I had a wonderful talk with my grandson Ricky, who turns 18 next month. He says he’s into ideas, into new ways of thinking, into what I call imaginings. I’m so proud of Ricky—he’s graduating next year with honors. He’s a devout Christian and creative person (writing, art, graphics… you name it). He’s a good son and a great grandson. We happened to be talking about something I’ve been raising to young audiences these past few months. Last Saturday, I was honored to do the keynote talk to around 800 community college students, teachers, and counselors during the Puente Project conference at the University of California, Riverside. I emphasized the power of change, of books, of language, and revolutionary ideas. I did a similar talk last week at the California State University, Northridge to around 300 students. We need to share imaginings. The time of financial constraints, political limitations, budget cuts, record job and home losses are forcing many people to lose their capacity to think beyond the limitations. But I contend this is a time to be more imaginative, not less. Young people, in particular, have inherited quite a mess from us older generations. We can throw blame around, but somehow it seems to me it’s better to put our heads together, work with youth, us olders, elders, mentors, and try to make this a better world for them and the generations to come. This means challenging the archaic capitalist, dog-eat-dog, competitive-based system (a sacred cow for Republicans and many Democrats) and think about aligning to human needs, human health, human hungers (both spiritual and physical), and to the best development possible for restoring the earth and its regenerative powers. Young people respond to this, instead of what too many people emphasize: Folding into the very institutions, systems, ideas, economies, and political choices that have gotten us into this mess in the first place. For me personally, I have to now make another life style change (I’ve had so many, but apparently not far enough). Due to stress, addictive behavior, bad eating, and generally taking in too much of the toxic environment we’re all in, I had a rough time recently. After being diagnosed as diabetic on November 4 (this summer I was officially diagnosed as hypertensive), I ended up with the worse case of gallstones ever (this is my third time). I was in such pain, suffering through 13 hours at the local county hospital. In three days, I passed the stones, and even with Vicodin, the pain was excruciating. I apparently also contracted a throat infection while at the emergency. This has been kicking my behind for the past three weeks. I feel much better today, but all of this points to what I have to do. I will beat this diabetes. I will also control the gallstones since I’ve decided not to get my gall bladder removed (one of the first things the doctors wanted me to do). But this means I have to be strict on what I eat, on exercising, on being hydrated. I must also lose around 50 pounds. I’ve carried this big gut for more than twenty years. It’s time for me to get back to a healthy weight and size, and I plan to do this as natural as possible. Like our communities, our country, this planet, each of us has to get to the healthy balance and regenerative state that is in our means to do so. I have a wonderful family, a great cultural space/bookstore (Tia Chucha’s), and spiritual healing practices that have stood the test of time. I have important work—writing, traveling, speaking—and I’m living my passions. I now have to make sure I have the quality years left to continue being indispensable in this world. c/s Copyright 2010 by Luis Jr. Rodriguez
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