Sunday, March 21, 2010

An Existential Laundry List - Part 1

1. This is it.
2. There are no hidden meanings.
3. You can't get there from here, and besides, there's no place else to go.
4. We are all already dying, and we will be dead for a long time.
5. Nothing lasts.
6. There is no way of getting all you want.
7. You can't have anything unless you let go of it.
8. You only get to keep what you give away.
9. THere is no particular reason why you lost out on some things.
10. The world is not necessarily just. Being good often does not pay off and there is no compensation for misfortune.
11. You have a responsibility to do your best nonetheless.

Taken from: S.B. Kopp - If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A journal entry from this time last year.


Friday, December 19, 2008 - 3:08am

I sit on the train, late at night, rolling through British Columbia. My throat is dry and scratchy and feels like it's getting sick. I slept lightly. It's a more intimate travel experience on this train. It’s slowed down. I feel like it’s a hundred years ago. It has a novelty and romanticism about it. We pass through sleepy towns and cold dark fields. I sit next to my brother, who sleeps soundly. I had a nice visit. We did some stuff – checked out downtown, Granville island, the Vancouver Gallery, some local bars and coffee shops. Did a ton of shopping – spent enough money to feel the pangs of guilt. But it is Christmas – a very apropos time to feel guilty. It’s different out here. I mean, my life out here is different than it was in Saskatoon. The people are the same: trying to get places, trying to do things, worrying, laughing, working. Of course I'm different – Im sleeping on someones pullout couch and living out of luggage that is too big that arrived too late. I sleep late, drink fairly steadily, and simply wake and walk and take things in during the day. Very different from the 12 hour work days I left behind. It is so easy to return to a carefree lifestyle. So easy it’s scary. I looked forward to this trip for weeks or months. I looked forward to this train ride. Was it as good as I hoped? Is anything ever what one hopes?

I feel like I should make some kind of big personal breakthrough on this train. Like these 36 hours should be more special and meaningful than those that preceded it or those that will come after. No reason it should be the place for this to happen. And yet I feel like it should be. A problem in a family relationship plagues my mind. Tosses me about. Consumes me. A book I'm reading suggested that thinking of every angle of a problem is not always the solution. It suggested that sometimes more information is not better. It suggested that silence and quieting the mind is the only solution – this allows one to see that some problems need to only resolve themselves, work themselves out. That they are not problems that must be solved but simply processes, or paths. This person is on their own path, and my relationship to them is part of that. Not for me to solve or figure out, but to support and try to manage my family role and my other roles – helper, son, brother, friend. To try to not make things harder or more difficult but recognizing that I might sometimes do just this. It makes me human.

And soon I will return home where more ‘being human’ will happen. Managing friendships - deciding how best to be close to those important in my life, and doing so while trying to maintain my Jeffness. Forging new relationships - meeting people on the same page as me, or at least the same chapter. Learning and growing in my work - doing the best that I can for my clients, learning what I can from supervisors and colleagues, moving forward in my studies at this molasses pace that I'm becoming all too familiar with. Connecting with my family – seeing the good and recognizing the importance of these relationships. Living a balanced life – making time for exercise, leisure, work, a pint, meditation, play, sleep. And sometimes failing in any and all of it. Accepting that this is a journey and not a destination. THIS IS A JOURNEY AND NOT A DESTINATION. As such, there is no right way to get there or wrong way to get there, but simply whichever way I have come. It is the train ride, and not Vancouver or Saskatoon.

Monday, November 9, 2009

music and growing up

The other day I was talking with some friends about the state of 'indie' music and all that jazz. Well, not jazz, but you get the idea. I was saying how I was bored of most of it, and that I hadn't heard much in the way of a band that really grabbed me, that really hit me hard and made me want to listen to them all the time and download as much of their music illegally as I could and tell everyone I knew. It's been awhile since this has happened, regardless of the genre.

Voyno said it was cause I was getting old. Something to think about. People do seem to get to a certain age and just kind of stop exploring new whatever. Think of all those parents listening to what they listened to when they were teens and young adults. Those are the same people that never figured out how to program a VCR (a what? I'll explain what that is in another post) because the technology eventually got the better of them and they couldn't or wouldn't keep up anymore.

It's Ludacris -ahem, scratch that. It's ludicrous to think "the artists of today aren't like they used to be." The second you say that, you are officially a crotchety old man with nothing better to do than to romanticize the past and its adherents, and demonize the present and its current generation. It's the same as "_______ aren't built the way they used to be" and "kids today..." These generalizations built on ignorance and a discomfort with a changing world. You hear it about texting all the time, and facebook and everything else. It's not worse or ruining communication or destroying our youth. It's just different. You can either engage with it, understand it, take up the parts you like and discard the ones you don't. Or you can let it pass you by (whatever it is) and gripe about it.

So today, I won't gripe about being bored with it, or that it's losing its way, or that it all sounds the same. I'm going to get active, check into some bands, and figure out what it is I like and don't like. Just think about how many people didn't give the Beatles, MJ, Radiohead, or any other really great band a chance because they were too narrow minded and set on what they already liked (or more accurately, thought they liked) to explore them?

Friday, August 21, 2009

India

Not much blogging while away on my trip. The idea of a 'travelblog' and semi frequent updates of a trip is a great idea. Until you're actually there and the power is cutting out 4 or 5 times per day and it's hot as hell and pretty much doing anything sounds more exotic and fun than updating such a blog. Now that I've returned home (where still just about anything is, or at least should be, more relevant and important than posting,) I'll make some posts regarding my musings and stories from India.

Here are a few Indian contradictions I noticed in my travels. Really, the entire country is a massive paradox. Some of these are amusing, others downright irritating, all of them mindboggling, to me at least.

1. Energy efficient bulbs in every socket, alongside one inch gaps under doors and around windows of rooms with airconditioners.

2. Rather strict rules about smoking (i.e. not in most buildings, not on outdoor train platforms or anywhere in public in some cities even!) in areas with some of the worst air pollution in the world.

3. A people who is laidback and never seem to be in any kind of hurry, until you get them behind the wheel of an automobile.

4. Crores of starved and destitute people, who are often ignored or treated with outright contempt alongside large feeding sites for pigeons.

5. Male/female relationships marked by ultra conservatism and no public displays of affection in the land of the Kama Sutra and countless inspired statues and monuments.

6. A massive and highly efficient train system with traincars and station platforms without markings.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Few Interesting Things I'm Remembering About Train Travel

The scenery. It's different from highway scenery. It's kind of like an alleyway of the countryside. It's rough parts of cities you've been to a hundred times that you've never seen. It's graffiti on industrial buildings that would never be tolerated anywhere else. It can also be quite magestic and beautiful. It's travelling on train bridges that you can't see under you over canyons and rivers.

This is not an airplane. The staff will accomodate you if it is possible. There aren't a lot of rules. Bring what you want on the train. There is no searching or 'customs.' the guy that checks your baggage probably sold you your ticket and will likely be the one to check it as you board.

The motion. It's a smooth, steady, and slow push forward. There's also a side to side rocking motion. Never very strong but always present. A whistle blows nearly continuously and sounds very far away.

The French/ English signage. It reminds you that this thing travels coast to coast and is one of the few indications in the West of our country's French history outside a government building.

The bathroom sinks. The faucets jut out about a centimeter from the sink bowl and leak water, apparently using only the powers of gravity, down the back of the sink.

Stopping, for a moment, between train cars is pretty neat. It's cold and metal and windy and, best of all, forbidden.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

An Experiment

in not using the internet.
A hiatus.
For one week.
Maybe two.
Email, it stays. Hard to get away from that.
Equally hard to get away from facebook, twatter, awkwardfamilyphotos.com, menwholooklikeoldlesbians.blogspot.com, and various other sites that are really relevant and meaningful and important to keep up with day to day.
Which makes this so necessary.
It's time to disconnect
.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

thinking out loud.

I recently finished my oral comprehensive ethics exam. It was kind of a big deal. With its completion, I am presumed competent enough to apply out to internship sites this fall, I am officially considered a 'Ph.D Candidate,' and I have completed another program milestone. I actually don't know that I passed and won't for another couple weeks but I feel that I did. I feel that it went very well and have no qualms with counting my chickens, as it were.

This test was something that certainly inspired a fair degree of anxiety, nervousness, and worry in the weeks and days leading up to it. Of course such a thing would. I wavered back and forth between feeling confident and woefully unprepared. It didn't help that my cohort is such a bright and dedicated bunch of gals who at any given time seem far more prepared and suited to the profession than I feel that I do.

Those feelings of woeful unpreparedness and catastrophication were happening in a different place compared to the feelings of confidence and ease. My dreams were haunted by ethical issues for several nights before the test. My stomach clenched and wrenched and toiled for weeks before the exam. That feeling of being hungry all the time, hardly being able to eat, and yet also wanting to throw up was a familiar companion over the past week or so. I could feel my jaw tightening and clenching late in the evening before bed - sure signs I've resumed grinding my teeth. I felt the worry and the doubt. In my body.

My confidence and ease happens in my mind. In my thoughts. Throughout this pressure filled time, I was able to keep a pretty optimistic attitude. While feeling all of these extremely uncomfortable feelings, I was telling myself that everything would work out, that I tend to do well on these sorts of things, and all kinds of other positive things that I know to be true. Others would ask how I was doing, how things were going. I would say that it was fine, that I was doing real well, that things were coming along and everything would go well.

And I wasn't lying. I felt that. I do feel that. And that's what happened. But my physiology betrays me. It's incongruent with my thoughts. If body and mind are essentially one, intrinsically interconnected, than what does that say about me and my experience? Was I fooling myself? When does positive thinking and optimism become denial? Does it matter?