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Thoughts: Blogs, presence & Enjoying life

I have not posted much in the last couple of months.  It might, in part, be because I’ve found myself pondering things more deeply than necessary.  Then again, maybe it is necessary since people such as Socrates have said that there is value in examining life.  I’ve been questioning what goals I have for writing, if any.  I have also questioned whether such goals are overshadowed sometimes by the concept of having viewers of posts and attempting to post things others would want to see/read.

There’s also that thought that things I post should simply come from me.  They should just be what I’m drawn to write about as my daily life progresses.  I can get lost in the logistics of how frequently to post, what to post that will be of interest to people to read, whether there’s anything at all of value in even writing anything and where does all this fit in as far as where I want to go in life.  Then there are the days where I wonder if I have any clue of what I want or where I want to go, which only eats up time that can be used to get there of course.

All of this aside, a lot of what I ponder these days is related to nature vs. materialism you might say.  When I use the word “materialism” I am thinking of things like fortune and fame; popularity and riches.  It would be great to have that few grand available to buy this or that which would seemingly make my life easier such as a wheelchair accessible van as I need a wheelchair for mobility.  I could go many more places much faster if I had such a vehicle.  I can perfectly well get around the local community, given the mass transit that is available.  But, like most things, it has its limitations.  It has pros and cons.  Time to travel takes longer usually, especially if used to get from one city to another.  It’s easy enough to get in and out of a normal car and have someone put the wheelchair in the trunk though so it’s not totally necessary for either of the above options when traveling between cities.  All that’s needed is someone with said car to be able to make it happen.

Focusing back on the writing of blog posts, though, I guess by nature I would mean the nature of human interaction or communication of ideas.  The materialism aspect would be more on the numbers of viewers, the amount of comments and popularity overall of the blog.  Communication is more of a goal for me from the start, as opposed to who views the blog or how much exposure it gets.  That being said, a conversation requires multiple people and/or points of view which means a certain amount of exposure is required in order to achieve these people and points of view.

Then one day, not overly long ago, a book I received for Christmas last year and lent out to a friend from school was returned to me.  That book F**k it by John C Parkins, which I remember feeling a lot lighter during and after reading it, made life seem a lot simpler.  The concept behind the words in said book is to take life easy and not worry about things so much.  It’s a lot more than that, as the book covers various things from God and anarchy, to relationships, to work among other things.

It’s as simple as saying “F**k it” and leaving the stress and worry in favor of peace, easing the mind and allowing things to be as they are.  The reality is that you cannot change the past, and you cannot predict the future to be any certain way 100%.  The future is bound to be slightly, or completely, different than you anticipate but the one thing that you can count on is that it will be interesting!  Maybe it’s best, then, to just go with the flow to see what comes in the NOW.  Maybe it’s best to see all life’s jewels as they come rather than waiting for something else all the time.  That something else might never come, and you might miss out on another thing that was right under your nose and disappeared without a moment’s notice.  If you don’t stop to smell the roses while they’re there, and you’re too busy collecting as many as possible to have the biggest and best collection, you may not get to ever experience the amazing aroma.  You may also not truly notice the beauty before you, until it starts wilting and withering away.

Denialism & Colonization

A concept that I first formally learned about through reading Michael Specter’s book Denialism is the idea of setting aside reality, to push forward with your own agenda, or avoid a reality which is perhaps less acceptable to ones self.  Specter tends to apply this concept to science and technology, where it relates to the medical field and drugs/medicine themselves.  He touches on such things as vaccines vs. autism, homeopathy and going organic compared to non-organic foods and the like, as well as the scientific study of drugs such as Vioxx and their results vs. the reality which companies and such looking to sell the drug were interested in seeing.  Somewhat of a political aspect of denialism is also shown in the book, particularly around AIDS/HIV and Africa.  I found it to be an intriguing book!  It has sparked some thoughts in my mind as to things I could write.  Therefore, I may write further about the book in another post if I see fit, but I thought applying the general concept to a trilogy written by Kim Stanley Robinson, the books Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars would be appropriate.

The Mars trilogy takes the human population from planet Earth and sees it colonize the planet Mars over a couple of centuries, starting around the 21st century.  It sees us through growing troubles on the planet earth, while mostly focusing on the development of things on the (initially) Red planet.  The main characters seen throughout the three books live on Mars and go through the normal issues which we see in our everyday life such as conflicts of various natures and relationships growing and conflicting.  The thing that interested me most was that they are also speaking of various perspectives; from political, scientific, economic, and religious/philosophical, among others that affect the overall outlook of the new Martian civilization.

As with probably just about anything, there is a form of denialism which takes place in the trilogy.  In fact, one could say that this denialism that comes to my mind at the moment, is what caused troubles on earth to worsen; if not begin.  It is that of corporations looking out for themselves with little or no thought of the environment, its plants, nor animals, nor its people which as a whole were ultimately responsible for creating them out of nothingness in the initial stages of industrialization.

Corporations, in the trilogy, become larger bodies called “transnationals” or “transnats” and they are less focused on a democratic way of operation and more on making bigger and bigger gains; the goal being to compete to see who might become the biggest and ultimately be able to control the interplanetary market.  There are buyouts of smaller companies in the process to become bigger and better.  They have their own intentions for development on Mars, along with all those perspectives coming from the initial 100 people who first arrived on the planet.  The transnats become metanats who want to take control of what goes on within the Mars civilization.  I remember that some of the discussion amongst the first 100 was around different concepts and was intrigued that Buddhist concepts were referred to in discussing the fate of the mars civilization that would be built.

A Buddhist outlook is much different from that of the corporate cultures in the novels.  It is one where living in harmony is of utmost importance to strive toward as opposed to focusing upon the ego and desire.  A Buddhist outlook or philosophy tends to shy away from sins such as gluttony and greed.  So there is a big contrast in the novel between what some of the first colonizers of Mars had in mind for the planet and what could potentially come to said planet depending on which voices reign in the end.  I don’t want to give away too much of the story line in this post, so as not to spoil things for potential readers as to what comes of either the Earth or of the planet Mars.

But there is also much focus in the book on scientific development and just how development of Mars should take place.  Some believe in the more natural approach whereby living off the land is best, others have thoughts around wanting to play around with the planet’s atmosphere and land in order to have the planet mimic that of Earth’s geography in a sense.  Both of these seem like they could make sense, but one is more or less playing God and looking to be in control, and the other is going with the flow of things.  Clearly, people do not have full control though, as in the Mars Trilogy, right from the get-go things happen that are not planned or anticipated at all.  Life is a mystery.  You never know how things will unfold.

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.

People, Differences & The Twelve

Books that inspire the mind, that provoke thought about life and human nature tend to draw my attention.  Such is the case with The Twelve by William Gladstone, which holds important that long talked about date of December 21, 2012.  What happens on that date?  You’ll have to either wait until the reality of the day hits (which will happen before you know it) or read the book to find out where the story leads!  There are some mixed reviews of the book that I’ve seen through Amazon.com.  I don’t consider the book to be a thriller that’s full of action and excitement, but liked it for its thought-provoking nature, and its ability to keep my attention and follow along with the plot.  It also gives an interesting portrait of human nature to ponder.

One of the reasons I felt inclined to write about this book is because it raises the topic of differences in human beings, a topic that I ponder fairly frequently.  Max, the protagonist, runs into some interesting circumstances resulting from his post-secondary studies.  He is provoked to question whether he’s got mental health issues, or not after even his own parents appear to side with the doctor who sees Max.  There is some history of mental health issues in his family, so Max is provoked to question if he may actually have something wrong with him.

I’m reminded of a phrase my father often says, “If you believe it, it’s true.”  I feel that this can apply to what I’m hoping to get at through this post.  If you hear things from others about yourself enough, you might just start to question whether they are true!  You might start believing that if a number of people around you are saying something, that maybe it’s got some smidgen of truth to it.  This could provoke you to start to change things about yourself for others, or totally change who you are.

There’s no reason to change who you are or what you’re all about by any means.  I find that environmental changes can have a better psychological effect!  If you’re having difficulty where you are in your life, maybe it has something to do with the environment you’re surrounded by rather than anything else.  I don’t mean that it is best to run from things in life to make everything better, if it sounds that way, because I think that things happen to us so we can build the endurance to handle challenges that will make us stronger.

But we can also learn when enough is enough and we’ve gained what we can from the experience already.  Max seems to have known that certain individuals in his life have to be there for a reason so he endures his search for the twelve individuals.  He keeps their contact information so he is able to be in touch with them when necessary with the knowledge that these individuals have some significance.  I’ve subconsciously known this in the past and made changes to my environment, leading to feeling more at ease and ultimately having a bit of a more positive outlook on life.  It is only upon reflection that I discovered it in a conscious way.  There’s no need to necessarily conform, just to find your niche and make life work for you through that niche.

Max tends to move around now and then for various opportunities.  What others try to do to him never stops him, it only causes him to change gears a little bit and reconsider what he keeps to himself and what he allows of himself to be public.  Changing his environment enables him to see the world and all; but it also enables him to make important discoveries about life, and about himself.

The big thing about Max is his capacity to endure regardless of what anyone says about or does to him in his life.  He always finds ways to do what he wants regardless of anyone else.  Sometimes someone comes to his rescue if he’s in danger.  If something doesn’t work, he moves on to try a different angle to attain the same goal such as earning a living.  If he felt he had to be somewhere else to get what he wants to achieve, he’d go elsewhere!  That reminds me of another phrase my father also says, “Never, ever give up!”  And it’s true, regardless of mental or physical differences: if you keep trying you’ll find a way to get what you need or want in life.

You can either post thoughts, reflections, criticisms and the like below, or email magnus.wendler@gmail.com