Archive | July, 2013

Pressed: 52 Weeks Begin Now: Week Twenty: Buying a Ticket

22 Jul

52 Weeks Begin Now: Week Twenty: Buying a Ticket.

photo (6)

52 Weeks Begin Now: Week Twenty: Buying a Ticket

Being specific: Elizabeth Gilbert writes so eloquently in her book Eat Pray Love (2006) about being specific about what you want when you are seeking outwards into the universe:

Of course God already knows what I need. The question is—do I know? Casting yourself at God’s feet in helpless desperation is all well and good—heaven knows, I’ve done it myself plenty of times—but ultimately you’re likely to get more out of the experience if you can take some action on your end. There’s a wonderful old Italian joke about a poor man who goes to church every day and prays before the statue of a great saint, begging, “Dear saint—please, please, please…give me the grace to win the lottery.” This lament goes on for months. Finally the exasperated statue comes to life, looks down at the begging man and say in weary disgust, “My son—please, please, please…buy a ticket.” (Gilbert, 2006, p. 176)

I think we are often very general about what it is we are seeking. We tend to know that we want to feel healthy, happy and secure. We know when we experience joy and when we are not content in what we are doing. However, we are not always really clear about why things are positive or negative for us. I believe that finding some clarity for myself might improve the quality of my perspective and the success in achieving what works for me.

Sending out the wrong messages: We are often a bit more specific about what we don’t want. I know that of late, I have been pretty clear about what I do not like in life about people, lifestyle, and about society in general. If I am really honest with myself, I am learning that I have definite aversions to things, and I steer clear, giving a wide berth to these unpleasant things or people, very much like I used to do when approaching the skunks that would come up from the neighborhood park. Sometimes, I will go as far as getting up and walking in the other direction when negative things I do not like come up, saying to myself, “I do not need this right now”. However, when we pontificate about what we don’t want, we send energy into the universe about where it is we are “stuck”. I say stuck because things don’t tend to bother us if we are free of what it represents to us. As a result, the universe keeps sending us that energy as if to say, “Well, this is what you keep talking to us about, so I am just adding to the conversation.”

For example, I cannot stand the sound of electronics buzzing away, or distracting people. It represents to me noise, laziness and pop-culture gone wild with stimulation overload. In my childhood, I watched television passively suck up and waste much of my family’s time, and as a result I learned to stay clear and be selective of my screen time. I encouraged the same of my son who vehemently objected when I would impose electronic limits on him. Therefore, when I now meet people who watch sports all day on the television, or talk at length about their recent gaming escapades, I put two-and-two together and assume that they buy into those negative electronic attributes that I associate with recreational technology use. I step back from having relationships with people who can quickly list of their top twenty television or computer programs. With this being said, I do admire technology when used constructively and optimally in the educational or work place. I guess, to sum this up, people who even talk to me about recreational technology don’t have a hope of connecting with me, especially if they are trying to date me.

Buying a ticket: However, I long for something “else”—something off the “grid”, and yet I am not really specific about it, likely because I don’t truly know what it looks like. I have become a bit better in my 40’s about being clear about my intentions by designing some vision boards, or setting goals and ironically, many of these goals have come true. However, I have never really articulated what I “want” in detail for fear of seeming demanding, or greedy. God (or that special life force we call God–God in the spiritual sense of the collective energy around and within us) has bigger fish to fry than my less important requests. It was refreshing to read Gilbert’s Chapter 9 about petitioning God as she obviously felt similarly and her friend’s candid response was refreshing:

I don’t like asking, “Will you change this or that thing in my life that’s difficult for me?” Because—who know?—God might want me to be facing that particular challenge for a reason. Instead, I feel more comfortable praying for the courage to face whatever occurs in my life with equanimity, no matter how things turn out…”Where did you get the idea you aren’t allowed to petition the universe with prayer? You are part of this universe, Liz. You’re a constituent—you have every entitlement to participate in the actions of the universe, and to let your feelings be known. So put your opinion out there. Make your case. Believe me—it will at least be taken into consideration”. (Gilbert, 2006, p. 32)

So, I need to “buy the ticket” for the ride I really want to go on. However, now comes the bigger question, “Which ride is right for me, or which lottery do I want to win?” Life doesn’t present many second chances, although I am finding that it actually does give us some “re-do’s” unlike what the great philosophers profess about not being able to go back. We can stop and turn around and try again where we make the opportunity to do so. However, that turning around takes incredible willpower and fortitude, so it is sometimes best to be intentional and get it right the first time around.

Being clear: What do our minds, hearts and souls long for? I know that mine are getting clearer. I know that I want to learn about the world, but not so broadly that it is overwhelming. I want to learn how people find peace in themselves. What are people doing to be happy? What do they eat, seek and create to be the best that they can be? These questions will likely lead me to churches, spiritual rituals and celebrations, and, as well, fine art that demonstrates how people unearth their most important selves (sacred and secular). Therefore, I need to be open and clear about how I do it so I can reciprocate in this discovery process as I travel and grow. As a result, I need friends (or as Gilbert would say, “champions”) who are exceedingly strong and capable of this type of journey, and have set themselves up already to do this type of self-reflection and exploration alongside me.

It is interesting that my son is a sociology major. I think we have been talking about people for a long time together as he grew up. I envy him his post-secondary studies learning about societies around the world. I miss school, but school is second-hand learning that inspires us to get out and see things first hand and begin making positive first and second order changes in our local and global communities. I have been in school long enough. I am now ready to do my learning first hand and viscerally touch the things and places; smell the aromas and taste the food that inspire people to be happy and healthy. My new experiences in the Comox Valley have taught me that we all live differently, and we are all spiritually seeking “something” even when we do not know it. The key is to be clear about it, and in the next few weeks, I hope to map out exactly what I hope to petition from the universe.

52 Weeks Begin Now: Week Twenty: Buying a Ticket

22 Jul

photo (6)

52 Weeks Begin Now: Week Twenty: Buying a Ticket

Being specific: Elizabeth Gilbert writes so eloquently in her book Eat Pray Love (2006) about being specific about what you want when you are seeking outwards into the universe:

Of course God already knows what I need. The question is—do I know? Casting yourself at God’s feet in helpless desperation is all well and good—heaven knows, I’ve done it myself plenty of times—but ultimately you’re likely to get more out of the experience if you can take some action on your end. There’s a wonderful old Italian joke about a poor man who goes to church every day and prays before the statue of a great saint, begging, “Dear saint—please, please, please…give me the grace to win the lottery.” This lament goes on for months. Finally the exasperated statue comes to life, looks down at the begging man and say in weary disgust, “My son—please, please, please…buy a ticket.” (Gilbert, 2006, p. 176)

I think we are often very general about what it is we are seeking. We tend to know that we want to feel healthy, happy and secure. We know when we experience joy and when we are not content in what we are doing. However, we are not always really clear about why things are positive or negative for us. I believe that finding some clarity for myself might improve the quality of my perspective and the success in achieving what works for me.

Sending out the wrong messages: We are often a bit more specific about what we don’t want. I know that of late, I have been pretty clear about what I do not like in life about people, lifestyle, and about society in general. If I am really honest with myself, I am learning that I have definite aversions to things, and I steer clear, giving a wide berth to these unpleasant things or people, very much like I used to do when approaching the skunks that would come up from the neighborhood park. Sometimes, I will go as far as getting up and walking in the other direction when negative things I do not like come up, saying to myself, “I do not need this right now”. However, when we pontificate about what we don’t want, we send energy into the universe about where it is we are “stuck”. I say stuck because things don’t tend to bother us if we are free of what it represents to us. As a result, the universe keeps sending us that energy as if to say, “Well, this is what you keep talking to us about, so I am just adding to the conversation.”

For example, I cannot stand the sound of electronics buzzing away, or distracting people. It represents to me noise, laziness and pop-culture gone wild with stimulation overload. In my childhood, I watched television passively suck up and waste much of my family’s time, and as a result I learned to stay clear and be selective of my screen time. I encouraged the same of my son who vehemently objected when I would impose electronic limits on him. Therefore, when I now meet people who watch sports all day on the television, or talk at length about their recent gaming escapades, I put two-and-two together and assume that they buy into those negative electronic attributes that I associate with recreational technology use. I step back from having relationships with people who can quickly list of their top twenty television or computer programs. With this being said, I do admire technology when used constructively and optimally in the educational or work place. I guess, to sum this up, people who even talk to me about recreational technology don’t have a hope of connecting with me, especially if they are trying to date me.

Buying a ticket: However, I long for something “else”—something off the “grid”, and yet I am not really specific about it, likely because I don’t truly know what it looks like. I have become a bit better in my 40’s about being clear about my intentions by designing some vision boards, or setting goals and ironically, many of these goals have come true. However, I have never really articulated what I “want” in detail for fear of seeming demanding, or greedy. God (or that special life force we call God–God in the spiritual sense of the collective energy around and within us) has bigger fish to fry than my less important requests. It was refreshing to read Gilbert’s Chapter 9 about petitioning God as she obviously felt similarly and her friend’s candid response was refreshing:

I don’t like asking, “Will you change this or that thing in my life that’s difficult for me?” Because—who know?—God might want me to be facing that particular challenge for a reason. Instead, I feel more comfortable praying for the courage to face whatever occurs in my life with equanimity, no matter how things turn out…”Where did you get the idea you aren’t allowed to petition the universe with prayer? You are part of this universe, Liz. You’re a constituent—you have every entitlement to participate in the actions of the universe, and to let your feelings be known. So put your opinion out there. Make your case. Believe me—it will at least be taken into consideration”. (Gilbert, 2006, p. 32)

So, I need to “buy the ticket” for the ride I really want to go on. However, now comes the bigger question, “Which ride is right for me, or which lottery do I want to win?” Life doesn’t present many second chances, although I am finding that it actually does give us some “re-do’s” unlike what the great philosophers profess about not being able to go back. We can stop and turn around and try again where we make the opportunity to do so. However, that turning around takes incredible willpower and fortitude, so it is sometimes best to be intentional and get it right the first time around.

Being clear: What do our minds, hearts and souls long for? I know that mine are getting clearer. I know that I want to learn about the world, but not so broadly that it is overwhelming. I want to learn how people find peace in themselves. What are people doing to be happy? What do they eat, seek and create to be the best that they can be? These questions will likely lead me to churches, spiritual rituals and celebrations, and, as well, fine art that demonstrates how people unearth their most important selves (sacred and secular). Therefore, I need to be open and clear about how I do it so I can reciprocate in this discovery process as I travel and grow. As a result, I need friends (or as Gilbert would say, “champions”) who are exceedingly strong and capable of this type of journey, and have set themselves up already to do this type of self-reflection and exploration alongside me.

It is interesting that my son is a sociology major. I think we have been talking about people for a long time together as he grew up. I envy him his post-secondary studies learning about societies around the world. I miss school, but school is second-hand learning that inspires us to get out and see things first hand and begin making positive first and second order changes in our local and global communities. I have been in school long enough. I am now ready to do my learning first hand and viscerally touch the things and places; smell the aromas and taste the food that inspire people to be happy and healthy. My new experiences in the Comox Valley have taught me that we all live differently, and we are all spiritually seeking “something” even when we do not know it. The key is to be clear about it, and in the next few weeks, I hope to map out exactly what I hope to petition from the universe.

Pressed: 52 Weeks Begin Now: Week Nineteen: What to Learn from Oysters

1 Jul

52 Weeks Begin Now: Week Nineteen: What to Learn from Oysters.

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What to Learn from Oysters

Oyster Boat Trip: In June, 2013, I took a boat trip from Comox to Union Bay to an oyster farm known as Holly Wood (named after the people running the farm). They raise fairly expensive oysters to sell to reputable restaurants in the area, most notably, the Kingfisher restaurant known as the Oceanside. The boat ride towards Denman Island was spectacular as we made our way by Goose Spit, past Royston and over towards Fanny Bay. Everyone knows that the Fanny Bay oysters are the best in the world, and yet, I have not paid much attention to oysters for their own sake aside from the fact that they have beautiful shells, and, in my mind, unless heavily dosed with hot sauce or horse radish, they taste pretty slimy.

I think that most people know that they are supposed to be an aphrodisiac. As well, it is common knowledge that sometimes, if you are lucky, you can find a pearl inside some of them. Although I recently learned that the “cultured pearls” are the ones everyone wants to buy as they are “worth something”. Someone artificially inseminates them with little marbles, and the oysters weave their magic around them to create what appears to be natural pearls with various degrees of “perfection”.

Oyster Resilience: What I did not know is how interesting their little lives are from the seeds that make them through to their harvesting. I was also intrigued that this husband and wife oyster farm team had made it their life work to be on the water in what seemed some pretty grimy conditions to nurture these crazy little sea beings through to adulthood.

They are interesting little creatures that make the little annoyances around them part of their lives. For example, barnacles don’t faze them. Oysters, in their natural habitat, absorb these ocean nuisances; grow over them, around them or underneath them. As well, oysters are resilient and turn little granules of sand that make their way into their shells into natural pearls. Oysters help maintain the ocean ecology, and it is a good thing when we promote them into any ocean system. Sometimes, those beautiful ochre and orange starfish have been known to take over some of the areas where oysters tend to live, and mussels sometimes get in their way too. However, for the most part, oysters tend to do very well through most circumstances provided that we keep our water clean.

If there are toxins in the area, oysters will become poisonous to eat, until the sea area becomes clean again, and then it takes a few weeks for them to clear out so that we can eat them again. They are the creatures that tell us a bit about how our ocean waters are doing and it makes me worry when the coal mining industry might be allowed to continue up above Royston and Union Bay, and potentially interrupt the environment (http://www.coalwatch.ca/5089-name-petition-asks-bc-government-stop-comox-valley-coalmine. The islanders have been petitioning against it for some time. Coal stories rarely have happy endings, and especially in this valley, despite all of the good intentions of the big corporations.

Why am I writing about oysters? I think that it occurred to me on our boat ride back from the oyster farm as the head chef from Oceanside served us clams and oysters (raw and cooked on the BBQ, and I still wasn’t turned on by their taste), that there is something very peaceful about the life of an oyster. Oysters have this way of turning what might be perceived as nuisances into beautiful gems.

Often when we are bothered by a problem, our immediate reaction is to extricate it, or do what we can to ignore it. Instead, what if we embraced the problem, and turned it into something better? It strikes me as a noble concept, and one that I am not sure how I can employ into my own life. What does this mean, exactly?

Philosophers have been talking about living with pain for a long time. Buddhists say that the first truth is suffering. What if the suffering was actually a means of identifying an issue and then transforming it into something beautiful instead of simply a mortal acceptance or denial of it? What if we just believed that out of the suffering, we would intentionally and actively turn the problem into a beautiful pearl? It is our nature to do so as we all come from the sea, just as it is the instinct of the oyster. We just need to remember how to do so.

52 Weeks Begin Now: Week Nineteen: What to Learn from Oysters

1 Jul

981265_10151727318141383_451742269_o

What to Learn from Oysters

Oyster Boat Trip: In June, 2013, I took a boat trip from Comox to Union Bay to an oyster farm known as Holly Wood (named after the people running the farm). They raise fairly expensive oysters to sell to reputable restaurants in the area, most notably, the Kingfisher restaurant known as the Oceanside. The boat ride towards Denman Island was spectacular as we made our way by Goose Spit, past Royston and over towards Fanny Bay. Everyone knows that the Fanny Bay oysters are the best in the world, and yet, I have not paid much attention to oysters for their own sake aside from the fact that they have beautiful shells, and, in my mind, unless heavily dosed with hot sauce or horse radish, they taste pretty slimy.

I think that most people know that they are supposed to be an aphrodisiac. As well, it is common knowledge that sometimes, if you are lucky, you can find a pearl inside some of them. Although I recently learned that the “cultured pearls” are the ones everyone wants to buy as they are “worth something”. Someone artificially inseminates them with little marbles, and the oysters weave their magic around them to create what appears to be natural pearls with various degrees of “perfection”.

Oyster Resilience: What I did not know is how interesting their little lives are from the seeds that make them through to their harvesting. I was also intrigued that this husband and wife oyster farm team had made it their life work to be on the water in what seemed some pretty grimy conditions to nurture these crazy little sea beings through to adulthood.

They are interesting little creatures that make the little annoyances around them part of their lives. For example, barnacles don’t faze them. Oysters, in their natural habitat, absorb these ocean nuisances; grow over them, around them or underneath them. As well, oysters are resilient and turn little granules of sand that make their way into their shells into natural pearls. Oysters help maintain the ocean ecology, and it is a good thing when we promote them into any ocean system. Sometimes, those beautiful ochre and orange starfish have been known to take over some of the areas where oysters tend to live, and mussels sometimes get in their way too. However, for the most part, oysters tend to do very well through most circumstances provided that we keep our water clean.

If there are toxins in the area, oysters will become poisonous to eat, until the sea area becomes clean again, and then it takes a few weeks for them to clear out so that we can eat them again. They are the creatures that tell us a bit about how our ocean waters are doing and it makes me worry when the coal mining industry might be allowed to continue up above Royston and Union Bay, and potentially interrupt the environment (http://www.coalwatch.ca/5089-name-petition-asks-bc-government-stop-comox-valley-coalmine. The islanders have been petitioning against it for some time. Coal stories rarely have happy endings, and especially in this valley, despite all of the good intentions of the big corporations.

Why am I writing about oysters? I think that it occurred to me on our boat ride back from the oyster farm as the head chef from Oceanside served us clams and oysters (raw and cooked on the BBQ, and I still wasn’t turned on by their taste), that there is something very peaceful about the life of an oyster. Oysters have this way of turning what might be perceived as nuisances into beautiful gems.

Often when we are bothered by a problem, our immediate reaction is to extricate it, or do what we can to ignore it. Instead, what if we embraced the problem, and turned it into something better? It strikes me as a noble concept, and one that I am not sure how I can employ into my own life. What does this mean, exactly?

Philosophers have been talking about living with pain for a long time. Buddhists say that the first truth is suffering. What if the suffering was actually a means of identifying an issue and then transforming it into something beautiful instead of simply a mortal acceptance or denial of it? What if we just believed that out of the suffering, we would intentionally and actively turn the problem into a beautiful pearl? It is our nature to do so as we all come from the sea, just as it is the instinct of the oyster. We just need to remember how to do so.