I’m a gardener

I’m a gardener. Not the first thing I would think I am, but really when it comes down to it, I’m a gardener. I have so many interests that catch my attention and I’m a shitty juggler when it comes to giving them laser-like focus. My strategy is time and patience, love, and a green thumb.

Songwriting is an interesting process and as I’m working on songs, I find I have so many that I want to jump around to. I do have those moments of bloom when an intangible feeling becomes beautiful lines and phrases of epiphany, but there are moments of waiting and praying for rain in between. In writing song, both sun and rain are ample sources of growth. Inspiration really is a breath, and it’s evidenced by the word: in + spire.

Anyway, not everything lasts the winter and there are crappy songs that I write, too. But lucky for you, I put them in then compost to help nourish the good ones. We’ll talk again soon.

Getting ‘it’: a bus ride, a memory, a reflection

The other day I got on the bus at the station ready to go home as any other, when behind me sat a couple of high school kids. They must have been fifteen. They were talking about the usual boy subjects, trying out their newly deepened voices as most fifteen-year-old boys. They lived along the same bus route as me, but as I noticed from their conversation, they did not go to the same high school I went to. One went the the private school and one went to the French immersion school. A topic of conversation between the kids that came up was that the school district was considering adopting a new program called Mandarin Immersion, for the growing Mandarin speaking population. This was seen as a negative as they said that those Mandarin kids already speak their language at school anyways and they will only talk to other people from behind their electronic dictionaries. The boys said that if they (Mandarin people) didn’t know English, then they should not be allowed to live here. There were intonations surety in their voices as both seemed to come to an agreement on their views of a possible new program. The subject changed and they were building good feelings between each other; I could feel the warmth of their conversation as they were kindling a friendship. Meanwhile I felt hot from what I’d just heard.

Not finding a right time to interject to the two, they continued talking as the bus passed the high school I went to. Almost home, I thought, almost home.

Like the start of most friendships, they started talking about common interests. Gym class came up as one complained about doing a Military week at his school where they trained like soldiers. Today they had to crawl through the grass after each time they ran around the track. He liked his teacher. His name sounded familiar, but being in my own thoughts I wasn’t sure I heard properly. As chance had it, the other had this teacher before and that’s when I caught it, “Yeah, I really like him, too. Mr. Le’s my favourite teacher.”

In Grade 7, our teacher hurt her knee rollerblading over the weekend when at a teacher development day, doing a team building exercise. As a result, we were given a substitute teacher. In Science, we were in the middle of studying tectonic plates and the geological events that happen because of them: earthquakes, tsunamis, etc. Our main assignment for Science was to make a storybook of how natural disasters affect cities.

My substitute teacher’s name was Mr. Le. He grew up in Vancouver and was Chinese like me.

Testing my identity and my newly deepened voice, I chose to make a panel about a tsunami off the shores of a West Coast city called Hongcouver, nation capital of Japanada. I thought it was hilarious. I was confident in my choice and the laughter and recognition I would get from my peers.

Mr. Le didn’t think it was so funny. He said those terms were derogatory. He took obvious offense to it.

I was confused, I’d really liked Mr. Le. I thought out of all the times we’d laughed in class, that this joke he would get.

Racism does not commonly manifest itself as overt discrimination in Canada these days. It is internalized, subtle and often invisible. Racism hovers around the fuzzy border of a private joke between friends and the misunderstanding and ignorance of well-intentioned colleagues or acquaintances. It is systemic and personal. But even though it is not always identifiable, it is no less real. Our challenge is to remember that it exists, and to act when we see it happen, by speaking up when we hear someone say something racist because we take offense to what they said, not who they are. Racism exists and the danger is when we pretend to be small and shrink from it, letting it go unseen and unheard.

I almost killed my Prof today. I was leaving the library and I didn’t see him on my way out as I headed for lecture. Apparently he walks with a cane and when I left the library, I accidentally kicked it on my way out.

Further evidence that life is about process, not destination

How many of you like to go on vacation? Where do you go? Mexico, Japan, India, Italy, Spain, France? If you’re like me, it’s fun to explore different cultures and places and learn a new language. On vacation, I often like trying new things and being in that state of mind where I am free to decide whatever I please. As ideally as I’d like to live that way everyday, I find myself tied down to my worries, expectations, and appointments; obviously I can’t leave class halfway through semester to go fishing at whim (well I could, but that would be irresponsible and against my greater goals) but alas, that’s why I set aside time for vacation, which isn’t necessarily the place I’m going to but what I’m doing while I”m there.

When I’m on vacation I like to structure some activities and have a few things in mind that I want to do, but not be rushed to complete them in a hurry. For example, my last trip to Mexico, I had a snorkeling trip set out as well as a trip to Chitchen-Itza. But for the most part, my schedule was free to change and flexible to accomodate any spontaneous plans.

The feeling of vacation is the mode I’m in which is open to limitless possibilities and allows me the opportunity to relax and breathe. It is a state of being, not a place. Sure we take vacations in relaxing places, but for the most part we are searching for that feeling. Of being unwound and loose and lazy as a summer dog.

And vacations for that matter do not have to be far away, they can be brief escapes from a hard day’s work with a tea in hand and a private view of the landscape.

Now I’ve got to go to class, but ponder how you can make a vacation possible and then plan it. Now is a busy time of the year and when you’re under the compost of paper work and assignments, you’ll want to have that vacation – that feeling – to get you through it.

To me, just thinking about my next vacation puts me at ease. Maybe because it’s Friday. Nonetheless, once I know what I have planned, I am free to enjoy the process. The afternoon tea on the beach in Hawaii with an old friend may be at 1:30, but it’s the unlimited time allotted to the tea time that is the relaxation.

Western Civilization

Western civilization is a strange phenomenon. Here we travel great distances everday in cars powered by the refined, fossilized remains of sea creatures long since gone. We have this digital thing that no one is quite sure how it works, but it connects the entire world and it’s called the internet.

There really is no initiation to adulthood in our civilization. We don’t have this coming-of-age tradition. Instead, we are “youth” is a long period of our lives that sometimes extends until as long as we let it.

Most places you go in this world you will find evidence of human existence, whether it be a painting of a hunting scene in a cave made with natural paints or if it’s a candy wrapper scuttling across the windy, meadow ground.

It’s sad that it won’t last forever.

Accountability Means Being Wrong and Moving on

A lot of times people say they want a politician, mentor, celebrity to be accountable but what they mean is that they want someone who will always be right. WRONG. Being right all the time is only possible in the land of make-believe narcissism. It just doesn’t happen in real life. Now I’d hate (not really) to be the asshole with the little light in the dark room of cranky warlocks and prance around,  flashing my truth but accountability is allowing yourself to be wrong. Accountability means you’ll make the best decisions you can make and own up when – because you’re human – your best isn’t good enough. Clearly, this isn’t easy when you have a public image to keep up and maybe I’m an idealist (not really), but as a member of the public-at-large, I will do my best not to place unrealistic expectations on those I follow and respect, including myself. Being accountable does not mean being perfect, it means being imperfect and accepting the consequences that being imperfect creates. Consequences like mistakes, blunders, errors in judgment, imperfection, screw-ups, boo-boos and oh-noes.

At the same time, I am also fighting the same shallow urges to make a big fuss out of somebody else’s business, especially if I disagree with what-they-did (not the same as who-they-are). Pointing fingers is and always was easier than lending a hand, but being accountable is not the easy person’s game. Being accountable requires discipline, hard thinking and real work to discern being wrong is something you do (but don’t do again!) not something you are. Being wrong is only the end if you stop there, what takes real work is moving on from it.

Don’t let the fear of making your worst decisions stop you from making your best decisions. (The best decision being the one that logically sounds and intuitively feels right). As Steve Pavlina would say: Try and fail.