Thursday, November 13, 2008

EDUARDO INFANTE: Dreams, Youth, and Possibilities

1. When you were young what did you envision your future to be? And as a follow up, how does it compare to where you eventually arrived?

When I was a kid, like all of you, I dreamed on being many things. Becoming an architect was one of them. Although that did not come as a surprise since my father is an architect himself, and ever since I was very young I remember going with him to dozens of construction sites. I mainly remember how captivated I could get on witnessing the progression of a construction work, where many buildings of many different shapes would rise from scratch. Talk about amusement as a little kid realizes the power of human creativity.

At different points, when I was a kid, I also wanted to be a zoologist. I was fascinated by the different shapes and kinds of species there were out there. I somehow liked to dream that one day I would be able to know as many of them as anyone could. I also wanted to be a doctor, which I guess puts me within the standard for any boy. The reason for this to happen is that I wanted to heal people.

Speaking of healing, I also wanted to become a priest. And this thought was there, somewhere in the back of my mind, for some good 10 years. The possibility of “healing people’s souls” and helping them getting to a higher stage in their existence was rather appealing, I must admit.

In all honesty, I did not give teaching much thought up until my days in college, when I realized that I had a gift to help my friends understanding tricky topics, as we would get together in study groups prior to writing exams. One given day, in these study marathons, Everardo, a good college buddy of mine, declared that I’d be teaching in ten years from now. He also said that I’d become a heck of a good teacher.

Ten years afterwards, I am a teacher. And I certainly hope I’m a good one.

2. If you could go back and become yourself at a certain time in life which time would you choose and why? And if you could only take one bit of knowledge or one trait you’ve gained as you’ve grown older (but not too old!), what would it be? And why again?

As much as I would love to say that going back to the summer of 1993, when I was 17, and ready to take a plane to Denver, Colorado, in order to start my year in Up With People is that time in life where I’d like to go back, it is not. I’d go three years back, to the fall of 1990, when I was getting into high school. In reality, I’d love to relive my years of high school, with the level of knowledge and, most importantly, with the level of self-confidence I have right now.

It’s funny, but I can bet that if you ask anybody who knows me from my years in high school, they will say that I was the self-assured, easy-going, merry-go-lucky, popular-and-enthusiastic kind of guy. They may also say that I had no trouble establishing bonds with others, or getting used to changing environments. And I wasn’t, on the surface.

Yet, if I could go back to those years in high school, I’d probably run for President (and not Vice President) of my school body. If I went back to my high school years, I would have given a second chance to playing soccer, even if I made a fool of myself. I would still be interested in getting good grades, but I’d be a little less obedient and role-model of a kid to my parents, just for the heck of it. And yes, I’d probably ask them out, and kiss the two or three girls that I never had the guts to kiss back then. (In reality, my first kiss – a real kiss with a girl - didn’t come until my time in Up With People)

3. Were you a reader as a youth? If so, what kind of books did you read? Who were some of your favorite authors at the time?

Yes, I was a reader when I was young. And I’m still a reader today. The kind of books that I read when I was a young kid, perhaps 5 or 6, was encyclopedias. The first encyclopedia I read was one on Animals. It was called Salvat’s Encyclopedia on Animals and Wilderness. A fabulous collection, I must say.

In question 1, I said I wanted to become a Zoologist at some point in my life. This encyclopedia on animals was one of the most important reasons why so.

A second reason was simply my natural curiosity on animal species. Bugs, spiders, ants, worms, birds, turtles, small snakes… you name it. (Well, not rats or mice. I hate those guys! I honestly do) I just had a innate inquisitiveness to get to know how these guys operated. Yes, that sometimes implied dissecting them, teasing them, and getting exposed to them a bit more that reasonable standards.

4. Are there any dreams you had which you did not achieve but are still working on, or hoping to achieve? What are they?

Becoming an explorer. Discovering the world. Spending more time out in the wilderness. Risking failure. Exposing myself to making a fool of myself.

I think that, as time has passed, I’ve lost most of that voyager spirit that I once used to have. (Believe it or not) Lately, I’ve been working on allowing myself the opportunity to do things I thought I’d never do. By doing this, I’ve also been encountering aspects of myself that were long gone, and with which I had not been in touch in years.

5. Please share a book that has meant something to you, and tells why.

Herman Hesse’s Demian. A book that literally changed my mind since I read it at about the same age that Emil Sinclair, the protagonist in this novel, had. And just like Sinclair, I was in a stage of life in which I was going from childhood to adolescence, and was discovering a whole new world that had been kept hidden to me for one reason or another.

When Emil Sinclair meets Max Demian, he begins destroying some of his strongest beliefs, just to find out that there’s a creating force in each and every one of us. That this creating force is out there, available to anybody. But only the ones who dare to destroy their known world are to enjoy it. Creation is thus preceded by destruction.

As Demian revolts against the superficial ideals of his world, he awakes into a realization of himself:

"Der Vogel kämpft sich aus dem Ei. Das Ei ist die Welt. Wer geboren werden will, muss eine Welt zerstören. Der Vogel fliegt zu Gott. Der Gott heisst Abraxas."

(The bird struggles out of the egg. The egg is the world. Whoever wants to be born, must first destroy a world. The bird flies to God. That God's name is Abraxas.)

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