On happiness and letting go

On happiness and letting go

Please forgive the rambling nature of this post, I’m just really interested in this sort of thing these days! 🙂


 

Last night I found myself in an overwhelming state of hopelessness–  brought on by severely trivial things. I was failing hard at guitar hero (if anyone remembers that game) and then proceeded to move on to fail even more miserably at chess. Normally I’d just laugh my failures off but for whatever reason my failures on this particular night triggered some sort of emotional shit storm and I suddenly felt volcanically useless.

Do any of you know what I mean?

Those times where you just question everything you’re doing in your life, your purpose and direction, and you wonder how you’ll ever manage to navigate your way back to competence. If you know what I’m talking about, you know how utterly hopeless it feels. At times like these, it feels like the sweeping self doubt will never pass. For whatever reason we seem to convince ourselves that sadness and misery are here to stay forever which, of course, they aren’t. A few deep breaths and a good night’s sleep can help to clarify that.

These extreme emotions on the negative end of the feelings spectrum aren’t something we seek to achieve, they just kind of happen upon us. But for whatever reason, when it comes to the opposite– happiness — we are far more likely to look at it as some kind of epitome of emotional accomplishment and seek it out as something to achieve, rather than letting it be something we simply experience. And the consequence of this is that when happiness does come upon us, we often regard it as fleeting, something that is impossible to hold onto, and that, in turn, makes us even sadder.

We need to accept that happiness, like everything else we feel, comes in waves. It comes and goes. By trying to grasp some kind of permanent feeling of happiness we are actually doing ourselves a great disservice. People will sometimes ask one another, “are you happy with your life?” Which as an absolutely absurd and loaded question. I think it’s far better to strive for contentment, don’t you? If we strive for contentment then we can better appreciate happiness when it comes. Letting go of the idea that we should be ‘obtaining happiness’ and instead just live our lives and give ourselves permission to feel accepting of whatever emotions life throws at us will probably lead us in a more peaceful direction.

The demand for permanence in every area of our existence is the cause of human misery.

That quote comes from U.G. Krishnamurti. I guess all of these thoughts are coming from a series of audio recordings of his that I’ve been listening to of late, along with a whole lot of Alan Watts.

I’ll share one recording which has left a particularly strong impression on me…

 

So what do you guys think? I’d love to get some discussion going and hear some of your thoughts. Please feel free to share them if you’re so inclined. If not, then I’ll just say thanks for reading and I hope you have a great night/afternoon/morning wherever you are.

Conversations with strangers: Adam

You know when you have an experience and it feels somehow like the universe conspired to put you in that specific place at that specific time? That’s happened to me often in life. Maybe it’s just because I like the idea that somehow and for some reason the universe is attempting to show me some sort of direction. Maybe it’s because there have been times where I’ve felt so lost that the second anything aligns in any sort of interesting way I’m ready to pounce like a starving cat about to sink its teeth into its prey. Or I’m just a bit of a hippy. Who knows.

I often find myself having some very interesting conversations with strangers. Sometimes inspiring, sometimes a little strange, sometimes funny. Last week I had one of the more impactful of these conversations.

I was out and about on my bike in the downtown core, casually pedalling my way through the usual hustle and bustle of Toronto: the impatient cars attempting to run me off the road, the incessant construction, the death-defying pigeons. I arrived at my destination just in time to witness the fpotd, or freakout-person-of-the-day. I may have just made that up. But I usually see at least one person having a bit of a freak out on the daily around here. I mean there are a lot of us crammed into Toronto’s downtown core so it’s only natural that at least one of us is going to snap…

This time he was a man in his late 30s, yelling brusquely about how much everyone sucks and challenging every man walking by him to a fight. Quite aggressively, too. He was getting right up in their faces demanding a punch. The hobble in his step gave away his drunkenness if the slurred yelling hadn’t already. He was quite close to me as I was locking up my bike and it was then that our eyes met for the first time. I knew in that moment that he and I were going to have an interaction. I could feel it. I stood there with some mild nerves, trivially attempting to avert my gaze from all the ruckus he was causing. I watched him try once more to provoke a fight from a passerby, and when that failed he staggered his way over to me, looking me in the eyes, and yelling:

What’s the point? What’s the point?” 

I just stood dumbly at my bike as he came closer to me…

Why am I waking up every morning?

I could have wrapped my arms around him our proximity was so uncomfortably close. With our eyes locked intimately he admitted, almost at a whisper,

“I don’t want to wake up anymore.”

My heart pounded in my chest as we stood there together with that knowledge. It was just raw, honest, and painful. The way he said it was so matter-of-fact it broke my heart. And this from stranger whose name I didn’t even know.

What do I do? How can I help? I’m not qualified to deal with this raving man on the street and my own life is out-of-sorts at the best of times. I don’t have anything to offer him. 

Such were my thoughts as I stood there. But for some odd reason I felt like I had been given this great responsibility from the universe to offer something to this man, however small or feeble or unhelpful it may appear to be. So instead of shying away from him, I started talking to him. I asked him for his name.

Adam.

Adam and I ended up spending the afternoon together in the park. We talked about life, people, ambitions, and the “point”. Here are a few things I learned about Adam in our afternoon together.

He’s homeless.
He’s spent most of the last 7 years living as a hermit trying to deal with a kind of PTSD I never found out about.
He loves dogs.
He has a mother nearby who he loves, but doesn’t see much. And he credits her for his plugging along this far in life.
He hates materialism, but he has a thing for motorcycles.
He’s very articulate.
He finds the park very peaceful and likes to spend his afternoons under the trees.
He’s given up on people and tends to dwell on the bad nature of others.
He’s possibly dealing with some mental health issues.
He’s a bit of an alcoholic.
He has very beautiful eyes and wild curly hair.
Most importantly, he has the capacity to be very kind, generous, and outgoing.

He’s a real person with a complicated backstory. Along for this ride with the rest of us.

As we walked around together we got quite a few dubious looks from strangers. Adam was pretty drunk if you recall and so good at drawing attention to us, but it didn’t bother me. I tried to get to the bottom of why he was picking fights with people on the street. Apparently dealing with physical pain is a good distraction from dealing with mental pain, hence the provocations. He wanted bruises. He invited physical pain. I guess I can understand the immediate logic in that. It’s somehow simpler, isn’t it? Our minds are a difficult thing to master or even understand minutely. But even acknowledging that I still had to argue how unfair it was to the poor random people he was challenging. Nobody wants to be provoked into a fight on a sunny afternoon, or even a rainy afternoon for that matter. I just told him what he already knew, that it wouldn’t solve anything going on inside him, and that he’d have to make up his mind to deal with it another way.

But mostly, I just listened. I listened to whatever he wanted to tell me and offered whatever I could. I opened up to him about some of my own struggles which I thought he might relate to. It was a very mutual exchange. We were just two humans in a park talking about life.

For a man who had admittedly “given up on people”, he was certainly very kind to me. Which, to my mind, just shows he needs a helping hand to remind him that he can still become the best version of himself. Maybe with a little encouragement from a stranger. A little acknowledgement. A smile. Eye contact. An ear or two to hear what he has to say and take it seriously. Did I really help him? I don’t know. But I think he was grateful for the interaction just as I was.

I can’t imagine what it’s like to be homeless, it makes me sad to see so many people struggling without a roof over their head on the daily. It’s a bit hard to admit, but when I was younger I used to walk by homeless people and pretend not to see them. You always hear how giving money doesn’t help them/increases the problem/whatever. But whatever the truth is to that doesn’t excuse the purposeful act of looking away from another person who is reaching out for help. A smile, or a brief glance, or a hello… these things can go a long way. People feel invisible because others treat them so.

Let’s always treat each other kindly, please.

Just rambling… thanks for reading.

xo

 

Clouds are magic

Today is an absolutely beautiful day in Toronto, which is a real treat and turnaround from the dreary, bleak, grey skies we’ve been experiencing for what feels like weeks on end. It’s amazing what a difference a crystal clear sky makes in everyone’s attitude; everywhere I go I see smiling faces and people out making the most of the day.

Since I posted that ridiculously long post about New Zealand yesterday I find myself feeling very nostalgic and scrolling through the 1000+ photos I took while I was there. One thing I got really into doing was photographing clouds. I wanted to share a few of them with you guys, cause, you know… 🙂

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Happy Saturday friends xoxo

2017 life

Hey guys do any of you remember when I said I was going to blog part 2 about my trip to New Zealand? Yeah, neither do I.

I feel like it’s time for some changes around here. I really miss writing on this blog regularly. I miss reading everyone’s work and everyone’s comments and all that jazz. The truth is I haven’t been writing too much poetry lately, nor reading it. It’s funny because when I moved to Toronto a while back I didn’t think my life would change that much other than I’d just be in a new location. Wow, was I wrong.

New location, new jobs, new living situation, new people, new friends, new hobbies, new weather. All of these things force massive change on you whether you’re noticing or not. Old habits are ripped out from under your feet and replaced with new ones. Moving here was the best decision I ever made but I definitely left a few pieces of myself behind, and they are pieces that I miss. I really want to get back into writing and sharing my poetry this year. I’ve heard a lot of talk from people saying 2016 was a terrible year and they were glad when it was over, but to me 2016 was one of the best. I faced some of the most intense challenges of my life. I grew so much.

I’m starting a new job this year, one much more in line with my authentic self and I’m excited about it. I want to learn more, do more, grow more… make a contribution, you know? 2017 feels like a very important year for some reason. More so than previous years. It’s just a feeling, of course, but I’m rolling with it.

Okay before I get too into 2017 I do want to share one particular 2016 highlight with all of you…

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I went sky diving!! That’s me! 16 500 feet in the air! I never ever in a million years ever thought I’d be brave enough to go skydiving, but look! There. I did it. Like it ain’t no thang.

Hope you’re all well and enjoying 2017 so far! 🙂 Here’s to a great year.

xoxo

 

 

You know you’re lost when…

On one of my first nights in Toronto, when I was feeling particularly overwhelmed and vulnerable, I was wandering aimlessly up and down this busy downtown street near my sublet apartment like a stray cat. I was eyeing everyone and everything with suspicion, walking stupidly in and out of shops/bars and just generally hopping around from place to place like a little bird who just hit its head.

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I was in one of those hopelessly pathetic post-breakup states where you are incapable of focusing on anything other than just how impossibly alone you are.  (It’s not just me, right? I have no idea.) Anyways, the streets were packed with people socializing, loitering on the corners, smoking outside of bars, and just generally enjoying the company of others. Another exciting night in downtown Toronto.

Not for me, though. I was busy clinging desperately to the enormous welling tears which I could feel ready and eager to claw their way out of my eyes and torrent down my face. I didn’t want to go back to my new apartment to cry awkwardly in front of my new roommate. Actually I didn’t want to cry, full stop. But it was inevitable and I knew it. I felt confused; empty. I had no one to talk to and had no where to go that I felt comfortable, so when I stumbled upon a sign that read “PSYCHIC READING, $20”, I thought okay.. what the hell? I will try anything right now to feel better.

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She lived above some bar on the main stretch and I had to make my way through a group of rather curious and rather drunk patrons to ring her doorbell. I waited at the bottom of the stairwell, surrounded by this group of men asking me why I needed a psychic, telling me what a scam I was in for, etc. Of course I know, of course I do, I’m not stupid. I’m well aware that I’m about to waste my money. I don’t care. 

She could probably read the desperation on my face from a mile away. We locked eyes through the door for a moment before she buzzed me in. I turned the knob and made my way up her ominous stairwell with a good dose of trepidation… no turning back now. I sat down cautiously and observed her room. It was exactly what you’d expect from such a place: dim lighting, tarot cards and signs, granite palm figures on the desk, incense burning, curtains dangling around us, candles burning everywhere, and some testimonials framed on the wall describing how marvellously she changed her client’s lives and how amazing she was. Comforting.

I was still fighting to keep it together when she took her seat across from me. We sat in a bizarre moment of silence that seemed to drag on and on before she finally asked me how I was doing. I just stared meekly in her general direction. I knew the next sounds coming from me would not be pretty and so I responded with a haphazard shrug.

“You’re hurting,” she said lamely. And I say lamely because anyone could have looked at me and seen that I was on the cusp of a compete breakdown. Leave it to a psychic to state the obvious.

No shit, I thought, and then it was over.

I sat across from this woman whose name I didn’t know, in her strange apartment, in a new city, feeling desperately lost and alone, and cried like an idiot. I cried and I couldn’t help myself. Too much had happened in too short a time and the finality of it all was catching up with me. I’m sure she saw a dollar sign for every tear that rolled down my cheek. She had hit the jackpot with me.

I started to tell her everything that had happened in the last month between my (ex) partner and I. She listened so sweetly while I spewed all the frivolous thoughts in my head about how confused I was, how lost. But of course, crying is therapy and more I let out, the better I felt until finally I was able to think with some semblance of rationality again. (It seemed to slip away so easily for a while…) When I finally finished my sob story she took me by the hand and stared intently into my eyes.

“I want to be more than your psychic,” she said, “I want to be your spiritual advisor.”

Well actually.. you haven’t really done much psychic-ing up to now,  if I’m honest. But I didn’t mention that.

She started to explain that she could help me. She knew what had to be done and she could get my partner and I back together in two months tops. (Guaranteed!) Relief was mine if I wanted it, she’d carry the burden from now on. She would give me her number and be at my beck and call whenever I needed her. Anytime of the day or night, all I had to do was call or text and everything would be alright. All I had to do was trust in her to do her work.

Oh, and dish out 800 dollars for a special candle.

Uhh…. what’s that now?

Yes, you read right, eight hundred dollars… for a candle.  

I explained to her that that was impossible as I couldn’t even afford the twenty dollars I paid for the sheer pleasure of crying in her company. But she continued…

“I’m so worried for you. If you don’t do this, you’re going to become more and more upset. The crying will never stop. You will be more alone than ever.”

A bit harsh, I know, but she was only doing her job. In any case, I needed to shut this perceived avenue of revenue down for her ASAP. I mean I know I looked desperate, but there was ZERO chance I was willing to give her 800 dollars to burn a candle in the hopes of rekindling my relationship with my ex.

The interesting thing was that as I sat there listening to her try to convince me otherwise, I started thinking… What if I’m not supposed to get back with him, though? I’ve just moved across the country to start this new life, I can’t turn back now. I can’t dilute my energy like that. Isn’t there a reason why I’m here and not there right now? Why can’t you be telling me that there are great things ahead for me HERE?

These thoughts took me a bit off guard. I mean, hadn’t I been crying over my ex for the last twenty minutes because I missed him so much? Wasn’t I so upset because our life together was over? And then I realized that no, that wasn’t it. Not to say that I didn’t miss him in that moment, because I did, but it wasn’t him that was leaving me crying in a stranger’s house at 1130 at night. I was just overwhelmed that so much was happening all at once. I was in a free fall with no idea where I was going to land, and I was scared. Of course I was. Nothing wrong with that.

Suddenly it seemed entirely silly to be sat there, crying over my ex with a strange woman, when I had so much to look forward to. I’m not exactly sure what I expected to get out of the encounter. Some guidance, I suppose. A hint that I’m on the right path. Truth be told all I really needed was a friend with a shoulder, and to her credit she gave that to me and I’m grateful for it.

Crying is like writing sometimes, you just need to get it out in order to make sense of things. I thanked her for her time, she gave me her card, and I left. I left having gained everything I needed to in that moment. Just a little clarity, a little piece of mind. And she gave that to me in the exact opposite way I imagined she would.

If you guys haven’t been to see a psychic yet, I highly recommend doing so. It can be quite the experience.