Coach John Wooden describes in this TED Talk, in very clear and beautiful words, what it means to be successful. He argues, like I have been doing some time now, that success is not related to wealth or power, but rather “peace of mind attained only through self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort of doing the best of which you’re capable” (John Wooden).
I strongly believe that in the end, the only person in front of whom you have to define and justify your level of success is yourself. If you manage to live up to your expectations of yourself, the ones that you know that you’re capable of achieving, even if these achievements might be insignificant to others, then you are successful. You, as a person, should know best who you are and what your goal is in life. Once you do, you have a duty to yourself to follow this through. And while some roads can be to far to go, the fact that you stick to it means that you are persevering in becoming the best you. And isn’t that the most you can hope for?
Being entirely dedicated to doing your best and being the best “you” possible is already 99% of the battle won.
Seven years have passed since the first time the cernea.net website came online. Sure, I had a small site even before that, but in 2006 I decided that I needed a new look, a blog and my own domain. And frankly, the site went through many changes since back then, growing in complexity as I opened up new chapters in my life.
As a semi-nostalgic commemoration, I wanted to show you how my website looked in 2006:
Yawning, sneezing, coughing, involuntary burping… Different bodily actions, and still they all involve the mouth, the opening and closing of this orifice. And they all require you to take additional actions when you feel one of these coming on… or at least so I thought.
I remember when I was still a child, one of the first things I could hear when coughing, sneezing or yawing was “Cover your mouth!” followed by “You’re spreading germs in the house” or “It’s impolite”. Well, it seems that the impolite part, that refers more or less exclusively to yawning (burping is still rare in public and relatively controllable), somehow changed in today’s society.
During the last couple of years I had the opportunity to visit a set of different countries. And I don’t know how, but at one point while in a bus something clicked: why is nobody who is yawning using their hands to cover their mouths? Seriously, I felt like in a bus full of hippos. And I started wondering… somehow, more or less involuntarily, I started observing if the people on the street did cover their mouths when yawning or not. I was surprised at the outcome.
Later, I started doing this on my other visits, in all the countries I went, just to discover that, although there was a variation, I couldn’t find a place where the coverage rate was higher than 25%. I know this because I actually keep count at different periods for the ratio of covered yawns / total yawns. What was happening?
I mean sure, there were some differences between cities, regions, and countries. I actually have the numbers for a couple of days, but it suffices to say that in some places, it seemed that this was not a standard at all, and that I discovered also places where I haven’t seen one single person cover their mouth while yawning. Am I the only one that finds this weird? Or is there a new beauty standard related to how round and pink the tonsils of a person are, such that s/he feels they have to show them to the world? Or maybe they had a tonsillectomy, and what to show off the results.
Eventually, I had to discuss this topic with a couple of my friends and acquaintances, to see if I’m somehow old fashioned, or if they also feel that yawning somehow changed it’s status, compared at least to sneezing, where people still consider (maybe more than ever) that covering your mouth is important. And what do you know? It seems the people that I’m in contact with are also old fashioned and they also noticed this trend at some point in time. Oh my… Plus, I even got some advice on this. “When someone is yawning in front of me, I simply start staring at the uvula, the little bell in the middle of their throat. Eventually they notice, start feeling uncomfortable, and turn away.” Sounds like a plan, but I also don’t want to be labelled negatively, as no doubt I would be for such actions. There should be a way to maybe refresh the concept of politeness without changing your behavior to inappropriate.
So what’s the key? How can we refresh the idea of manners in public? As I like unified rules, as much as I would like to see a unified law of physics, I will present a simple concept that… that I’m not even sure anymore how I acquired. So, the rule is simple: when in public, you shouldn’t allow people to see into any orifice of your body (yeah yeah, I know how this sounds, but bare with me). Cover your mouth every time it’s open. Maybe you yawn, eat (in which case you don’t cover, but instead eat with your mouth closed), use a toothpick to clean your teeth, etc. In all these cases, cover your mouth, or at the very least, turn away from the public and towards a wall, whenever available. And this cover or turn away works for nose blowing (or itching), eye scratching, or who knows what else.
Or better yet, if possible, one should always seek the option of solving whatever discomfort one has and regrouping at the same time. In other words, taking a timeout by excusing oneself and going to the toilet to make the necessary adjustments. But of course, while this is valid for things like scratching, it does not apply to sneezing or yawning, unless you’re the Flash. 🙂
The take away message? Nobody wants to see your tonsils.
What makes a good doctor (MD)? Or what makes a great doctor? Is it only the physical healing, the fixing of these tangible hypercomplex systems we call bodies? I’m not sure… but I think if so, that would make many doctors resemble to fascinated repairmen.
Well, luckily there’s also a rare breed of doctors that also touch the human soul. Doctors, that throughout their careers, have managed to not only heal affections, but to truly change something, to influence the hearts and minds of people around them.
In his over 50 years of practice and surgeries on children, he proved an outstanding dedication to the principles of medicine and an excellent surgeon. He was offered countless positions in other countries, and was at one point in time considered one of the best child surgeons in eastern Europe. Still, he always remained faithful to his promise to help whenever and wherever he could. So much so that he almost never had time for himself. He used to spend days and nights uninterrupted in the hospital, never having time to focus on the material side of life. He didn’t even find the time to mourn his two sons that left the realm of the living before he did.
Current estimations suggest that he executed over 50.000 surgeries on children during his entire career, with a high rate of success and many solved “inoperable” cases. I was one of those 50.000.
The following is an interview (in Romanian) highlighting his situation in his last years of life. One of his few joys in this period remained the hundreds of letters of gratitude he received from every corner of the country, and of the world.
Dr. Oarsa Zeno (Zenobiu) is another remarkable doctor and artist. Besides being a great doctor, he was a renowned painter and an eternal teacher… teacher of common sense, of kindness.
I’m lucky that I had the privilege to encounter both these outstanding men during my lifetime. Besides the medical impact they had on me, I had the opportunity to bathe in their warmth, to listen to their stories and learn about true nobility. Thank you.
A captivating documentary about Siebenbürgen or Transylvania, as Romanians call it. It starts by painting the life of the remaining Saxon population in Siebenbürgen (Seven Castles), an area on the current territory of Romania, and ends by highlighting the loneliness and most inner thoughts of two individuals. I just hope this documentary got recognized for its outstanding story and directing.
The following clips are in German (actually, they are mostly in Sächsisch, but the subtitles are in German):
Also, to better understand the culture and the life of the Saxons in Transylvania, look at the following documentary:
Honestly, seeing this was mix of culture and people, all with a very different background, living on the same land, the same area, from and with the same natural resources, I can’t help to be a bit happy about where I was born and what cultural background I’ve been given.
I would like to highlight that I used “happy” instead of “proud” intentionally. I strongly believe that you can and should not be proud of anything that you have received, of anything that was or is beyond your control, of anything that you have not influenced yourself in any way. And I, like everyone else, had no influence on where I was born. But I can be happy it was there.
The last year was a great one from many different aspects, and I’d like to thank all my family, friends and colleagues for this. It’s really a stereotype, but I truly wouldn’t have done it without all the help and support.
So… Looking forward to 2013 with new lessons, challenges, work and hopefully many joyous moments. Happy 2013 to everyone!
I found this video of a person driving through all these area. And it really brought back memories… Everything’s the same, and still, everything is different. But this is normal and welcome. Time needs to bring change, otherwise why do we have time?