There are times when my brain begins to race. I think of things that must be done or things that happened in the past and they lead from one thought to another. Soon I find myself smothered in the thoughts of things that worry me or leave me with regret. I am so distant from the current moment that I hardly know what is going on around me. John Lennon once said, “Life is what’s happening when we’re busy making plans.” When we are busy making these plans the world goes on and we miss so many things and our lives begin to slip away. I have to remind myself constantly that whatever I am worried about for the future, like work or relationships, will be there when I actually have to face them and that things of the past are impossible for me to change. What is most important is inner peace in every action we do and learning to recognize those things that disrupt it. This takes mental training, that I am in no way a master of, but I have been trying to stop myself when thoughts that cause anxiety in me emerge. They grow and grow and grow till they are bigger than anything I could possibly handle. So I tell myself to stop. I remember that there are always people that love me (even if I don’t really know who they are) and that when I die there will still be things that I have left undone. Life is constant and unyielding and we will never control it. Tomorrow will always come and if it doesn't then what is there to worry about? I recommend imagining yourself at your own funeral. How will others see you? Will they have an image of a stressed out individual that did nothing but worry? No one will care that you didn't Ace that last assignment. No one will care that you made some small social mistakes. All they will be left with is the memories of the moments where you were truly in the moment with them: the laughter and the tears that you shared together. Think of the kind of stories you want people to tell about you and start living them. Yes, stress will always be with us but we will never receive more than what we can take. If that ever does happen we won’t be able to handle it, there will be a rough patch, but eventually we will return to a place where we can function. Life has a way of leveling out and storms don’t last forever…nothing on earth or in the universe does. Have faith in yourself that life won’t always be this hard and that everything will be ok; though it may rain for weeks the sun will someday shine.
Saturday, 27 July 2013
With every word you read you are witness to my creation. I have the pieces that are consonants and vowels which are brought into phonemes and morphemes. I attempt to use the tools of grammar and syntax, though my command of them may fail. All of these come together to bring my creation into being; the words and sentences I have chosen to express my thoughts and emotions. I believe everyone deep inside them has a desire, a need, and an ability to create. To stop this piece of our lives is to deny part of what makes us human. One must only find out what or how they will create. Finding that outlet is the hardest part but once it is found you begin to do your part in shaping the world. We are all builders of reality. We are the ones who create the art, the literature, and the music that bring dreams into reality.
A piece of a song I once wrote:
Me and you ran deep in the woods
Chasing for stars like good people should
The faster they fell the quicker we went
Till we found those gifts that heave had sent
You cried whoa oh don’t go
Whoa oh don’t go
Time goes slowly
Whoa oh don’t go
My heads been spinning since the minute you left
Shuffling for space in line with the rest
I did something then didn’t make me a man
I buried my so soul and my heart in the sand
I cried whoa oh don’t go
Whoa oh don’t go
Time goes slowly
Whoa oh don’t go
Tuesday, 23 July 2013
I can remember my father telling me many times as a child that sometimes getting angry for the right reason was a good thing. To him, anger should be a controlled force that could be funneled into righteousness. He would show me and my brother how to fight so that, if one day, someone to or our-selves were in trouble or if we ever saw something being done to someone against their will, that we would be able to defend that person. He would put us into self-defense classes and martial arts programs in a hope to better prepare us for a dangerous world. His one rule: Only fight for the right thing. Fighting wasn't fun, it was scary and violence and inflicting pain on another human being was always a last resort. I would like to say I followed this golden rule to a “T” but to be honest I half followed it.
I literally prayed for someone to be attacked in my life so that I could defend them. In school, if one of my buddies looked like he was going to get into a fight, I would quickly see if the golden rule applied. If not, I would try and defuse or distract my friend. If my friend was in the right, my fist would fly. When the school called my father he would listen and, if he felt that I was not in the wrong, he would never say a word. I wouldn't say I fought a lot at all,but when the moment arose I relished in it. The adrenalin, the fear, and the solid connection of fist to jaw.
I have begun to try something new in the last few years. When I feel angry with someone I breathe and try to be thankful for them. I try to hope them the best and send out as much good vibrations as I can. I have found that the fire of anger is quickly extinguished by forgiveness, love and acceptance. The mind adopts this faster then i would have thought possible. When we dwell on anger it grows in us like a cancer. It fills our bones and leaves us a hollow caste without the best parts of our human nature. Anger breeds anxiety, depression, fear and, at times, even hate. Patience, wisdom, understanding and selflessness breed love. We do not get angrier to become more relaxed. A calm mind and a smile bring peace. This is easier said than done but since I have begun this way of living I have found it easier and easier. Even when people are horrible, when they throw us down into the dust, we must answer back with peace. It is the only way they will change and it is the only way we will change ourselves.
Saturday, 20 July 2013
Some of my earliest memories of my father are of him in our local church. I would peek into the side room, down brown carpeted hallways and pale beige walls, and listen to him teach Hebrew and Greek to the willing. To him the words of the bible could only be understood if one got to the original text of the early church. He strived for the truth, whether if it was in his job with the Police Department or in his current teachings in the church. I feel like my childhood was governed by such phrases as, “the word is law,” or, “in all things speak truth.” The bible was our handbook to all things, be it décor or dialogue. This is the basis of the discourse of my family as a child; the “Good Book” defined our existence.
If one was to walk into the house of my childhood you could literally see the writing on the wall. In light brown picture frames you would read psalms and proverbs; the words to live by were not just passed orally but visual through the medium of needlework. Your eyes were pummeled by the dogma of my family from the moment you stuck your head in the door to the moment you walked out on the, “God bless you,” mat. My father’s jewel was the room at the end of the hallway, the one whose acquisition had forced me and my brother to sleep on bunk beds, which had been converted into a library. Floor to ceiling were the books and smells of biblical knowledge. From apocryphal discussions to the large leather bound tomes that were never to be touched, the spines of all these books spelled out his great respect of the written word. At the end of every meal my father would go and grab one of his books and read some passage he had been pondering while he locked himself away after work. He would ask us questions to check our comprehension and my brother, sister and I would squirm and day-dream of escaping his inquisitions.
My parents had met at a small bible college in the woods. It was the 70’s and it was more of a Christian hippy retreat then a bible college. They, and a few small families, had decided that they would live separate from main stream Christian culture. They built a school, church and living space on the property they had bought so that their children could learn in an immersive Christian environment. To go to the school you had to be a part of the church to assure that the doctrine they so fervently believed in would be safe in the hand of the future generations. Every breath, every word and every scratch on paper would be in testament to the glory and power of God. Amen.
One verse that dictated much of our discussions was Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” To break this law, to swear (the temptation as a child was so great) or speak badly of another would entail the punishment of my parents. This created a very separate world in the dialogue between my parents and the conversations with my young friends. With my parents a slip of the tongue could have you sent to bed without dinner. With my friends the curses and bad talk spilled out like a satisfying deluge. My siblings and I quickly learned the language of Christianity and the language of the outside world.
As my family aged, views began to develop and change. My mother watched as the steam of our childhood piety evaporated. My father and I’s communication turned quickly into debate, which he welcomed as long as he held the higher ground. He would take out a dusty book and find the answers I apparently needed. I pulled out contradictions and he reverted to faith. The word “faith”, to have it and believe wholeheartedly in it, was the only answer when push came to shove. But one word wasn't good enough for me. Words had been what he had given me and I used them in all their glory; my father was faced with the monster he had created. As I began to read books by the Dalai Lama and talk to people of other backgrounds I lost the language of my childhood and I formed my own. The arguments, that my father and I had, held an intimacy reserved for when a religious father knows he’s losing his son to the outside world. Before the end of high school (one I had switched to after too many problems in the first one) I had moved out of the house. My language and beliefs conflicted with my parents and they couldn't understand me anymore. I no longer went to church and my parent’s greatest fears were embodied: I had lost my “faith”.
Now, many years after high school and many of those years spent traveling on my own, I have moved back to my home town. My father has retired from the police force and is just a pastor now. They have long since separated from the old church and school, that is still somewhere in the woods, though the picture frames with the needlework still hang on the walls. He is more relaxed now and we understand each other better. He apologizes for his strictness and I apologize for my verbal attacks I had once been so proud of. Why has our dialogue changed? Maybe it is that I’m not a child anymore, and maybe he isn't the authoritarian I had once believed he was. I believe the discourse of our family, like in any family, has evolved. Amen.
Wednesday, 17 July 2013
For many people, our relationships in life are like a mountain. In our early years, when we are at the base of the mountain, there is lots of space for friendships. We can stretch ourselves out amongst many people and they fit into our lives with room to grow and change. As we get older and we climb the mountain we find that our groups of friends, our true and close friends, become smaller and smaller. The space on the mountain grows smaller. We define our preferences, what we need from others and what we can fully offer up ourselves. People fade away or move on and some new ones tag along for the climb. As we reach the peak the people we are truly intimate with often become less and less. Many things can be said about this idea. We must try to climb the mountain of life slowly. We should take time to enjoy the relationships we are allowed to be a part of and gather as many as possible. We should know that, for most, there are only a few who will be with us till the end and these are the people who will know us the most deeply. One day we will reach the peak and we will be alone as there is only space for one. And as we look into the sky we will face whatever is next that will come. But to let someone in, to let them truly know every part about you, the good and the bad, is to allow them to climb to the top with you as far as possible. The more people we can let see every part of ourselves the closer we become and the more help we can give each other when we reach the end.
I must admit that one of my greatest faults is mistaking passion for love. I have met people who completely enrapture me and I fall head over heels for them. The way she smiles or the curve of her neck as it reaches for her shoulder. The way her hair twists and curls or the feel of her hip as my fingers dance down her side. When I met her on my first trip alone and she served me dinner or when I met her sitting on the ground in front of the coffee shop. When she sang that night in front of a group of strangers or when I raced her back to our fire on the beach and she fell in the water laughing. When I first noted the shade of brown in her eyes or when I saw the happiness in her blue ones. At times, all of these people, I thought I was in love with. But love has only truly been with me once. I had known her for years and our love grew slowly. Our love grew out of honesty. We knew everything about each other, from the darkest secrets to the funniest quirks. We understood when space was needed and when we needed each other. We saw our country together and slept on couches for months keeping each other warm. She painted pictures and I watched. I learned to play her songs on an old guitar and she laughed. We talked and we listened. And then, as can only be done by people who truly know each other, we broke each other's hearts. It's strange how hard it is for me to be truly honest with anyone now but yet how much I wish for a love like that again. I give the illusion of intimacy while wanting nothing more than to love and be loved. I pick and choose my honesty and it leaves me with passion but far from love. Hopefully this time will be different. I have told her all my horrors and she has told me all of hers. I have held her while she laughed and kissed her cheek. This time she is all the things I have loved in all those other girls, from the moment I found her again, sitting by the fire, to the fingers dancing down her side. I will be honest with her, come what may, and only time will tell the rest.
Sunday, 14 July 2013
I went on a bike ride today. It was warm and blue skies seemed to stretch like a never ending dome above me. I thought of how beautiful my home is. The trees that scrape the sky. Rivers that twist through the town with small bridges that cross them. There are spots that allow the music of nature to erupt, unburdened by human cacophony.
There was a silent awe that filled us when we looked around. There was not a soul in site and the strange quiet gave a feeling of supernatural energy in the air. We unpacked our belongings into the emergency shelter and we went our separate ways. I went to a rock that overlooked the lake below and the vast mountain ranges stretching off into the distance. Here I was at the edge of my countries frontier and I imagined I was looking at places where man had never touched. As I sat there I slowed my breathing and felt my body calm. To my right I could see members of the group, some in twos in deep conversation or listening to music, others alone wandering the ridge to the tree line. To my left, the peak of the mountain watching us. As I relaxed with arms and legs folded, the sun began to set. The sky exploded with layer upon layer of colour and the lake bellow echoed the sentiment. The hills were silhouetted against the pastel sky like sleeping giants. I was reminded of a Korean creation story “Cheonjiwang Bonpuli”. In the beginning, earth and sky were one. At some point a gap appeared in the middle of all that was. All that was heavy became the earth and all that was light became the sky. Then, from the sky fell a clear blue drop of dew, and from the earth came a dark black drop of dew. As these two drops mixed, all that existed between earth and sky was made. From these two drops came humans, animals, plants and even the gods.
Saturday, 6 July 2013
If there is one thing I am sure of it is that human drama is inevitable. Some seek it out and their lives are often a very busy thing. Others may try to live a peaceful life or even try to avoid dramatic moments all together but almost all of these will at some point run into unavoidable interactions. We are social animals, and even though we ourselves may try to be anti-social, those other social animals tend to barge right in. This is not a bad thing or a good thing. It is simply the way we humans tend to live our lives. We are pushed to moments where we must make decisions and these decisions have the habit of affecting the people around us.
The moments when we are forced to make choices are amazing. Every day, every second, every turn of the head, we make choices that define the rest of our lives. It’s completely beautiful and absolutely terrifying. But we all continue to make these leaps into the unknown. Each day we not only make decisions for ourselves, but our decisions affect the people around us. Their decisions, in turn, also affect our own. We are all interwoven through our own personal experiences.
But sometimes, once in a while, there are the decisions that make you feel so alone. Though we make countless choices every day that define everything, they usually follow the inertia of our lives. We are so comfortable with these choices that they are not even seen as choices but just living. But sometimes, once in a while, something big happens. We are faced with a moment that will change the direction of our lives. In my own personal experience I feel these are some of the moments I have felt most alone. Leaving home, moving on, arguments, career choices, personal stands, travel, falling in love. We are forced to make choices as humans and we suffer or rejoice in them. These things are inevitable. But, as with most things that are unavoidable, the best method to deal with it is accept it, to face it head on; to try to live life through it and embrace the change that comes. This is no easy task, but when we are driven to these moments of actions we pour into the lives of others. We suddenly become not so alone anymore. We meet new people and we affect their lives. Some for good and for bad, but no matter what we perpetuate the ongoing creation of who we are and who they are.
Monday, 1 July 2013
Duality is the concept that everything is divided. You from me. Us from them. East from West. Good from evil. Up from down. Yes it exists in the world, but it is no law of the universe. It is a human invention and one often perpetuated by religions. I believe it doesn't have to be this way. We do not need to feel the distance between things but rather we should look for those things that link them together.
I am fascinated by other beliefs and philosophies. If they can teach me how to live a better life or make the life of others around me better then they are a part of me. They are all pieces of the human condition to understand the unknown; to try and make sense of it all; to reach out with our minds and find order in the chaos. There has to be no greater endeavor for the human soul.
I hope that, like in a dream, I will see her one day and she won’t recognize me. I imagine that she will be working at some coffee shop and I will be a customer. She looks up at me and smiles and asks me what I want; a general friendly chat that can only happen through small business transactions. I’ll see her and know that she’s at peace, she will just go on living and I’ll see her smile.
Sometimes i wish i was just like an animal she heard of suffering somewhere in the amazon. She is aware, keeps up to date on the news if someone mentions it, but has no more than a disconnected connection. I simply exist as a thought unburdened by her emotional investment. I wish I had never entered her life because, then, she would never have entered mine.