Monday, 23 December 2013

Here Comes the Judge

There's an awful lot of hate mongering going on... and not just from the hate mongers.

Case in point, this Phil Robertson thing. I read the article in GQ... twice... and made sure I understood what was being said rather than dissect one line or paragraph and go off like a projectile with a homing pigeon at the wheel. I was the same with Rob Ford. Would I vote for the guy? I wouldn't have the first time so why would I now?

Does that mean I hate either one of them? Unequivocally... no. I have opinions and make judgements for which I am certain others wouldn't particularly care. Hopefully they are rare and relatively uncontentious, yet I make those judgements every day.

But, Ed... you shouldn't be judgemental! Judging people is wrong.” 

I disagree wholeheartedly. Every time I come to a street corner and think “left or right” or look at a menu in a restaurant or turn my nose up at some food I have never tried before or decide not to deal with a particular person, I am making a decision based on judgement. I have to turn to that little jury in my gut that has been influenced by the entirety of my life events and skewed insights and ask, what's the verdict on this or that or them?

And that jury always has an answer... even when I try to quiet them.

We, as a society, judge people and things and places constantly. It's how we have survived. Do I run from the charging tiger or try to reason with him with my spectacularly superior intellect? Personally, I'm running considering the tiger has judged me to be a viable source of protein.

We do the same with people. We turn our noses up at what they say or do because our internal jury has decided they are a threat to the way we live our life or they way we think or they way we feel. Over time, I've come to realise it is far more important to make a judgement about someone (which is going to happen anyway despite my best efforts) and determine whether I want to spend time with them or not. Do I want to spend time with this person? Are they a fit in my life? Do they believe the same things I do? Do they care enough about me to respect my thoughts? Do they show up? What I have found most important to me is not the judgement itself, it is the manner in which I handle that judgement. 

Anyone who doesn't believe we all make judgements has never dated. Judgements when we're on a date fly around like a yellow-green, sun-blocking cloud of locusts in a windstorm. They're constantly slapping you in the face! 

While I believe people have the right to believe or say whatever they wish, it must also be noted I have the right to judge whether I wish to be a participant in what they say or do. 

So... what to do when someone says or does something we believe is morally wrong? If they commit a crime, we take away their platform by incarcerating them so their freedom to interact with others is limited. If they say something I don't believe in, I take away their platform by not participating in the audience. If they are disagreeable as a person to me, I simply don't hang out with them.

In the case of Rob Ford, the city is kind of stuck with him for another year. That because of a judgement made about three years back. In the next election, I have little doubt there will be a lot of judging going on.

In the case of Phil Robertson, he absolutely has the right to speak whatever he chooses (whether I think it's drivel or not). As an audience member, I have a judgement to make whether I will listen to him or not. I have a choice to make whether I tune in to his station and watch or not. And, in the case of A&E, an awful lot of folks are up in arms because they have decided to remove Mr Robertson's platform. What those people seem to forget is... that's their choice. They have not revoked Mr Robertson's first amendment right. What they have invoked is their own right to choose whether to provide a platform or not. They chose not.

For me, it comes down to this regarding the two characters mentioned... my internal jury has already made the judgement that neither of these people are fit to hang out with me in my life. The gavel has already dropped. I just wouldn't bother. The tree falling in the forest makes a sound... and if there is no-one listening, it's unlikely anyone will care.

I don't for a moment believe I am beyond scrutiny. 

In the end, I will judge whether someone or something or some place is right for me. It just happens. If you believe that being gay is a sin or that black folks are happier being poor and abused or it's okay to make decisions while under the influence of mind altering drugs, by all means go nuts. You're just not likely to be someone I'm going to choose to hang out with. I will choose to not watch the show or not vote for you. Pretty simple.

But then, that's my judgement.

Namaste

Monday, 26 August 2013

ONE

First excerpt from my upcoming book... "WIZARD"

Apparently, I'm a Magus.

I didn't truly meet the old man at the end of the lane until I was thirty-four. By then, through rumour, hearsay, occasional visual sightings and creative thinking, my imaginative mind had already been convinced about who he was. There were several ideas floating around amongst the kids in town and, as I would ultimately learn, none of them was remotely true. He was labelled a crank, the Devil, a ghost, evil incarnate and more often than not he was tagged an eater of children.

I grew out of that last one as I grew older... mostly.

Holed up in the old weathered clapboard house slowly being consumed by the edge of the forest at the end of Putter's Lane, the old man kept to himself. Except for the odd Hollow's Eve prank or a tedium induced summertime bravery test to impress a girl, we pretty much left him alone. Occasionally we would spy him shuffling along the street with his big walking stick as he made his way into downtown. At the small cabin, there would be flickering lights in the windows, odd shadows on the stained shear curtains and peculiar sounds coming from the direction of the his shack. It was enough to give any kid brown underwear who got close enough to see and hear and smell emanations from the dilapidated shanty.

Like the old man, I wasn't much for company in my youth. A bit of a loner, I spent more time worming my way out of trouble than I did getting into it in the first place. And, I found trouble more often than not. In my mind, I was being adventurous, rebellious, independent, inventive or any other on-the-spot excuse one might contrive to escape and be left alone. In others minds, I was mean, idiotic, a waste of life, criminal or any number of other denigrating phrases the town's folk might come up with. The more I listened to, and believed, the opinions of those around me, the further I sank into myself and away from what some may consider the generally accepted behaviour of a population.

I couldn't seem to fit nor had I the inclination to put any effort into trying.

I wondered what all the fuss was about anyway. If I needed a bike, lacking one of my own, I borrowed one. That I didn't return it to where I found it meant I was done with it. No harm, no foul, right? I was six at the time and new to the neighbourhood. Or when I was eight and the neighbours were away. I broke into their house and helped myself to the yummy candies my surrogate parents refused to buy for me. They were concerned about my teeth, I suppose. Or the dental bills. I didn't give a shit. It was the neighbours fault in the first place as far as I was concerned. They shouldn't have tempted me with the candy at the outset. Of course I would come back for a refill. Did they not understand kids?

I likely would have gotten away with it if it weren't for stupidly writing my name on the wall in dark grey paint. What a dork.

As I grew older, childhood pranks turned to robbery. I didn't much care that the grocer had worked most of his life building his business and reputation. He had apples out front. I was hungry. I took one or two every now and then... and ran like the spotted hound dogs of Hades were after me.

At seventeen, I hopped a bus and escaped the constrictive small town of Golden Oak for the life and promise of the nearest metropolis where I knew I could hide more easily. It wasn't long before the grocery stores in Golden Oaks became convenience stores in the city and what I was taking wasn't an apple but a wad of cash at knife point stuffed into filthy jeans. I lived in the street with no fixed address. I slept in doorways and alleys and under bridges when the weather turned distasteful. I scavenged clothing from dumpsters. I begged for money or food on street corners and learned quickly how to lift a wallet from Armani and Hugo Boss suited passers-by.

I likely would have been wealthy if I hadn't blown it all on a mind-numbing load of alcohol. Any alcohol. Food was an ignored rumbling I didn't imbibe in much. I would spend my last penny for a bottle to numb my mind from the illiterate meandering of a wasted life. Mouthwash would do in a pinch and was easy to steal. I was a drunk and I knew it. I was slothful and I knew it. I was a blight and I knew it. I was a rank fucking mess and I knew it. I didn't give a fuck. Life had pushed me down and stood on my chest with a menacing grimace and I had given up trying to get my backside up from the choking dust.

While on the street, I didn't spend enough time with any one person to really get to know them. About the closest I came to other street people was Morgan, a hipster from Jamaica with a rainbow knitted head cover and a fashionable goatee who could put on a decent side show for the folks roaming the streets. When I first arrived in the metropolis, he saw me wandering around like a wide-eyed antelope desperately looking for a place to hide from a ravenous, hunting lion. I never knew him well, nor did I try very hard despite his friendly demeanour. Still, for some inexplicable reason, he saved my sorry ass on more than one occasion.

I should have been dead.

More often than not, I wished I were.

It was a drunken incident that introduced me to the old man.

I was thirty-four, a lost soul and wandering through a life of hell wondering when it would end and not having the courage to pull the plug myself. I remember drinking in the the streets of the metropolis, committing suicide the slow way and deciding I needed a change of scenery and luck. The last I remember was boarding a bus to somewhere. Unbelievability, I landed back in Golden Oak outside the house of the foster monsters, staring at the off white faux brick facade with curiosity and disgust.

For reasons I would never understand, they had managed to ride the growing tidal wave of my indiscretions from the time they took me in at six and kept me around anyway. Perhaps they saw something in me I refused to acknowledge... like I was human. Of course, it wasn't until many years later I realised they were actually being paid to babysit a wayward nipper. They never did adopt me for fear of the responsibility they might incur by being legally tied to a felon. Good play on their part.

But the old man was not being paid.

It was summer when I landed back in Golden Oak. It was August hot in September. I was still drunk after the three hour trip from the city and decided some form of sustenance was a good idea. Raspberries were out in full force and ready to be plucked. The old man once had a large berry garden in the back of his house; raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries. I guessed it was still there even if he wasn't. Surely his expiration date had come and gone by now. All I needed was scale the fence, drop low to the ground on the other side and eat as many raspberries as I could stuff in my orifice. I considered all of the rhetorical rumour mongering and decided I was too old to be a meal and too street smart to believe in magicians. I figured I could handle myself against a pretzel shaped old man anyway. After all, if he was still alive the guy was ancient by now, right? With inebriated false bravado I staggered for the clapboard hovel through the woods in the back. No point in taking chances, I thought. Just in case the old fucker was still around. I was ready for almost anything.

What I wasn't ready for was a dry rot fence unable to hold my weight.

I crashed unceremoniously into the back yard of the hermit on top of the raspberry bushes nearest the fence. The shock wore off quickly. I suspect my alcohol induced state relaxed me enough to not be hurt seriously; mostly my humility ached. That the fruit laden stem's pricklies were puncturing my skin through my grimy light grey t-shirt did not make my status more comfortable though I didn't notice much. I froze on the spot. Surely the old man had heard the clatter. How could he not? I hoped beyond hope he was hard of hearing, though the hearsay was he could hear like a cat.

I'm not sure how long I lay in the raspberry patch, my back certainly bleeding profusely, staring up at a blank canvas dusk sky before ancient constellations materialized and drew themselves across the achromatic sky. I held my breath trying to hear footsteps or a creaky door or rasping huffing or a fire breathing dragon or the hounds of hell. I heard nothing. A light breeze seeped through the dense forest and blew over me. No light shone from the house. No blaring alarms. No salivating dogs. After several minutes, it seemed safe enough to attempt an escape.

As I was about to move, I felt the presence... before I felt the stick push down on my chest.

“Why are you here?” a deep, slightly gravelly voice seemed to come from every direction.

I didn't move. Indeed, I couldn't move with the stick pressing against my clavicle. I made not a sound except to whimper lightly as panic riddled the cells of my body. Caught! In my mind, I tried to sink into the soft, dark earth at my back but to no avail. I was snared. Above me stood a white-bearded man with a worn adventurer's type hat, clean blue-jean shirt, unpressed but neat khaki trousers held by a worn brown belt with a green jewel in the buckle, well used hiking boots and an oiled duster that more fit the persona of a cowboy than a lonely old recluse with a berry garden. He looked to be a cross between Indiana Jones and Hop-a-Long Cassidy.

For such a self proclaimed street-savvy guy, I was certainly being a wimp. I could feel my bowels getting ready to dump a load.

“Why are you here?” The old man repeated. He hadn't moved and the stick held steady; steadier than an old man's hand aught to.

“I was here to get some raspberries” I slurred. Apparently my mouth hadn't become un-drunk. The stick in my chest didn't waver. Clearly it was the wrong answer. Clearly I was in deep ka-ka.

I could almost hear a sigh in the increasing darkness. “Shitty answer” He said. For the longest time, he stood over me as if working out a decision of whether to let me go my merry way or to impale me with his stick-thingy and put my lifeless soot-stained body on display as warning in front of his shack. For the longest time, I wondered which decision he would make.

Suddenly, the stick was pulled away.

Still, I didn't move. It was as if I were waiting for permission to launch myself from the ground and run off into the night like a panic-stricken four year old girl. In reality, a four year old girl would surely have been braver than I. But there was something about the old man that kept me there. I didn't have the motivation to run off into the forest. I had the urge to stay, as if there were something more to this ancient being and I wanted to know what it was.

Many questions slithered through the muck clouding my brain. I wanted to know how he had gotten from his house to where I lay in the dirt without me hearing a sound. I wanted to know why he lived the way he did, in complete contradiction to everyone else. I wanted to know why he hid in the forest away from an anxious world. I wanted to know how he was still alive after all these years. I wanted to know why he scared the shit out of all the kids. I wanted to know why he wasn't broiling me for dinner.

More than anything, I wanted to know what he meant by, why are you here?

“There's no magic in you, Jimmy MacLean.” He said in a deep voice. “It's gone... lost to the farthest reaches of everything. You've given it all away.” His deep voice rumbled.

I propped myself up on my elbows, “Give what away? I never had nothin' to give.”

The eyes stared down at me, almost glowing, “Why are you here!” He was more insistent.

I was slowly sobering up and growing uncomfortable with the question. My false bravado was slowly returning and I didn't much care for this old fucker grilling me. I thought hard for a moment, then, “To feel more alive.”

The old man sighed. “You've been dead most of your life, Jimmy MacLean. You have no idea what it is to be alive.” He turned away.

“Wait!” I said. Deep down something had changed. I didn't know what it was. For the first time I could remember, I wanted to know. I was curious. I just didn't understand what it was I wanted to know.

He stopped. He didn't turn back toward me. It was as if he had been hoping for me to ask him to wait. As if something in that one word statement indicated some form of desire. He said nothing, prompting me to embellish upon my wait.

“I don't know why I'm here.” I sputtered.

He turned slightly, “A better answer” he said over his shoulder. I could see his outline now, despite the pitch black, almost glowing in the darkness. A moment of fear passed over me, then a sort of peacefulness I have yet to explain even as I express this story. “Come back tomorrow with a better answer to my question. Same time as today. And this time, use the damned front door.” In an instant I could feel he was gone.

I was left alone in the dirt, brambles clawing my back, confused, copious uncontrolled thoughts spurting through my head. I scrambled up and for a moment I simply stood there, a light breeze caressing my skin. I considered gorging on the berries though I was unable to see well. Instead I escaped into the forest and made my way back to the unpaved road. A three quarter moon was high in the sky. When had that happened? I glanced at my cheap, stolen watch. It was four-thirty in the morning. More than eight hours had passed.

Time had disappeared... and so had I.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Seven Percent Verbal

We are influenced by everything we see, feel, smell, hear and taste.

Maybe there are cosmic rays penetrating our brains from Outer Space that influence the way we do things. Perhaps there are aliens among us beaming thoughts into our easily determinative grey matter. Maybe there is influence from the other planets in our solar system affecting the Earth's magnetic field screwing with our synapses. Perhaps we are all lemmings incapable of changing course as we plunge headfirst over the Cliffs of Utter Destruction to the rocky, wave pummelled seashore below.

A more likely explanation of why we do what we do is elder influence.

Have you heard the saying “Do as I say, not as I do”? I've heard it of course (or I wouldn't mention it). There are studies that have shown as little as seven percent of communication is verbal. Taking that into account, it's no wonder we seldom listen to our elders. Rather, we watch their actions to learn most of what we know. Our words are getting the crap beat out of them by our actions.

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
(16th century German proverb)

It seems we Homo Sapiens are subject to a pack mentality more often than not. Most of the “follow the leader” mindset derives from thousands of years ingrained reaction-ism; a need to belong to our tribe in order to survive. How much of that is necessary now? Very little, yet we still are influenced by the actions of those we look up to; parents, teachers, bosses, celebrities, peers, etc. It's not surprising we follow along with others since we learn to mimic the actions of our parents and relatives in our formative years.

Our need to belong far outweighs our need to do the right thing.

As stated, seven percent of communication is verbal. How can we expect those who are influenced by us to do any different than we do if what we say has such little effect? What we say isn't having the impact we hope. What we do has tremendous consequence. It is far better to lead by example than it is to say one thing and do the opposite.

Why should I care if I consume the right food and drink if my parents don't care what they consume? Why should I treat customers with respect if my boss is consistently degrading them in the back room? Why should I care if the environment is going to hell in Little Red Riding Hood's basket of Grandma goodies if society (as a whole) doesn't care?

Massive change seldom happens overnight. It usually occurs in dribs and drabs as individuals slowly change course.

One of the easiest ways to change our minds, without too much effort, is to change the pack we run with. In our early days, as children, it's difficult to change our pack. We pretty much have to follow our parents where ever they go. As adults, we have the right to choose. In fact, we have an obligation to make choices about who we call our tribe. And with that choice, we have an obligation to lead those who are swayed by us.

And... is it too late to make changes as adults if our parents had so much ingrained influence on us as children?

The only way we can truly influence others to “do the right thing” is to choose to do the right thing ourselves. It's unfair to expect otherwise. Since what we say seems to have minute influence, leading by example seems our most effective course of action.

Of course, I could be entirely wrong and what is really required of us is put Reynolds Wrap chapeaus on our heads to divert the hallucinogenic influences of Earthbound aliens.

Namaste

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Invisible Bars

What's in a name?

I smacked my thumb with a hammer, felt the zing of electricity all the way to my elbow and uttered a few needle-like expletives to no-one in particular. That I was twelve feet off the ground on a hot metal roof in an awkward position with a horse fly buzzing around thinking I might be tasty had little to do with it. No... of course not. Fortunately no-one was nearby to hear my second language (cursing) except a squirrel, two crows and said horse fly trying to make a hunk of me his next meal.

In essence, I wasn't paying attention to what I was doing. Anyone who is hands on with repairing or building has had this experience more than once resulting in bruised shins, a bump on the head or skinned knuckles. That we are actively doing stuff means we are going to end up doing some things that aren't particularly bright. Some of the consequences of our actions are bumps and bruises.

The physical scrapes aren't the real damage though. They will go away.

As is common, I called myself a few derogatory names while on that roof that probably aren't true... the jury is still out. Words like “stupid” or “moron” or “idiot” fly out of our mouths with great regularity when something goes awry. Sometimes, even when things aren't going wrong, our “self-chatter” can be negative, to say the least. How much of this is pre-programmed into our psyche and how much is simply carrying on an ill-guided, meaningless early-life tradition handed down from parents, teachers, bosses and peers is subjective.

I know I am better than my negativity.

I may have called myself stupid when I hit my thumb with a hammer when, in actuality, I'm not really stupid. At that particular moment I wasn't especially bright and, over-all, I'm actually not stupid all the time. I do a lot of things that are pretty bright though they seem to go unnoticed by me as this is the way I am supposed to be all of the time.

Being perfect all of the time isn't possible.

Never making mistakes means I'm not doing or not attempting new things. It means I'm stuck fearfully in my comfort zone and leading a boring, I-need-to-survive-as-long-as-I-can-by-not-doing-anything-I'm-not-accustomed-to existence.

Calling myself derogatory names locks me in my comfort zone. It tells my psyche I'm not good enough at what I already know and shouldn't try anything new because I may get hurt or die. It incorrectly confirms all those negative things others have said over the years. I keeps me jailed inside invisible bars in a comfort zone that only exists in my mind. It pigeon-holes me into a role I think I belong in in society or family or friendships.

If I'm called stupid enough times by others, it can chip away at who I believe I am and I begin to believe it. If I call myself stupid, the destructive effect is immediate.

What I call myself defines who I am to the world. It's the face I put out that people see and react to. If I go out to the world with confidence, a smile and a belief I am a pretty decent guy, I attract people around me who will reinforce that belief. If I go out into the world with a scowl a belief the world against me and is a dangerous place, I will attract people who will reinforce those thoughts. If I change the way I think and react, I change the way people think and react toward me.

I am who I believe I am and take my life into my own hands.

Let's face the truth... I do some pretty dumb things. Climbing a three hundred foot rock face without protective gear isn't all that bright... and I've done it. I could either agree with bystanders and say to myself I'm an idiot or I can laugh at myself for being silly and know I won't do it again. Calling myself names doesn't improve any situation. Besides, there are plenty of bystanders waiting for me to fail just to call me names and remind me how inferior I am. There's no need for me to do it to myself.

The invisible bars society attempts to place around me defines who they think I am, not who I actually am. They see a thin slice of me and make a judgement. When I do it to myself, it affects every part of who I am... even how I feel physically. By changing the words I use to describe myself to myself, I change the way I feel emotionally and physically.

If you want to feel better and stronger, change the words you use for yourself.

That being said, if I could refrain from hammering home lessons by mashing my thumb, that would be okay too.

Namaste

Friday, 12 July 2013

Perspectives

I managed to get to my kayak junket. The wind was down a bit and the waves were no larger than two feet so all was good. (However, any photos attempted may either be at a forty-five degree angle or a series of shots of sky, then water, then sky...)

Afterwards, feeling a bit more calm of mind, I trundled back into town with the windows down and the radio on.

I often listen to CBC radio when I'm lurching along in my truck. I find it informative, funny, infuriating, enlightening, frightening and always interesting. They program a lot of things that aren't news in the standard sense (stories, insights, world perspectives, etc) and seldom do I hear the maddening drivel propagated as culturally important which is ultimately gossip about over-paid, self-promoting societal aberrations. I really don't care who is doing who or what they had for dinner at their paparazzi infested birthday party... as if the rest of the world doesn't have a birthday.

Umm... Got sidetracked by the gossip.

Anyhoo... Something came on CBC about pets and how some people view them as family. Not entirely a bad thing in my opinion. On the show, there were a couple of experts with differing points of view about how we view our pets. They talked about how we equate our pet's adoration to what we want in our relationships. And some of us go overboard with our pets. Let's face it... the lady with the Ikea monkey was (and still is) a bit out of touch. She is far from the only example of over doing it.

One of the points made during the commentary caught my attention. We have pets who give us unconditional love and somehow expect the same from people around us. For some reason we have equated a pet's adoration to what we want in a relationship.

There is a misconception about unconditional love. The presumption seems to be: if you love me unconditionally, you will stay with me forever. That's a bit short sighted and really doesn't explain what love is. The idea that unconditional love means doing whatever we want to ourselves or others and our significant other has to not only adore us and not voice an opinion, they must also stay with us forever, is an unrealistic notion.

Too often, there is a connecting line drawn between not liking an action someone does and not loving them. It's an epic mistake. I might do something you don't like... maybe leave the toilet seat up... and I doubt that means you don't love me if it bothers you. Not doing the dishes immediately or forgetting to take the garbage out doesn't mean I don't love you either. It means I'm not ready to do the dishes yet or was distracted and forgot the garbage. That's it.

We need to stop over-analyzing every action and reaction.

The perspective of what unconditional love is has to change. The shift has to be made in our minds that unconditional love does not mean we are going to like or accept everything our partner does. Unconditional love does not equate to unconditional acceptance. And, not liking what you do does not mean I don't love you. The fact of the matter is, that I love you is the very reason I voice my opinion about some of the things you do. I would expect the same from you. It shows you care enough about me to voice an opinion about something that may harm me or someone else.

This is important. Are you getting it?

We can love someone unconditionally and not be able to live with some of their traits. It doesn't mean we don't love them. It means we can't stand by and watch what they are doing to themselves or others. It means we are not able to accept certain traits because it hurts us or them.

Just because the waves are high or the wind is blowing an undesirable direction doesn't mean I don't love kayaking. Just because some of the things said on CBC infuriate me doesn't mean I don't love listening to the station. Just because someone doesn't like something you do doesn't mean they don't love you. And it certainly doesn't mean they're going to hate you or abandon you.

Just because your dog follows your every move and command doesn't mean your significant other will.

More importantly, not liking something doesn't mean they are not grateful for having you in their life.

Namaste

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Winds of Change

Only the supremely wise and the ignorant do not alter.”
Confucius

I think better on the water than anywhere else.

My mind buzzing like a hive of angry bees, I took a drive out toward the water with the intent of throwing my kayak in the body of H2O and paddling around the rocky point of Gros Cap. Mother nature had other plans, apparently. Instead, I sat in the cab of my truck and read a book as the unrelenting surf crashed against the bouldered shore.

I'm pretty sure I could have handled the rougher waters... I just wasn't in the mood for a struggle

People came and went as I sat there ruminating on life, love and the eternal pursuit of unmitigated bliss. Some went to the shore and snapped photos, some stayed in their vehicles, as I did, and still others simply stood beside their rubber hoofed chariots feeling the wind rush over them. We all have different paths and make different choices. As much as I had wanted to venture out onto the water, I knew the decision to stay out of the kayak was the safe one... and the smarter one. The shoreline at Gros Cap is not smooth sandy beach with a gentle drop off to deeper water. It's jagged rock above and below the surface. With white-capped swells racing across the water, kayaking would have been dangerous at best and most likely a perilous voyage.

I didn't lament my choice.

Making a decision is pretty easy... particularly when its one for my own well being or peace of mind. I know what I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. That doesn't mean there aren't moments of self doubt along the new path I've chosen and there are certainly moments when I miss parts of the old path I had become familiar with. I would be lying if I said there weren't times I wished I could simply cave in and go back to the self destructive behaviour I was once addicted to and live my life in that comfort zone. That return to the comfort zone despite obvious signs I was harming myself and polluting those around me.

Sticking with a major, life-altering decision is the difficult part of deciding to change. It's often easier, especially early on, to give up the attempt and return to the crappy way I treated myself before. Most of the life altering decisions I've made and tried to achieve without support have blown up leaving me back where I started... in a cesspool of destructive behaviour... unhappy and surrounded by people who didn't want me to change for their benefit... not for mine.

I've learned a thing or two about decisions over time.

First, is the new behaviour in my best interest? If yes, then do it. It's easy enough to see the future if I don't change. All I need do is look in the mirror.

Second, we don't “try” anything. Has someone ever invited you to an event and you replied “I'll try to be there”? How often have you shown up? Yeah... me too. We either try and fail or make a concrete decision to do. To quote Yoda, “Do or do not. There is no try.” To say I will try is nothing more than leaving me an escape hatch to bail when the going gets tough.

"Well... I did try."
Poor excuse.

Third, if the change is a big deal to me, I'm going to need support to get through it. The odd thing is, even if I don't think I have support, once I've made a decision to change, support appears seemingly from nowhere. When the lesson needs to be learned, the teacher will appear. Whether I accept the support or not determines how far I get and how quickly.

Fourth, I have to feel the fear and do it anyway. The fear of stepping outside my comfort zone is usually the reason I say “try” in the first place. Somewhere in my mind, I believe I am losing something by making a change. My mind plays tricks on me telling me I am losing everything without taking into consideration what I am gaining (good health, better relationships, happiness, self-esteem, etc.).

Finally, when I know I am comfortable on the new path, I'm happier and feel more confident. I feel as if I can do anything. Knowing I have the support and don't have to go it alone makes all the difference in the world. Keeping in mind I am going to be happier on the new path gives me strength to endure any insignificant pain I may endure.

And I get to say, "I did that!"

Ultimately, I know what is best for me physically, emotionally and mentally. True wisdom is making the right choice when faced with that decision. We all realise we are on a self destructive path at some point in our lives. In my case, I hope I don't figure it out when I'm on my deathbed and the realisation will offer me nothing.

As for deciding not to kayak... it was probably a good one. Some paths are best not taken, even when they are on the water.

Namaste

Thursday, 7 March 2013

It’s All Fun and Games



He wanted to be a pilot.


After being rejected as an airline pilot because of poor eyesight, a Los Angeles man cooked up an idea. He was going to fly, dammit! He came to this Darwin Award winning brainstorm in his backyard after having a few wobbly pops and allowing sense and reason to take a back seat. Tying a crap load of helium filled balloons to his aluminum lawn chair, he strapped himself into the chair with a six pack of beer and, already drunk and thinking clear as sludge, cut himself loose from his tethers and drifted off into the air... roving with the wind... free as a bird... over LAX International Airport... into the flight path of commercial jet liners.


We all do stupid stuff.


I’m no exception. Like the time I climbed a four hundred foot sheer rock face without ropes and proper boots and other safety shit. Of course, I was 12 at the time, but still... ya know? Or the times I drove my car one hundred miles per hour along a loosely gravelled country back road in the middle of nowhere that I didn’t know from Adam... cause it felt fun. Or the time I decided body surfing thirty foot swells at Kuda Beach in Bali might be a hoot until I snapped my neck back and lost all feeling on the right side for twenty minutes... and could barely lift myself enough to prevent drowning. Or the time I took a leisurely walk... alone... without telling anyone where I was... in the gang slums of Toronto... at night... just to prove I could. 

Or the period in my life when I sat by myself in my apartment feeling alone and sorry for myself drinking one or two or three bottles of wine every night until the pain of being disconnected went away.


Yeah... those were the days. The only difference between the actions listed above is the speed with which I was self-destructing.


We all do some pretty self-destructive shit from time to time. Mostly it's to add a little "juice" to our otherwise mundane lives (it's not really mundane if you look more closely) or to forget the reality we've created for ourselves. It’s not always physical dangers either. Sometimes we take emotional risks without thinking of consequences. In the case of guys like me loaded with far too much testosteroni (the San Francisco Treat), it’s a matter of "proving" I'm a man and having really stupid shit to share the next time I'm drinking with the boys. “You’ll never guess what I did...”


How many of those dumb things would I have done if someone had had been close enough and cared enough to be the voice of reason?


I have seen a lot of “I am who I am and if you don’t like it, Eff Off” on social media lately. It seems to have become a mantra of sorts, which is fine if your goal is to keep everyone away. I have come to understand over time (through bouts of blatant, potentially life threatening stupidity) that people who care about me will tell me when I’m about to do something idiotic. Those who don’t care will let me wander around in some sort of moronic, self-induced haze laughing at my expense waiting for the punch line because they weren’t dumb enough to follow along or they wanted to see just how truly stupid another human can be.


Did you see what that jackass did to himself? What a moron. I can’t believe he didn’t see it coming.


The problem with “I am who I am” is it is limiting. It limits me from becoming a better person because I refuse to consider another point of view. It limits the people who become close to me. What I am really saying when I repeat the mantra over and over is, “I’m afraid of change. I’m afraid of losing me. I’m afraid of trusting anyone because my trust has been betrayed so many times before.” Having close relationships is a protection for each of us from doing things that ultimately have the potential to make our lives miserable. The most destructive words in any relationship are, "I don't care what you think".

The chasm created becomes too wide to traverse.

While I can't expect everyone to like who I am, I am far more appreciative of folks close to me letting me know that my behaviour is harming me and, in some cases, them. Unless I let people in, I’m dooming myself to a life of being less than I can be. And I’m telling them, “I don’t care enough about you or your feelings toward me to take care of myself so piss off and leave me alone.”


When someone tells me I am harming myself by participating in certain actions, I have to realise they are speaking up because they care. Sometimes my actions are hurting them, though I might not see it until they say something. In the long run, although it may hurt my feelings, I would much rather have someone say what they are feeling than to just let it go and hope I might somehow blindly stumble upon the inspiration that I am not only harming myself but I am affecting others in the process.


Even though I may not take heed of the input, I would rather have someone care enough to say something. Ah well... live and learn, right? Or die and become famous on the Darwin Awards for being such a daft prat. After all, “I am who I am and no-one has the right to suggest anything different... no matter how much it might affect them.


On the other hand, I may be wrong about the whole thing, become a distant, callous uncaring loner and should stop caring what other people do.


Namaste

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Skipping Off to Grammar’s House

Click to see the video


My name is Ed and I’m a crappy speller.

There are far too many people being axed.

For some reason, there seems to be a pronunciation issue with the word “ask”. It’s coming out as “axe”. I’m not quite sure where this particular articulation came from and it’s quite annoying and sounds violent. The “s” comes before the “k”. Really... it does... honest... I’m not fibbin’.

Also:
  • “Than” and “then” are not interchangeable.
  • “Your” and “you’re” mean different things and it is confusing when the wrong one is used.
  • “Loose” means it don’t fit right and “lose” means you ain’t got it no more.
  • “Could of” instead of “could have” proves the writer is lazy.
  • “You’s” isn’t a word. The plural of you is “you”. (Just like "moose" and "moose".)
  • “Irregardless” will never be a word... regardless of how adamant you become about it.

Why am I resolute about spelling and grammar? Perhaps it comes from my own spelling imperfections and a desire to improve myself. If I were required to spell “hasenpfeffer” to save my life, I would quickly become a figment of my own imagination. Of course, I could simply spell “r-a-b-b-i-t s-t-e-w” and escape the sodden paper sac by trickery. My desire to read apposite spelling and grammar derives from working hard to be accurate and I find it refreshing to see language splashed across my computer screen I can read without extraneous, disruptive thinking. 

1) I used a bunch of words you might not have seen before. That’s why we invented dictionaries. 
2) Yes, hasenpfeffer is a delicate way of saying you’re cooking the Easter Bunny. I wonder if it’s chocolate flavoured. Hmm... 
3) It’s impossible to keep track of the point of what someone is saying if my brain spins off on a tangent trying to decipher words and meaning. 
4) For the record, I spelt hasenpfeffer wrong four times while writing this. 
5) I know we’re all smart enough to get this. We’ve simply become lazy with spelling, grammar and acronyms. (If you don’t know what an “acronym” is, you might want to stop using them. Just sayin’. LOL )

Where am I going with all of this?

I’ve read, recently, a theory by Michio Kaku of how Earthbound society (that’s us) may move from Type Zero to Type One civilisation based on the Kardashev scale. We are currently a Type Zero society, in case you’re wondering, ‘cause we burn dead animals and plants for energy. 

During his talk, Dr. Kaku claims to see two paths which we may travel along based on the crossroads we find ourselves at now. The first path is toward destruction and, on that path, society focuses on differences. The second path leads to a Type One society where the focus is on similarities and working together and our energy usage comes from the entire planet (wind, solar, ambient ground warmth, etcetera).

As an aside, the fork in the road will be chosen in the next 100 years or so. The right choice will affect your kids and grandkids.

The point being, most ills in society which cause turmoil and strife are a direct result of lacking understanding and empathy which can be alleviated by speaking the same language and ensuring understanding between cultures.

Dr. Kaku claims we require four things to become a globalized society; a global communication system (internet and cell towers), a common language (English seems to be predominant at the moment), renewable and non-invasive energy sources and, understanding and acceptance of our differences while focussing on our similarities. Except for that last point, we have the makings of a Type One civilization. 

Personally, I would prefer to follow the path of understanding and acceptance. It sure sounds a lot less painful. If I can understand what you write or say, you and I might avoid many of the conflicts that arise from misinterpretation. We need to speak the same language without misunderstood meaning before we have a chance to live together peacefully. That’s why I’m adamant about grammar and spelling.

All we really need do is stop aks-ing other people.

I wonder if I can get chocolate flavoured hasenpfeffer this Easter.

Namaste