Saturday, April 26, 2014


No, this is not another narcissistic essay on how I run 3.5 miles every morning (it used to be six miles before I included weight-training into my regimen).  No, this is not another narcissistic essay running and positive addiction (throughout my graduate studies I researched the correlations between long-distance running and self-esteem, successfully employing the running metaphor in the defence of my Master’s Thesis).

Rather, this Run for Your Life essay title is in reference to the 60’s television drama, starring Ben Gazzara as a young and handsome lawyer, Paul Bryan, who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness.  With only a year or two to live, Paul Bryan decides to quit his law practice, hit the road, and do all the things he had never yet made the time for.

Not strangely, when times are tough, people turn to unlikely sources to help them regain a sense of control in their lives.  Some choose religion, some choose dogs, and some jettison their present lifestyles and in their new alterities, seek for meaning in their lives. 

Fact:  It is always important for us to feel in control – even when we are not.  To suddenly become evangelical gives an air of authority.  To master and nurture a puppy helps design stability within an exclusive responsibility.  Running for one’s life on the open road entices both adventure and angst in a most wonderful regard.

Back in the day, Run for Your Life was my favourite television show.  In fact, all those road shows on 60’s television, Have Gun Will Travel, The Deputy, Route 66, represented my favorite life open-road theme when they aired.  (See my blog entitled, PHANTOM TIDE: AN ESSAY ON TELEVISION OPEN ROADS, posted January 19, 2014.)   

Thinking of these shows, alongside my later lettered studies in English Literature, especially those having themes of Carpe Diem, I’ve decided that life is simply a series of experiences; and therefore, a good life is a series of meaningful experiences.

To give life meaning in the sense of meaningful experiences then, is to create meaningful experiences.  An accomplishment of such is simple.  Just take a long walk and ask yourself these three questions:  Who do you like to be with?  What tasks do you enjoy?  What challenges do you enjoy? (Zilka, Finding Your Life’s Purpose, April, 2014.)

Who do you like to be with?      

My most cherished memories have been with members of my family: skating with Natika the youngster -- swimming in Radium Hot Springs with Natika and her youngster (my granddaughter), Eden; cycling with Baron the youngster -- busking on Bastian Square with Baron the adult; skiing with Travers the youngster -- hiking Chamonix-Mont Blanc with Travers the adult; hanging weekends at the lake with Carol Ann, my girlfriend -- strolling the boardwalk at Crescent Beach with Carol Ann, my bride.

I like being with close friends, a couple drinks over an evening dinner.  I like to be among strangers, fulfilled especially when I’m busking.  And I like being with certain people with whom I see rarely, maybe once every month or so – precious moments indeed .

Being with these people, my family, my friends, and my consumers is only meaningful when it is not a commonplace occurrence.  The most meaningful times are likely the rarest of times.  Whenever I’m with my oldest or youngest, going to market and hiking still seems the themes.  (My oldest child lives in British Columbia; my youngest child lives in Holland.)  With my middle child, busking and Americano decafs are the themes.  (My middle child lives in my city, but he's not as into busking as he used to be.)  I like my wife’s company, especially on long walks.  (We long-distance run together and go to the gym together, but long walks are reserved for summer.)  I like to be with close friends just one evening a week at most, every second week is even better.  And those almost imaginary people I see only once a month or so, have unwittingly become my philosophic and joyful conundrums.

What tasks do you enjoy?

I enjoy going to work.  Do I find a certain morbid pleasure listening to other people’s pain?  I guess so.  I enjoy teaching Psychology at the university.  Everyone, generally, in each of my classes is bright, youthful, and effervescent. Busking is always a blast, especially when I embark on summer buskations, usually to tourist hotspots in British Columbia, Canada, and this summer coming, a planned European buskation to Holland, England, Scotland, and Ireland.   

(The enjoyment of being among strangers whilst busking is both glorious and demeaning, ever adventurous, and contributes significantly to including regularly into this blog, my segment subtitle, CHAUCERIAN PARADE.)

The stresses of going to work every day definitely enhance my life, keeping me alert that a world among people is a world of compromise, and that, generally, everyone is going through life with good intentions, everyone really just wanting to get along.  Teaching Psychology keeps me in the academic loop, because were it not so, I’d no doubt be enriching my psychology know-how from the pop psychological magazines on the shelves in drugstores.

What challenges do you enjoy?

I enjoy keeping fit (a daily challenge) and I enjoy writing (a weekly challenge). 
Each morning, when the weather is tolerable, I run around Wascana Lake.  I used to run an average of 60 miles a week.  Then, when I began to lift weights I cut my running to just 20 miles per week.  At least three times a week I pump iron, my preference being the Olympic weights at the university fitness center.  Though I enjoy running and lifting, I do both mainly to stay physically healthy.

Writing this weekly blog, too, is a challenge, and so are continually researching and re-writing my latest book, and writing one song a week.  When I began this blog (thank-you, Jenna Pilot, for creating the initial temp-plate some years ago), I used to write and publish at least two essays a week.  In the beginning, these essays I created were lengthy, wordy, and a severe challenge to complete.  Oftentimes I would even sacrifice some exercise time to complete them!

Those genesis days are long gone.  My present blog format, which seems to work (having a readership in 146 countries to date), is simply a thousand-word, recreational discursive weekly essay, having one or two picture inserts.

It seems I’ve always a book on the go, my imaginary best-seller delusion.  So far I’ve had two books published, A Wishbone Epistolary (University of Toronto, Guidance Centre), and The Creek (Publish America).  The book I am presently writing is SCHIZOPHRENIA: LIVING IN THE SHADOW SUITE, which I hope to complete and send to a publisher before summer.

Writing one new song a week is my greatest writing challenge.  It is tough to keep up with my PHANTOM TIDE band mate, Darren, who is a prolific song writer.  PHANTOM TIDE performs only original material, and we, Darren and self, are the only songwriters.  Because Darren plays guitar much better than I and sings much better than I, attempting to keep up the song-writing pace keeps me credible in our song-writing department. 

(Fact:  Darren’s song, Never Going to Leave, is currently my favorite song.  To listen to it, and some of our other original songs, just go to the top of this blog header, and click on the YouTube account at the right hand side of this essay.)

Life is what you make it.  It could be an ambuscade, a donnybrook, or a gambol.  Or, as Zilka states, life may be a jigsaw puzzle.  I’m suggesting that if life is a jigsaw puzzle, answering the above three questions will help make all the pieces in your jigsaw-puzzle-life fit together.

Having meaning in your life is important.  Searching for such meaning makes for an intentional life.  Each person’s search for a life meaning is unique, and people will rarely draw the same meanings from the exact same things (because there are no exact same things for people and their unique perspectives).  Some life experiences evoke powerful senses of purpose, while other experiences evoke zeroth.  The key to finding meaning in your life is to reflect on your past behaviors (an adumbration for sure) and then introspect your present aspirations.

To start ... take a long walk and then finish the rest of your life with a marathon run of meaningful experiences!


  • Shannon, while I’m busking at VALUE VILLAGE, insists that my original songs and singing style reflect that of Jello Biafra, vocalist for the Dead Kennedys.  Shannon, though young, has that long-hair 60’s style and look.  He is a guitar guy, brand new to Regina, in search of a good guitar shop.  I direct him to B SHARP on Albert Street.

  • The little old blue-haired lady, while I’m busking at the ITALIAN STAR, after dropping several two-dollar coins into my guitar case. Everybody has to make a living, she says. Thanks, ma’am!

  • The middle-aged bespectacled man in a three-piece suit, who walks up to me while I’m busking at SHOPPERS, taps my shoulder, hands me a twenty dollar bill, and apologetically states, I’m sorry I can’t give you more.





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