Tag Archives: inspirational

Perseverance

 

One of the most intriguing attributes of an interesting person, to me anyway, is perseverance. As a species if we had not had this background of grit we would still be in the dark ages. Tenacity, determination, steadfastness. These are all attributes of the people that move this world forward. It’s not about education, it’s not about finances or status, it’s about an unwillingness to make do with mediocrity.

I knew a man with a grade eight education who started his own business and became wildly successful. He had a beautiful family and a beautiful life all because he did not believe it when someone told him ”no”. I have also known people who have been given every opportunity in the world and still never made anything of themselves. When life is too easy there is no incentive to try harder. When life is hard it can be too easy to give in.

When I was first diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, I was feeling rather sorry for myself. At the time I was using two canes to walk and it was extremely difficult. I spent most my day sitting in a chair looking at a black-and-white TV. (It wasn’t that long ago! It was just a cheap TV.) My mother, never one to mince words, came into my room and crossed her arms. She made a point of saying that I had two choices: I could sit back and be a victim of this horrible disease and wallow in my self-pity or I could get off my back side and make a life for myself through the limitations that I may encounter. Then she looked at her watched, tapped the glass and said you’ve got “15 minutes, go!” Well, I started to laugh and then I actually understood what she was saying:  we all have choices to make.

Life is not easy. We all face challenges, some severe and some minor. Sometimes we need to not be brave. Sometimes we need to wallow in self-pity and in misery. We need to cry and rant and get it out of our system. Just don’t stay in that wallow. I get depressed. I get miserable. But I don’t stay there. I put on a movie that I know is going to make me sob uncontrollably and then I clean myself up and move on. I’ve made the choice to have a life. I worked for 30 years at a great police department. I travelled; I took a cruise. I worked my life around my MS and I have no regrets.

 

 

 

In the Background

When I was a youth my father took me driving. He used to quiz me as I was behind the wheel (terrified that I would do something wrong because of course my father was in the passenger seat)! He would ask me the colour of the car behind me and I had to answer without looking. What were the colours of the cars on either side of me, how many people were in the cars? He taught me that it is in the background, the places we don’t usually look, where there is a true value to be aware of.

I have known many police officers in my life, professionally and personally. No, I am not a criminal! And one thing I learned about them very early on is it is that they are always aware of what’s going on around them. Their eyes are almost on a swivel, constantly moving. I felt safe in their presence, gun notwithstanding. And I learned to do it too.

I may not be able to tell you what people are wearing around me within 10 feet nowadays but there was a time when I could. And I would do it unconsciously. Many, many years ago I was at a mall and was leaving with my purchases. At the time there was a serial molester about and young women were being warned to take care. I carried my keys in my fist and I put my head on a swivel. It was a bright beautiful Saturday afternoon and as I stepped off the curb, I noticed a young man do exactly the same thing at exactly the same time. He glanced at me and then turned away but he continued to move in the same direction I was. My heart was in my throat but I continued on to my car and quickly got inside. No hesitation. I glanced over and yes, he was looking at me and then turned on his heel and went back into the mall. This was in the days before cell phones so when I got home, I called the police and gave them a detailed description of the man. Was he the molester? I have no idea. But the man they arrested a few days later resembled the one I saw.

Being aware is not just a safety thing. When I watch TV, I always take the time to see what’s going on in the background and sometimes it explains the foreground. It’s almost as if we are programmed to see only what is in front of us. We have peripheral vision and it is quite acute if we would just pay attention.  Perhaps that is the key: we need to pay attention…

The Not So Simple Truth.

Last week I wrote a piece called The Art of the Lie. About how some people are really good at it and others not so much. So, this week I decided to write about the opposite, the truth. We desperately want to believe that the truth is simple, yes or no, one or zero but it is not. The truth is as malleable as wax on a hot sidewalk. Ask any police officer with three witnesses to a traffic accident, and you will find the truth of which I speak.  There will be three absolute, honest truths about what happened. They all saw the exact same thing but from different perspectives. And our perspectives are coloured by our history, our experiences and our beliefs.

Using the traffic accident as an example. A car careens into a pole. Sounds simple enough. One person sees a drunk careening across the road into a pole. A friend was killed by a drunk driver many years earlier. Another sees a person asleep at the wheel when the car plows into the pole. He had a friend who fell asleep on the way home from work. The third sees someone trying to commit suicide. A memory from his past.

As a species we are storytellers. Some go so far as to make a career out of it but each one of us tends to editorialize or to embellish what we see. We are not automatons; we use words to paint pictures. But what was it that our witnesses did not see? They could not imagine that the individual behind the wheel of the car had a medical emergency. A blood clot broke loose and travelled to his brain causing a stroke. His body reacted to the stroke by going into a full spasm forcing his foot down on the accelerator, leading to the accident. We can’t know what lies behind the truth. We either accept it at face value or investigate to learn the real truth, the whole truth. But most of us don’t do that. Most of us fill in the blanks with what we have experienced in our past. But what does that do to the truth?

The colour is yellow. Or is it Lemon? Gold? Canary?  We see the same colour but we interpret it differently. It is amazing to me that we can communicate at all. For the most part others understand what we mean when we use our words and yet some of our greatest humour comes from our misinterpretations. And also, some of our greatest tragedies. We don’t always understand each other’s truths. And it is open to interpretation.

The Mirror

 

When you look in the mirror,

What do you see,

Do you see who you are?

Or perhaps who you could be.

 

The reflection looking back,

Is not all that you are.

There’s so much beneath,

So much there by far!

 

Your soul can’t be seen.

Your courage is concealed.

Kindness and love,

Are not yet revealed.

 

The image reflected,

Is merely a start.

The who that’s inside,

Is the really good part.

 

So, remember these words,

And take them to heart.

You are who you are,

And that’s pretty damn smart!

 

 

A Perfect Moment

The frantic pace that life inflicts,

Surrounds us every day.

Sights and sounds bombarding,

That fills one with dismay.

 

Take a moment, maybe two,

And calm your weary brow.

Close your eyes and take a breath,

And I will show you how.

 

Steam wafts gently upwards,

Escaping  from the hollows,

Of a  perfectly made cup of tea.

A scent of spice soon follows.

 

Ripples brush the surface,

Your breath a tender breeze.

Hands clasp around the warmth,

And soon you feel at ease.

 

Let this moment heal you,

Feel peace in its embrace.

Knowing you can always find,

This perfect state of grace.

 

 

Searching

 

We are all searching for something. From the moment we are born when we are looking for warmth and sustenance, we are searching. Sometimes we are simply searching for our keys, directions to a new hot location or sometimes a lost memory. That is what moves us forward. Could it be that the simple act of searching is the true meaning of life?

In the animal world, creatures spend their lives in the pursuit of food and shelter. That allows them to live. They procreate and their progeny starts the cycle again.  In the plant world it is exactly the same. They are constantly searching for food and a way to protect themselves from becoming food. They procreate and the cycle begins again.

The cycle of the human species is a little more complicated than that. Being sentient adds a whole new layer to the concept of searching. Yes, we start out only looking for sustenance and warmth but as we become aware we start to want. We want the shiny baubles; we want toys and we want to understand. As we grow and gain knowledge we want more.  We need to experience the world we inhabit. We want companionship and focus. We look for jobs to give us a sense of purpose. Or simply jobs that provide us with the means to acquire food and shelter.

We join groups of like-minded people so our search becomes communal.  We try religion, book clubs and social media.   Humans are creatures that crave companionship, mostly. There are those who do their searching internally and are always looking for ways to improve who they are as individuals and by extension the world around them. Perhaps we should all be doing that. But most people are simply looking for the next best thing, best book, best meal, most interesting movie. Our tastes are more simplistic than the philosophers. And that is not a bad thing.

Some say that it is the journey that is important not the destination. And that is true to some extent. But if only the journey was important then you lose the incentive of the destination. Once your objective has been reached, it is at that point you start searching for a new one, a new target, a new goal. And the search begins anew. That is the excitement, the wonder of living.

What are you searching for?

Odd

What a silly little word. It almost catches in the back of your throat. Odd. One vowel, two consonants. And yet it is a word that has so many uses, some good, some bad. It is one’s perception that dictates how this word is understood.  Odd, strange, abnormal, unusual, peculiar, funny, idiosyncratic, individual… It is a very long list.

There were an odd number of pieces. The weather is odd these days. That person speaks with an odd accent.  I have been feeling odd lately. I had an odd dream last night. The word has so many meanings and each of those meanings can have different connotations. I’m feeling odd. That could be a bad thing as: I don’t feel well at all or it could be a great thing as: I’m feeling on top of the world and that’s so unusual!

I like things that are a little off the norm.  A little unusual. When I was a child, I used to look up into the sky at night and paint a picture of what my mind saw.  Years later I learned about astronomy and the collection of stars that formed an image. I learned about the stories behind the stars and I was fascinated. So many people look up at the stars and see just stars. Those who study astronomy see something different.

I think those with open minds see so much more. They don’t see odd; they see unusual and fascinating. They see possibilities and opportunities. Labels are restrictive and limiting.  If we judge based on labels, we may miss the underlying truth of the individual.  Labels have a place in identifying but they are only a tool. Used properly ‘odd’ can be fascinating and incredible.

The world is full of creatures and plants that are considered oddities. They don’t fit the norm. Take a look at the platypus. I think it’s quite an adorable looking creature but it is odd.  It is a mammal that has a beak like a duck, a body like an otter, webbed feet, lays eggs and the males have ankle spurs that are venomous. Then there are plants that eat meat. It only seems fair since plants have been eaten by animals from the beginning.  Pitcher plants regularly eat insects but they have been known to digest the occasional rat or shew.  Does anybody remember Day of the Triffids!? Human eating plants take over the world. Yum. Now that was odd and not in a good way.

One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. One person’s odd is another person’s inspiration. Being odd it’s simply being yourself, an individual. I have been called odd and I liked it. It means I’m not like everybody else and that makes me special. Just like you.

 

 

 

Wild Life

A Polar bear was napping,

Upon a sea of ice.

I wonder if he was dreaming?

Of lunch to be precise.

 

I saw a hedgehog running,

He was in such a rush.

Perhaps he had a meeting,

With his latest crush.

 

A fox was sitting in the dark,

Her eyes so very bright,

I wonder what she was thinking,

And were her kits alright?

 

Butterflies are everywhere,

Flitting amongst the trees.

I wonder if they are happy,

As they surf a morning breeze.

 

Animals are all around us,

They live where we can’t see.

But every now and then they show,

Their lives to you and me.

 

Birds are high up in the sky,

Squirrels atop the trees.

Rabbits run within the grass,

And don’t forget the bees!

 

Can we know what they are thinking,

As we share our world with them?

Can we even guess their needs,

Or do we just condemn?

 

We share our world with others,

So different from who we are.

But kindness should be a way of life,

Then love would not be far.

 

 

 

A Broken Pencil

I broke a pencil the other day,

It hit the paper hard.

It seems I had a thought to mind,

That we must be on guard.

 

I guess it started as a rant,

And seemed to grow from there.

Never one to hold my thoughts,

I also need to share.

 

Fear and hatred all about,

A culture of despair.

Is this the way we want to live?

Or must we now beware?

 

The pencil hit the point with rage,

My fury was too strong.

And the moment I had done it,

I knew that I was wrong.

 

Shame was all I really felt

There was another way.

Hate cannot be met with hate,

It’s love we must convey.

 

This is the time to heal our wounds.

A time when we should bond.

All it takes is willingness,

And we could move beyond.

 

I know that we can make amends,

And all can live as one.

Beam a smile at a stranger,

And lo, you have begun.

In Anticipation

 

I look forward to the time ,

When I can feel the sun on my back.

And greet a dear friend,

Without any flack .

 

I want to wander the streets,

With nary a care.

I want to hug a stranger,

Put my hands in their hair.

 

I want to smile with my mouth,

So, everyone can see.

I want to eat in a restaurant,

Where people can be.

 

Travelling the world,

Would be on my list.

Or simply the next town,

These things I have missed.

 

I know it’s not possible,

To break all the rules.

They are there for a reason,

The Breakers are fools.

 

So, with patience I’ll wait,

For this time to be done.

Then we will be free,

To walk in the sun.