Thursday, June 22, 2017

PASSION: A SELFISH GAME



FOOTLE BARON ON DIDGE

In life there is no end game except for death.  Hmmm … I’ll rephrase:  In life there is no end game except for life itself.  (This smacks much better, yes? Allow me to continue.)

Factoid:  Death is imminent.  Death is the ultimate negative experience.  Death is dreaded, and for which prompts the living notion of existential angst and one of my favorite phrases, Existential Dread.

To the pseudo-stylistic writers and thinkers, life is a journey.  Hmmm … I hate this journey metaphor which has become so cliché.  Rather than journey, I believe that life is a constant surprise party of people coming out of closets, birthday cake and funeral candle celebrations, attachments with silly strings and silly games, pop music, soda pop, and nacho chips.  And to be the life of your very own surprise party, which is always a chore when on public display, it would be so cool if you could truly be yourself. 

But what is your true self, exactly?  Is self, as Aristotle claims, your core essence of a living being defined how you function in the world.  Or is self being the Kapellmeister of your orchestral sub-personalities?

Whatever self is, from time to time it does seem to get lost.  Sometimes the self gets overtaken by other sub-personalities that take on extreme roles.  A few examples: sometimes I am a critic; sometimes I am an athlete; sometimes I am a party animal (not really, but sometimes I would like to be).

As a child (no pun intended) I was always an artist, but only pencil portraiture.  As an adult I am an educator and therapist, a guitar and portrait busker.  The songs that I write and strum and sing on street corners, and the portraits that I sketch for the passers-by, are really the mirrored reflections of my inner world.  These busking behaviors are the person who I really always want to be, rather than how I technically behave at prescribed times on certain days.   

(To follow my true self and hit the street as a full-time busker would take a ton of courage, courage being the most important aspect of self.)

In a line ... It takes courage to be your true self.

Courage.   I used to think that courage meant something like going over Niagara Falls in a wooden barrel.  Such an action took courage.  My imagined connotation of courage has somewhat thinned over the years.  For example, now it takes courage to come out of the closet.  Now it takes courage to speak up at a staff meeting.  Now it takes courage to paint an apartment any color other than beige.  You get the picture.

And so in keeping in mind these pictures of courageous acts, I took my pencil and sketchbook to the market on Saturday and drew some portraits.  I have such courage!

Being courageous is being curious.  Curiosity killed the cat.  Killing your inner cat will not kill you.
Rituals and habits are safe but rather boring.  Killing your inner cat, being curious and courageous enough to allow randomness in your life is an unlikely death sentence.  I walked down to the market, did some portrait busking, and survived to write about it.

A courageous sense of self prompts a strong sense of self-esteem and life satisfaction.  A search for one’s self means exploring one’s passions, and therefore finding one’s self means exercising one’s passions.  

Where you are is where it’s at, and so to become yourself, begin where you are.   Like I said … I walked down to the market, did some portrait busking, and survived to write about it.

I’d like to close with existential dread.  Ah, existential dread, of which we all suffer and yet, of which not all of us take advantage.  What finite time we do have on this planet, we really ought to strive for quality. 

Live (life) time should be quality time because ...
dead time is just a breath away. 

Those marching in my CHAUCERIAN PARADE this week:                             
 
DIDGE AFICIONADO, KEN
 
CORBYN AT THE MARKET
 
FAHIM AT THE MARKET



Wednesday, May 31, 2017

LIFE IS A HIGHWAY: CHANGING LANES WITH AGE



MY BIRTHDAY TODAY (GUESS HOW OLD?)

Life's like a road that you travel on
When there's one day here and the next day gone
Sometimes you bend and sometimes you stand
Sometimes you turn your back to the wind
(Tom Cochrane)

In theory, our accoutrements should become fewer the more independent and aged we become.  In reality, our acquisitions become so abundant that they oftentimes prevent us from moving, both figuratively and literally -- what am I going to do with my stuff.  This essay is not about stuff.  This essay is not about materialism.  This essay is about Bohemianism. 

Aged.  This is my projective-psychology rant describing moi.  From an extremely handsome and youthful Adonis I’ve grown into either a Hypnos (sleep) OR his twin brother, Thanatos (death). 
Yikes!  But I can redeem myself.  Because I am a big believer in projective-psychology this essay will directly reflect my self-psychoanalysis.

Aged.  I can take my pick of either ruminating (with regret) and be so blinkered by my past that any future personal development will be arrested until I drop or I can continue to grow.  With only these two choices, my common sense tells me to choose the latter.

And so begins my shaggy-dog projective-psychology rant:

United States Republican senator, Ben Sasse, had written a formula for adulthood.  (I like Ben Sasse. I like Ben Sasse because he is a common-sense political academic and published critic of Donald Trump.  I like Ben Sasse because he does not agree with Donald Trump's policies.  I HATE DONALD TRUMP'S POLICIES.  And because of his policies (and his behavior) I THINK DONALD TRUMP IS NOT A DECENT HUMAN BEING.  Now that I’ve got that out of the way I shall keep writing and projecting.)

First, according to Sasse, to become an adult you have overcome your peer culture simply by associating with people of all ages.  My imagined bleakest future is seating in an old folks home (yikes … rather, in political correct terms, a retirement community) and chatting/complaining about anything and everything amongst my like-minded and aged peers. 

Second in Sasse’s adulthood formula, is to work hard.  An adolescent work ethic is selfish; whereas, an adult work ethic ought to be selfless.  Freud insisted that the keys to a happy and stable life were love and work.  

The third point of adulthood is to limit your television watching, or any other passive media indulging.  Instead, produce some art or music or anything else.  In this regard I’m doing fine.  I’m a busker, both with my guitar and my sketchbook.  I only sing original songs and I only draw portraits of people on the street.

Sasse’s fourth point is to travel widely, read widely, and read deeply.  I love to travel and I love to read non-fiction. 

Growing to adulthood should really be a senior saltation of sorts.  Funny thing though, I don’t really feel the need to celebrate just yet.  At 66 years of age I’m still on that long and winding road to adulthood.

All roads in life, as complicated and crooked as they are (my interpretation of the long and winding Beatles description), have at least three discernible lanes:  the slow lane (traffic lane), the middle lane (through lane), and the fast lane (express lane).

The slow lane is always the safest lane.  Any talking tortoise will tell you that slow but sure wins the race. 

The middle lane is the rat pack lane, during which both your sides are exposed.  Therefore, this through lane really reduces your avoidance options.  In this lane you are constantly made aware of what is right (on your right) and what is wrong (to your left).

Driving in the fast lane is thrilling, but eventually you’ll need a pit stop.  You’ll need some Zen for your motorcycle maintenance.   Driving so fast you’ll be sure to miss an exit or three, and when you do miss these moments, remember to not panic, just change lanes and take the next right exit (opportunity) when it comes, and it always comes.

Be aware that you are never stuck in the fast lane (or any lane) for the rest of your life, unless you want to be.  Saying thus, being impatient and hopping from lane to lane is living dangerously.  Being unpredictable is most certainly detrimental to a quality life.

There is a poster quip, “STAY IN YOUR LANE.”  Stay in your lane means mind your own business.  But minding your own business is difficult when you are part of a group, be it a small group (SG) or a large group (LG).  Minding your own business is manageable only when you operate as an independent (I).

Here are some personal examples of large groups, small groups, and independents at play and at work and at home.

At play …

Of course I have my hockey story.  My wee wee, pee wee, bantam, midget, juvenile, and senior hockey career began with the Vanguard Eagles of the NHL (Notekeu Hockey League). This Eagle affiliation would be considered a large group, along with an affiliation with the Swift Current (racially connoted) Indians senior hockey team, and the Regina Icemen, a recreational senior hockey team. 

My large group hockey condensed to a small group experience when I began playing pond hockey this last decade.  Pond hockey is shinny playing pick-up hockey, skating on outdoor rinks and ponds.
This past winter I skated solo, solitarily stick-handling late evenings on the outdoor rink at Victoria Park, one block from my condo.

I went from organized playing hockey with only my peers, to random hockey playing pick-up with all ages, to playing solitaire.  The first point of being an adult, according to Ben Sasse, is overcoming your peer culture.  If hockey is my measure this means I’m all grown up!

At work …

I’ve five years of high school English teaching, during which I was always entertaining groups of adolescents contained in classrooms.   Following this, I delivered six years of guidance to both small groups (young offenders) but mostly individual students (personal and crisis counseling) while being partnered with another guidance counsellor.   As an independent I ran a private psychology/counselling practice, and still continue to do so with Hypnotherapy being my specialty.

At home …

We were a large group when my children were at home with my wife and me.  When our children grew up and left, my wife and I were small group empty-nesters.  Empty-nesters over time as each embarks on personal pastimes become rather individual during the daytime.  As individuals, I busk, Carol (my wife) studies Interior Design, and prepares gourmet evening dishes.  Factoid:  Every meal prepared by Carol is always tastier than dining at the finest restaurants.  I know this because I live right downtown among the best eateries in Regina, Canada.

As I stated a few paragraphs ago, staying in your lane means minding your own business, but … minding your own business is difficult when you are part of a large group or small group.  In small groups (especially if you are the leader) it is important to mind everyone’s business.  And in a large group one needs to be aware of what each of the group members is doing.  In group, every member contributes, and sometimes/oftentimes not in a positive way.

Staying in your lane means staying focused, but having multiple interests complicates this single endeavor.  The secret is to schedule your focuses on each of your interests.  For example, I love weight training and only go to the gym early mornings.  When I go portrait sketching I don’t take my guitar, and when I’m thrumming I don’t take my pencil. 

Staying in your lane means knowing your self … knowing what you hate to do and what you love to do … I hate shopping and I hate working and fixing things around the house and I hate mathematics.  I love busking and writing and lifting weights and running and drawing pencil portraits.  I love to socialize but only in bits.  I only go busking on Saturdays or Sundays before 11 a.m. or after 3 p.m. to avoid the sun. 

Staying in your lane is to know how much you can tolerate in that particular lane.  I love going to Western Hockey League games once a week.  I am a faux NHL scout; my nephew is a for real NHL scout, employed by Central Scouting for the real NHL (the National Hockey League not the Notekeu Hockey League).  I refer to myself as a faux scout because I’m privileged to enjoy all the said perks for the elite scouting community:  free gate admission including permanent and perfect seats, free drinks and snacks, advanced game sheets which express the starting line-ups and other inside stats not made available to the general public, including hobnobbing with the real NHL scouts.

Meanwhile back on Route 66 …

The skinny of this essay is simply to realize when you finally arrive at the stage in your life when you seemingly are not as accountable as before, be sure to make the best of it while it lasts (and it will last only as long as YOU last).  To keep in this skinny frame just know that when you finally arrive at that stage in your life you will need winter tires.

Driving in the wintertime of your life you’ll know, as I now know, that all life is finite.  Introspection will force the grey epiphany that squandering life makes it even shorter than it actually is (time-condensation). Having a life stratagem of changing lanes is necessary for flexibility and adventure (time-expansion).

The lane on the far left is the fastest and the least traveled by, and happens to be the most exhilarating and the only lane that is never boring.   The busiest lane is the middle one, and being in that lane means being the most vulnerable, having to deal with the fast and furious pressures from the left and the slow and featureless pressure from the right.  

Staying in the slow lane will ensure the most safety ...
but also will ensure a lifestyle most miserable.  


Marching in my CHAUCERIAN PARADE this week:  My twin sister, Lisa Williams (HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LISA!), and my best friend, Colby Williams and ... the members of the JUNIOR PATS, elite division champions of the Havoc Hockey Elite Invitational Tournament in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, just a couple weeks ago (May 18-22).
MY TWIN SISTER WITH MY BEST FRIEND
(COLBY WAS THE AHL HERSHEY BEARS ROOKIE OF THE YEAR!)
COLBY SCORES AGAIN!
CONGRATS, JUNIOR PATS!






Sunday, May 14, 2017

BE FRUITFUL AND MULTIPLY AND EAT CAKE: THE MOTHER OF LIFE





  • WHY ARE WE HERE?
HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!

We are here for celebratory reasons.  We are here to eat cake. 

In linear fashion from birth to death we celebrate any achievement as an excuse to eat cake.

On birthday celebrations we eat cake.  At weddings and wedding anniversaries, baby showers, retirement parties, and funerals we eat cake.  At Christmastime we eat cake.  And at Mother's day too. 

Happy Mother’s Day! cake today … Mmmmm.

CAKE.  Hmmm … surely our personal life mission or meaning in our allotted 70 to 80 years must be more than an Augean stable lifestyle of drinking, being merry, and eating cake.


  • WHY ARE WE HERE?
Here is my answer for the sake of my own vanity:

We are here to procreate and propagate and eat cake.

Charles Darwin devised the Theory of Evolution that we, homo sapiens and all other life forms, evolved through genetic mutation/natural selection.

Christians and Jews believe that God manufactured two human prototypes, Adam and Eve, on the sixth day of Creation.  God’s instructions to Adam and Eve were simply to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28). Even prior to Adam and Eve conceiving their first child, God kicked them out of the Garden (Genesis 3:1-24). This is known as THE FALL.

Muslims, too, believe in Adam and Eve.

These notions about life, and there are dozens more that match, propose that we are simply here for continuing the species by way of our best possible selves.  Yes … life is meant for procreation and religion is meant for procreation and propagation but … DO I HAVE MEANING?

I’m writing about the internal evolution that each of us must suffer along our personal timelines.  When I say “suffer” I am referring to the skinny of Zen (to-live-is-to suffer) and the constant human state of being in existential dread.


  • WHY ARE WE HERE?
Hmmm … it does seem rather insulting if we are here only to procreate and propagate doesn’t it, but here it is anyway:

We are here to procreate, to continue our species.

Is it really that simple that the meaning of life so limited for all-for-naught sexual behavior? If it is so, then why would we bother to keep other behaviors in check?  We bother because we strive for our finite pettifog time on Earth to be physically and psychologically comfortable.  We, like all other mammals, continually strive to seek pleasure over pain.


We are also here to propagate.  Because we have a conscience and an awareness of our mortality, we seem to need to spread and promote that notion that being a being is an important role to play, for reasons both religious and philosophical. 

And we are here to eat cake because cake is delicious.

I really wish I had more … and so … meanwhile back at the secular ranch … here is some more:

Charles Darwin (Origin of Species, 1859) theorized that life began in a warm little pond on only the planet Earth.  Most scientists believe that our ancestry of first life forms began to evolve 2.9 billion years ago.  Now there is evidence from Australian researchers that microbes lived in hot springs as early as 3.48 billion years ago. 

This theory was expressed later and snoutly suggested (pun intended) in The Immense Journey by Loren Eiseley, 1957. 

Loren’s book used to be my bible, until I read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig (1974).  But I digress ...

Well, I’ve been a few miles and I’ve seen a few things (Dan Rather) and I’ve written about these things in my blog.  My blog today is certainly represents my narrow and narcissistic view of the planet, of life in general, and of me.

It is up to me to pursue pleasure or to pursue pain. I am the one in charge (of me).  Instead of spending my life in constant existential dread, I would much rather eat cake.

Factoid:  I cannot eat cake without coffee
But eating cake makes me fat.  And we all know about being fat.

Physical fitness highly correlates to self-efficacy (Sonstroem and Morgan, 1989), and physical performance influences self-worth and physical self-worth influences performance (Marsh, Chanal, and Sarrazin, 2006).  There are literally thousands of research articles zooming in on this very topic and yet only six percent of us have gym memberships for regular fitness.

Psychology academics do insist that a perceived attractive physical self strongly determines the happiness within oneself.  In other words, if I don’t like the way I look, I don’t like me.  And yet only six percent of us take our bodies seriously enough to spend monthly payments modifying our bodies.

Factoid:  Six percent of male adults have a gym membership.

Epiphany:  All of us are concerned about our physical appearance but only six percent of us are gym goers.

Factoid:  Six percent of adults have Narcissistic Personality Disorder, that excessive interest in oneself or one’s physical appearance. 

Hmmm … I toss this out for coincidence conversation only.  I do not really believe there is any correlation except for the same percentage calibration.

Hmmm … Really what I’m saying is that we only have one body and we ought to take care of it, and taking care of it will cost money.  I’m also saying that our body is the only place where we are obligated to live, and again, we ought to take care it.

If you are holding onto all the shit that has happened to you … only leads to giant tubs of ice cream, a television, and a sunken couch (John Kim, the angry therapist).

I do not ever gormandize my guilt or life regrets with junk food.  With a touch of vanity I must express that I don’t ever want to be that guy with the paunch sitting on the couch eating a pale of ice cream while watching television.  And I don’t ever want to be that guy with the paunch and fistful of nachos washing them down with beers while sitting on the couch watching television.  I am that guy, though, with a single digit body fat percentage of 9, who eats a piece of cake and sips an Americano coffee while watching the Donald Trump soap opera on CNN.

Ahhh … time now again for cake and coffee whilst appreciating those who marched in my CHAUCERIAN PARADE this week:

MELANIE AND CORBYN GEORGE
 While busking last Saturday I met Melanie George and her son, Corbyn ... Check out M & C CONNECTIONS (Melanie and Corbyn) on Facebook!


I saw WILLIAM SHATNER (yes, the real Captain Kirk!) pulling his carry-on while walking across Victoria Avenue at Broad Street.  I was stopped at a red light and Bill walked right in front of my RDX.  To be sure I did my research – Captain Kirk was in Regina, Canada doing a Q & A at FAN EXPO.

MARK WILSON AND I ON STAGE AT BUSHWAKKER BREW PUB LAST WEDNESDAY