A cyclist town

“We live in a cyclist town”, in Mexico we use this expression in a pejorative way, meaning a place that is underdeveloped. Nowadays, when someone use this expression I do not know exactly what it means, because this phrase makes me think about some towns that I had met; towns that commonly use bicycles as a transport and I like them very much.

I met a cyclist town, where its main transport are two wheels, thought there were two legs… and four, six, twelve even one hundred wheels if we think of train.

What did I find there?

A city that privilege pedestrians and bicycles presence, that makes it fascinating to travel its streets, letting appreciate among other things, the diversity of bicycles models that exist and showing all the options you can choose according to your needs.

I am going to describe some examples that I found:

There were the Old Fashion models, they were the most common, I call themBike-banger, they thunder while pedalling. They are very safe to pedestrians, you know when they are coming because of their thundering; the owners look relax without any worry about their sonority.

There were the Modern models, racing bicycles, light, which look like they do not weight anything and these are the fastest. They pass as fast as the cyclist blows away and you just feel a gust of wind.

Family models are fantastic, to two and three people. Exactly, what I dreamt to ride with my sisters. There are many family models: a big one the front and a small one at the back, they are used to transport kids to school. Another one is a traditional bicycle with a small chair at the back, where babies go tied with a sit bel and a helmet; they are sleeping while their heads are shaking from side to side.

I could see some models that I call Twins, they are like a motorcycle with sidecar, the sidecar could be opened or closed depending on the weather. They were used to transport kids and babies too.

There was a model that could be perfect to my father; it was like a tricycle with the loading area at the back, a big one. I can imagine him with short trousers and venison-skin sandals riding the tricycle; in the loading area his shotgun and a wild boar, product of his hobby, hunting. Of course, this model can be used to carry groceries too.

Another model, is the traditional tricycle with a big basket in the front, but it is covered with checked fabric and the person that is inside the basket just have the head outside, during rainy seasons it could be very useful.

If social practices tell many things about the culture of a country, let’s imagine all the models that Mexican ingenuity could create, and how they could change our transportations practices.

Ironically that cyclist town had some lacks, it did not any street vendors, it did not have stray dogs, neither advertising on buildings, during presidential elections there were not hordes of political advertising invading the city and making life impossible.

I do not believe that every cyclist town has to be the same, however, if being one implies to have a city that privilege citizens instead cars, that privilege the beauty of the buildings instead marketing, it could make our cities, a space that favours the healthy practice of walking and riding our bikes.

Should we become a cyclist town? What do you think?

From Relationship to Relationshit

We can play with language: it is enough changing a letter to transform words as well the perspective and meaning they have. Let’s see!

Every human interaction starts as a relation, plainly, assuming that two people come into contact at the first moment without any information about each other. It is difficult, only if it is a casual and hazardous meeting, which is free of predispositions and expectations.

Thereon that bond can become a friendship, a work relationship, a love relationship. The passing of time, interaction, dialogue, circumstances, acquired knowledge, created expectations, will and interest, will transform that casual meeting into something common and quotidian.

I think that every relationship is in power, considering that no relation “is”. They have to be constructed, they have to be made every day. Not even the basic relationships like mother & child, couple or family are natural and spontaneous.

Every relationship is full of social meanings about how they must to be, but they are not until we make them. Mother and child relationships and couple relationships are not naturally loving, nor friendship relations are spontaneously respectful, not even boss & employee relationships are including.

Into dialogue, as a way of interaction, we choose words to communicate. Those words help to shape our relationships until they become —no definitively neither statically— ways of living.

It is not my task to clarify what changes first, the relationships or which words we use to name them. What is evident is that, something happens between a mother and her son when he stop being “the light of her eyes” to become “that dirty and unbearable son”; when a husband stop being “my cupid” to become “that good for nothing man”; when your boss stop being “a model to follow” to become “a neurotic and embittered woman”.

Relationships change and the way we talk about them change too. Not only the words we use are different, but the tune in out voice changes, our not-verbal language and every way to signify is transformed.

How easy is loving, respecting and admiring to “the light of my eyes”, “my love” and “my model” and what difficult is to love what is “unbearable, useless and bitter”. Language is dangerous; it has the power to transform our living together and everyday dialogue, changing from loving “Relationships” to unsustainable “Relationshits”

If we can choose what word we will us to name something, which word we will communicate; if we can think what we will say and stop before behaving… why are there some relations in which we decide to be offensive, rude and disrespectful while in other relations we are kind, attentive and tender?

Change playfully a “t” for a “p” at the end of a word, seems very funny, but what sad and uncomfortable could be when that word represents a relationship that has changed.

Playing with language is risky, we should not despise it. It can create as extraordinary realities and relationships as destructive. What word do you like to construct?

R E L A T I O N S H I _ S. Take your chance!


The time: adjective, verb and noun

I always believed, that time was just a noun, a word that describe an abstract or concrete reality. Suddenly, after reading the next Julio Cortázar’s story on his book “Historias de Cronopios y de Famas” it has an amazing perspective. Let’s play with it!

Preamble to the instructions on how to wind a watch

(Translated by Paul Blackburn)

Think of this: when they present you with a watch, they are gifting you with a tiny flowering hell, a wreath of roses, a dungeon of air. They aren’t simply wishing the watch on you, and many more, and we hope it will last you, it’s a good grand, Swiss, seventeen rubies; they aren’t just giving you this minute stonecutter which will bind you by the wrist and walk along with you. They are giving you – they don’t know it, it’s terrible that they don’t know it – they are gifting you with a new fragile and precarious piece of yourself, something that’s yours but not a part of your body, that you have to strap to your body like your belt, like a tiny, furious bit of something hanging onto your wrist. They gift you with the job of having to wind it every day, an obligation to wind it, so that it goes on being a watch, they gift you with the obsession of looking into jewelry-shop windows to check the exact time, check the radio announcer, check the telephone service. They give you the gift of fear, someone will steal it from you, it’ll fall on the street and get broken. They give you the gift of your trademark and the assurance that it’s a trademark better than others, they gift you with the impulse to compare your watch with other watches. They aren’t giving you a watch, you are the gift, they are giving you yourself for the watch’s birthday.

Measuring time, is probably one of the biggest consensus that human beings have, even though how and when measure it is not exactly the same.

To some, we live in 2015; to others in 4713. In Chinese calendar every year can have twelve or thirteen months and between 353 and 385 days; to us every year have twelve months and 365 or 366 days. To Mayan culture time is counted through cycles, thirteen months with twenty days each one, 260 days per year. Thus, we live on AC. while others lived on BC.

What a perspective!

However these conceptions time constructs us. It is through it that life starts and finishes – though to some actual life start after death, to others we just reincarnate – it gives to life cycles, stages, moments and short and long term effects.

If time as concept constructs, what does it make us?

As a noun, time is not innocent; we have given it more properties that really “belong” to it. It is not a neutral noun that only refers to something. Time,defines the start and end of things, what is past and what is present. It has as well effects on us depending on its actions as “adjective” or “verb”

As an adjective, time qualifies us; it makes us old and young, it also makes us punctual, irresponsible, dissatisfied, resigned and obsessive people. It is also a way, to judge what we do pointing out what is right and what is wrong – e.g. when something happens at appropriate moment- it dictates what is real because is durable and remains; and what is trivial because it is ephemeral.

As a verb, it makes us act, because it makes us go faster or delay decisions –carpe diem- trying to care it; when we are conscious about life and death, it makes us buy, save, assure, trying to project our future; when something happens in a wrong timing it makes us stops and reflects on; when we feel that time is passing, we do what is right studying, paying and sometimes getting pregnant.

Time is as relative – time will tell!- as categorical – here and now!-; it is as cruel –your time is over!- as fun – we have more time than life!-. Either way, as noun, verb or adjective, time shapes us to live on right moment, specific tasks and expected actions.

Don’t even talk about time as an adverb! It will make us seek uselessly, dream intensely, and maybe love desperately.

Have you ever have stood on Greenwich meridian playing to be in the past and in the present, or in the present and in the future, depending on the way you want see it.



Stealing spontaneity?

The Complexity and the beauty of human life are stunning. Looking at it since the moment of conception and the miracle of living to its biological end, leaves me open-mouthed.

Though for many people, the interval between life and dead is not enough, it is enough to take a look at the diversity of events that we can experience. As human beings try to understand the maelstrom of circumstances, we look for ideas that make sense to our experiences; from nature forces of mythological gods to scientific theories. What we say about the world determines our way of living.

Many people grow up without noticing how we adapt our lives to these ideas; developing behaviours, expectations and standards of living according to them. Some of these patterns keep our love of the wonder of living hidden, because they became a sequence of steps, which standardize what is “normal”. Developmental Psychology is a good example of this kind of speech. In its interest to understand, to explain, to control, leading us to generalize patterns and becoming “guides of living”.

What a loss! What a shame! How these perspectives reduce life to an only life spam; apparently, in which is not important social, cultural, economic and political issues of the places where we live.

It seems like it does not matter which is my neighborhood, who are my friends, what is the religion that I profess, if I sing in a choir or I if am a boy scout, if my country lives any kind of “isms” like classicism, racism, sexism; if a natural disaster destroy my city, if there is no job, if families do not have free time and neither time to visit friends, if I belong to an immigrant family or if my country is in the middle of a war and economic depression.

This kind of discourses —I mean every theory that describes development-life as specific stages, stablishing tasks to reach to be a mature, independent and autonomous person— makes us look like beings determined only by biological and environmental conditions like our extended and original families. Putting aside, all the unpredictable and spontaneous occurrences of life; like an unexpected dead, a fantastic encounter, a chronic ill, an unimaginable success, an accident, winning the lottery, among many others.

Life is more that words can say. Discourses that divide development-life in portions —physical, psychological and cognitive— create an illusion; an illusion that makes us believe that life is easy to understand. If we idolize this perspective, we could agree with Developmental Psychology’s perspective, living life like something pre-established, organized and accurate; but stealing spontaneity of what is unpredicted, the joy of surprises, and the happiness of being alive.


The newness of everyday

Time passes and everything changes, this transformation is so subtle that everything seems like nothing happens. The everyday routine stops us from realising about the beauty of details, the intangible and the newness of everyday.

As a therapist, one of my everyday activities which make me honour and enjoy life is to listen. It allows me to appreciate poetic moments, to be creative and to be attentive to the surprises and exceptional and unrepeatable moments. My proposal is “to change a conversation” generating through every dialogue a difference, that make us see, appreciate, value and love something new or unknown and/ or something known but in a different way.

Quinientos25 – as a Human Relationships Agency – is today a platform to expand and enrich my life and work, promoting conversations from different natures which favour human development, happiness, positive relationships; in brief, everything that makes every person, every human being, someone better.

Psychotherapy, Literature and Art, are my allies to dialogue, to generate multiple spaces, to broad visions and experiences, to do my bit to make this world better, rescuing the beauty of the details, the subtlety of the newness of everyday.

Every week, I will share some ideas that allow us to dialogue through face to face conversations, Facebook and/or Twitter. I invite you to explore other perspectives and to construct alternative ways of living.