Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Quotable Quotes

My relative use, though replete with rudimentary fluency, of "social media" which as it turns out was initiated by a desire to stay connected with some newly found members of my biological family/relatives (but that's a story for another time) has given rise to my pondering the high volume of quotes, prophecy and wisdom of sages,mystics,holy men & women,activists,writers, philosophers, saints, poets, (many in the proceeding list have long since vacated planet earth) & from more recent history and in many cases still living among us, are the quips,truths and experiences of celebrities from the sports and entertainment fields, as well as motivational speakers, marketing professionals,social scientists, pioneers in quantum physics etc. Primarily I have come to observe this exchange on Facebook (which as I said, I became involved with as a "late-bloomer" I couldn't for the life of me understand why I would want to use this platform when I could just email someone - of course I didn't see the need to relinquish my mobile "flip-phone" either, until the pre-pubescent sales rep informed me that replacement batteries were no longer available (or even produced except perhaps by some after - market source. Come to think of it I didn't want a cell phone at all, until - while working "on-call" people junior to me on the call list were getting more work because they had cell phones. So I begrudgingly bought my first cell phone, which was eventually replaced by a "smart phone" which presently given it is an early generation iPhone, is so far managing to outlive it's planned redundancy. As far as I'm concerned the only "smart" aspect of these devices is that by the time one has paid out their contract they have shelled out far more for "service" than the retail cost of the phone. Just another conduit of revenue - perhaps the knowing of which places me one baby step closer to enlightenment. Now before I go much further I have been known to post said quotes (and likely will continue). I often find inspiration - even the answer to a current quandary, still I find it intriguing this swapping of material. It's a bit like the old days trading bubble gum cards - I'll give you a couple of ancient prophecies and a scripture and three proverbs, for a verse of Rumi, some dharma, a quote from the Upanishads, and a YouTube clip of a sound bite from a Martin Luther King speech. Is it possible that those that exchange said quotes etc. believe that by extension they embody the wisdom held within? I know this to be a far cry from the truth in my case - but what do I know of the journey of others, maybe they have achieved mastery. Of course according to some schools of thought we all have access to this wisdom, that it is more a case of remembering than learning. Which leaves me to wonder of my chances when I consider every time I access the site to write to my blog I seem to have an issue with what the current password might be - maybe it's different "remembering" universal truths. It is with great curiosity that I wonder did the people we are quoting and trafficking through cyberspace quote their contemporaries or even their predecessors? This might have been problematic with respect to awareness of each other and what was being said. Of course this assumes that we are at the pinnacle of communication with all the afore mentioned gadgetry - I for one doubt that, given I have witnessed multiple people sitting around a table in a coffee shop each with a device of some sort of their own - which they are deeply engaged with - none of said people are conversing with each other? So maybe we in the twenty-first century are still stumbling and bumbling with the equivalent of soup cans and waxed string (compared to ancient civilizations) but even if some of these past masters,shamans,oracles and avatars could have communicated with each other from far reaches of the planet - would they? Did they? Without question rivalries exist between subsequent followers, but did these individuals require verification or validation from anything or anybody beyond their own "source?" If indeed they were so deeply centered and grounded in the pathway of their pursuit - how is it that they were so "self-assured" fewer examples of one quoting another in their dissertations seem to circulate - or perhaps my "research" is not extensive enough? Why then is it necessary for "us" to continue to draw on the lives and experiences of those long since departed. I'll grant you some is beautifully written and I mean no disrespect to the wisdom of the elders or lessons from history. But I can get quotes from the Dalai Lama,Rumi, Will Smith and George Carlin all on the same page! Now I'm not suggesting that Will's journey has not afforded him some wisdom and I spent hours as a teen listening to George Carlin albums and appreciate his unique perspective and must acknowledge his often brutal honesty. Still is our society so wired to entertainment that we look to it's celebrities to map our destiny? Conversely I'm not saying that one must be the Buddha, Gandhi, Mother Teresa etc. to connect to Universal Intelligence, God, Creator (whatever) - I believe it does require one to be prepared to refine the art of listening (and not to "Entertainment Tonight" for Great Spirit's sake!) I am a writer - not by virtue of being known - achieving public acclaim (or notoriety - at least not yet) through my writing - rather I write because I have discovered for me it is something that completely absorbs me - I am engaged heart & soul. Having spent considerable years completely disconnected, disenfranchised and out of integrity I know the difference. Therefore I write - I blog, I comment, I post, I create (poetry and a book underway)Eventually I submit, I will clear "my vessel" to a large enough extent that I will indeed become an instrument (perhaps only for a short window of time) nonetheless at that moment, through me, will come something worthy of quoting - but in truth it is not about the scribe - it is about the message. Wisdom of the ages is relevant today - it is equally likely that the same universal source that spoke to (through) the masters of yesterday - is trying to speak right here, right now. Yes we quote some extraordinary individuals but if one took the time to listen there are pearls of wisdom flowing from sources that are often seen as ordinary or sadly in some cases, not worth listening to (thereby dismissing someone that might have offered something that would be life-changing). So why not unplug from the media - reconnect with each other, self, nature and then speak up, you might be surprised by someone replying "can I quote you on that?"

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

And the Winner Is?

So the election results now in, south of the border I feel inspired to offer my reflections. Without question, from many vantage points mine might be the least sought after perspective. After all, I've not attended any "Ivy League" college or University, I think there was some ivy growing on the building at the Community College I attended and I did walk through a patch of stinging nettles once in shorts so I've done some living. Perhaps I'll begin my musings by wondering aloud - would the afore mention education better qualify me to weigh in or, by the time I completed an undergraduate degree, followed by a Masters, then perhaps I reach for the "pinnacle" and attain a Phd. ("Piled high and deep") am I more or less able to think for myself? Given the need to operate and become "educated" within a particular set of parameters and criteria, well, suffice to say that's many layers of dogma undergone to shape my world view. Now I'll grant you even so, I don't have an absolute objective view - I've got dogma of my own that I'm wading through (doing my utmost to release that which doesn't serve as I become aware of it - still "it's a process") I attended a group workshop last evening (in my home town of Victoria - Canada) where the "check-in" was, for most in attendance, very impersonal in that there was commentary after commentary on the U.S. election) now granted "our" country is impacted by the government there and it's policies (as are many other countries in the world) still I can't help wonder if the whole "presidential race" is a well orchestrated (extremely expensive) diversion and "reality-esque"form of t.v. entertainment that distracts people from what actually matters in their own life, their community, their country and the world. Really will there be a significant difference between the leadership of one party over the other? Those campaigns cost millions of dollars both parties are being bankrolled by corporate concerns that don't have anything but their profit margins as their reason for being - does it really make any difference if those agendas are being represented by the guy that isn't concerned about making any pretense that he (or she) is there for anything but their corporate allies or the guy that smiles and speaks eloquently while bending you over and stripping you of all your rights and freedoms while telling you your best interest is at heart. It's a bit like "Coke" or "Pepsi" doesn't matter which way you go, they will both rot your teeth and are not good for you. From what little I've paid attention, with respect to media "coverage" (seriously what's the point - what sort of true discourse can be attained from sound bites, slanderous bi-partisan ads and the other methods of mass manipulation and slight of hand employed - from what I've heard more than once, is that never has the population been so polarized than throughout this election - that division remains, I don't believe it just vanishes because a victor has been declared. So what now then, for the "United States" I'm hearing, there is significant division in the "Union,"the same divisive energy seems to exist from what I can glean, with the "United Nations"There seems to be some disparity in existence in the languaging of these institutions. A bit like called the American baseball play-offs the "World Series" it doesn't ring true for me. I can appreciate those that love their country and their game and even though the collective salaries of the athletes, the take at the gates the monies exchanged in advertising and endorsement might equal or exceed the GDP of some small countries - it is not the "World" series. So how do "we" get back to a conversation (or maybe more accurately start one) that reminds those in the continental U.S. that they are in it all together. Before I'm accused of asserting some sort of Nationalist self-righteousness - first of all have you ever heard of an "assertive Canadian" it's an oxymoron isn't it? Or could be just more of that "dogma."Secondly we are no strangers to divisiveness north of the border, politically there might be a few more parties, that actually manage to get seats at the table, but so far as the governing party goes (Nationally) it's one or the other. So maybe an extra couple of shells in our game - but not unlike the sideshow version, though one swears they never took their eye off "the shell" it comes up empty and continuing to play, sends you home with your pockets cleaned out. Canada likes to think of itself as this "multi-cultural mosaic" that's the buzz - meanwhile I've been privy to many a lunchroom conversation that contains such inflammatory observations as "they" are taking all of "our jobs"Aren't all of "us" entitled to be gainfully employed? (if we so choose). I did some travelling abroad last year - through some countries where English is not the first language - it gave me some idea of what it's like to be a "minority" - it really heightened for me, a sense of disconnection through my inability to effectively communicate (of course I could have learned the language - well, some of those countries were visited somewhat spontaneously, once I was over there, so there was no "preparation"- the other thing is as may become more apparent as you read this, I'm still endeavouring to master English - first things first! Even still the lack of even rudimentary language in the Balkan countries and my self-image of reasonable intelligence and ability to articulate is reduced to waving my arms around and making sounds that I'm sure don't convey intelligence. My point being, when people muster the courage to leave the life they know behind (often under duress) doesn't that merit some compassion and acknowledgement for what they have undertaken? Oh ya "it's a free country" here - you're free to pay taxes here and support the local economy, even go to war if called upon to do so, "this is Canada" you best start doing things "our way" I have news for those that think along these lines, "we" don't have a way "we are a rag-tag group of descendants, from mass immigration, from multiple lands and cultures. Many don't know their ancestors beyond a generation or two and if they know further of their lineage, they may well know very little of their ways. Canada is not old enough to actually have a way! Could be a golden opportunity to be a leader - more or less from the ground up become a model to the world of enlightened co-existence, however......... Presently the tenuous Canadian identity is being usurped by a government that once again represent corporate interests, Lets face it if this whole trickle down theory had any validity it would have worked by now - nobody "downstream" is any better off. Our reputation as a "peace-keeping" nation is being seriously compromised (if it exists any more at all) and the fall back position of having the best hockey is overshadowed by a strike - more divisiveness. That would leave the beer - do we really want to have that the only remaining pillar of the Canadian identity? (I'm almost afraid to pose the question) It requires colossal energy to maintain these entrenched positions - back and forth we swing across political spectrums, from pole to pole - now can we listen to Rodney King - "Can't we all just get along?" In fairness the politicians are scapegoated "we" scream for change and elect the same people, not even by default, there are alternatives, with fresh ideas and inspiration, but they are over-looked scoffed at frequently. "They have no experience." Exactly how much of the status quo experience will it take in order to make attractive a new experience? So let's be clear, you can't demand change and vote for the same one or two parties they don't represent "change" - they don't even want change, they want to just keep on doing what they've already been doing - they are just waiting for the green light granted post election day. So don't claim you want change unless you're prepared to have things get different - really, truly different, otherwise just say what you mean, that you don't want anything to change including, complaining about that nothing is changing! Let us consider our own bodies, do the liver and kidneys decide "we're" part of the purifying, detoxifying team surely you can't expect us to cooperate with the elimination team - they're foul, we can not ally ourselves with the likes of bladder or bowel! Or the lungs deciding, well yes we do serve primarily the same function however that additional lobe - really quite unseemly - I think we must separate and though it may be argued the head and heart have been opposed for all time, they really are on the same team. Usually rogue entities in this system are cancerous. Are not these deeply venerated ideologies, mind-sets, and agendas every bit as invasive to the human race and ultimately the planet? Nature abounds with examples of symbiosis and interdependence - instead of learning from that and recognizing we as humans are part of that we are led down the garden path by our "leaders" - amused to no end by the follie of their quite possibly staged engagement. Did I say to "no end" lest we forget, there was a precedent set quite some time ago which involved humans being misled in a garden, as I recall it didn't "end" well.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Let's Get Physical

Now then, to begin with, I am familiar with the benefits of physical exercise, I studied it in order to become qualified to help others to reach their fitness goals - but also equally important I have the personal experience of how becoming more fit affected the quality of my own life (expertise is after all more than intellectual, there is much to be said for the experiential). Having said that I have also experienced a certain pattern of "all or nothing" in my life which in part answers how I came to go from being interested in improving my own well-being to taking on the role of guiding others. Next my own journey increasingly took me into the realm of other aspects of personal development, spirituality and healing and I realized that it is not enough to just maintain the physical - it is an important aspect (being the "house of the soul") and in part being the vehicle through which living is experienced. But having discovered the importance of these other facets of being I was no longer satisfied speaking to people only about the physical plane. The next phase of my development eventually displaced my passion for physical well-being (if not the participation in) and as my life became increasingly filled with workshops, and meditation,reading and the exploration of myself as a writer & musician (all of which were generally sedentary pursuits - I not only examined the teachings of Buddha (among a wide variety of paths - if you are thinking didn't he say something about "all or nothing" - yup here we go again) but I began to take on the physical appearance of him as well (and not the swarthy Prince Siddartha - I'm talking the more round representation often seen in gardens that carries the tradition of rubbing his belly for good luck). I have to say I have one out on my condo deck - he is always smiling I've seen him half buried in snow - in rain, sleet and dry spells still smiling - so he does speak to me metaphorically in that regard, however I'm neither the Buddha nor was I laughing about this physical reality. So earlier this year I began a walking program and then added in some yoga and qi gong. The walking is now mixed with running and just this week I decided to resume some workouts in the form of circuit-training with weights. As I said I know this is effective - I have been there before (which is both a blessing and a curse) as yes I know what is possible but I also must accept where I'm at and work with that - not expect to perform at levels that were once possible, and think I'm just going to pick right up where I left off. On that note - I know to expect some stiffness when commencing a new physical activity but even given the number of times I've experienced this (even at the peak of my fitness if I decided to try something brand new just that newness was enough to stress the muscles in a way they were unfamiliar with) I am, as I write this at the pinnacle (I hope) of my DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) after beginning a new routine on Tuesday (this is Thursday - right on schedule). I'm also sporting an elastoplast patch on my shin as the day I started back to the gym I decided to ride my bike there and while I was into my backpack to fetch something I leaned my bike against a pole it tipped over toward me leaving me with an abrasion down the front of my leg. I have not had cable for many years now - I don't tell you this to suggest this represents any particular virtue but rather to suggest that though hours of sitcoms are no longer part of my life - I truly have access to an ongoing comedy (that doesn't take a hiatus through the summer) in the form of my own life. I give you exhibit A - I chose to ride my bike for the exercise and enjoyment that I actually get riding, which was meant to address an aspect of my wellness - ironically the bike became the source of the contusion on my shin. The stiffness I mentioned is significant - I swear someone came in through the night and lowered my toilet and though I have increased my flexibility through the yoga practice, for today, my feet will be acknowledged with nothing more than a wave - I know they are down there, however reaching them, touching them or any routine maintenance will simply have to wait another day or so. The "no pain - no gain" school of thought has largely fallen out of favour - I truly believed I was easing myself back into action. It should prove interesting as tomorrow is meant to be another workout day (which would entail the second of three new circuit routines) we'll see, I will "listen to my body" perhaps the guidance will call for some revisions. At the moment I believe the message being conveyed is "are you out of your ever loving mind?" "What made you think you could go from lazy-boy to boy-wonder?" Ah but here is where all that attention to the other aspects of my being will pay off - I can embrace from the emotional -"laughter is the best medicine" from the mental - "the journey of one thousand miles begins with the first step" and the spiritual - "this too shall pass!"

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Be the Change

Be the Change I deeply value inclusion, which then could imply I am adverse to exclusion. But more than that I don't understand it. I simply can't embrace those aspects that differentiate one group of humans from the next as cause for divisiveness - I can't and I won't. The irony is that paths (religious & "spiritual") that contain tenets such as love and compassion become the very forces that uphold and justify further divisiveness and separation. How is this possible? How does "Love thy neighbour" break down so entirely that it becomes rampant intolerance? As a baby I was adopted, most of my life has been devoid of many of the robes of identification that are for many, the mainstay by which they define themselves and differentiate from the next person or group. There has been a void with respect to my ancestry/roots resulting on the one hand, a deep yearning to know myself and a connection to something greater than myself, on the other, truly not understanding why people made such a fuss over their heritage which seemed so often, to go beyond affinity and reverence, to the darker side of nationalism frequently leading to lack of cooperation at best, widespread violence and genocide at worst. My own healing journey has led me to the discovery of and union with, multiple generations of my natural mother's side of the family. My father's identity remains a mystery but documentation indicates Irish ancestry - a journey to the country of my forefathers yielded personal experiences that though lacking in the validation of "empirical scientific evidence" demonstrate to me I am, strongly connected to that land - genetic testing has since verified that indeed the genetic information from my father's side is highly concentrated in Ireland. The ramifications of this are still unfolding for me - just the same another irony exists. The yearning I described earlier - the desire to know myself as part of and connected to something greater than myself, can only be partially resolved with this ancestral information. To a certain degree it doesn't matter (although it does) in as much as the continued searching has led me to broaden and deepen the quest to connect with the power and presence that created it all, me, the world, the universe, that is in fact, the universe, everything in it and beyond. "We" are all a piece of that. We are all connected by that - in that, we are no different, within our differences lies our oneness. Strip away the nationality, the religiosity, the political stripes and affiliations, your favourite corporate branding, and at the risk of complete and utter blasphemy "your" hockey or football team and we are one. People are living and sadly dying, over differences that really are illusory in nature, distractions from the truth of who we are. While wrapped in the flag, and/or the armour of the collective self-righteouness of their respective religions, crusades are waged, politicians rally support for their agendas with "us and them" rhetoric, in sports "colosseums" (recall the atrocities that took place in the original "sports venue") violence is encouraged both on the field and then spills into the audience justified merely by the wearing of a different coloured sweater. All of it ignoring the common denominator - the divine within each, that the harm brought upon another is a harm done not only to one's brother and sister but to one's self. What will it take? What then is to be the catalyst to celebrate the differences, to embrace the oneness? Will it ever happen? Is it even possible? A walk a couple days ago seemed to provide a disheartening answer - I walked through a neighbourhood where a brand new Mosque is being built - work continues on the inside, the exterior far enough along to appreciate the beauty of it's design. I can hardly wait for it to be completed so I can go and experience the worship held within. As I walked by I noticed that on the ground inside the construction fencing were copies of some of the "free literature" that one of the Christian groups in town distribute. This in the capital city of one of the provinces of Canada that touts itself as a "Multicultural Mosaic." I was saddened by the desecration, the irreverence, the "message" seemed to me to be saying "what you are doing is wrong - here, let me show you the right way." Jesus did not ask to see a birth certificate or turn and walk away from someone, based on their political or religious affiliation - love knows no limits. As it happens more recently (last night) another experience provided me with different answers to those same questions. I attended the "World Day of Prayer" gathering at the Unity Spiritual Community. During the course of the evening we were blessed with representation from the local First Nations, two gentlemen from the Muslim community in Vancouver, and a Jewish "lay-person" they shared about their paths and the place prayer takes within, for each. They all stood on the platform together with the Unity minister - we witnessed Amazing Grace being sung in the First Nations language by a husband and wife that had been through the residential school system (had their language stripped away) and now sung their prayer in a venue that was formerly a United Church (now Conservatory of Music performance venue)the Muslim leaders and group from the Jewish community sat together and each filled the space with the splendour of their traditional prayer and shared the importance of prayer in their lives as a means to come closer to God. Each in turn touched my heart where I knew in an instant what John Lennon sung about, there present is the love that Jesus demonstrated, that made Gandhi's stand unstoppable that infused the words of Martin Luther King. Each of these men believed strongly enough in this love that they lived unshakeably in it, their demise demonstrating that love transcends physical death. Indeed the walls of separation must come down and as Gandhi said "You (I) must be the change I wish to see in the World" which means to me I must continue to heal my own heart remove any remaining vestiges of borders, boundaries and walls that keep me separate from the Love that is all.

Monday, 10 September 2012

What's Your Hurry?

It never ceases to amaze that by merely walking fifteen minutes from my condo which is ensconced in urban suburbia to a local public golf with perimeter chip trail that I am instantaneously transported to a place of satiety for mind, body and spirit. I say transported as there do exist portals along the trail, but I will get back to that later. Through a focus that became more sedentary that I've been for years, last winter I managed to accumulate some unneeded extra baggage (as if the emotional stuff wasn't enough to contend with). So this year has been about continuing my less active pursuits reading,writing, meditation but also insuring there is ample physical exercise. I have incorporated both a Qi Gong and Yoga practice - I give myself full permission to advance slowly in the pursuit of both, largely because my fifty something body pretty much insists on it. The chip trail was first used just for a good brisk walk and now some six months later I am back to running for longer stretches (I like to call my "program" intuitive intervals) which essentially means I run when I feel like it and walk briskly for "recovery" intervals. Gone are the dictates of a high tech watch, log book or "run-leader" all vestiges of an illusory time when I thought all that was necessary to get fit. I much prefer my new regime - I don't remember the last time I wore a watch - as far as I concerned now there is no place for a clock in my recreation/leisure time. The interesting thing about my intuitive intervals is that I recall from my certification training as a fitness professional that the "talk test" or P.R.E. (Perceived Rate of Exertion) the former being a suitable exertion level determined by ones ability to only be able to speak in short phrases or the latter, measuring one's perceived level of exertion on a scale of 0-10 (0=no effort, 10=about to have a stroke) you wanted to be in the 6-8 range, either way studies showed that when heart rates were monitored the correlation demonstrated that individuals inherently knew the correct intensity for their activity. I mean no disrespect to those that are training for competitive events - there are both training and injury prevention benefits from a well documented and regulated program. For me if I get off the couch and out there - I've already won the competition! Besides I have lost 14 pounds so far, even pants I bought just before summer are baggy now so I will let the tale of the tape speak for itself. So, my last run was a couple days ago and as I said my fitness level is gradually improving and therefore I'm able to run longer intervals which feels great - I actually can perceive the flow at times where the cadence of my body in motion, the feel of the breeze on my face, the twisting and turning trail and of course the eclectic soundtrack provided by my iPod all blend into one transcendent experience. Oh if my grade nine gym teacher could see me now! Suffice to say back then when it was announced that the activity for the one hour class was to be cross-country running this meant to me one hour to get away from the school (and the teacher he was back at the gym timing us) during which time I would just goof off with some friends. This was until the teacher informed me he was going to accompany me on the run, his rationale being he was sure I could post a better time - I tried to assure him no, actually that's the best I can do, but to no avail. Well needless to say I finished the route in considerably shorter time than usual - because I actually ran and faster than I cared to (anytime I slowed up some I hear) "come on Mason" pick it up, unless you want to come after school and do it again! Well, I finished in "record" time, though I felt like my lungs were on fire and would come up through my throat any moment, I couldn't for the life of me understand why people would choose to do this, it largely put me off running for quite some time. I chuckled to myself, here I was out running by my own choice and was actually enjoying it. I love the accompaniment of my music, the varying beat providing the tempo, sometimes the motivation sometimes the distraction. Without question some of the up beat 70's classic rock still gets the adrenaline pumping - Enya or some of the other more meditative tracks just don't cut it - great when it's time to chill, but when it's time to get it done, Nazareth "Razamanaz" or Bad Company "Can't Get Enough of Your Love" now those songs power me up and over all the hills. On this particular day I was apparently sharing the trail with a group of the afore mentioned competitive running crowd. Good God they ran fast - I could actually feel them coming before I could see them! Impressive, what with their athletic physique's and of course it being summer the apparel left very little to the imagination, they were like animated anatomy text book pictures. Huh.... so if I had a six pack that's what it would look like. I was pretty happy that my navel was visible these days! Just as well they were running in the opposite direction - it was less obvious how many times they would have lapped me while I was doing my one 3.6km loop. I decided that I could embrace both their dedication and athletic presence at the same time honouring my progress and personal goals. Frankly I couldn't see the point of running that fast unless something or somebody was chasing me and really at that rate I'm sure they weren't seeing the splendour of the surroundings along the way. As I said earlier the are portals along this trail, for example their is a long corridor where there are various archways created by the overhead growth of some of the trees, the same stretch of trail has a beautiful canopy of lush green - the air is noticeably cooler through their and I always stop and pay homage to the nature spirits and ask permission to enter, I am invariably blessed with some very valuable insights when passing through these spaces. You can't possibly be attentive to such things when your running like the gym teacher is chasing you! Then there are the assorted oak trees and their resident spirits - one stands limbs outreaching as though ready to embrace those about to pass by or perhaps is guarding the trail, another stands right in the middle of the trail in the trunk is unmistakably the face of the spirit that inhabits the tree - I always pay my respects before passing. You see it is not just my physical fitness I am attending to when on these jaunts, it is very much about my mental, emotional and spiritual wellness as well and for these to be considered their must be due diligence to connection. Where that is concerned the young athletes are missing out (oh sure they have the camaraderie within their group) but try and flash them a smile when you pass and they are going so fast and working so hard they aren't looking for that variety of connection. Now, the people that are walking their dogs and other recreational runners, different story, I can tell you with absolute certainty that some of the smiles exchanged in passing have not only touched my heart but were the physiological equivalent of the afterburner on a jet plane, if my legs were feeling heavy before hand upon the exchange they were given new life! Speaking of connection I was guided to stop at a particular part on the trail and do some Qi Gong exercises - I had thought it was because it was at the crest of a hill and there was a commanding view of a large expanse of the golf course. Even given this was so, the true reason was soon to be revealed - just as I looked skyward to do an exercise known as "pulling down the heavens" the iridescent form of a humming bird was shimmering in the sunlight as it did a series of aerobatic loops and turns this I must add happened just as a particularly inspiring passage of music from the soundtrack of "August Rush" was reaching a crescendo - I was literally moved to tears, it was beautiful. Now as I said timed intervals, coaches and competition may have their place but for me fitness/wellness is now more about connection. So if you ever want to join me on the trail you are more than welcome - but leave your watch at home!

Friday, 24 August 2012

They Say it's My Birthday

Upon awakening, the armour that has held steadfast against life’s myriad assaults now reveals a multitude of fractures. The time of life comes into focus by realizing my location squarely in the middle of the road shrouded in darkness – direction and destination completely unknown. How did I get here? My path previous, was so clear to me – granted it was circuitous, which resulted in its near terminally monotonous attributes, it was just the same, familiar. All that I had been, had been just enough to effectively deliver me to my present location – however I felt it was woefully inadequate for the journey that lay ahead. How was I to precede, perhaps a more pressing concern, how then to survive when I could see my previously relished defenses deteriorating? Perhaps they weren’t necessary for this leg of the journey? A recent foray into yoga (3 months into a daily practice) is in itself the “proverbial pictures worth a 1000 words.” Allow me to expand the metaphor – my movement through the various asanas reveals that in effect I’m moving through life with “functional rigor mortis.” This I’m suggesting is the physical embodiment of the afore mentioned armour (defense mechanisms) – “inflexibility” “rigidity” “immobility” (even “paralysis” would be apt and not overstating) in the form of un/conscious beliefs, attitudes, behaviours. Even who I thought I was - and the supporting story years in the making, with needless to say no end of supporting evidence in my life to demonstrate that it’s “true” – is proving to be mere fabrication. The cracks in the veneer have now become the conduit through which the light of truth ebbs and flows. An awakening of sorts has thereby been granted albeit one that has the bittersweet flavour of disillusionment as a necessary stepping-stone to authenticity. A personality was once formed – it walked through time orchestrating choices that had as their basis, values and beliefs that successfully kept me estranged from my heart – in fact it created a life that was built piece by piece with incongruence. I introduced myself as, and with it, I saw myself as it – I busied myself in a life created by it, so that none but its voice could be heard. Until one day – the winds of change did blow and the house of cards began to collapse and through the wreckage was heard the faint cry of a voice long since forgotten. Great lengths have been employed to extricate from the rubble the voice that refuses to be silenced. At times I grasp at the wispy remains – memories of that which were falsely believed to represent stability and security – inevitably this proves to be a self-indulgence that proceeds for varying lengths of time the arrival of surrender. As mentioned earlier the destination is unknown but it has become clear that the “still small voice” has about zero tolerance for the status quo on any imaginable level. There is a stranger in my midst – it would seem he has been waiting to assume the role of the hero of my life story, apparently I am to enter the love relationship of my lifetime with this fellow – no longer surrendering his voice, denying his gifts or standing in the way of what he’s here to do. Once again – how in God’s name did I get here? I’m reminded of my childhood and the immortal words of Bugs Bunny – “I must have taken a wrong turn at Albuquerque!” Perhaps something more age appropriate would be – “ the only way forward is through.” So as I stand poised 4 days away from my 53rd birthday I consider the metaphor of “born again” and decide that doesn’t resonate for me I think I will instead, celebrate a “reunion”- here’s to my life, to me, from me with love!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Glad We Had This Time Together

After what had been a walk of considerable distance I had reached the turnaround point. That which began as an idea to combine the enjoyment of some seemingly long overdue sunshine, some exercise and exploration of a new nutrition/health store soon became a healing medicine walk. The route that I "chose" to begin toward home first took me through the neighborhood, and then directly past, the house that once belonged to my grandparents (my father's parents) - we used to go there as kids,they lived in that house until my grandpa passed away when I was eleven years old. Though he wasn't my paternal grandfather (I was adopted as a baby) I felt a connection to him somehow (more so than other members of my family) and it was painful to lose him - made more so, by not being "aloud" to visit him in the hospital or go to his funeral because it was thought that it would be too upsetting for me. I was reminded of Sunday dinners at the house and a toy dog (I think it was meant to be an Airdale terrier) it was on wheels, it might have belonged to my dad when he was a boy - I would sit on it and scoot myself around. Then I got the brilliant idea that if I took enough hard cover books and wedged them between the steps of the basement stairs I could make one long ramp and ride all the way down - it was going to be so thrilling. Well as you might imagine it didn't work anywhere near as well in reality as I had envisioned. It was a rather rough ride with a very nasty, abrupt and undignified landing. I don't have to wonder about the existence of miracles - my survival is testimony enough. Though never lacking in creativity my endeavors were often rewarded with painful lessons. I should mention that a few blocks before my grandparents former house (when I realized the direction I was heading) I became aware of something flying over my head - I looked up to see a beautiful tiger swallow tail butterfly. I stopped to watch it circle overhead (well butterfly type circles which are anything but geometrical but perfect I'm sure for their purposes. I thought as I watched it fly around - "my understanding of the "medicine" of butterflies is that they are about transformation" I took note of that as I further considered "no question I am at a place in my life where there has been huge transformation occurring over the past almost 4 years now." I wondered what the butterfly was telling me right in the moment. As my awareness returns to my grandfather, I become aware of the feeling of sadness in my heart and acknowledge that I miss him that I let go of any remaining energies of resentment that I wasn't able to say goodbye to him. I recognize that though it may have served me when I was a young boy to further close my heart as I result of this wounding for additional "protection" it no longer served me now. I am committed to my heart journey and open to the release and healing of any blocks that stand between me and the free flow of love. I continued on my walk a wash with the warm inner glow of the presence of love, love for my grandfather love for myself and for life. A few blocks away was another neighborhood made familiar by another chapter of my life. I turned the corner to walk past the house that once was the home of my former wife's "aunt & uncle" (they have both since passed on - in fact this had occurred while we were still married, he, one year after and she some eight or so years later). Again these folks were not paternal relatives of my wife, they were actually related to her "step-mother" They had been a significant presence in her life growing up and extended to us both, themselves, as though we were "family." I remembered the Friday night card games (I don't remember the game) suffice to say it went on for hours and when someone finally prevailed victorious they had in their possession the princely sum of twenty to thirty cents in pennies (which was returned to the jar to be distributed to the competitors during the next week's gathering). Among those present were a few couples from the neighborhood so the banter included the updates to the respective lives of each, some conjecture and opinion in the form of gossip related to someone in the neighborhood and the U.N. had nothing on this round table as the world's problems were identified and resolved (without even interrupting the game - it's really not that difficult). As I continue on my journey I contemplate the reality that gone are all those relationships (well at least with respect to our meeting person to person) and yet there still is a relating present - these people meant something to me - the time spent in each other's company was significant. I didn't see eye to eye with some of these folks on many occasions - but just the same, it was a place to belong, to know community and find acceptance. Sure much has changed since then, but it is not enough to just say I have "moved on" it would not honour these other souls nor my heart to leave unacknowledged that they touched me, in some way, played a part in my ongoing evolution. I suppose it is not possible to further expand my heart without first acknowledging those that have continued to reside therein, if it is to become anything more than a warehouse for repressed feelings. Only a few blocks away was the townhouse (the first place my former wife and I bought together) I crossed the road and walked through the entrance gates down the driveway into the complex. Ours was a corner unit which for all intents and purposes looked the same - I suppose inside might have undergone any number of changes - who knows if it's even the same "young" couple that purchased it when we moved on. I took note of the small garden patch outside the front door - there was now a beautiful Japanese Maple which which had grown and matured considerably since I planted it. When it was purchased from the nursery - it was a spindly specimen (not much more than a single branch in a small pot) the stick that held it up was more substantial) a more fully grown plant was far more than I was prepared to pay - as it was this small sapling was $24.95. I marveled at the size of it now - it's main trunk now three to four inches in diameter. I remembered back to I think it was the first winter after it was planted (which as it turns out was Victoria's "Blizzard of 96") not only was my infant maple buried but so were cars left at the road side. The weight of the snow proved to be too much for the Charlie Brown Christmas tree-esque maple and when I dug it out I discovered it was severely fractured. I decided to try a "Red Green" intervention and using two popsicle sticks and some duct tape a splint was fashioned - nothing to do beyond that but wait and watch. Spring came and to my amazement the little maple began to grow leaves (even right to the end of the previously fractured section)- it looked as though it would survive. Upon hearing this my dad apparently reasoned well yes of course Rob is a nurse after all! I suppose the theory may have been arrived at by awareness of similar interventions to aid a fractured bone - but in truth all I did was my best to restore the tree to a condition by which the love of nature could continue to flow through it and restore it to health. Around the back side of the town house was a story that would dwarf that of the Japanese maple. About the same time I purchased a "Windmill palm" it was pretty small at the time (might have been a 12'' pot with a few palm fronds sticking out of it). I had grabbed it from a table of others which said "grows to five to ten feet" - I thought this would be perfect for the small garden bed in our back yard. When I got it home the tag said "grows to twenty to twenty five feet!!" - hmm somebody must have put it back on the wrong table (oh well- I'm not going all the way back to the nursery, and though this is the "Banana Belt" of Canada - it won't grow that tall!) Well now, here we are some twenty one years later and I must say that is one fine specimen of a palm tree (emphasis on tree!) - what do you know the tag was right, probably is approaching twenty feet tall. Of course this last stop wasn't entirely focused on the growth and maturation of my two fledgling members of the plant kingdom. Both have outlived my marriage by nearly four years at this point. That townhouse was the equity that went on to pave the way to our "moving on up" which of course was meant to be a brick in the road on our path through life together. So I absolutely must acknowledge the woman and the time we spent together, the reflections of myself that has made possible and the catalyst it became to deep soul-searching, self-exploration, self-awareness and is now paving the way to perhaps the deepest level of self-acceptance and self-love that I have known throughout my life. I now let go of the pain and sadness - the mistaken belief that I somehow failed (or worse that I am a failure). I pray that we both will remain in environments and mediums where we will continue to grow, strengthen and evolve (with all the necessary light and love). I acknowledge my deep connection to both the maple and the palm tree the living metaphors of my subsequent hero's journey and I feel that the time is near that I will stand firmly in who I am - without the need for popsicle sticks or duct tape!!

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Just Another Day at the Beach

On a day that would leave no doubt that the "lion" of spring was being made manifest all the elements were being tossed by the maelstrom of natural forces into a frappe for the senses. The seaside amphitheatre was alive with energy, which was being generated to animate the show that was about to unfold.

Walking along the beach offered the opportunity to dance with the windswept surf and the pebbled landscape offered both texture and rhythmic accompaniment to each step, each footfall being consumed as though striding in petrified oatmeal.

Each aspect of this afternoon journey stood alone as cause for awe and wonder when experienced as one, in a multi-sensory holographic tapestry. My "movie" had it's own soundtrack the strains of the most heart stirring, soul-quenching music (I'm listening to on my iPod) it became nothing short of rapturous. The waves rose and fell as though choreographed and synchronized with the melodic line of the accompanying music. Upon reaching the top of the staircase that traverses the shoreline cliff face, walking was made challenging, though exhilarating, by the full assault of the headlong wind. Overhead, winged dancers perform their skyward ballet coaxed to rise and descend as multiple bows meet strings in divine orchestration. The pathway far above the beach is now shared with all forms of "canines on parade" (who incidentally do bare a striking resemblance to their owner's - shhhhhhhh!!!)

Convinced that the pinnacle of experience has surely come and gone I am quickly shown that creation knows not, my all too human limitations - just as the timpani's are signaling the soon to arrive finale of the orchestral offering - a lone para-surfer is levitated toward the heavens and is then released - the resulting splash coinciding perfectly with the crash of the cymbals.

All I can say is, my Creator - bravo!! and What do you do for an encore?!!

Or perhaps - to you the reader - ah...... well............ you had to be there!

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Hey Homey

As I am walking home from downtown this afternoon - I cut through the courtyard of a low income townhouse development a few blocks from where I live. As I round the street corner I notice a group of young kids hanging out around the neighborhood community centre. They are all each in their own way defying gravity on their skateboards. I'm reminded that I had a board back when I was a teen (considerably smaller the boards we had) and it never would have occurred to me to try and do what I see kid these days doing on skateboards. For example bannisters adjacent to staircases - I thought an apt display of agility was to slide down it on one hip. Where in God's name would someone get the idea to jump their skateboard up on the rail and slide down? As I'm looking at these large boards they have, I'm thinking "it's gotta be easier to stay on a board that size." Of course I'm then reminded of my age as my next thought is - that wind blowing out of the north is damn cold today (and these kids aren't wearing jackets) meanwhile I'm all layered in my high tech sportswear. Given this reorientation to aging reality - my next thought is "if you come off that board that pavement will humble you instantaneously, and if you break something in the doing, you won't heal like the kids will" Wow though I know physiologically this is likely true how can this thought possibly be coming from the same place that my "minds eye" is seeing me slaloming on one of those boards?

My mental imagery is disrupted as I realize one of the young guys is talking to - I need to pull the iPod ear phones out so I can hear him. "Could you repeat that I missed it?"
"Hey Homey! how's it going?" (Nobody has ever called me Homey before - good thing I watch the movies - so I can "be down - for real, wit where he comin' from" fascinating to me that I ignore my impulse to point out that this is Victoria - not East L.A. or the Bronx and proceed to give him a grammar lesson. No - no - no, this is a time and place where "cool" (or whatever the venacular would be these days, I hear "sick" can mean things are really "cool" but it can apparently also mean not so very "cool" either. I was sick a few weeks ago and it was....... well........ sick can run the risk of using the word in the wrong context, oh my God I need a phrase book!) must be upheld. What the hell do I know about "cool" even when i thought I was cool I never was cool - I think right now I'm grateful, he's calling me "Homey" not "hey you old fart!"
"Ah I'm good" I replied "How are you guys doing?" "Ya we good - what choo up ta?" (Clearly he either never had the don't talk to strangers routine or he just chooses to ignore it - I suspect the latter might be closer to the truth - I gotta say I kinda admire his moxie)

"Not much - I'm just on my way home from town" I answered. "Uh huh - hey how about this, if I can land an "Ollie" (skateboard trick - both rider and board come right off the ground and back down) you have to pay me a quarter?"

"If you land a what?" (There goes the cool - right out the window), anyway I get the explanation of what he is proposing to do. I'm pretty sure I know where this is going - he can do this with is eyes closed - so it's pretty much a given this is going to cost me a quarter. Why not I think - now I kinda admire his entrepreneurial spirit. "Alright - go ahead, you're on, for a quarter"

So my young friend tossed his board to the pavement ran to catch up to it and then jumped on. He spun the board around so that he now faced those of us watching with a few powerful thrusts with one leg he now is traveling toward us with considerable speed - once he arrives directly in front (through whatever technique that was his to command) both he and the board became air borne and then touched down again upon all four wheels. He carried on down the road a short distance before spinning the board around and then coming to a complete stop. The whole performance was done seemingly oblivious to the fact that there where four wheels below him and really a relatively small surface for the feet to regain stability all between him and the asphalt and concrete surface that can painfully adorn large surfaces of the body with "road rash" or snap bones like kindling.

He steps off the board stomps on one end projecting the other end up toward him which allows him to catch one wheel in his hand all without missing a stride while walking back toward me. With a self satisfied grin he says "see I told you I could do it!"

Now some might think of this little performance - nothing more than showing off, is it right to encourage such behaviour? I happen to know that even to do that little kick the board up to your hand trick, rather than the above described result, you could just as easily flip the board up giving yourself a rather nasty crack in the shin or knee cap - which is exceedingly painful and completely self-defeating with regard to the "cool" factor or is that "sick" (I know the pain registering can give a momentary expression of sick - add to that you are with your "crew" so God forbid you let them know the pain you are experiencing - that's more pain than was issued from the original smite.

I know this guy has paid his dues to perform these stunts - for every successfully executed trick there has been a learning curve and in this case sometimes the lesson comes through becoming "one with the pavement"

"Yes you did" I replied, "wow that was awesome, I guess I owe you twenty-five cents." While I'm digging through my pouch - he says "wanna see me jump the stairs for a dollar" I answer - I believe you can do it - and no, at this rate your going to clean me out!" I both don't want to be directly involved in his trying that stunt (for fear if he doesn't "stick the landing" I've got blood on my hands) the other thing is again I suspect he probably can do it and I am aware of a line between appreciating his talent and getting "hussled."

He says, "okay - no sweat I'll do it anyway" so he takes the board up the aggregate stairs to landing in front of the Community centre. Once he is some distance from the top step he drops the board mounts one foot and with three swift thrusts with the other leg propels himself toward the staircase as he reaches the precipice of the top step he leaps him and the board achieve the Grail like "air" and he lands on the side walk below first the board then himself - he remains upright with only one foot coming off the board.

"Wow that was amazing - well done!" I said "do you take debit?" I know full well transactions of this sort are cash only - but I try to add some humour in lieu of "cool" which pretty much flew like a "Led Zeppelin" which I refrain from commenting on the reference quite likely to be lost on this group of 10-12 yr. old. males (suddenly I feel like I was once cryogenically preserved and here I am some considerable time in the future and I'm at a loss how to relate) "SICK!!"

"Where do you live I asked?" "Just over there - he motions with a head gesture - in the projects" (again I'm tempted to reorient to time and place - uh, this is Victoria - but decide against it) this is his reality - who am I to impose my story on him. I don't know what he lives with in there - could be from a home with relative stability it's also possible that he endures a reality behind closed doors that no young person should be part of. This is no profiling or stereotyping - I have walked these streets frequently - I see the evidence of some of what is going on in the area - empty saline vials and hypodermic needle packages, used condoms (well opened if not used) discarded alcohol bottles. What can be seen doesn't begin to foretell that which isn't seen.

I say to him as I'm leaving, I bet you have practiced long and hard to do these tricks and you have met the pavement more than a few times?" "You know it he says!"

"You are very courageous - I admire that!" I respond. "Hey - thanks!" is his answer. Will this seemingly simple interaction change his life - I can't say, all I know is that to be seen and receive the reflection of some accomplishment and value has been very important in my life perhaps sharing that with someone else redefines "cool."