Abe Observes

abe villarrealAbe Villarreal is the Director of Communications at Western New Mexico University. When not on campus, he enjoys writing about his observations on marketing, life, people and American traditions.

By Abe Villarreal

Everyd ay a reminder pops up on my computer at 2 pm. It’s a daily notification that I set up titled Do Something Nice For Someone.

Lately, I began to feel guilty about ignoring the reminder. A simple click and it’s gone in a blink of an eye.

When I first set it up, the idea I had was to stop everything I was doing, leave the office, and do something nice for someone. The sad reality is that it became more difficult than I first imagined.

By Abe Villarreal

Lately, I’ve been learning to write without words. There is so much you can say without putting pen to paper, and I’ve been doing it in the form of art.

An empty canvas can be so liberating. When I found myself staring at one, a rush of thoughts came to mind. Why is this happening to me? Why can’t these problems be solved? Why can’t things be like they always were?

Because I couldn’t find the answers that set me at peace, I turned to a paintbrush, acrylics, and an empty canvas. It was the only way I could speak my mind.

By Abe Villarreal

All families have their highs and lows. Times of unity, and times of separation. And when you hit a valley, a flood of childhood memories fill your brain.

Like the time you stayed up all night because you couldn’t wait to open your first Christmas gift at the stroke of midnight. Latinos celebrate Christmas during the Noche Buena, at midnight.

My mom always put out a single candle in each window. We didn’t need strings of colorful lights to hang from roof corner to corner. Just that simple candle in each room.

By Abe Villarreal

When big, dramatic, events hit you – the kind that are life changing – sometimes it feels like you have to start all over again.

Those really big kinds of events like a career change, or a death in the family. They can mess you up, but only if you let them.

Every morning I listen to the local radio station. Turning on the radio is part of my daily routine. Wake up. Hit the on button. Brush my teeth. Even though it seems commonplace, every day is a new beginning. Life is starting over again.

By Abe Villarreal

They say that when you visit Washington D.C., you become a patriot. For a moment, your ideological thoughts are washed away as you stare over the beauty of the Potomac River.

The majesty of the Jefferson Memorial, and the grandeur of America’s most recognizable President, Mr. Abe Lincoln, looking down at you as he sits upon his throne – it’s almost too much to take at once.

At least it was for me during one summer in 2004 as an undergrad when I had the privilege of interning for the late Senator Pete Domenici. It was a summer to remember.

By Abe Villarreal

When talkies first made it to the silver screen in 1927, they marked the beginning of a new era of communication. Al Jolson was The Jazz Singer and movie audience senses felt something they had never experienced.

There were doubters sitting in those dark movie theaters, but within a few years no one could resist the new era of entertainment. There are always doubters, no matter what the inevitable curb of progress brings our way.

By Abe Villarreal

I am anxious and excited to run my first 5K this coming Labor Day weekend. For several weeks I’ve been preparing because I’m not a runner. Never was.

The event is in Alamogordo, New Mexico, a town I’ve never visited but one that has been on my radar for several months. When I recently discovered that my great-great-grandfather lived there for the last few years of his life, I became determined to learn more about my one and only New Mexico family connection.

By Abe Villarreal

In our short and often tumultuous history, there have been dramatic highs and lows that are often bookended with words as powerful as the moments themselves.

Today, at this moment in 2017, there are dark clouds on the horizon and we are waiting to hear powerful words. The kind of words that give us reassurance when we are confused. The kind that mean something when they are spoken with authenticity and truth.

Future classroom textbooks will tell the history of our time in much of the same way they tell of the civil rights era of the 1960s. Kids will learn about marches. They will see images of passionate people, yelling at each other – I’m right and you’re wrong. Less and less can we understand each other.

At a time when we see our neighbors, our countrymen, standing and staring at each other with anger and high emotions, we are waiting for a unifier, a man in power, to let us know that there is a way forward for everyone.

There are always two sides and two points of views. But sometimes they are not equal. Not even close. When one side is wearing white hoods and holding symbols that reflect the darkest moments in our history, there is little chance of moral equivalency.

Yes, this is 2017 and there are men in white hoods trying to hold on to relevance. The final remnants of a time in history, which we had forgotten.

Unfortunately for us, the man with the bully pulpit is failing to give us clarity. He is assumed to represent the conscience of a nation, and yet his words are something we don’t understand and to which we often disagree.

We are looking for a Churchill, a Reagan, a Lincoln; with a strong and positive voice. We are looking for a Mother Theresa, a Martin Luther King Jr. A soft and tender tone.

Today we have a loud and consistent drumbeat of absoluteness. The message is not clear. There is no gray and no in-between. Words are losing their meaning.

Olive branches are nowhere in sight. People are not shaking hands or sharing hugs. We all want to stand our ground. Understanding what we don’t know is not so fashionable anymore.

It seems we are heading towards a climactic moment. The man in charge has lit a fire, and the nation as a whole is feeling the heat. Many of the cooks have left the kitchen, leaving the decider-in-chief a man often alone. He’s deciding, and saying, the things he thinks we represent as individuals and communities. But the words seem strange and distant. Washington D.C. feels like a far away place.

Most of the time we ignore the inside-the-beltway gossip. This time, it’s a drip, drip, drip, and the Potomac River is flowing in all directions, carrying the vitriol and hatred that we expect to come from the kind of places we try to avoid, not the nation’s capital.

Words are powerful tools used by powerful people. The problem today is that we do not hear the kinds of words we expect to hear in challenging times of turmoil. From top to bottom, everyone sounds the same.

Abe Villarreal is the Director of Communications at Western New Mexico University. When not on campus, he enjoys writing about his observations on marketing, life, people and American traditions.

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