Leap

I see snow

 

I see snow.

You probably see winter. Blizzards. White out conditions. Accidents. Slippery roads. Fast and dangerous drivers weaving in and out of traffic.

I see snow.

But I’m not blind to what you see.

I drive the same roads. In the same weather conditions. With the same time constraints, and I get lapped, by the same reckless drivers.

But I choose and want to gaze at the snow.

The fluffy, beautiful, falling snow.

But it wasn’t always like this.

There was a time, a long period of time too, when I was unable to be comfortable with myself, and refused to let go of the many stories, which I falsely invented about myself. Stories that held me back, like quicksand. That demanded way too much of my life, and left me completely exhausted.

There was a time when I resembled the walking dead. A time when I was not alive.

I did not know happiness. Or understood that I was not determined by my environment.

I became a human being that has learned artfully how to bend, to bend low, and bend often, but no longer a creature, that could not help himself and break.

And so, I now see the snow.

I see one snow flake anxiously following another, in very rapid succession and purpose. Falling on trees, on the cold pavement, or on anything and everything in its sights.

Relentless. Unapologetic. Unconcerned with what we think of it.

Unforgiving.

I see snow.

I hope you do too.

Many of us become stuck in what the psychiatrist, Dr. Viktor Frankl called, the existential vacuum.

We become trapped in a dense darkness. Not a suicidal type of darkness, an emotionally painful darkness, but the type of darkness that confounds many brilliant astronomers. The darkness of space and time, where nothing exists, and nothing happens.

All of us. Without exception.

At some point, inevitably, absolutely, and sometimes, a few times over, we face this existential vacuum, despite our stubbornness.

When we are born we are given this task, to figure out why we are here. To figure out what being alive is all about.

We are on a quest to figure out what makes life worthwhile.

What makes her meaningful.

Perhaps we are here to see the snow. Or ignore it, and see instead, the havoc that snow gets blamed for.

Boredom.

That is the true indicator, you are smack in the middle of an existential vacuum.

Boredom.

You have nothing to do. Or you have so much to do, that you can do nothing.

You have no time for yourself or for anything that matters.

You’ll do it later, of course. When you have more money. More time. When you retire. When your kids grow up. When your husband changes. When they elect a new president.

You are satisfied to live a life of exhaustion. Numbing repetition. Confusion and full of anxiety.

You’ve settled for a life without excitement.

A life with traffic accidents, but a life without snow.

When was the last time you let a snowflake land on your hand and gazed at it like a child?

Saw the stars? Visited your grandmother who is imprisoned with dementia? Were kind to your ex-wife? Or were understanding of the pressures your children’s face at school?

When was the last time you were truly excited about something? Couldn’t sleep because you couldn’t wait to get up and get going in the morning?

Ate meals to fuel your body, instead of to simply pleasure and soothe your mind?

I see snow.

Do you?

I see things that I missed for decades.

I am excited about living again, to the point that I’m worried I will burst.

I hope you don’t have to wait that long, to get excited too.

I hope you get to see what for so long, choose not to see.

I hope you let go.

And see the snow.

 


an Elephant and some Cherry Pie

 

Isn’t our perception of reality funny?

Funny in the sense that while we all believe truth exists, the actual colour, shape, and form it holds, is often filtered through our own, limited, best guess scenario, set of assumptions. We hinder and distort reality by the very fact that we don’t know everything. We can’t know everything.

This is magical in a sense, because in a world of science, there are no surprises.

We distort our reality by being human. Gloriously human. We fail to see right because we are limited by the very square space from which we gaze upon the truth. That little piece of the whole, which we call our experience, which always distorts what we see, creates what we want to see, yet it is the only way we can derive any of our understanding in the first place.

And its magical.

I understand that our distorted understanding of the truth is very vexing for everyone. We are all shuffling our feet in total darkness, holding on to a different piece of the elephant, arguing with each other who is right.

Our limited version of the truth, which in our defence is all we were given, can create some unpleasant confusion, and lead to serious frustration.

When we share what we think we see with others, we are putting ourselves on a collision course to be seriously misunderstood.

Reinterpreted.

We are putting ourselves on a path to clash with other people’s versions of reality, and their own prickly little insensibilities.  

This is why it is socially forbidden to talk about politics or religion at parties, with people of good social standing.

This is silly I think, because they are the most important of all the subjects, which is probably why people are willing to die for their truth, something which they are not willing to do for a nice piece of cherry pie. Not unless it is a really, really good piece of pie.

Religion tries to deal with why we are here, and what the ultimate purpose of our existence might be, while politics, on the other hand, deals with how we are to justly govern ourselves, what we have to do to live meaningful lives, and how to better care for the vulnerable.

Or so they should anyhow.

A bit philosophical perhaps, but our perception of how we see what is real is funny nonetheless.

Let’s turn to you.

What about your reality?

What about the truth of how you see yourself and where you are going?

Do you have the courage at any time in the day to look yourself in the mirror? To have a good look. Do you have the valour to gaze into your own eyes? Your windows to your very soul?

What will you find there?

Pain? Regret? Sorrow?

Words of hate and admonition for yourself? Voices from the past hurling hateful epitaphs in your direction?

Or will you find joy?

Peace? Forgiveness? Unused blueprints of some abandoned dreams?

Perhaps some faith and hope? Some love?

Words of encouragement and understanding? Voices from the future calling you towards something greater than yourself?

If truth and reality is not as reliable as we were taught to think it is, when we were children, wouldn’t it make more sense to shape it, the way we want reality to appear?

If other people will not understand or will misinterpret your, is that a good reason to capitulate or abandon your dreams, or give up trying?

I mean, if you are too blind and unsatisfied with the piece of the elephant you are currently holding, wouldn’t it make more sense, instead of arguing or getting angry about it, to simply suck it up and stumble in the darkness, to look for another piece to hold.

A piece that perhaps feels a little better? Suits your life a little more?

Reality is very cold, calculating, and most scientific.

But we as artists are born to wrap it up, in our own warm blanket of technicolour.

To shape things how we want them to be. To shape our own destiny.

Reality really doesn’t matter much. People will see what they want to see. Truth will not be offended by the choices you make, one way or another.

In the future, you will change your mind how things were a thousand times. You will reshape and thinking of what you remember a million ways.

You are bound to forget.

So, forget who you think you are today. Erase what other people think you are.

Don’t be afraid to stumble in the dark.

Keep circling that elephant and stop arguing who is right.

 


sobriety and Jose Mujica

 

You have probably never heard of Jose Mujica.

His words and heart felt wisdom continue to haunted me. They have haunted me ever since I heard him for the first time, in the brilliantly magnificent documentary, simply titled; Human.

(Not only human, but Human).

Forget binge-watching whatever is on your list and see it for free online.

His words were planted inside my mind a while ago. They have grown much and continue to sober me up.

I am grateful for his candor and his message. His suffering and his call to happiness.

If you are not familiar with Jose Mujica, you should know that he was the president of Uruguay from 2010 to 2015, but prior to that, he led quite the life and suffered as farmer, a freedom fighter, a prisoner, for over ten years, and a hostage.

Today he preaches the philosophy of sobriety.

Sobriety.

Not an easy idea to embrace or sell in North America.

A consumer society, in a progressively vicious battle between a culture of life and the culture of death.

Sobriety is somewhat contrary to our materialistic, consumer wants and desires. Somewhat sobering, as we recover from our New Year’s celebrations, and the universal hangover that slowly dissipates from our collective consciousness.

Somehow, I don’t believe there are many people are ready to listen, but they should.

We need to study the philosophy of sobriety.

I think its best you hear Jose Mujica for yourself, but I while I have you here I will guide you through some of his insights, if for no other reason than some safekeeping.

I take no credit for any of his thoughts. They are his ideas. Earned through years of suffering. Years of meditation. Years of practice.

I only offer a bit of commentary. Because as brilliant as they are in their own right, without my words and yours, they will never spread. And they should.

They need to spread deep. The need to fly far and wide.

Deep into every human soul. Into every crevice of your mind.

You need to take it easy on yourself. Stop beating yourself up for not having or not doing what you imagined you should be doing by this point.

You are not a cog in a wheel. You are not a drunken sailor.

But you do need to renew your love affair with life.

You need to fall in love with the act of being, and it can’t be done half assed or on a part time basis. At some point, and hopefully this happens for you really soon, you will dare to leap. To jump, go all in, and finally embrace, once and for all, everything, in its totality, and allow the act of living to permeate your life.

Because.

Either you’re happy with very little, free of all the extra luggage, because you have happiness inside, or you don’t get anywhere!

You don’t need to get anywhere.

You have everything you need.

You either have it already, or if you lack something, it is readily available to you. It is not easy to get, of course. Worthwhile things are never quick or easy, but they are abundantly available. The problem is that most people never try, but they are yours, if you only reach out and take the time to look for them.

Ask and it will be given you. Seek and you shall find. Knock and the door will be open.

This is not a call for a life of poverty. It is an invitation for sobriety.

Jose Mujica believes that we have either invented, or else, inherited a consumer society, and a progressively sick mind. A society that today, probably feels a bit exhausted, from all those Black Friday deals, and Boxing Day sales. I bet there are many poor souls who are probably not even clear headed enough to realize, that those credit card bills, that took so little effort to accumulate, will take a lifetime and years of labour, to have disappear.

When you buy something, you are not paying with money. You are paying with the hours of life you had to spend earning that money”.

Think about that.

Tell me that this is not a sobering thought?

Tell me that this doesn’t change the conversation about the worth of our salaries, and how much time we should be willing to sacrifice to earn that money? Tell me that it doesn’t sober you up, in terms of how you spend your life earning a living?

The difference is, that life, is one thing money can’t buy”.

You will never get more time.

You can’t buy it, but you can always find a new way to earn a little more.

Hell, leaving the country and converting all your dollars into some pesos, for example, would create a whole new reality in your life, if you were willing to be a global citizen, and not just a Canadian one.

Our school system doesn’t help either.

The ‘normal school’ is nothing more than an old, worn out, industrial factory, nudging students into three pathways, so they can become very dutiful consumers, or at the very least, won’t become a financial burden to our society.

Human beings may be the only animals capable of self-destruction”.

It doesn’t take much effort, or thought for that matter, to realize how true this is. It doesn’t take much time to come to grips with the truth how often we become our own worst enemy. Hindering and spoiling our own happiness, instead of living in the moment.

You are never truly finished.

You can always pick yourself up again. It’s always worth it, starting from zero again, once, or a thousand times, so long as you’re still alive”.

A thousand times.

A hundred thousand times, a million-million million times.

Your mistakes are never fatal, as long as you continue to have life in you, or the desire to begin again.

Don’t kill your dreams. Don’t let them die.

It is never easy to rise from the ashes, but you have to believe that you can. You have to keep a hint of a spark and always pick yourself up again.

You are never defeated until you give up the fight”.

And it is never good to give up the fight.

So, keep fighting. Keep kicking. Keep punching.

Don’t let the bastards grind you down.

Keep dreaming. Keep living. Keep hoping.

Rethink what you need. Reimagine what you can’t live without.

See money as a tool and don’t let its love steal your time.

Be sober.

Be kind.

Be alive.

 


life happens when you are making other plans

 

As human animals, we have a unique habit of projecting ourselves into the future. An amazing trick really. We are trained to imagine ourselves in the future, yet can shape our lives in the present, according to our new direction.

We are all very capable of seeing this new, majestic future, so clearly, emerging just over the horizon, and anticipate its glorious days of tomorrow. We use our imagination for that very purpose. We see what tomorrow brings, and excitedly push and pull the present moment, hoping to submit the future into reality.

We try really hard.

We think hard. We feel deep. We work. We learn. We toil.

We cross our t’s and dot our i’s. We purchase insurance. We invest. We save.

Yet life makes other plans.

Life happens when we are busy making other plans.

This used to frustrate me to no end. This frail inability of mine, to conjure up my future into reality, had become a tenacious source of remarkable confusion.

The future seemed so coy. To playfully peek and smile around every corner, only to disappear, and hide itself from my sight.

I could touch it. Feel it. Taste it even. It dripped from my tongue, like honey from an overproducing hive, in a bulging honeycomb, ready for the cold days of winter.

Yet, it was not meant to be.

And yet, I’ve been better for it.

I’m not sure why we are here and our illustrious human history doesn’t help.

It seems to be nothing more than a stark reminder of the inhumanity of one person to another. Endless arguing. Endless fighting. Theft. Indecency and indignity. We seem a long way from discovering our purpose and direction in life, with very little progress to come.

Seem.

But no matter.

Human history doesn’t define us. Life does.

We draw our dignity from every rising sun and every harvest moon. From the end of things, and the joy of new beginnings.

Life humbles us.

It helps us to stay balanced and not feel too high or too low. Too comfortable or too dejected. Too wise or too ignorant.

Life happens when we least expect it.

All our seemingly unsolvable problems eventually disappear. End. Vanish. One way or another. And we always give birth or adopt new ones. We embrace a tomorrow that always comes with new joys and a series of challenges.

Life is worth living.

It’s glorious.

Unbridled. Unpredictable. Untamed.

Life becomes worth living when you let go and see it for what it is, and embrace it as it comes.

Behold all of it.

It its totality, not its unnatural broken parts.

See it for its glorious totality, and don’t subjugate it into made up fractions and meaningless pieces.

Life happens to us when we are making other plans.

This doesn’t mean you should stop imagining or avoid making other plans.

It simply means that tomorrow will not be like you imagined.

You can’t prepare for it and you should accept it when it comes.

Leap forward. Don’t resist it. Come at tomorrow with an open heart and an open mind. Be ready to turn that corner.

Life peaks at you, so you can chase after it.

It’s a perpetual childlike game of tag.

The point is not to win.

The joy is that we get to play again.

 


the futile whimper of I can't

 

I know you can’t.

You must have said it a thousand times, and then you whispered it a thousand more.

You can’t. I get it. I know.

But now what?

Do you feel better?

Does your futile little whimper change anything?

Perhaps.

But you’ll remain the same.

You’ll remain in the same place. The same valley you can’t get out of and you have no choice to face down the same challenges. Your fruitless moan won’t change a single thing.

But you can.

You can change your mind.

Not the circumstances or the challenges you face, but the course of action you take.

You can and you should.

In the Second World War, when Hitler invaded Poland from the West, the battle was over before it began. Sadly, the hope of a reborn Polish nation rested in its allies, but the allies never came.

Left alone, against the grinding power of the Nazi machine, they stood no chance.

There was one battle in particular that early September, that my father and mother were most auspiciously proud of. It was a battle between a platoon of German tanks, and a small garrison of Polish Calvary riders on their horses.

There was only possible way that the battle could end.

Those brave men faced down the German tanks and knew they couldn’t win, but they couldn’t live with I can’t either, so they chose to die.

They fought to their death. A most swift and immediate resolution.

But why did they do it?

And why do you keep telling yourself that you can’t?

They fought because they knew they could never stop fighting for each other. If they surrendered, they would have been captured, become prisoners, and if they were not summarily executed that day, they would have toiled in the German labour camps and died a painful death.

They were not stupid. They knew their odds. They embraced the inevitable outcome, but never once stopped thinking about the story that their children would learn to tell.

This was certainly a slaughter, but it is not written as a defeat.

This was a victory.

A battle that would play itself out, over and over again, in the hearts of many Poles, through brave acts of subversion, sabotage, and culminating itself in the tragic Warsaw Uprising of 1944.

There is was a magnificent spirit in those men on horses.  A beautiful spirit that stems from the words - I can.

Such simple words. So, complicated to say.

I can.

But don’t sweat it. I already know you can’t.

You continue to whine and whimper about your life because you seek certainty. Certainty that you’ll make it. Certainty that it will all be worth it in the end. That’s why you look to the stars, gaze into crystal balls, and read your daily horoscope.

You’re afraid of living and you’re afraid of dying. You’re crippled by fear and overcome with awful nagging anxiety. You embrace and cling to your doubts about yourself, and to the endless stories of your unceasing incompetence, and yet they do not feed your soul.

You are always hungry. You are always left unsatisfied.

But what if you can?

What if you do?

What if your mistakes, your painful doubts can become a sign of hope for others?

I know I can’t change your mind.

I can only prick your consciousness.

Before you take on the world.

Try to ignore your futile whimper.

Embrace change. Get to work.

Believe you can.

 


leap before you're ready

 

I know. I know. You’re not ready. 

You could use a little more time. A few more moments. A few extra adjustments. A sign. An epiphany. A transfiguration? A message of encouragement from an Angel? Perhaps a signal delivered by three wise men from the East?  A really, really, really, really, bright star in the sky?

One day. Someday. No way.

You’re ready.

You may not know where you are going or where you’ll end up being, but you are certainly ready to begin today. You have to dig deep and find the courage to start. Embrace your tenacity to leap.

Leap before you’re ready.

Leap before it’s too late.

Your life has been a series of leaps, nudges and pushes anyway.

You were happy and content to contemplate your quiet existence, when suddenly, the woman who professes to love you pushed you out. Or maybe she was a bit more unfortunate and had a doctor cut her belly open so that from your mother you were untimely ripped.

Yet, if you think back, you were not afraid to lift your head. You weren’t critical and skeptical. Negative or pessimistic.

You began to crawl because you wanted to see and play your part; lend your voice to the symphony of existence.  You shoved anything and everything into your mouth.

Dirty. Wet. Dry. Big. Small.

Everything.

You hit your head. Bruised your knees. You fell down. You rose again, and again, and again.

You learned to crawl, you learned to walk. You even got the hang of digesting solid food.

You began to speak and excel in so many things.

Unbelievably complicated things.

You’ve done well.  You’ve done well throughout whole life, so why stop now?

Why do you look back so often and wonder about what could have been?

You’re gazing in the wrong direction.

Stand your ground and leap.

Leap before you’re ready.

Leap before it’s too late.

Like before, you will learn along the way. Some things you know. Some, you’ve forgotten. Others you’ll discover when you need them.

Like before, generous people will arise out of nowhere. They will be there to guide and encourage you. They will help you out.

How do I know? Because we are social creatures and despite how we feel or see ourselves, there has always been someone guiding, helping, and directing us towards our dreams.

Fear is far worse than death.

We can’t do anything about death, but we can certainly do something about fear.

You can’t write a book about what you don’t know. You can’t sing about what you haven’t experienced. You cannot play an instrument you’re not familiar with.

Most importantly, you can’t help others, unless you leap and have something to offer them.

The world doesn’t need any more bad news. Fake or otherwise.

More accidents, harassments, corporate takeovers, wars, family conflicts, drunkenness, addiction, depression, medication, complaints, gossip, and our right wretchedness.

The world needs you.

The world needs the best of you.

The best of you that will only become visible if you leap. If you jump. Without hesitation. Despite of fear. Despite the trembling. 

The world needs you to begin today. To begin right now. 

So, leap before you’re ready.

Please leap, before it’s too late.