Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Melting Pot-Crayons, Life, and a beautiful mix!

     I've always wondered what it would be like to take crayons of all colors and throw them into melting pot.  What color would they turn out to be?  Would it matter if the wrappers were left on the crayons?  What determines the color of a crayon?  If light shined on the crayons in a certain way would they cast a shadow?  What color would the shadow be?  Many questions and no answers.  Where am I going with this melting pot idea.  Very simply growing up I have memories of so many positive events and then again some that made me who I am today. I write not to relive these incidences but to educate those that choose to read these personal words of wisdom.
     I've lived long enough now to have experienced the 1950's, 1960's, 1970's, 1980's, 1990's, 2000's, and the last 2010's.  At my age it's fun to play with the numbers. It's also hard to believe that time marches on so quickly and at times I think slow down.  I'm unique in that my daily work life seems to fly and when the weekends come or vacations time seems to slow. Not sure how many have that same feeling but I'm pleased that it feels that way.  I'm rambling a little bit tonight but I'm sure the readers of this blog that know me well will say "yep that's Don". Let me get back to the point.
     Earlier today in thinking about the word "mix" or the words "mixed up" I thought of my life.  Not that I'm mixed up per se but the fact that I was raised in a mixed cultural, ethnic, and "religious" family.  Although I don't describe my family as being "religious" in the sense of the word the name I was given connotes a certain mix that most don't understand.  The reason these thoughts came to mind occurred over the past weekend.  It was my mom's 83rd birthday and I promised her that the next day I'd take her to West Farms Mall to go to Macy's to get some things she needed.  Yes, even 83 year old mom's are into makeup, facial conditioners, and the like.  As I listened to her speaking with the salesperson my mom asked "where were you born"?  She replied "Russia".  My mom then proceeded to tell her that she was "Russian" descent and that her parents moved here when she was young.  She also said that she had just had her birthday and of course they she was shocked when she told the young salesperson her age.  
Thinking of that moment in time I said that's "half of my heritage".  The other half is kind of unique too.  My dad's parents escaped to England to avoid the problems they were experiencing. I never saw my grandfather but I did have the pleasure of seeing my grandmother Sarah.  The Levine name is Jewish by religion and can I be described as English perhaps or look further to where my dad's parents had escaped.  It's something that interests me but I rarely dwell on it.
     Getting to the point of the melting pot. My father never spoke to me about his feelings about religion or how he was treated because of his given name. I did hear unkind words when I was growing up but I was taught well to deal with it.  I learned to have a thick skin and most importantly I learned compassion and empathy towards others.  Perhaps that's why I have created "Everyone's Shadow Is The Same Color".  It's my way of giving back and teaching others the importance of being kind, considerate, and compassionate to others.  Do I make errors in judgment, "yes".  But I've learned that it's important to understand others before you judge them. Where one comes from, what religion they may be, or for that matter what ethnic or racial background one has evolved from should not matter but it still does.  I get frustrated at times and even saddened when people hurt one another for the aforementioned reasons.  Not only hurt by words but by weapons. Am I making sense?  I hope so.  
     Sometimes I wonder why I'm not angry with people that say ignorant things, or that I've experienced in my lifetime. It's awful in my opinion to treat others unfairly, with ignorance, because of their background.  Getting back to that "melting pot" that I learned about in countless sociology classes at the University of Connecticut when I was studying to be an "Urban Sociologist/City Planner".  Imagine that a young student from Colchester studying to be an "Urban Sociologist".  What was I thinking?  But that knowledge resurfaces to this day. Each experience that I've had I value. Whether positive or negative in nature I learn from so many things. I originally was thinking that I've come from a "mixed up" family but that sounded negative and it didn't make sense. I changed it to a beautiful mix.  Learning about cultural differences, religious differences, and how I dealt with each still brings me memories of unkind situations but I've learned that sometimes people were brought up differently than I and that I had the opportunity of a lifetime to grow up in this loving family.  It's disconcerting at times to think that people have to deal with unkind and uneducated people but that's life. Hopefully I can continue to make a difference. Do I still have to improve myself, yes!  However that's life.  You keep learning by doing and I'm not done yet.  
     The "melting pot" that I've been in and around continues to shape my life. I enjoy life and I hope to bring my thoughts to a wider audience. It's time to "get it done" as my brother said to me a couple of years ago.  Until I write again, keep smiling, enjoy life, and be kind to others.  Of course, do it with a smile.

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