My name is Milo.
<< hysteric laughter >>
Actually, I am quite used to that response.... and, yes, it has actually happened more than once, on more than just one country or continent, over a couple generations, so far.....
At one point I thought I might become a standup comedian.... With an opening line like THAT, I could say just about anything and people would laugh their heads off....
That was my reasoning at the time, anyway....
But that didn’t really turn out that way.... at least not in any form or timeline I was expecting!
You see, from even before I learned to walk or talk, I had a really terrible case of stage fright.... one so bad that whenever I was with more than one other person at a time, even wallpaper made more noise than I did!.... and that “condition” persisted right up into my mid twenties....
.... Which was about the time that, during a trip through Central America, I was exposed to what passes as humor in Guatemala....
Well, to be truthful, I guess it would be fair to say that being named after a world famous chocolate drink might well be considered hilarious in almost any country.... but in Guatemala <<sigh>> this was the gift that kept on giving..... a running joke that wears Nike Air running shoes..... There is no possible escape from something like this.
Suffice to say, while I didn’t find the fountain of youth, during my visit to latin America, I certainly found a cure for stage fright! The very thing I had always been terrified of. Heaps of spontaneous, “rolling on the floor” laughter at your expense.
Brutal, yes, but terribly effective!
But I digress....
Born a Marine Corps brat, in North Carolina, raised in Southern California (once we got past the “23 moves in the first 5 years” period of my life), the first pacifist in an un-countable generations long line of professional military officers, started working at 13 (started a LOT of things from the age of 13!), left home upon graduating from H.S. with my own hard-earned money in in the bank, worked primarily as a still photographer and lab technician, but also trained and gained experience as a cinematographer/film editor, as well as as a yacht builder, was drafted and subsequently trained as a medic, was sent back to California (instead of ‘Nam) as a still and motion photographer (what I was doing before I was drafted) documenting military weapons trials, which turned out to be blatantly good luck, allowing me to survive my service to my country (in contrast with about 98.5% of the guys I trained with in San Antonio, and a solid majority of the guys in my H.S. graduating class, the class of ’64, San Bernardino H.S.).
What do you do when the government, and the military, decide it is time to let you have your life back?.... again assuming that you are, indeed, both still among the living and reasonably intact, physically and emotionally....
More Photography, more boat building, and, ever curious, discovering ever more things to learn and do and share with others.... a year or two here, a year or three there, some time in latin America (that stint mentioned above), where I started teaching English as a second language (which, come to think of it, IS a lot like standup comedy, if you want to keep your own sanity intact!), a stint as director of a Manpower Program, during the LBJ years, in Central California, helping low income minority young people get better educations, effective vocational training, and placement in non-dead-end jobs..... Loved the work and the people, ALMOST hated the inherent constraints of the job, and, eventually, despised the government’s mindless bureaucracy.
I was, however, inspired by some of the youngsters I was working with.... street smart yet, in their own unique way, totally ethical (“If you can’t be true to your self, how can you not lie to others?”), committed, dedicated, and dependable when and where it counts, and always willing to face RISK if it really IS necessary, and for just cause. (Is it really any different now? I wonder.)
The next thing I knew, then seven years after graduating from high school, I was a university student.... “HUH?!?!”
I was “tricked” into it by one of my ManPower protégés, actually.... I had helped him get into Cal Poly at San Luis Obispo through an EOP (the Educational Opportunity Project) scholarship....
He told me later that he had simply done what he had learned from me.... “Read minds (translation: pay attention to non-verbal meta-maps), carefully, deeply, and accurately, then put people where they need to be to enable them to be successful learning, being, doing, and having what their own internal map and compass says they are here for.”
Granted.... That is a VERY cool idea, but I never said THAT! (At least I don’t THINK I did!)
Reminds me of one of my all time favorite clichés....
“Demonstration always beat explanation, hands down!
If you have “shared experience”, no explanation is required.
If you don’t, no amount of explanation will ever really convey the reality.”
Entered university as a TESL (Teaching English as Second Language) major, but, thanks to some students from Japan.... experiencing traumatic confusion (AKA “culture shock”) and language difficulties, and a department head with a truly MAD sense of humor, I gradually migrated over to and through Anthropology and Japanese Studies.... Which required me to transfer to Cal State L.A.... Where I studied, worked as a male nurse at a convalescent hospital for older Japanese Americans, tutored students and staff of a Japanese bank’s rep office, and managed the University’s Asian Studies Center Resource Library.
At the end of a very intense three years I finally settled on a couple of interdisciplinary degree programs, each looking at the issues of Japan-US culture-shock from a different point of view: one from the point of view of measuring the impact in international/multi-cultural communications, while the other looked at possible approaches for inoculating language students against the most disturbing aspects they were most likely to find when they actually arrive in the language environment in question.
In a moment of madness, and, if I remember correctly, exhaustion.... Just before graduation, I took a break to go see the “other side of the coin” in Japan.... “Just for 6 months!”.... That was in December of 1973.
Dare I add..... I’m still here. Still observing, learning, doing, and deriving great joy and satisfaction from the on-going experience of my life in Tokyo.... and <<blushing>> still saying “Maybe 6 more months....”.
Now, given that more of my life has been invested on this side of the Pacific than I had invested on the other side of the Pacific, there is a lot more to this story than what has been included here, in this already over-long prologue.... but, then again, this is why we have blogs and podcasts.... RIGHT?!?!...
The story will be continued and filled in with more detail (The REALLY interesting Guatemala and Columbia stories haven’t been told yet, nor has my bout with NDEs, at six months old, as a teenager, and over the course of my intention-filled if mis-spent life!) as I make time to sit down and fill that detail in.
I tend to be a story teller that has one eye that notices history (more in terms of waves, trends and cycles of ebb and flow than in terms of dates and events), the other that notices the interesting lessons that are (sometimes at least) learned along the way.... mixing in as I go along the emotions of a romantic.... the sensibilities and ethics of a humanistic philosopher, the inquisitive mind of a child, and the imagination of a dreamer or an artist.... (My dad hated that part!).... but, as it turned out, the only things I am truly artistic with tend to be food, woodworking tools and fiberglass, photography, and, on my good days, the art of innocently asking the right question at just the right moment.... and, in doing so, somehow creating REAL magick that can change perceptions, environments, directions, destinations, and lives.
Finally, I want to take a moment to offer a most grateful dedication to all the people and experiences that have flowed through my life with the following quote, the source of which is unclear but has been, on occasion, attributed to Confucius.
“Anything not me is my teacher.”
I can only say that I have been blessed, beyond my capacity to express, with a steady flow of truly remarkable, often wonderful, teachers (people, events, and experiences) throughout the course of my life.... most of whom never had anything to do with any educational institution.
I am, constantly, in awe of the bounty that represents and I am struck speechless in my gratitude.
To any of you who have come to this site already having had met me in some capacity (family, friends, clients, acquaintances or what have you), this obviously means YOU!
Thank you and welcome back!
To the rest of you....
Thank you for joining the party! I sincerely hope that I can create something here that makes your visit worth while.
In service and gratitude,