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


Something That People Want

Have you ever had an opportunity to be able to give something to the universe that a lot of people want? Lady Ga Ga has been experiencing this for the last 12 months, where a global phenomenon has been created from her creativity and essence. I decided to throw some feelers out for my apartment on Broadway and Cambie, and lo and behold over 50 people emailed me about it. Now, we'll see if anyone actually takes it.

Sisyphus

Walking by the GM Place walkway this morning at 8 am, I see a sign on a post saying "Construction site DO NOT ENTER" with yellow plastic warning tape stretched out on the path. I thought nothing of it, until around 11 am when the Manager from Costco calls me to say 4 people posing as construction workers with yellow hats are rappelling off the sides of my railing above their store, stretching a massive banner decrying their business policies to do with tuna. I went over to see what was going on, and saw the fear in the eyes of the 4 20 something kids as I approached them. I said "you should have a cigarette dangling out of your mouths, it would be more authentic". Still the fear. So, I calmly asked them "How long do you think you'll be here?" and they replied "As long as we can". I told them it was my job to state that this was private property, and that it was also my job to ask them to leave. They thanked me and acknowledged that I did my job. I was happy with that. I didn't force them off the premises, I didn't fight with them, or make them wrong. By 3:00 pm, they were gone, and my window washing company had brought everything down: 3 beautifully painted animals - a turtle, bluefin tuna, and shark, a massive binder, many hooks, karabiners, and brand new rope. Quite a few hours, and dollars spent on this project, and all of it for 6 hours of publicity. It seemed a Sisyphean tragedy to me, and questioned how well my $20 per month was being spent.

Resistance to Another Person

Fear to share what's really going on, and not trusting in your own words can be a prison. So much anger stored up inside, over some wrong doing of another, or something from the past. No matter if that person is trying to help you, or help the situation, if you perceive your back is up against the wall, you will only see them as an enemy, and you will fight. Remember this when you are trying to help your child, or your partner through a difficult time. You can't help them, or try to fix the situation, it will only make it worse. You have to find a way to 'be' with the emotions that they show, and have the courage to see it through. We are resilient, us humans, and we get into more trouble than we avoid, by denying ourselves our true power in difficult situations.
Those rare cases of people who have felt loved, safe, and secure, and have no interest in needing to find more, or get more, would have very little knowledge of the primal fear that people who are troubled emotionally and mentally experience. We put the label 'crazy' on it, and throw them out in the trash. Well, that trash never goes away, it is the garbage we all try to ignore, until the stench of it overwhelms and we have to burn it forever.
Horrific acts done against our fellow men are a result of years of ignoring someone's basic needs.

Canucks

I love sports, and I probably have spoke about this before. Am I being a whiny weeny for noting that a 4th line hockey player earns $500,000 per year? I'm just angry, despite knowing that I am doing nothing to deal with it, despite knowing I am only adding fuel to the fire. Complaining about something is a coward's way of expecting change.

Small Town or Big City

As the trend towards urbanization continues to grow around the world, it's fair to say there is a psychological battle around the globe as to the best place to live, work and play. That warfare continues it's neverending blitzkrieg everytime a young man or woman graduates from high school. What will it be - stay in a small town, or move to the big city?
I grew up loving my hometown. It had everything I ever wanted. It didn't matter what Stettler, Alberta had to offer - I had my imagination. With imagination, anything was possible. Growing up on a 1/4 section of land south of town, I was able to play on seemingly endless rows of massive, golden straw bales, catch dainty fairy shrimp in the ponds, or get lost in the bushes for hours. Often I would try to squeeze as many things into my day, and no matter what, I would enjoy it to the fullest. I didn't need any company, but it was nice to know there was someone around.
Walking down the streets would always be an exercise in remembering people's names, and asking about how they're related to whom and such and such. Having several relatives who lived in the area guaranteed meeting someone you knew every single day while shopping for groceries or playing baseball. You never had to lock your door, because everyone knew you, and you knew everyone. Going out to social functions meant meeting up with at least a few people you had known since kindergarten. As we technically lived outside of town, but within the county limits, we were able to still hang out with the farm kids, but go to school with the town kids. It was the best of both worlds, although the bus ride into town was hell on earth when someone decided to pick on you for being a 'town kid'. Ah, the 'good ole days'. Seriously, despite risking misguided sentimentality, growing up in Stettler was amazing. So good in fact, my immediate future choices hinged on staying close enough to visit on weekends.
Weekends turned to months, and months to decades, and I find myself in the metropolis of Vancouver, Canada's 3rd largest city, and arguably the most diverse ethnically, and in lifestyle choices. Opportunities for exciting change, new business and career ventures, and the unknown enticed me through Red Deer, Calgary, and Edmonton, before coming to B.C. almost 8 years ago. Each progressive step, I courageously, yet failingly attempted to maintain my small town attitudes of friendliness to everybody. It always seemed like people just didn't like me or something, but that small town charm won them over everytime and I am so proud to say I have developed lifelong friendships scattered throughout Western Canada. But what is it about Big City folks? It took me up until a few months ago to finally accept what the city dweller attitude about people is - I don't have time to help you so stop bothering me. It's true for the most part, without considering close relationships, that a lot of people have been very put off with my way of being open, inquisitive, and friendly. "What do you want from me?" It must have driven them crazy.
Grow up in a small town, and raise your kids in a small town. The world is a better place for it. Being DINK's (Double Income No Kids), my girlfriend and I can always justify staying near the excitement and constant movement of city life without having to worry about how it will affect our children. Running constantly from work, to dinner, to the gym, to bed only to do it again, can wear the strongest of us out. The only way to survive, is to think about yourself, and how you can get ahead in a hyper-competitive environment.

Foster Homes

Being adopted, I can say I honestly feel a community raised me. My parents and sister had the most direct affect on me in my formative years, but the saying "It takes a village" rings true in my heart. No ownership, only guardianship; simply watching over a child without possessing it.
As I prepare for my trip, the unenviable task of finding a foster home for my two cats Kenya and Sudan has come upon me. No, I will not soon miss the cleaning of the litter, but I do feel they are a part of me. I can understand a bit of how a parent feels when it has to leave it's children. Dianna, a mother from Surrey, BC has expressed interest in taking them, and I'll be giving her $50 a month while I'm gone to cover food and expenses. When I return in April 2011, we'll make a decision together as to whether they will come back with me, or stay with her. I feel responsible for them, but in no means do I think that someone else could do worse in taking care of them. She sounds like a good soul, which is a relief for me. I will miss having them around, but I know this will be the best for them.

The Corporate World

"I look at life from both sides now." - Joni Mitchell. It's a wonder we get anything done, but really this is a magical existence, this being human. Sure, it can be the depths of hell, but living on this earth on the top of the food chain has it's advantages. One can argue that all that spare time not having to worry about where the next meal is coming from can create more trouble than it's worth. All that spare time to worry, or get depressed, or drink 5 too many beers can, as they say be 'the devil's handiwork'. It's all a metaphor, and one that passes on from generation to generation. An important one involves hard work.
The harder you work, the more money you make, the more successful you are. Not in China. What if your wife leaves you because you're never home? I think any of us who have found 'success', in whatever form it may exist in the mind of the beholder, have had to make some compromises. In the flurry of activity that our society would deem an acceptable level of hard work, things get missed, glossed over, ignored. Things that one would never do seem to occur on a regular basis. Success feels good. It's not worth the sacrifice to do what's right, to do what's important. A human must succeed.
I overheard a conversation yesterday between a contractor, and another gent. It seems they had had a relationship of sorts from the past, and I can only guess that the contractor had given this person a job to help them out before. Using my own pure judgement, his appearance would deem him in the category of a 'homeless person'. He spoke eloquently, and calmly as he gave the contractor a low-down on what had transpired between him and the job boss at another construction site. According to him, the boss grabbed him by the ring of his safety harness and pulled him around. Long story short, this person was in talks with some sort of governmental, or human rights advocate about this incident. In fact, he said he had written a 144 page document, that, if charged out for overtime, and hourly wage, would have earned him over $44,000. This is what he will be claiming. I know I'm making him wrong for this, but my logic tells me it's not quite that simple. My decision will have no impact on the situation at all.
I just wonder, what could this obviously intelligent, and hardworking individual do for the world if he put that time, and energy into Big Brothers, or a Youth Emergency Shelter? He said he doesn't care about the money, he just wants everyone to know that he's right, and the other guy was wrong. Isn't that why we have hundreds of lawyers in the phone book? Humans......
I do not condone any of the actions on the bossman. He definitely stepped in it. What could be available for him if he would have just treated this other guy in a respectable manner? He probably learned that that was ok from his own boss. It is impossible for any of us mere mortals to see the ripple effect of our actions, even if someone else ends up hearing a conversation. It's so silly, so trite. Our world is dying, and all we are concerned with is "I'm right, you're wrong." When it's all over, we'll all be saying "it was his fault, not mine".

Kleenex

So now you HAVE to have the cleanest hands in town. One single microscopic organism on your hands and you will not be voted the cleanest person in town. My sarcasm. The girls and boys at Kleenex are thinking of one thing: I gotta sell Kleenex, but how??? Oh, let's replace towels! Here comes my promotion baby!!!! I can see this getting worse than the plastic water bottle phenomenon.

http://www.kleenex.com/handtowels/

A Journey Before It's Begun

I never knew the journey would have begun so soon. Admittedly rarely over-the-moon excited about embarking on my trip, I have often sunk into great fear about what I'm throwing away: all the work I've done to build up a home, just to start again. But what I am striving for, is to create stability that is separate from the outside world of materials, that stability hopelessly craved for by hoarders. No, I strive to create an inner stability and calm regardless of what is going on in my life. I've been having stomach problems for almost 3 years, and I just put up with it. I had some lasagna for breakfast leftover from last night, and left it at that for the rest of the day, drinking water. It was shocking to see how many hunger pains, and mood changes I went through; it was clear I'm an emotional eater, and use all kinds of sweets and treats to change where I'm at. In my mind, the best thing for a positive change in life is to 'throw your hat over the fence'. This idiom of the English language refers to setting a date in the future for a grand plan, then work your way towards it. It effectively slides through all the slings and arrows of the human's mentality to avoid, and procrastinate doing the things they've always wanted to. It's not easy, but it's simple.

Power Addicts

The Passionate Eye tonight was referring to our addiction to power, and "like all addicts, we will do anything to get our fix". There's an email going around now that shows some evidence to serious damage on the sea floor that could pierce ancient methane beds, that when released, would instantly kill any living thing on the Eastern Seaboard. Every civilization before us has annihilated itself over resources, but never before has a civilization had the power to wipe out millions of lives.

Departures

As September 1st comes around, students in the Western World have to consider an exciting, yet often challenging time of the year: returning to school after a seemingly timeless summer. For parents, it too is an adjustment, one that requires them to entrust their babies to another, in hopes of them learning skills to succeed in the world.
As a metaphor, it is the necessary departure of the children they love, from the familial nest they were borne to, as they take to the skies. In these families, they will return home as soon as school, or extra-curricular activities are finished but for others, the return can take days, weeks or even more. Whether it's University, or moving out to get a job, this new found independence, is a necessary, and healthy eventuality, as this new adult sets off to find it's new wings. It can be a time of uncertainty and worry, but the part mom and dad play is crucial in setting them onto a healthy start.
Every parent has either dealt with, or will deal with the emotions that come with their children leaving them. The unique life experience of bringing a new human being into the world, and protecting, teaching and loving it in the most special way, is abruptly halted. A fresh perspective is ushered in, and the inevitable adjustment begins. How does one cope with all the conflicting emotions that come up?
Let's go back to the metaphor of flying. Have you ever had the misfortune of finding a baby bird seemingly helpless, flitting around the bushes, trying to remain undetected, but desperate to take flight? How hard is it to not want to pick that bird up, and somehow feel you are helping it by taking it in your hands, or bringing it inside the house? Often, once you have picked it up, you have doomed yourself, and it. Now, it wouldn't be wise to simplify a human relationship as such would it? Yes and no.
As a species, us humans take longer than any other to raise their offspring, as we not only have the luxury, but we crave to teach them all the necessary skills to survive. How did Napoleon manage to lead his own army at the age of 16, but some kids today don't even have a job by that time? The realities of war have been avoided in our country for 65 years. We all have a roof over our head, 3 squares every day, and enough time to play a few hours of video games, and watch TV. Despite the 'easy life', these young adults can bloom once they leave home, but the most important skill they had to have learned is persistence. If they give up too easy, it could lead to problems down the road. What can you do if it happens?
A parent's job is to guide their child without showing them the way. The toughest job on earth, parenting can test you in ways unimaginable, but if you commit yourself fully to letting go, it can be satisfying beyond belief. This fall, give yourself the chance to trust in your child's abilities to manage, and that by giving them the opportunity to truly fly on their own, you give them a gift that lasts a lifetime. With that in mind, a good pair of binoculars wouldn't hurt either.

Retired Title

My journey from the depths of fear, anxiety, depression and low self-esteem would not have been possible without my friends, colleagues, and family. My honesty may be uncomfortable at times, but if I can give one person the feeling that they are ok when they need it the most, I know my job has been done. Sometimes, that one person might only be me.

I am learning how to communicate in ways that work for everyone - that people feel understood, and easy to understand me. This blog is about my inevitable stumbles, and hopeful steps back up to laughter, connection, and hope for everything on the earth.

Let's have some fun, too!

I LOVE YOU ALL.



Serving Real Royalty

An episode of Hell's Kitchen, with 30 newly minted chefs working under Gordon Ramsay, serving a couple actresses, an ET Tonight host, and a playboy playmate. Let's see an episode where some real heroes get served - the people working to stop the BP Oil Spill, while we all sit on our asses, in our cars driving down the street to get the mail. If you consume oil, or products of oil, you are responsible for this spill. Oil is so rare that they have to drill 1.6 km down into the ocean, then actually pierce the crust of the earth to get it.

I ain't yo mama

I ain't gonna tell you what to do you know how that would turn out. But if you can successfully navigate through one unnecessary pain today, you will feel proud of yourself. It really has nothing to do with me, except that I may have written a few words that made you stop, and think, if only for a brief moment in time. As our life lasts only a few cosmic seconds, this seems like a worthy life notion. Tell me what's really going on.

Communication

Well folks, I now know how to communicate. First, I let go of all my thoughts about myself, and just focus on what the other person is not only saying, but what is behind what they're saying. Every single human being communicates from some need to say something, and if you can get to that, you're home free. Once that person really feels listened to truly, they calm down, and respond calmly. That's right. Calmly. But only with a committed listener. It takes some training to get to this point, but once you're there, it's absolutely marvelous to be around people. I hated people before this course. Now, I feel connected. So guess what? No need for lawyers, no need for wars, no need for counsellors, no need for psychiatrists, no need for murders, no need for anything that hurts us, and makes us crazy. I won't make any apologies for this. I risked losing one of my best friends yesterday by getting angry with him about an email about muslims. It was a message that I've seen fly around the net so many times about the muslims taking over the world. Is this a soccer game or something? I wish it was, but the reality is people are violently killed based on what god they believe in. At least in a soccer game, you can go home to your wife and kids after your team wins and loses. I was angry, not at him, but at the implications of that message being sent around the world - and some person who reads it and gets scared could conceivably assassinate the President of the United States, just because he was seen entering a mosque. We are all connected, and everything we do has a cause, and an effect. We just live in such a big and disconnected world that it's hard to know where our communication will end up. On the positive side, you never know when a kind word will end up making a difference on the other side of the world.

Dealing With The Truth

After several attempts at carrying on a normal, non-evasive, guy-talk conversation, my friend Barry* and I relegated ourselves to a number of topics loosely based on the meaning of life. More specifically, we talked about what it takes to know the truth about something, and still be able to involve yourself in the situation.
For instance, knowing that the harder you work, the more money your boss, or your company makes from you. Sure, you will often make a bit more yourself, but it's the people above you that make the sizeable returns on your efforts. The higher you go up the food chain, the higher margin you make on the people below you. Now, most people seem to be ok with that, and the ones that don't either quit, start their own business, or stay, finding ways to ignore this commonly accepted knowledge. Non-profit organizations often have boards of directors, who make several thousand dollars for their time and opinions. We accept this as a part of doing business too. If I was the top dog, would I be worried about this? No, not at all. I would justify it somehow. Is it mostly the people at the bottom of the food chain that complain about it? Yes. The reality is, it takes a tremendous amount of work to build a successful company, and if you're not into the work it takes to create it, you have got to work for them. The business is impersonal, with one motive: profit. Anything that undermines profit, must be taken out of the game. It could be argued that most high-profile assassinations happen to those who are a threat to an establishment of some sort. From JFK to Abraham Lincoln, to gang-style murders in Surrey, anyone seen as a menace to the bottom line runs the risk of termination.
What about the Twin Towers collapsing like a perfectly planned demolition, with explosions happening on each floor, and the sound of a bomb going off in the parkade level? The management of the buildings affected were familially linked to George Bush, who, upon hearing the news of the attack, barely raised an eyebrow. It is not my intention to discuss conspiracy theories, as I feel, although interesting, only frustrates me and causes mistrust of my fellow man. I accept people are capable of anything. End of story.
http://www.911sharethetruth.com/
I had also mentioned to him the study completed on suburban competition referred to in Psychology Today. Most individuals, when polled, said they would be happier making $50,000 per year and their neighbour making $40,000 per year, than making $100,000 per year, and their neighbour making $110,000. This hyper-competitiveness rules us, but it doesn't have to. Ask yourself what's really important in your life, and consider that if you have a roof over your head, food on the table, and do not live in fear of being killed every day, you are in the top 10% of people in the world. Just earlier I had received an email from another friend who sends me a wide variety of videos, and pictures that are meant to surprise and shock you. One such attachment involved about 20 women who had received such enormous breast implants that they resembled a couple beach balls. Being a breast man, I can't help but be strangely attracted to some of them. On the other hand, I can't stop thinking about not only why someone would do this, but where that time, money, and energy could be spent. I'm fully aware of the judgement being passed here, and there is no space for that. I simply want to understand, especially when there is so much pain, suffering and disaster out there that could be lessened somehow by a healing hand. Is it due to the same hyper-competitive human trait that we all share?

*Name changed

79 days

79 days until departure. 79 days until the comfortable, relaxed, routine of Western Canadian life makes a drastic change. 79 days until I will be on the road from Vancouver, BC to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on a motorcycle. As the countdown moves ever closer to August 28th, I find myself going through the gamut of thoughts and emotions, not feeling ready, and not having it figured out. 6 months ago, when I had decided to make this trip, I was certain I would have felt better about it than I do now. Then again, the initial excitement was bound to wear off eventually, and be replaced with this, a desire for security, and comfort. What should I make of these contrary motives to my inevitable journey to South America?
Planning a trip is one way to get excited and motivated about it. Reading about all the things to do, seeing pictures of beaches and tropical forests, researching the internet on others who have been there before you. Indeed, a vacation can be more fully exploited the more information one has about the destination. The challenge in my particular case, is that this is not a vacation. This is more of a career change, of sorts. Leaving an 8 -4 job with full benefits, and jumping into a realm of uncertainty, and potential danger is not most people's idea of a smart career move. What is important to consider is all the opportunities, and experiences that come from life changes. None of us really want to lose all the great things we have worked so hard to get, but the hope is that new change will not take away, but instead add to our confidence, our skill sets, and our bank account.
Unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way. As a Construction Worker in Edmonton, Alberta, I was making $11.10 an hour in 2002, and although I wasn't that happy, I felt safe. After being 'discovered' at a movie theatre by a modelling agent in February of that year, I had flown to Miami for photos and committed to moving to Vancouver, BC by that summer. Upon arrival that September, the apartment that was expected to be waiting for me had not come to fruition. My agent had promised me he would have it all set up on my arrival, and instead I was spending my nights in a backpacker's hostel, and scraping by on the last remnants of a credit card limit. It ended up taking years of hard work, frustration and tears to get out of debt, build friendships in a new city, and feel confident in my abilities. Do I have regrets? Not a one.
We never know what is going to happen when we take a chance, or a risk. Others may look at our decisions and frown upon them as silly, or even reckless, but to that person who feels there is something missing, it can sometimes be the only thing that can give them hope. We arguably live in one of the best countries in the world for standard of living, freedom and quality of life, yet despite this, we still have so many unhappy people. Why is this? At the risk of oversimplifying one of life's great questions, I can say this: we all need hope, and optimism for the future and sometimes, we have to take a big chance. It may not work out the way we expect it to, but the anticipation of the journey alone is worth it in the end.

So many fears

They hit like a freight train, and come out of nowhere. Do you have to sit back and take it? No, and neither do you have to be hyper-vigilant to make sure it doesn't come back. Life is meant to be lived, and being on the front lines allows for that. In football games, you can't stop to navel-gaze otherwise your opponent will strip the ball from you and take it to the end-zone. That's what fear does.
I know I am in a pattern right now, and I know there is the signs of fear in my body. I must forget my past, and quickly move through it. Anyone who wants to keep their life going has got to learn how to jump through these times as painlessly and effortlessly as possible.
For starters, know that your brain is doing this, and it's not real. Just like neurons firing, and chemicals passing through, there is no meaning or reason for what is going on. Just that it is going on. You can spend years trying to figure out why you fear, and try and spend thousands of dollars, many hours talking, just to ensure you never feel it again. But remember this brain is a primitive one, one that hasn't changed in thousands of years. If you don't believe in some higher power, family member, friend, or partner being able to take all your pain away, you must learn it the hard way. The great news though, is once you have this, you won't need anything or anyone to get you through it, you will have gotten out of it all by yourself.
I just realized my pattern for negativity, fear and avoidance. Now, I don't have time to mess around with these things I've got to get on a bike in 3 months and live. How am I going to do that? Work, moving, and persistent discipline. That's it!

Fresh Breath of Air

It has seemed like I have been in an iron lung for awhile, and I think hating my existence at times. I've created so many rules for my life, like "I can't do that, it costs money", or "I can't do this, I don't have time". I can even take it as far sometimes as "I can't do it because it takes electricity and causes waste." I think society has rules too: figure this shit out yourself, or don't bother us. A lot of people fall through the cracks, and when separated from their families of origin, childhood friends, and mentors, it is near impossible to pull oneself back up.
With all these thoughts it was nice today to get a fresh breath of air, some perspective and to take the weight of the world off my shoulders, if even for a brief moment. It's at these times I find it easier to find inspiration, easier to find positives that I can use in my life. Draped over it all, is a belief in oneself, paramount to everything. Even if your writing, or your art, or your product never sees the light of day, at least you feel good about yourself. The abyss is not HIV, car accidents, murderers, it is a low self-esteem. You have the same thing as everyone else - a wonderful brain that can help, or hinder. Ever wonder how the New Kids On The Block stayed sane? No matter what was going on, they had to put a positive spin on it:
"Was it a surprise to me to see the Backstreet Boys on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine? It was, because Rolling Stone was the rock n' roll Bible and we were voted worst band, worst tour, worst singers, worst everything during our career he says. "So it was ironic to see Backstreet Boys on there, but that's how things change. MTV used to boycott our videos and now its all teenagers screaming and yelling and carrying on the way they used to ridicule our fans for doing. Was I bitter about it? No. Not at all. I think one day MTV woke up and said, We're turning all these young girls away, we better start playing what they like" - Donnie Wahlberg

Lazy Communicator

If I could have just taken that extra moment to get into someone's world, or summon that extra ounce of courage, I could contribute to that person, and I would contribute to myself, just as well. For that matter, an extra moment in thinking about how it can be said does not stifle me, it only stops me from being a selfish communicator. What is there to be done? Who else can I clear things up with, for both of our benefits?
I'm interested in finding ways that people can communicate. I know we are all the same, I know we work the same way, if I could only find that secret to being that allows me to show that to people. What's my concern? What am I scared about? Well, maybe I am just scared I won't be ok. Maybe the only reason I care about people is because I need them to help me.
I was so mad at Joel today, so much so that I accused him of stealing and lying. What had happened was that our communication had broken down for so long, and was in desperate need of maintenance, that I had to get livid to actually speak to him. It didn't have anything to do with him, despite my finding whomever I could for agreement. So what, he thinks differently, so what he doesn't do what I want. He loves me, and cares about me, and that's all that really matters. Love is all you need, that is true. I feel it. Sure, it feels good to have someone do what you want them to do. Yeah, it's nice to have someone say nice things about you. I say, take those moments and cherish them, but root out all those situations in your life that need to be looked at, because that's what stealing your life away. That's what's taking you away from being a true contribution to this world, and to your friends, and to your family. Prepare for them, expect them. This wonderful brain, and big heart we've been given must be used. If we don't, that's ok too. That's just what animals do.
We're playing this game called life, and it's like playing monopoly with stacks of paper money, hockey with 10,000 pucks, basketball with 10 foot legs. This game of life is rigged for happiness, contribution, love, fun, excitement. Be angry, be bitter, hate that person - but you can settle it NOW if you a) strive to understand the other person b) look deep inside yourself as to what you're really angry at c) don't take it personal d) risk hurting, and being hurt e) stick with it
Nobody teaches you how to do this, and until the school system changes, we have got to learn it on our own.

It's been a tough time recently, and all of my creation.

20 year grad reunion

Momentum is gathering now around the impending reunion of my Grade 12 graduation class of 1990. This will be 20 years, and I'd like to say it's gone fast, but it hasn't. Sure, it defies my ability to reason the sheer, impersonal, unstoppable movement of the man-made concept of time, but a lot has happened. The amount of experiences and moments that one can squeeze into 20 years is breath-taking. That being said, I'm terrified.

I took 2 years of typing in High School, and never once thought that they would aid me in writing. I love life for that - having skills and experiences from a past life that help obtain, and move in different directions. From the benign suggestion of Mr. Al Leinweber that I should be the Treasurer of the Student's Union, I basically made a entire life changing choice to enter Business School. The thought of making money, and playing with numbers, and computers gave me a sense of belonging I hadn't had. There was a knack for concepts of accounting, typing, computer science, and a bunch of other things that inadvertently led to a business matriculation award on the side of a GED. I don't even remember the particulars, just that I thought it was my place.

What I didn't know anything about though, was people. Businesses are made up of people - customers, trades, employees, bosses, chairpersons and contacts. It's a full time job shmoozing one's way through the corporate jungle, and a skill that never came easy to me. I was a cut and dried salesman, who thought that a good product would sell itself. I couldn't be further from the truth. What sells is a complex, difficult to determine and quantify relationship between the customer, and seller. If this is off a slight tinge, it could spell disaster. Some relationships begin easy, some take numerous attempts, and constant communication to keep going.

But before I get too far off track, I'm left wondering, who will we be at this reunion? The bulk of us will not have seen each other in 20 years, and have little idea what to expect. I'm certain some of us will not attend out of ambivalence, fear or downright hatred of anything to do with their high school. I don't blame them. It can be the hardest years of our lives, adjusting, competing, breaking away from the parents that loved and raised us, and moving out on our own. It's a difficult break in our lives, but one that was made a bit easier by our youth and enthusiasm. I would love for every single person from our class, and their families, to be there July 23rd, at Linda Hall.

Action

My experiences in writing have been filled with ups and downs, and even more questions than I had before. Today I remembered happening onto a paperback at the library, and one I needed to read that day. It was called 'Jimmy Buffett and Philosophy: The Porpoise Driven Life'. Coming out of a day filled with burdens of catastrophe of the earth, seemingly never ending anxiety and nervousness about my place in it, it was a welcome breath of fresh air. It was a philosophy on life, one that cradled notions of fun, excitement, parties and light laughter - and I didn't sense a trickle of guilt.

Jimmy flirted with the idea of being a 'serious writer' - until he witnessed the landslide of careers, money and mental stability that often beset them. Suicide was an all too common result. It got me to thinking - how can we be aware of the ills of the world, and still feel like we can do something about it?

First and foremost, if you're not willing to be in action about it, don't bother. I think something happens to the human psyche when it is left up to it's own ill charms to think, postulate, complain and detest the human condition. If one wants to make a change in the world, they had better be in physical, moving, unadulterated action if they want to stay sane. Is Jimmy Buffett changing the world? Well, I think he is responsible for a hell of a lot less environmental degradation as Big Oil, and a lot less human tragedy than some Governments. And he has fun doing it.

Standing Still

Living in Vancouver, BC for almost 8 years, I've been running almost everyday. Lately, I've been complaining to myself how nobody ever calls me, and all the friendships I've developed over the years have dissipated. Tonight, I sat down with Bonnie outside the Libra Room on the street, a la European Cafe. I met Christian, my friend and owner of the local Bikram's studio, his brother, girlfriend, and another friend, and my other friends Amanda and Zoe. All from standing still, just for a moment.

An Easy Target

A few people, after awhile of talking, have shared their truth about my trip, and the dangers. My friend Emma and I were having a beer at Red Sonya's Chill Winston http://www.chillwinston.com/Chill_Winston/who..html and after stating a few opinions about the questionable safety of my trip, asked "You know you're white, don't you?" Yes, I know I'm white, but when I look at people I usually don't think much about the colour of their skin, except for a normal, quick, human judgement that I work to be aware of. Her premise was that, because of the colour of my skin, I will automatically be targeted as someone with money, and therefore at risk of danger.

Listen Carefully

"I don't ride with too many people. You and a couple others, that's about it." - Dad, referring to who he would be a passenger in a car with.

Writer's Block

"I do not know myself how I paint it. I sit down with a white board before the spot that strikes me. I look at what is before my eyes, and say to myself, that white board must become something." (Vincent van Gogh)

www.vangoghgallery.com/misc/bio.html

A Mother Kills its Babies

I grew up on a farm, and saw the life cycle begin and end numerous times. On occassion, a mother cat would kill its own babies, and I had heard of dogs doing the same. Obviously as a young impressionable boy this act seemed heinous, yet I always knew the mother felt justified in some way, for whatever reason. In a dog's case, a very nervous mother can ignore any maternal instinct and consume it's own offspring much as it would the afterbirth. An environmental cause, and inability of the animal to adjust to it, would be enough to cause this.
Now, is the dog bad? Is the dog evil? NO! The dog is just doing what the dog is doing. Obviously life will do everything in its power to sustain itself and continue, but if natural forces move to snuff it out, they will. How about the picture awhile back in a local newspaper of a large male polar bear with a cub's head in it's mouth? We as humans are ill equipped to lay our morality onto animals, although we naturally do, time and time again.
So, now we lay our morality onto humans. Do so, but consider, as you would, an animal who just happens to have a very large brain, but is still an animal. This animal has family history, culture, environment, health, conditioning and behaviour, boiled down to a very simple concoction that can cause a human to do, in our words, the most amazing, and most despicable things.
Recent news has inspired this writing, as a 24 year old woman from East Van has just been charged of killing her 2nd baby. If we are to make a judgement on someone's actions, and punish them for those actions, take into consideration the plethora of influences throughout the years of that person's development. Punish the neighbour that raped her. Punish the mayor that failed to protect her rights. Punish the father that neglected her. Punish the school system that ignored her. Yes, punish her, punish her to the full extent of the law, but what about all the other people who had a hand in influencing that person through her life, and the decisions she made?

Psychiatric Drugs

Would you take a psychiatric drug that took away your ups and downs, and creative energy, but gave you restfull sleep, peace, calm and harmonious relationships? Would the trade-offs have to be measured first?

True Courage in the 21st Century

Die for your country, shoot an 800 pound grizzly, work 72 hours in a row on an oil rig in Louisiana. All certainly courageous ventures, and ones few of us could do. In my humble opinion, true courage in this world, and what inspires me, is when someone tells another person they love them, and mean it. Now, consider that the other person has hurt you, or done the most despicable act known to man? Could you forgive him, or her? Do not confuse this with condoning, or agreeing with, or even understanding their actions for that matter, but truly forgiving them. Absolute, unequivocably forgiving someone who has wronged you in some way.
My good friend Michael called me mid December 2008 after falling off the face of the earth for awhile. He had been struggling for sometime, and decided to go back to his native California to get back on track. Unfortunately, the time there made things worse. What little confidence he had was sapped away, and he was a scared, nervous, shell of a man. In his late 40's, there was a hint of desperation in his voice on the phone that day, but Michael is a strong man, and he can act pretty well. My employer, Rancho Management, had been growing in leaps and bounds, and were open to enticing new employees into the company at the time, so I mentioned to Michael that he should come down and let me show him what we do. He was shovelling Boxing Day snow for us within a week of arriving back in Vancouver.
Michael is a talented handyman, and he learned his trade from his father, who took on a multi-year renovation project of a Church in San Francisco that had been condemned, and worked pro-bono. Despite enjoying working alongside his father, he decided to join the priesthood. Excelling in the profession, he eventually had to resign as a result of separating from his wife. So marked the downfall of Michael, and when I met him for the first time in 2003, despite appearances, the slide was starting. Plagued with self-doubt and guilt, Michael got so bad he could hardly take care of himself, and was mired in debt. As a contractor, his perception of himself allowed others to take advantage of him, and as his self-esteem was so low, he didn't really care to find a way out. But all he needed was a different way to look at things.
I taught him a simple little cognitive skill that involved separating what really happened, and what we PERCEIVE happens. For example, Michael's mom would always say things like "I hate you" and "you're good for nothing". Where he disserviced himself is that he allowed his mind to mirror his mother's words exactly. So, when his mother said "You're good for nothing", Michael believed it entirely. He hadn't learned how to think for himself, and it is a skill that oftentimes we must learn ourselves. No school system teaching us this, unless it Montessori. After Michael started separating his mother's words from himself, things started to change. His power went through the roof, and he was able to quit his job and declare he was going to Haiti to help in their rebuilding efforts. That was courageous. What was more courageous? He told his mother he loved her, and wrote her a letter of forgiveness, without expecting anything in return, after years of separation and seldom words spoken.
What happened? Well, nothing immediately, but Michael told me today his mother wrote him a letter he received last week that said she loved him, and that she wanted to learn all about the life he has now.

My Courageous Friend Jenn

Bonnie and I met a friend of hers named Jennifer, who lives with her young daughter Hope near Nanaimo, BC on Vancouver Island. She suggested we meet her boyfriend Gord and her at a place called the Crow and Gate, a world famous British style pub built in a backyard on a country road. The combination of an eclectic, unique and special venue, with Jennifer's sweet and loving persona created an opening for unforgettable conversation. Let me tell you a bit about her.
Jennifer fell in love with a Norwegian cruise ship captain, had a baby, moved to Norway and learned the language. She then enrolled him in moving back to Canada, and decided to become a High School Teacher, as these kids have so much going on in their lives, and they are quite often alienated and alone in their struggles. So she went back to school full-time while still being a mother and wife with a full course load, and received her Bachelor's degree very expeditiously. The demands must have been enormous mentally and physically to accomplish this, and she readily admits that the four ulcers in her stomach almost drove her to madness. This is after she sang and danced on the cruise ship several shows a week to the point of exhaustion. In fact, shortly after her final performance, she woke up in the hospital as a result of working herself to the point of literally passing out from the pain. So, the conversation quickly turned to a thought-provoking question: what does one human's ability to deal with pain mean to the overall quality of one's life?
Jennifer has been a person who has always gotten what she has wanted in life. Whatever she put her mind to, she achieved, regardless of whatever physical ailment has beseeched her. Imagine Barrack Obama's pain - a few hours of sleep between days of constant mental and physical requests from your country. The stamina must be enormous. Now, I'm not saying one's ability to deal with pain is the only thing going on here. One must have learned the valuable skills of how to deal with life itself, but I can't stop thinking about how that one puzzle piece can make a difference in breaking through challenges in life.
She told us a story of backpacking in Italy, alone and early 20 something. She was in a train car with no other occupants when a man came in, and violently slammed the door behind her. Her instinct told her something was wrong immediately. Sure enough, he sat down beside her and within moments began to unbutton her dress. Without panicking, she looked him in the eye and said sweetly, "I just need to go get something", and calmly walked away. Her ability to show no fear, and give the man the idea that he was accepted saved her liberty and possibly her life. As she exited the train car, she started screaming and sobbing uncontrollably, tried to explain to the Italian conductor what had happened. The man was gone by the time they returned.

Videos of my journey

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