Anita's Child

Run Away World of Japan Page 3
13. There are moments when one makes a decision about something that ends up changing one's life dramatically. When we were living off the land, doing our best to survive, it was my first lesson in existentialism. My father being unemployed, but not shiftless, found the the means to earn a few dollars, doing some welding or a bit of carpentry work. We somehow managed to eke out a living, never having to starve for one single day, thanks to his wisdom of carrying us out to where we could at least have root plants, the likes of yams, sweet potato and cassava. We had plenty of sugar cane,..bananas, mangos, pineapple, papaya and several citrus fruit trees to keep us supplied with oranges and lime. We still had a car in the family so my Dad was able to drive us during the week days, to school. We had a radio for music and the latest news. The radio picked up stations from Panama City, a few Latin American Countries and the popular American radio station, The Caribbean Forces Network Station. I smile to myself that I still remember the name of the American station. It must have made a lasting impression on me, because it was thanks to that radio that I received my introduction to great classical music. And sure enough, one day, I decided that I wanted to play the violin. I wanted to learn how to play that very special and most difficult to learn instrument. I'm sure it was the sound of Paganini's scherzos. I was so impressed by the violin, I just had to have my own violin and learn how to play it. I have no memory how I managed to convince my father of my desire. I wish I could remember the words I used. I must have said the right things, because soon after my decision, my father helped me to find a suitable violin in a music store. After learning about existentialism, taking one day at a time, doing our best, I was now about to learn what practice, discipline and dedication could accomplish. You needed these virtues in order to put up with the squeaking sounds of a violin that sounded nothing like the music of Paganini, Vivaldi, Bach, Beethoven, and my favorite composer, Camille Saint Saens. I heard somewhere that there was a music school in Panama City, and I managed to find it and enrolled to start learning seriously, how to play my instrument. And thus my dream of playing a solo piece someday, in a world famous orchestra began. My violin teacher was a true violinist, coming from Holland, all the way to this Banana Republic, of Panama, to teach music lovers how to master a violin. I remember to this day, his enormously large hands and was amazed to see how deftly his fingers quickly moved with accuracy playing a score for me, which was to be my homework. With the help of my instructor, I practiced diligently and before long, I could play the instrument well enough to receive an invitation to play in The National Symphony Orchestra of Panama. I spent the next three years studying several hours each day. I could hear improvements in my playing, when I no longer had to listen to spine chilling squawks. I was definitely on my way to becoming a great violinist. So I thought, but something happened that changed all that overnight. When I graduated from the first grade in violin, to the second, I was told that I would need to study music theory and harmony, all in Spanish. I could speak the language reasonably well to make myself understood. But, I would need to read and write Spanish to answer any written tests concerning the discipline of understanding and making music. This was truly heart breaking news. There was no way that I could do a crash course of reading and writing Spanish well enough to study with adult reading material. It would take several years to attain grade school knowledge of Spanish. All my hopes were dashed and I resigned from the music school. I was about thirteen years old when this happened. Without the challenge of learning music I felt restless. I desperately needed a new adventure, a new challenge. And I found it quickly and started the next long journey in my life, which was to again start me on a new course in my life. I took up the challenge of track and field. Instead of spending many hours learning a musical score, I was now spending hours learning how to master all the events of track and field. I now wanted to run, jump, and throw. From the lessons learned from the discipline of learning how to play a difficult musical instrument, I applied the same tactics of practice, using discipline and dedication. I put my whole heart into becoming a good track and field man. Within four years of many hours on the playing field of my school's track field, I was awarded a new distinction of excellence. On the plaque of the trophy I was awarded, one could read: "For exceptional achievement in track and field by a Balboa High School student." The next year I broke the decathlon record for Panama. After learning that I was an epileptic when I was ten years old, and feeling that my chances of having a good life was nil, I understood after my accomplishments in music and sports, that I was equipped with "the right stuff". I knew that I had the necessary virtues and skills needed to go on and accomplish even greater feats. Little did I know at that point in time, that the arts would be my last endeavor. 14. You're always in for surprises with the lives we live. That's one of the reasons why I avoid paying any attention to astrological readings. I don't want to know in advance what is going to happen in my life. Surprises,...good or bad helps to spice what would otherwise be a dreary existence. One surprise which I shall never forget happened one day while I was playing my violin, in Balboa Jr. High School in the Canal Zone. I was approximately 13 years old at the time. Quite innocent to the ways of the world. I wish I could remember the instrumental we were playing at the time. There I sat amongst a score of young aspiring musicians, thrilling at the moment of rehearsing. I was sitting in the 3rd violin group. For the real beginners. One day, a very sweet looking girl,..looking like an angel, stood at the entrance to the practice room. She was watching the rehearsal with an intensive eye. I was caught by her beauty and stole a glance back and forth from my music to the vision of her standing still and observing the orchestra. Then I had the chilling sensation that she was looking straight at me! At first it unnerved me. And sure enough,...she held her gaze directly at me and there was from that distance, eye contact. She was looking at me, observing me closely, as I stroked my violin. As I recall the moment, I melt. A sense of being enfeebled by her gaze, returns. No wonder I will never forget that sweet girl. After the rehearsal was over, we confronted each other. We started conversing. She asked several questions about my playing in the orchestra. She asked personal questions. I found out that she was in the 6th grade. I was in the 7th. She was the prettiest girl I ever talked to! Here was an angel of a girl talking to me, and it isn't difficult to understand that I felt I was walking on air the whole time I walked and talked with her. We walked in the direction of her home. It was a short walk. Too short. When we arrived at the verandah of her apartment building, she was met by her mother standing quietly and reserved. She uttered no word of welcome to Pat. Instead she called Pat to come to her side. Pat excused herself for the moment, telling me she would be right back. She stood there talking for a few minutes and then returned with the news that was to rock and roll me out of the bliss I was experiencing. Upon returning, her puzzled question was "Are you colored?" The blood left my cheeks. I was stunned. There stood her mother, waiting for the return of her sweet angel of a daughter, who was in the process of smashing my innocence. I never got over that moment. It has haunted me throughout my life. The brutality of a thoughtless mother, exercising racial hatred. How I wish I had the words and the wisdom to tell that bigot of a woman, what a coward she was to let her daughter do the dirty work she herself should have exercised. No wonder most of the world is messed up today. Racism still rears it's ugly head today in America and around the world. Even here in Sweden. Some of the snide remarks I've had to hear, just because I happen to be born with a different combination of hair, skin and eye coloring. The millennium approaches, and many of us are still living in the age of ignorance, where we judge negatively, a human being for having "second rate" appearances, rather than to judge them on the merits of their qualities and skills. In a little town in the south of Sweden, it wasn't too long ago that a black man was seen riding a bicycle down a isolated road. An "alert" citizen thought it was so sensational that he immediately called the local newspaper to tell of his amazed encounter of the black man riding his bicycle. The world needs to be awakened by the inescapable fact that we are of the same flesh and blood. There are moments when I wish the skies would be filled with the approach of another civilization, to make us realize that we are a family, and high above us,...approaching, will be another race of beings, so alien and foreign, that we will realize once and for all, that we are Earthlings, with hearts and minds that belong to the same gene pool of life here on earth. Most religions practiced today, enflame racial hatred and add to the division of us earthlings. Back to Pat. We never spoke to each other again throughout the remainder of my school days in Balboa High. She belonged to the privileged elite and apparently felt comfortable with that. A year after I graduated, I entered a track and field competition and won a high hurdles race. Pat was the reigning queen of the festivities. This meant that she had the honor of handing out the gold trophies to the winners of each race. I stood there and awaited her approach. She reddot handed over my tropy. As I stood there in my glory of being a track champion, I couldn't help but pass on a telepathic thought to her: "You are still the same beautiful angel I met many years ago." But of course all I could muster was an innocent smile, looking deep into her eyes. She returned the smile and said: "You ran very fast!", and I thanked her. I have never seen or heard from her since that special day. I wonder if she is carrying on her mother's warped ideals. I hope not. 15. At this very moment, I'm wracking my brains, trying to think of incidents in my early life that changed me...that shaped me into the individual that I am. It's not easy. I'm sure there are moments my subconscious mind is blocking from my conscious. Incidents that I would, deep down inside, rather forget. Embarrassing, humiliating, frightening, even life threatening moments... are certainly some of those heart wrenching moments. Have you ever talked with someone who has experienced an unexplainable incident about seeing a space ship hovering in the air....remembering vividly the lights....and then the time after witnessing the lights, is blank? That's all they can remember,....but the quiver of their words to follow, the nervous twitch, of faintly remembering more of the incident...but not daring to open the "Pandora Box",....to discover what lies hidden tucked away from the conscious mind. I'm sure we all share such moments in our lives. One embarrassing memory I will never forget, happened on my very first day of school. You could say that my heart started off on the wrong foot. I'm escorted on my very first day, by my father, to my kindergarten school teacher. Don't remember if I was excited or nervous. But I do remember how I reacted when I saw a girl that struck me with her beauty. Seven years old and I'm stunned by the image of a beautiful girl. I didn't know what to do. Didn't know how to approach her,...to talk to her. I was tongue tied. I did try,..and to my disappointment she was not at all interested in talking to me. She ignored me completely. I was, to say the least, very disappointed. All I could think of, was to "get back at her"....to make her life miserable for having rejected my friendly approach. I snitched her scissors! The class had just finished receiving a pair of scissors, some pencils and drawing paper. We were to cut out a drawing we would make. When she discovered that her scissors was missing, she reported it to the teacher, and the teacher asked us all, if we had seen her pair of scissors. I remained tight lipped, not uttering a sound. But then there was to be a search! When the teacher found the missing scissors, I admitted to taking the scissors, but of course I gave no reason for my behavior. Sure enough,...when my father came to pick me up,....he heard how naughty I had behaved. I don't remember if I received a "good spanking". All I can remember to this day still,..is the girl who was so pretty, she got me into a lot of trouble. Having the eye to see beauty from the very start of my learning period,...has been both pain and pleasure. The educational system that would prepare me for adulthood, never taught me how to cope with my eye for seeing beauty. To this day, I still see beauty,...and it continues to get me into a lot of trouble. So many times I've approached a lovely stranger to share my sentiments. I simply find it hard not to share the beauty I am beholding. If I think a woman is very beautiful, I want to tell her. If she has beautiful hair, lovely eyes, lovely hands, or is the owner of a figure with "dangerous curves", I have to get it out of my system, and more than half the times, I'm sneered at for being out of place, for being rude to intrude in their moment of privacy. You'd think I had insulted them, by their reactions. Luckily I recover from insults and remain faithful in my need to share beauty. Deep inside I feel that it is natural to appreciate what is "pleasing" to my eyes. I'm sure this form of discrimination is not that harmful. Having ideals in the arts, helps us to select the qualities and values which inspire us. Our personal preferences, help to establish our individuality, helping to create the image of being individually unique, with our tastes and behaviors. There are, a countless number of humans, and it would add some thrill to our lives if we could distinguish, from the multitude, an occasional individual that meets our personal criteria of what we consider to be "beautiful". And this, we've indirectly picked up through our indoctrination. Artists long before me, have done the same...and that which I understand to be beautiful, has been passed on through my Western Culture. Luckily though, I'm not tied down, in my selections, to one particular color of skin, size of body, sound of voice, smell of flesh, taste of skin, or feel in the act of touching. Hopefully I've learned to see a wide section of beautiful individuals in our multi-lingual, and multi-colored earthian biological existence. I am able to partake, in my personal selection of beauty, from all the inhabitants living on all of our continents. And I am fortunate to see beauty in still life, nature, and in the elements of weather. So much of life, I've learned and discovered, is beautiful, and this I've learned, at the price of risking my neck, when I open my heart to say: "Excuse me, I just wanted to tell you ------------ ". 16. If I had things my way, I wouldn't be sitting here at this moment, trying to recall my history. Due to the unfair pressure and practice of the racists I've met, in my formative and seeking years, I was not given a fair chance to be "normal", i.e. to get a job and settle down, to become a self sufficient, independent new member in the "American Way of Life", making my own living. I couldn't "play" in the "Great Big Sandbox". I had to make do, with that which was left for me to do. If you are not allowed to enter from the front door, then maybe there is a chance you can do it from the back door. And that is what happened. I'm here, doing my thing, as an individualist, doing my own thinking, doing my utmost best to survive while holding on to my self-esteem. Today I'm considered an artist. A title I bear without a diploma or degree to prove my worthiness. A distinction which I was not seeking directly from the beginning, even though I've had photography as a hobby in my early teens. It feels as if I've entered onto the stage of life, through the back door, after arriving there at the scene, while riding at the "back of the bus". I would like to believe that everyone, from all walks of life, are searching for a decent life, to live nobly and proud, whether rich or poor, male or female, black, white, yellow, brown or red. People just like you and me, just wanting to be good people. Wanting to be useful in a positive way. This is, after all, LIFE, the Great Big Party, teeming with fauna and flora. And we humans, seeking that good and prosperous life. I understand very well that not everyone shares my sentiments about life. As a minority in a world where the great majority practices one form of a religion or another, I never-the-less feel comfortable in my isolation, far from "the maddening crowd". It takes courage to see the realities of life, without relying on religious explanations. I am satisfied that my common sense assists me to see things as they really are. It is enough to sense and understand that this existence is not at the center of it all, in this immense universe. It is as silly of us, as a specie, to even try to understand the origins of life, as it would be for the lowly ant to understand who or how New York City was constructed, and for what purpose. Our existence could very well be the equivalent of a life within a grain of salt, which is part of the seasoning in a soup, and the soup in a bowl, the bowl on a dish, which in turn is sitting on a table. That table, in a house, the house in a town, the town in a country, the country on a continent, one of several continents in this world, the world revolving around a sun, the sun orbiting near the edge of a galaxy, and our galaxy, one amongst a countless number of galaxies. Working with the photographic medium, I chose from the very beginning, what I considered a magical machine. Call it the best primitive time machine at our disposal. With it, we can capture and freeze images of life, which I understood, in my early youth, to be truly amazing. Peering through an "image finder", built into the construction of a camera box, I was able to follow life as it taking place in the present, right before my eyes. Using my own will, I am able to capture with the click of a button, a split second of time. One is now able to preserve the moment, for posterity. I'd be able, to time and again, return to that special moment, by gazing at a processed photograph. This whole idea of capturing moments, appealed enormously to my senses, at an early age. Think of it for a moment. Think of how the language and symbols of feelings, can be captured on a celluloid strip, coated with the combination of gelatin, silver and bromine. By simply exposing the silver bromides to a burst of light, we are able to capture fleeting moments, and hold on to them for our private memories. Two of my greatest pursuits, athletics and photography began when I was fourteen. I am the lucky one now, in spite of all those who in their attempts to "keep me in my place", have failed. I've found a way to express personal feelings, by capturing feelings with a camera. I have become a philosopher and photographer of my times. 17. Life is strange. I've had some of the weirdest things happen; things I cannot explain. Incidences and coincidences that befuddle me; not in a negative way, but in a very special way. Makes me wonder at times. Every now and then, I get to thinking that maybe there is some predestined plan on my behalf, and I seem to at times, with a bit of self consciousness, view myself, in my life, as a spectator even of my own being. I experience life as it is happening around me, and at times feel a distance to it all. Almost to the point of understanding that my life is happening and there is nothing I can do to change that destiny. Destiny happens to you and sometimes it overwhelms. Ever since my close brush with death at my birth, it has dawned on me, that perhaps I have a very good reason to live, and death or failure is not to be a part of my current life, at least not in the near future. There is something, very much like a "grand plan", and I and many others, are to play a key role in the developments of our future. Don't get me wrong. I'm not egocentric to the point where I foolishly believe that life revolves solely around my existence, that I am the central figure in this reality taking shape. Do I have a mission? Is there some special purpose for my being where I am in time and space? Yes, I do believe that is true. I can't fail. I only succeed and my journey through life is preparing me for something most unusual. I'd like to think that maybe I'm going to be something of a "go between", as an ambassador of the human race, helping to comfort and reassure my fellow kind, that no harm will come to us, that we will be experiencing something similar to initiating rites. Some ceremony introducing us as a planetary species, to other member civilizations living out there in this immense universe. It will be the mind expanding experience we sorely need, if we are to get away from our provincial point of view, when it comes to understanding where we, as earthlings, and where we will fit in, in the grand scheme of things. We will soon be witnessing an earth shaking truth. Soon we shall see for ourselves, truths that so many of our supposedly wise elders deemed unfit for our consciousness, fearing that we would not be able to handle the situation as free-thinking individuals. The extraterrestrials, I'm most certain, will want to present themselves openly. Why? My guess would be that their exposure to our culture, will save us from self destruction. It will become "The great awakening". For some, totally unprepared, it might be too much of an emotional experience, and they might have a most difficult time holding on to their sanity. But I do believe it will be for the better of mankind. Maybe all the nations of Earth will join under one common flag, doing away with divisive nationalism. Yes, life is strange. When there is only 100 days left before the millennium shift, my son contacts me for the very first time. I spoke with him last, when he was 18, and we agreed that I should not contact him. He would contact me. And sure enough, after three years, he sends warm greetings. He enjoyed seeing my art for the very first time, and wishes me well. Four days later, I receive the first signs that my own father is dying. My father never had the opportunity to meet his grandson Mario. Another reason why I'm so bitter about the ignorance of the Swedish State for not respecting my biological rights. It would have been so nice if the two of them had met. The meeting of my past and of my future. I'm sure it would have left a lasting impression on Mario. Such is life.


Continues   Anita's Child

Run Away World of Japan


©
Carl Toothman
Halmstad, Sweden
April 7, 1999

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