Would it kill you to help?

September 18, 2018

I was walking my kid to school today and she exclaimed as we crossed the road, “Daddy, watch out for the nails!”

My eyesight isn’t great so I totally missed it but when I looked down a box of screws had been dropped on the road and opened up.

How many people had walked past that pile.  How many tires had been punctured already.

I went back into the road and my kid followed and we picked up all the screws.  We kept a careful eye out for cars.

How many punctured tired and possible lives did we save today?  We will never know.

This is a small example.  If you see something wrong and you can do something about it, do it.  Don’t look for rewards, just fix it.

Don’t wait for small things either.  If you see someone being mean or cruel, call them on it.  If you don’t like the government, vote. You see a broken bottle or some trash, pick it up.

It wouldn’t kill you to help.


Everyone’s a mess

September 17, 2018

Its true.  If you look at a guy and say he really has his poop in a group, I can guarantee you that if you sit him down and have a nice long chat, he is as messed up as you are.

Case in point? Me.  People look at me and see a confident person who really has it together.  I don’t.

Your perception of other people is wrong, we are easily fooled by the images people project.  But it also cuts the other way.  Who we really are is not seen by anyone but ourselves.  We project to the world the person we want them to see.

Remember that the next time you see a guy in a suit driving his BMW into his 3 car garage.  His wife is bored, his kids hate him and he is about to be fired.  And that house and car? He doesn’t own the, the bank does.


Why do this?

September 14, 2018

Why indeed.

As I mentioned previously I have been reading Stoicism.  And part of their teachings is to Meditate.  Not sit cross legged on the floor chanting.  But writing down at the start of the day what you want to do and then at the end of the day review and learn from what you accomplished.

I ain’t doing that.  Not in my nature.

But they also say that when you talk about a person, pretend they are in the room.  Stops gossip. Gossip is poison.

But I am putting myself out there, Marcus Aurelius and Seneca published their journals, perhaps they wrote them knowing they would be?  Not sure, but I am writing my meditations as if they are being published….because they are.

Not for my glorification, or your edification but because it keeps me honest.


Which leads me to my true reason for writing today. Competition. Or how I compete.

People have been trying to compete with me all my life  At school, at sport and in love. But I don’t, compete that is.  You want to win? Go for it, more power to you.  You best me?  Awesome, well done.  As for myself, I compete with myself against myself.  That is it.  I try to do better than I did before, work on myself to make myself better, faster stronger, kinder, smarter and a better person.

If I beat you? I don’t notice and I don’t care.  Many people over many years have competed with me and bashed their brains and body against the rock of my indifference.  You can’t compete with someone who isn’t racing you, it will drive you nuts and you will quit.  They always quit.  Its a race of one.

I will continue to look inward for improvement.  You solve your own issues.  I will help if you ask but if you want the gold medal, its yours, enjoy.  I relish the improvement in myself.  That is the only reward I seek.



September 12, 2018

Me too. Seems we all are. I find very few happy people in my travels. If you want evidence, see my previous post. Everyone has a story to tell me. Medical issues, kids are a mess, job sucks etc. etc.
But life was never meant to be easy. It was never meant to be one unending series of happy moments. And if you think your childhood was bliss, look at your own kids. They cry, fight, pout. You have just forgotten that.
I have been reading a lot of Stoic philosophy lately and they have a lot to say about this. They have tools and training on how to deal with it. But for me its not practical.
For me I lean on a quote from Churchill. “If you are going through hell, keep going.”
Put your head down and push through it. It will get better. Deal head on with whatever is causing you grief. Putting it off makes it worse. Unless a cooling off period is required (more on that in a later post).
I am trying to keep these posts short, bite sized if you will. So I will leave you here with this.
Everyone struggles, that is life. Happiness is not guaranteed. So enjoy the good times when they are hear. But push through the bad. Put one foot in front of the other. Get through the next minute, hour, day, week. Keep going. It will get better, I promise.


What’s that now?

September 11, 2018

6 years between blog posts is quite a sabbatical.

I hope to write more here, even if its to keep myself sane.

A lot has happened in these 6 years, I will try to look back on it all but a short list includes; I quit my job, started a business, lost my brother, my mom had a stroke.

But I am still here.

I have gone through personal change as well.  I hardly recognize myself some days and others, I see myself all to well.

But today’s topic is simple.  Are you listening?  I doubt it.  Because so very few people are, or do.  And it really is very important.

I was a horrible listener when I was younger but I was chided by a close family friend and over the years I learnt the skill.  And now I think I am quite a good listener, want to know why?  Because it seems that is all I do.  It seems that all anybody wants to do is talk to me.

I am told I have a calm demeanor and a kind face that people can open up to.  Lovely.  I struggled some times with all the words and stories and complaints coming at me.  I’d like to say I don’t care, but I do.  I’d like to say go solve it your self, but I like to help.

Most days it seems I’m the only one listening.  And I think that is a real problem.

So tomorrow, put out of your head all the things you want to say.  When someone is talking and you are thinking of what to say next? Don’t.  Listen, really listen.  Let them talk, encourage them to talk.

It will help them, and you and take a small load off me too.  Be interested in your fellow man and if they won’t shut up?  Smile and listen like they are saying the most important thing, because they just might be.



All righty then…

January 25, 2012

How’s that for a long gap between posts.

I’ve been listening to Snap Judgement on NPR, via their Podcast.  Good show but the host is annoying.  The stories are great.  Real people telling stories, just awesome.  I was going to send one of mine in but they seem to have enough content, I don’t.

When I was in university I really was having a good time.  I loved my classes.  They were diverse and I was anonymous.  Political Science, Economics, History, geography and English.  30,000 students.

But as winter came and stayed, Christmas passed and we were firmly stuck in February I felt the creeping blackness creeping over my mind.  Much as it is now which is why this story came to mind.

I was leaving my last class of the day and headed out to the cafeteria.  I had no one to sit with so I grabbed a table on the side and just ate in silence.  That may not have been the best course of action.  I started to dwell on the fact that I had not met as many people as I would have liked, I was not doing as well in class as I would have liked and the sun was not as visible as I would have liked.

It was in this state of mind that I left the building and started the walk back to my rented room in a house.  I had discovered a shortcut between two residences that knocked a few minutes off my walk so I headed that way.  The night was cold, crisp and dark.  As I made my way though the snow that had accumulated between the building I heard the most astounding thing, a violin.  And it was playing Tchaikovsky.  I stopped in my tracks and looked for where it was coming from.  It was loud so it must be either outside or through an open window.  There was only one open window so I stared up at it and just listened.  He or she did an entire movement of his violin concerto.  And then it was over.  And I heard the window close.  I stood there hoping, praying for an encore.  But none was forthcoming.

I walked home in a much better mood.  As I learned later the best way to manage stress and defeat depression is to listen to music, sit in nature and really just to take a moment to empty your mind and gain perspective.  And that is what I did.

The next day I did not have any afternoon classes but I went to the cafeteria for dinner and sat with my TA from Poli Sci.  Then at the appointed time I left and walked between the two buildings.  My heart leapt for joy when I heart Mozart.  Absolutely beautiful.  I was not so well schooled in Mozart at the time to realize that whoever was playing was playing a piano concerto on the violin.  But I didn’t care.  It was live and alive and it moved me.  And then again it was all over too soon.  And I was left to walk home in the dark but I was now carrying a light inside.

My house mates started to get suspicious that I wasn’t home for dinner anymore as every night I would go back to campus for dinner and come back after 7 PM, snow or shine.  They though I had met someone, and in a way I had. But I didn’t tell them.  I wanted it to remain an audience of one.  I thought that by sharing my secret concert I would wreck the magic.

Now not every night did the music waft down to my main floor seat.  Some nights I waited until well after I should hoping the window would open.  And it never did.  But most nights it would.  I soon realized that the night that the music was missing was every Wednesday night.  So every Wednesday night I would skip dinner on campus as whomever they player was obviously had a night class.  But I alway knew that my Tuesday night concert would have to tide me for two days.

It was my little secret and I am always amazed that no one else ever came to listen, or saw me leaning against the wall listening.  It was magical.

My maestro was getting better too.  An hour a day was making a difference.  The playing became more bold, confident and then later inspired as they took liberties with the music and started to play.  I was overjoyed in their joy in the music and always forgave any mistake they made.

Now I am no music aficionado.  I am a useless player.  I took piano lessons for years and never passed grade 1.  But I could always recognize good music and good playing.  My little orchestra was not world-class.  In fact they were not proficient.  I could hear the lessons they took but they had no latent talent. They did it because they loved the music and when they played that love shone through.  To me that is how music should be played, by people who love music.  And I loved they way they played.

And now we come to the crux of the story, when I go from audience to participant. The player gave me so much. Hope, peace, and something to look forward to.  And I was taking and not giving.  And when in April when the music started to die I felt cheated.  The concerts started to get shorter, and sporadic.  Sometimes they never finished the movement or switch pieces halfway.  I was getting pissed off.  This is not what I had come to expect.  So one week there was only one concert and it was short and it ended with a growl and a slammed window.  I went home feeling particularly jilted.

When I got home there was tension in the house.  My housemates were at each others throats. And it dawned on me.  While I didn’t get stressed out over exams, other people did. The lightbulb went off.  My maestro was stressed.  I felt incredibly guilty.  Here I was expecting.  No regard for the person playing that violin.  So I decided it was my turn to give back. And the only thing a musician wants to be is appreciated.

So I wrote a note.  Snuck into the residence, deduced where the room was and slipped a note under the door.  It was addressed to “The Violinist”, and it read:

Dear Violinist,

I am your shadowy fan. Every night I stand or sit under your window waiting for you to play.  I have been listening since February’s darkest days.  Look between the buildings and you will see a bare patch of grass attesting to my loyalty.

You play beautifully, with real heart, real emotion and you move me.  You saved me during my darkest days and you will never know how much your playing meant to me.

In the last few weeks your playing has started to reflect the obvious stress you are going through.  I feel the struggle you go through as the very violin you love fights you.

I just wanted you to know that it will pass, you will move beyond this small space in time and your music will return.  And I will be there to listen. I think that whoever you are, you are a beautiful person because only a beautiful person can play so beautifully.  Please continue, for the both of us.

I will be waiting, and listening and appreciating the magic thing that you do.


Your audience of one.

I snuck out the same way I came and went to class, went to dinner and then to my appointed place.  The window was closed but I waited anyway. And waited and waited.  Was today the day of an exam? Were they out studying? 8 PM and I knew that it passed the time for a concert but then the window slowly opened.  I only briefly saw the hand that I always saw but I could never deduce male or female, big, small.  And them Brahms, beautiful, beautiful Brahms.  And I felt the tears well up. And the raw emotion poured out from the strings and bow.  It was powerful and subtle and soulful and forceful.  It was everything.

And when it was over I lamented that this or the next concert would be the last.  May was upon us, exams were almost over.

There were 2 more concerts after that and then I never heard that violin again.  I never found out who was playing and they never looked out the window to see who was listening. And perhaps it was better that way, the expectations were set very high.

But whoever that was saved me.  And I hope that in some small way I saved them.  And in the end, it was the music that saved us all.



Still Here

December 13, 2010