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


Saturday, April 29, 2017

SKETCHES OF MARRAKECH: A BILLET-DOUX FROM THE PLANETARY PORTRAIT BUSKER



MOHAMMED AND SELF ON THE SQUARE

I met Mohammed BEFORE I went to the mountain.  He was busking in Marrakech Square, singing Western pop songs, and I was walking the square with Travers and Sila (my son and his girlfriend).
From a gathering crowd of a hundred or so people, he pointed directly to us, gesturing to join him in song.  Much obligingly, I jumped into his buskspot, grabbed his guitar, and sang a set of four original songs.

I’m just back from Marrakech – in this particular blog entry, a picture is certainly worth a thousand words.  I went to Marrakech to hike in the Atlas Mountain Range with Travers and Sila.  They live in Amsterdam; I live in Canada.  While in Marrakech I did some guitar busking and some pencil portraits.  The main marchers in my CHAUCERIAN PARADE this week are those whose portraits I drew.  And I just had to include a macedoine of the cultural and commercial street action in the Marrakech markets.

MOHAMMED
 
SILA AND THE MONKEY THAT BIT HER
A CHARMED COBRA





SILA, TRAV, AND SELF HIKING IN THE ATLAS RANGE
































 
SILA AND TRAV ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN


OLIVES FOR EVERY MEAL


ORANGES FOR EVERY MEAL

TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN

Regular readers of this blog know the theme of HOCKEY is oftentimes my companion.  Ever embracing PHENOMONOLOGY, what are the odds that my friend and former legendary NHL’er, DREW CALLANDER, currently scouting for my hometown Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League (WHL), would be on my same flight from Calgary to Frankfurt.  Drew was en route to the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) U18 World Championship in Slovakia.  Drew and I had lunch together in the Calgary Airport and then visited at length on our trans-Atlantic flight.  We parted ways on arrival to Frankfurt.  




DREW TEXTED THIS PICTURE FROM VIENNA

ANOTHER VIENNA PICTURE FROM DREW

MY ONLY TRAVEL BAG
From my panjandrum point of view and very much in contrast to my flight over to Europe, I’ll end this essay with the Brit seated next to me on my return flight from London to Calgary.  He and his two buddies noisily boarded together, and they provided non-stop nonsense and rubbish the whole way to Canada.

Have you ever sat beside guy for nine hours on a plane whose idea of joking with his buddies was directly addressing them as retard?  Have you ever sat beside a guy for nine hours on a plane who drank over a dozen alcoholic beverages, and ate every bit of food the airline provided and continuously burped and coughed into his hand while doing so?  Have you ever sat beside a guy for nine hours on a plane whose idea of joking with his buddies was placing his empty booze bottles on their chests while they slept and then laughing hysterically when they awoke and were somewhat startled by the presence of the bottles, the bottle dropping from their chest and rolling down the aisle?  Have you ever sat beside a guy for nine hours on a plane who played games or watched adult cartoons on his IPad? Have you ever sat beside the quintessential asshole for nine hours on a plane? 

Well I have.  All part of my bildungsroman, I know, and I must admit that I survived to write about it.  And the skinny when I introspect my busking adventure in Marrakech:  

IN MARRAKECH, 
MY PENCIL IS MIGHTIER THAN MY GUITAR!

FINIS.


Friday, April 14, 2017

DEFINED BENEFITS PENSION ... DEFINED BENEFITS PENCHANT ... DEFINED BENEFITS TENSION: INTO AFRICA



MOUNT TOUBKAL

Regular readers of this blog know that I like snappy titles, and my essay title today represents this affection and needs a quick explanation.

DEFINED BENEFITS PENSIONa company pension plan in which an employee’s pension payments are calculated according to length of service and the salary they earned at the time of retirement.

DEFINED BENEFITS PENCHANTthe calculated benefits achieved from strong habitual liking for something.

DEFINED BENEFITS TENSIONthe calculated benefits gained from mental or emotional strain.

INTO AFRICA … 

I’m going into Africa tomorrow, and will be hiking Mount Toubkal in the Atlas Range near Morocco.   INTO AFRICA is my clever take on OUT OF AFRICA by Isak Dinesen, published in 1937, and is considered among the top 100 non-fiction English books ever written.  In 1985 it was made into a movie of the same name starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford.

All this defined benefit info is crucial to my having the ability of getting into Africa.  And trust me, dear readers; my argument for such benefits will make sense before dipping my quill into the inkwell to pen a thousand more words or less.

Around the corporate water cooler there is always talk of the slow but sure dissolution of company Defined Benefits Pension programs.  Such modern times, because of cost, are disunion times for defined benefits pensions.  To put it another way, the traditional government Cadillac pension is everywhere transmogrifying into a Kia counterpart.  And to put it even another way, the Defined Benefits Pension is fast becoming the darling dinosaur company savings dollar, one that will never return.  But so what …

At my age in my world, in the here and now a fundamental recurring question in philosophy is, “Who am I?”   Answering candidly and succinctly for myself at present, I exist only for the reason all things exist, and that reason is evolution.  This notion works for me.  Indeed I am promoting the cause and continuing the species; I have three kids.  (And it just so happens that I am meeting the youngest of my offspring in Marrakech, Africa tomorrow.)

Hmmm … my offspring define me then?  Perhaps this is true, but not completely.   Other significant variables come into evolutionary play.

Certainly not meaning to scumble my procreative accomplishments, it also could be that my WORK, too, defines me.  I am a counsellor/therapist; I am a guitar and didge and portrait busker; seems I am whatever I want to be in this regard.  Saying thus, however, I am not my job.  If I were to measure my personal and social status by my job, I will most certainly end up in an emotional jeopardy when I quit or retire.

A rather BIG definition for who I am is … I am a BABY BOOMER.  And, as it happens, being a baby boomer, means I am performing in the third act of my life.  Baby boomers are those of us born betwixt 1946 and 1964 – I was born in 1951.  According to Lawrence R. Samuel (The New and Improved Third Act of Life, 2017), baby-boomers are those 60-somethings who are going back to school, starting new relationships, exploring their creativity, and embarking on encore careers.  Also, these third-act boomers are still working, unwilling or unable to accept that their minds and bodies have gotten older.  These kinds of boomers are in denial, as they desperately cling to their remaining notion of youth.

And so until infirmity when I quit or retire, what do I want to be when I grow up in Act III.  I must admit that if I do not grow in my third act performance, I’d consider myself to be just another wrinkled namby-pamby, two-dimensional character, going for coffee and chuckles with the former work colleagues a couple times of week.

I know that I am not my job.  I need more than work to define myself.  Perhaps I can turn to PLAY for my definition.  PLAY is where I continue to cultivate relationships and friendships beyond my work boundaries

To play means to get happy.  To get happy usually means having a passion for a particular kind of behavior.  Even though I’m now in Act III, I believe it necessary to develop and grow from the first and second acts to exit the stage with both dignity and passion.

An aficionado is a person who fervently pursues an interest.  By such definition, I am an aficionado in the regards of guitar and didge and portrait busking especially.  Around my ruck of fans and friends, I strive to be the quintessential sang-froid, Americana busker.

Social psychologists have tagged baby-boomers as the first ageless generation in Western history.  Social psychologists also state that interpersonal relationships are everything.  And so to have such a hobbyhorse as busking, I am totally immersed in my Zen-to-go relationships.

I guess I am one of those baby boomers who will stoop to pretty much anything to avoid being branded as irrelevant or obsolete.  I guess I am just a baby boomer, in my third act, searching to find meaning and purpose in my life.

Meanwhile back at my snappy title explanation:

  • DEFINED BENEFITS PENSION

Years ago I cashed in my defined benefits pension, and the practical benefits being to experience some international busking, and also being able to monetarily help my children in their post-secondary academic endeavors.

  • DEFINED BENEFITS PENCHANT

Over past decades I’ve developed not only a penchant for busking, but a serious penchant for fitness.  Physical endurance (strength and stamina) is the most significant pre-requisite for being a busker.

  • DEFINED BENEFITS TENSION

A psychologist would certainly suggest it could be that my penchant activities are simply a stalking-horse from my work-a-day woes, an opportunity to perform on the street stage my designed alterity.  It could be but I doubt it.   I must admit though, escaping to play in this regard does help rid, for those strumming moments, the tensions of any sturm und drang brewing in the backdrop of my life.

  • INTO AFRICA

When I am out of Africa I have some immediate plans.

Factoid:  I’ve now got it in my head that I am going to pursuit Street Hypnotherapy.  I’m thinking, for a faux busker and pseudo-academic such as me, being a street hypnotherapist is the right way to go.  I plan on plying my new street trances this very summer.

Another factoid:  I am currently writing a book about schizophrenia and hypnotherapy as a treatment.  Once published, I am hoping to hit the international stage, speaking on what I know about schizophrenia from an empirical point of view.   

I’ll close this essay with a line from another hypnotherapist, Terrence Watts: 

You’ll never know how you could be if you decide to stay as you are.

Marching in my CHAUCERIAN PARADE this week:

MY BEST SIGNS A TWO-YEAR NHL CONTRACT

BARON, BRUTTO TEMPO BUSKER

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BARON!