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March 2017

don't you dare be normal

 

We live in a curious time.

We may be the first civilization, that has for the most part mastered and educated its citizens in the art of reading and writing.  We should also admit however, that as a modern and a progressive global civilization, we should not be too quick to pat ourselves on the back for our efforts.  We may be darn good communicators, but we seem to miss the thesis of being alive.

It seems that our ‘free’, but somewhat expensive education system, has done such a great job nurturing us, that we seem to have no glimmer of understanding who we are, and so we conform our lives to what we think society wants us to be. 

We know our roles and we live them out. 

We understand obedience, as we raise our hands to ask permission to pee, watching our manners and minding our business.  Somewhere during our turbulent adolescence, we came to the somewhat unnatural conclusion that it was far too difficult to swim against the current.  We regrettably decided to follow our peers and retreat with the comfortable flowing waters.  

Today we do what we are told.

No one asks us anymore who we want to be when we grow up.  We are grown up.

We were once asked, long ago, to decide for ourselves as to what we wanted to do with our lives. 

We were asked to make a decision, hastily, at a time when we were very unsure of ourselves, and equally ignorant of all our options.  We didn’t know enough.  We haven’t lived enough.  Yet, we are expected to live with our direction.  We chose our given professions.  We groomed ourselves into who we are today.  We are simply asked to be content with our lot in life.

We tell ourselves that we have to remain obedient to our choices.  This is what it means to be normal.  It is after, all we have ever known.  It’s all we know we can do. 

But why is doing more important than being?

Who says that you can’t change your damn mind?  Why can’t we change who we are?  Why can’t we do this today or tomorrow?

Technology changes.  Society changes.  Progress engulfs us.

Everything is in constant and obeys the laws of perpetual motion.  So why do we remain stagnant?  Why are our lives eternally bound to a monotonous existence?

There is a beautiful film that came out of Africa, which is probably why you haven’t heard of it or seen it, and you perhaps never will.  After all, how could you, when it is ignorant to assume an entire world can fit into one Foreign Film category.

The First Grader

The film is a mystifying story about an old man, who was denied his chance to learn to read and write, because the British Colonial power, that controlled his country for years, denied him this unnecessary privilege. 

He didn’t have the right skin colour. 

He finds himself now, living in a free and independent Kenya, where education is offered to everyone, yet as he enters a kindergarten class for the first time, the people of his country believe that he is outlandish, and doesn’t belong there.

He is not of the right age.

Have you ever noticed that art classes are just an after-thought in most of ours schools, and in most of our minds?  Yes, there are a few exceptions.  A few scattered, designated art schools, do cultivate new and emerging artists, but that is precisely what is wrong our culture.  Art has been relegated to the passing time of a recess.  It has been told to wait outside. 

We decided, or it was decided for us, that art serves no real purpose and has no lasting importance to our lives.  Art has no value, except in as much as it entertains and bridges those awkward moments of silence we so desperately try to avoid.

You and I have been told, repeatedly and relentlessly, to the point of exhaustion, that we need to be normal, because it is far too dangerous to fly too close to the sun.

We have built a god of science, modernity, and progress. 

Charlie Chaplin saw this in his film Modern Times.  We praised his genius at the time, but never listened.

Every day, we wake up with the often unconscious intention to simply blend in and accomplish nothing out of the ordinary. 

Don’t fuck up.  Don’t make a ruckus.  Shut up.  Keep your eyes down. 

We love living life in the middle of a crowd, unseen. We don’t want to lead.  It is so comfortable on the inside.  It is so cold and uncertain to be an outlier. 

We are nestled in the middle along with everyone else.  We don’t want to be noticed.  We don’t want to stand out and be different.  We wish to be left alone.  We just want to earn our daily bread, kick up our feet, and wait for our turn to fly to our next vacation.

Are we happy?

Only you can answer that.  I’ve searched my own soul for the answer.

We give our children standardized tests to prove that they are literate, and normal.  They are ready to resume their life of mediocrity.

Students climb their way to the precipice of the honour roll.  They earn their high school diploma, for what?  To become part of a bell curve at some higher institution of learning?

How quickly have we let go of our dreams, and settled in for the menial tasks of a good job?  We satisfy our sexual urges.  Fawn over Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  We chase after them like a fox who pounces on a rabbit.  But at what cost?

When we do things, does that bring us more happiness than being?

Right.  There are no standardized tests for just being.

Remember when you were young and you would listen to your favourite music because it was beautiful, and precisely because there was nothing you had to do with it, except to listen?  Remember drawing pictures as a child for no particular reason, simply because you wanted to bring colour to a paper and express something?

Where is that child that we were so fond of?

Do we ever remember the games we were fond of creating and how often we relied on our imagination.  We would make things come alive out of nothing. There was no tangible expectations.  There were no norms to follow.

We were never meant to be normal.  So what happened to us?

Why did we willingly give up our innocence and our child-like wonder in exchange for comfort and sameness?

What has it gotten us?

Being normal is a chronic illness.

Being normal is a treadmill.  The belt, winds and winds our life, for hours and hours, giving us the illusion and perspiration of imagined progress.  But in the end, it leads us nowhere. 

Why don’t go outside?  Why don’t we engage our universe?

It’s too cold.  Too wet.  Too unpredictable.  It’s not normal. 

If you go outside, you might just end up being somewhere. 

Somewhere, where there is nothing to do, except to live, be happy.  A place where you will not encounter many fellow travellers.

A place to be abnormal.

 


a little Summer at the dawn of spring


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Meet Summer.

 

Last Friday, I was really looking forward to my first photo session with Lauren, who I connected with on a model networking sight.  I was super excited and nervous, as I usually am, because it feels like I'm starting all over again.  In a sense that is exactly what I am doing.  I am beginning to rediscover my talents that have been dormant for way too long.  I have also gaining a little more appreciation for the contribution I may just make to the beautiful fabric of human civilization. 

I’m definitely on a new path. 

A path, much less traveled, but a path fueled by my dreams and armed with a concrete plan, and laser focus.  I intend to fully execute this plan.  There is no more plan B.

The night before the session I found myself removing all the booster seats from the back off my trusted little Hyundai, and filled it up with what seemed like a mountain of gear.  All the equipment was carefully chosen of course.  I even made a list because I didn’t want to forget anything for my first pin-up session of the year. 

At one in the afternoon, I received a text from Lauren, and she informed me that she had been really sick all morning.  She was sorry, but there was no way she could make it.

Shit.  

What now?

Sweet waves of relief swept over me.  All my previous nervousness was suddenly gone.  I was happy.  Comfort returned because all that was left for me to do was to drive home and enjoy the coming of a beautiful weekend.

But I remembered reading about this exact moment, or one like it.  

Comfort is quicksand. 

It is a dangerous place where all artistic endeavors get trapped and eventually die.

It’s the resistance, as Steven Pressfield calls it.  That little voice.  The dragon that needs to be slayed, if any creative work is to be born.

The resistance wanted me to forget my dreams and return to my long life of complacency.  After all, how could I not?

What was I to do?  Take pictures of an empty room?

But there was a complication.

The lovely lady that I rented the studio from in Peterborough was on vacation.  She sent me the name and number of the gentleman who would take care of me that night, but as hard as I tried, I could not find his number.  I had no way of calling him or letting him know that I wanted to cancel.  I didn’t want my reputation to be tarnished by making such a terrible first impression.  There was no way I couldn’t showing up.

I decided that I had no choice.  I would have to drive to Peterborough and let Andrew know that unfortunately I would not be using the space that evening.

Suddenly, I had a thought.

Why not ask Lauren if she knew anyone that wanted to take her place?

I received a message almost immediately, informing me that she was going to do her best and would let me know as soon as she could.

I drove down to get a coffee, and if you are interested in piecing the whole story together, go back a few days and read the four dollars entry.  Money is definitely just a story, and this photo session was turning into one as well.

In a short while I received another text from Lauren telling me that her friend Summer would love to take her place.

I was super excited, but once the excitement faded and all the nervousness returned. 

No matter.  I am beginning to live with those feelings of uncertainty.  They are an indicator that I am doing the right thing.  It was time to dig some ditches.

I briefly spoke to Summer on the phone.  The conversation was short and a bit awkward for both of us, but what would you expect under the circumstances.  We were both anxious, but the important thing was that everything was back on track.

I headed to Peterborough for the our session and decided I needed to arrive a bit early since I had never used that studio space before.  I was lucky enough to find a parking space just across the street, after circling the block a few times, on a busy Friday afternoon.

The studio was on the second floor. 

Stairs.

There was no time to waste as I heaved and weaved all the light and camera equipment up and down the mountain of stairs.  I had no idea that those four-thirty am workouts were training me for this exact moment.

Summer arrived on time.  She is an amazing young lady.  Full of energy and excitement.  A great listener and more eager than me to create some amazing images.

She kept apologizing for not having much of a wardrobe, but I kept reassuring her that based on the circumstances, I was just happy and grateful that we had a chance to create something together in the first place.

Summer is stunning.

It was difficult to believe her at first that this was only her first photo session, and the first studio session at that.  She was so good.

No pressure or anything, but I absolutely love the work we created.

Isn’t it something?

The reason Summer was able to join me in the studio in the first place was because she had already agreed and planned a session with a different photographer.  The problem was, it was outside, and the rain made it somewhat difficult.  Her photographer cancelled the session. 

Thank God.

What are the odds of that happening? 

I bet you four dollars.

I can’t say enough about Summer.  I think the camera absolutely loves her.  We worked extremely well together and next thing we knew, our time was up.

I think I have said enough.  It is time for you to look at the work.

If you like our session, I hope you come back in a few weeks, because Summer and I are committed to work together again. 

This time, we have a plan!

 

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The last two images happened at the end of our session.  It was the last ten minutes and we were just messing around.  I recently bought a tutorial from RGG EDU by the fantastic photographer Jake Hicks.  He uses colourful gels, like nobody's business, and I have a fever, and the only remedy is more gels.

It was a lot of fun incorporating colour into my work.  I plan on doing a lot more of it in the future.

 

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   Fin

 


we need to stop our hero worship

 

We all need a heroine in our lives.  We really need her, because we hunger for a better way to live.  We all need a hero to take us by the hand.  Someone to teach us who we are, to amplify our principles; someone to help us be who we dream of becoming.

We must remember that the heroine never fails us  We fail the hero.

We fail because we cast our free will aside and in turn are ready to worship someone, sometimes anyone.  It is much easier than living a fulfilling life.  Much easier than facing our mistakes and regrets.

When we worship our heroines, we embrace and fuel the illusion that we are actually doing something. 

In fact, we are not.  We are just sitting, staring into space, often numb, just watching time pass us by.

We support our politicians, both from the left and the right.  We admire them.  We fight for them.  Then we wait and expect them to do something. 

We put our pennies into the collection plates at church or seal our cheques in envelopes so a child can eat somewhere, and as good as that is, we lay down and expect someone else to go and do something.

We worship Christ, Yahweh, Allah, or whatever other mystical power moves us, but we are reluctant and feel broken.  We lack the desire to become the next saint and martyr. 

We pray to our god and implore him for favours.  We ask for trivial little things or perhaps we demand reprieve from a looming problem that has engulfed our lives.  We want our lives to be easier.  We seek comfort and disown meaning.  We have a tough time and don’t realize or simply forget that we need to sacrifice and hustle in order to deserve those favours.  We forget or ignore the fact that it is in giving that we receive.

We admire our political or spiritual leaders, but become cripplingly distant and reluctant to lead ourselves.  We reveal ourselves to be judgemental.  Divisive.  Obnoxious.  Self-serving and self-important.

We consume music with ferocious vigor and worship the stars that make it, but we don’t dare create anything ourselves or even stand amazed by it all or contemplate it a little. 

We want to read the news, but we don’t want to create any. 

We look for any injustice in the world and rally our angry cry against it, but we don’t fight the most pressing battles in our own lives. 

It is so much easier to articulate our position on social media about an abstract idea, than to look someone you love in the eye and tell them that they have hurt you, or to ask them for forgiveness.

The world needs a hero.  We need you.

There are many vacancies.

Stop looking out there. 

Begin to look inside.

 


when words fail

 

Sometimes words fail us.

A few months ago, I found myself at a social function surrounded by people I only know casually.  After the inevitable and heated discussion of all things Donald Trump, the conversation slowly turned and focused on an attractive woman who shared that after about a decade of marriage, her husband has moved out, and wanted to separate.

I didn’t say much.  I mean, what can you say?

I just listened.  I didn’t ask questions, but I was glad, others had the courage.

In the back of my mind, I kept thinking and wondering about the state of my own relationship.  One just can’t help but wonder when you hear stories like this, if we truly see the reality of our lives.

Time had passed and I saw her yesterday. 

For a moment, we found ourselves standing alone in the corner of the room, and I politely, if not instinctively, asked her how things were going.  I knew the answer by the way she was slouching.  She seemed to lack all strength and while leaning, the wall seemed to be doing the majority of the work. 

She looked exhausted and sad. 

She looked tired and pensive.

I learned that things have not gone well. 

She uncovered a three year affair.  She had reluctantly moved out of her matrimonial home. She packed up what seems like her whole life and now faces the daily grind of unavoidable transition.  Her children weigh heavy upon her heart, while friends and family are naturally beginning to be torn and forced to pick sides. 

Life is hell.

Full of lawyers and mixed emotions.  Anger and betrayal.  Sadness and defeat.  Life is a torturous grind, with no glimmer of hope on the immediate horizon.

I was speechless and numb.

I was truly sorry.  I knew that I probably shouldn’t have asked because I am sure she get asked often, but I was mistaken.  Many people are afraid.  I didn’t want her to think that I didn’t listen or had forgotten our previous conversation.

I looked her in her tearful eyes and said ‘I have no words.  There is nothing I can say that will make anything better.  I’m sorry.’

She looked back at me and said, ‘Thank you.  At least you had the courage to ask’.

I learned yesterday that sometimes words are not enough, but people still need their chance to be heard.

We have to ask. 

We have to allow people to be human.

 


four dollars

 

Most people binge watch television shows these days, but I, who am at the precipice of change, force myself to binge read. 

I have been on a steady diet of Seth Godin books for a while now, and have absorbed the novel idea that money might only be a story.  It is one of the many stories we tell ourselves, each, and every day.  Stories that hinder us from doing and being who we want to be.

We become card carrying members of one of two groups.  We are either give our money away or we lust for it.  Sometimes, we inquire, and want to know if the money people have at their disposal is somehow dirty or if its clean.  We admire those that have worked hard for theirs and look in judgement on those who came by it easily, or who simply don’t deserve it. 

At the end of the day, however, no matter how or why we have the money that we do, it really doesn’t change a thing.

For most of my life, I have become accustomed to using debit cards.  It is one of the easiest ways to pay for things, and I am not alone.  That thin, cheap, and little plastic card, offers incredible convenience and is always readily available to serve. 

I have dreamt of being rich and winning the lottery more than once, and I have even imagined what it would feel like if I was on the other extreme; unlucky enough to be robbed at knifepoint. 

I think my debit card would come to my rescue.  It would create a very distinct and unique force-field, surrounding me with its protective energy.  It would triumphantly keep me safe and sound, until help arrived. 

I do think, I have this wrong. 

It is probably my debt that deserves all the credit and would be brave enough to come to my rescue.  I can only imagine the disappointment on their face.  No thief wants to make my acquaintance.

But how is money a story, you may be patiently waiting to ask?

I will explain.

No matter who you are or how much wealth you have, the story we tell ourselves about our debt or financial security is not very easy to decipher.  There is nothing intrinsically good or evil about our crumpled-up dollar bills or our dirty little coins.  How we see money and the connection we make with has very little to do with our happiness.  Happiness begins in our mind, not in our wallet.

Case and point.

I read recently that a good way to change your story about money is to simply give away.  When someone less fortunate has the courage to ask, we should never hesitate and give unconditionally. 

It is important to be open to this experience.  It is essential not to close our hearts and minds.  We need to share what we have, even if we only own a jar full of unwanted pennies.

For years, I have not been faithful to this idea.  My mind was blocked by some pretty erroneous reasoning. 

I falsely told myself that if I gave a homeless person some money, they would most likely use it to get drunk.  By giving them a dollar bill or some discarded change, I was in fact making their life worse and not better.

I’m ready to face reality today.  I was just really cheap. 

I tried to keep as much of my money as I possibly could.  I was hoping that by doing so, one day, in the not so distant future, my debt would finally be paid, and I would be set free.  I would be free, but I finally realize that in truth I make a terrific little Gollum.

My precious.

This was some brilliant faulty reasoning. 

We end up getting what we focus our attention on.

When you give your money to someone who begs for it, you are in control of only your end of the bargain, and that’s how it should be.  You have been given the power to either keep your money or give it away.  The person who receives you gift, has the same power.  They are free to do with it what they please.  They can save it, buy something to eat, or simply lie and get wasted.  In either case, you and I are never affected by someone else’s decision.  They cannot rob us of our gift.  They can only waste theirs.

Last Friday was quite the day. 

I will write more about it later, but that’s for another time. 

In the late afternoon I found myself at a coffee house.  After a delicious cup of coffee and a cranberry scone, I was sufficiently nourished and warmed up, so I headed back to my car.

On my way, a young man, in his early twenties, intersected my path, and with his hand out stretched, asking me for a quarter.  I don’t believe I even made eye contact.  Instinctively, I found myself saying sorry, and told him that I didn’t have any change.

While I was rejecting him, I impulsively put my hands in my pocket and was shaken awake by my subconscious mind and the cold texture of the coins that surrounded my fingertips. 

I stopped. 

I looked up, made eye contact, and asked him why he needed the money.

He answered that he needed four dollars for bus fare because he wanted to get home.

My fingertips told me that I had exactly four dollars jingling around in my pocket, which was quite the coincidence, I thought.  It was the left over money I had from a transaction earlier that morning.

I ignored all logic and engaged my gut instinct. 

I reached in my pocket, and gave the young man his four dollars.  I wished him a splendid evening, and headed to my destination.

That should have been the end of it, but it wasn’t. 

A day later, and at about the same time I met this young man, I headed over to do some portrait work for a client I spoke to briefly on the phone. 

I should probably backtrack a bit and explain how it happened that I come in contact with this gentleman.

Earlier last week I received a phone call and so I naturally ignored it.  I get lots of phone calls, and they are always selling things I don’t really need. 

I checked my voicemail later that day and learned that this particular gentleman needed some photos done and he needed them done fast.  I have received similar unsolicited photo requests before, and they were initiated by someone trying to get a quick passport photo, as they anxiously try to leave the country.

I usually send them to Walmart and call it a day.

This was a strange assignment though. 

Not in its scope.  The job itself was easy. 

He needed one simple headshot and I could call it a day.  What was strange about all this was that we never discussed the price.  When he hung up, I considered for a long while if I could call him back, but something told me to let it go.  He sounded very nice on the phone and really needed my help.  He was a professional man.  Business was slow.  He needed this to generate more income for himself.

I was prepared to do it for free if necessary.  I was feeling giddy for some reason.

I arrived at his house on a rainy Saturday afternoon.  Bantered for a bit.  Set up my lights.  Prepared the scene.  Snapped some great photos and began to pack up.

He asked me how much I wanted for my time, and in my head, I had the figure of fifty dollars.  I thought about it after our phone call, and the figure never changed. 

I know I am worth more than that, but in a pinch, I have always undervalued myself.  I think I need a business manager or an agent.  This has been my single worse entrepreneurial downfall. 

I kept my mouth shut.  I looked up and told him that he should be the one to decide what was fair.  I vowed this year to only work in two hour increments, and had no idea what I deserved to be paid.

He wrote a cheque for two hundred dollars.

I was floored. 

As I write this, I am still floored.

I didn’t realize it until later, when I got home, that this is exactly four times the amount I wanted from him to begin with.

I gave away four dollars to a rainy Friday afternoon to a perfect stranger.

On Saturday, another total stranger, was giving me four times what I would have asked for, because I was the one begging.

Money is just a story.

It is a hell of a good one.

 


a belly full of laughs

 

I engage in a lot of banter, with a lot of people, but I admit, a lot of it usually degenerates into something incorrigibly inappropriate.  Too late to change now, I guess. But sometimes, just sometimes, when the double-entendres run dry, my strange sense of humour leaves someone with a belly full of laughs.  I wanted to share one of those moments with you.

It was late morning on Friday and I was heading for lunch.  I was walking with a group of students and I asked one young lady what her plans were for the weekend.

 

Me:                  Any big plans this weekend?

Student:          Oh, Sir.  It’s been a rough week.  I intend to sleep.

Me:                  That’s curious.  What made the week so rough?

Student:          I had a lot of homework.  Too many assignments.  I got very little sleep.

Me:                  I’m sorry for your struggle, but if that’s the case, have you ever considered

                         dropping out of school?

Student:          Never. 

Me:                  (silence)

Student:          Do you not know what that would mean?

Me:                  No.

Student:          I would probably end up homeless somewhere.

Me:                  That’s exactly the point and all the more reason to do it.

Student:          (confused)

Me:                  I mean, think about it, if you’re homeless, there would be no more assignments.  You would be living the dream.  You would finally be able to sleep anytime, anywhere, and totally uninterrupted.

 

Context is everything. 

 


the awful feeling of being rushed

 

I’m always on time.

Scratch that.  I’m always early.

I was taught early on in my life not to waste anyone’s time.  My mom and dad believed that being fifteen minutes late or arriving fifteen minutes early is basically the same.  Both are equally disruptive and unnecessary.

I therefore calculate everything in my power before I leave my home; speed, velocity, fronts, wind patterns, mood, angel dust, and God speed.  I will always arrive at our designated meeting sport, about twenty minutes to spare.  I will then sit alone in my car thinking, or counting down the remaining minutes, before I knock on your door, at the precise agreed upon hour.  I can’t help it.  It is how I am wired.

Never being late is very admirable, but it is not without cost.

Over time I have developed some anxiety when it comes to time.  A sudden change in routine does funny things to my psyche, and at worst of times, I am always tempted to quit.

I wake up at 4:02 am; Monday to Friday.  On the weekend, I let the rhythm of my family take its course.  4:02 is arbitrary, but I never miss it.

Most of the time, my body is so in tune with my environment that I wake up a few minutes before its time, allowing me the chance to turn off the alarm, before anyone else is affected.

This morning, after staying up later than usual, the alarm ripped me from my sleep at the predetermined time.  My morning routine was unchanged, except that I forgot to calculate the time needed to pack my car for a photoshoot I will be doing later on this evening.

I lost ten minutes, and when I saw the clock staring back at me in the car, I panicked.

An anxious little thought inside my head offered the comforting solution that perhaps I should not go to the gym today.  I beat that down quick, and drove away.  When I got to the gym, the thought came at me again and reasoned that I should cut the exercise down by ten minutes, restoring balance in the universe.  Again, I didn’t listen.

My anxiety rose again a third time and that little stubborn voice asked my permission to skip the sit ups, after all, my abs have been dormant for so long, what’s the point, but I could really make up some time. 

I grabbed the bosu-ball, some weights, and bobbed my body up and down, until I couldn’t.

When it was all said, and done, I got back in my car and noticed that I have gained ten minutes.  The universe had restored itself all on its own, probably because I don’t have a very good sense of time to begin with.

If I didn’t fight my natural instincts and persevered, I would be writing a different post today. Or worse, I might have quit writing any post. After all, who the hell reads it anyway?

We cannot stop our fear and anxiety.  We can only choose to go to war against it.  Sometimes we are victorious.  Sometimes we get wounded.

Keep fighting.

Your life is worth fighting for.

 


breaking a little girl's heart

 

Sometimes you do the right thing and end up being wrong.

It happened last night. 

Over the last few weeks my daughter and I have developed a little game.  I probably shouldn’t say we, because our little girl came up it on her own, and created all the simple rules.  She also initiated first contact. 

The game is very simple, really. 

When our bedtime routine nears its natural conclusion; when the teeth are clean and the bladder rests empty, she turns to me with arms wide open and invites me to carry her.  I carry her to her room, where we sing songs and exchange a few warm hugs. 

At first, she would ask me ever so quietly, and with a beaming smile.  Later on, she became a little mysterious and only hinted at her desired request.  Either way, over the last few weeks, each, and every night, this has become a treasurable familial moment.

Recently, her older brother was not well and I took pity upon him.  I started caring him to bed as well, despite his girth and size.  My mind flashed ahead and I dreaded what I knew was coming next. This wonderful experience was bound to turn into a competition, like everything else does when our children are involved.

I thought quickly and devised the perfect solution.  Since I carried my daughter to bed the night before, I decided to carry my son last night, and told my daughter that I love them both, and they would both get a turn.  Each, and every evening, I would make each child happy, while at the same time, picking no favourite.

A half an hour after we said our goodnights, I heard a little voice summon me to her room, and I suddenly realized that she had been crying the entire time.  I didn’t hear her.  I didn’t anticipate her tears and she didn’t want to wake her brother, so she called the best she could.

When I saw her, she was red faced, and full of tears.  She was sad about something, but it was difficult for me to understand why.  Then suddenly, I knew.

I was wrong.

Equality works in theory but it mucks things up when faced with special bonds between people. 

For my son, this was a moment of equality.  He simply wanted his share of the attention that was showered upon his sister.  To my daughter however, this was the end of a special dance she thought up and looked forward to with her daddy.

I sit here a little heartbroken this morning, because I cannot turn back the time or unwipe her tears.

I can only face tonight and tomorrow.

I will resume our little game, and punch equality in the mouth.

This sweet little creature that shapes me daily and has the heart of a Saint, continues to teach me, each, and every day.  I wish this wasn’t a lesson I had to learn.  Lessons are never pleasant, but I think this one will serve me well.

Some things are not meant to be equal.  Sometimes we get back more than we can give. 

Sometimes you have to know the game you’re playing.

Play it well and don’t muck things up.

 


blind obedience

 

It’s 3 a.m. 

You are somewhere far from home.  Perhaps you are on a business trip or visiting a friend and find yourself in a little fart of a town, where the virgin hooker is home for a rest.

Everyone is asleep or they are curing a hangover. 

It’s cold. 

It’s still. 

Even the birds and rodents have no use for this dead hour of the night and are fast asleep. 

Everything is still and motionless, yet here you sit. 

You sit and stare at the red traffic light.  You are stopped.  You are patiently waiting for it to change. 

You look left.  You look right.  You check your rear-view mirror.  You look left and right again.

You continue to sit.  You obediently wait for green.

Why do we do this?  Why don’t we just go?

I am not suggesting we should break traffic laws and make our roads any more dangerous than they already are.  I am simply wondering why we silence our gift of reason sometime, in order to live in total blind obedience. 

Why do we wait for a new year to get our act together?  Why do we make our resolutions at the end, and when we fail, have such a long road ahead before we try again?

Why do we quit things on Monday? 

Why smoke that one last cigarette?  What is the reason we should finish the last pack?  Why be obedient to our impulses, when they are clearly somewhat perverse.

If you were to find yourself drinking turpentine, and suddenly realized what was happening, you wouldn’t think to yourself, this will kill me, I’ll stop Monday.  You wouldn’t dare finish the glass. 

God hates a quitter.

Our whole tradition of having a bachelor party is another great example of blind obedience to a life of pleasure and excess.  We publically profess to seek our happiness in commitment and monogamy, but we celebrate our new union with a night of drunken debauchery.

Blind obedience.

Sometimes we get sick.  We all do.  We know and we feel rotten.  We should have stayed home, but yet, we do not, and we ask our boss permission to get well.  We make the assumption that everyone automatically concludes we are lying.  We so worried what our boss will think or do, that it cripples us.  Why do we sit at that red light?  Why do we allow other people to determine our existence?

Frank Sinatra did it his way.

Well, actually, he did it the Canadian way, by rerecording Paul Anka’s classic, but the lesson is the same.

Next time you are at a traffic light, or feel you need to seek permission to do what you need to do.  Don’t. 

Squeal those tires and let that rubber burn, baby. 

Go and don’t look back.

 


be grateful

 

It’s important to be grateful.

Not just on special occasions, or anniversaries, or even when you feel good.  Be grateful  each and every day.  The more, the better, really.  There is so much to be thankful for.

Not everything in our life needs to be perfect.  Not everything has to be in its rightful place.  Our lives can be full of incomplete and unpolished dreams.  Things that we have started but not quite completed or delivered.  We have the right to live in dignified clutter, a work in progress per se, but we must always remember our duty to ourselves and each other, to be grateful.

We need to say thank you often.  We need to remember and recognise the little kindnesses we encounter throughout the day, as well as the grand gestures that circle back in our direction a little less often.

Without gratitude life will appear bleak.  It’s a dark, cold place, and it is always raining.  It’s a place where things always go wrong.  Monday.

Be ready to be grateful at any moment.  Be on guard to return the kindness of friends and strangers.

Buy someone a coffee this morning. 

Perhaps a someone you have never met.  It’s easy, really, and there is no chance of getting anything in return.  It is the best act of kindness because you will not have it bartered away.

Take the time to talk to someone.

Ask someone how they are doing today?   Stay quiet and try to listen and understand.  Listen for a little while at least, before you feel the urge to take your next step and walk away.

Make it your mission today to respond to 7 posts on Facebook. 

Don’t just click like buttons or send digital hearts.  Don’t watch from a distance.  Respond to someone.  If they took the time to write something that is on their heart, they wrote it for a reason.  Write back. Give back.  Be human.

Do this all day, and then at night, sit quietly, take out a piece of paper and your half-eaten pencil.  Write today’s date.   Make a list of all the things you are grateful for.  Keep the list current.  Only think of today.

Look at it.  Embrace the fact that today was a good day.  We have a tendency to easily forget.  Now go to bed knowing you’ve made a difference.  You were part of the human family. 

Wake up tomorrow and do it again.