narrow Dutch stairwell. I peer through the keyhole just as large objects thump against the door. 3 or 4 men are  struggling with a human body. The final piece of the story, the upstairs neighbor had passed away in his own bed.

19499706524_df2d03b34c_zFor the next week(s) as family members arrived and I listened to the faint sounds of suffering and commiserating, those famous topics of death and how quickly life can change or even end rattled around in my over active brain. Here’s a man who lived alone, older but not old, loved by friends and family, yet isolated in his home in many ways. It is a common reality, in both cities and rural areas. It happens.

Twice a week in this neighborhood they have large garbage night. All month, twice a week, I’ve watched as pieces of a man’s life are painstakingly carried out to the garbage pickup spot. Trash bags. Bits of furniture. Worn carpets. “Unfortunately, my father was a hoarder,” one of his children tells me as she passes me in the stairwell carrying more trash bags. I recognize her as the daughter who stood outside all those hours when the discovery was made. She tries to laugh about it, but the sorrow and pain leaks out as she gives up on a smile.

Each night after the trash is put out, things get quiet upstairs, as family members go home. Then another kind of ritual begins, they come by car, scooter, truck, bike and on foot, to sort through the garbage pile. These are the scavengers, professionals, amateurs, random passer-by’s that see these things and decide to take them home. I watch from my window as they each show up. They scour the piles, feeling the bags, finding sets of things, occasionally accidentally dropping something that makes an attention grabbing crash. Sometimes there are 4 people surrounding the pile yet no one looks at each other, they focus on the pile and the possibility of finding what is treasure to them. By morning there are mostly only scraps and shards of broken things left. Pieces of what were once a person’s life, are sorted and transported all over the city.

It has been one month since the death of the man upstairs. A truck came to take away whatever was deemed of value for the family. His children have worked themselves to exhaustion cleaning the place. There is no more noise upstairs. Soon the landlord will come and paint, renew, whatever is needed to prepare the place for new people. Within a month new human(s) will live their lives upstairs from me. Occasionally they might throw out a large piece of furniture. A scavenger will have it loaded into a van within minutes. Life just goes on.

19285488051_ab8c1879de_z

CTRP480 From the Mountains in São Miguel, Azores

Flattr this!

avatar Mark Fonseca Rendeiro Amazon Wishlist Icon

19285488051_ab8c1879de_zSão Miguel, the main island of the breathtaking Azores has been an adventure this summer, traveling in circles around the island from the highest peaks to the sea and back again. It is a place of incomparable beauty and beyond that, a people who have such a good hearted caring nature you dare not ask a small question unless you’re ready for the extensive information and help they’re going to insist on giving you. While the world watches as society changes in interesting and sometimes very painful ways in different parts of the world, here on the island things are as they have surely always been. Cows are grazing. Fish are jumping. Tourists taking pictures. Wash, Rinse, Repeat.

What was I talking about? Oh yeah, I recorded this podcast on one of our last nights in the Azores on a trip that has taught me a lot and inspired some future journeys in the effort to experience and learn even more.

Armand_dimele_portrait

Armand DeMille: Positive Mind Like No Other

Flattr this!

Armand_dimele_portraitI started listening to Armand Demille sometime around 1996. It was that exciting time of both getting my learners permit (driving) and becoming more aware of the state of the world and humans in general. WBAI was, and still is today, this magical channel right there in the middle of the radio dial where you could hear voices like no where else on the radio dial. Grandpa Al Lewis with his passionate fire for world affairs, Amy Goodman who described the world from the bottom up, Gary Null who tool a militant wholistic approach to health, and there in the middle of it all was this gentle voice who spoke lovingly about each and every caller and would end so many calls by saying “call my office, we can work on this.” His show brought simple and beautiful themes like “fear”, “happiness”, “grief”, etc etc. In those days I was still a teenager and kept my love of this program that focused on emotions and psychology- a secret, listening only when I was in the car alone or working in the back lot at my first job at the garden center. Armand would speak from the heart and encourage everyone around him to find out what their heart was saying as well. He also brought kind and interesting guests, and of course unique music from around the world. He was a true lover of humanity and seemed impossibly busy with speaking with them for most of his life.

From the age of 16 to now almost 36, I have taken Armand and the Positive Mind with me to every corner of the world. From my late teens and university life in New Jersey and New York, to a new life in Lisbon and then Amsterdam, to the war zone of Afghanistan, the post-war zone of Kosovo, to the vast emptyness of Mongolia and beyond, Armand has been with me every step of the way.
In my mind he had no age. His voice and his ideas where as strong today as they were back when I first discovered him. His program and wisdom were as reliable as night turning to day. It never occurred to me that we could lose this fantastic international treasure.
As so it was that I learned of Armand’s passing this week at 75 years of age. Just like that, from one day to the next, this voice in my life that has had so much influence, ends. Of course there are the recordings, which I will treasure for as long as I live, and the ideas and values, which perhaps continue in each one of us, his faithful listeners. But beyond on that, we- as a world- still lose someone very special who made a real difference in millions of lives around the world. Thank you Armand. I will continue to take your wisdom with me wherever I go and will pass on your contagious spirit of possibility and positivity, any chance I get.

CTRP479 It’s Nothing: A Conversation About Humanity

Flattr this!

avatar Mark Fonseca Rendeiro Amazon Wishlist Icon
avatar Yves

16397868804_259be066b8_nOver the past year (maybe more) my friend Yves has been on a journey of self discovery and observing human behavior. Each time he returns to Amsterdam we talk about his observations and attempts to change what is considered “normal everyday” communication. This time, we bring microphones to one of those conversations, in attempt to bring in you -the audience- to discuss people, communication, needs, and yes – the meaning of life. Never thought I’d write that as a podcast title :) Don’t be scared. It’s nothing. So have a listen!

A small but perhaps relevant link:

Marshall Rosenberg – Nonviolent Communication