This blog's for ME

Almost 25 years old, asking my parents if I can sleep in their bed with them. I had thought I was going to be the 25th Prime Minister of Canada. Things had changed. 10 years later, I was still a scared little boy. The time had come to slap myself awake. One Saturday morning, November 19th, 2009, I declared to the world I would be riding my 10 year-old motorcycle from Vancouver, BC Canada to Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, and back.

The official departure was August 28th, 2010. A group of well-wishers saw me off at 8:03 am.

I arrived in Rio de Janeiro around 6 pm March 1st, 2011.



My return to Vancouver came on July 5th, 2011 about 2:00 pm.

Drug & alcohol abuse, ADD, social anxiety, health, chronic pain, night terrors.

So many concerns. But I am far more interested in this question: Do I have the capacity to make this trip despite all my shortcomings?

My mission: To inspire myself to face my fears, enlighten myself on how all living things can peacefully co-exist, enjoy every moment, and see the world as plentiful and generous.

Go ahead. Call me crazy. Call me anything you like.

I'm out to save my world.



I LOVE YOU ALL



Questions, comments, concerns, threats? Contact me: jason.chapman99@gmail.com


social connections proven

KCTS just airing a program about social connections, and it's proven now. Happiness happens when we make that journey together.

Masculine Energy

Assisted about 8 veteran high-voltage electricians shut down our main electrical vault tonight. These guys start at 10 pm and work 'til 6 in the morning, and make good coin. Meeting these guys made me realize how much I've missed the masculine energy from my days working in the oilpatch. It also made me realize how much feminine energy this city culminates, and how it bleeds into everything. No wonder this town is called Nofuncouver.

Fibromyalgia

You heard it from me first - fibromyalgia cured through exercise. And focus, determination, and achievement. I defy anyone to bleed liberal red blood more than me, but I say the human body was designed to move, it must move, and it must work. The challenge in today's society is some of you don't have to do a damn thing physically if you don't want to, and then you wonder why you're riding a motorized cart at the age of 45. If you do not push your body to get that wooly mammoth, or protect your family against that sabre-tooth tiger, it will inevitably metamorph into rock. The reason Tour de France riders lose years of their life from doing one bike ride is they lose so much calcium due to their lack of weight bearing activities. 21 days and over 2,000 miles of riding with hardly stepping foot on solid ground can cause the body to lose it's calcium. This is according to my chiropractor Dr. Brenda Mason, who coincidentally knows her shiite.

Good Intentions and Lawyers

Strange world this, this world of lawyers. My friend is a counsellor whom I will not mention names as the issue has become litigious. Basically, my friend specializes in drug and alcohol interventions, and successfully helped a young man get into rehab and dry-out facility. The father of the man had not been notified, or asked permission, and is now suing my friend. I totally get that people must follow a code of conduct, and that we make mistakes, and those mistakes should not go unnoticed. But I think it ridiculous first, that that father somehow 'owns' his son, or that the son is somehow his 'property' and the father's permission must be given before anything happens. We cannot own a person anymore than we can own a piece of land. It's a silly little game that people play, and if you want to go and put up signs on 'your land' that says "No Trespassing" go ahead, that's a battle I'm not going to fight, but when a fellow member of society does something good for another, or does something that is good in their heart, who has the right to stop them? Angry right now. Not condoning anarchy, but what is possible if ownership did not exist, but instead responsibility, and if responsibility, we would all of us, every single one of us, be responsible for that young man's well-being.
How about a jury of 12, made up of uncles, aunts, cousins, friends, parents, and they decide what to do with him?

The Hive

Talked with my friend Tommy today, and he had mentioned instead of Brazil, I should go to Shenzen, or Hong Kong, to truly see where we are going. His concern was that the Hive Mentality that has come about there, probably after thousands of years of history, will soon be coming here. I could see it. I can certainly feel it - for someone who does not have the ability, or who has not learned the ability to shut things out, city life can be overwhelming in the least, and creating a need to drill a 3/8" hole in your brain to squeeze out the distress.

For someone in distress, the modern world can be tough. Music blaring, cars honking, bright lights, not to mention many forms of mood-altering substances, the excitement at first can be ridden like a dragon. But this barrel of excitement can easily be turned on its side in a matter of months, conservatively, as the human body rebels against sleep deprivation, poor nutrition and energy-sapping additives, but mostly a deficiency in close, loving human connections. It took me most of my life to even get to the point of somewhat letting love in - perhaps it was due to life in a big city, or maybe just my insecurities and fears of people.

Getting My Land Legs Back

After 7 days on an Alaska Cruise, it is taking some time to fully adjust to 'real life'. Work? What's that all about? Responsibility? Hmmppff. The biggest concern had been whether I was going to eat in the Rotterdam Dining Room, or the Lido Deck Grill. Sometimes I would panic from the brevity of the situation and just eat at both places. Yes, it was an enjoyable experience, and one I got very used to. I started imagining: what would a life look like if it was a constant cruise?

For investigative research, I asked my girlfriend. She is a professional entertainer, and had several contracts in the Mediterranean, Central and South America. Being on a boat for 4 months straight was challenging, and especially as an Assistant Cruise Director. Getting up at 7 am and going until midnight is one thing, but having to do it with a smile on your face is another. The countless dinners with guests sounds absolutely divine, but could be extremely difficult after a couple weeks. No chance to recover, or recharge. Pretty clear working on a cruise ship would lose it's lustre fairly quickly. But what about being a guest for an extended period of time?

Let's look at whether I would do anything differently. I love my parents, and was glad that they came along - for a week. Anything longer might have been disastrous for both of us. After 20 years of living under separate roofs, it was a bit difficult to get on the same wave length. They are early risers, and it's tough to sleep when someone else has turned all the lights on. It did seem they delighted in doing that, especially if the previous night's activities went a bit late. So, I would kick my parents off the boat after the first week, or at least have them stay in their own room. A big part of cruising, in my opinion, is feeling like you can get up whenever you want, and do whatever you want, whenever you want. So, ideally, you have someone with you who has the same motivations as you, or is perfectly fine with you doing your own thing.

Now, it would be a shame to sleep the day away, especially when some of the world's most amazing scenery is right outside your door. The first couple days after disembarking from Vancouver are spent travelling at 23 knots on it's way to where British Columbia's coast becomes Alaska's. Unless you are a fervent nature lover, and willing to spend hours with binoculars in hand to see a lonely whale, or pod of dolphins, those first 48 hours can be spent indoors. It takes awhile to get accustomed to all the new people around you, so spending some time reading one of the books you've always wanted to read, would give you some time to acclimatize. Aboard Holland America's Ms Volendam, a substantial library is at your disposal, with thousands of books to catch up on.

Aside from a library, there's a casino, workout gym, pool, hottub, outdoor basketball court, and theatres for watching movies and live shows. There's enough activities and things to do on a cruise you would need to come home just to rest. If you are going to truly enjoy a cruise, pace yourself. The one thing you may not be able to get back home is to get away from it all. If you feel compelled to fill every moment with action, or 'get your money's worth', you could be missing the point. It may be the first time in a while that you are away from cell phones, computers, alarm clocks and work, so give yourself the break you deserve, and enjoy doing 'nothing' for a change.

Dr. Amen

Could Omega-3 fatty acids AND exercise really make a difference? I guess if I could just remember to take those pills in the morning, anything is possible!

Australian Invasion

So after cane toads, rabbits and mice now they've got Muslims. When will the world ever just leave them alone to have the country to themselves like God intended?

Identification

Getting on the boat, I was suddenly faced with a vision of the future: an elderly lady had to press her thumb and fingers onto a laser scanner in order to go through U.S. security. Now, we must walk through a machine that scans our entire body to get onto an airplane into the United States. So, if anyone else wants to see the beautiful lakes, mountains, or rivers of a place we humans call the U.S.A., we must now give up every ounce of personal freedom and privacy to do so. Why? Because they say so. And now, due to the fear of Muslim invasion, they will continue to increase it. Will we ever find a reason to stop fearing each other?

The World is for Sale

With the ever-present desire to own something, are we simply expressing a universal animal need to mark territory? Maybe someday every single inch of this earth will be owned by someone, and if you wish to walk on it, you will have to pay someone to do so.

Seal of Approval

I heard yesterday that 75% of Alaska's seal population is gone. Just dead and gone. Would we be concerned if 75% of our city disappeared, or would we also just say "oh, well."

Tiger

I haven't heard much about Tiger Woods lately besides Elin Nordegren isn't talking to him much. I guess it takes a little time to forgive affairs with 17 different women. Interesting that in some countries 17 wives might be a little higher than average, but perfectly fine.

Alaska Purchase

What would become the largest state in the United States was purchased from the Russians for 7.2 million dollars. The home of Sarah Palin, Iditarod and White Fang was part of the Russian Empire. I find it fascinating to think about how our political ideas would be today if part of North America was Russian. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaska_Purchase

How much of our identifications as a human being are due to the country we call home?

Being Open and Honest

Why do we often get turned off by someone who tells us their life's story within the first few minutes of meeting them? What rules do we have for what is acceptable and what is not?

First Impressions

How is being a social chameleon going? Dad and I have been having conversations about how to act around people. He has been thinking I say too much sometimes and that people don't really want to hear about specifics, and details when you first meet them. I think he's right even though I was angry at first that people don't immediately open up, as well as stay receptive to others. The most successful social beast must play the game of niceties, and above all else, keep things hidden and secret. Dad made an interesting point about Simon Cowell, American Idol Producer and character. He doesn't think that his personality is even close to what he shows on tv. He thinks it's all an act that he created, and found out it seems to work out there. By work, I mean makes money.

Horse Drawn Trolley

It was wonderful to have my dad get on that trolley in Ketchikan. Seeing those two Belgians seemed to put him in a great mood. For $25 each, the four of us and 20 others had a 45 minute tour around Ketchikan. The tour guide was a mid-20's guy with a long black beard, slight and wiry. Once we got on the trolley, he settled in, and told us many tales of the rivers, and industry and the ever infamous bordello owner, Dolly. He really seemed to know the town and it really felt like he was a good ole' local. Turned out he was from Florida, and has been in Ketchikan for 2 weeks. I was amazed what I will ignore if I am entertained.

Gambling

Oh, that lovely Cruise Ship Casino. Is this the place for true excitement and fun provided kindly by Holland America, or yet another opportunity to take money from people they really don't actually care that much about. Is it easier to take someone's money that you don't know? When's the last time you stole money out of your best friend's wallet?

The tinkling and lights and chink chink chinking sounds of big silver dollar tokens makes me want to go go go.

Feelings

I notice the more tired I am, the harder it is to be the man I want to be.

Coffee

What chain of human activities have to happen for me to get a hot cup of French Roast Arabica Bean Coffee in Ketchikan, Alaska, U.S.A.?

Do We Really Know?

I love to fish. I love to shoot guns. I love to drive cars. I like to blow things up. Talking to an associate the other day, and he's convinced there is absolutely zero chance of humans causing global warming. I agree, there is a chance that global warming is not caused by humans, or even that they have caused holes in the ozone layer. Spoke with a lady on the cruise earlier today who said "Something's going to get me eventually I might as well just do whatever I want." God, I would LOVE to have that attitude, and I have taken it on from time to time. I think I have to to maintain my sanity sometimes. Who's business is it anyways.

Glacier Bay |National Park

So it's Sunday. The ship's cleaning crew change the elevator mats each day just so we can keep track. We are watching an ancient glacier, waiting for a piece of ice to calve off. So close is the captain's ship the vibrations from the propellers alone would be enough to take a piece off for the massive horde of hungry viewers waiting to check the next activity off their bucket list.

Speak or Forever Hold Your Peace

I know the fear we have to say how we really feel, I know the fear we have to lose our jobs, to lose our loves, to lose our lives. Why does one person express themselves, and one does not?

Protecting Ourselves

The beauty of our natural world is so breathtaking, so amazing in it's pureness. If we are the only creatures who can truly appreciate it, then we are the only creatures who can protect it. We must protect ourselves from ourselves.

Killing

Name one person who really annoys you. Got it? Good. Why do they annoy you? I think about what annoys people about me. I think it's impossible for anyone who likes to meet a wide variety of personalities and cultures to be universally liked. Unless you're friggen Gandhi. No, I'm giving up on it too easy.
I've been learning how to be liked by people for many years, and it's a fascinating subject. Well, I'm sure the British didn't like Gandhi too much. I'm sure Chapman didn't like John Lennon and his 'fakeness', and thought it a good idea to shoot him in the back. I wonder if this act satiated him. Interviews in recent history have shown him to be repentant, but you can't argue with the finality of death, or the victim's killer. The act is complete and done. As animals, will we always have the urge to kill, or can society as a whole transcend it? Good men have killed, hell our country has killed good men.
So, I'm thinking about all the people I've killed off in my life, shut down, moved on, judged and cared less whether I would ever see them again.

Adoption

Being adopted may have had an effect on my brain at an early age. I do know I think differently than most people, let alone most men. That first initial bond was broken, and my birth mother was not allowed to hold me. Certain things just seem to confound me, and I have always been so eager to please, and have everyone like me. It is exhausting at times.

Intelligent Design?

Doing what you love or doing what pays the bills? My neighbour is the breadwinner of a family of 4. She is an artist. Her husband helps out financially, but he also does a fine job raising the kids. It has been so nice to have the energy of children near me again. I was definitely getting tired of having to create that energy myself all the time. The courage to truly do what you love, and put your family's well-being on it - that had to take some courage, and you have to think the pressure is on her sometimes. Just gotta play with that creative energy I would guess, and not put too much pressure on yourself. You see, whether you agree or not, this world is a playground for humans. Even those who have to work their 8 or 10 or 14 hours a day still get to go home and watch tv, make love to their partner, have a nice meal with some wine, and go to sleep. All other animals must be continually thinking about how to get their next meal. Oh, except any animal that has been domesticated by human hands, and that includes everything from some rabbits, to horses, to cats and dogs. Even such animals that have not been domesticated, such as snakes and lizards, can have it pretty easy too, sitting in their cages, or terrariums, waiting for their meal of frozen mice, or pellets.
As humans, we have climbed the evolutionary scale, and have found ourselves at the top of the food chain for several thousands of years. This type of untouchability has never before been witnessed on this earth. I'm sure even the most staunch supporter of intelligent design would argue that t-rex was a farmer and a fisher. No, if they were they wouldn't be able catch anything with those small arms. So, there it is. Our very existence has slipped through the tightest of evolutionary stops and balances that has kept life maintaining itself for millions of years. Whether evolution is the result of an intelligent being or not, the argument is whether an intelligent being saw Plasma TV coming. Further evidence that we are treading on new ground. I often felt fearful of our unimpeded progress as humanity grapples with technology and it's seemingly endless ability to divide itself into ever smaller measurements. Perhaps thinking that some God is out there watching us and punishing us if we go too far takes too much responsibility out of our hands. I don't know if there is a God or not, but my concern is the human desire to give up responsibility when it matters most to things they cannot even see. I watched a 15 year old girl in Skagway, Alaska drop a piece of plastic wrapping on the ground. I ran up to her and said "Oh, excuse me ma'am you dropped this", and she simply replied "Oh, thank you". The basic act was not to embarrass her or make her wrong, but to tell her I wasn't about to accept her throwing something on the ground that was hers to take care of properly. I know, who am I to say it wasn't taken care of properly.

People Philosophy

It is only my humble opinion that the future of humanity depends on open hearts and open minds. It is only my humble opinion that every single human being has the capacity to have an open heart and an open mind. It is only my humble opinion that a single human being can change the world with an open mind and an open heart. Opinions alone are not enough to make a change, but actions do.

The world will continue to change with or without us. We sometimes feel we are giants, and sometimes we feel like ants, but it could be a balance between the two that we all need. I do not know the answers, and despite how some people have felt towards me, I am not trying to tell you what to do. We all just hate being told what to do, don't we? Even if it's something good for us, we will resist it until the very end.

Of course, some people love to be told what to do. Generalizations are rarely true for an entire population, and in today's world, we all need to have the space to feel out our own human experience. That is enough to be said, and also I believe that as long as there are humans around, they will be doing things to each other in ways that we label both good, and bad. No religion, political regime, or dynasty has ever won the hearts and minds of every single human being on this earth. Is it possible? Yes. |I was watching AC360 and they did a study on children and their built-in biases towards other races of people. Kids who were less than 10 years old had already strong believes about black children and the differences with white children. Again, we don't need to generalize, and there is no need for concern: this is simply a human trait - judge and determine the other person in every way so that you can know if you are safe or not. This happens outside of your own consciousness, and is not your fault. It's not even your parent's fault. It's not the media's fault. It just is. Do we want to do anything about it? Well, if we all want to live in a society and a world that is safe, and happy and healthy, we will all need to find a way to get along with not only others who have different skin colours than us, but also different cultures, and different opinions. This is my humble opinion.

Cruisin' on a budget

We’re halfway to Alaska and no Sarah Palin sightings.....yet. You may remember the former Governor of Alaska and her improbable run at the Vice Presidency of the 2009 U.S. elections. If you are on an Alaskan Cruise these days, and a fan, you can pay a visit to her childhood hometown from 1965 to 1969. The good news for those of you who are not fans of that gun-totin’, moose meat eatin’ All-American girl is that there is much more an Alaskan Cruise has to offer you, and a lot less than you might think.
You’ve got to get yourselves to Vancouver, and Cindy from Toucan Travel can keep her ear out for deals on flights. Check the disembarkation time, and you may be able to avoid an extra night’s hotel by simply flying in to YVR, taking the new Canada Line train for $3.75 each, followed by a short walk to Canada Place to meet the boat. If you get a time of 12 – 5, make sure you can be at the pier by 2 at the very latest. It is nice to be able to get on the boat as soon as you can, and your room should be ready by then as well. Once on, you can start taking advantage of all the ship has to offer.
Holland America’s Alaska Cruise aboard the Ms. Vollendam is certainly catered to singles, couples, and families who prefer a very relaxed setting. A walk around the various decks would see many simply sitting by the windows watching the waves. By 5 pm, several lounges have your choice of romantic or easy listening live music by guitar and piano. Despite this rather sedentary sight, the Cruise Director has set up a full day of activities on the ship. You can fill your day from sunrise to sunset, but there are certain things you must be aware of if you truly want to get your value. The best way to keep your pocketbook in check is to know how to say ‘no’, and have a bit of self-discipline.
As is the case for most vacations these days, especially ones with ship-issued charge cards, you can spend your life savings before your very eyes. With everything from a spa to a casino, it can feel like all those years of saving up were for this very moment of self-indulgence. Despite feeling this urge, there is a lot you can do that doesn’t cost a thing. There are a couple formal nights where many passengers prance through the halls showing off their tuxes and gowns, most people seem content to relax and stay fairly low key. You may find yourself helping someone out with a jigsaw puzzle, or maybe having a nice chat with someone in the hot tub. There really is a lot offered on these cruises that are completely included. Surprisingly, one of these things is room service. A little loophole if you like the occasional drink is also available here, where a 40 lb. bottle of rum with 3 cans of Coke can be had for $34 U.S. A one oz. drink anywhere else on the ship will cost you the same as in a bar or restaurant back home – around $5.
If you can get away anytime between May and September, and have $1000 to spend, force yourself to get on an Alaska Cruise. You may be surprised what you get for the money, and with a bit of planning, can have a once in a lifetime experience without breaking the bank.

Calm

With all the challenges of holidaying with parents, it must seem impossible at times to remain calm in their presence. I remember speaking to a well-balanced and nice-natured front desk clerk at the Hotel MacDonald in Edmonton who said she loved her family and that her parents were considered her best friends. Another friend of mine hasn't spoken to his mom in 17 years, and he is barely holding onto his job. I know none of you will let me generalize anything here, but I would invite you to just consider the importance of healthy parental bonds in society. What would the world look like if every single one of us had strong, considerate, helpful and loving parents who could do anything? What if that child-like feeling we had of our parents that they were super-heros never went away?

Let's not confuse being a super-hero with being perfect. We all still loved Superman when he grew a beard and started roughing people up in the wrecking lot, we were just a little concerned about him. We knew he would come back to his original good self. I'm going to stop there while I'm sorta ahead. Tune in later for the Tiger Woods saga. We'll see if we can make some sense of that one.

Parent's disapproval

As a teenager we must break away from the influences of our parents, and show ourselves that we can stand on our own two feet. What if we haven't went through that crucial step, and still want our parents' approval? Do you believe it is healthy to want your parents' approval?

All I know, is that I do not know how to fully express myself around my parents. I am not the same person with them, as I am with others. Do you think this is natural and normal, and ok? What are the consequences of this?

Adventure on the High Seas

Today is my dad's 72nd birthday, and my friend Eddy's 83rd yesterday. We will be going to the Slocan Restaurant on East Hastings tonight to celebrate. What makes it special is that my mom and dad flew in from Calgary today to disembark with me on an Alaska Cruise aboard the Ms. Vollendam with Holland America Cruise Lines. We are staying on the Dolphin Deck, supposedly a metaphor for people who better know how to swim if there's an iceberg. Here's the ship I'm so damn excited!!!!

http://www.hollandamerica.com/main/DeckPlans.action?ship=vo&deck=m

We are staying in NN1800 and NN1801 Dolphin Deck - see if you can find us!

After deciding to take a motorcycle to Rio things changed with me and my parents. For starters, I promised them I would call them everyday. What I didn't say is that I meant for the rest of their lives. I was inspired by my mom telling me my grandpa used to call her everyday in the morning to chat. I asked if that got a little annoying to her, and she said "No, not at all, I kinda liked it". That was back on November 19th,and we've missed about 6 or 7 days since then.

What has been possible is a whole new understanding and closeness between us. I think they feel they can count on me more, and communicate with me more honestly. Every relationship needs consistency, and commitment of some kind to flourish. As I knew I would be leaving soon, I was so bold to ask if they would be interested in a cruise in Alaska sometime. I didn't know how I would afford it, I just knew I would make it work. They didn't seem to warm to the idea at all. Several weeks later, my dad called me on a Sunday morning while I was still in bed, and said "Speak now if you don't want to go to Alaska." The rest is history, shall we say.

I do not know what to expect on the first journey we will make together in 20 years. I know, as I committed to family on this trip, it will feel more like home than ever. I can't express to you people how much work went into getting to this point with my parents, but it really wasn't that hard, especially after I made a decision. Come hell or high water, I am going to make it my goal to get to know, and fully understand, the two people I have known longer, and more intimately than anyone else on this earth. For them to choose a baby that was not their own, and to take it home and love it despite their fears of pain and the unknown, is a choice that I will always be so touched by. Maybe I will finally get in touch with what that choice meant to them after all.

Honesty

From the eternal question "Do I look fat in this", to saying every little thing that pops up in your mind, the balancing act of honesty, integrity, and saying the right thing has only recently floated to the top of my consciousness.

I grew up extremely shy, and relied on my sister to do most of the talking. Our family never spoke about deep or intimate things, nor were we big huggers. There was lots of love there, just not a lot of verbal communication. As I met two female friends, Laurie Van Straten and Christine Erichsen, in high school, it will always be the time I remember starting to open up emotionally to others, as well as intellectually.

There was usually a fear of truly showing myself to people, and only certain people got the real Jason. Trouble was to be had several times as I said things to people thinking I was helping when in fact the source of the news was pissed that I shared that info with someone else. I've since learned to keep secrets, and ask permission, although it does tend to pop out sometimes when I'm trying to entertain, or break the ice. In fact, it's simply my inherent desire to make myself feel comfortable. The anxiety can be so unnerving and tiring everyday I just feel I have nothing to lose.

Everyone needs to find their own personal balance with the truth. A friend of mine in University used to say he thought it was ok to receive oral sex from someone other than his girlfriend as he didn't consider it cheating. I was judgemental, but I was also fascinated with his ability to feel no guilt about it. Much of my past life in relationships intimately and friendly skirted with guilt, and was kept innocent with lots of jokes and goofy behaviour. Sex always seemed so carnal and distant to me; I guess it's why I had to be drunk a lot before to have it. Alcohol and drugs cooled off the anxious feelings and thoughts enough for me to at least talk to a woman I was attracted to. Otherwise, I had to resort to women approaching me, or to get into situations I might not always want.

They say the truth can set you free, but my question to you is this: If you think something, does that mean it's true?

Lonely, Tired and Confused

I stopped journalling anything negative a long long time ago, maybe 4 years. I noticed a tendency to sink into that mud of negativity and anxiety and I decided it wasn't doing much for my confidence, or getting out of it. I was concerned it was keeping me there. I just feel such a need to pour out today, and I don't want to put this on anybody right now, so I'm putting it out into the expanses of the internet where someone I've never met, or have seen before, may read my inner thoughts. I have to let this energy out somewhere, and let go.

Do not be afraid, or concerned, everything is perfectly fine. The reason I am writing this is to show you that it is ok to have disturbing thoughts, and that they don't mean anything. Sometimes, though, it is healthy to find a way to release that energy somehow.

Happened upon a young teacher's blog today of her experience in Brazil. From the responses of her readers she was loved, and so many people really felt connected to her and loved by her. I found myself questioning everything about myself. I found myself wondering who the hell I became. I found myself wanting to receive such an outpouring of love, and somehow fill me up. Despite having a loving woman in my life, I don't feel love. Family and friends, I don't feel love. There is something wrong with me.

I just feel so confused. Why can't I feel confident in myself, ever? Why do I always feel on edge? What did I do wrong, what did I do to deserve this? Why have I always felt like I am unloveable, or unloved? It seems such a tortured existence, being tired all the time, never feeling refreshed, craving alcohol and drugs just so I don't have to deal with my thoughts, or feelings, or pain or being tired? Do I just need to pull up my socks and smarten up? Fuck you. I don't want to anymore. The most difficult part of this is I feel as if I've given my life for others, and for this world. I've given so much time, and thought to other people, and they care not to make a phone call, or come for a visit, or invite me for a picnic. Who have I been that people don't want to even have me in their presence? What bit of evil, neurotic, annoying, intense creation am I?

So, this is a little taste of what goes on in my brain every day. I guess I should be proud that I don't put a bullet in it.

The Adventures of a former Central Albertan

To my parents, it may have seemed like a rash decision, another hare-brained idea. I'm certain they thought "Just as he seems to be getting his life together, he's throwing it all away again!" Little did they know that that seemingly random phone call, mid-morning on a bright blue and crisp November day, had been the result of years of percolation. One can only guess as to the exact mixture of emotions and thoughts that they experienced at that moment. Only a parent who has had to say goodbye to their child before could estimate what was really going through their hearts and minds at the time. Make no mistake, though, it was abundantly clear: their son was leaving once again. This time though, something was definitely different.

When a person finally makes a life-changing decision, it tends to break a seemingly endless chain of procrastination, self-doubt, stubbornness and bad habits. Most people that hear of the new revelation though are often skeptical, squeezing out a "Good for you", or "That's great", but silently thinking "Yeah, right. Nothing's going to come of this", or "This is going to end up like the last time." This might be the case for the partner of a pack-a-day smoker that has 'quit' for the umpteenth time. For all the excuses of a failed New Year's Resolution, a diet plan gone awry, or always finding yourself doing that despicable bad habit again, there is often a new and hardened resolve to 'do it better next time'.

For me, I had always had big dreams, and big ideas about making a difference in the world, and being a leader. At 37 years of age, however, the only difference I had made was to alienate most of my friends and family by complaining how bad a state the world was in, and blaming them for it behind their backs. Unbeknownst to me, life was slowly setting itself up for a change. A cushy, comfortable, 8 to 4 job with benefits came as a result of years of slaving away at self-employment, and a bit of money was slowly growing in the bank. I had been attending a rigorous self-help seminar for about 6 weeks, so there was a lot of talk of breaking habits and trying new things in my life at the time.


The seminar was held on Monday nights from 7 pm until 10 pm, for about 3 months. An integral part of the exercise included the formation of a group, which we collectively decided to meet every Thursday. The group was designed to keep everybody working and motivated towards the goals and achievements each individual had for themselves, and to discuss some of the topics brought up in the Monday night session. On Thursday, November 19th, 2009 I had mentioned to my group the difficulty I had had to that point meeting the ‘woman of my dreams’ and wondered aloud how I might ‘get her’. Amidst varying degrees of contempt, my group members gently offered some advice on how to do that. Our group leader, Mark, suggested I take on a personal challenge. “Jason, date yourself for 30 full days. Treat yourself like you would a date that you really, really like for 30 days. After that, you will have women all over you.” The theory behind this, he explained, was that after this exercise in self-love, a person would be so independent emotionally that others would sense it, and be attracted to it. The meeting was just over an hour long, and the group selflessly focused on me for much of that time.


Buoyed by a rather infectious bout of self-importance and hope for the future, I found myself bouncing out of the elevator of Mark’s hi-rise condo. Despite my drunken sense I realized upon exiting the building that I was directly across the street from a building that I had known several residents. One particular individual by the name of Douglas Arthurs occupied the suite on the side of the building directly across the street from me, and as it was a building of over a hundred years in age, possessed a large picture window looking into Douglas’s kitchen. It seems builders from a century ago were not concerned about overzealous city dwellers peering directly into one’s home. Usually, a fear of a negative social encounters had stopped me from reconnecting with casual acquaintances. Only the most outwardly friendly and loving people could break through my insistent feeling of not being good enough. On this occasion though, I was so high on life I broke through the ‘analysis paralysis’ of social interaction and knocked on said window. I did not receive any type of response from within, but decided to persist, as I noticed a light on in the hallway, and shadows dancing on the wall. Again, I knocked even louder. This time: success. I could see Douglas walk out into the dark kitchen with a white towel barely wrapped around him, and then peer out of the window. He saw me, and it was clear he did not recognize me right away. I do not recall how long it took for his recognition, but he motioned for me to come through the side door, of which he came out to open. “Hey, buddy” I exclaimed “I was just across the street at a meeting, and just decided to say hi. You remember me?"

Within moments I was inside and exchanging pleasantries, catching up. Douglas, a working actor, had always been an inspiration to me. He was able to take exotic vacations for months at a time, and still have enough money from his work to put food on the table and a roof over his head. It was lucky I had caught him when I did, as he was to be disembarking for Brazil within 3 weeks at the time. Casually mentioning my dreams of riding a motorcycle to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil was only meant to carry on the conversation. Douglas quickly responded with "Well, if you're going to go, you've got to take 6 months at least!" That was the first moment I recall realizing a dream could actually become a possibility.


It didn't even seem to matter that my Yamaha V-Star 650 motorcycle was in the shop with an indeterminable illness. It didn't even matter that I had only been riding a motorcycle for just over a year, or even had a motorcycle driving license for 14 months. Anything was possible now, and even though I had no idea how it was going to happen, the mere thought of it sent shivers down my spine. You see, little hints had been popping up around me for sometime by then, little things that caught my attention for just long enough to make an impact. One particular moment was a stroll through Chapter's book store, where Ted Simon's book caught my eye simply based on the cover illustration. It turned out to be a story of a man who dropped everything, and rode his motorcycle over 50,000 miles and 4 years around the globe. The moment that sealed the deal was a close friend who had been visiting me at work one Saturday morning. A casual conversation was soon interrupted by my declaration, seemingly out of the blue. "I'm riding my motorcycle from Vancouver to Rio de Janeiro on August 28th." The look of pure and unbridled inspiration shone from his face, and I suddenly knew I was doing the right thing.


Within an hour I was on the phone to my parents sharing with them my plans. I knew it was going to be hard for them, but I wanted them to be the first to know. The questions came, and went. "How was I expecting to make money?" "Would I get my job back when I returned?" The hardest question to answer was "Why?" Eventually I answered calmly and confidently, "I will be quitting my job, selling everything, and making a brand new start. It is time for a change." Deciding to tell my parents first was unknowingly the step that made the plan firm. Whether the trip was to be a success, or not, at least I had the courage to share my plans with two people I knew would rather have me make a much safer life decision.

Personality Disorders

A friend of mine that I grew up with since kindergarten used to say I changed whenever other people were around. I never really thought about it, it just came natural. Always felt as if I was doing other people a favour by adapting my personality to theirs, or at least thinking I knew what kind of person the social gathering needed. I was proud to be a chameleon, and felt a sort of self-gratifying martyrism in it.

How can we all get so worked up about our personality? I'm sure many many people, including Robin Williams himself, thought he had a disorder, and needed to be medicated. How many lives has he cheered up, how many people has he made a difference for? Yes, I'm sure he can be more than a bit overwhelming and intense and crazy at times, but for god sakes, we're all different. Diagnosis of Asperger's disease, or borderline personality disorder, or Bipolarism are all great, but where does this stop? How many people's lives improved after being diagnosed and given a label like this? Ok, now let's put them on some drugs so they act the way they're supposed to. Who is deciding out there how we're supposed to act? Who out there is deciding that this, yes this, is the proper way human beings should act? How does saying the appropriate thing, being cordial, polite and fake solve anything?

I'm not advocating anarchic social interactions, I'm certain we require some sort of ground rules. I simply find it unfortunate that so many of us are embarrassed, or hurt, or feel there's something wrong with us because we don't feel, or act 'normal'. The problem of being human is not one that will go away. I also do not contend to have the answer, if only to say be very very cautious of what labels you put on yourself, and others. No matter what, or how it appears, we are all very human. That is a big, diverse, rainbow the size of Texas statement that has room for murderers, junkies, liars, goody two shoes, and me.

Hmmmm...... I kinda like this writing from the hip must be the Texas theme.

Risk

On a walk through to English Bay this evening to iron out some misunderstandings with Bonnie, we returned to a spot with a circle of large rocks in the ocean. She said "Jump from one rock to the next until you're all the way around the circle." Having not done much in a while that was the least bit physically risky, I had a bit of trepidation. By this time she was saying "No, don't do it. I was just joking. Please don't do it, you'll hurt yourself."

Nonetheless, I jumped onto the first rock thinking I can get at least half way around, but I can still turn around if I want. The rocks were a bit jagged, but I felt I needed to make a point for myself and my confidence, and felt it was a calculated risk. In one sense, the risk would have been simply getting wet, and bruising my pride in the least, and my ankle at the worst. I made it, and felt a peace inside myself. I'm not condoning constantly facing any fear without even enjoying the experience. What I am thinking of is our innate ability as children to conquer so many things without even thinking of fear. As we age, we become more fearful, and as we isolate in our homes, the fears can become even more intense. As humans I believe we need to experience risk, taking a chance, and putting ourselves out there from time to time, and that our bodies and minds need it to stay healthy and happy. Maybe your risk is taking on a project, maybe your risk is talking to a good looking guy, whatever it is, take it.

Currently, the Vancouver Canucks are in danger of dropping out of the playoff race. Yes, I'm disappointed, but I'm still alive, and what are some challenges I can take on in my life that I'm not taking on? I'm thinking that if I'm too wrapped up in a game, and too depressed after, I need to seriously get out and do something scary. Tell an inappropriate joke, make someone laugh, jump over some rocks. Something. Anything.


Do the thing you fear most and the death of fear is certain.
- Mark Twain

Choices

No matter what happens with depression and anxiety, the sufferer always has a choice. Unfortunately, the choices that involve dissipating symptoms can oftentimes prolong unhelpful habits of avoidance and distraction. Crucial skills of self-nurturing, thinking straight, muscle relaxation, focus, and emotional responsibility, to name a few, can all be learned and added to one's box of tools, but only after calmly experiencing the symptoms.

No doubt about it, today's North American lives are complicated. Filled with a plethora of slings and arrows, decisions to make, and people to deal with, it can be challenging to know what to do sometimes. Either way, there is no sense in sitting on the fence. Make a decision, and learn how to love that decision you made, and make it work. You will have to become good at making decisions if you want a way out of your troubles.

Making an Effort

Tonight was Bonnie's foray into producing a show for the Vancouver International Burlesque Festival. A 45 minute show involved several volunteer participants, with many hours of preparing video, and audio background for the performance. The numbers were still being cobbled together on the day of, and combined with a major performer backing out, as well as a computer hard drive failure, it would have been understandable for her to call the organizers and pull the show. Instead, she knew so many people were counting on her, and she was not one to back down.

The show was performed Sunday night, and there were several miscues and noteable problems, not the least of which involved a participant leaving in tears without saying a word. The day itself presented problem after problem, and the stress was palpable. So, my question is this: what makes a person go through these difficult tests, time and time again?

The man behind the venerable Tim Horton's food chain, Ron Joyce, once said "nothing takes the place of persistence." Granted, it prevails with common knowledge that the more someone keeps trying, the better chance they will have at success. What is it then that differentiates someone from trying again and again, and someone who gives up? I posit that the relationship between reward, risk, and pain are elaborately considered in the mind of each individual. If the person believes that the rewards of their efforts will far outweight any temporary pain, or difficulty, they will continue to forge on. If they feel it is too much trouble, they will stop.

A theme that continues in my mind is the tendency of people to describe themselves in fixed, firm, unchanging ways. Whenever I hear myself or someone else say "I am (something)", I know it destroys the chance of anything else being possible. For example, when I say, "I am an introvert", any behaviour contrary to this firm statement will be ignored, and I will do anything in my power to be right about it. I'll stay home, I'll stop enjoying spending time with friends, and I will make every effort to minimize contact with the outer world. Can you relate to this behaviour?

So, my only question now is, "Am I a writer, or not?".

Sleep

After years of research we still do not know exactly why we sleep. People afflicted with genetic disorders that robs them of sleep will die within weeks. Insomnia has driven many of us crazy and frustrated to the point of dreading the head hitting the pillow. For me, sleep has been a considerably aggravating phenomenon, one that has concerned me since I was 6.

One of the best Christmas presents I had ever gotten was the Snoopy Racetrack. It was common for my sister and I to be poring over the Sears catalogue by November, and this year my anticipation for my intended gift had come true. The magnetized track ran on batteries, and pulled Snoopy, Woodstock, Charlie Brown, and Lucy up the steep incline, then pushed it down the opposing slope through its intended path. Less than a week had come and gone before it was destroyed by my own doing. I was devastated, and the first signs of me distrusting my own body, and mind.

Sleep terrors are experienced by most children, but they tend to long fade away by the time they hit double digits. In my case, I not only experienced terrifying nightmares, I would most oftentimes act out my fearful experiences in the form of walking about, sometimes running, and usually accompanied with a blood curdling scream. The Snoopy Racetrack was the first victim of my altered state, and it began an intense desire to control myself, to analyze how my days would go, and most importantly become extremely self-absorbed and introspective.

My family, on the other hand, had become so accustomed to it they would rarely tell me that anything happened. I could only assume it was such a regular occurrence that they paid no attention. Once I had taken a wrong turn in my sleep, and proceeded to pee on my sister instead; it wasn't until her boyfriend Rod brought it up to tease me that I had any clue of it happening. Perhaps they didn't want to hurt me, or make me any more self-conscious about it.

A particularly poignant memory that told a tale of adolescent acceptance among peers happened in Grade 7. A somewhat popular Colin Campbell had invited me over for the weekend after getting permission from my folks. I still remember us riding our bikes through town and the novelty of it all. Of course we stayed up late talking, and I never recalled actually falling asleep. Morning came, and I got up to play with the cats while Colin still slept. My dad soon came knocking at the door, and Colin's mom nonchalantly knocked on the bedroom door and told me of his arrival. Pleasant goodbyes belied the truth as to what really happened that night.

Rod Bruntjen was the messenger, and I wanted to kill him. He was quick to share with me at my locker on a Monday morning that the whole school knew that something crazy happened Saturday night at Colin's. Rod said that, sometime in the early morning, I jumped up on the bed, and started screaming about computers. Colin's mom was supposedly mortified, not knowing what to do. Upon hearing what happened, my immediate response was to lay a grudge down on Colin for betraying my trust. He had obviously failed to keep a secret that was never discussed. In reality, I felt so embarrassed and exposed, I simply decided to never allow anyone to have that kind of power over me again. Failing to tell anyone in the house about my condition was the real key to this entire misunderstanding.

Spending most nights at friends was fraught with wishes of simply a quiet, relaxed sleep. It seemed everyone was ok with it except me. I made it mean that I was a defect and I shouldn't be spending anytime over at anybody's house. It was just an excuse, and a scapegoat for my overall feelings of inadequacies. Life sometimes would turn into elaborate ploys of manipulating my days so that I could guarantee no sleep talking. As it was tied to stress, I intentionally put a lid on my expression of life, just so I could avoid an embarrassing situation later on.

The stress of 3rd year university turned out to be one of the most terrifying sleep terrors, and consequent bodily harm, of my entire existence. With a full course load, and being the President of a student club, I had no doubt been under an exorbitant amount of stress. Often, a dream of being chased would end up with a startled scream, but not this night in October. After seeing an attacker in my mind, I had awoken, and despite knowing it was a dream, still felt compelled to run out of my dorm room and down the hall. The hall door had a small window made of security glass, a thick pane strung with metal wire for strength. Slamming this door into the concrete wall behind had broken the glass with a bang, and led to me fully waking up, huffing to catch my breath, and wondering how I was to explain my actions. As blood started dripping down my forehead, I realized my troubles were slightly more serious.

Three other guys on the floor were out of their rooms and assessing the damage. Joe had noticed a lot of blood around, and as I was leaning over the bathroom sink, I noticed it had to becoming from something more substantial. After a quick body search, my right forearm happened to be the source, and a massive gash seemed to go down to the bone. Immediately going into shock, I had to rely on Joe to get me to Emergency, where a 3 hour wait concluded with a doctor disbelievingly rolling his eyes upon hearing the cause of my injuries. Numerous stitches in my arm, and forehead were followed by a few weeks of embarrassment again, and self-hatred amongst my peers.

All I wanted was to fit in, and I had this condition that stopped me from doing that. At the time though, I always held out hope that I could control it. Nowadays, I do not.

Guys Hugging Etiquette

When a guy hugs another guy, there's a few unspoken rules. First, it starts with a handshake, pull the hand towards you, and put your left arm around the shoulder of the other man. Three pats on the recipient's left shoulder blade, and you're all good.

That being said, go up behind a good buddy some time and just put your arms around their belly and give 'em a big bear hug. Wait 3 seconds and see what happens.

Every one should really try Country Dancing at least once. If you're slaggin' it, you're obviously too scared to try it for yourself. Try it once, then slag if you want. Boone County on Brunette Avenue was the site for $5 lessons, and we just happened to hit it on a nite for beginners. Alex, Noriko, Sayo and J.D., myself and Bonnie all came out, and it was the start of a great thing; doing activities and learning new things with friends is a novel and fun approach to catching up and feeling connected.

When the World Came to Town

A 19 year old nephew from Stettler, Alberta came to visit his uncle in Vancouver, B.C. back in February of this year. It was his first time on an airplane, and the first time out of the province. His ticket was booked a couple months before his arrival, and we were both very excited for these firsts of firsts. His mother and grandparents all needed to know the date of departure so they could get him to Edmonton for his flight. It was Friday the 12th. It didn't really dawn on me until a few hours later........ I knew that date was significant somehow........ what was it?

January came and went, and a collective mix of tension and excitement was growing in the city. Checking out which roads would be closed seemed to be the concern of the day. A police presence was noticeably increasing, especially in the downtown area. There was an eery calm, and certainly none of the hubris one might expect from a city set to open it's doors to the world. Yes, on Friday, February 12th, all eyes were expected to suddenly move to Vancouver, the site for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Well, in the very least, my nephew would be in for a surprise.

Trips to our airport had become increasingly easier since the completion of the over $2 billion Canada Line linking YVR, a nickname for Vancouver's International Airport, and the cities of Richmond and Vancouver. The gleaming new trains and flashy interiors made me proud to show off the modernity of my city to my nephew, and quickly dispersed the memories of 2 years of rat-tat-tat-tat's of drills, humming of construction equipment, and endless street closures and rerouting. Despite its many detractors, the project was considered a success, as ridership far surpassed anyone's expectations since its September opening. By the time the Olympics arrived, all the bugs had been sufficiently worked out, and I could tell my nephew my impressed.

Fuelled by worries of too little snowfall, a tragic death, and an opening ceremonies with glitches and negative press, the Olympic experience was looking underwhelming at best, embarrassing at worst. The city did not know what to expect from all this newfound attention, but as soon as the ceremonies finished, people started congregating on Granville Street. It was to become party central for the rest of the Games, and the Nation's Pride was on display like never before, with random groups of strangers spontaneously singing "Oh Canada" at the drop of a red and white toque.

Monday morning came after a flurry of activity over the weekend. I spared no expense in entertaining my nephew, and was determined to pack as much fun and excitement into our time together. It must have been quite an eye-opening experience being transported from a small town to a big city, much less a big city hosting a large-scale International event. Despite him being half my age, I think we were equally relieved to get home to some much needed rest.

A moment of Spontaneity

The world was my oyster. By the time my 23rd birthday had come and gone, it seemed there was nothing in the world that could stop me. One year later, University graduation was to culminate 4 years of post-secondary education, extra curricular and volunteer involvement, and loads of work experience.

Over time, the trials and tribulations of looking for the right relationship, the perfect career, and lots of money, found me at 37 wondering what life was really all about. Looking back, time had witnessed so many missed opportunities, and missteps, it was hard to believe so much had been packed into those lost years. Although there were no regrets, life seemed a whole lot harder than I had ever imagined it would be as a child.

Life had substantially settled down dramatically after taking a stable, stress-free job in Property Management a couple of years earlier. It seemed to do the trick; I was quickly promoted with a substantial pay raise. There were drawbacks though: having to stand on concrete for 8 hours, cleaning up other people's garbage, and doing the same thing, day after day. Despite this, it all seemed to calm my worried mind to know I had a job to come to every day, and a paycheque waiting at the end of 2 weeks.

Doing the 9 to 5 routine had somehow taken its toll on the overall quality of life. Every night, and every weekend was turning into the same humdrum affair as well: going for drinks, watching TV, surfing the net. In a sense, life had turned into a rut, and the future was looking to be exactly the same as the past and present. There were no exciting plans, no exotic vacations, nothing to look forward to. Many a soul have found themselves in this despairing place, and for as many souls, there are as many ways out of it, or further into it.

I woke up one morning of a day off, on a cold, rainy late Fall day in Vancouver, B.C. Winter was on it's way, a time when Vancouverites generally hibernate like groundhogs until late May. In a particularly good mood, my mind seemed to have a bit more of a positive attitude running through it. How would I spend my day off? Everyone else was working, and it seemed extra indulgent and special to do something while the city was busy in high rises and offices. Somehow, the regular options of going for a walk, or a drive laid way to something I hadn't done in over 15 years, something fantastic.

It was an extraordinary idea; maybe somehow I could recapture my youth, hit the reset button somehow, and jumpstart my life again. I immediately picked up the phone after a brief internet search, and called the phone number to register. "Yes," the young lady replied "we do have spaces, but you'll have to be here by no later than 3:30 pm." Since it was a little past 12 pm, a 2 1/2 hour drive to Whistler would give me plenty enough time to get there.

It wasn't until I was locked into a harness that I fully realized what I was doing. I was going to jump 160 feet off of a bridge into a canyon with frothing, angry, glacial fed water rushing through. Yes, I was about to bungee jump! I immediately began to question my motives from the morning, especially when I looked down.

One must maintain a cerebral approach to intentionally jumping off of a bridge, feet first, for fun. Your feet will never leave the safety of firm ground without intellectually knowing you will not be plunging to your death. That does not even measure up to the intense feeling of falling. Unlike a slow graceful descent of an airplane, a bungee jump in a canyon full of massive pines creates a sensation of a green blur. Regardless of all the reassuring thoughts, the mind still thinks it will be no more, and it is perfectly normal, and natural, for a grown man to scream like a little girl.

It is only until the sweet and reassuring pull of the bungee cord that one starts to feel safe again. Life as I knew it had changed, and I felt truly alive again for the first time in years.

Plugging into the Matrix

Ok, now I don't need to make this blog into a melting pot of paranoia and fear. Somehow it seems easy to go that way, and quite ironic considering my aim is to help people overcome fear. Although knowledge is power, I think there is a tendency to get overstimulated or overfed information and just turn off after a while. It's then important to mix things up.

Strangely I was just fantasizing about a memory I had back in Red Deer College in 1992. It was a Halloween party and I had shown up alone. It was a small city of 60,000 at the time, and a few friends would eventually show up by the end of the night. Nirvana was the band of the day, and Hi-Balls (liquor and pop) were being sold at $1.00 each most nights of the week. Despite them being severely watered down, they made many people extremely drunk. After walking into the bathroom to take a pee, I had noticed a couple guys off to the side talking. Never took much notice until I was walking out. One guy tapped me on the shoulder, I turned around, and he punched me hard in the nose. I don't remember how exactly, but I think I just walked out. When I walked out, I saw a casual acquaintance who was wearing a vampire's get up. As soon as I had told her I was hit in the face, a deep red drop of blood came out of my nose and plopped on her white dress. We were both shocked.

I went over to the bouncers and told them this, and they brought these two guys out. When I asked him why he did it he said, "You had an earring. Sorry, man". He was about as tall as he was wide, and was a known enforcer for the AJHL Olds Grizzlies. I have always been a thinker above a doer, but since then I've fantasized about taking him by the throat right then and there.

So, it comes to mind that, when we're younger, going through school, there seems to be so much violence, aggression, and competition but I can't say I've blatantly experienced that for awhile. Perhaps, as we age, it's just not that important anymore to beat someone, or show someone up. Maybe we're too scared of the consequences. Bill Vanderzalm, former Premier of B.C. from 1986 to 1991, has been tirelessly working on a campaign to protest the HST, a sales tax that will 'harmonize' the GST (Goods and Services Tax) and the Provincial Sales Tax by effectively combining them. I think it would be a safe bet to say most B.C.'ers are not aware of the implications of this move, and could really care less. It all makes me wonder what I would fight for. What would I be willing to get punched in the face for?

In danger of losing relevance

Writing as an exploration of life. Who really cares about my life? Who cares about what happens in my day? People want to experience their own lives, and I have no business telling anyone how to live, or how to experience life.

Agreed, but what if one person decided not to jump off a bridge tonight because of what he or she read here? What if one person chose to talk to their mother for the first time in 17 years? Would people say, "Who cares about that? You're not changing the world!" Maybe. What I can assure you, though, is that it changes my life to share, and if I am the only one who decides to keep on living, then this blog is doing its job. Now, if each and every one of us had a purpose, we'd be getting somewhere.

The bonus is that someone's suffering from anxiety and depression lifts for only a moment. The constant onslaught of media, our social network, and most importantly our inner thoughts, plague our natural born desires for health and well-being. No one knows who to believe anymore, and only an 'expert' in the field knows what they are talking about. My uncle's hands were starting to shake recently, and fearful thoughts of Parkinson's Disease were coming up. Now, what kind of medication would be prescribed for that condition? What other options are there? Are doctors really the only people who know the answer? Does someone who goes to Medical School for 12 years have all the answers? I've been going to the school of life for 38 years and I can admit that the more I think I know, the less I actually do. My dad, who has been a farmer for 70 years, suggested it was stress that may have been causing the shakes.

I am not saying that no doctor can be trusted, I am only inviting you to be absolutely certain that the decisions you make for your mind and body are ones where you have done enough research, and assessed all the options, are educated ones in the least. Making decisions for your children obviously follow the same rule.

To conclude, I urge you to be conscious of all the messages you receive every day about what is right, or what is good for you. TV commercials, magazines, internet pop up ads zing at you 100 miles an hour, and they are designed to enter your subconscious in such a way that you are not even aware. What does society consider attractive? What is really important in your life? Who's opinion is the right one?

Seriously put yourself, right now, in a hospital bed with mere moments of belaboured breathing left in your tiny, frail body. Who is around you? What memories do you have of your life? Was it important to you that you contributed to others? Do you feel you made the world a better place?

If you need some more visualizations, watch Eva Markvoort's last days on her video. Eva's struggle with Cystic Fibrosis was documented over 2 years. In the final days, her lungs were filled with mucus after a double lung transplant failed. www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjinOU7LR0k

Happiness is......

What is your definition of happiness? Bonnie is laying on my couch with two cats draped all over her. All three are completely blissed out right now. Compare this to a hurried and rushed day, accomplishing, go-getting, and can-doing. Who says we have to DO SO MUCH?

On another note, I've mentioned to close friends before that my vision of perfection is having every single human being I've ever known or met, to meet in a large country field on the farm in Stettler on a nice warm sunny day. Time wouldn't exist, and worries had no space to settle. I would just spend the whole time mulling from conversation to conversation.

Reminiscing today on the old Christmas and New Year's parties we would have at my aunt's house just a few miles south of Stettler. Our farm was a mile and a half south, so she lived a few more away from town. There was probably 10 houses between us and her, and it was a 10 minute drive away. Gives you an idea of how isolated we were. She was an amazing storyteller, avid card player, and great listener. Toy dog collector, coin collector, and an Encyclopedia Brittanica collection that taught me the names of hundreds of animals while my mom and her talked at the kitchen table.

Those parties hosted up to 50 people at a time, and most were relations: cousins, uncles, aunts, grandmas, great aunts. I only wish I appreciated it more when I was there, as so many have passed away, not to mention that lifestyle hasn't been experienced in over 20 years for me. I remember feeling so at ease with all these people, and just zoning out on the carpet playing with some toys or watching tv. Noboby ever asked me to do anything, or impress them, or entertain them. Not completely true, as mom would often ask for help to move a table, but that was about it. The preparations and work that was put into it were all behind the scenes. The men would sit in the living room and watch sports, and the ladies would stay in the kitchen preparing, presenting, and subsequent cleanup of the food.

Do you share these thoughts, or a nostalgic feeling about those times with big families in Canada? In less than 20 years, my entire culture has changed. Everything I see before me today has absolutely no connection with that time then. I wonder aloud if these changes contribute to one's mental breakdown, the disconnect with other known and familial people, and the invariable isolation one creates for themselves when they are in pain, or confused, or lost. Medication must be the absolute last resort for mental health disorders. Connections with family must be restored, and that primal love must be brought back into someone's life for them to thrive. Perhaps it's why those with really big egos seem to outperform the sensitive, self-conscious, thoughtful souls. They are just so self-assured that they will be loved and protected by a combination of themselves and whomever, that they are more resilient to breakdowns, and set backs. Life is full of them folks.

Wagon Burns in Horrific Crash

Ok people, never before have I crashed so hard after an ultra intensive self-motivated health challenge. Oh except 45 and 61 days of Bikram's yoga in a row respectively, with a 4 year hiatus between them. Maybe quitting smoking for 1 whole year only to start again? 6 days of a Master Cleanse. What about 6 weeks without a drop of alcohol when I was 24? Oh, yes, that was a good one too.
Now what? Do I go back to monkdom, or let it all hang lose? Aaahhh let's just watch a Justin Bieber video and forget about it!

It brings me to a thought I had about today's topic: animal or artist? It's been percolating for a few days, culminating in a conversation with Geoff today at an impromptu brunch party.

NEWS FLASH:
New word of the day: redonkidant, adj. A combination of ridiculous, which evolved to redonkulous, and redundant.

I've realized I need to really lose myself to do my best writing. If not it is most certainly surface things; it's why I must completely give up wanting anything, and almost letting my brain speak directly to the pages. Right now, I'm spelling every 2nd word wrong, and it's taking me a long time to get this down. When I'm in the mode, there is a split second difference between the thought and the word on the page. I took two years of typing in high school, a time when the first public computerized word processors were coming out. In fact, one year prior we had type writers with an LCD digital screen, about an inch high by 4 inches wide, and that was big technology(left). In 1989, the words were typed out in the same way they had been since 1867 (top right). Windows was widely accepted by the early 90's, and our lives will never, and have never been the same.

In a long curcuitous pattern I am making my way to my point of animal or artist. Please allow me to be lazy and just put two opposing pictures in your mind: One, a complacent cow chewing her cud. The second, a Van Gogh self portrait.

My premise is based on a comparison of an animal and an artist, and that they occupy opposite ends of a happiness spectrum as I'll call it. I should say at this point I do not profess myself to be an expert on this, I am only an insignificant human musing about existence. For argument's sake, let us say happiness can be a combination of being at peace, comfortable in one's own skin, a sense of belonging and a complete and utter disregard for time and any of it's concepts. If you ever watch a cow longer than a fleeting moment, you may personify that animal in such a way that you call it 'happy'. It's really all you can do, as you are a human speaking in a language that only your species knows; it's the only way to describe something outside of yourself. Comparing this to one of the most famous artists of all time, a cow would seem a demi-God of peace and serenity, and not just in India.

Vincent Van Gogh supposedly cut his own ear off in a fit of unrequited love. This story has become quite convoluted and has as many possible twists and associations as Elvis' death, but the point remains the same. He joins many famous artists, musicians and writers who have committed suicide, or other acts of self-mutilation and destruction. Frida Kahlo, Alfred Maurer, Ernest Hemingway, Emily Bronte, Kurt Cobain. Sorry had to bring that last one up, but the idea of the tormented artist is certainly not new. There is also something here that associates itself with pain somehow; cows avoid pain at any price, and artists seem to crave it, then when filled can hold on no more. The stoic words "You must have pain to be a painter", seem to ring true.

At the risk of over-simplifying human nature, I can boldly say our troubles as humans begin to multiply the further we come away from our animal nature. Technology, Communications, Entertainment are all small reminders of how far we've come, and in a very very short time. What will become of us? How will the technological revolution leave us? It has implications on everything from how to lead our own lives, to how we raise our own children. Do we keep them innocent, and simple or do we let them explore past every boundary that they find in the world. Most logical answers involve moderation and compromise. From a mental health standpoint, it is important throughout a human life to learn how to sooth oneself, and to mentally keep things in perspective. The human brain can get away on itself very quickly, especially if there is a history of abuse or neglect. There is a connection, and we are foolhardy to think our society and lifestyle does not adversely affect a great deal of people who are simply victims of their own humanity.

Videos of my journey

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