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September 2017

weekend quotable no. 29

 

 A nation’s strength ultimately consists in what it can do on its own,

and not in what it can borrow from others.

Indira Gandhi

 

There is a difference between universal independence and selfish dependence.

Selfish dependence; borrows, hordes, consumes, and devours.  It unquenchably preys on the lives and generosity of others.

Universal independence on the other hand; lends, shares, creates, and builds.  The fruits of independence are released and infused in every human action that is directed for the good of others.

A nations strength, as well as our own, cannot be based on our human rights, human laws, or benevolent wishful thinking.

Our strength must take courage in our human responsibilities, in the commandment to love our  neighbour, plus concrete and purposeful action.

Our nation and indeed our happiness, lies in the reality that we were born with all the things we will ever need in life.  We were born with a blueprint and an architectural design to acquire all of the things we desire, but do not yet have.

We get there, by helping others get there as well.

It is through freely lending our gifts to others, sharing our talents, birthing new art, that will we build a better world, and in the process, a more meaningful self.

We need strong universal independence.

We need a nation of individuals who work hard to share themselves.

We need universal independence and purposeful action, not selfish dependence and an open hand.

 


it matters who you run with

 

We are all members of all kinds of tribes. 

We are born into some.  We were initiated into others.  We were forcibly volunteered into a few and invited to join many over the years.  Sometimes, we even have the courage to extend the invitation and start our own. 

Building and maintaining social connections was a difficult and daunting task in the past.  Almost impossible without money or social standing.  Today, living at the precipice of the digital revolution, is much easier to build and maintain those connections, that’s if we make a conscious decision to do so.

But be cautious.

It really matters who you run with. 

It matters a great deal.

The people you choose to associate with will either carry you on their shoulders towards success, or they will use their steel toe boots to grind your face into the mud.

If you want to know who and where you are, check who you are with.

Check your social media feeds.  What are you saying?  What are they saying? 

Are you bitching about all kinds of social issues you really don’t understand or won’t really do anything about?  Are you ripping apart other people who have simply taken the time to show the world who they are or what they have created?

No. 

They are not Michelangelo, Chopin, Elvis, or the Beatles.

They are insignificant by those impossible standards, but they do have the courage to rise above the noise and follow their passion.  They are daring to share their humanity with those who wish to listen and join their tribe.

Think twice before you bitch about someone or something. 

I’m not ignorant of my own failings.  Don’t worry.  There is no need to throw stones.  If we had the time, I could offer plenty of examples of my many misgivings.  I have plenty of moments of regret and nasty little habits that I am not proud of, but I have grown wiser over the years, working hard not to ignore those misgivings.

It matters who you run with.

Your drunk and venomous friends cannot help but be who they are. 

Your coworkers can’t change either.  They just want you to remain the same, keep quiet, and don’t make any waves. 

God forbid, you decide to change.

There will be hell to pay because it does matter who you run with.

You cannot divorce your family.  You cannot get rid of your life-long friends.  They are intimately interconnected and interwoven into so many aspects of your life, that it is truly impossible to make a clean break.

But what we sometimes need is not abandonment, but a bit of distance. 

Limit the time you spend in the company of those gossiping and negative people.  Increase the time and energy you spend inside new tribes, and give to those that find themselves at a similar point in their life.

They too have decided to live.  They are no longer content to merely exist.  To merely await retirement.  To be content with predictable seasons of the monotony of living.

Run with those people.

Choose to spend more time with them.

Share your mind and soul in their presence.

It will truly make a difference.

You will look pretty silly brewing a cup of coffee, expecting to drink a cup of Earl Gray tea.

You get what you brew.

As you decide and begin to change, you will have to make tough decisions, which will undoubtedly upset those who you associate with. 

Remember that you don’t have to worry about them. 

You don’t owe them your life, but you do owe something to life.

You owe her everything.  You owe her, all of you.

So, take heart and find a good tribe to run with.

 


you cannot feel in the morrow

 

You cannot know today, what you are going to feel tomorrow. 

You can imagine the future and how glorious you will become, but that vision is nothing but an illusion, a fantasy that ultimately ends badly.

This will probably seem a touch simple at first blush, but it really isn’t. 

We all do it and it is a really important to prepare ourselves, and wage war against our unbridled imagination.

We dream and feel that dream in the present. 

We love and we hate.  We derive pleasure and we embrace pain.

We derive and embrace everything.  We feel and see our unrealized future.

We are very misguided when we attempt to project what we feel today, right at this moment, and imagine what our reality will feel one day and what our experience will be tomorrow.

It is a mistake to feel our happiness in the future.

It is a mistake, because our lows are never so low, and our highs are never so high.  Our future is never as beautiful as we feel and imagine or as wretched and disastrous as we fear.

It would be a grave mistake for you to project your feelings into the future because it will ultimately discourage you and prevent you from doing what you should be doing.

Let us imagine for a moment that you dream of losing some weight and fitting into that snug and sexy, one piece cocktail dress.  The dress you haven’t worn in years, that hangs at the back of the closet, along with your could have beens and should have beens.

You are miraculously transformed one day and get inspired to eat healthier and get back to your neglected exercise routine.

Your first week feels fantastic, and you begin to wonder why you haven’t done this sooner.  You begin to feel what it will feel like when you finally put on that beautiful red cocktail dress.  You can hear the gossip and the eyes of everyone that will gaze upon you.

Damn, you look good, and at your age too!

The reality is right there before you.  You can touch it, feel it, and tango with it.  The months and months of work that stand in your way, are totally insignificant, compared to what you feel deep inside, at this very moment. 

You can feel the future, and it feels glorious!

Then in a few weeks, you get a cold.  Work gets busy.  Your kids get a little more whinny.  Life begins to hum and grind at a different pace.   You begin to forget and project feelings of doubt and failure. 

Your future looks truly bleak. 

Your cocktail dress is the wrong size anyway.  What were you thinking when you bought it in the first place.  You should have given it away or donated it, long, long time ago.

You feel like a complete failure.  Worse, because you promised yourself the last time, that you would never again get all wrapped up with all this dreaming and living life to the fullest stuff.  It leads you to nowhere.  It feels awful.

Your genetics are flawed.  You lack the necessary time.  There is too much stress in your life.  Everything you need is always so difficult to behold and it feels like life is working against you.

It is dangerous to feel into the future.

It is dangerous, because neither version of the future is the truth.

Both versions avert our gaze from what is actually important.

In this imaginary scenario, your tenacity and relentless effort to stick to a nutritional plan and continue training for a long time, is what actually matters.  You need a matter of years, not a matter of weeks or months. 

The danger of projecting our feelings into the future is that we end up paying a heavy price, at some point.  We pay heavily when we stop what we are doing and give up.  We get crushed when it no longer feels as good as we thought it would, or it doesn’t last as long as we thought it would.

So, keep your feelings in the present.

Begin to think inside your future.

Don’t get ahead of yourself.  Don’t run before you can crawl.  Trust and work the plan.  Don’t second guess yourself, or quit.  You don’t need to do either. 

Feel the present.

Think in the future.

Get to work.

 


words matter

 

Words Matter: a somewhat accurate history of the English language

(Speech No. 3)

 

In the beginning was the word.

More accurately, it all starts with the twenty-six letters of the alphabet.  They are important.  They are very important, because we sing many songs in their honour.

The alphabet started back in Egypt, some four thousand years ago.  It wasn’t perfect but it was a leap forward. The Egyptian alphabet was small and didn’t contain all the consonants and vowels we have today, but it was the first step forward.

It is interesting to observe that we have come full circle as a human race.  After four thousand years of human history, the Egyptian hieroglyphics have made their triumphant return.  We just know them by a different name.  We call them emoji’s.

A thousand years later, the Greeks added some more sounds and letters and the Romans did their thing.  Finally, about fifteen hundred years ago, starting with Beowulf, Old English was born.

I warn you that Old English is not an easy read, and not very pretty to look it, but like our evolutionary ancestors, it unmistakably resembles the English language we use today.

The alphabet is the smallest particle of the English language.  It is the atomic particle.  The neutron and electron of our language.

Letters lead to words.  Words lead to sentences.  Sentences form paragraphs.  Paragraphs form everything else we hold dear, and devour in our private hours.

Words.

They are the reason things get awfully complicated.   They are the reason for the fall and rise of so many.

Words.

We admire and pour over volumes of writing, but we rarely stop and think about the meaning of the actual words.  Our vocabulary remains stagnant and stuck at the grade eight level.  Some of us just stop learning.  We stop growing.  We stop challenging ourselves.

We embrace and heavily rely on the F word. 

We use it as a noun, verb, adverb, adjective and filler in almost every sentence.

Some of us have lost the respect and reverence for words. 

We have become complacent in our relationship.  We have neglected our beautiful lover.  We have become seduced with all sorts of distractions that call to us with the voice of seductive sirens.

So, for the sake of clarity, happiness, and peace, we need to reawaken our love and reverence for words, once again.

Words.

With words, we dare to make sentences. 

And all sentences must have a noun (person, place or thing), and a verb (the action or reaction to another person, place or thing). 

Sentences are amazing because they have the power change lives.

I have a dream.

We have nothing to fear but fear itself.

There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.

When we take the time to express ourselves, we are ready to form paragraphs.

Paragraphs too can be burdensome, which is why they need an opening sentence.

So many people are afraid of writing and of putting their thoughts in paragraphs, because they do not appreciate the tremendous clarity and focus a good opening sentence can provide.

Clarity is important.  Just check the news sometime.

Without focus, our lives grind to a halt, or never reach the heights we are capable or are born to achieve.

If you dare long enough, hard enough, and persistently enough to find solace and express yourself in paragraphs, you will make writing and speaking your mission. 

It all begins with words.

It has always been about words.

It will always be about words.

To be great in big things, we need to become good in the little things.

Sometimes we try so hard to build a house in only one day or perhaps a weekend.  We build without an architectural plan.  We build without the proper words.  We build out of order.  We never finish.  We begin something new, and we go to our grave with our poetry still in us.

So let’s get more familiar with words.

You cannot express yourself, if you don’t have the insight to say what you mean.

Let’s take the word depression as our example.

We have latched on to the word, and depend on it to both explain and account for all the struggles we see around us.  All the struggles. 

We don’t really choose the word when we speak.  The word has chosen us, and in the end, no real human expression is accomplished.  We become poor players, strutting our stuff upon the stage, and in the end,  signify next to nothing.

You may be depressed.

But you may also be sad.  Perhaps you are a bit melancholy.  Experiencing a feeling of pensive sadness with no obvious cause.  Maybe you are unhappy.  Your thoughts being filled with gloom and a partial or total darkness.  Perhaps you are in a state of woe or great distress.  You may be in low spirits, but a nothing that a sweet cup of tea can’t solve.  Maybe you have a heavy heart.  Are experiencing despair.  Are despondent.  DesolateIsolatedAloneHopeless.  Or you are in a funk.  Perhaps you will write a hit song because you have the blues.

Sadly, we do not choose our words.  We let them choose us.

We live unnecessarily complicated, needlessly unrealized, often unclear lives, which can very much change at any time, if we begin and fall in love with words, just like we did when we were children.

Think back how excited we are to hear a child’s first words.

Let’s fall in love with words again.

Let’s renew our stale love affair.

Let’s begin to love again.


two hundredth shovel full

 

We love round numbers. 

Ten.  Fifty.  One hundred.  Two hundred.

I love them too.

Which is why I am taking this morning to reflect on my two hundredth blog entry.

I wrote the first one on January 20th, 2017, a little over eight months ago.

At the time, the snow was on the ground, and I had just finished listening to a book by Seth Godin, where he put forth the intriguing proposition, that the idea of writer’s block, is false and simply doesn’t exist.

He asserted that there is a difference.  A somewhat subtle difference between the amateur writer and the professional one.  The pro, she writes, and treats her work as a job.  A commitment she dares not break. 

She takes the time to write daily.  She invests her time in digging ditches. 

She sits down.  He thinks.  She writes.

To the amateur however, writing becomes a motivational rollercoaster ride, that swings their resolve back and forth, based on their mood, and far too many other reasons to list here.

Two hundred entries.

That’s a lot of ditches.

That’s a lot of coffees. 

A lot of early mornings. 

That’s a lot of frogs.

I am not mentioning any of this to boast in any way or to receive unwarranted praise.  I point it out, simply to illustrate that Seth Godin was right.

A writer faces two real possibilities.  One.  She can write well, or he can write badly.  In case you are wondering, it is always better to write well.  But both come from the same well.

There is a third possibility. 

The writer can insist and imprison themselves in the idea of a writer’s block, write nothing, and by their inactivity, wipe themselves out of existence.

It’s not easy.  It’s not easy digging ditches.

There are days, where I have nothing in my mind and I simply face the struggle and force it out.  There are days, when I don’t want to write, let alone post any of it, but I had made a commitment to myself, to share everything, no matter what, warts and all.

If you are reading this, and you must be, because how else are these words reading themselves?

If you are reading this, I hope from the bottom of my heart that you figure out what brings meaning to your life.  I hope you figure out the things that you’ve neglected, or pushed to the side, while you got busy with other matters.

I hope you reawaken your sense of wonder. 

I hope you choose not to go to the grave with your song still in you.

Dig some ditches.

Dig only one shovel full at a time.

Dig badly.  Dig well.

Dig with a smile, or with a frown.  Dig grumbling and swearing under your breath, or with the angels serenading every single drop of sweat.

Dig because you said you would. 

Dig because you can. 

Dig because you know, as well as I know, that there is nothing else like it.  There is nothing else like it that makes you feel alive.

We were born to live.  We were not created merely to exist.

I hope you find your two hundredth shovel full and I hope it comes soon. 

I also hope you drop me a little note, and tell me all about it.

So, go dig something.

Go make a ruckus.

 


you cannot serve two masters

 

You cannot serve two masters.

You must keep your obedience for one or the other.

It is impossible to become a servant of both and bear good fruit.

For example, you cannot be a slave to taste or nutritional substance at the same time. 

You must decide to either pursue the meals that taste good, in order to satisfy and appease your pleasure buds, or you can seek out nourishment that will help your body function well, and give you tremendous energy to pursue your dreams. 

This does not mean you cannot, on occasion, enjoy some delicious food stuff, for the pure joy and taste of it, but it is impossible not to get a little chunky by extending obedience to both. 

So, you have a choice to make.

Will you give the best years of your life to your family and friends, so they have an opportunity to discover who you really are, or will you give those precious years to your boss, your illusion of retirement, or your prickly gossiping companions?

You need to decide.

Decide today.

You can either know every speck of gossip that is going around town, or you can choose to be ignorant of it, by leading and working on the things that matter.

You can read books for entertainment or their knowledge.

You can listen to music for pleasure, or to dream of things that never were.

You can help the needy out of some deeply rooted sense of guilt, or you can reach out to them, as fellow human beings, knowing that living without, is the same as having and not sharing. 

Being human is what matters, no matter which end you happen to be hanging on to. 

It is time to make a tough decision.

A most wonderful decision.

Who do you wish to serve?

Do you want to be happy or sad?  Decide and act accordingly.

Do you want to be fat or healthy?  Decide and be careful what you shove in your mouth.

Do you want to impress the heart of your lover, or gain the false admiration of acquaintances?  Decide, and act accordingly.

You cannot plow ahead and look backward.

You cannot regret the past, ignore the present, and live in the future.

Decide who or what you are going to serve.

You are not your job. 

You are not your past mistakes.  You are not as funny as people tell you - you are, and you are not as disgusting, as they purport you to be.

There is enough time in the day for everything, but you must come at life with only one thing at a time. 

When you are with your family, don’t let your thoughts escape to all the work that you left undone, and when you are at work, get to work, and don’t let your thoughts escape and serve the weekend.

Some of our deepest struggles are our personal inner battles with ourselves. 

It is our inability to identify and know what we want.  Our inability to focus and get distracted by colourful butterflies, and bright shiny objects. 

We must stand firm and profess our allegiance to but one master.

Pick them wisely, because some masters are better than others.

Decide.

Decide today.

Follow your heart.

Don’t look back.

 


weekend quotable no. 28

 

 You can’t build a reputation,

on what you are going to do.

Henry Ford

 

Dreams don’t come true by dreaming, they come true by doing.

But there are a few steps in between.

Everything starts when you have the courage to dream out loud.  You take a second step when you write your dreams down and revisit them often. 

You take another step when you complete your research and find out how much and how long it will take for you to get there. You need a concrete plan.  A detailed cost structure.  You need to know everything on a micro level.

It also helps to be honest with yourself and accept what you can achieve on your own, and who you need to help you see it through. 

Then you dig your ditch.  You keep digging.  You don’t stop digging.

You must to go to work on your dreams. 

Don’t wait for the weekend. Don’t wait till you feel like it.  Don’t wait for the right time or the right moment.  The moment is now.  It is always now.

Your reputation will be built on your success but it will also be built on your ability to rise above failure. 

The second building block is more important.  Most people will quit when they experience the first sign of failure, so learning how to fail and failing often plays a vital role in your success.

Forget what you don’t know.  Forget what you haven’t done.

Get to work.

Do today, what you didn’t do yesterday, and you’ll forget to do tomorrow.

Dig your ditch!

 


weekend quotable no. 27

 

 You cannot find peace

by avoiding life.

Virginia Woolf

  

You cannot find peace by avoiding life.

You cannot control it. 

You cannot ignore it, or fully embrace it. 

You cannot just sit there and wait for tomorrow. 

Nor can you give up and live in the past. 

Well, you can, but that’s not really a life, it’s a wretched prison cell of your own making.

You will frustrate yourself, when you stubbornly resist and brace yourself against the capricious act living.  You will only avoid peace and instead find yourself embracing a life of perpetual anxiety and fear.   

You need to leap forward and let go.

The life you have is not worth dying for anyhow.

You had nothing to do with your first heart beat and you will not be consulted when it will be time for your heart to take its final curtain call.  You don’t control the beginning or the end, but you do have full autonomy and absolute freedom to live everything in between. 

Magic happens in the in between.

If only you could avert your gaze from the things you cannot change, and embrace the life you have and are dreaming of.

Life is a demanding task master. 

It demands much, because you have much to give.

Stop casting your gaze downward.  Stop bitching and complaining about where you are or where you have been.

Look up. 

Find peace in the every-day struggle of living.

 


dare to be great

 

If you don’t love yourself, nothing will ever change.

Nothing will ever happen.

As a human race, we have run, drove, and flown the surface of the earth, countless number of times over.  We have dipped our bodies into the immense oceans, and continue to explore the depth of the stars.  Yet. The most challenging distance for any person, is not out there, it is inside.  It is the rift between our mind and our heart.

Those few precious centimeters often feel insurmountable.

We just don’t believe we can.

We want to lose weight.  We want to find the love of our life.  We want to be great examples for our children.  We want wealth, health, and happiness.  We want everything, it seems, except ourselves.

Except ourselves.

Nothing is ever going to happen in your life is you don’t learn to accept yourself as a unique person of great heritage and limitless destiny.  You have been marked with the blueprint of greatness.  You were not a mistake.

All the major religions in the world explain that our universe was built by a magnificent grand architect.  Now, we can argue, and we do, often.  We argue violently sometimes over who or what this architect is.  We argue over the details and we find fault in what we don’t understand.  We forget the most important truth that this wondrous and divine intelligence, shared His life with us.

When you chip at a piece of gold, you will get gold.  When you split a diamond, you are left with another diamond.  We are creatures of a divine intelligence.

We were born in greatness.  We were born for greatness.

If we observe the universe, we will come to understand that the architect of the universe is powerful and good.  If we share in the same substance than you and I also bare those same divine qualities, and possess the blueprint to greatness.

I can hear your objection. 

You have a shitty job.  A shitty apartment.  A shittier car and a boss who is a dick.  Literally.  His name is Richard; Dick for short.

You face many battles and adversities.  You are reading this with a sceptical eye, and a half open mind, wondering how it could be that you are great.   

You just see your mistakes.

But mistakes are events.  You are a person and you are great.

Nothing in your life will change, unless you let go of your stubbornness, and leap into the uncomfortable discovery of who you really are.

Once you come to accept that you were born to leave your mark on our collective human existence, you will find that you either have everything you need to be happy, or you realize that although you might not be quite ready right now, you have the means and ability of obtaining the things you need to complete your mission.

You are great and you live in an abundant universe.

You never get anything because you never really ask.  There is no passion in your voice.  There is no persistence in your action. 

You never learn because you never study.  You don’t lose weight because you don’t exercise and plan ahead, what you are going to put in your mouth.  You are single, not because you are unlovable, but because your underwear is a little too tight, and you are not a very pleasant person to be around.  You are kind of prickly.

It’s time to be humble and accept your greatness.

Leave your arrogance behind. 

Let it go. 

Your life of believing that you are nothing more than a useless teat on a bull, is misguided and it serves nobody any good. 

So, love yourself.

Believe in who you are and see who you are going to be.

Figure out what you need.  Ask for it.  Work for it.  Get it.

Focus on helping others.

Don’t go to your death with your song unsung.

Dare to be great.

 


dearest dad

 

I know you can read this and that you miss me too.

Life is not easy without you and mom.  It never gets easier missing you but I take comfort in my own family and in what you have done and given me.  I have wonderful memories, a strong moral character, a questionable sense of humour, and a blueprint for love and happiness.

It has been ten years since we held each other’s hands, as you lay dying in that hospital room at the Bowmanville Hospital. 

You are the only person that I watched die; taking one breath at a time, while your lungs fought and failed to extract the carbon dioxide that was building up in your body.

I miss you and love you.

Happy birthday.

I can’t believe ten years have come and gone.  You would have celebrated your eighty second birthday, instead I will think of you and speak of you to my children.

I couldn’t have had a better dad.

You were always there for me and you let me watch you shave each morning, while answering my endless questions.

You were such a good man.  Always thinking of other people.  Fighting for freedom, at the expense of your own comfort and life.

You brought us to Canada in 1985, when you were fifty years old.  You struggled to find work and learn a new culture and language.  In the end your giftedness as a Chemist and Photographer were rejected by this society, and you swept the hallways of a High School, and mopped the stairways of a large apartment building.

You lived a life of great struggle, but a life worth living, and writing about.

I am your son. 

I will always be your son.

I wake up every morning trying to become a better person, and to leave the world a little better, then I found it.

I miss your smile.  Your nagging persistence of correcting my grammar.  I miss your stories.  I miss your openness to everything I embraced over the years. 

I admire your patience.  Your love.  Your gentleness.  Your tenacity.  Your sense of humour.  Your love for your wife and my mother.

I appreciate our morning fishing trips, your stubbornness, your love of literature, your passion for photography, your humility, and your moral compass.

I love and miss you.

I wish you a very happy birthday. 

I would love to see you soon, but I have many more miles to go before I sleep.  I need to be there for my children, like you were there for me. 

I still don’t really know where I am going, who I am becoming, what life is about, or what my children will say about me one day, but I am hopeful that they will think of me as I think of you.

I didn’t realize that writing this would flood my eyes with tears, and I am once again embarrassing myself in McDonald’s, while I write and drink my morning coffee.

I loved our coffee time every day.  Those ten or fifteen minutes meant the world to me.  We would talk about nothing and everything.

I will never forget the last words you said to me.

“We love each other”

It wasn’t I love you.  I have always love we.  It was, we love each other.

In the present.  Right now.  Today and tomorrow.

I love you.

I miss you.

I will see you again.

Please say hello to Heaven and tell mom I love her too.