Wednesday, January 27, 2016

What Do You Want Your Life To Look Like?

When I was a kid, I spent long patches of summers with Aunt Jody and Uncle John. It was at an empty neighbouring cottage in Grand Rapids (where my brother and I stayed) that I first purchased and discovered Paul's Boutique on a yellow cassette and blew my pubescent preteen rapper mind. Jody is my mom's cool older sister, and has always had a bit more of a daring sense of humour than my mom. She has always had a boisterous laugh, and a wide eyed stare that would accompany the chuckle that was her way of saying "I'm enjoying this moment".

I had a conversation with my aunt tonight. Currently, my mom's only sibling is going through a few different stages of chemo. With cancer in her blood, and some recent blood clots in her lungs, she is in a strange and uncharted area. But in a text message convo tonight, it was evident that she is thankful - thankful that her numbers are where they are and that she can KEEP doing chemo.

Thankful...just to keep doing chemo. And I guess all of this triggers a question:

What do you want your life to look like?

In the midst of this truth-filled eve, I've realized that so many other so-called stressors and out-of-the-blue head spinning jabs are small potatoes in the wake of this truth. When we hide from the darkness and the sadness that so evidently surrounds us, and don't let it fully hit us, we get stuck in webs of bullshit and deceit and immaturity. l know who I am and I know what I've been through, and the real enduring friends in this life have listened to me through therapeutic sessions of release, anguish, regret, forgiveness, joy and ecstatic struggle. And they know me. And they know when I am wrong, and that I am man enough to come forward and willingly say that I fucked up. And I have. And I'll do it again. 

In the end, much like John Candy's character in Planes, Trains and Automobiles (Del Griffith), I often repeat the mantra in my mind and let the reality of it resound: "I like me". And if you don't, well...there's not too much I can do about that. I am continually changing, morphing, and adapting - but those who are stagnant can find my life to be offensive. Sometimes I have rough days. Sometimes, I struggle. Sometimes, I just want to be left alone. And I'm ultimately okay with that. And my friends who know and love me are okay with that too. 

But there is nothing you can do to change the perception of others. It's an act of negative progress - a running back pushing hard against four defensive linemen who are double his size. It's boring. 

But fret not - because an outside view of me, however tainted, is part of your journey. It's really okay. You might paint me in a certain light or have a desire to vilify me, or make me feel bad, or evil, or mould me into your punching bag for your untapped aggression. Sometimes, people will even make things up to try and sully my character. 

It's a pattern. I've seen it before. I've lived thirty nine years on this spinning ball of mud. I may be flawed in my own way, but I'm getting harder and harder to fool. I see through you. 

But don't worry. I can take it. 

Just try to learn from it.

"All I can do is be me - whoever that is" - Bob Dylan

Monday, January 04, 2016

The Inward Gaze And Sriracha Breakfast

The escapades of this life are sometimes not artful. They don't illicit thought provoking reactions and art house moments of sublime contemplation. They are, sometimes, only about motion. 

Moving forward. 

These last 6 months have been about that for me - maybe more so than ever. Clearing out cobwebs of dissatisfaction. Simplifying. Smalling the big. Making sure that I have what I need in the blink of a mouse fart to be alright. Dwelling less on impossibility. Opening my heart to the new road. 

I'm sitting in a diner near the industrial region of Carling road, taking everything in. Letting the sun from the coldest day of winter wash in on to the faded shit green-brown old world pattern carpet around me. My stomach is full of road house eggs and grease, and my soul is eager. Eager to see what's next. But also eager just to be here and smell the flowers of the moment. And my smile is creeping outward - thanks to the beauty of a bright and hilarious fellow traveler. 

I think when people get unsatisfactory results in their lives, their expectations are unrealistic. They are focused on the next move. The next thing. Or they are so hung up on past pain and can't bear to imagine a reality without that horrific but familiar comfort. They are absentee landlords in the beautiful cityscape loft of existence. Being happy should never be about the arrival - it should be about the love of the journey. The road. The ride. The roll of the dice. Seeing where the day takes you. The smallest victories. The smelly air vent clanking on at my mechanics. The first blue sky in many grey winter days. 

I'm at a crucial point of existence where people close to me are going through many spiritual and real dilemmas. I'm seeing decisions getting made. I'm watching roads as they are being built and foundations as they are forming. 

There are zero guarantees in this life. I once heard the zany Steve-O of Jackass on a Bryan Callen podcast say that 'As humans, the only universal thing we want to do is survive - but the only guarantee we have is that we won't'. Smart words from a man who climbed over an alligator pit on a tight wire with raw chicken in his underwear. 

Patti Smith fills up a wintry afternoon and reminds me of the passion that so many lose - we become drones marching on, in thoughtless trudging, towards our end. 

May your Sriracha breakfast arrive however it needs to today. 

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