Tag Archives: perception

Your Story

We all have a story to tell. Some are sad and heart wrenching; some are funny and uplifting. But we all have something. I once said that I wanted to write a book entitled “My Life of Mediocrity”. But my life has been anything but ordinary it has been, at times, extraordinary! Now it may not approach the heights of a test pilot or royalty or a celebrity but it was my life and it was lived well. It is still being lived well. And yes, do I have some stories to tell…

I have travelled in my own country and seen heights that I never thought I would. I camped at the top of the Rocky Mountains and the view was breathtaking. I have eaten fish taken moments earlier from the Atlantic Ocean. The only way it would’ve been fresher is if it had still been moving. It was delicious. I have seen wildlife that were truly wild. I was in their world. I will admit they weren’t always happy about it. But I was faster than they were. I have seen stars where there is no light pollution at all. We were literally miles from civilization and the air was cleaner and the silence was astonishing. There is no such thing as true silence if you can hear. As I sat on the shore of the lake and closed my eyes I could hear an owl, I heard the water lapping against the shore ever so gently. Then there was a loon calling wistfully. I could hear the grass slightly rustling and I did wonder what was moving the grass. Because it wasn’t me! There were no voices, there were no cars, no sounds of modern life and it was inspiring.

I remember my first love. The butterflies that took up permanent residence in my stomach. Oh, the joys of young love and the despair when you realize it’s not forever. But then there is another and you once again believe. Hopefully these are memories that will remain with me forever. Some are PG and some are not. This is what has made my life so extraordinary. The people I have met, the experiences I have lived through, good and bad. And each of us has 100 stories, 1000 stories and they are extraordinary because they are ours. We lived them and they are what made us who we are today.

 

 

 

Culture of Ignorance

We live in a culture that does not want to know. We want food to arrive on our tables and programs to arrive in our TV but we don’t want to know how. Why? Because it’s not always pleasant to hear about how the animals are slaughtered or what it truly takes to put on a TV show. We talk about wanting to know the truth but quite frankly, as was once said by Jack Nicholson: We can’t handle the truth! OK that’s not exactly what he said but you get the jest.

We would much rather be entertained by our news than informed. If we are informed then we need to take action and let’s face it we are also a lazy culture. But that’s only part of the world. So much of the world is struggling while we sit back and watch our comedies. I am guilty of this. I find I watch the news less and less because it is depressing and I feel helpless. I want things to get better for everyone and yet I don’t know what I can do. I don’t have an amount of money that I can throw at the issues to correct them and I don’t have any skill set that can make changes. All I can do is offer moral support and when you are hungry from lack of food that’s not good enough. So, I support what agencies I can and hope for the best.

But there is an even more pervasive and destructive ignorance that is far too common:  manners. When I was growing up, I spoke to everyone with respect or I would deal with my parents at home. Not a pleasant thought. I said please and thank you, I said excuse me and when I did something wrong, I owned up to it and I apologized. Does anyone else find these common courtesies are happening less and less?

And I don’t blame the youth for this. I find a lot of them are trying to live up to the standards that we had when we were their age. That’s a good thing. I find older people are becoming less tolerant and more angry. Yes, we have gone through a horrible pandemic, we still are. Nerves are frayed and tempers are short. But isn’t this the time when we need to come together? When we need to stop and think. We’re doing OK. We will make it through this but only together. We need each other. As much as hermits hate the idea of camaraderie and I do hate crowds, we need each other. And that is not a bad thing.

Who are you? Who am I?

Who am I? At this exact moment I’m a writer sitting in front of my computer trying to coax words out of my brain to be formed into some semblance of intelligent thought. How am I doing so far? In a little while I’m going to be ensconced on my balcony with my ear buds in, totally immersed in an audiobook. In the same manner in which I used to lose myself in the pages of a paperback I now am able to lose myself in the voice of an actor performing an intriguing story. Then I will be a reader.

When I was working, I had a persona that I would put on every morning. Professional, calm and focused. I had a job to do. And for the most part I did it very well. I don’t want to brag and say I was perfect because, well, you know, that is so not me. Perfection is something to aspire to, not brag about.

I consider myself an accomplished and confident woman. I wasn’t always. And I still have those moments when I’m not. As a child I was terrified of everything. I had no self-confidence, I thought I was ugly and stupid. Maybe all children go through that phase. And how sad it is. But I was none of those things, I just didn’t know it. I didn’t know who I was or who I could be but over the many years I learned. I read about people I admired, I read about situations that I might one day be in and how to handle them. I would go to parties with pertinent topics to speak about intelligently because I had done the research, just in case somebody asked. I made me who I am today.

But I didn’t do it alone. Family and friends helped to mould me, to support me. Teachers and schoolmates, strangers on the street helped make me who I am today. Every interaction I’ve ever had with someone has left a mark as I have left a mark on them. Hopefully a positive one. But everything we do has consequences. If you smile at a stranger then perhaps they will smile at another stranger and the domino effect is born. Heady stuff I know but we are all interconnected. And that makes us all brothers and sisters.

Some days I am brilliant but some days I’m also that small child that was terrified of the air.  And at my core?  I still believe in who I am, right now.

 

Lost Time

Do you ever worry about the amount of time that is lost by the frivolous indulgences we have? I’ve been known to sit on my balcony and simply stare at the sky, sometimes it feels like it’s for hours. Is that lost time?  At the end of the day, you curl up in front of the TV and watch some so incredibly inane sitcom that you can’t remember the plot 10 minutes after you change the channel. Is that lost time? How about sleeping, or resting when your body is prone and your mind is turned off. Is that lost time?  My answer to all of these questions is an emphatic no!

When I’m sitting, staring on my balcony, my mind is constantly in motion. Story ideas, post ideas, quips, would that work for a poem or is it more of  a short story? My mind is percolating some new idea. It is very rare that I can ever turn it off. On my desktop is a file called In Progress. It is where I put the bits, I can’t make grow but I feel they are worth saving. There are two short stories in there and a poem. There used to be three short stories but after several years of it sitting in that file, I had an epiphany. And I wrote one of my sweetest love stories. It still makes me cry. I am such a wimp!

We lead busy lives. We work hard, we play hard and we live hard. We need downtime to recharge. And let’s face it, we invented time so we can’t lose it even if we tried. It’s always creeping up behind us and screaming that something isn’t right. We are expected to be somewhere or something must be completed forthwith.

Our minds are constantly being bombarded with input. Faces, names, advertising, directions, the list is endless. But we need time to sort out what has been imported. We read, we hear, we feel and we see. Now we have to unscramble it and have it make sense. Sometimes that is easy to do and it’s done almost instantaneously, other times it requires a little more thought. And that thinking requires us to stop. Have you ever gone to bed with a problem nagging in the back of your mind only to wake up with a solution in front of you? That’s because you turned off and let things work naturally. Our minds and our bodies are incredible tools but they need time to recharge.

Many years ago, I knew a woman who read Harlequin romances on a near constant basis. I have never cared for that particular genre but she said it gave her an escape that did not require her to think. She was an incredibly busy woman with a business, a husband and two children. She was constantly on the go. But the books she read took  little time and little effort and it gave her a release that she had not been able to find elsewhere. It was not lost time to her.

As a species we are not built to always be running in top speed. We are not automatons.  We will burn out and so many do. And perhaps that is the lost time.

The Concept of Time

In the beginning there was nothing. And within that nothing was more nothing. And then there was something. The Big Bang was the beginning of something but it had no name, it had no form, it simply was. The something grew, it evolved over millions of years and eventually it became us. We as a species need to control, we need to name, to label and to judge. So, we named the nothing and the something and they became ours. We created the concept of time and it was good. Or was it?

“I’m late, I’m late! It’s such a horrid state!”

Does this sound familiar?  We are corralled by time units.  The alarm clock goes off at 6:30 so we have time to get ready for the day and be in the car by seven to make it to work by 7:45 so we can start work at eight. Lunch is at 12 o’clock, work ends at five, dinner at seven, drinks with friends at nine, bed by 11:30. And repeat, repeat, repeat. We may have created the concept of time but now time rules us.

There are time pieces everywhere visually blaring out the exact second we are living. We wear watches, our cell phones show us the time in huge neon numbers. We stare at the clocks but it is time that is staring back.  I know it is a necessary evil, the world needs structure and that structure is bound by the units of time. But sometimes, just sometimes wouldn’t you like to turn it off?

Once upon a Time the world was ruled by the sun. It told us when to get up and it told us when to sleep. But then we harnessed the sun and created artificial ones so we could take over control. That is what we do. We take control. We’ve subjugated the world to our liking and our conveniences. And it is good. Mostly. It is in the folly of our hubris that we actually think we have been the victors. We will learn, hopefully in time.

But it is not the entire world that is ruled by our dictates. Some places have  managed to escape the hunger for more and they live within their means without the concept of time. It is hard and sometimes untenable. That is not a world I could inhabit.  I like the comforts afforded me by living within time. But I can still dream. I can dream of wide-open spaces and quiet gentle fields. I have camped in the wilderness where time has no meaning, where the sun is once again King or Queen. It may have only been for a week or so at a time but it was precious to me. And the memories I retain will always make me wish for a simpler time

Deep Reflections

“If you look deep into your enemies’ eyes you may indeed see yourself.”

I don’t know where this quote comes from. Wikipedia failed me. It may have been a line in a movie or a book and it just stuck in my head. But when you think about it, it is true.  If you are looking at your enemy, then your enemy is probably doing exactly the same thing to you and thinking the same thing. It’s all about perspective.

In this fast-paced world we look, we see, we judge and act on that judgment. It isn’t necessarily true or fair but it’s what most people do. We don’t have the time to spend shaking hands and looking into the eyes of a stranger and getting to know them. And that is a shame and it is a travesty because we miss so much beauty and wealth that it makes us poorer.

We live in a technological world where everything we want to know is at our fingertips. There is so little sharing of information between two people talking, examining feelings and aspirations. All that seems to have been shunted to one side in favour of knowing the latest trend and the most popular celebrity. I enjoyed my ‘getting to know you’ dates. I enjoyed learning, the hard way sometimes. But it was a joy and an experience. Now everything is at my fingertips and I don’t even have to go to the library to check out a reference book. I wonder if someday we will be no longer need to interact at all with another human being. It will all be done by computer bits and bytes.

I am going out for lunch with a friend in a few days and I am feeling a little anxious. It’s not like I haven’t done this hundreds of times but I’m afraid I will have forgotten the niceties. It’s been a year and a half and I have grown comfortable in my reclusiveness, perhaps too comfortable. Hence the necessity for going out to a restaurant.

When we look deep into the eyes of another, we do see ourselves or the version of ourselves we believe. Each of us feels love, despair, hurt and an endless harmony of emotions. No one is alone in their feelings. Human beings are social animals, we need each other. We need to see each other and to physically connect even if it is just a simple hug. Times don’t allow for all of that right now but they will, in time and while I hate to say it: we must be patient or we could lose it all.

 

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.

 

 

 

It’s a Sexual Thing

Ha ha ha! That got your attention! Don’t you dare deny it!

I recently read an article about an actor that I particularly admire. He had just received glowing reviews on a play he had completed and a Netflix miniseries that was brilliant but on social media there were an unseemly number of people who could only concentrate on his sexuality. Say what?! He’s an actor. He is charismatic and humble and a bit of a Chameleon. Everything that a good actor should be. I like that he acts. Period. Why are so many people hung up on things that are none of their damn business?

Perhaps they don’t understand what the word ‘personal’ means. It means it’s my business and not yours. Now granted, I understand we live in a scandalous and gossip minded society and anything that they could twist into perceived dirt is considered fair game. So, my question is this:  if I delved into your life and did a deep dive through all your secrets and then plastered it all over Twitter for the world to see, would you be upset? I would be livid. My personal life is my private life: not for general consumption. Actors are exactly the same. Yes, they have a public persona but I’m afraid that’s all I believe the public is entitled to. They all put their pants on one leg at a time, they all have to eat and you know, clean their colons.  Just like you and me.

I once read that an American power couple, both actors, had purchased a cottage in northern Ontario and were absolutely thrilled when people left them alone. I was so proud of that and so sad that it was worth mentioning. But they live in a world where they are basically considered fair targets. What a disturbing world.

I have stated in the past that I live my life from the seat of a wheelchair. But that does not define me.  The fact that I like cheese and jam on toast does not define me. My sexuality, the colour of my hair or the cut of my jib does not define me. My character does define me! What I do in public does define me. That is who I am and it is on that I will be judged. It is exactly the same for a public figure, why can’t people see that?

Two Bison

Two bison ran me down,

I swear it’s really true.

Walking down the street,

What was I to do?

 

Minding my own business,

My face towards the sun.

Nothing really on my mind,

But looking for some fun.

 

The land began to rumble,

And then a growling sound.

Barely seconds passed,

And I was on the ground!

 

I heard a raucous laughter,

Coming from those beasts!

But I am kissing pavement,

And praying for some priests!

 

I raised my head a tiny bit,

To see what I could see.

Imagine my surprise,

When there was really three!

 

Juvenile delinquents,

Racing without a care.

Prepubescent miscreants,

On skateboards for a dare.

 

I raised my fist in anger,

At the injustice of it all.

I’m too old to ride a board,

But damn, I can recall!

 

 

(the image is from hww.ca)

 

The Art of the Lie

I don’t lie. That is not an arrogant statement of superiority. I’m simply not very good at it. My coworkers used to laugh when I told a lie. Everybody knew I was lying. So why bother trying? What I was good at, was obfuscation and misdirection. Damn, I’m good at that! And that is not an arrogant statement of superiority. It is simply my means of getting around things I am uncomfortable with.

A friend had just come back from spending an obscene amount of money at a salon for a new haircut. She was obviously very pleased with it and asked me what I thought. Now I care very deeply for this friend and I would never do anything that would cause her any kind of pain.  Unfortunately, I was not in a position to keep my mouth shut because I had been asked a direct question. So, I answered in the most indirect manner I could. I simply told her that it was an incredible look. I didn’t say it was an incredibly good look.  She looked like her hair had been cut by an eight-year-old with dull scissors high on crack cocaine. I’m not kidding. And I wasn’t lying. It happened many years ago and we laugh about it now. She did eventually see the humour.

Politicians are known for their lies and it is expected by everyone. I find that difficult to understand. I don’t like being lied to. Especially when it’s done openly and everybody knows it’s a lie! And yet it seems to be the way we live our lives. We expect those around us to lie to us. I’m one of those naïve people that expects others to tell me the truth. I don’t know why am surprised when I find out they haven’t. But I am. Look at advertising. Now these people are good. They lie so well you don’t know it’s happening. Case in point…

A very large chain that sells hamburgers recently laid the claim that their beef is grass fed. I won’t use their name because that would be unkind. But here’s my question: what were they fed before? They haven’t told a lie. But they’ve taken a statement of truth and elevated it to gospel. I see cows in the fields all the time and their faces are in the, oh I don’t know, grass! Cows have been eating grass since they crawled out of the primordial slime several million years ago. And the methane which is produced from that grass is one of the contributors to global warming. I’m just saying.

Words are wonderful to wander through, to play with, to communicate. But they can also be used to confuse, to manipulate and to harm. We all need to watch what we say but sometimes the mistakes that we inadvertently speak are the basis of some of our best humour. And we all need a good laugh. Especially these days.  So please, accept my words in the spirit in which they are given and enjoy.