Mankind is Our Business

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“But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,’ faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.

jacob marleyBusiness!’ cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The deals of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

Charles DickensMany of you will recall those written words were spoken by Jacob Marley in “A Christmas Carol“, by Charles Dickens.

These words have rattled around in my head of late, perhaps in part due to the Christmas season that is now in full swing around us, and perhaps in part to my desire to help my fellow neighbour.

I have no idea how to start, you see.  I only see know that I must act.  Gone are the days of wishful thinking.  Behind me are the days of thinking it would be nice to give something to the homeless, I need to stand upright, get off the bench, and open the gate to the playing field.  I need to step forward, step up, and do.

The thing is, you don’t need to know everything about something before you try it on.  It’s okay to stumble with good intentions, but I did do some internet research as well, just so I was heading in the right direction.

My girlfriend and I are building, creating, or otherwise putting together packages for the homeless people in our city.  We started with the idea that we enjoy making Christmas Crackers from scratch.  We made some beautiful ones last year and I thought to save all my toilet paper roles for this season.

I am excited, but I thought, others may benefit more from our giving than family.  It would be a kind gesture to hand them out to people that are left out of the underlying purpose of the holiday; which is spending time with others, family, loved ones, friends.  We want them to know they are still a part of this collective, this neighbourhood, we can humankind and we can prove it by the gift of giving.

Now, Christmas Crackers are kind of small, and I wondered what we could put inside them.  We each spent time thinking about what we might want if we were alone on the streets.  I thought some candy, for immediate joy, and my gf thought of the small travel sized toothbrushes and toothpaste.

Then friends started to suggest asking a dentist for some, and perhaps a food store for a particular item of food, like nuts for a healthy treat.  Then I thought, it might be a good idea to go on-line and see if there are lists provided by homeless agencies, and sure enough, there are.

In my city, Victoria, BC, Canada, there is a Not For Profit agency called The Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness, and they manage ‘Project Connect‘, which is exactly that; a way to connect with the homeless.  Here its what they say about it:

“Each fall the Coalition puts on Project Connect, a one-day service and information fair for those experiencing homelessness and extreme poverty. Attendees receive a BBQ lunch and a wide range of free services, including; care packs, medical attention, ID replacement, haircuts, pet care and much more.”

They also indicate all the items they collect for the care packages.  That’s all I needed to see, to be informed on what is needed.  Here is the list:

Most Needed Items:
  • socks
  • gloves & mittens
  • toques and scarves
  • razors
  • toothbrushes, toothpaste & floss
  • travel-sized hygiene products (shampoo, lotion, shaving cream, etc.)
  • deodorant
  • nail clippers & files
Also Required:
  • combs and small brushes
  • lip balm
  • Q-tips
  • feminine hygiene products
  • dog & cat food
  • toilet paper
  • band-aids
  • non-perishable snacks (granola bars, juice boxes, etc.)
  • USB flash drives
  • pens, pencils, notepads

Pretty interesting to see what is needed: functional items, personal hygiene.  We are just your normal everyday people that are trying to do something to help those in need.  They are our kindred spirits and we need to acknowledge their existence and look them in the eye and say “hello”.  So, as you can see, many of the items are bigger than a Christmas Cracker, so we are up scaling to a cigar box size, and wrapping that in a bandanna or scarf, so there is no wrapping paper waste.

Do you have any boxes or items you can send our way?  Just give us a comment, if so.

If you feel uncomfortable with actually getting face to face with the homeless there is still a ton of things you can personally do, to help.  Here are but a few:

  1. Donate to the local food bank.  Often the local grocery store will have small donation slips that you can add to your bill in their support.
  2. Attend a charity function where the proceeds go to charity, or a food bank, or not for profit organisation.
  3. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or local church on the days that they provide food for the homeless.  This is a welcoming experience and eye opening one if it is your first time.
  4. Donate funds directly to the organisation of your choice.  They can leverage cash funds with matching grants and donations, so it goes farther than us donating objects.
  5. Become involved in activities and events that need like-minded people to donate time.  Many of the events that are put on throughout the year, to raise awareness and donations run solely on volunteer effort.

Here are some of the local service providers in Victoria.  It’s worth a look to even just take a quick look in to each one to understand their role in the community.  They offer a broad range of topics, not just homelessness:

Societies and Services:

Information:

My aim with this post is simply to spread the word about the vulnerable society that we see every day.  they are a part of us, and we need to acknowledge them as such.

May you become just a little bit more enlightened about how you could potentially assist them, or learn more about them in your own community.  A hero knows who sits at the side, who is at the edge of society, and that the rights of everyone are worth fighting  for.

 

One Step, Two Step, Aha!

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The plodding nature of immense frozen sheets of ice, so thick and heavy, carving out rock like butter to make wondrous landscapes when they recede.   This is akin to the process of self learning.

We focus in on an issue and cover it with the pressing nature of our probing mind.  In to every crevice we push, discern, thrust, and as we inch forward we progress.  Sometimes we make significant progress, and sometimes we do not, and may get pushed back, melting.

When an “Aha” moment happens, it’s as if we see the entire valley we carved out from a plane looking down at 30,000 feet.  We understand the big picture, we get the connection with other ‘valleys’ of self scrutiny.

I had a weekend that highlighted an Aha moment for me recently.  I fell in to an old habit of mine, quite gradually, and after about a month of this activity felt physically sloth-like.  After a challenging couple of weeks prepping for classes and marking assignments, and with my gf being away, I found myself drawn more and more to sitting back watching movies.

This doesn’t sound so bad, right?  Well, when I get in to a habit like this I tend not to eat very well. I might get some snacks like chips or pop and much away while filling my brain with all sorts of information.  You see, I rationalized this by essentially keeping to documentaries.  It wasn’t like I was watching television after all!

I watched so many documentaries on so many topics that I felt quite engaged and enlightened about many things, but inside, my body was churning what I was eating into a big mess, and I gained weight.  And I lost motivation to be active, which led me to watch even more shows.

Oh boy!  By the time she got back I was feeling the effects, and then I realised  that I had gone too far. I was repulsed by the fact I had reverted to my old habit and lost a lot of the good work I had done to get healthy.

This was my rationalization:

  • I was mentally fatigued after my school work, so I should rest now.
  • I deserved to rest
  • I would watch a show on Netflix the educated me
  • I wasn’t watching TV
  • This helped me to stay focused on work because I could always get up from watching it and resume my work
  • it engaged my senses by drawing me in to the show, like a virtual social atmosphere: I did not feel the effects of being alone

This is the truth:

  • mental fatigue is best wiped out by physical exercise, or even a walk
  • my body did not need to rest
  • my mind could rest while my body worked out
  • exercise gives me energy
  • I did this to escape from the idea of being alone
  • watching a show isolates me further
  • watching show after show became a cycle of diminishing desire to break the cycle

I found it quite interesting that even though I despise watching television for the advertisements, the pandering, the social perversions and junk I see programmed on there, I fell in to a trap that it creates anyway.  I was a child that was always outside, always hanging our with friends, “How did I ever get this way?”, I wondered.

I think the escapism that movies provided me as a young adult really connected with a time when every single friend I hung out with from high school moved away.  I was the only one to stay in my home town. This grew when I was an adult into a way to pass the time when I was on my own.  I had my own company, so worked from home for a few years and I became increasingly isolated.

This did not pose much of a hardship for me as I grew to enjoy my own company, but this habit probably didn’t help to introduce me to anyone new in my life.  Why was it so difficult to meet people I often wondered!

Watching movies that engage your mind, your senses, your thoughts, seems so nice, playful, acceptable, but it has what I call ‘sleeper’ effects on our mind and body.  first, we find it easier and easier to turn on the screen and select a show to watch, and next we slowly erode the desire to do anything else.

It’s like putting a lobster into a warming pot of water.  it won’t jump out or scream, or shuffle, it will simply allow itself to be cooked to death by the slow increase in water temperature.  that’s what i was doing.  By engaging the media with my mind and consciousness, I was allowing the other aspect of my brain to take over control of my body.  this included feeding it whatever I desired at the time, with little or no forethought.

The great thing about this whole Aha revelation is that I finally saw the connection of why I was falling in to that trap and the effect it wrought on me in such a short time.  I was also aware of the steps I needed to take to reverse the damage.

I now walk every night right after dinner.  this is essential to get away from that feeling of being satiated at dinner.  being that it is a bit brisk outside, it wakes me up from my warm apartment atmosphere and invigorates me!  I come back with a feeling of wanting to do something, not wanting to watch something.

I also see the need to get back to exercising in the gym, especially now that winter is setting in.  going in the morning, especially with my gf with me, helps to motivate me for the entire day.  we love working out together and we start to feel the results after just one week!

As I type this the computer screen is unplugged in front of me with a picture of the meditative chakras in front of it; a reminder to mind the mind so to speak.  Just doing that one simple thing, requiring me to plug in the screen to watch a show can help myself be conscious about getting in to a habit.2014-11-24 22.48.28

Did you ever read the 20 second rule?  Essentially it says that if you bring something close to you, within a 20 second grasp of it, like an instrument you want to practice, you are way more likely to actually practice it.  If we use the reverse of that logic and make the object of our bad habit over 20 seconds away, I believe we are much more likely to break it.  That’s what unplugging the screen does, and it worked!

So here’s the lesson: many of us don’t consider ourselves addicts at all.  as a matter of fact, when we hear the word ADDICT, we think of the homeless, drug addicts, alcoholics, and criminals, but definitely NOT us.

Wrong.

Inside of us are many addictive behaviours that we keep hidden, especially from our selves or our scrutiny of self.  It’s so much easier to simply ignore them than to deal with them, then we might actually have to admit that we are an addict, or we have some behaviours that would be better served if we treated them with some positive reinforcement, or God forbid we aren’t perfect in everything we do!

Labeling someone an addict only serves to separate them from us.  that’s the EGO talking.  What if we simply used another word for our behaviour?  What if we said that we exhibit a ‘gravitation’ toward X, or doing Y ‘pulls’ us.  It’s softer, and has no evil connotation, but reveals the truth of the matter.  If you try to escape the gravity of Earth, good luck!  It can feel just that daunting for many of us.

I don’t know the answer, but just starting the dialog to say, hey, I have some of that behaviour inside me that I need to fix too.  I am like you and you are like me and by looking at our similarities instead of our differences, we can start to get real about just where we are at.

I hope this helps to shed some light on many of the things that we might do to escape, or even to control situations that outside of the accepted notion of being ‘addicted’.  Here are some other behaviours that could indicate that some self reflection might do some good:

  • morning coffee routine
  • getting that tea at your local shop
  • working out
  • working at the office
  • a high degree of vigilance over one thing
  • watching television every night after dinner
  • plugging in to video games

Our society promotes some behaviours, like smoking and drinking, by the amount we see in mainstream advertising and media.  We can become social outcasts by NOT doing these in some circles.  Being clear on what is good for us, and why, is a real confidence booster when we consider who is in ultimate control of our decisions.

If there was ever a need for heroic insight, it is when we reflect on our actions and see if we hide any of them from ourselves.  Be the hero we all want in our own lives by consciously looking at the actions we may do off the cuff, when we stop thinking, and simply do by rote.

May you see all your foibles, warts and all, and love yourself more for being able to see them.  Stay real.

 

 

 

It’s In The Eyes, isn’t it?

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bsclosingshotHave you ever wandered down the street and glanced over at a person that is, say, across the street, and you see them look toward you and you Know they are looking right in to your eyes?  It seems weird we get a sense that someone is looking at us at the exact moment we look at them, too.  This happens usually when we don’t want to be noticed, and all of a sudden people are noticing us whenever we look their way.  How delightful!

But seriously, it can be kind of eerie when we look at someone from a distance and we can feel them look around and lock on to our gaze.  It does something.  Registers a ‘locked on target’ message to our brain.  How did they do that?  Or maybe we felt someone looking our way, and we turned and blam-o, there was someone looking at us!  Eerie!

The energies our brain gives off are so much a mystery to us, but I know it does it.  We are connected on some level that is beyond the cognitive.

eye-contact-300x210I was very uncomfortable the first time someone would look in my eyes.  It was an invasion of sorts to me.  I felt very vulnerable when anyone did it.  This was when I was a child, but the feeling was still with me into adulthood.  I slowly started to get over this only recently, probably after I started speaking in a Toastmasters club.  In that, they teach you to look at people around the crowd, your fellow members, and seek their eyes.  I found that if I held a moment with them just enough to register a ‘moment’, an ‘emotion’ then I would have made a connection.

eye-contact-true-feelingsFor some people it is a register of respect to look them in the eyes.  To others, and perhaps in other countries with other traditions, I can imagine it registers the opposite, or has an entirely different meaning.

When I was a youngster I would watch television with the volume very low so I would not disturb my parents in the early morning.  As I did this, I would become more and more capable with lip reading.  Naturally, as I grew up, I would read lips, or at least look at them, more than the eyes, go get what I considered a much greater sense of the emotion of the speaker, than I ever could with the eyes.

people-should-be-careful-when-lip-reading_16001011_801582368_0_0_7041710_300People would say, “the eyes are the window to the soul”, but to me they were much less a window and more of a flat painting.  The mouth, however, held so many nuances that I could tell if you were smiling even minutely, were sarcastic, if you were angry before you spoke, if your trembling lips meant you were striving to hold back an emotion.  This I could never grasp from the eyes.

I know that when I became comfortable with speaking, and more confident in my own self, I also felt more comfortable meeting another person’s gaze.  I used to think it was so personal, but I grew to understand, at least in our western culture, that it can have a respectful, serious, and even professional tone.

I began to experiment with it, and it became just another body language tool to use in communicating with others.

hepI recall when I first met my current girlfriend that she commented on how I always looked in to her eyes when she was speaking.  I can appreciate that not all women may experience that when a male is listening to them, so I took it as a compliment!

When you can get close to someone to peer in to their eyes in a non creepy way, it is an amazing instrument.  They eyes must be one of the most intricate facets of our body!  To be able to focus, register more or less light requirements, protected by eyebrows, squinting, eyelashes, and be the window that imparts images, vast images to our brain, what a wondrous device!

epv0272It is quite interesting, as I think about how important the eyes are in communicating, at how my notions of what it meant influenced how I communicated.  I wonder how many other notions I continue to hold to this day about my beliefs in how I communicate to others.

Our actions are a direct result of our beliefs, agreements, experiences, and lessons.  To become aware of different aspects of what we may do unconsciously is a gift!  I strive to become more aware of differing aspects of my behaviour whenever I can witness them.

time eyesHow do you feel about eye contact?  It is a deeply personal affectation for you, or do you believe that it is a form of respectful communication?  Did you have any preconceived notions about it when you were young that you have since changed?  I remember this picture to the left and have for many years.  It is the iconic Time Life photo that many people saw.  It sticks with you!

I know communication styles vary all over the world, and even within our western culture, it varies from person to person.  A strange thing this body language, facial expression stuff.  I bet if you got really good at it, you could read people better than they could speak their emotions to you.

There’s a TV show about that, right?

random-kid-eyesIt’s not something that we are taught in school.  We get tidbits in movies and from talking to other people and in books, but to actually put a planned expression in place whilst speaking is a skill.  I like to say that the natural emotions, happiness, joy and excitement don’t need any rehearsing.  Those are the most contagious I think!

So, do you prefer to watch: the mouth, or are you an eye talker?  As an inspiration to others, I try to look people in the eyes as much as possible, and ensure I offer a polite, yet warm and inviting facial expression, usually with a smile to anyone new that I come in to contact with.  But, as with all things human, its hard to do all the time.

Keeping detached from the outcome, emotionally secure, engaged, but not crossing a personal boundary, it seems rather an art form at times than a straight forward skill.  But, what i do know, is that we could all do with a little practice, especially when confronted by an emotionally engaging topic.

I know that I really admire those people that can keep their cool at all times, even when I might get emotionally involved in a discussion.  They are one of those heroes we never hear about and I’d like to see more of those people in the world.

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Our Fearful Grip

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With tendons tightened beyond their life’s experience, we grip.  Like a clamp, a vice, we cling to that which we know.  The unknown hangs like an Abyss, ready to swallow us whole.  Changing one hand for the other, we wiggle left and right, adjusting it, trying to save our fingers.  They’ve gone numb.  Fatigue sets in.  We can’t see beyond the darkness.  At last our fingers can grasp no more than dust sliding from knuckle to fingernail.  Slipping back, allowing the full force of gravity to hurl our bodies downward, we have absolutely no control.  Our body goes limp.

Clinging to our beliefs, ideals, old ways of life can be this threatening, this frightening.  No matter if they were good times, or bad, they were what we knew.  To chart a course for the unknown, willingly, can be the most courageous action we can make.

I used to desperately cling to relationships.  I was insecure.  I didn’t know if it would last.  I was using up all my strength gripping the edge of the rock face, that I put myself on, that I had no vision, no happiness for the beautiful life I was capable of leading.  I couldn’t see myself in all that mess, all I could see was the final act.

Naturally, it came.  I sought it out and it manifested itself.  The relationships died as soon as I feared them.

We have many relationships in life.  Some that are good for us, and some that are not so good.  One aspect that has always intrigued me is the ability of a new relationship to blind me.

I would become blind to the detrimental aspect it would have on me.  I couldn’t see that I would be starting a new relationship exactly like the last one…and that didn’t end up so well.  Why can’t I see it?  “I want to see it from the start!”, I yell at myself.

Perhaps it is because when anyone comes this way, I am thankful that someone can see something worth liking, that I simply throw myself at them.  I accept their affectations with such reverence that I am astounded that anyone would care.

What does that say for me?  What sense of worth do I give myself if I allow just anyone to care for me, to become part of my private inner world?

It’s easy to see these types of comparisons in personal relationships, but what about other aspects of our life?  What about the company we keep?  Do we stay with friends because we have always been with them?  Is it simply time that casts a shadow over our morals, our desire for companionship that builds people up rather than tears them down?

What of my relationship with food?  Would I rather consume a bag of cookies than take the time to learn a new way of making a dinner that is easily better for me on the road to health consciousness?

What of my relationship to Nature?  Do I prefer the comfort of my apartment and vehicle over the feeling of exhilaration of the whipping wind, the crisp flight of salty ocean spray in the air, or the wondrous rabbit hole of life that a forest contains, no matter how deep you peer.

The comfort we seek is simple, dumb, lies.  Our Ego keeps us down, keeps us following tried, and tried, and tried methods with a distinct fear of the unknown.  “What is out there?”, it whispers.  “Stay the course” it shouts!  “Keep to our own”, it comforts, all the while drowning our our inner push for a meaningful existence.

Bah!  I call Bull Pucky!  Horse Flies!  Cattle Pies!

Letting go can be the most fearful, YES, but most positive experience of our short lives to date!  Who are we to prematurely put up barriers that fend off the unknown?  What if your most favourable relationship lay just out of sight, in the darkness of your vision as you see it now?  If you could see your life from a different vantage point, would you be so hasty?

The world is enormously and fantastically large, immense, grandiose, weird and exciting, but if we stay the course within the confines of our walls, our safe vehicle doors, our office cubicle, then what do you think the net effect of our life will be on the universe?  Not much I wager!  Rather, would you not like the universe to have an effect on you!?  The amount of that effect on you will be directly correlated to the amount you let go of your current life; the amount you surrender to the universe.

Like a dream that you become lucid within, acknowledge the cliff you put yourself on.  Take credit for the bubble you create for yourself, to keep you at a safe distance from all that crazy, wild life stuff on the outside.

Then banish it.

There comes a time when we can no longer wish the change we seek to come from ‘others’.  What we desire in life can come only through the actions we take.   Time to get on the field of life and play a quarter, play a period, or inning, take some chances and you just might score!

We must bring the responsibility for our mistakes, our misgivings, our comfortable relationships that continue to rob us of our self esteem back where it belongs; squarely with us and the choices we make.

How much longer can we continue to hang on that cliff?  Hong much longer must we tolerate another failure, another falling backward into the darkness?  Take control of this dream we call life, shake free from the comfortable blanket of non-action, and look the depths of the unknowing squarely.

See what happens when we still our self amidst this greyness.  Does it soften?  Can we take a step toward it?  Can we be still next to the unknown and be okay?  Isn’t it all right to not know?  That’s how discoveries are made, intellectually, and mentally, and spiritually.

Perhaps a book on healthy living, a movie, a docile step in a desired direction.  A night out to see a play, with no friends, to see if I make any.  Volunteer in something we love, and watch your passion on other people’s faces.

When we stretch ourselves, expand our circle of knowledge, we are growing in life.  When we grow in life we start to see farther and farther away from our centre.  At some point when we get the courage to turn around and face the cliff we clung to so desperately, we can see that it might have been a small gap.  By turning and facing it, expanding our sight, and realising the gap, we can step over it, and continue on a life’s worth of adventures that take us from worry to present moment awareness.

Our self worth grows, we connect more readily, we expand our own unique world and we reduce the fear in our lives.

False Events Appearing Real.  –  F.E.A.R

If you find yourself holding on, ask your self, how far do you think the floor is below me?  If you don’t know, have a look.  It may be closer than you imagine.

This post manifested because of the courageous nature of a dear person I know.  Being surrounded by change in a young person’s life can be so very daunting!  When we are able to look at our own lives, at our own patterns and see a way out that is in better alignment with who we truly are, maybe not who we have been to date, we start to imbue our soul with power from within.

It starts to look so very exciting rather than daunting, to truly taste that sip of life we never had to guts to taste before.

Be courageous enough to look around, realise the vast potential that lay within every single one of us, and step in the direction that best fits with your internal compass.

The universe awaits your calling!

Heroic History Reveals Itself in Ourselves

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History is written by the champions of conquest, the winners of wars, the last historian standing.  If we tend to believe what we read, we might be adopting a particular perception of ‘others’.  Let’s see what we can learn about hiSTORY, and the consequences of believing it in our daily life.

I have spent the day comfortably watching several documentaries about ancient civilizations, which is very intriguing to me.  It intrigues me because we have often perceived the history of one of these civilisations in our own context, and got it incredibly wrong.  Oh, how we do this every day with the people we meet!

mayanwarriorforexplorationThe Mayans were seen as a rather primitive culture before it was really understood by people who essentially lived on site and walked around the ruins for decades and unravelled the Mayan texts.  Only then could they accurately detect the meaning of their lives and uncover important aspects of their lives.  What was written about that culture up to that time was speculation, interpretation, and opinion; and it was all wrong.  This was a civilisation that created a very accurate calendar, a complex and playful written language where one phonetic sound could be represented by several different pictorial images.  Imagine reading a word when the sounds it makes could be depicted in many different ways!

Xerxes_I,_the_Great,_King_of_PersiaThe ancient Xerxes the Great of Persia conquered Greece and burnt the Acropolis in an attempt to show domination and retribution for what it considered insolent behaviour within it’s realm.  This only succeeded in creating a burning desire to conquer Persia, which Alexander the Great did, then he translated all the books within Persepolis, then burnt them.  When Greek texts talk about the Persian kings, they did so invoking a certain lens through which they viewed them at the time, perhaps calling them cowardly kings.  I am sure Alexander the Great was not called ‘the Great” in Persian texts!

All I know is that when we strip the bias from the interpretations and start to piece together history from various sources, we start to understand the politics and dynamics of the day. It would be hard to be a ‘coward’ king in any time when you were expected to ride in to battle, brave assassination attempts from your family, and lead entire nations from your deeds and actions.  Certainly your reign would be brief.

Suppression of facts and the creation of stories to conform to your way of thinking, your political view point, your national story, is all in the powers of those that conquer others, and it still goes on to this day.

We see differing histories of the Civil War, depending on the side of the battle they were on.  Different accounts of the world wars, of third world skirmishes, domination attempts by particular leaders.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat we know, is that each ruler attempted to do something they , as an individual thought was worthy of them self and by extension their nation.  In 221 B.C. Qin Shi Huang united the various warring kingdoms to create what we consider the first united China.  He is perhaps best known for the Terra Cotta Warriors that were buried with him presumably to serve as his army in the afterlife.  His rule only lasted 12 years, but is spawned the very stable and golden age of China with the Han Dynasty.  I would expect that during the conquests made by Qin Shi Huang at the time were ones that seemed drastic, despotic, and brutal, but it’s hard to say that his vision of a united nation was not worthy of his efforts.

What can we say about other people when they try their hardest to live up to they vision they hold for them self and their country?  My point in this comparison between what we ‘know’ about history, and what really happened, is that we may never know the truth of the matter because we weren’t there, but what remains the same, time after time, across all regions of this earth, is this: one side is demonized while the victor is held blameless.

After understanding conflicts across the pages of history, from many sources we can piece together common aspects of war.  They were simply clashes of idealism, of visions that the leaders had, or conflicts between people who created new, different ideas about what their national identity should be.

These people, on both sides of the conflict were brave, provided leadership to the masses of people that chose to follow them, and they did it not just for themselves, but for what they perceived as their nation.

Okay, so what?  This is where I look at my life today and I think, man, what am I doing for my country?  What ideal am I living today?  Am I a follower or a leader?

sheeple-1bI was raised to be a follower, like like most of you.  I can see the plan of a stable nation is to foster the growth of ‘sheeple’, people that follow the crowd and work in the factory of consumerism, or whatever drives the society.  But that isn’t who I am inside.

I am slowly, by consistently developing a sense of self that I wilfully gave away, or ignored in my indulgence for knowledge outside of myself, and now I am getting it back.

What history of others in conflict teaches me is that when I take that lesson, that people are just people, and on both sides of the story could be a well meaning ruler just doing what they see as ‘best’ for their nation, I wonder about the conflict we see today.  Not between nations, but between people.

There is judgement in the eyes of everyone these days it seems.  Labels come rampant from our mouths to distance ‘them’ from me.  You are homeless, you are addicted, you are gay, you are poor.

When we label, we do so to make a distinction between you and I.  You are this, because I am that.

We are all unique creatures on this planet, and within our neighbourhoods and what runs through my mind is the culmination, at that very instant, of all of my beliefs, experiences, and teachings.  And what goes through your mind at that exact instant is the same for you.  And if we should interact, we will have a difference of perception, that is guaranteed.

What you say will not be what I hear, and vice versa.  But we can minimise the difference if we escape judgement, if we suspend that act of labelling and if we remain open to interpretation by allowing dialogue to ensue when we don’t understand or if we think we decide something about that person.

Being a hero in this respect means not being duped by taking the history we were all taught as gospel.  There is your view of history and there is my view of history, and somewhere in the middle is the truth.

When we meet new people on our journey of life it would help us to remember this.  There is your view of who I am and there is my view of who you are, and neither is correct.  How can it be so?  Can we determine, just by outward appearance all that you are, or even ‘enough’ of who you are to fit a category?

homelessThe homeless person you meet scouring garbage cans may have the most brilliant mind because he reads constantly all the newspapers he collects, and listens ear pressed to the radio every night about news broadcasts.  Why he remains in the transient state is a personal choice, and we can not fault any for choosing it.

Others that we might initially judge as somehow ‘lesser’ than us may be living the most enlightened experience because they are grateful for everything they receive.  They love everyone they come across.  They give freely to all they deem less fortunate than themselves.

If only we could be so generous, so kind, so loving, so genuine, so free of judgement, so free of spirit, and forget any and all words that we could ever use as a label.  Then I could call us civilised.  then I could call myself a part of a nation that I would care about.

That’s the kind of society I want to be a part of creating.  That’s the kind of nation I want to build, because when I meet you on my journey of life, what kind of conflict would we have?  I think the Dalai Lama captured what kind of conflict we might have right here:

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There is no room for conflict when we stop judging.

Super Slow Sunday

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There is a lot of activity in a week, work, house maintenance, relationships, family commitments and responsibilities, school, homework, health, and the list goes on.  they can all start to take their toll on us if we don’t get something back from doing each of these tasks. There are some other things that I make an effort doing through the week that actually give something back.   When I expend energy doing them I feel invigorated, refreshed, recharged, and it’s a great time to spend alone or with friends, and I try to do it once a week.

I think the the idea to save one day during the week as a time for slowing down is a good idea for many reasons:

  1. It gives our mind a chance to reflect on what has happened throughout the week.  We can reflect on many things with that, like our behaviour, our actions, what we gave back to the community, to our friends and family, and to our self.silent-water-i-britt-myrli
  2. We can name what we are grateful for.  there are so many things we can be grateful for, like family, friends, our loved ones, pets, our health, our passion, the problems we have overcome, the blessings in our life, the ability to think past our own problems, the fact that we care, our unbounded love, our lack of judgement, our support, or the support we receive, our compassion, understanding and respect.  If we aren’t those things, we can be grateful for noticing, and start again.what-if-today-we-were-just-grateful-for-everything
  3. We can spend time thinking of others.  Our minds are connected on some level and if we think positively about a person in need, who are we to say that won’t help?  Wouldn’t you like to know someone thought of you this week?  stick-family
  4. Let someone know you are thinking of them.  A great old fashioned way of doing this is by writing them a letter.  I would love to have a set of special paper that I use for writing letters and a great pen.  It calls to me sometimes and when I can smell the paper and put pen to it, who knows what I will write.  If you aren’t up to that task, why now pick up the phone and call them.Fountain-Pen-With-Letter-350x235
  5. Commune with Nature.  Just stepping outside your door where you can smell the damp earth, or snow, frost, dry, or wet as your case may be, can evoke some senses within us, maybe even some memories.  If you can’t go outside, how about trimming a planted pot.  Bonsai trees are quite an art, and having in indoor herb garden must take some time to tend as well.  Caring for something other than ourselves makes us humble, and that is a good quality.nature-waterfall-timeline-covernature-timeline-cover-
  6. Find silence.  Most of every day we are surrounded by sounds, but more often than not, they are just noise.  Take some time to put some noise cancelling headphones on, but don’t turn on any music, or keep it very low, lilting, and soft.  See if you can lower the temperament of the mind to that of a meditative state.  Use of a guided meditation may help you get there if you can’t do it on your own.silence-speaks-79426-500-550
  7. Do something for yourself.  It might be eating out at your favourite restaurant, or going to the market, or buying a book, and all three are great excuses to bring a friend.  If money is tight, how about taking a book to a place where you can read it in comfort, like your favourite chair, coffee shop, or beach.  ???????????????????????????????????
  8. Although we think going to the gym might be something you want to avoid on a quiet day, the after effects of exercise are very refreshing and the serotonin released is quite a good feeling.roses-are-red-violets-are-blue-go-to-the-gym-094335
  9. Practice a new skill: like Origami.  Quiet a complex set of paper folding fun can be had, and it will amuse your friends.  I find that when I am engrossed in a task that is fairly straight forward, and simply requires my time, I can get in to that meditative-like state of mind where time disappears and I become quite zen-like.  whether it is practice with a musical instrument, a mind task like crosswords or Sudoku, a simple task to set your mind to can be quite enjoyable.yoda-origami

There are so many things to do on a Sunday, or whatever your day off is, that are enjoyable, social, and reflective.  These types of activities are good for our soul and a treatment against the somewhat less holistic or soul stimulating weeks we might find ourselves in during the other days.

When I was growing up Sunday morning was chores time for the whole family!  There was no sleeping in, and everyone pitched in.  We cleaned everything, did all the dishes, laundry, outside yard, inside washing…everything was done right.  Afterward, when it was all done, we knew we had a reason to stop and relax.  A lot of times, after I had been outside for what was left of the afternoon we would have dinner then watch a nature documentary on TV.  We all sat around as a family and just enjoyed it.  I miss that.  Do you still carry on the traditions you held to as a child?

I hope you are able to stop, relax, and breathe deeply at least once a week.  I know it helps me maintain a balance between work, play, relationships, and personal growth and I bet you would miss it if you didn’t take that time.

What do you do on your day off?  Even heroes need a day off.80s-life-quotes

We Are Transformers

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Transformation

trans·for·ma·tion
ˌtran(t)sfərˈmāSH(ə)n/
noun
  1. a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance.
    “its landscape has undergone a radical transformation”
    synonyms: change, alteration, mutation, conversion, metamorphosis,transfiguration, transmutation, sea change;

    remodeling, reshaping, redoing, reconstruction,rebuilding, reorganization, rearrangement, reworking, renewal,revamp, remaking, remake;
    informaltransmogrification, morphing
    • a metamorphosis during the life cycle of an animal.

Hmmm.  I’ve been thinking about this word today and what it means, from the less obvious perspective.  Less about appearance and more about perspective.  In my journey of observing our human nature from the less obvious positive traits that we often take for granted, or simply don’t see, I am being transformed.  In my quest for betterment of self, I am slowly transforming my perspective about life, my journey through it, and who I am.

Transformation in life is an iterative process.  If you don’t learn from the lesson that is presented before you, don’t worry, it will continue to show itself to you until you do.  Once you do, you are on to the next, and it never ends.

I keep getting this sense that a key element of life is about transformation.  One of the aspects of this that I continue to see thematically is the Hero’s Journey.  I’ve written about that aspect earlier in this article A Time for a Change.

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I see this everywhere.  Whenever we accomplish something, learn something, overcome an obstacle, we are going through the hero’s journey.  This is where we triumph over an issue and then are changed from that experience to bring that new knowledge back to our lives and share it with others.

I have to share with you something that has been on my mind since I saw this show called  Nature: The Gathering of Swarms.  Today is a day off and I have been watching quite a few documentaries.  I put this one on because I like to relax to a voice on nature shows.  Something about my childhood I expect; we watched quite a few on the weekend as a family as I recall.

Anyway, my first thought was ‘a movie is being made about swarms?  What a silly thing to make a show about.’  Then it blew my mind!

Talk about transformation: one icon for transformation is the butterfly, and in this show it talked about the Monarch butterfly and its journey from North America to Mexico during the winter and back up, all within a year.  What I didn’t realize is that it took four generations to make that journey!  Four generations!  They are all headed toward a place where they have never been!  They all converge on this one small location where they hang off the trees that they prefer.

monarch-butterflies-mexico_28112_990x742You see, they only live about 8 weeks in total, so the butterflies that make the journey to Mexico are several generations removed from the ones that came back already.  Just how the heck do they know where to go?  It’s not like any of their friends are alive and can tell them.  They live this cycle year after year.

To me, it makes a good case for ‘something’ after death.  Death is such an inconvenient word.  The meaning of which is derived from the living, naturally.  Therefore it seems somewhat inadequate when I compare it to this creature.  How can they die, and yet still transmit the signal of where to go on their annual migration?  It seems as though the death of the material body has really no effect on their species as a whole, it’s just inconvenient.

If death is defined by the living, then we really only know one side of the story.  I realize that makes perfect sense considering the topic.  What this does for me is show some concrete evidence for ‘something’ outside of what we normally refer to as death.  We may even have to refine what it is that they do, because it doesn’t seem as if they really die, does it?  Perhaps they simply continue to transform.

There are so many of these types of mysteries.  Many are discussed in Deepak Chopra’s book titled Life After Death.  Here are some:

  • Desert birds living by the Grand Canyon bury thousands of pine nuts in widely scattered locations along the canyon rim. They retrieve this stored food during the winter, returning precisely to the nuts each one buried and finding them under a deep layer of snow
  • Salmon born in a small stream that feeds the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest swim out to sea. After several years spent roaming vast distances of ocean, they return to spawn at the precise place where they were born, never winding up in the wrong stream
  • Identical twins hundreds or thousands of miles apart have immediately sensed the moment when their sibling died in an accident.
  • Once a year at the full moon several million horseshoe crabs emerge together on one beach to mate. They have answered the same call, from depths of the ocean where no light ever penetrates.

These are just some of the mysteries of Nature, of which we are a part.  Sometimes I think that we have specialized ourselves too much, so we can’t see the big picture.  We have spent too much time away from Nature to be humbled by it, or even see the wonderful journeys and interactions of other species.  I think if we did understand Nature a little bit better it might tell us a bit more about us.

Naturally, I start to think about human death, as we typically define it.  Since we are educated about death, from the perspective that it is the end, that is how it is looked upon.  I say we, but really I mean me.  I see it that way, because that is what I was lead to believe, even though I was exposed to other perspectives, there just wasn’t anything to support the theory that there was anything after life except faith.  Now, after seeing this show, I can see that there must be ‘something’ after what we consider to be the end.

It is comforting to know that no matter what I may suffer in the last second of life, and hopefully any earthly suffering lasts no more than that, it is simply a change of state.  The energy that lives within me moves elsewhere, and my essence with it.  Perhaps I become a speck of dust in the universe, perhaps I become some other life form on another planet, or I transform into another creature, or human being.  I don’t know, but I think there’s a good case that whatever my essence is, it doesn’t die.

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Authentic Langauges

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Language Dictionary-thumb-360x239-26Language.  What is it?

the method of human communication, either spoken or written, consisting of the use of words in a structured and conventional way.

But what are words?

a word is the smallest element that may be uttered in isolation with semantic or pragmatic content (with literal or practical meaning).

And the philosophy of meaning?

The nature of meaning, its definition, elements, and types, was discussed by philosophers Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas. According to them “meaning is a relationship between two sorts of things: signs and the kinds of things they mean (intend, express or signify)”. One term in the relationship of meaning necessarily causes something else to come to the mind.

ASLWhy am I interested in defining something that we use every day?  We think in language.  We speak in our language.  We imply with body language.  We may even use sign language.  Language and the way we express it determines how effective and successful we are at passing our idea, or meaning, from one person to another.

What I am particularly interested in is how we talk within our mind; how we talk to our self.

Using a language, that we presumably learned years ago as a child, will typically determine the mindset we have with ourself, won’t it?  I mean that seems to make sense to me.  If that’s how we communicate with others, then that’s how we communicate with ourselves, right?

Perhaps.

Where does our gut feelings fit in to this?  That’s a way of communicating too.  The way I look at gut feelings is this:

Our brain visually receives light through our eyes in the full spectrum of colour and in our total field of view, just like a camera lens.  However, it takes in so much information that our minds can only process a small fraction of the information the brain gathers every moment.  It’s like looking through a pinhole at the world: where you focus, where you put your mind, is how you see the world.  If you can only see that portion of what your mind is processing for you, then what aren’t you seeing?

Our brain fills in the missing pieces based on our experience, our past, and on our beliefs.  Have you ever looked quickly at something, a glance in a particular direction, and thought you saw something, then you returned your gaze earnest to see the real image and what you thought you saw  was no longer there.  What does that say about the accuracy of what we see, and the subsequent feelings about it?  What of the stories we tell ourselves based on that pinhole picture?  Can we believe them?

But here’s what I am getting at: our brain gets the whole picture, but our mind can’t process it all.  However, because our brain has connections to our body, if there was something in that big picture that was missed in the focussed processing of the mind, but would have an emotional impact on us if we did focus on it, our body will have a reaction.  I mean, our brain still saw it, but we just weren’t focussing on it.  That’s the gut feeling about something.  We’ve all had that at some point.

For example, you decided to walk a slightly different route to the store you regularly go to.  You mused at the fact you walked around the building in a different way this time.  Why?  You didn’t give it much thought, but you were enjoying the difference.  Then you realised it was being held up, robbed, and the perpetrators had fled just before you got to the door.  Why did you walk that different way?  Was it something out of the corner of your eye that you brain caught, but your mind was busy thinking about something else?

Could it be that your brain actually saw what was happening and directed your body to take a different route?.  Just a quick processing request…your mind was busy doing other things to refuse.  Then the police ask to hypnotize you and they find a load of information about the descriptions of the criminals.  You spotted them getting out of a truck, before this all happened, and they got the license plate number out of your brain!

I don’t know if that can actually happen, but I think the brain sees more than we are aware of, and that’s my point.

Now, what if we are talking to ourself in our language, the same language we learned so long ago, but we can’t seem to find the right words to define how we feel, or what we want.  Maybe we just haven’t learned how to use our language in that manner.  I mean we didn’t spend a lot of time on that subject in school, or if we did, we’ve forgotten all about it now, and our feelings have become a tad more complicated that just sad, happy, and angry.

So, back to the point: if we are using this thing called language to talk to ourself, and we haven’t learned how to ‘enhance’ it enough to tell ourself exactly what we mean, or express ourself in a manner that matched how we fell, then what good is it?

Consider all the times you miscommunicated to your partner, your workmate, your child.  How could they get such a different interpretation from what we said?

Words are just symbols, one or more characters that project a meaning, but that meaning comes from each of our own pasts, experiences and beliefs.  That part we don’t transfer in our language to one another.  It’s like trying to run a program in different operating systems, and everyone has their own custom operation system.  will it run?  Maybe, but it will likely be corrupted and mean something different to each person we say it to.

But, there is a salvation.  Well, there are three options as I see it:

  1. We could keep talking, keep explaining what we mean, until by blunt force they get exactly what we mean…or close enough until they tell us to shut the hell up.
  2. We can expand our vocabulary in an area of expression, meaning, and context, so we can define what we say more eloquently, or
  3. We can talk about our feelings, our intentions, and the meaning behind our words.  We can express ourself in a manner befitting our words with our body, and exude the emotion to match it.

I personally like options 2&3.  I think it would make a great double whammy!  Imagine talking to a person and they look you in the eyes and you ‘feel’ what they are telling you.  They are so authentic in what they say that you immediately grasp the concept.  There is a difference in hearing the word, and understanding or feeling the message.

Our language, if that’s all we use, can be so limited.  It may only get the skeleton of our message, and therefore our true meaning, across to the recipient.  And what if we are talking to ourself?  Do we give ourself the time to dive i to the attached feelings of what we tell ourselves.  Do we explore that, and allow it to come to the surface?

Our brain knows so much about us, but I feel that we often keep all that dirty, messy, information locked away in the basement.  We want to be clean, normal, happy all the time, and show our programmed face in front of others.

Yesterday we talked about being real, being ourself, and really not being afraid to show our human side.  That isn’t always the best side of us, but guess what, it’s authentic!  And if you want someone to care about the real you, you damn well better be authentic and real about who you are!

A typical hero, as defined by society, movies, books, popular media is courageous, charismatic, fearless, and perfect, but an atypical ‘real’ hero is:

  • sometimes scared of revealing too much but shows you how they feel anyway,
  • tells you what you mean to them,
  • expresses their opinion in the face of potential ridicule,
  • stands up for others,
  • doesn’t take things personally knowing we all have our own beliefs, and experiences that give meaning to language, and best of all
  • knows who they are: making them comfortable in the messy emotions, feelings, and imperfections we all have.

Think about the language we use to talk to others, and how we talk to ourselves.  Are we being authentic?  Are we getting our meaning, our intention across?  Are we looking them in the yes and feeling what we say?

When we can say yes, we will be talking from the heart and more people will start to understand us.  And when we allow our feelings to be attached to our personal mind talking sentiments, and we allow our love of self to enter in to our little chats in our head box, maybe we won’t be so hard on ourself all the time.

Just a thought…might be worth trying anyway…

Even Atlas Gets Tired

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atlasThe efforts we carry on our shoulders can weigh us down some days.  There are those days when everything is an effort, when each step requires effort and we think how easy the day would be if we could just crawl back to bed.

Sometimes if I have been working on a particular task for a few days, maybe marking a bunch of papers from one class, or prepping for that class, and I start dreaming about Hydrology equations and how I can engage the class…I can see I need a break.  It starts to dominate all my thoughts to the detriment of any others.  I start to get those blinkers on that focus my vision and I need to step back and see the big picture, which happens to include having a life.

I am better than I used to be.  I now make sure that after a couple of hours of work I take a break for me and watch a stand up comedy or read one of my books.  It’s me time and then I don’t mind hitting the class task once more.

tired_kidThat’s psychological tiredness, but what about those days when your body is just tired, right from the start?  This is what I have noticed for me: if I wake up at say 4:30am and proceed to tell myself it’s too early, go back to bed and get up at 6am, I am essentially forcing my body to rest some more.  It doesn’t want to rest, it wants to get up.  But if I consciously tell it to sleep, I am giving my body a message: ‘shut down’.  ‘Take a break everyone, the Boss Man said to stop working’.

6amIt’s no wonder that I am tired when I try to wake up at 6am, even though I got more sleep, it just seems that I am way more tired and my body is no longer responding.  I often think I should just get up!  I mean, why not right?  There might be other people in your house that you don’t want to wake up, but if there is a place you can go to read, make some tea, or listen to a meditation with headphones on, it just might serve you better than forcing your bod to stay in bed.

I know when I get up early, for whatever reason, I have more energy that day.  My mind starts going right away and it just seems natural; the flow is ON.  There are days when you just can’t fight the body.

Then, there are days when you slept wonderfully, but guess what, you are still a slug during the day, OR things just are not flowing for you.  I’ve had a couple of those days.  Today, in fact, I thought all was going great, but then on my way out of my office I lost my headphones I use to listen to my music while I walk.  They are just the earbud type, and had them around my neck, but they fell off of me before I hit the trail to walk home.  Bummer.

lostEven though I retraced my steps right back to my office, they were gone, and they were brand new.  Oh well, right?  Nothing I can do about that.  I just hope that either somebody put them in lost and found, or they are getting the pleasure of listening to their music with them.  I will check the L&F tomorrow.

Sometimes I look for a reason in actions: did I deserve that?  Is it Karma?  Did I do something wrong?  Then I realise I am making stories and I just let it go.  It is what it is.  Detaching from many of the events that trigger thoughts or story making is a huge tool we can all use to let the events that happen roll off our backs.  we often perceive them as happening to us, rather than just happening.  We make the story all about us, put us as the main character, when usually we are just a bystander.  That’s just what our brain does automatically.

As long as we notice it, we can shut that story down.

When a popular person tweets or otherwise gives an honest appraisal of their day, or their struggles, it humanizes them.  It levels the playing field so to speak.  We have this tendency to put them up on a bit of a platform, higher than ourselves, when they are just people, like you and I, and have many of the same inane brain talk that we do every day.

I saw this post from a female bodybuilder, Dana Linn Bailey, that I follow on Facebook.  Normally she is all about motivation, but today was slightly different.  It read:

This morning I sat here trying to talk myself into to getting my butt on#StanleytheStairmill … Today was a struggle. I’ve been struggling a lot more often lately. I have good days and I have days where I am clearly unmotivated to do anything. I’ve been really relaxed with my diet trying to give myself a break, because I felt very burnt out after a long 16 week prep and year round dieting last year…I just needed to be normal for a little bit. It makes it hard to be motivated some days because i am taking a break and I am not in “show mode.”

Today I had so many excuses not to get up and do cardio…I am sick, I have no energy, I did not sleep well last night, I’ll do it later, I can skip today, it’s off-season… I would be lying to you if I said I woke up every day in#BeastMode with The Rocky soundtrack playing in the back ground just owning that stairmill and killing my training session, and sticking to my diet 100%… But no, I’m not really doing any of the above right now…

I’m not really sure what I’m trying to get out of this post, but maybe to show you I am a HUMAN, and I do break down occasionally…we all fall off sometimes, and that OKAY!! Life is NOT about being PERFECT ALL the TIME!! Life is about falling down and your steps to getting back up.

Today, even though it took everything I had to get on that today… I see this morning as an accomplishment. I told myself just 20 mins which is half of what I normally do… After 20 I’ll see how I feel… I got to 20 and then added on another 15 mins… Even though this definitely was not most intense cardio session ever… I fucking did it! And that is an accomplishment in itself…#iamhuman

This brings it all down to perspective.  We all have our challenges.  We all face certain things every day, or every once in a while, and that’s ok.  If we are emotional, down, unhappy, grumpy, or just plain unmotivated, it’s all right.  It’s part of the human experience.  It makes us appreciate the good days that much more right?

its-ok-to-not-be-okIt allows us to ponder the feelings we get on this day, and see if there is anything going on.  Maybe it will just get us in the mood to write, to journal, to pen a poem or two, or feel some feelings that need to be felt in that moment.  The solace we grant ourselves can be a great gift!

Here’s the thing…when we feel down and unmotivated to do pretty much anything that we have tasked ourselves with, and we want to crawl in to bed, and turn off the light, and tuck our selves in very tightly clutching our body pillow, BUT we only do it for 30 seconds.  We toss back those covers because we know we need to get up.  We stumble in to the shower because we need to catch that bus.  We get to the gym, grumpy as all heck, but we are there.  We have done something wonderful already!

We know that if we get past this wall, this hurdle, no matter how we get over it, we will feel better for it.  We will conquer this thing pulling us to the ground.  When we do, we know that we will have accomplished a great deal more than just what we planned for our self.  We will have conquered ourselves.  We have surmounted the lack of will or power, or diminished mental acuity we requested of our mind.

Even if that’s all we did, if we just maintained our selves, got our of bed, went to work, we DID something that day.  We didn’t give in.  We soldiered on.  That’s a heroic achievement!  Truly, it sometimes takes more effort to combat our mind than it does to conquer any other external event.

The-biggest-obstacles-in-our-lives-are-the-barriers-our-mind-creates.If you didn’t get out of bed, if you feel like you failed in some way, don’t be disheartened.  Even warriors fail, stumble, and fall.  But this is what they do after that happens: they get back up.  They rise to the challenge one more time; every next time.

Be the warrior and get ‘grim’ on your weakness.  Raise your fist at this sense of lack and fight back.  You have it inside of you.  I know you do because sometimes that’s exactly what I need, to get a bit mad at myself, to motivate me to do what I told myself I would do.  Maybe others depend on me to do it.  Maybe others are watching me, seeing if I will make it.

If my mind can come up with so many excuses why I should not do something, I can also turn it around and put it to task to tell me all the reasons why I need to do it.  It’s a powerful thing this mind!

Use it to your advantage and be proud of all the accomplishments you have done in just one day.  Sometimes we just need to recognize we got our of bed on a day that would have held many others down, and THAT’s being your own Hero!

Invisible Heroes

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I went to work on Monday and I was happy to get there early.  I have the use of my girlfriend’s vehicle, so I drove part way in.  It still took me 30 minutes to walk the rest of the way.  The rain was coming down like a drizzle, just enough to make you wet after a few minutes but not really enough for an umbrella.  I felt prepared for my classes and was eager to get to my office.

Then it hit me, I used my girlfriend’s keys to drive…and left my office keys at home.  There goes all my extra time!  I now had to turn around, just when I got to campus and walk back to the car, then go home, grab the keys and start this journey all over again!  Sigh…What a Monday!

puppy-pic138I turned around and started my walk back to the car, passing the maintenance man that I see every morning.  We usually exchange pleasantries and chat about this or that regarding the building and how it was constructed and how it is now used.  A good guy.

I was walking outside along the wet trail, under the trees where the drips fell harder on your head since they gathered more water from each leaf as they hit the ground.

Then it hit me…he comes in to my office to clean every now and then.  He has keys! ‘Is it appropriate to ask him’, I wondered?  Stopping in my tracks I thought about my new option, compared it to my current plan and thought, ‘it’s a lot better than what I was going to do’.  I headed back.

He was no longer chatting away to another worker, where could he be.  I was looking for him along the same route to my office, hopeful I would spy him.  I was now on the second floor, approaching my office and there was no sign of him still.  The only other place I had access to was the staff lounge, which had a keypad locking mechanism.  No key required.

I punched in the code and opened the door.  ‘There he was!’, my mind exclaimed to me.  “Hello there.  Could you help me get in to my office?  I forgot my keys”.  “Of course” he said.  “Forgetting is a sign of old age you know…” as he chuckled “or was it from your Halloween weekend?”

We both laughed as he opened my door, which was adjacent to the staff lounge.  “Thank-you Sir” I said with a smile back to him; and I was in.

This man comes in very early in the morning, and as I do many days he and I have developed a rapport.  He was probably the first person I ever talked to at school when I started.  He does his job diligently, maintaining the classrooms, offices, and associated areas, not only preserving the cleanliness, but making the whole building livable by opening all the doors and windows in the morning.  It is very ‘closed in’ smelling first thing in the morning and he gets the air flowing.

His knowledge of the building is also very good, as he tells me about the original purpose for many of the rooms, which is quite different than the current use.  We comment on that and the issues that are related to how it is used today, then ruminate on potential solutions.  He is always thinking.

This positive spirited man is a constant in the ever changing faces of students as they pass by in the halls and filter in and out of class.  Aside from the students in my class, he is the one person I see on a consistent basis.

I thanked myself for being the kind of guy that likes to talk to other people, no matter who they are.  My incessant curiosity about people and my desire to see things from many different perspectives really helped me in fostering a relationship that helped me out when I needed it.  This man was thanked, and by the mere fact I am writing about him and his role in the positive turn of events and the thoughts it has spawned is a good thing!  I will grab a card and write my thanks to him.

This got me thinking about how many other unseen people there are that maintain the façades, the structures, the systems that keep us able to enjoy the everyday kind of life we take for granted.  There must be thousands.

The obvious ones are bus drivers, sanitation workers, parks maintenance staff, the bylaw enforcement officers, the governmental staff that stays inside, unseen to the average citizen, and so on.  Many of these I used to work beside in my other past career.

But there are others that I am not aware of.  How about our teachers?  Our parliamentary officials?  The volunteers of the city at every event or social outlet?

There are so many layers of people that we may never see, never interact with, but we feel the effect from.  We feel the result of their work.

I am so blind to them, as are most people, unless you are aware of them, how can you get to know them?

invisiblesbookHere is an MSNBC video about some of those ‘invisible’ people as part of a promotion for a new book written by David Zweig.  The book is called “Invisibles: the Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion”.

This is just one link to a book.  There are others out there just waiting to be searched.

It gets you thinking right?  Who are they?  Can we become more aware of the people around us, the people we might pass on the street every day?  How about those people that scour our recycling box every week when we put it out to the curb?  They serve an important function in our neighbourhoods, for our community.

There are so many people that I am unaware of.  Who can you think of that I haven’t mentioned?  These invisible people, like the man that helped me at my work, are part of the ‘invisibles’, part of the unsung heroes that keep everything running as smooth as it can.  They oil the machinery of society to keep it running, whether we notice the or not, but by doing so, we understand that many people essentially are walking on the shoulders, on the hard work, of others.

When we look down, under the support that gives us our freedom, we can appreciate more aspects of our life.  We can give thanks to those that we see, or don’t see, that do their job for the masses, with no desire for recognition.

These are the essence of atypical heroes; what this blog is about.  It gets us thinking.  It gets us into a space of gratitude, of thankfulness, shifting the focus away from ourselves.

If there is one thing that I know for sure, it’s that anything that gets us away from the pursuit of self, in favour of gratitude for another, is a very good thing!

Leave a comment about a person you know that could use a shout out, some recognition, either in general  or specifically.  Here’s your chance to make us all aware.

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