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April 2017

the world of possibilities

 

Dreams are not enough.

They reside deep within out unconscious mind and often, they turn out to be nothing more than aerial flights of fantasy.  A hallucination.  A momentary and diseased, wishful thinking.  A reimagined life, so vivid, that we regretfully decline its possibility.  We believe that it is not for us.  We are not worthy of greatness.

Our dreams are very important, but they are immaterial, and too easy to abandon.  They often disguise themselves as mere wishes.  Turn out to be nothing more than a collection pretty shiny lights or a tantalizing sucky-sweet that quickly dissolves itself into a tasteless afterthought.

I wish I was fit.  I wish I had more money.  I wish I was famous.  I wish I was free.  I wish I didn’t eat that greasy burrito at midnight, because my sphincter will soon be exhausted from all the purging.

I wish, I wish, I wish…

You get the idea.

Perhaps our dreams need a crime fighting partner.  Perhaps dreams need a sidekick to make sure things actually materialize.  Perhaps our dreams need the assistance of possibilities.

Possibilities.

A chance. 

A promise.

A risk but an opportunity.

Now more than ever, we need a world of possibilities.  We need it more than our dreams.

I want to publish a book. 

Several, actually. 

I want strangers to read them and be moved, or pee themselves with laughter.  I want to share what I see, think, and feel.  I want to contribute my unique fingerprint to the vast human library of thought and experience.  I want to connect with my readers, and engage them in authentic human dialogue.  I regret that I have been silent for far too long.

I want to make my mark. 

Publishing a book is a dream, but if you are here, reading this, you stumbled into something more infinitely important.  You have found my world of possibilities.

This is my 73rd entry into that possibility. 

I hustle every morning to come up with something that makes sense.  Something that means something, and might in some small way resonate with someone.  I often ask myself who will actually read this?  Will it even make sense to them?  What will they think of me?  Will they misunderstand my intention?  Why don’t I just write a book and forget all this.

I write these posts every day, to keep my dream alive. 

I am convinced that if I put my thoughts on paper, or rather, let them find their existence in my keystrokes, than perhaps one day, one day soon, I will be able to create a long series of these entries, and bind them together in a book.

I don’t know what dreams lay close to your heart, but I know that you have them. 

Connect your dreams to the world of possibility.  Don’t worry what will be.  Focus on what is and what you can accomplish at this very moment.

We are human beings. 

We were always meant to be

Doing is the disease we discovered in the Garden of Measurement.

Publishing a book will not make me a writer.  Writing every day makes me a writer.  Publishing a book is only one possibility of expression.

If you are an artist, be an artist.  Be an artist every day.  Do something.  Make mistakes.  Rant and rave.  Quit.  Then change your soiled underwear, and begin again.  Focus on what is possible.  Work on what you can.  Let the infinite and abundant universe whisper to you the what and the why you are here.  Share with us what only you can imagine.

Chris Cornell is not only a handsome musical genius, but the man speaks to my very soul.

I am not the rolling wheels.  I am the highway.

I am not the carpet ride.  I am the sky.

I am not the blowing wind.  I am the lightning.

I am not the autumn moon.  I am the sky.

Stop and think about that for a moment?  Don’t rush through it.  The shit your dog made, will get picked up.  Stay with me for a few more seconds.

You are the sky.  The thunder and the lightning.

I am not the sum-total of my many mistakes.  I am a life worth living.

A dreamer.

A dreamer who exists in a world of possibilities.

 


it matters what side you are on

 

Teachers teach. 

Students learn. 

Politicians rub themselves with wads of money.

No.

They set the standards, but its a hell of a mental image.

Pretty simple on the surface, really, but terribly misleading.

Let’s start with our philosopher kings.  The wise men and women who enter politics not for the pension, or the expense accounts, but to serve our nation and its people with unconditional love and foster a bright, new, future.

Politicians are responsible and set the standards.  They decide, for example, that a B or a level 3, as is our case in Ontario, is the happy medium.  (Ironically, the synonym for medium is mediocre, but let’s pretend we don’t know that).

I think deep down, they care passionately that each young mind becomes a contributor to our society and that they don’t become a burden to the state.

As an aside.  Isn’t it strange how much time and energy we devote to teaching children about sex.  An act, that is pretty simple, if you think about it, yet we spend no time, and I mean no time, discussing the reality of death with our children.  Not a word. 

We know how to begin life, but we are miserable in facing its end.

First, why did the government replace letter grades with levels, and why do those levels stop at the number 4?  Is it a holy number?  The last number that someone double down? 

The letter A is the first letter of the alphabet.  That makes sense.  4 is a number in the middle of a vast ocean of digits, signifying nothing, but I digress.

Second, we have the literacy test.  An administrative standard that shuts down learning for an entire day, takes a lot of effort to prepare and evaluate, not to mention what it costs, and all of it to what end? 

As teachers, we know who is struggling and who needs help.  But no one asks, in case we make a mistake.  Imagine the tears.

As a society we administer this carefully crafted test in order to identify the students we are already familiar with, to then basically abandon them to their own devices, because we will not make extra time for their needs, set aside no valuable money to help them learn or to provide them with any up to date technology.  There seems to be little effort otherwise.

This is exactly what happens within our health care system.  If you are depressed or suicidal and have the courage to actually walk into a hospital for help, you will probably be sent home after some time has passed, unless you are yielding a weapon.  Like our literacy test, there is nothing in place to help you.  Go and help yourself.

I am not suggesting our society lacks well meaning people in all walks of life.  I am not.  I am just pointing out the futility, irony, and absurdity of it all.

You do with it what you will.

People matter.

Let me repeat that. 

People really matter.

We have to wake up and embrace the truth of how great we are, and how much we have to contribute to anyone that seeks our contribution.

When a teacher meets her new class, she has been given a set of standards by which to educate those young minds.  A carefully constructed set of goals and measurable achievement charts to follow.  Rubrics.  Diagnostics.  Chants.  Rubber Duckies. 

She will do everything in her power to help bridge the gap, to be the harbinger of success.  To be the wind beneath their wings.

Before she starts, however she needs to decide which side she will be on? 

Yes, there is a side.

Will she uphold the rigid uncontested standards against the students, or will she try to go to battle along with her students, against those standards?

An unreflected life is just not worth living.

Being average is a disease. 

God spits the lukewarm from his mouth. 

Why not inspire a new set of standards, and that doesn’t mean, going rogue and ignoring the mandated ones. 

Why not do more?  Yes, more? 

Why not do better?  Why not question things?  Why not teach the things we know will last?  Things that will not very easily fade away or disappear with the coming of spring and a summer vacation?

Teachers have a choice to make. 

They are either going to embrace the students, which means that sometimes, going against the rules, as some are indeed blind, deaf, and stupid.  Or they will take the easier way, the path of least resistance, and shield themselves with the curriculum.  They will be eager to beat each child into compliance and submission.  The will be keen on putting another brick in the wall.

Picking a side is not just for teachers.

Everyone, at some point, must take a stand.

This is what separates a great parent, a photographer, a chef, dancer, accountant, police officer, athlete, you name it. 

Picking a side is important.

What side we fight on matters.

I hope you get a good coffee this morning. 

I hope you draw a line in the sand.

I hope you walk and stand on the right side.

Unless you’re dyslexic.

Then go to the left.

 


tears

 

This morning, I was reminded of something that I want to share with you.  It took place some seventeen years ago, while I was beginning my teaching career.

I amerced myself deeply into a poetry unit.  Inspired by the powerful lessons of Mr. John Keating, I assigned the students the arduous task of writing original poetry, in the hopes of starting my own Dead Poets Society. 

Ten of them.

I forced my students to write poetry.  A somewhat dormant exercise that seems to die shortly after kindergarten.  There is just no money in it.

I made them even more uncomfortable by announcing that there would be a culminating poetry reading, to celebrate their uncomfortable struggle.  They eventually understood my madness, and seemed to embrace their moment. 

They were forbidden to clap, but were encouraged to snap their fingers in approval.  They had to pick their favourite poem.  Read it out loud.  Do their best to present their favourite composition to their peers.

The class of thirty students did not disappoint. 

There were many memorable poems, and some not so great ones.  Some forgettable, and some that were unforgettable.

The last student to read her poem, was one of the top students in my class, and she wrote an unforgettable composition. 

It is always great to end on a high note and I couldn’t wait, because I knew it would be good.

She walked timidly to the front of the class.  She took her place on the spot that where one of her classmates had once stood.  Paper in hand.  Eyes down.  And she began to read.

She read the first two lines and started to cry.

She frantically wiped the tears from her eyes and started again.

She read from the beginning, and this time she didn’t fare any better.

Two lines into her composition, she began to cry again.

This was agonizing.  We all felt extremely uncomfortable.  We wanted to run and hide, but were locked in our spots.

She looked up from her paper, and with her eyes still full of tears, she asked if it was ok that she sat down.  I reassured her that it was fine.  The bell rang.  We were saved by the bell.

The next day I thought nothing more about her tears.  I was ready to begin a new unit and a new journey, when suddenly I saw a hand that rose in the back of the room.

“I know this has nothing to do with the next unit, but do you mind Sir, if I read my poem again, I think I am better and ready”, she said.

How do you say no?

She walked to the front of the class, and once again, she began reading her poem, and just like yesterday, her tears began to flood her face.

She stopped. 

She looked up.

“I’m sorry.  One more time”.

This time she read the whole poem.  She cried through every word.  Yet she somehow managed to find the strength to finish

The poem was about her younger brother.  He was a happy little boy, but his life was suddenly cut short, when he secretly hid behind his dad’s truck, and his father unknowingly crushed him to death, while he was pulling out of the driveway to go to work.

I was speechless.  Uncomfortable.  Choked up, with tears in my eyes.

I don’t remember teaching anything that day.  I mean, how can you?  How can you just go on with the minutia of useless information, when a young brave woman teaches you a lesson you will never forget.  Some of my University professors didn’t have a fraction of this young woman’s elegance and eloquence. 

A week later or so, my soul continued to be deeply troubled.  The whole experience left me searching for so many answers.

When we had a quiet moment after a lesson, I called her over and asked her why she was so determined to read the poem she wrote about her brother.  Why she was willing to risk being so vulnerable in front of all her peers.

Every student I have ever taught has never failed to surprise me.  Some of them may be broken or reluctant learners.  Some may already be ready to make an impact on our broken world.

They all have so much to teach us.  They sit in front of me every day, and unequivocally shape the person I am. 

She was very open with me.

She told me that it was extremely difficult on her and her whole family when they lost her brother.  She loved him so much and missed him even more. 

She never intended to cry at all, but when she started so was so overwhelmed by her own words, that she felt she could almost feel her brother’s presence.

She had not felt this kind of connection since his funeral, while day by day, night by night, she moved on with her life, forgetting her brother ever so slowly.

His life was becoming a distant memory.  A fact on a shelf.  Remember on special occasions, but she wanted to feel him every day.

She told me that despite her tears, she had to finish.  She didn’t care what she looked like or what she sounded like.  She didn’t care how uncomfortable we all were as a class, what we were feeling or what we thought of her. 

At that moment, she was present, and made her brother come alive again. 

She was once again reunited with him, and did not want to miss this opportunity that brought him back to life.

So often we run from our emotions.  So often, we hide our tears, but what if we didn’t?

What if we let the tears flow?  If we let ourselves feel?  See?  Remember?

How glorious life would be if we allowed ourselves to be taught by children and young ladies that live without pretending. 

I get paid to teach, and do magical things with words, but I will be forever grateful to the many lessons I have been taught over the years, by my students...

and all, free of charge.

 


hemorrhoids and lolly pops

 

I’m sad to report that this entry has no mention of lolly pops, only resistance.

Resistance.

I was warned about resistance. 

I was told how real it was and warned of its unyielding ferocity.  I knew that eventually it would gather its forces and come after me.  Like a Trojan horse.  A saboteur that lives on the inside.

I am still in the middle of a storm.  It is not a physical storm, although it certainly has physical manifestations.  It is a life changing tempest that resists my new-found life.

Sometime in February, shortly after I decided to take writing seriously, I developed hemorrhoids.

For my younger readers, I should explain that hemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels in the rectum or anus.  Sometimes, oh joy, they swell so much that the vein walls become stretched, thin, and irritated by passing bowel movements.

Oh boy.

This is not gradual, either.  One minute, you are ordering a coffee, and the next your ass is on fire, and there is nothing you can do to soothe the pain.  You’re not even home.  You have an hour drive head of you, before you put in a full day at work.

I know what you’re thinking.  I may not be able to finish my Cheese Danish, and for that I am truly sorry.

Imagine for a moment if you stuck a few firecrackers between your cheeks and set them off one by one.  It is amazing how different life is when your anus hates you.

The funny thing is, I never missed a gym session.  I still woke up at four o’clock in the morning, and continued with my regular routine.  I reasoned that the pain was just as painful if I worked out or not, so I might as well have a trimmer ass at the end of it all. 

There was no need losing two battles, but it was not easy.

I tried everything. 

I tried the Ointment creams that comes in the tube.  I tried the anal suppository pills.  I tried every type of pain relief.   Sometimes I would do all of it at the same time, hoping that maybe as a unified force, they would figure it out. 

Sometimes, and don’t think less of me, I even tried shoving ice cubes down there. 

Anything. 

Everything. 

Good God, that was not a fun eight weeks.

It took a good two months for me to finally feel human again, and be able to sit for any length of time.  Immediately afterwards I also developed some kind of a weird sinus infection. 

I need to be honest with you.  The sinus infection and the re-emergence of my spring allergies halted my workouts.  The resistance won that round.

I have not been in the gym for almost two weeks.  

Today is day two of trying to get back in the groove.  I am finally back on the treadmill and lifting weights like I should.

I’m no hero.  Certainly, sticking ice cubes down your underwear taints my early admission.

I decided to be open and honest about this because the resistance is real.

We sabotage ourselves.

We are our worst enemy.   

What the resistance has taught me, as unpleasant as it may be to read, is that I seem to have some tenacity.  I’m knew I had the passion, but the tenacity with which I am pursuing my dreams, I have never experienced.

Something is truly different. 

I seemed to have awoken from a long nap, to a dream that remained dormant for so long.

I hope it doesn’t come to an end. 

I hope I continue to explore the limitless possibility of living.  I hope I become a badass.  I hope I have finally becoming fully human, fully alive.

I hope the fire crackers are behind me (hehe).

 


a short little love letter

 

I am in love with my wife.

She is the first woman that ever took the time to really know me.  Others have tried, of course, but I was always passed over.  Not enough here.  Too much work there.  Erin loves me without conditionally, for some strange reason, and that has made a great difference. 

I’m not easy to live with. 

I will openly admit that.  There is no shame in that.  I don’t believe any of us truly are.  On the one hand, we have such a strong desire to connect with people, and yet, in so many ways, we push them away, and unconsciously keep them at a distance. 

Intimacy scares us and sometimes it makes us run and hide. 

It is so difficult to be who we really are.  Vulnerable.  Fragile.  Desiring to live a life without regret.  Without judgement.  Living life to the fullest.

But this unorthodox letter is not about me, it should be about her.

I would like to somewhat ease the burden of my wedding day, and tell my wife, at least today, how beautiful she looks.  I am so blessed and will be forever grateful that she saw and sees something in me.  Something that I don’t sometimes see myself.

There are days, thankfully not too often, when I stumble around in darkness, and my wife’s loving eyes are all I have.

Without question, I am a better person today because she loves me.

Erin is simply a beautiful woman.  She has always been one.

She has a seamless, natural beauty.  A spirit, you just don’t encounter very often.  I think I have seen her wear make-up, on no more than a dozen occasions.  Erin is like the eclipse of the sun.  A rare cosmic event, but one that is difficult not to stare at and notice. 

I continue to be a lucky man not only because of her gorgeous exterior, but because of her limitless heart and compassionate soul.

I know she will hate this, and will probably roll her eyes, and pretend to stick a finger down her throat.  Despite all this, I am going to ship this entry anyway.

Thankfully, this little blog of mine is very well hidden, and rather insignificant, so I am truly lucky in that regard.

I am writing this love letter because I often run and hide from her.  I am not very good at sharing what I’m feeling or thinking in the moment.  It is difficult for me to share myself.  I prefer avoiding the moment.  Ignoring.  Waiting.  Moving on.  Those are my security blanket. 

It took me a long time to realize that this deeply hurts my wife.  I see clearly now, that acting like an ostrich and looking for a hole in the ground, has very unforeseen and extremely painful consequences.

I not only run from myself, but I create a deep chasm between the person who I wish to be and the person who is always there.

My wife has an immeasurably open heart.  It is her greatest strength, but puts her in danger of grief, when people take advantage of her.  Despite the imminent dangers of sharing herself and speaking her mind, she always continues to do so.

She is fearless. 

I don’t meet many people who are so gentle and delicate in a one sense, yet who roar so powerfully when you need them to, or even wish she didn’t.  She is the best advocate for our children.  She is your worst nightmare if you are ignorant and mean.

She is my wife and I love her.

 


mom and dad

 

The Hierarchy of Stealing Time

The First Circle:  The Circle of Untouchability

borrow – negotiate – steal

4.  mom and dad

Honour your mother and your father.

That’s a commandment.  It’s kind of important.

I realize that not all parents are created equal, so I will limit my thoughts and only speak about mine.  I leave your heart and soul to deal and think about yours.  Take from this what you like and leave what you don’t.

I am not naïve or oblivious of my past.  I believe I knew my parents well.  I’m going to skip all the ugly moments we experienced.  They happened, we loved each other through them.  It wasn’t easy.  End of story.

I am omitting these memories here because they are no longer important.  They are in the past.  They have played their last chord.  They have served their purpose.

My dad was fifty years old when he left his native Poland, along with his wife, his twelve your old little boy, and six suitcases.  He came to Toronto, because he had to.  His own country had imprisoned him, abandoned him, and threatened his very existence.

I am six years removed from being fifty.  I have moved homes a few times in my lifetime and have learned that I absolutely abhor the experience.  I hate moving houses, and so I can’t really imagine moving to another country, on another continent. 

My mom and dad, courageously gave up their home, their extended family, their work, their friends, their country, their language, their memories, their culture; basically, they gave up everything they knew and everything they held dear. 

They gave it up for me.  They gave it up for each other.

I am eternally grateful and blessed to be who I am and be where I am.

My obligation towards my parents is instinctual.  Intuitive.  It comes from the gut.  It is just who I am.

When we arrived in Canada in 1985, we lived in a hotel, then a little welfare apartment, then we moved up to a nicer apartment.  Then my ass was finally kicked enough to learn something and make something of my life.

I finally had enough money to leave my nest, to leave my parents, and begin the life of a bachelor, and all the magic that it entails.

At the time, my parents retired because they could not physically keep up anymore, and as a lot of immigrant’s experience, they had no savings, and little hope of a continuous income.  Together, they might have scraped enough money to live in a very small apartment, and might have had enough money each month to pay for cable, a telephone, gas, and a modest food allowance.

At that time, they came to me and asked me if I was willing to continue living with them. 

They thought since we loved each other, we could continue living together, and share the monthly expenses.  They would have to spend the money anyway.  Why not do it together?  We visited a lawyer, to see what the legal implications were entering such an arrangement. 

I have an older brother, that I no longer communicate with.  I will be honest and admit that the lack of communication is my fault.  The last time I moved, I did not call him, or have the patience to inform him of where we were going.  I am not that difficult to find though. 

My parents wanted to make sure that they gave me something.  They wanted me to enjoy my house, especially when they were gone. 

That was their wish.  I did not ask for it.  I am just eternally grateful for it.

In my life, I never asked my parents for anything.  As far as I figured I had all the things I ever needed.  It was a non-issue.  Ok.  Once in a while, I got $20 here, or perhaps a little more there.  Overall however, everything I own or have today, I have honestly earned though the sweat of my own brow.

My parents and I always lived together.

At first I lived with them, and in the last few years of their life, they lived with me. 

I took the commandment about loving your parents very seriously.  As a child I was surprised that it was even a commandment.  I know deep in my heart that my parents were very pleased we remained so very close.

When I was dating, I remember being nervous of letting the young ladies know that I was a package deal.  I knew that I could never abandon my parents.  Everything I achieved and everything I am today, is because of them.  Living together was as natural as breathing. 

I did not have an exhaustive dating ledger (it was a very small book with a limited number of pages), but I am sure this was a deal breaker for some of the young ladies.

I am grateful to my wife, who found this to be one of my most endearing qualities.  We’re still working on my sense of humour.

My mom and dad are the reason why I don’t complain much and why I try so hard to realize my dreams.  I see all the sacrifices that they have made over the years; the momentous ones and the tiny, insignificant ones.  I see all these sacrifices and have no choice but to be happy. 

I have no choice.

If I embrace misery or mediocrity, then I squander their sacrifices.  I will never forget their tears and hardship.  I could not live with myself if I did.

I continue living a meaningful life and continue to be happy.

Like our spouses and our children, our parents, adopted parents, and even step parents, or guardians, can only be negotiated with. 

We cannot steal or borrow any time from their life. 

We need to cling to them, surround them, because time is of the essence. 

My parents are both dead, and I can’t believe that it has been ten years since the last time I saw my mother’s smiling, loving face.  I miss her every day.  I talk to both my parents every day.  I end each day telling them how much I love them.

If we follow our dreams, and we must, we need to negotiate our time wisely.  If we spend less time with parents, it should only be because we are working hard to see more of them in the future.

We can never forget them, or ignore them.  They are not someone else’s responsibilities.  No one knows them and loves them the way we do.  They are ours.

I remember one of my students coming to see me at the end of class one day and sharing how hard it was to visit her grandmother because she can no longer remember who she is.  This young girl told me that she often doesn’t go to visit.  As she choked up her tears she said it was simply too hard.

I was sympathetic.  I still make no judgement.  It is not easy.

I did ask her though what would happen if she did find the courage and visited her grandmother.  I told her that it is very likely that she would not remember her.  I told her that this would be very painful.  I also asked her, if despite all of that, her grandmother would enjoy the visit. 

The answer was yes. 

In that moment, she realized that no matter how delicate her grandmothers state of mind was, a gift of time and the presence of a granddaughter, remains a precious gift. 

No matter who visits her grandmother.  No matter if she understands.  A visit, is a visit. 

It is our responsivity to respond. 

We can choose to accept this seemingly unfair brokenness, and our own emotional cost if we have the courage to go.  And if we do, we will become uncelebrated heroes.  Heroines, not because we do something that is easy, but precisely because are willing to do that which is extremely hard. 

Saints are extraordinary people who do ordinary things, while ordinary people stand by and imagine that the act is impossible because it is extraordinary.

I’m not really sure what you will make with all of this. 

I hope it will help you ponder your life, your dreams, and what your responsibilities are towards your parents.

Don’t forget them.

Don’t forget your grandparents either.

Love the ones who have hurt you too (but that is a discussion for another time).

Honour them.

Cherish them.

Spend time with them.

Don’t abandon them.

Don’t steal time from them.

If they are very close to the end.  If they can see the sunset.  I urge you to be compassionate and steal some time from your very dreams.  It’s counter intuitive, I know, but God has a way of giving back, in a ways we never dream possible.

Honour your mother and your father.

You’ll thank me.

You’ll be happy.

They will help you French kiss your dreams.

 


given to fly

 

I remember a time when I was in my early twenties, sitting in my friends living room, a beer in hand, planning my first trip to anywhere.  An opportunity presented itself.  I had a chance to head West and visit the beautiful city of Vancouver.  My friend wanted to move his life out there to join his brother, but he needed someone to scope the place out first.  Looking back, it was a hell of a joyride.

I will spare you my memories of the Leafs facing down the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup playoffs.  I will spare you the banana incident.  The rain.  The beautiful restaurants.  The seething parts of the city.  And I will spare you Augean.  What the hell is an Augean?  Exactly.

My friend wanted to do something special to remember our trip.  He was adamant that we should go bungee jumping. 

The idea of my fat ass, hanging upside down, nipples out, did not very much endear itself to my frugal mind.  I searched for a solution that would deny my friends suggestion but I needed one that would not make me look like a total weeny. 

Assuming my friend to be as weak as me, I blurted out that bungee jumping is for wimps and sissies and that real men would go skydiving.

How the hell did that happen?

We were going skydiving.

In a few weeks we flew to Vancouver, but every single day, twice a day, I dreaded the inevitable death that awaited me when I attempted skydiving.

What the fuck was I thinking? 

I painfully imagined the sad news finally reaching my poor mother, of her dumb ass son, jumping from a perfectly good airplane, and meeting his own untimely death by coming to a sudden stop.  They say it’s not the fall that kills you.

There were five of us.  My friend, his brother, myself, and his brothers, two, pot smoking companions.  The three of them thought that being three kilometers in the air was not high enough for them.  They managed to get themselves a little bit higher.

We arrived in the middle of nowhere. 

A beautiful piece of nowhere.  It was sad and surreal at the same time.  I was seeing everything for what I thought was the very last time, knowing that this was the end.

We had to go through the mandatory instructional course about the dangers of skydiving.  I learned that many people don’t actually die skydiving.  They just break many of their trying.  I also learned that the body doesn’t actually stop when it hits the ground.  It is a bit more rubbery and bounces a few times, before it finally rests. 

Most importantly, I learned the good news that the last accident at this diving school was about two weeks prior to our arrival.   This made it statistically reassuring that nothing would happen to us. 

Great.

I just saw my mother crying, wondering what possessed me to risk my life.

But a miracle of miracles happened. 

When we finished our training, it started to rain, and there was also a chance of a thunderstorm.  We had to call it a day, and a beautiful wave of relief swept over me, like I never experienced before.

It didn’t last long.  Half way through our car ride, my fear returned.  It returned with a vengeance. 

I didn’t want to jump, but I was too proud to back down.

A few days later we came back. 

They divided us into two groups.  Because of my sizable girth, I was chosen to go up with my friend.  His brother and flying companions followed in the next plane.

I don’t remember much about going up, except running over the instructions I received, that would inevitably save my life.

It would have been easier if we made the decision to jump the first time, with the assistance of a trainer.  However, because we were young and cheap, we pocketed our money, but had to face the task of jumping, alone.

The moment finally came.

The plane was at its proper elevation and it was time for us to go.  I remember walking up to the open door of the plane.  Wind rushing inside, thinking how stupid this all was. 

Overwhelmed with fear, and suppressing my tears, I took a step out to hang on the wing of the plane, as instructed. 

My foot blew involuntarily and I instantly locked eyes with the instructor.

“That’s normal, have fun”, he said.

I was on the wing of the plane.  My hands holding on to dear life, waiting for the thumbs up.

Thumbs up. 

I let go.

I let go without thinking because it happened so fast.  I was confused.  It was so quick.

Engulfed in chaos of the moment, it finally hit me.  Holy shit.  I was flying. 

Yes, flying. 

Not hurling towards my death.

It was a matter of opinion.

A few expletives did escape my mouth, but eventually a deep peace settled over me.  

After a few moments, I was jolted back by the opening of a beautiful rectangular canopy.

All my fear was gone. 

All that remained was a whale like bird and the beautiful countryside of a western province.

I glided my way back to my landing spot; feeling amazing.

The full meaning of this moment didn’t come in focus until a few weeks later, when I was back home.  Back, grinding out the existence of my ordinary life.

I don’t remember the details, but I do remember feeling scared.  I remember facing something and being overwhelmed with fear.

It felt exactly like the moment before I jumped.  It was just as intense and crippling.

I remembered that despite the fear, I jumped. 

I didn’t think.  I didn’t reason it out.  I just leapt forward.

A man given to fly.

Whenever I fear now and again, I think back to that beautiful afternoon in Vancouver.   I try to close my eyes and remember every livid detail.

I want a happy and meaningful life.  There are dreams I need to chase down.

But for that…

When I am overwhelmed with fear…

I just need to see the thumbs up and let go.

 


letting go is not conceding defeat

 

People suck. 

Thankfully, not all of them.

They hurt us, and some hurt us a lot.  Some, are so unbelievably brazen, that they simply don’t give a shit.

As time passes, our wounds heal, but our minds refuse to forget.  Our scars become refugees and are forcibly moved from our conscious mind, and buried somewhere deep inside our unconscious existence.

The pain we once experienced is long gone, yet we carry those feelings and our woundedness, for many years, and for some of us, years turn to decades. 

We don’t let go, because letting go means losing.  We cannot lose!  We reason that when we got hurt, not only did the sonofabitch got away with it, if we find the courage to forgive them or worse, simply let go, justice won’t be served, and they will hurt us all over again.  The idea of their second triumph taunts us, and justifies our anger and watchfulness.

We are so wrong.

We are right about some things.  We are right about being hurt.  We are certainly right that they are, and continue to be an unpleasant sonofabitch.  Some people never change.

But we are wrong, about justice, and our understanding of what this is doing to us.

The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.  The opposite of hate is apathy.  (Thank goodness for a handy thesaurus).

Indifference.

Apathy.

Letting go.

If we wish to be happy.  We need to let go. 

We need to learn, at some point, what they already know, the art of not giving a shit.

Having faith in God helps, because justice will always triumph.

More importantly however, it is not even about justice.  It’s not about revenge.  About being right or being wrong.  This whole ugly mess concerns our happiness.

If we don’t let go, we will never be truly happy.  We cannot serve two masters.  We cannot grow things in a weedy, uncultivated soil.

Letting go does not mean accepting defeat.  It simply means that we are determined to refocus our attention on something else; on someone else.  When you stop looking at your cat, they do not disappear.  They continue to exist.  When you stop thinking about an asshole, they continue to live out their asshole ways, but you are free to be who you want to be.  You don’t have to stare at cats or assholes.

We have a choice to make today.

We can live in the past, or let go.

If we let go, we have a chance to see a sunrise, and steal some of our wasted time.

 


forward motion

 

When you have no thoughts in your head, don’t let that stop you. 

Start somewhere.  Anywhere. 

I have been preaching the mantra of digging ditches for a while now.  It’s a powerful idea that implores us to change our lives.  In order to reimagine our life, we need to change our daily habits, and the only way to change them is by leaping forward and repeating over and over again, that, which does not come easy. 

Digging ditches is never easy.  It takes a lot of hustle.  It is a calloused experience. 

We need to break new ground, every single day.

No exception.

Our goal is not never to finish, but to simply get better.  If, as a writer, you have written precious little over the last twenty years, but in the next few months, you manage to turn out a paragraph or two, you are making forward progress.  If you quit shoving greasy food in your mouth, in the middle of a sweaty night, and only lose an ant’s fart of weight, you are still making forward progress.

Make forward progress.

I have learned recently, that there is no such thing as writer’s block.  The concept is as ridiculous as imagining we ever face a hunger block.  Every single one of the things we will face today is the truth, but we will perceive it, in a distorted manner, though our habitual illusions that we adapted along the way, for one reason, or another.

I believe in truth. 

There are specific rules and laws that govern all creation.  There are guidelines we must follow.

Our perception of those rules, laws, and guidelines is a little bit tricky.

Our direction finder is often dirty and malfunctions.

We are creatures.  We are not the creator. 

In this way, we are no different than the other members, big or microscopic, of our earthly family.

Dogs are a great example.  They are always present. 

They live an instinctually happy life.  They live through the gut.  They know how to be present.  They know how to be happy and seek that same happiness in us.

We are nothing like them, or at least have stopped, ever since we were children. 

We have stopped living, because we perceive ourselves to be in need or want of something.  We think we are missing something.  We are not the right weight.  Don’t have enough money.  Lack education.  Yearn for advancement.   Don’t have enough time.

We are missing the things we think will make us happy. 

We experience writer’s blocks, relationship blocks, fears, anxiety, disorders, phobias, and a myriad of other reasons why we can’t and shouldn’t be happy.

Yet, our furry companions, who never assess the market value of their cave, are always excited when we get home.  They wag and jump.  They pee with glee. 

They do this when we return from a long day of work, or if we return after the briefest of hours.  Hell, sometimes, they get super silly, simply because we have re-entered the room.

I started writing this about a half an hour ago.  I had no earthly thought in my head and no idea of direction.  I simply decided to dig a ditch.  One painful word after another.  One sentence, thrown on the next.

I need to carry this insight and apply it to every single part of my life. 

It is time to begin again. 

We not be happy? 

Be happy in perpetual forward motion.

What if it’s true. 

We don’t need anything to be happy. 

We just have to realize life has entered the room.

 


follow the leader

 

Today is Good Friday.  A day where Christians throughout the world celebrate the crucifixion of a great man.

I count myself a believer, but I am at a loss for words when it comes to how little progress we have made as a human race, even in my lifetime alone.  It is gut wrenching how much suffering still exists in the world.

I am more shocked however, at the utter ignorance of those Christians who seek their own comfort.  The Christians who selfishly lust for wealth and power, as some kind of Divine Right.  It’s as though they bought a winning lottery ticket.  They have become convinced that they have figured it out.  It was easy.  They know the precepts and are never satisfied until the world becomes just like them. 

Perhaps they have missed a little something in their study.  Today is a perfect reminder how little they seem to have absorbed.

Follow the leader.

We need to realize that we need to follow the leader.

Christ was crucified.  He suffered and died a brutal death, but what makes you think, that you are actually saved.  You have professed Jesus Christ as your own personal Lord and Saviour, yet, you believe that you deserve a different fate?

If Jesus suffered and died for you, what do you think is demanding of your life?  A Willy Wonka song and tour?

Why aren’t we fighting for the weak, the oppressed, the wronged?  Why are we always trying to save ourselves?  Or worse, those that don’t want to be saved.

How come when we hurt others, we want them to give us another chance?  We want them to turn the other cheek, but we rarely develop the instinct or habit of offering our cheek.

How come we don’t forgive?  Forgive 70 times 7?

What ever happened to the good Samaritan?  The good lesbian?  The good transgendered drag queen?  The good terrorist? 

Right.  They are on God’s naughty list.

This isn’t a fucking Santa Claus story. 

Kill the Indian.  Save the man.

God hates fags

Of course he does.  Why wouldn’t He? 

He hates Muslims as well.  Of course He does.

I guess, the Buddhists are ok, because I heard that He likes hot yoga, and how can we blame Him?  Who doesn’t find bliss at the end of downward dog?

What ever happened to teaching about the most important commandment? 

One.

He took the whole confusing shit-show of bewilderment and contradiction, and hammered it down to just one commandment. 

One.

Did I say one?

Not 10 or 7 or 5 or three?

One.

Love one another as I have loved you

And how did He love?  He suffered and died. 

He never cursed.  He never hit.  He never gossiped.  He never ignored.  Or remained silent.  He wiped human tears from their eyes.  He listened.  He taught.  He lived.  He died.  He believed in you..

There is no greater love than to lay down your life for your friends? But who are our friends? 

Who were his friends? 

The Romans.  The whores and bores.  The poor.  The rich.  The religious fanatics.  The dandy’s and a drunk name Randy.  Those that wanted to be saved and those that wanted to be left alone.

Everybody.

Everybody.

How can we be so blind to what seems to be so obvious? 

I’m no Saint. 

(My spicy language and absence of good grammar, excludes me, clearly, fully and completely).

But I believe the commandment.

I believe the man. 

I believe in Him. 

I don’t want to suffer and die, anymore than you do.  I’m no sadist, but then again, I understand that it’s not my playground is it?

I realized a simple truth a long time ago.

I try to follow the leader.