For mid-July it was not a very hot day in Miami. It was sunny and beautiful and the breeze brought a subtle coolness. The sky's vitality promised the day's charm would continue until sunset and end in a typically splendid Miami evening. Judy and I decided that the weather merited a trip to SoBe.

SoBe is the name we gave our little apartment in South Beach in Miami, commonly referred to by its nickname SoBe, just as the nickname SOHO defines the sector south of South Houston Street in New York City, where my work as an actor and voice-over professional often took me. I also visited SOHO for the memories it brought me and its special charms as a unique place in the city. SoBe has a similar appeal of its own, too. It delves beyond the simple fact that it is an international tourist beach area where party fun is its most recognized standard. SoBe's inner life is more complex and varied. It's kind of a micro New York without the skyscrapers. And just like the famous city, much of what it contains can be reached by foot. If you don't want to walk, there are taxis, which just as in New York are constantly circulating and are almost always within sight. Then there is the option of public transportation, which is mediocre, but adequate.

From the eighth floor the view from the small balcony of our SoBe is directly of the South Beach shores... and the open sea. Simply being on the balcony is seductive. There's always something new and captivating for the eyes and other senses. No two days, or afternoon, or hours, are the same. The pattern of the sky changes with perpetual constancy, as does the condition of the sea. Right on the beach, the number of people, their colors, nationalities, shapes and sizes also ebb and flow. From the balcony the panorama is in a state of constant transformation, stamping each moment with a unique fingerprint of beauty and wonderment. When one approaches and sets foot on the terrace, for anyone, the sensations of space and time shift to another level, sometimes softly and others abruptly, depending on the weather's mood at the moment. On SoBe's balcony I've felt at close range the roar of frantic lightning as it runs arbitrarily through densely darkened clouds. And when the weather is calm and serene, lulled by the softness of the warm visiting winds, I have fallen into deep sleep on our small roost.

To our grandchildren, SoBe is equally beckoning, and there has never been a time when they haven't wanted to go there. They enjoy themselves immensely, and on that beautiful day in July the opportunity to go fell upon Lucas, the youngest of our daughter Charissa's two boys. She organized her plans for the day and Lucas wasn't too thrilled about the agenda his mother had planned for him. Since they had come to spend a few days vacation with us, Lucas had been trying to get us to take him to SoBe. We quickly seized the opportunity to take him there and spend some time alone with him.

When the children visit us, either alone or with their families, they stay at our home in Coral Gables where there is room to spare. Charissa and her crew had just returned from a fun-filled cruise that they had taken with her husband's family and were all in good spirits. Judy and I were also thrilled just to have them home again. They had arrived the previous week from Baltimore, where they live, to spend a few days with us before the cruise. Derek and his family had traveled from Boquete to complete our family reunion, but had already returned to Panama. Back from their cruise, Charissa and company stayed with us a bit longer before returning home. Nothing pleases us more than being surrounded by our children and grandchildren, especially when they visit us even if for just short whiles.

Another great pleasure for us is to spend time alone with one grand-child at a time. Having one over, without the presence of parents to influence (or inhibit) their behavior or divide the attention required by their youthful restlessness, is a singular pleasure for us grandparents. I greatly enjoy when my grandson is with nobody else but me and I have his attention and companionship all to myself. They also enjoy the chance to be alone with either of us, but they especially love spending time exclusively with Abuelita and Abuelito.

 "Lucas, do you want to go to SoBe with us?" we asked him, in Spanish, when I saw him wandering around aimlessly.

"YES!  Of course!" he immediately answered in English, with an instant shift of mood. He is one of those children of Hispanics in the US who barely speaks Spanish, if at all.

Our four grandchildren (Ian and Gianmarco, the youngest of our son Derek, and Lucas and his older brother, Jaedon, already in high school) are used to generally having some activity scheduled during their vacation or holidays. When there is nothing planned for the day, the kids tend to get bored, which is exacerbated when the stupefying distraction offered by the TV no longer has an effect on them.

The one most affected by the lack of a pre-scheduled agenda is Lucas. He starts to act up and will make up any excuse to come over repeatedly when I'm working to ask if there's anything we might do together. When I tell him that I can't put my work aside, the disappointment born on his tender face fills me with guilt. I then try to explain to him that what is taking up my time is important; and he, with his usual sweet gentleness, takes my rejection with understanding, but disappointed. If there is no one else to turn to, he buzzes around the house aimlessly like a little bee, searching for a place to perch his boredom.

Lucas is a special person, with special sensitivity and not because he's my grandson. He has a sense of himself that makes it difficult for him to manage the contrasts with which his emotions define reality. He knows who he is, but finds it hard to handle the emotional sensibility that makes it difficult for him to understand himself. On one hand, he has an innate propensity to make sense of things that affect his emotions, and he is almost always right. But on the other hand, the mere fact of being able to recognize his weaknesses causes insecurity which he would like to, but cannot, overcome. This dilemma forces him to think as an existentialist and has given him a sense of humor that he uses sharply and quickly and which is often flavored with ironic sarcasm that serves as protective cover. When we talk, I often burst out laughing from the witty humor of his replies. Of the four I think he's the grandkid who gives more attention to the great questions of his existence, which he ponders (I do not know how) intuitively. Thus his personality radiates a lovingly deep tenderness that softens our hearts and inclines us to affection.  

During one of Charissa's previous visits with her family, I shared a magical intellectual connection with Lucas that reaffirmed my belief that children are naturally wise and have an innate spiritual ability to understand life philosophically. Too bad that when they grow up this gift is replaced in most with the instilment of social and religious dogmas that numb the innate creative rebelliousness of their childhood. In my adult life I have had conversations with children where I have learned first rate lessons of philosophical wisdom. Since my teens, I have been an avid seeker of wisdom, and I cling to any experience, saying or words that nourish the long self-learning that I have given myself to discern what is wise in my inner and outer world. Wisdom has helped me early on to navigate the sea of adversities and errors that get in one's way in life. When I hear expressions of wisdom from the mind and lips of a child, they are of great value to me, because of the purified wrappings of philosophical clarity that inspires them. They are revealed from the understanding that intuitive wisdom often takes precedence over knowledge in us adults, and that it's capable of showing us more authentically our participation in the world we perceive. So when my grandchildren surprise me with deep observations of themselves or others, I try to always remember what I have learned from them, as I do with proverbs and sayings that serve as philosophical beacons for when I need to rediscover, in the dark, the lost path.

Among these moments I have had with each of my grandchildren individually, I'm remembering now one in particular with Jaedon, in his early years.

When I lived in New York it was easy for me to take the train to Baltimore to visit my daughter. Penn Station was just a few blocks away from my 5th and 30th apartment. It was during a visit from New York, without Judy, that I shared that special moment with Jaedon, similar to the one we had with Lucas that afternoon. Charissa took advantage of my stay to leave Jaedon in my care and go to the movies with Rob, her husband, or to dinner.

Lucas had not been born yet. I loved being alone with Jaedon. Being the first grandchild – with no thoughts yet of other grandchildren to come- Jaedon received lots of attention from me and Judy. Living in New York gave us many opportunities to be with him. Charissa visited us often in the Big Apple. We were happy to see her and eager to spend some time with Jaedon alone. We adored Jaedon and Jaedon's enormous love for us was patent.

With Jaedon in my care, Charissa and Rob planned to be back around midnight from their dinner date. It was about nine when they finally left Jaedon in pajamas and in bed in his room on the second floor. Charissa left strict instructions not to allow Jaedon to get out of bed, and to insist that he get to sleep soon if he showed signs of wanting to resist going to sleep.

My daughter tends, in some cases, in the upbringing of her children, to exercise authoritarian rule; her mother and I think sometimes more than necessary, perhaps wanting to compensate for the little discipline we used in educating her. She and her husband give special care to their children. They love them and fill them with love and attention. They also believe in the notion that for children, discipline, among other internal controls at home, promotes a healthy structure for their development. And hopefully they're right. Times are much more difficult for raising children. It is likely that today I would have raised my own differently.

It may be that Charissa's insistence that I impose my will on Jaedon that night was based on the value of the benefits of discipline in raising children, but I think my daughter sensed - if not knew - that her son would fight sleep at any cost because of his great desire to be with his Abuelito - and more since I would be alone with him. When it was just me and him, I would entertain him with all sorts of antics that would make him burst out in joyous laughter. We would have great fun together.

He also enjoyed just being with me, without any commotion.

It was just after the familiar sound of his parents' car drove off that I heard my Jaedon's little voice.

"What did you say, Abuelito?"

I couldn't see him, or he me, but I knew he was at the top of the stairs. I had the light on and was facing the laptop at Rob's small desk set in a corner of their home office area. It was time for the test: do I adhere or not to his mother's rule and order the child back to bed? Before deciding what to do, I again heard: "What did you say, Abuelito?", but this time a bit louder.

It was a favorite tactic Jaedon employed to attract attention when he needed it or when he wanted someone's company to share time with. Having me there, all to himself, and to be ordered (sentenced) to go to bed when his desire was quite the opposite, was too much to ask from the little boy. So, despite his mother's warnings, he decided to take his chances. By asking "What did you say", the little guy neutralized (at least his childish cunning assumed that much) the scolding he would get for defying the order to go to sleep.

In the past, when in our care, the strategy had proved successful enough. We found the ruse he used so he could keep enjoying our company so heartwarming that we usually caved in after just a couple of his attempts. Seeing him so happy for the success obtained by his strategy was reward enough for us grandparents.

"What did you say Abuelito?" This time the tone and volume were enough to ensure my attention. So, I stopped working and headed for the stairs trying my utmost not to smile. And there he was, standing on the edge of the top step, wrapped from head to toe in his pajamas and wearing his irresistible and disarming innocent little look.

"Jaedon, your mother said you have to sleep", I warned him, pretending to be firm, struggling not to grin. "You want me to help you sleep?" I knew how to get him to sleep. I'd spin up some improvised tales that I'd sing to him, and in a few minutes off he went. But sleep, now? This child would have none of it.

"I want to be with you, downstairs", he confessed. "I'm not tired."

That was all it took. The suppressed smile broke out, and when he saw it, the little bugger knew that he had disarmed his grandpa, and he grinned back shiningly.

Confident that he no longer needed to negotiate to be in my company, he headed down the stairs quickly. "Be careful" I warned, "with socks on you can slip easily. Go down slowly and watch where you're going and what you hold onto." Too thrilled to concentrate, sure enough, he didn't go slowly. I kept my eyes on him, and when he got close, I clapped twice and held out my arms. He knew the code. It was an immediate invitation to jump into them. Without hesitating, he leaped, confident that I would catch him, as I did always. Holding a grandchild is just as delicious, if not more, than having your own child in your arms. Grandparents know what I mean.

         "I'm warning you, we can't play or make a lot of noise, you hear?" I told him for my own safety. "Your mother made me assure her that you would sleep and if she sees you awake when she gets back, she'll be very angry. So, no commotion."

Seeing how happy he now was to be in my arms, I started to spoil him. "So, what do you want to do?"

         "Ummm, I want to play on the laptop. That will be quiet."

"Good choice", I confirmed, and with him still in my arms, I started turning off lights, leaving on only the one by the desk where I then settled him on my lap, facing his father's computer. The soft loving joy of holding him felt so good it moved me to kiss him on the crown of his head and embrace him tenderly. "I like being with you, Jaedon. I'm glad we're together now" I said. And with voice warmed by the love I was feeling for him, I defined the rules of our complicity in undermining his mother's authority.

"I don't like going against your mom's orders, you know. If I allow you to be with me here now, I'm only doing it because I love you and I want to be with you too ... and I want to take advantage of my visit to do so."  And with a bit of exaggerated seriousness, I added, "And no ifs, ands or buts. As soon as we hear your parents' car, you run up and go to bed and pretend to sleep, understand? They won't let you be with me anymore if they find you awake and down here. OK?"

         "Yes Abuelito", he answered as if trying to give me the peace of mind he thought I needed in order to change the subject. The kid would have agreed to anything, as long as I let him stay there with me.

He was eager to show his skills on Disney's online website. In a rush, he opened his dad's laptop, his face lighting up with the glare. He grabbed the mouse in his tiny hand and with a rapid sequence of clicks he skillfully moved towards the desired link.  When the game menu's popped open he turned to me and said, "Watch this, Abuelito!, this game is really cool!" He double clicks, and out pops the goodies, and the child is sucked into cyberspace's entertainment universe. As he navigated, concentrated in his world of fun, I asked him a few questions to reassure him that I was enjoying the ride with him, and ready for him to show me or talk about whatever he wanted.

To share a child's interest and give proper attention to what interests him in a given moment, is a gesture it deeply appreciates, especially when given by those who they know love them deeply. And when we acquiesce to their invitation to play, they enjoy us all the more and feel appreciative. For us, it's equally rewarding. The time we spend attention on them, at key moments in their lives, guarantees us long term benefits from the enriching affection and tender love — and trust — they grant us in turn.

When a child is joyful and in a state of thankfulness, it's a good time to teach them useful lessons that can last a lifetime. The opportunity deserves all the care possible. That's how the atmosphere felt at that time with Jaedon. I wanted to enjoy it and at the same time seek its advantages for teaching carefully. The rich sensations of love I felt with him were to be savored. And our communication channels, wide open, were sensitized to a good transmission of wisdom, so I let him enjoy his game online and paid attention to what he enthusiastically wanted to show me. Once he got tired or bored, I would take him to bed and there we would talk for awhile about something that would instill in him a grain of learning that hopefully would last him a good while. Then I would put him to sleep with any made-up story that I could sing to him.

All of a sudden he stopped and straightened up, completely abandoning his focus on the screen, took a look around and said, "It's too dark in here Abuelito. I don't like it when it's so dark."

"Why?" I asked him. "If we turn on the lights your mother will be able to see you when she arrives, and you know what that would mean."

"Yes, but I'm scared of the dark."

"Scared? Scared, shmared, Jaedon. Fear of the dark depends on what you want to see in it. If you imagine that there are bad things, you will see them, and if you imagine that there are good things, then you'll see the good, and you won't be afraid anymore. Also," I told him, certain that it would calm his fear, "I'm here with you, and nothing's going to happen to you."

It was a good moment for some durable learning for my grandson. Having him overcome his fear of the dark at this early age would prepare him for the most serious fears that plague us as adults. I believe that one of the most important obligations and responsibilities of fatherhood is to teach one's children critical thinking, so that they'll be uninhibited when questioning themselves or others, and to resist when others try to impose on them deliberate authoritarian criteria which suffocates the logic of their sense of discretion. Such education is critical, in my opinion, for them to be able to survive anything life suddenly throws their way without the protection and support of their parents.

Subjecting children from an early age, or letting them subject themselves, to certain physical challenges is an essential, although not a primordial part, of such education. What's more important, I believe, is that they develop the mental and intuitive certainty that will help them confront and overcome physical, social, psychological and other kinds of adversity that often stand in our way throughout life. That moment with Jaedon was ideal for instilling a dose of that type of discretionary thinking. It could help him discern between what the product of his imagination is and what is actually palpable ... and thus overcome his fear of the dark or otherwise, of what isn't always clear and obvious to us.

"Darkness is our friend now," I revealed, sure that he would appreciate the logic of the analogy I was offering him. "It protects us so that when your parents get home, you'll have time to run upstairs."

"Yes, but I'm still afraid" he answered, not having been convinced.

"But why do you feel afraid?" I insisted on asking him. Expertly moving his fingers over the keyboard of his father's laptop, he shrugged his shoulders in a gesture of resignation.

"You have to be afraid of something".

As soon as I heard his response, I recognized the brilliance of the philosophical lesson that the boy had just given me. With the pure and privileged innocence of a child, he concisely and casually presented to me a useful perspective for reflection on those times when we ponder the senselessness of any one of our many fears that suddenly haunt us.

Grateful for the wisdom of his observation, I told him he was right and hugged him. And then I said:

"Go on, turn on the lights."

That moment with Lucas in South Beach turned out to be similar to the one spent with Jaedon, which taught me a great deal ... and then some. Lucas had accepted my challenge to address any serious issue in our conversation, and was willing to allow me to choose the focus of the conversation. I had no idea which topic to discuss, but I knew our grandson was happy to be with us and I didn't want the subject to turn unpleasant for him.

I referred him to the conversation we had the last time he had visited us in Miami. He and Jaedon were staying in one of the rooms we had fixed up for them years ago for when they would come visit us, and Lucas was already in the top bunk, set on reading a bit before going to sleep. I approached him to say good night, but I noted that he didn't want me to leave so quickly, made clear with the little casual questions that he uttered whenever I showed signs of getting to the good night part. Nothing grabbed our interest enough to keep talking about it, but I wanted to indulge his yearning for me to stay and decided to steer the conversation to a topic I had pending for him.

"You know Lucas, I've been wanting to tell you that I much admire your wonderful ability to think deeply about life and to ask yourself important questions about why certain things happen to us as they do."

Right away the glow in his eyes and the attention he gave me confirmed his pleasure for this type of inquiry.

"Do you remember the time I told you about the 10 question final exam my biology teacher gave our class when I was in the military academy, and that among the 10 questions, there was one that left us all perplexed, because we had no clue what it had to do with biology? Do you remember we talked about it?"

"Yes, and the question was: Why?"

"Exactly! See what I've said about you, about what I particularly admire about you? The mere fact that you remembered is admirable. It confirms what I said about your deep sense about things  ... and that you care about these issues ..."

 "And the answer was 'Because'" he added, with a gleam in his eye.

"That's right, wow, Lucas! I love it that you remembered! And that's life, you know. There are questions in life that have no other answer than that. And knowing there is no better answer, and that more explanation isn't needed to understand its meaning, makes us realize that life itself is a big Why and that's why it's so interestingly mysterious and full of surprises, sometimes bitter and sometimes sweet. And it's like that just because it is. It's very complicated to try to have an explanation for everything. For example, how can you explain why the world exists? (He flashes a gesture that he understands what I'm saying.) Or the oceans? Or why does humanity behave so irrationally; on one hand it can create beautiful things such as art and cool inventions, and on the other hand it causes such great damage to nature? Why do you exist? Why are you how you are? Nothing more than just because can really give us an answer to which we can say, Ah, yes, that's it."

         "And that's why because covers it all."

         "Right, and not out of laziness to give longer answers to understand the questions we ask ourselves, but because sometimes you have to see everything like that, broadly, so that we can realize that there are things that exist entirely just because."

I knew that, in his way, Lucas was understanding the value of the perspective I was suggesting regarding his own existence.

It was particularly important to me that we continue on that train of thought, because Lucas has, as I too had up until the time I was an adolescent, poor eating habits. Without much of the variety needed in his diet, he tends to steer addictively towards sweets, and that concerns us all. There is an epidemic of obesity among children in the U.S. and the incidences of juvenile diabetes are on the rise. Judy and I are very worried about his future health and his ability to change his eating habits. But since childhood, it has been an uphill battle. Of the many attempts to get him to eat something he doesn't "like", he usually gets his way. I figured that maybe the lesson I was trying to instill in him about himself would give him, although indirectly, new inner tools to deal with his problem.

Most likely a result of the difficulties caused by his emotional sensitivity, Lucas suffers from a tense sort of nervousness within him that worsens when under stress, usually when pressured, or rather when he pressures himself whenever there's a challenge or task ahead which he doesn't feel quite confident in being able to address or resolve. The incidents with his eating are a classic example of this, as when he's questioned about what he requests or wants to eat, or is required to try food that he totally rejects merely because of its appearance. This causes him much stress, because it is a family issue that he probably feels he is the cause of, or at least in part. I always think of how healthy it would be for him if he enjoyed, with the same calmness that he has when eating sweets, eating appropriate food that his biological consistency deserves and requires for healthy growth.

Seeing Lucas spending time with us, all calm and happy, showing none of his nervousness, I decided not to even touch on the issue of food or upset him with any other matter that would make him feel supervised or self conscious of his behavior. He was rosy-cheeked and looked particularly handsome, and he was in a beautiful mood and displaying an entertaining sense of humor. I didn't want to jeopardize the joy he was feeling of being with us, so I chose to suggest a friendly topic of conversation that might still give me an indication of his general state of mind regarding his own life. I wanted to hear in his own words what opinion he had of his own existence. And I didn't want to bring up the topic with a sterile "What's new?" or "How's it going?" that we often blurt out without much meaningfulness.

On an intuitive level, Lucas has an intellect and sense of logic that lets him easily manage the philosophical content of subjects. His wisdom comes directly from the privilege of being a child and the essence of the innate creativity and imagination of his childhood. When he comes into contact with these centers within him, he allows himself enough room for self reflection and trusts the rewards from the philosophical answers he offers  himself. In that sense, to encourage this gift of his, I wanted to question him about how he was viewing the results of his experience of living his own life.

Deep you might say, and rightly so, but it is an area that the boy handles well.

As introduction to the subject I was about to propose to him, I reminded him of the conversation we had months before about my distinguished, pipe smoking, biology professor during my sophomore year of high school. In the final exam of 10 essay questions, the fifth was just "Why?", and nothing else. The entire class was taken by surprise when the teacher passed out the test with instructions there could be no talking. The looks and expressions we flashed each other was mute proof of the bewilderment each one of us felt by the unexpected and incomprehensible nature of the question. The next day, when we received the results, we learned that only one student had gotten it right.

And just as I was able to understand the obvious logic and wisdom of the question when the answer was revealed to us, so did Lucas, but at the moment I posed the question to him in the context of the story. In fact, he almost got the answer on his own, not with one word, but a few. But, I, in turn, as most of my colleagues, was completely stumped when I first encountered it. It was "Because." It never occurred to me.

When I reminded Lucas of the meaning of the lesson behind the story about this exam, he tuned into those corners of his mind where his innate sensitivity for philosophy lies. Seeing him willing to dig in deeper, I asked: "In these 9 years of your life, when you look back and see the path your life has taken until now, how do you feel about how your life is going?"

That got him thinking. His look confirmed it. And also that he liked the question. He thought for a second or two, took his lips from the straw in his soda, and said, "What do you mean?"

"Okay, let me put it this way. In these nine years of your life, and those years you remember and have been knowing yourself, and observing, consciously or not, the experiences that you've lived, happy or sad, difficult or not, at home and outside your home with your parents or relatives and friends, where you live or the places you have visited, your experiences at school or outside it. All this time you have been living so many things, which together already form a good story of who is the Lucas that you know well, the story that begins in some place in your memory and whose end you still do not know. And as you live, that story continues to grow, like a movie whose end is still unknown, in which you're the star, the main protagonist, with the participation of other characters that are part of your life, like your parents, your brother, me, your grandmother, friends, everybody who has been with you, the main character in your movie.

And as in the movies, these characters, including you, sometimes have a good time and sometimes they don't, because that's life. For example, the hero of a film doesn't become who he is, nor gets to have courage, without undergoing difficult tests that sometimes make him think he won't be able to overcome the obstacles standing in his way. He sometimes even feels overwhelmed and weak, frustrated and depressed because he thinks he might not have the strength or courage to keep going. But somehow he asks himself serious questions and realizes that perhaps the only thing left for him to do is to fight to keep forward. In our lives there are also times when things go very well for us.

All this, the entire mix of experiences, shapes our lives, our movie about ourselves and we can observe it all, because no one really knows our own story as much as ourselves. So if you can see where you are now in your life, in your story, in your movie, and take a look back, you'll clearly see the path you have travelled. And the experiences that stand out most in your memory is what makes your life interesting, and it becomes even more interesting because as you live it you can dress up your movie with new stories from new experiences.

The good news is that while you're living your movie, you can take time to look back at it to check out how it's going so far. And while there may be sad and painful parts of it, you have to enjoy them anyway, because who knows when your movie will end. We can die old - or young -, from an illness or an accident, or just because, but the important thing is that we enjoy our movie now, the good, the bad and the ugly in it. And while it lasts, what never changes in your life, is that you are not only the star of your movie, but the one who knows your story best."

Through it all, Lucas kept very attentive, listening closely to everything I had to say. And although the waitress interrupted occasionally, I would pick up where I left off without losing the kid's interest.

"Now then, my beloved grandson, back to my question. With all this in mind, knowing that the story of your life is your great movie, let me ask you again: How is your life going, how do you feel your life is treating you at your 9 years of age?"

As he leans back in his chair, he looked away, across the street, past the vacationers and bathers on the beach, and beyond the waves onto the far of the sea, as if he needed to spread the great sense contained in everything I had told him across the horizon in order to distill its meaning and be ready for a clear and honest response.

"My life is going great!" he answered me with measured enthusiasm mirrored in the confidence in his eyes. "I have a few 'tweaks' to make here and there, but overall I can't complain." The perceptive capacity for self reflection he demonstrated with his answer made his grandmother and me quite proud. Once again he showed us the deep thinking he's capable of.

"You have no idea how proud you make me feel, Lucas."

"And me too," his grandmother added. 

 "But let's see," I followed, "now tell me, what would those tweaks be, for example?"

Without hesitation: "Well, I have to work on my problem with food. It's not easy for me, but I know if I give myself time and work on it,  I'll be able to handle that better. I also have some school issues that I have to try to fix. How I use my time, and perhaps take my studies more seriously. And there are other little things here and there."

"The honesty of what you've just said is admirable, Lucas" I say to him in praise of the wisdom of his response. "Your grandma and me, it gives us great comfort knowing you are so wise. You have the ability to know yourself in such a way that we can tell that you'll deal with the ups and downs in your life, and I know you'll beat your problem with food in due time."

From that moment on, the remainder of our time with our grandson proved even more delicious and rewarding than we had anticipated. For me, especially. His attitude about himself and his life made me reflect on my own problems and how they were affecting the new crossroads I faced at 65. The fact that I find myself now, at this moment, writing, having arrived at this most important and personal stage of my website, is the direct result of what I was able to overcome, thanks to the lesson that in return I learned about my own life that evening we shared with Lucas. The collection of virtual documentation shown—and to be shown—here at rogeliopretto.com of the remembrances and the memories of the experiences I have had throughout my lifelong relationship with art, has been a personal dream for many years and which almost withered from my procrastinations. The passing of time hardened my mental block that kept preventing me from starting. I didn't know where or how to begin the documentary (to call it as such) about the paths I've taken through the story of my life where art has left its indelible mark.

And I don't specifically mean my trajectory through the arts, or my achievements as a painter and actor, since long-term achievements, those traditionally regarded as success in these disciplines, have certainly not been mine. My relationship with art is the one I have had strictly on a personal level, from a very young age, in the manner, outside the norm and artistically passionate, in which I have lived and perceived and reacted to the events and experiences that most strongly mark the development of my story. As I pointed out to Lucas, the contents of his life, seen through his eyes and memories like a tale lived in his own flesh, are a tremendously interesting and valuable story at his memory's reach. The contents of my own have had that same particular appeal for me. And I've always seen it that way. Thus, despite the achievements and failures that mark its long journey, my life is still full of philosophical lessons that continue to lead me on the path to wisdom. I've always wanted to document these lessons, so that they can at least remain a testimony and legacy to my children and theirs. This way, particularly when my life here is done, they would have an informative source, personally mine and reliable, of these reflections about Being that I've regarded with such importance for so long.

When the phenomenon of the Internet made its presence in our reality and was made accessible to anyone in the world, the idea of having my own website to post the stories of my personal thoughts and experiences there, in the endlessness of cyberspace, greatly appealed to me. That way not only would they be shared with my descendents, but with any visitor who came upon the site.

The fact that I can finally publish my movie on the Internet, albeit partially and progressively building it with new chapters, for the judgment and/or enjoyment of anyone who's interested, has been made possible by what I have learned about myself while being a grandfather interested in his grandson's welfare. Intending that my conversation with Lucas end up being a lesson to improve his capacity for survival, by improvising the metaphor of his movie, I was finally able to overcome the barriers that kept me from conceptualizing the libretto and production of mine.

I hope you enjoy it.


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