Category Archives: People/Events

Addiction & Living

Lately I came across a video from a previously run late night show Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher. I found it interesting what Slash said about drugs being deeply enmeshed in our society, that it’s everywhere. You can watch the conversation below, the comments from Slash about drugs being throughout society start around 2:50.

I also liked a line that Slash said Keith Richards once said, “I slept in a chandelier last night, but I still showed up on time.” Kind of an odd place to sleep, but it shows you have to be dedicated and be punctual in your work. People like others to be able to be counted on, to know they will keep their word and be there when they said they would be there. But that leads to some questions too.

Can you really truly be there, if you regularly do drugs or have a dependence on some kind of substance such that part of your mind is focused on getting your next drink or next fix? You’re looking forward to having the effects of the substance again once they have worn off, part of your mind (perhaps you could call it your egoic mind) is focused on covering up that suffering such that you have the effects again from the substance, no longer suffering withdrawal from the lack of effects. It’s difficult to be psychologically present with others if your mind is in a pattern of use, withdraw, need to use again. I would think that these different focuses take away from a sense of presence with people in the present moment, to use some of Eckhart Tolle’s terminology. It seems to me that it could take away from the strength of relationships because others inevitably come to realize you’re not truly “with them” when your mind is elsewhere with other goals than to truly connect with the people around you. Relationships are different in families with substance abuse and addiction, and it would totally make sense to me as to why this can be the case given what I’ve just stated. There is also the question of whether or not a person can function properly the next day or any time soon after mind altering substance use, whether or not they are punctual. Should they continue on with life as usual, or attempt to do so soon after substance abuse? Is it safe for surrounding people in their lives? Will being punctual pose dangers to other individuals or property in the event that the user is not fully present in the moment due to substance use?

In the above video clip as well, Slash mentions not having rock ‘n’ roll without drugs. That may be the case, but at the same time it’s interesting that in the first of 10 webcasts between Oprah and Eckhart Tolle about his book A New Earth, he indicates he tried acid one time and admits that his new awareness that he discusses in The Power of Now, and A New Earth, is much better than the experience he found with acid, even though there are similarities. The experience is more “violent” according to Tolle in comparing the acid trip to a natural trip into presence. He states that there is “no room for thinking anymore” as the acid trip magnifies the sense perceptions so strongly. Whereas in the perceptions Tolle describes naturally coming with the dissolving of the ego, they gradually come more clearly over time as opposed to violently and suddenly appearing. There seems to be a difference of force vs. allowing space for things to happen. You can jump right into the plot, or you can set the stage for the show to commence.

What are your thoughts? Would you say that substance use/addiction are ingrained in society? Is it best to try and take control of life? Is it helpful to try and set the stage for what you feel is right, and let things unfold?

Unity or Separation?

“On days like this there are no Republicans or Democrats—we are Americans, united in concern for our fellow citizens.” -President Obama, in the wake of Boston Marathon bombing – April 15, 2013

The era of hyphenated liberals ends right here, right now. Tonight.” – Justin Trudeau, leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, in a speech following the announcement that he won around 80% of the vote for leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada, April 14, 2013

Firstly, I am shocked and saddened by the events of today.  It is horrible to see so much violence happening in the world throughout history and in recent times.  But the above recent statements got me thinking about what is at the core of such violence, hatred, and negative behavior in the world.

I found it interesting to note similar statements being made by politicians in two different countries in two completely different situations. One of the statements being made in reference between political parties and the other in reference to interactions within a political party. Both statements speak of uniting together as one, in a common purpose, to make positive things happen.

One might come from a victory of a party leader, and the other might come in the wake of a terrible tragedy, but both have a great message in their statement within speeches directed at their respective situations within the last 20 some odd hours.

It calls into question why do we separate ourselves from each other? Why do we have terrorists, citizens, and victims? Why do we have reds and blues, greens, yellows, oranges and others? Are we not all one under the umbrella of the human race?

That being said, I do fight battles whether within or outside of myself where I find myself pitted against someone or something generally somehow. I am not superhuman or above others. But I like to think I can come to terms with my differences from others and realize that in the end, unity reigns above all else.

But I wonder, is this kind of thing about separation vs. unity at the root of our issues in the first place, or is there something else at the core completely?

54th Anniversary of Michael Jackson’s birth

I thought that, today, it would be fitting to somehow acknowledge Michael Jackson on the anniversary of his birth, his 54th birthday. Though he may not be here in physical form anymore, being that he had the public following which he did, there is much that he left behind, from his creations to the perceptions of others as well as what you may call his teachings or ideas on life. He had the ability to show these ideas through the creation of music, performance, and short films throughout his life (as well as the occasional book and/or interview/speech).  In looking at things that he and others have said I found the following:

The media first turned the trial into a freak-show by emphasizing Jackson’s peculiarities rather than his humanity, and stoked the ratings with constant, trivializing coverage while other, far more important stories went under-reported or completely ignored in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, North Korea, and Washington, D.C. The press might respond by saying, ”We gave the people what they wanted.” My response would be, ”My job is to give them what they want. When he steps into a recording studio, it’s Michael Jackson’s job to give them what they want. Your job is to give the people what they need.”

Stephen King, in “The Sideshow Has Left Town” (14 June 2005)

What an interesting excerpt from a piece written by Stephen King around Michael Jackson and his trial to fight off allegations of child abuse!  It looks to me like it really sets the record straight on what goals belong to which professional in the public arena.  Those who are intended to entertain, strive to give the public (to which they are entertaining) what that public wishes to see.  Those who are intended to bring forth world events on a regular basis (such as news media) are intended to give the people facts and news about the events going on around the world.

One could argue that the facts were being presented by news media as necessary pursuant to their roles.  However, my impression was often that there was some level of suggestion in many reports that had some implication of guilt on the part of Michael Jackson, long before the jury had any say in the matter.  Kind of unfortunate for it to be that way; what sells is what’s news, apparently.

From my perspective, Michael Jackson had the right idea:

Just because it’s in print doesn’t mean it’s the gospel.

He even had a song about it, Tabloid Junkie.  Anything can be said or written; the more bizarre, sensational or just plain “out there” the better it sometimes seems as far as sales and public interest.  I was rather shocked to see one particular story reported on CNN, as it was quite clearly to me the kind of thing of tabloids.  The idea of him having a voodoo curse put on people such as Stephen Spielberg among others, bathing in sheep blood, and ceremonially having cows slaughtered in relation to the curses is really bizarre.  At the time, I thought that CNN was a source for news, and I could never actually believe that story to be news no matter how much anyone might pay me or how much of a sales and marketing job was enforced upon me.  To give them the benefit of the doubt, they must have just momentarily confused the character Wacko Jacko with the man who is Michael Jackson.  They really seem like two completely different people.

This individual who may have put curses on people to get back at them for things, and slaughtering animals in the process seems nothing like Michael Jackson reacting the following way to an insect on stage (at about 2 minutes into the video):

It might stand out as different, unique, but with a completely different intent than the above.

Then there’s something Gotham Chopra, wrote, “Michael Jackson and Kim Jong Il” in The Huffington Post (5 July 2009) which speaks of Lisa Ling, and Euna Lee being detained in North Korea.  He spoke to Gotham about whether there might be anything that could be done.  Michael Jackson thought that maybe if Kim Jong II were a fan of his, that might enable him to sway the North Korean leader to free these two individuals.  He also said the following:

Gotham writes: “I explained to Michael that there were larger geo-politics involved, nuclear programs, a new administration trying to assert its foreign policy strategy (Obama), and another one in NK possibly going through some sort of transference of power.” Which might be a typical response from most people, but here’s a different and I would say a rather touching response:

“Yeah,” Michael said wistfully, “but if someone wants to do something good, they just can. They don’t really need to worry about all that other stuff.”

It might not always work to just out of the blue be able to do something good, but if it doesn’t I would like to pose the question:  Did we really believe we could accomplish that good thing and let that belief surpass any fear or uncertainty we felt about accomplishing the good act?

From Gotham Chopra’s account, it seems as though Michael Jackson goes beyond the role that Stephen King suggests is his role.  He not only gave the people what they wanted, through his skill and ability as an entertainer, but he wanted to give so much more.

As can be seen through the lyrics of such songs as Heal the World, Black or White, Man in the Mirror, Will you be There, Earth song, and others; Michael Jackson, or the power that used him as a vessel through which to communicate, had a vision of humankind living in community with one another, regardless of race or creed or other differences.  His music, his way of living seems to show humankind as best lived in communion with one another and with a Higher power (regardless of whether this Higher power might be a higher self within us, or something completely outside of us; perhaps a combination therein which is the Creator).  It can be argued that how he lived was strange and bizarre, but is that argument using sensationalism as a basis to prove its point, or does it take into account all sides including the good?  You can decide.

What a rollercoaster those 54 years have been!  I’m suddenly reminded of Michael’s “Leave me Alone” music video, which has imagery of the circus atmosphere and also includes a rollercoaster ride.  The song is from his Bad album, which celebrates its 25th anniversary with a release in September of Bad 25, including the first officially released concert from the Bad world tour.

Feel free to watch the “Leave me Alone” video here:

Neil Armstrong: a story of Community & the Power of Positive Thinking

“Neil was among the greatest of American heroes — not just of his time, but of all time. When he and his fellow crew members lifted off aboard Apollo 11 in 1969, they carried with them the aspirations of an entire nation. They set out to show the world that the American spirit can see beyond what seems unimaginable — that with enough drive and ingenuity, anything is possible. And when Neil stepped foot on the surface of the moon for the first time, he delivered a moment of human achievement that will never be forgotten.” — U.S. President Barack Obama

So I’ve been reading news of Neil Armstrong’s passing, at age 82, on August 25, 2012.  I began to think of what impact that which he did and said had for us still today.  It’s not every day that someone even thinks they’re going to be able to set foot on the moon.  But to actually make it happen, that takes some positive thinking and a little help from a community which can build the craft which enables flight to the moon as well as others involved in such a mission.  I thought this related to some of my other posts in a sense, because it shows both that Neil and those who were working with him never gave up on a dream to ultimately set foot on the moon for the first time in history and it also demonstrates what grand things community can accomplish.

Of course, a lot of focus is currently on Neil himself and his famous quote:  “It’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.”  But there had to be others involved in the mission to ensure it was possible, and that it went smoothly as well.  Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins were also astronauts that were a part of the moon landing mission.

No doubt, Neil Armstrong, himself, did something spectacular and is admired by many for his mission to the moon; but as Barrack Obama includes in the above quote “he and his fellow crew members” worked together, there was a team effort.  Neil, himself, seems to have understood that his act of stepping out to land on the moon was only a small thing for himself, but an amazing occurrence for humanity or “mankind” as a whole.  He saw it as his mission as a part of a team, and that the team should be acknowledged as opposed to just him.  Thus, he never spoke about it to reporters or the media.  The name and the event of the moon landing is often noted, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen him in the media or in interviews at all.  He seems to be a very private individual, and by some of the things I’ve read, I’ve questioned if his personality type would be an introvert (to tie this in with one of my other posts about personality).

I never used to think that much of this one mission to the moon, as I was not here when it occurred, and it’s basically common knowledge as far as I’m aware, that it happened.  But maybe my perception also had something to do with having a father who has always said that nothing is impossible, if you believe in it.  What Neil accomplished could only be done by believing in the fact that it was a possible mission to complete, because focusing on the fear of it failing miserably would never be able to cause it to work as well as it did.  If it worked, despite of such a fear, it would be a bit of luck rather than anything else that made it happen; not the power of positive thinking on the part of Neil, as well as his crew and all others involved in making the mission a success.

May he rest in peace now that his time, on earth, as Neil Armstrong is complete.

Community, Society, & Death, Rebirth

This week has brought two first anniversaries that I am familiar with that started last August – the 21st and 22nd to be precise.  The first event was the tornado in Goderich, Ontario.  This was the only tornado I have ever decided to be present for, without my advanced knowledge that it would occur.  I had plans to visit Goderich for a week, and arrived there just 26 hours before the water spout came up from Lake Huron and swirled through Goderich causing much destruction to its buildings, and plenty of shock and other emotions of its community members.  The hydro was out for several days, and citizens had a lot of work ahead of them in the wake of the F3 that tried to mess with the town (with only temporary success; the town has endured and will continue to endure much longer than any Tornado.  It was inspiring to see the community come together and work to rebuild the town, through initial clean up such as clearing away trees and bringing some semblance of order to a disorderly situation to ensuring those who became homeless had the basic necessities available to them.  Still months after, on Thanksgiving weekend (the Canadian one in October 2011), the town was coming together as a community, with the Out of the Storm benefit concert that lasted all day on October 8, 2011 with many entertainers as well as vendors selling food, beverages and souvenirs etc.  The day of the concert was much different weather-wise; it was nice and sunny, warm and peaceful.  About a year after the storm, on Sunday, August 19th, Goderich saw Windstock, another kind of concert/celebration.  This time featuring bands such as local bands Fermented Oranges and Builder Refused who have played local pubs and such together on more than one occasion.  When the music is alive and well, we unite as one and come together for the sake of community; in this case in somewhat of a rebirth of Goderich.

The day after this event, on August 22, 2011, Jack Layton passed away from cancer.  He was the leader of the NDP party of Canada, during the election that brought the party to Official Opposition status in the current parliament.  The fact that the party went from generally a third place win in an election to second place, being Official Opposition, says something about his leadership and his ability to draw the public toward him—his charisma.  Some may not have liked him, and others may not have liked his party, still others may disagree with both.  But many people came together in community during the 2011 Canadian Federal Election to try and bring the NDP into power as a voice for change.  They elected 103 seats, in what was dubbed “the orange wave.”  His final message through his letter is very inspiring to remember, and also seems as though it fosters community growth/development:  “My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”

These qualities are crucial to building stronger community and a more positive society I would say.  If we’re always angry at each other, how will we ever be at peace?  If we’re always fearful, how will we ever do so much as approach anyone, for fear that they will hate or reject us?  If we’re living in despair, where is the hope of a better tomorrow?  Thus, it is best to “be loving, hopeful and optimistic” to make the world a better place to live.  Perhaps there is something in this about why I prefer not to label myself politically or otherwise for that matter.  There are connotations that go along with labels, things that separate me from you.  Instead I have some values/beliefs that may or may not fit within any particular political boundaries.  I do believe it is the right thing to vote, because we can only get the best representation of what the country wants through as much participation as possible, but to me it is more about who I believe would make a good candidate than about which party they stand for (or not, since theoretically a person requiring the use of a wheelchair could be the best candidate and they wouldn’t necessarily stand at all—but they may still use the language of “standing for” something.)

I believe that we should all be independent and strive to achieve all that we want in our lives.  When we run into tough times, after working hard and not quite getting where we are yet, those around us should realize our efforts and stick by us in times of need.  I get caught up in the (ultimate) brain debate of money vs. happiness whereby I confront the concept of working for money or working for enjoyment and achieving money on the side.  I think of all the expenses that exist in modern day Western society and think a high paying job may just be the answer to everything.  But wait, there’s my mental health–my happiness, joy, and genuine satisfaction in life.  Where would that be, if I had that high paying job to pay for all the perks of the Western world in the 21st century?  It would be probably non-existent, or severely lacking is my guess.  I’m starting to ponder what community would have been like back in other civilizations of the past, or even different cultures.  I also ponder whether the technological advances that may have brought the civilization of Atlantis to an end were anything connected to community and the coming together or lack thereof in the civilization.

I’d love to hear others’ thoughts on this post, because I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s thought of money vs. happiness, or been in situations where this competition arises in life.  I’m also probably not the only one that has an interest in, or ponders life in ancient civilizations.  I’ve read some about them but not a whole lot at this point, so there may be more answers I just have not stumbled upon yet.