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Out of Place

25 Sep

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September 2013

“Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men.” John F. Kennedy

Every Tuesday to Thursday I assist a man in a wheelchair named Kerr. Kerr is many things. He is a teacher, he is patient, he is forgiving, he is caring, he is strong, he is understanding, he is a friend, he is a brother, he is a son.

As a teacher he has taught me to not assume that I know what is best for the other person. To slow down and give options to people to have them decide what they would want.

A small example would be asking where someone would like to sit at a table, rather than just picking a seat. Even if you think you know the answer, opening up to another, showing them that respect shows that you value them.

Try it one time and see the effect on the other person. Their smile will be warming. Or they might be confused, why are you being so nice all of a sudden? (haha)

Kerr also is in a wheelchair, has cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and uses AAC to communicate. His favourite way to communicate is through blinking to say yes or no.

Yesterday, Kerr and I went to an Adult Literacy program at the North York Library to see if we could volunteer there in the future.

I met a woman there that was so nice because she was actually really rude.

Her voice was speaking nicely and softly, but her attitude was saying I am going to talk down to your level so you can understand these complicated thoughts that I have.

After about a ten-minute conversation about the program and volunteering where she mentioned many times that the person needed to be literate, and articulate to be in this program. And me explaining that I would be with Kerr the whole time that he is volunteering with this program.

She asked me something to think about –“How you will be valuable to the student.” As if she was saying, I don’t think you will be valuable in this program and you need to realize that.

How are people with different abilities valuable to a student?!?! Please read my L’Arche Compassion for my views on that. I could expand to a whole other essay.

But I am trying to set up this story for this next thought.

Placements. Where are we placed? Where are we allowed to be? When you read over the next words try to think where society places them.

Minorities

People with different abilities

Transgendered

Hipsters

Academics

Women

Men

Christians

Smokers

Bankers

The Wealthy

The Poor

There are so many different roles and with these roles, society places us in different categories.

There are many examples of when one role, one label takes over our whole identity and we are not allowed to be more than that.

When often we are so much more than that.

A disabled person who cannot talk, helping an immigrant to learn to read

A hermaphrodite who is an Olympic runner

A poor person not being allowed in a rich store (Oprah)

An African American as President

A prostitute who is a lawyer

Do you notice yourself putting these roles on others?

Do you notice putting these roles on yourself?

Are you limiting yourself from doing something because you think that is not your place?

“I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death”

Leonardo da Vinci

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Breath of Life

16 Sep

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September 2013

Last night I had the best feeling. The best feeling/best sleep I have had in a while.

I read this poem:

There are two kids of intelligence: One acquired, as a child in school memorizes facts and concepts from books and from what the teachers ays, collecting information from the traditional sciences as well as from the new sciences

 

With such intelligence you rise in the world. You get ranked ahead or behind others in regard to your competence in retaining information. You stroll with this intelligence in and out of fields of knowledge, getting always more marks on your preserving tablets. 

 

There is another kind of tablet, one already completed and preserved inside you. A spring overflowing its springbox. A freshness in the centre of the chest. This other intelligence does not turn yellow or stagnate. It’s fluid, and it doesn’t move from outside to inside through the conduits of plumbing-learning. 

 

This second knowing is a fountainhead from within you, moving out. 

 

~Rumi

I took five minutes, breathing in and out. Finding this space, this space of inherited knowledge, of the light from within that fills me with joy. Breathing in oxygen that gave me life.

And I was still… in such a warm glow of completeness I didn’t want it to end. A place where everything was all right, where my worries didn’t come to bother me, where I felt love for myself and those around me. It was truly magically.

Poem

6 Sep

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(notice in the photo.. this was a time when all of us did not have cell phones and had to scavenger hunt for a pay phone.)

October 2006

Peace become a hum in me

Liberate, spread, cool, calm, stillness

 

But in this rush

We all are hushed

 

What is the time?

I need to make a dime

 

What are we working for?

We are money making bores

 

Hour after hour, day after day

Thought pulling me outward

Sky, tree, green, air

Money pulling me inward

 

Life is not fair

Nor will it ever be

 

We must fight to be free

Language controls our being

Be a threat to societies thinking

 

What you own ends up owning you

 

Consume or be consumed?

No, I’ll consume the consumer

 

Overwhelmed with thought

When will this stop?

 

Create in any way you can

Whatever it is, there will be fans

 

In these moments there is joy

Don’t forget to enjoy.

Great Things are to Come.

6 Sep

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October 2006

It is hard to think that I have changed. That I am a different person than when I was little, that the years have passed me and now I am here. It seems like I’m so busy getting to the next level that I don’t stop to think what level I am at right now. My life is just an extension of itself. There are great things for me to do, written in the stars and I forget that.

I forgot until yesterday what my destination is meant to be. I need to claim that destiny, this life is my own, I control who I am and what I do and I love myself.

I love life and I do what I want to do.

No fear.

In my dream I went up to some flowers and with in one step of them, they all bloomed in my face, openly and brightly, they embraced me, I just needed to find them.

A Dream about Focusing on What Matters.

30 Aug

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October 10, 2006

I had a dream that I was climbing a tree and all these bugs were biting me so I couldn’t climb higher. I thought I had to get all of the bugs off me. But then I realized that it doesn’t matter about those bugs, I can still climb higher into the tree, I only have to ignore the bugs.

This dream made me realize that I believe there are things I have to take care of before I can become who I want to be. All these people I have to get approval from, all these tasks I have to do, when in reality, I can ignore them and live as I want to live.  I could become irritated by the bites, scratch them but this will only make the situation worse. I need to be conscious of where I focus my energy. I need to realize my anchors and my sails.

Becoming an Adult

18 Jul

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July 2013

“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.” Lao Tzu

It is funny how we have these stages in our lives where we grow from baby to child from child to teenager from teenager to university student from university student to “adult”.

And along the way we have transitions, points in time where we are not a baby anymore but not yet a child, and how do we decide how to act, what we should do, what is right and what is wrong.

Can you remember those stages, remembering when we reached the next level?

How many times have we decided where our next step was going to be?

What type of person would we become?

What habits would we continue or let go?

So often I find myself drifting, drifting into a mould of myself for the sense of convenience. This is the easiest way to live, sure I have some flaws and things to improve but that takes work and I am ok with what my life is right now.

But I have found that drifting attitude has gotten me to a wall, where the ways I used to act as a university student are prohibiting me from moving forward. Where I want to excel at life, but I have to work on these years of bad habits and lack of direction in order to create a path I am proud of.

I can tell the difference between my adult self and my university self. I hear the voice instead my head, the irritability, the selfishness arise and then the adult self takes a breathe looks how this action would affect everyone and the consequences and decides what would be the most honourable thing to do.

It is funny to think that we have two selves inside our one being. But doesn’t that make the most sense, if we are always transforming. Something we need to let go of and something we need to advance to.

Micheangelo always said that there was a sculpture within the marble even before he started, and the only thing he needed to do was to let it free. Chipping bit by bit of the unusable rock away before the statue showed itself to him.

And maybe that is what it is like growing up, chipping away at all the nonsense that used to hold you back, and becoming your true self.

Best of luck to all of those who are trying. I know I am.

With Eyes Squinted

11 Jul

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July 2006

I recently discovered an answer to a question that baffled me for quite some time.

Now this is not a scientific conclusion,  but rather a moment of enlightenment. I always wondered why sharks ate their babies. Was it because they were accidentally made without the gene that allows compassion or a more simple answer, they were really hungry. Although after reasoning, neither of these are correct.

The reason why sharks eat their babies does not stem from hate but rather from love. Love that their babies will learn how to survive against a force greater than themselves.

It is a big ocean out there and sharks have to endure a lot to become the great and powerful animals that they are. Difficult obstacles are not hard so that a person will fail- difficult obstacles are there to make a person stronger.

As travelers, as people, we all encounter hardships, however, during these struggles remember that life is hard in order for you to become.

I wonder if when the vivacious shark comes thrashing towards the new born if it takes a second, squints, and thinks “bring it.”