GETTING THROUGH LIFE, or more specifically, getting through the Holiday Season can be quite difficult for some people. It is a time when loneliness can become quite palpable. The longest night of the year comes right before Christmas. People look back over the successes and failures in the year and in their life.
But for others this season is the best time of the entire year. Why is it so much better for some people than for others? I think it all has to do with Attitude. A person can be in the direst of circumstances and have a positive attitude that helps carry them through.
Let me tell you about such a person – a friend of mine.
When I was living in California I had the pleasure of meeting a young man named Ernesto. Ernesto always seemed to be happy and to exhibit a truly positive outlook. Ernesto was a refugee from Cuba.
I asked him to tell me his story.
In Cuba, Ernesto had been an English teacher. He taught classes in schools and to government workers who needed English fluency. Ernesto also wanted to leave Cuba and come to the United States, but he knew that he was considered too valuable to be permitted to emigrate. He didn’t give up his dream, he had a plan.
After having worked diligently for several years without a break Ernesto sought permission to take a vacation – perhaps a vacation overseas. His wish was granted. He was allowed to fly off on vacation to sunny and carefree Moscow, Russia. Not despairing, Ernesto packed his cold weather gear and took off.
He noticed that his flight had a brief stop-over in Sweden.
When his plane landed in Stockholm Ernesto got off the plane and immediately asked for political asylum. Sweden in winter is not exactly Malibu.
To get political asylum in Sweden is not a quick and easy thing. There had to be an investigation and hearings first. It would take time and in the meanwhile Ernesto was sent to a Swedish prison. He was held there for a year – with a cellmate – who was a triple murderer.
When I expressed shock at this Ernesto assured me that he felt quite safe – after all, his cellmate only killed members of his family, not strangers.
After a year’s worth of hearings to determine whether Ernesto could stay the Swedish government decided – No. Ernesto would have to go back to Cuba.
Ernesto pleaded his case again and, while not changing their verdict, the Swedes came up with a solution. When they shipped Ernesto back to Cuba, they put him on a flight that had a stop-over in Puerto Rico. They figured that since he had been able to slip off of the plane in Sweden he should be able to do it again in San Juan. Never giving up hope, when his flight touched down on U.S. soil, Ernesto again asked for political asylum. This time he was incarcerated for only six months while his case was investigated.
After planning for a number of years and being imprisoned for about 18 months in two different countries, Ernesto was, at last, admitted to the United States.
Ernesto said that he never gave up hope, despite every delay and uncertainty. He had his goal and he kept his positive attitude intact.
When I met Ernesto he had a steady job and, after less than five years in this country, he was buying a house.
Ernesto was an incredibly brave young man. He left everything and everyone in his life behind to pursue his dream. He had the best positive attitude toward life of anyone I’ve ever known.
Whenever I get down about anything in my life I think about Ernesto and I intellectually slap myself silly. No matter what I am facing it is NOTHING compared to what my friend Ernesto had to endure.
Have a good day and, when the world gets to you, remember Ernesto.