Friday, April 29, 2016

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Just so you know, the answer is no.


Is anything not weird?

No. Anything interesting is weird. Isn't our society finally tired of demonizing so-called weird? Why do we resist embracing the weird? Consider nature for example. Every Spring, Pussy Willows basically grow fur. And then when they flower? Well, it looks like tiny corn cobs exploding in slow motion. And it's awesome.

"I'm one of those regular weird people." Janis Joplin


Friday, April 22, 2016

True story:

So years ago, in our kitchen, we had this plug-in that was upside down. So I decided to just unscrew it and turn it over and put it back. So then there were sparks everywhere. So then I sprinted to the breaker box and flipped the breaker. So I decided the plug itself must be faulty. So I decided to change the plug. So I drove to the store and bought a new plug. So I carefully but confidently removed the old plug noting where all the wires went so I could attach the new plug in exactly the same manner. So as not to be too cocky, I even drew a picture. So I flicked the breaker back on and returned to plug in the coffee maker to test it all the while fighting off my squeamish inner desire to brace for a potential explosion. So nothing. So I tried again. So nothing. So my wife kindly commented that she thought that particular plug-in never worked anyway so I shouldn’t worry about it. So I could have seized her with my muscular arms and kissed her madly but instead I missed her deliberate act of kindness and sarcastically remarked, “That’s the same plug-in we use for the toaster every morning!” So then I began to ruminate. So I mulled for hours the various ways my DIY intentions would indeed cause our house to burn down in the middle of the night killing my wife and children leaving me as the only scarred survivor being interviewed on television as I confessed my stupidity to Oprah. So just before bed I tried to start the dishwasher. So then it wouldn’t work either. So then I decided to burn the house down myself. So instead, I didn’t sleep for a few hours. So in the morning I called a professional and then began worrying about the $8000 it was going to cost me to fix my idiocy. So the pro arrived and he took three seconds to discover the breaker wasn’t completely flipped back on. So um, wow.

So here’s the thing: imagine a line, a continuum, and at the beginning of the line is a dot that represents the past. So in the middle of that line is a dot that represents the present and another dot further ahead near the end of the line that represents the future. So somewhere between the dots that represent the present and the future is a little arrow pointing at the line and next to it is a message: you are not here.

So, my friends, you and I should stop worrying about all those unlikely things that haven’t happened yet.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Everything

I can appreciate the expression "can't see the forest for the trees" but I've always wondered if the other way around is perhaps more profound: can't see the trees for the forest.

It seems to me that our lives are like stories but in the thick of them the plot may be unclear and so it's the details, the particulars, the fine points, that mean everything.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Things one should never outgrow:

Happy birthday Donny. Miss ya.
If you're a Canadian, you know about these. And how they are basically their own food group. Or they should be.

My wife loves them. So did my brother.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Vuja-de

I think most people have experienced deja-vu. Defined as “the illusion of remembering scenes and events when experienced for the first time only,” deja-vu happens randomly without explanation. An odd sensation, it may feel confusing and difficult to describe or defend. And in my experience, it’s fleeting and quickly forgotten. It’s sort of a throwaway experience.

Consider instead vuja-de. There’s nothing throwaway about it and that’s why I love it.

Vuja-de is deja-vu reversed. In other words, it’s knowing the experience has happened many times before and yet it’s seeing that experience in new ways as if it were the “first time” with newly wide-open fresh eyes. Think about that. Think about how it would add value to every single day.

Perhaps it seems that there are few novel experiences in day-to-day life. Most days could quite possibly be described as repetitive and inconsequential. How many days are particularly noteworthy? Vuja-de dispels wearisomeness because it embraces the notion that each day is potential, each day is opportunity, each day is imaginable. Vuja-de is about choosing the better perspective.

Recently, I had the privilege to listen to a holocaust survivor, Dr. Eva Olsson. Her life-experiences are raw and disturbing, yet enlightening and inspiring too. Her message is simple, (yet an enormous task): she aims to banish hate. I’m thankful for her words and even more thankful many young people heard her truth because there’s precious little time left to learn first-person from veterans and survivors. One particular story stood out and it wasn’t one of hers. Instead it was about her. The teacher who introduced her to the crowd described the two of them walking out into the sunshine earlier that day when Dr. Eva, 92-year-old holocaust survivor, stopped and stated, “Oh this sunshine is so beautiful.”

Of course it is. And given her harrowing experiences, of course she would know how precious it is. Yet how many times do we walk into the light each day and notice nothing remarkable about it? That’s why I believe we all need a little vuja-de.

Friday, March 11, 2016

#1 Rule?

Recently, I thoroughly enjoyed a man's speech about mental health issues. He described his struggles and his successes and how they shaped him. He made me laugh and cry. One particular moment I recall during his speech is when he said, “The #1 rule in my household is talk.” He said, “No matter what, we talk about it.”

This struck me. What is the #1 rule in my household? What’s yours?

No matter the size and shape of any family, there are rules established to maintain its function. And yet, how many of us have articulated those rules? Oh sure, rules like make your bed, don’t leave the lights on, and clean up after yourself get lots of airplay in many homes. There’s nothing wrong with these rules but now they seem like missed opportunities to me. Let’s be honest, they’re not that important. 

When I contemplate this now, I realize I’d like a do-over. Instead of those consistently verbalized rules structured around chores, I’m wishing I had stressed the more valuable household rules I believe:
1.       I get 25% of all Halloween candy. (Okay, maybe not this one.)
2.       You can be yourself here.
3.       There will be no bullying here.
4.       We can talk about anything.
5.       No shame.

I regret not consistently articulating these rules more than the menial rules. Because, like that speaker said, when it comes to mental health issues, it’s shame and fear that prevents people from sharing their pain and seeking help. They don’t want to upset their families. They suffer alone. They’re afraid to talk. That’s stigma, and stigma can kill someone you love. Dear friends: it’s not too late to make better rules in your household. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Things one should outgrow?

Do the math people. Chances are 1 in a really big number in the millions. Chances are even better that this practice makes our old math teachers very, very sad. Why not buy happiness this way instead?
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