Friday, July 22, 2016


I had a slight surgery on my left shoulder and therefore have not been able to sling my guitar all this week!  Next week I should be good to go.  I’m packing for my hiking to British Columbia, Canada.  It’s a two day drive to my first trail head at Kamloops and my shoulder should be healed enough by then.

Today my rant is an ARGY PARGY generally examining eight significant areas in anyone’s life (education, locale, work, friends, partners, exercise, recreation, and health) that supposedly lead down the road to HAPPINESS.  I am employing the road metaphor because of its sense of adventure, and the stranger-comes-to-town theme.  And being a busker I fancy myself as that stranger-comes-to-town.

After graduating Grade 12 I really did not have enough (actually not any) money to go to university, but after more than a few years of working pipelines, I knew I needed an academic ticket in something and I knew I’d have to get the money from somewhere.  Hip-hip hurrah for Canada Student Loans!

As an undergraduate I was an English major, taking 13 classes in English Literature.  As a graduate student I was a Psychology major, completing my Masters in Educational Psychology.  English Literature, for the most part, purports to be fiction; whereas, Psychology purports to be non-fiction.   

And here is what I’ve garnered from the two disciplines:  Both subjects have the same themes, that of the human condition.  And furthermore, oftentimes I cannot distinguish between fiction and non-fiction and saying thus, it doesn’t really make any difference in my life not to be able to do so.  I mean really … I am a Hypnotherapist who takes clients from reality to imaginary and then back to reality in every single session.

The learned know the rules – the wise know the exceptions. Education really does bring one from the darkness into the light.  Up until about a year ago my barber was a lady named Janice.  During my last haircut Janice mentioned that she sure would be glad when “Obama was gone.”  Not paying too much attention I asked her why.  Because he’s a Muslim,” she said.  Hmmm … I was thinking … “Do I get up in the middle of my haircut and leave?  Or do I endure this chit-chat until my cut is complete?”  I did stay until she finished my haircut, paid her kindly, and have never been back.   I could have not been so cowardly and prompted some sort of discourse on the topic but being I was in a barbershop I decided not to press the issue.  I played nice and simply walked away.

Factoid:  Most students go to school on a regular basis and most pass their classes and this behavior carries on through post-secondary institutes as well.  However, just because students graduate from high schools and universities does not mean that they believe in equality.  It does not necessarily mean they are not ridiculously racist or prejudiced just because they have a diploma or a degree.  Saying thus, Education is the movement from darkness to light (Allan Bloom).  Education, though slow, is still a key to unlocking the door to happiness.

Back to busking:  A busker need not have a formal education to be successful.  I mean, really, how much academic training is necessary to stand on a city sidewalk and strum without prejudice.  Typically, I believe buskers represent that romantic notion of traveling from place to place, totally accepting people from all walks, totally accepting coin and conversation from anyone.
Where you are is where it’s at.  I remember reading this line from a 70’s ski poster.  I love downhill skiing but live on the Canadian Prairies.  Twice a year I’ve ski the Rockies, and the rest of the winter I’m skiing at Mission Ridge, a local hill with swoosh runs just outside my city in the Qu’Appelle Valley.  I used to resent this not being able to ski the mountains until I read this poster.  The message in this poster motivated me for a shift in focus, the common sense that I should enjoy the local ski run and appreciate what skills I can gain from skiing there.

Moving locales seems a feat of derring-do, especially if the only reason is to ski. Moving is a major stress and, in fact, listed as third, following Death (#1) and Divorce (#2) as the worst stresses in life.

Factoid:  Most people die within one hundred miles of where they were born.  This strange but true factoid is because of routine and familiarity and opportunity.

Being a busker means to follow the sun.  Following the sun is a mercenary endeavor.  Consumers are more munificent in sunshine and warm wind than in cold climes and chilly wind.  The planetary busker will not likely die within one hundred miles of home.  (Where the planetary busker is buried is another matter.)
  • WORK
A job isn’t just a job.  A job is who you are.  This is from a behavior perspective. Yes, yes, I know I know, the conventional wisdom has suggested that humans are independent of their behaviors; he’s a good person just doing bad things for example.  But flip the coin; he’s a bad person doing good things?  None of this works for me.  I believe we are completely defined by our behavior, a job being catalogued as a behavior. To me such a descriptor is simple, simple: When you do good things you’re a good person; when you do bad things you’re a bad person. 

Most people moil at work because most people’s jobs become rather perfunctory and boring, boring, and boring.  There’s an easy cure for boring.  Don’t maunder.  Discover your niche go from there.  Don’t count the days – make the days count (Muhammed Ali).

Factoid:  Busking is seldom boring.  Though for the most part predictable, whenever I am busking I never really know who I am going to meet or what is really going to happen.  This could be said about anyone in a workplace, but the likelihood of unpredictable adventure will be more prevalent on the roads to everywhere rather than being stationary in a business office or at a job site.
A good friend will help you move, but a true friend will help you move a body (Steven J. Daniels).  True friends will do anything for one another.
If you can, avoid having nudniks for friends.  Friends should enhance one, not reduce one.  Druggies hang out with druggies, racists hang out with racists, and sexists hang out with sexists.  Even if you’re not one, hanging around with one will socially bracket you as being one.

Factoid:  I’ve only a few friends, some from the guitar community which includes buskers, some from my workplace who I’ve known for a long time, and some who are like family who join me for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Friendships and sociability are important in anyone’s general well-being.  We (humans) are featherless and gregarious creatures (so said Sam Keen) who love the aspect of community.  Very few of us thrive as scriveners in the back rooms of libraries, or guiding ships from a perch high atop the waves in light houses.

Global buskers must have a community of planetary friends.  A busker meeting such friends can only do so while in the act of busking in a foreign land. 
One madcap decision can lead to a life of misery.  Fortunately we tend to follow the Western model of courtship before making major choices for our life partners.  Any pop Psychology mag will point out ways to pick a potential mate.  Are they valuable?  Hmmm … maybe they are.  However, with the old vis-à-vis meeting people in the bar routine and now the internet, qualitative people skills are not to be undervalued when choosing a mate.  Most people do not quantify such a task adhering to a prescribed psychological check-list.

Committing to a partnership is a really big deal. Use your head and trust your heart.  Buskers need mates who are willing to let them strum around as free spirits
Take care of your body.  It is the only place you have to live (Jim Rohn).
Most people do not exercise, and being in shape, I know, is relative.  When I’m in the weight room (Gold’s Gym) the people alongside me are generally in really good shape, fit as a fiddle for sure!  At least they seem so from an observational stand point.  In fact, most of the members who frequent the Gold’s Gym where I exercise appear to be muscle magazine-ready physical specimens.  When I was a member of the university gym it was the same.  Most people there, too, were emergent adult hunks.

But one has to put these samples into an overall and general perspective.  Compared to one hundred people my age on the street, I am a physical specimen.  This is because most people my age (or any age for that matter) are NOT gym members.  Now take a one hundred sample people who frequent the gym.  Of those, I would be bracketed somewhere in the middle.  Comparatively, in the gym I am not so shiny a specimen as I am on the street.  On the street I am likely in the 90th or above percentile; whereas, in the gym I’m likely in the 50th.

Saying thus, I’m a martinet when it comes to physical work-outs.  I run on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Sundays; I lift weight Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.  I am pretty rigid sticking to this routine.

Factoid:  I need to be in decent physical shape when I busk.  Ideally I stand for between 60 and 90 minutes at a time and certainly have the stamina and strength to do this.  If I were not in the 90th percentile of being physically fit amongst the masses, I doubt I could do this without considerable effort.

(Factoid:  I need to be in shape when I hike.  Hiking has been a lifelong recreation of mine.  Hiking is right along there with Hockey and Busking.)
Recreation is relaxation.   Recreation could be synonymous with EXERCISE but not in my case.  For recreation I ride my bike, shoot nine-ball, and play gigs.  Also for recreation I play pond hockey in winter, hike in spring, summer, and fall, and go busking in summer.  Recreational activities should not be scribbled in marginalia; one’s recreational activites really ought to be a life theme.
It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver (Mahatma Ghandi).

There is no Annie Oakley ticket to GOOD HEALTH.  Most people seemingly stay in reasonable health until middle age.  Getting to middle age is easy, getting through middle age in good health is difficult.  In fact, the middle-aged are the most unhappiest and anxious of all the age groups.   (People 65 and over are the happiest.) 

Factoid:  the longer you live the more likely you are going to be afflicted with something. 

Another factoid:  The Past is your lesson.  The Present is your gift.  The Future is your motivation.  It’s never too late to improve your health. 


To get to Happiness there are always challenges and therefore decisions.  Abe Lincoln said “Most folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.”  I think he was right.

I know people that seem to be always happy and I know people that seem to be always grumpy.  The more I read and the older I get, I do believe that happiness is truly a state of mind and that’s that.  When we can control our perspective on life events, we can create our own happiness.

Factoid:  Oftentimes it’s the negative experiences that help us grow and learn which is vital for being happy (Sonja Lyubomirsky, Psychology Professor University of California).

HAPPINESS … NOTHING WORTH HAVING COMES EASY.  Take my hiking habit for example.  Mountain hiking is a potentially dangerous activity that can result in injury or death.  Mountain hikers should always take emergency equipment (a map and bear spray) and should never take a trail beyond their physical and mental abilities.  These lines (or similar to) are published in every brochure on every mountain hiking map. 

My busking, on the other hand, is a temporary physically and mentally removal from my everyday work-time reality, a removal from the same people, same stories, and the same ol’ middle-class lifestyle.  Busking is safe, safe, safe, compared to mountain hiking.

Keep in mind that even though this is the case, the busker road of adventure is still no short cut to happiness.  Be it Education, Locale, Work, Friends, Partners, Exercise, Recreation, or Health …  


My CHAUCERIAN PARADE for this week:



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