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February 2017

my mid-life crisis

 

I think it's time to speak about my mid-life crisis.

Let me first clarify before you jump to the wrong conclusions that I have not lost my mind.

I have not lost my identity, nor have I lost my self confidence.  My mind is not overwhelmed with melancholic thoughts, and I am not anxious or filled with deep regret.  I don't want to get younger, or grow my hair.  I have not purchased a new shiny sports car, nor do I have any desire for a sordid love affair.

I am happily married and immensely grateful for my beautiful family.  I can also confidently say that I am content with my profession. 

Our family debt is slowly getting smaller.  My health is good.  These are the prime years of my life, and in just twelve more years, I get to retire, and French kiss my pension with open arms. 

All that is left, it seems, is to preorder a good pair of dentures, invest in a modest rental property in sunny Florida, buy a mahogany rocking chair, and pick a good stain for the pine box I'll be buried in.  Maybe a nice Hawaiian shirt wouldn't hurt either.

I have everything I think I need, and yet I find myself at the crossroads of my life, and in a state of crisis.

I've been here before, but not quite like this.  

Not all crossroads are wrought with pain and agony.  Quite the opposite. 

There is a relentless little voice inside my head and it speaks in an inaudible whisper.  I hear it with my soul and it calls me to greatness.  It calls me to heights I never dreamed possible.  To be honest, I want to ignore this little voice because it entices me to the edge of the Abyss.  An Abyss that is dark and cold.  Ready to collapse upon itself at any moment.  When I think of the artists I admire, I see people who were predestined and somehow chosen for their mission.  I don't feel chosen.  I don't feel predestined.

Artists are human caricatures.  They are people who seem so distant and far away.  They seem to live scripted lives.  They are gods and goddesses among us.  Individuals who start revolutions,  brand movements, and destroy to make new.  Their lives are those of legend, the anointed ones, the chosen people.  

There is nothing about me that seems remotely chosen, yet here I sit and wonder who I am not to believe and try? 

That is my crisis.  

I am living inside a moment that is without a doubt calling me to greatness.  I feel pushed and compelled to take swift and decisive action.  I can no longer stand by and wait.  

Part of me is very numb with fear.  Not the fear of failure, but the fear of success.  If I am right, then I have misread the meaning of my life, or perhaps wasn't quite ready to see it before.  I fear that over time, perhaps today or maybe tomorrow, I will have to say goodbye to some of my friends and acquaintances, or rather, they will secretly say goodby to me.  I am undergoing a Kafkaesque metamorphosis and facing my trial.  I am Joseph K.  It feels like I have awakened in the Tower and Babel and I no longer speak the same language.  I think and feel estranged and distant. 

I have decided not to be afraid of the Abyss and to walk with fear and trembling, down a road I do not know or see.  I'm not sure if I am more afraid of the unknown path, or making the return.  If I don't succeed, I will have to crawl back into my old stretched skin, and I'm afraid to imagine how dark and empty it will feel.  Heraclitus was right.  We cannot step into the same river twice, because it is not the same river, and I am not the same man. 

Life perpetually moves forward.  No exceptions.  It is only our mind that is stubborn and braces itself to live in the past.

The word crisis has several meanings. 

It is possessed by the three weird sisters: chaos, anxiety, and uncertainty.  This is why the moment of crisis never feels right.  How can it?  There is nowhere to run.  There is nowhere to hide.  No safety nets.  No underground bunker.  Panic sets in and fear is never far behind, yet despite all of our natural instincts, the only way through, is to stand still, motionless, and watch the storm pass us by.  It always passes by.  Only those that go through the storm are greeted by the new sun.  Only those who are courageous to leap, experience weightlessness, and emerge transformed.

There is a fourth often forgotten sister.  The one we never speak of or ever write about.  She, like Cinderella, is made to sweep our house and be enslaved to others.  Her name is Catharsis and she embodies an opportunity and a chance for growth and change.  

Catharsis is the process of releasing.  A point of purity.  A moment of cleansing.

No, I have not joined a cult.  I'm not a big fan of the secret whispers, the midnight meetings or the sweaty handshakes.  I also think I didn't follow the application process correctly.  If there is one thing I know about cults, it's that they are efficient.  The office was closed, so I might have to wait 'til Monday.  They just hate it when you call them outside of regular business hours.

What does this all mean you ask?  

I don't know.

These are the only words swirling around in my brain and it is all I have in order to try to make sense of where I am and where I want to go.

I have been a photographer for almost ten years, but never took it seriously.  I was lucky to have inherited that passion from my father.  I have never written with meaning and purpose either, at least not until I started these little musings of mine.  I believe I also inherited my love of writing from my father.  

My mother on the other hand game me my soul; the heart to love the broken and forsaken.  I have never met a more beautiful and kindhearted woman in my life.  I had the privilege of meeting one once, and so I married her.

Two men stared out their prison bars.  One saw stars, the other saw mud.

I am standing in a pool of mud, still behind bars, but what is different about me today is that I can see the stars.  

They are beautiful.  They are majestic and they cannot be counted.  

It is not only the sun that happens to shine bright.  She has a seemingly infinite number of brothers and sisters.  Our ancestors spent their life contemplating and rejoicing over those little points of light.  So far away; yet so real and visible.  We don't look at the stars anymore, we only watch them on Oscars night or the Grammys, on our precious little glowing screens.  

I plan to continue writing.  I plan on creating breathtaking photographs.

There is no more dreaming.  No more standing still.

It is time to do the work.

 


monatizing your dream is the only way out

 

Being an entrepreneur is the best way out of this mess. 

The unreflected life is not worth living, Socrates once remarked, but I have recently learned that without an opportunity to earn that living, there is little chance for reflection. 

Being a part of a family has been the single most meaningful experience I have ever accidentally stumbled upon.  But that is not the only plane of existence, we are complex and multi-dimensional beings.  In order to maintain a happy life, we must live and grow in all of our dimensions.  It would be foolish to put our dreams on hold.  This sacrifice is foolish.  The people in our life are the reason why the sun rises in the morning and sets in the evening, but they don't want our sacrifice. They want love.

Capitalism is an unforgiving machine.  It is beast with no conscience that beats us down with debt and cleans our wounds with credit so we are well enough to face another day.  Capitalism is a beast we cannot tame. 

However, David did slay Goliath.  There is a way out of this madness.  There is a means to win.  That way is through our dreams, but only if we can turn them into something tangible.  

It is not the money or success that matters, but the process.  The money may never come, and every thing you touch may shatter at the slightest touch.  Oscar Schindler failed at every business he ever started, before and after the holocaust, but he was the only entrepreneur, broken as he was, to dream and make a difference.  Ask the families of those he saved and you will understand.

We are on a similar path.  We both have families or someone close to us that we care about,and somewhere along the way we went to school and bought into the illusion that a profession, or a decent job, is what will give us what we need.  With a bit of luck and a lot of hard work, we could be anything we wanted to be.

That is a lie.  The world reinvents itself.  Jobs disappear.

We don't choose our life.  We only choose how we live it. 

Like you, I went to school.  I worked hard.  I graduated with a double honours degree thanks to government assistance loans, but as lucky as I felt at the time, I always knew deep down that it was not enough.  I just could not articulate it.  Today, I am bold and arrogant enough to believe that I was born for more.

We all have dreams, or at least I think we do.  Some may be broken and a little dusty, but I sincerely believe we all have them.  Young and old; able and unable, conscious or unconscious.  

Dreams are important, but the steps we take towards them is what makes all the difference.  This is what people mean when they say that life is a journey and not a destination.  It is an old and moldy metaphor but it  tries to point us in the right direction.

We must dream.  We must work towards that dream.  We must monetize it. 

Remember, money is not the root of all evil.  It is the love of money that lies at the root of the problem. 

We are meant to love people and use things, but there is nothing wrong with money. It has its own energy, and the hands that held it tells a story.  If more kindhearted people controlled the world's wealth, we would have a more peaceful planet.  The more you and I can stuff in our little pockets and share with others, the less there is  in a bank vault, doing absolutely nothing for anyone.

We must pursue our dream.  We have a purpose.  We must fall again in love with that dream.

Unfortunately, love alone will make our dream stagnant.  It must be monetized.

Don't quit your job and don't ever abandon your family or friends.  Perhaps go easy on the gossip instead, or chicken wings, reality shows, or football games, if you need to find some extra time.

Don't ever quit.  Work instead, with whatever limited time you have left in your day, and become an entrepreneur. 

Begin today, and take another step.  The world won't notice, but you and I will know that it has made all the difference.

 

 

 


nude photography: art or porn?

 

 

I’m sorry to disappoint you.  There will be no visuals.

It seems that the photography as an art form is in the middle of a deep stagnation.  A crisis of sorts, because unlike sculpture, or the finesse of applying oil or pastels to canvas, the art of photography has become uncontrollably fast, inexpensive, and a disposable after thought.  It seems that all it takes anymore, is one magical box.  A cheap one, or an expensive one.  It doesn’t matter, as long as it comes with that shutter thingy, and a few free Photoshop pre-sets.  Congratulations, you’re on your way to becoming a fine arts photographer.

I am melancholy, because photography today lacks tenacity.  It’s sad, because as an artistic community, we don’t create enough purposeful and meaningful art.  We often fail to share it, or maybe we don’t and it just gets lost somewhere; somewhere deep inside the noise and static.  In either case, there isn’t enough beauty in our world.  Not enough that breaks through to make an impact, anyhow.

Analog is out. 

Digital is in.

I don’t think many of us appreciate how relatively young the art of photography truly is.  It is somewhat strange therefor to reflect and realize that we are only a century or so removed from the first camera, the first print, the first act of beauty in a 35mm canvas of space.

At the beginning, in its infancy, photography was a beautifully rare gift.  It was rare because it took special effort to become its master.  Millions of people were enamoured with this new medium and open to the possibilities it promised.  One of its many expressions were the cabinet cards. 

There are not many around anymore, or perhaps they are getting musty in a box somewhere. 

The cabinet cards were special.  They contained a 4x6 photograph, that was hand glued, and beautifully illustrated.  They were proudly displayed in every cabinet that could hold them.  They were the center of conversation and an oracle of people’s memories.  They were marveled at by visitors and strangers alike.  They connected us.  They enthralled us.  They were a work of art.

At the turn of this century, we diverged on a different path.  We have already taken an incalculable number of photographs and it’s not surprising since every living human has their own camera in thier pocket.  Some of the ravenous gluttons among us even have two.

We are overwhelmed.  We don’t know what to do with ourselves or how to stop.  We take pictures of everything and anything but for what purpose? 

Storage. 

We keep everything in some sort of virtually mobile and un-inventoried heap of crapulous storage.  We’ll find a purpose later, we tell ourselves, and if not, our grandchildren will know what to do with our bathroom selfie, or long forgotten steak sandwich.

Since we pollute everywhere else, it seems fitting that we share our images habitually, without much thought or purpose.  We jam them into our social media feeds with tremendous haste and they serve us well enough.  All these photos seem a poor substitute for words and thoughts.  We seem to be living the Orwellian tragedy.  We are too complacent and refuse to spend any valuable time in selecting our words, and express ourselves through vague sentiments and meaningless chatter.  No one listens anyway.

I am saddened but disobediently hopeful.  I am hopeful because in the end Art will triumph. 

I continue to be inspired by so many great writers and talented photographers that today I renew my wish to join the movement.  I desire to lead a tribe of my own.

I want art to return. 

I want beauty to triumph. 

I don’t want porn do itch and burn deep within our soul.

I have no way to verify this, and I have forgotten who made this observation, but it seems that pornography has saved or at least was instrumental in the expansion and explosion of the internet.

Pornography built the steel rails, we ride upon it.  I should have said journey.  It would have been less cheeky.

Porn is a very prickly subject, and for some time now, a very uncomfortable one for many. Nonetheless, I for one am foolish enough to believe that it is.  If we don’t, one day we’ll lose all our ability to tell the difference between art, and the titillating, seductive vehicle of self-pleasure.

I think the art of nude photography is subtle.  It is very intelligent.  I believe it is best grasped through three distinct dimensions.

Rarity. 

Dignity. 

Experience. 

First - Rarity.

Beautiful and thought provoking photographs of the human form are perceptibly rare.  You won’t find them too easily in a google search, you’ll probably run into a few of the others. They are not easily catalogued or contained in any single book or volume of books at the library or on Amazon.  It is not that easy to discover the talented pool of names that served as studies or the artists who took a leap, walked outside societal norms, and mirrored something we are all very scared to behold. 

Are we not afraid? 

Just see what happens when a nipple makes an appearance at a major television event.  Observe the chaos.  Take note of the incessant internet chatter, as though human nipples were capable and responsible for bringing down entire civilizations.

Artistic nudes are rare. 

They are buried underneath an avalanche of crotch shots, boobbie thrusts, and immaterial humping orgies.  The titles on the other hand are brimming with literary genius.

I propose that the most meaningful nude photographs will never be seen.  They are not meant for our eyes.  Like the rare cabinet cards of old, the human body, on occasion, is captured freely and given as a offering to the lover.  The chosen photographer not only play the important role as architect but also the role of a gate keeper.  What passes between lovers is best left silent. 

Art doesn’t need a large audience to impact the world.  It is content to be held by just one mind.

Second - Dignity

There is a certain quiet dignity in all artistic nudes.  Their beauty is not held captive by empty eroticism.  Their beauty is a divine reflection of a higher form. 

Nude photographs are erotic by nature, there is no denying that, but through art, the eroticism doesn’t devour and consume itself.  It transcends itself and shares something universal about the human condition.

The artistic poses can be empowering, vulnerable, seductive, inviting, soulful, and unifying. 

They do not humiliate, abuse, manipulate, exploit, or monetize.

The early photography magazines were full of nudes. 

The 20’s and 30’s openly embraced and celebrated the naked body.  We were  back again in the garden of Eden, as though nothing ever changed.  Then it did.

Totalitarianism.  Social Nationalism.  Puritanism.  Religious Zealotry.  Something.  Something changed.

The day was lost.  Art was bound and gagged by commerce. 

We have not swung back yet but it would be a shame if we didn’t try.  If we don’t, our insatiable dignity as artists this generation will be forgotten, and undiscovered.  All effort will be submerged beneath the ashes of the Roman Empire, and other artistic epochs.

Third – Experience

The mindset and experience of the beholder seems to be the most important dimension. 

We seem very divided and are pulled apart by two opposing forces. 

We either feel that we are free, unconditionally, and without limit.  And we heap the word art on anything that suits our purpose, or we are frozen in fear, struck by some false moral obligation.  An empty compulsion to wrestle the world into submission.  To fit the ocean, into our own little rusty jar, simply because we are afraid to be consumed by its vastness.

It’s your mindset. 

It’s your experience and ignorance.

You see dirty things because you want to see dirty things.  You see the joy of curves and shadows wrap themselves around the body of a beautiful woman, because you want to see them.

All words have no meaning.  They are bricks of concrete.  They are not a home.

Words are empty vessels that are made up of letters that signify nothing.  Nothing, until someone comes along and decides to empower them with meaning.  It is our experience that guides our perception.  Our lives dictate what we see and don’t see.  Our past failures incite us to be blind.

In the final analysis, none of what I have written here today really matters.  As I reread this, I have a compelling urge just to erase it all and write something about the coming of spring.  This is full of grammatical errors, erroneous philosophical suppositions, and after all, who writes a reflection about porn?

I will share my thoughts anyway.  I will live with the fear and trembling.  I’ll let you decide what sense, if any to make of this.

My intent was simple.  I desired to start a conversation.

I love art and the vulnerable curves, immersed in shadows.

I believe in the healing beauty of the human body.

I think it’s time to swing the pendulum back.

 


it's not what you have, it's what you give

 

It's not what you have, it's what you give.

We seem to have accepted the fragile myth that we are in control. 

We perceive our version of reality through a very foggy and a somewhat murky, half conscious mind.  Much of our effort is spent in accumulating material things, and the more the better.  The other part of our effort is comparing our conquests to those around us, to make sure they see and that we fit in.  We have even built multitudes of storage lockers around us because our homes are not simply big enough to contain it all.

Material possessions are not intrinsically bad, it's what we do with them.  Owning a Porsche and giving your friends a rides in that Porsche, are two completely different experiences.  One gleams and has, the other generously gives.  Microwaving an Swanson's dinner is a thing we have.  Cooking Christmas dinner for the family is an gift, an act of giving.

At the end of our life, we will remember and indeed be remembered for all that we had given. 

Give without taking and help without applause.

 

It's not the life you choose, it's the life you live.

I stole this from one of my favourite songs, proving that music really matters and that art is not a mere vehicle for entertainment or amusement; it is the essence of a well lived life.

We don't choose where we are born.  The world existed long before we came along, and we embrace it as it stands divided and in war.  We can't change that. 

There is no use complaining that our parents didn't make the right investments for us, or that we didn't inherit enough.  There is no use being envious that you don't own a cottage, or afford a vacation, or even the time off work to take one. 

It's the life we live that is important.

Terry Fox wasn't special.  He wasn't the first person to be struck down with cancer and he wasn't the first teenager either.  Running across this beautiful country, ocean to ocean, was not a new idea. 

Yet. 

Terry Fox chose to live his life.  He lived it fully.  He died fighting, living without regrets.

He lived a determined life, and chose to dream for others. 

The burden he carried and the life he lived, has make it possible for so many people to make their own choices.  Choice that were otherwise determined.  Freedom that should have never been possible.

He gave the time he had left.

He lived the only life he had.

And that has made all the difference.

 


see everything, overlook much, correct a little

 

You must leap.  

You have no choice but to leap.

I am sorry to tell you, but there is simply no other way.  Some things don't change without diving off a cliff.

If you smoke for example, I don't deny your painful addiction, or that the cancer sticks you devour were designed to create a life long supply of repeat customers.  There is no reason to pretend however, that we both don't know how it will end.  It is time to quit.  There is no reason to bullshit anyone.  I am your perfect unadulterated nobody, and I realize that I'm not minding my own business, but there is no denying your early and painful death.

One day, in the not so distant future, on a foggy Wednesday, you will be laying restless or exhausted in an uncomfortable hospital bed, gasping for air.  That in itself is not enough to give you the courage you need so you can finally leap.  You have seen the uncomfortable moment of epiphany play in your mind on several occasion before, time and time again, although you probably have to push it away.  If you give it time to live and grow however, you will be able to see all the people that will come to say goodbye. 

It's Wednesday.  Do you see them?  Can you smell their perfume and cologne? Can you hear them whisper?  Can you see how quickly and uncomfortably they wipe away their tears?  Do you see their little, stealing glances?

Your little daughter, or granddaughter; she will certainly be there.  She is tall now, smart as a whip, and full of dreams; a bundle of life brimming with unlimited possibility.  She will undoubtedly have tears in her eyes and an inexhaustible pain in her heart; hoping, praying, for a little more time.  She will be desperately hoping for the break of day, for a chance to spend another morning in your presence.  She wants more time, because words are never enough.  There are never enough memories, never enough time, and she needs you to know how much she loves you.  She wants to know how much you love her.  All she wants, is a few more seconds, some more stolen moments, a chance to hold your withered hand.  She doesn't want to you go.

You do see how this ends, don't you?

There is no time.  You must leap.

 

Thankfully, we don't live our whole life on a cliff and I'm grateful that we don't leap too often.  There is so much that we get right about living.  There is much to be proud of.  There is so much that gives us hope and consolation. 

It is important to reflect daily, and be indebted the choices and experiences that have shaped us.  We must continue moving forward.  Standing still, brings us closer to the next cliff. 

This is the formula I discovered and use, when I'm on solid ground, and I don't have to leap.

 

see everything  -  overlook a great deal  -  correct a little

 

see everything

It is never a good thing to be stupid because ignorance takes very little time and effort.  That is a lie.  I think it takes more effort to become an imbecile.  There is a definite shortage of idiot, and only the very brave heed the call.  Wisdom on the other hand demands a tremendous cost and requires an exhaustive effort. 

It is important to see everything. 

You have to hear the compliments.  You have to hear the criticisms.  You have to feel the pain and joy, feel the lows and the highs.  We have to know what the elected or appointed leaders of our countries are doing, and we must be aware what our friends and neighbours are grumbling about. 

See everything.  Ignorance is not blissful.  It will sing you a lullaby and imprison your soul.

 

overlook a great deal

I know we don't want to, but we have to look away. 

We cannot save the dogs or kittens in the animal shelters that have been betrayed by their owners.  We have to look away as they are killed today.  We cannot help the woman who will be struck across her face.  We cannot heal the swollen eye that was numbed with a violent fist.  We cannot hug a child enough, who is being teased so much, that he is making plans to hang himself.  There is no way to connect with the young woman who feels so fat and ugly, that she makes cuts on her wrists in a futile attempt to feel human.  She just wants the thoughts in her head, which swarm like black flies, relentless and unforgiving, to disperse if only for a brief moment.

We have to overlook a great deal.  We have to overlook much.

We cannot shoulder the burden of everything without collapsing under its weight.

 

correct a little

We must know.  We must overlook much, but we cannot stand and wish it away. 

We cannot stand and be numb.

It is not enough to say 'I'll pray for you' or 'I'm sorry for your loss'.  How are thoughts and prayers going to reach me and help me anyway?  It is a nice sentiment, but sentiments die a very quit death. 

Make the effort, come over and bring me a beer.  Sit and listen for a while without judgement, and perhaps, for a tiny little moment, your presence might be able to make a small difference.

We must correct just a little.

We much change a little bit.

A little.  Not a lot. 

We must move under the cover of darkness.

We must execute our actions in minutes, not days...

 

Read for only twenty minutes a day.  Pray or meditate for five.

Complain less by ignoring those that gossip, but only on Tuesday evenings.

Don't quit television, but watch it with a renewed purpose.  Pick shows you like and watch them.  Ignore the shows that you have no interest in, but you watch because they are on, and in a perverse way, you think you are actually accomplishing or learning something.

Write in a journal for 10 minutes, and in point form.

Don't join a gym, but walk your dog for 10 extra minutes. 

But I don't have one, then why not rescue one? 

Don't write a 120,000 word novel in one month.  Write it, 120 words at a time, but write every day.  In less than three years, you will publish it and be the novelist you've always dreamed about.

Don't become an artist, experiment.

Don't become a master, live the life of a student.

Don't quit. 

 

Try.

Try a little.

 


Andy

 

Up at four.  At the gym at four-thirty.  Ready to greet the day by six.

Twice a week, this is my hamster wheel.  It is the ditch I dig.  The life I choose.

That is how I met Andy. 

I haven't really paid much attention to him until this morning, probably because I don't see him that often.  We meet for only a brief moment, once or twice a week, when I fill up my car with gas.

There is something very warm and inviting about Andy.  He is an older gentleman, who has certainly lived a long while and can probably tell a lot of great stories.  He has trouble with technology though.  He interacts with it like he is a snake charmer.  Hands are always moving, unsure of what happens next.

We don't speak much. 

I hand him my points card.  He pushed numbers. I tap my debit card.  I am out the door.

We literally only have seconds but in that brief moment I am beginning to get to know him. 

The conversation is never deep, it is always filled with small talk and almost exclusively about the change in the weather.  To the uninterested observer, there is nothing particularly interesting happening here.  The exchange is simply mundane.

Andy does his work with tremendous love and care.  The money he makes can't be that good, so it can't be the job, he must really enjoy the company of people.  The job doesn't call for it, certainly, or demand it.  He is wearing someone else's shiny badge, and he too will one day be replaced by someone new. 

No one will notice. 

Gas will be poured. Snacks will be sold.  Digital money will continue exchanging postal codes.

I drove to another gas station before I changed my routine, because it always has the cheapest gas in town.  It was really exciting for many years to save a dollar or two but I don't do that anymore.  At this little gas station, this wonderful man treats me like a human being.  It isn't forced, or mandated.  It just seems to be part of his natural disposition.  To me, I am beginning to take notice because it is important.

He always has a smile.  He gives me advice on road condition, and once in a while even shares the duties he has prescribed for himself later on in the day.  He doesn't complain about his working hours.  He doesn't seem bored or bothered by customers.  He awaits the end of his shift not because he cannot wait to leave but because he has other things to do. 

Andy is a magnificent human being.

He has made me realize this very morning that we need to take greater stock of the little things we do or what others do for us.  Our family and friends are always prominent figures in our lives, but how many Andy's do we have in our lives?  Their little kindnesses make living more meaningful.

It is nice to know an Andy, but it more imperative that we become one.

 


family day

 

Today is Family Day and I am very grateful for this opportunity to spend time with our little critters. When I was growing up, we did not have Family Day, we had something better, it was called Sunday.

This is not meant as an opportunity to debate and yell at each other over the importance or the futility of going to church.  Put on your big girl pants, and your big boy shirt, and make up your own mind.  Lead your own life. 

Sunday, once had a great importance, in a social context.  I think as a society, we lost something when we allowed commerce unlimited access to our lives, and I think we are paying a heavy price.

There was a time, not that long ago, when no one went to work on Sunday.  Ok, maybe not everyone.  Some work had to get done.  Farmers had to farm.  Soldiers had to soldier on.  Doctors had to heal.  But generally, the vast majority of businesses were closed, except for a few restaurants, coffee houses, and a few movie theatres.

What was the cost to society? 

Shop owners did not earn their keep that day, but it would be somewhat erroneous to assume that the money did not have the opportunity to flow into their pockets during the other six days of the week. 

What was the benefit?

Mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, had nowhere to go.  They could all stay home.  The had the freedom to irritate each other for a full, uninterrupted day.  There was no need to sell another big gulp, make more French fries, or wonder aimlessly through a mall looking to buy something, anything.

What is the cost today? 

We work all year long, through all the seasons, except for a short, mandated vacation.  It’s different of course if you are lucky enough to grind out a higher education degree, and secure yourself a professional post.  If you’re a teacher or an accountant this doesn’t apply to you, but you should at least be able to see the value of having a Sunday to yourself.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone had that opportunity?

For most people, the reality is painful.  Work is hard and it is only a job.  Sit here, move this, reorganize that, restock this, and swipe that.

I’m no economist, and often wonder who the hell I am to speak on any subject for that matter, but it seems to me, some of the angst we face today is self-made. 

What would happen if we allowed people the opportunity to reconnect with their family on at least one day of the week and not just a special occasion?  What if that time was always dependable and expected?

Do we really need an oil change on Sunday?  Can we not make our own coffee? (I can see some angry snarls now).  Can we not buy a bag of Ruffles from Walmart on Saturday, instead of Sunday? 

Maybe we should sober up Sunday instead of buying another six pack.

I’m not advocating a national movement to halt work on Sunday.  I am just wondering if we are better for it.  Maybe some brighter minds can examine or hypothesize if this unbridled commercial society we have created is making us any happier.

Happy Family Day!

That is if you are lucky enough not to go to work.

 


captain westjet

 

We barely read yesterdays news, and already we are knee deep in death, titillation, and Trump stories.

Why are we in a rush to forget.  To move on, and turn the page.  Human stories that are capable of touching lives and making us richer do not appear in the news very often.  They are rare because they have to be exceptional in order to over leap the dark side of our human nature.  They simply don't make profit.  Since I have no stake in the news, I don't have an ounce of interest in today's broadcasts.  I want to remember yesterday.  Like Eeyore, I refuse to budge an inch.

On February 8th, 2017, because of stormy weather, an Air Canada flight heading for Toronto from Newfoundland was rerouted to Fredericton, New Brunswick.  I can only imagine the exhaustion and frustration everyone was feeling.

Upon arrival in Fredericton, and because of the unexpected late hour, passengers were tired and hungry.  Thankfully though, they were given a $10 food voucher from an Air Canada employee at the airport.  Some of the passengers inquired about the usefulness of the voucher.  It seemed like a valid question since everything at the airport was closed.  It seems a $10 voucher was as useful as teets on a bull, or so they say.

I can only imagine the tension and absurdity of reason.  John Samms, a passenger on that flight to Toronto said an Air Canada employee insisted that "there was absolutely nothing that we can do here". 

Interesting choice of words. 

Absolutely - meaning totally and completely. 

Nothing - meaning nil, zero, nada. 

These are the stories I live for and why I have a big soft spot, deep in my heart, for the beautiful people of the Maritimes. 

At that exact moment, when those rusty bureaucratic wheels were in full motion, Captain Westjet swooped in holding five warm and tantalizing pizzas.  "Hey guys, I'm from Westjet and we do things differently, want some pizza?", John Samms recalled the pilot saying.

Can you imagine?  It seems that people at Westjet are masters of the impossible.  They defy science and reason.  They do ordinary things that seem impossible and absolute.

How much funnier would the story be if those $10 vouchers came with an expiration date.  I hope someone does some investigative reporting here, although the child in me has already reached his conclusion.

Air Canada made the following statement after this became news. 

"Unfortunately the food service was closed but thankfully, a caring customer, an airline employee himself, so truly empathetic to the situation, stepped up and helped out. We have spoken to him, thanking him and are truly grateful for his generous spirit."

Really?  A customer?  An airline employee?  Do the words Westjet burn in the throat?  Is it really that difficult, when you've shat your pants, to acknowledge the person who wiped your ass?

He didn't just help out.  He was a hero.  Too many times we just stand by and do absolutely nothing.  We are not much different than Air Canada and this is not a time to feel superior.  This is not a story about failure, or a time to bash a corporation.  It is our bat signal to become a heroine.

This is a story about us.  How often to we think that things are impossible and determined.  We waste our time moaning and groaning about our lives.  We watch instead of living.  We wait for signs instead of leading.

Air Canada offered all the passengers a 25% discount on their next flight.

Silence.

If I was a betting man, I would say that all the passengers are going to fly Westjet.  Hell, I'm going to fly Westjet, and I wasn't even on that flight. 

Why?

Because in Canada, we will have stormy weather again.  If I am to be stranded on a desert island with someone, I don't want it to be a voice of ignorance, I want Captain Westjet.

 


a home but no country

 

I am blessed to belong to a wonderful tribe. 

There are five of us and these magnificent soul are the reason for absolutely everything.  They are the centre of my life, the epicentre of all that is good and meaningful.  There is something so authentic about family life.  It provides a reason to live, not just a shelter to merely survive.

Belonging to a country, well that is a whole other matter.

I was born in Poland and had it not been for the evil of socialism, I would not have made any footprints in Canada.  You would not be reading this.  I would have lived a different life.

1985 changed everything.

My thoughts tell me that I am Canadian.  So does my citizenship card.  It would be irrational for me to deny my residence or to think otherwise.  In my heart however, I don’t belong anywhere. 

I guess I just don’t embrace Nationalism.

As an outsider, I have no desire to stake my claim and I hope my children don’t want to stake a claim either.

I have been told many times since I arrived that I just don’t belong here, that I have a weird name with too many consonants.  I should really change it or think of a new one because it is not good to start any type of enterprise.  No one will find you.  They will forget you or worse, simply ignore you. 

Don’t forget that you will always have to ask for permission, just like a child, because your family didn’t contribute enough or build any of this.  Your dad picked up garbage.  You are easily replaceable. 

And don’t forget, you speak with a slight but a noticeable eastern European accent. 

I have no desire for pity.  It is a waste of time.

I don’t cry very often but when I do, I cry for others.  Other immigrants have had a far more horrifying experience.  No one has attacked or killed me in my place of worship, told me I smell, or commented that my ethnic food is disgusting.  No one has punched me, or refused to serve me.  No one tore up my resume because I am the wrong kind of person.

What is strange is that I don’t belong to Poland either. 

A few years ago I went back to the country I love, because I longed to reconnect.  It was a wonderful experience, but it didn’t feel like home.  I met the most generous people.  I ate dishes I had not tasted in a long time.  I understood Poland’s history and a culture at such depths because before,  I simply  too young to absorb it. 

Despite it all, I felt like an outsider.

It’s funny.  You’ll laugh when I tell you that I was told several times that I spoke with a funny accent.

I belong to my tribe now.  I will remain loyal and true. 

Wherever they go, so may my footsteps follow.

 


don't wait 'til monday

 

When were you born?  The date probably springs up without effort.  1972. 08. 12.  But what about the day?  What day of the week was yours? 

A lot of us remember the year, the month, the day, and some special souls even remember the time, but do you know if it was a Monday?

What is so special about Monday anyway? It's a fresh start, you say.  A good way to wipe the slate clean and start again, you say.  Who still uses slates? (but I digress).

Check your calendar.  If you are looking for the first day of the week to begin, you'll be disappointed.  You will discover that Monday is in fact the second day of the week.  Right or wrong, a matter of deep faith or trivia, our society runs on a Christian calendar.  We are living in the two thousandth and seventeenth year of the birth of Jesus, and Sunday is the first day of the week, because it commemorates the resurrection. 

So why are you waiting for the second day of the week, a day you won't remember because it is not as important as the day you were born?

Silence.

I ask myself the same question when I am faced with making a change.  

We don't have 24 hours.  The earth's rotation does not cooperate with our mandate.  We don't have 365 days.  Once again, the gravitational pull of the sun has her own ideas.  A broken clock is right twice a day.  Our lives however, are lived in perpetual uncertainty.

Let's agree that there is no perfect time.  There is only time.

The time is now. 

Your time is Wednesday.  

Decide.  Leap.  Begin.