I Regret Nothing…

Oh, yes. I regret nothing. I’ve written several posts on this topic because I feel that it’s important. And it keeps coming up in some way, shape or form. The most prominent question I get asked is if I ever wish I hadn’t been diagnosed with Diabetes. Really? One would think that asking me if I would have preferred to grow up without a dangerous and difficult to manage auto-immune condition would be redundant. But the question has been posed more times than I can remember. Sometimes, I think people lack content to discuss and ask questions just for the sake of asking them. But I digress…

It’s okay to wish for something. Do I wish I never developed Type-1 Diabetes? Of course. Do I wish my brother hadn’t passed away at the age of 18? Obviously. Would I have preferred not to go through the personal and professional difficulties I’ve dealt with in the past three years? Oh, you damn right! But as I’ve often said before, it’s important not to live a life of regret. One can easily spend all of one’s time looking towards the past and regretting some of the choices and situations that have happened to them. The problem one faces when doing this, is that they fail to live in the now; and there’s a lot of life you can miss when you’re busy dwelling on the past.

Another important aspect to bear in mind, is that every situation one has been through, good or bad, has ultimately contributed to the person one has become. And there’s really no negative aspect to this. If you believe in who you’ve become and trust that you’re a good person, then those events that you may otherwise regret have likely helped forge you into the strong, capable person you are. If you’ve become a bad person, there’s always the ability to make a change, going forward (unless you’re totally fuckin’ evil and don’t care. I know a few people like that).

“ I Am The Master Of My Fate, I Am The Captain Of My Soul”

– William Ernest Henley, Invictus

I’ve been an admirer of William Ernest Henley’s poem, “Invictus” for years…. Poetry is always open to the reader’s interpretation (unless you have a pretentious art teacher who feels she needs to force her perspective on you) but I always felt that this poem demonstrates how no matter how difficult or rough life gets, one needs to persevere and push through, keeping a firm control of one’s destiny. As romantic and hopeful a thought that may be, that’s rarely the case. As I’ve often said before, life rarely cares about one’s plan.

We may be the masters of our fate, but fate deals us the hand and we’re usually stuck playing the hand we’re dealt. That may seem a bit of a negative perspective and it certainly isn’t meant to be. But it all comes down to the old saying about sometimes you just got to roll with the punches. This is often the only way to be the “master of my fate.”

Do I ever look back and wonder how life would have been for me, had I not been diagnosed with Diabetes? Absolutely. Not a week goes by where it doesn’t cross my mind. And I would be lying if I said I didn’t tear up while reading about the medical researcher in Alberta who has found a promising treatment that could reverse Type-1. I’ll believe THAT when I see it, but I can’t help but feel that I may have grown up to be a significantly different person if I had never had Diabetes. After all, Diabetes forces one to develop perseverance, tenacity, an unwillingness to quit and a will (and need) to keep fighting.

I sincerely believe that those qualities would be lacking, if my life hadn’t turned out the way it has. Maybe with the ability to eat anything I chose as a child, I would have become obese. Maybe I would have developed an affinity for sports and become a jock, potentially bullying people much in the same fashion as the hated hockey players I had to deal with in high school. There’s no telling how different things might have turned out. This is why one can’t allow oneself to regret. You gotta learn from it all and keep going. ☯️

Don’t Look At The Ground If You Want To See The Sky…

Perspective is an important part of life. Most of us have a perspective that’s based on a combination of our family values, personal experience and occasionally religion. Perspective can guide our actions. Determine our choices. perspective can even lead to our thinking that something is negative when it seems perfectly normal to someone else. And that’s where the problem comes in. Perspective can cause us to view others and their respective beliefs in a negative way.

Peoples’ perspective, especially when based on personal beliefs, can lead to serious misunderstandings, fights and even criminal behaviour. This is where the firm understanding that empathy, understanding and the ability to see things from someone ELSE’s perspective comes in handy. Especially if one hopes to avoid the unnecessary confrontations that can result.

Let’s take the example of an infant, as an example. When an infant whose just learned to walk bumps their leg into a table, or becomes hungry, sleepy or uncomfortable, they start to cry. Seems pretty ridiculous, doesn’t it? Imagine if you started crying every time you got hungry or bumped your leg on a table? I’m pretty good at shooting off a string of profanity when I somehow kick a wall that’s been in my house since I moved in, but it doesn’t get me crying.

I guess my point is simply this: Your perspective is unique to you. You shouldn’t expect others to understand or get in line with your way of thinking. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll have people in your life that at least respect your perspective, even if they don’t agree with it. And you should respect others’ perspectives. So long as their way of life brings no harm to themselves or others, everyone’s journey is unique and should be respected. Food for thought…☯

The Universe Owes You Nothing…

I’ve always worked very hard at trying to help others and make a difference in my small corner of the world. This has come in different forms; volunteering, helping random strangers and even my chosen careers have all gone towards trying to eliminate my own suffering as well as the suffering of others in the world. It hasn’t always been easy, and sometimes I’ve had to be selfish in that I can’t help others if I don’t myself myself, first and foremost. This is a concept I’ve often tried to instil in others, usually with very little success.

“I Think The Galaxy Owes Me One…”

– Captain James T. Kirk, Star Trek: Generations

Karma is based on one’s intent. You can’t perform good deeds with the hope or the intention that life will provide a positive or easy outcome. That isn’t how karma works. If you seek to help or ease suffering in a positive way, with only the best intentions in your soul, then karma will do the rest. But it isn’t intended on being a cosmic judge, jury and executioner. People make mistakes. This doesn’t mean your karma will be bad. People will make bad decisions. That doesn’t mean you’re destined to spend your next life as a dung beetle. But you need to do what’s right for the right reasons. THAT’s where karma plays an important role.

I’m guilty of having misinterpreted karma on more than one occasion. There have been times in my life where I’ve spoken the words, “I think the universe owes me a few…”. This has usually been associated to the fact that I’ve saved lives, located missing persons and prevented or solved crimes in different ways. On some fundamental level, I have no doubt that at certain points in my life I felt as though the universe owed me one, given the sacrifices and efforts I’ve put into life. But the reality is that the universe owes me nothing.

I think it was Mark Twain who said, “Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.” The same can be said of the universe. It owes you nothing. And it was here first. DO good for the sake of doing good. Work to eliminate suffering in the world. It’s not about owing. It’s about why you’re doing it. If you do good in the hopes of getting something back, then you aren’t really doing good. I’ve learned a lot since the last time I assumed the universe owed me one. And boy, was it quick to show me the error of my thinking. Maybe take it from me as opposed to trying it for yourself; the universe owes you nothing. But you owe it to yourself to do good in the world. Food for thought…☯️

Letting It Go To Be Happier…

Life is a fleeting thing. In my younger days, I foolishly joined an MLM company and used to attend local conferences where successful directors would give speeches. No offence intended to those who are participants of MLM companies and especially those who are doing well; it simply wasn’t for me. But my philosophy of life includes that there’s always something to be learned in any environment. As such, I remember the words of the one of the speakers, “Life is a flicker. And in the snap of a moment, it’s over…”

It is true that in the grand scheme of things, we’re only in this life for a very brief moment in existence. Sometimes life can FEEL long. And from an outside perspective, you’ll hear people say, “they had a good, long life” but as it relates to the nature of the universe, we’re here for but a mere spec of time. It makes you think about the importance of how one chooses to use that time and how they behave themselves around others.

In my previous career, I walked the line between light and darkness. I got to help a lot of people and prevent a lot of bad within my small corner of the world. But I was exposed and would see both sides of the equation. Sometimes I would be forced to see some pretty dark and disturbing things, which I still carry with me to this day. But I always had the benefit of going home at the end of the day and knowing I was happy and safe within my little haven and that I was doing my part to reduce suffering in the world.

When I say I’ve seen some dark things, it doesn’t even have to be something horribly traumatic. I’ve seen the folly of people who turn on each other for some of the most trivial things. Spouses, friends, brothers and family…. There is a slice of society that doesn’t care what bonds or relationships exist when they feel an entitlement to their cause. And sometimes it’s justified. I’m not here to judge. I wasn’t THERE to judge. But the suffering that results from these encounters is long-lasting. It’s gone a long way towards showing me that some people just want to watch the world burn.

This brings me to my own life. Despite my personal beliefs, I can concede that no one TRULY knows what happens when we leave this life. In that light, I’ve always fought hard to maintain and preserve myself while trying to live as happy a life as possible. When one stops to consider that goal, it’s a really simple one. Living a happy life is easy. Manage your affairs responsibly and pay attention, live in the moment and work on doing the things that make you happy versus what everyone else expects you to do and you’ll be pretty happy. I make it sound pretty easy and in truth, it is. But I understand that some obstacles can get in the way and make happiness difficult to achieve.

And I say “pretty” happy because there will always be things that will be out of one’s control. For example, I don’t think I need to explain that life would be simpler if I didn’t have Type-1 Diabetes. That being said, I also wouldn’t be the person I am today if I had never been diagnosed as such. Maybe I wouldn’t have the drive, ambition and focus on health and martial arts that I do, if I’d grown up without the challenges that Diabetes has thrown at me. This is where you’d hear me say that all things happen for a reason.

It would be contrary to Buddhist belief that suggesting that some levels of suffering in life are necessary in order to grow and evolve. And this may be so. Saying that all things happen for a reason would indicate that possibility. After all, if some form of suffering you’re going through is happening for a reason, doesn’t that mean it’s an essential aspect of life? It’s one of the more important philosophical conflicts I’ve always had with myself. And I’m pretty certain I’ll carry it with me into my next life, since there’s no clear answer.

If there’s one thing I know for certain, it’s that you should never intentionally do something that will cause suffering in others. I’ve also experienced this phenomenon first hand in recent years, where certain individuals have taken action that would have altered my life in a seriously detrimental way. Now that the smoke has cleared, I’ve often considered speaking with these people and confronting them, if only to learn what their motivations were and why they did the things they did. But ultimately, what further growth will that provide me? It likely won’t do anything but re-open old wounds and cause more suffering. I choose to be better than that. I choose to be happy. ☯️

Love It…

I’m keeping it simple today. Happy Friday and enjoy your weekend, everybody! Blogging Buddhist, out!

It’s All in The Words…

One of the more difficult things about writing, especially on specific topics, is finding reputable sources that ACTUALLY exist. Or even worse, finding quotes that were actually spoken by the person in question. Most of the time, having a photo with words superimposed into it is enough to have people believe that the party in question actually said what’s written. It can make it hard to discern truth from fiction.

The above photo is a good example. Although those words would certainly be spoken by Confucius if he he were around to respond to all the memes and quotes on the internet, I’m reasonably sure that he never uttered them in life. But yet, when I Googled “Confucius” in order to him up, this was the first thing that popped up. Let that sink in for a moment…. World-famous Chines philosopher who was considered one of the wisest sages of this time, and the first piece of information that pops up on a search is “I never said all that shit.” Nice.

I’m a bit cranky this morning, so I’m keeping this short. But if you happen to be searching for information on the internet, make certain to fact-check your sources. My blog is reasonably harmless and loaded with disclaimers that I’m not a doctor or health professional, but even I make sure that I’m only quoting from verified sources AND I provide said sources so that readers can judge for themselves. We may have the world’s information at our fingertips, but that information isn’t always accurate. Tread lightly…☯️

Anger Isn’t JUST For The Sith…

The title is a Star Wars reference, for my followers who don’t find themselves quite as immersed as I am in science fiction and reading. To frame the reference, the Sith are the antagonists of the Star Wars series. They are the polar opposites (in most respects) to the Jedi and typically use intense emotion and anger as a means of amplifying their powers. The series focuses on the Jedi being the good guys and how anger is a bad thing…. Although I agree that HATE is a bad thing, as is also premised in the series, anger has its place and can even be a useful tool when applied in the proper context.

Let’s start by examining what anger truly is…. Simply defined, it means having strong, intense feelings of annoyance or hostility towards a person or thing that can often result in a violent or negatively-emotional response. This can be caused by something emotionally significant or perhaps something as simple as being cut off in traffic. That aspect that many people tend to lose sight of, is that a feeling of anger isn’t always necessarily related to the immediate instance that we believe prompted the emotion and may be a symptom of something bigger and/or previous. The immediate moment may simply be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back. But I digress…

Anger is an emotion. An normal emotion that everyone experiences throughout the course of their lives. If you’ve ever heard someone say, “I don’t get angry” they’re either lying to you or themselves. Maybe they feel anger but simply have coping mechanisms that allow them to keep from externalizing it. That may be a good thing. It can also be a recipe for disaster, depending on one’s specific ability to handle their anger.

Anger can be a great motivator, especially in fitness circles or in making and accomplishing one’s goals. If you use your anger as a source of fuel, it can help push you beyond what you might have done, otherwise. A good example I can provide is when one is using a punching bag. There’s no arguing the fact that you’ll punch harder and longer on the bag if you’re absolutely fuming about something. This is kind of the scenario I’m referring to.

The other side of the coin is dealing with a level of anger that can result in a violent result. This is something that must avoided, fo the obvious reasons. The punching bag is another great example as it can be a fantastic outlet for venting that angry energy. Meditation can work for some, but i know people who hit that “point of no return” and simply lack the means to control their anger. And that’s an important aspect to discern; the difference between controlling and finding an outlet for one’s anger or trying to suppress it or ignore it. The former can be constructive and healthy. The latter eventually becomes a problem. ☯️

Just A Little Something…

Once in a while, I like to throw out a little something that isn’t long-winded and requires a whole bunch of researching and discussion. I can pretty wordy at the best of times (I can hear the grinding of everyone’s eyes rolling at once), so it’s nice to just take a day to let one’s head cool and post something simple. In that light, I found this image online a few nights ago and it resonated with me. So I thought I’d share it. Enjoy!

I can’t remember where I found the image; I’m certain if you Google Morgan Harper Nichols, you’ll find it. She’s a musician and writer and the words in this quote resonate with me on a particular level. One of my biggest pet-peeves with life, is when someone says, “It could be worse…”. If I use my Diabetes as an example, I’ve frequently had people comment that it could be worse as I could have something immediately terminal.

Although this thought is accurate, it COULD be worse, it doesn’t mean that my particular condition isn’t BAD and that my journey isn’t made all the more difficult as a result. This is where empathy comes in. We don’t always know or understand how another person will deal with the situation they’re in. After all, a splinter in your finger may be trifling in nature. But I can guarantee that to a small child, it can be the worst pain of their life. It’s all about perspective. Not strength. Food for thought… ☯️

And Then, A Bird Crapped On My Window…

I’m a firm believer in karma and its effect on the world in general. That being said, I don’t know if this was karma in action, but it’s sure worth a laugh. This story comes from last week, when I was having lunch at work. My office sits on the fifth floor of one of the taller buildings in Regina, and it overlooks the eastern side of the city. It’s a nice view, albeit hotter than Hades during the early hours of the morning when the Sun blasts its rays directly into my space.

Anyway, I was sitting in my office enjoying a quiet lunch and doing some light reading. I get an hour for lunch but I rarely sit for more than thirty minutes. I’m quirky like that. Actually, I just have a hard time sitting still so I usually don’t take the full hour. The point is that on this particular day, I was reading a chapter and munching away when a loud thump against my window snapped me out of it. I looked up to see a pigeon sitting on the window sill, shaking its head. I laughed a bit, realizing the poor bastard must have flown across from the parkade and dove into my window.

Actual photo of the pigeon in question

I was busy laughing and decided to snap the photo you see above. Apparently, my little avian friend took offence to my laughter and photographing his misfortune. He slowly turned his backside against my window and proceeded to eject a thin stream of pigeon crap onto my window. All the while, maintaining eye contact with me… I kid you not. My laughter stopped abruptly as I saw it happen, which was followed by the pigeon turning himself fully towards my window and affording me a final glance before drifting off into the skies.

My office windows aren’t clean on the best of days (summer has just kicked in and window cleaning on the office buildings is only just beginning) but this liquid hell just added to the rustic “unclean” look of my windows. So the important questions is this: was it coincidence? Or did this bird dispense some smelly, karmic justice against me for laughing at its misfortune? You be the judge. I just thought it was funny how it all went down. What can I say? It can’t all be deep and metaphysical! Sometimes, you just gotta take the laugh when you can get it. ☯

Always An Uphill Battle, Until You Reach The Top…

The daily struggles of life can often catch up with you and it doesn’t take much or very long for it to become overwhelming. Sometimes, we don’t even recognize that there’s a problem until someone is “helpful” enough to point it out. I put the word “helpful” in quotations, because we don’t always want the help or advice that’s provided or feel that it’s warranted. When it’s in your personal life, it can come in the form of unsolicited advice. If it’s in your professional life, it may sometimes come in the form of an obligation as it isn’t exactly ideal to ignore the requests of one’s employer.

But regardless of where the advice or requests are coming from, your day and in fact even your week can quickly get away from you. Time flies, not only when you’re having fun but when you remain consistent and steadfast in what you do. I’m reminded of yesterday, and how I was so immersed in the project I was working on at my job that I was a half hour late into the end of my day before I realized what time it was. I messaged my wife and explained I would be coming home shortly and that I had lost track of time. The bigger joke is that I could have easily kept working without skipping a beat. Tempus fugit, and all that…

I recently described the daily grind of life to someone, and I found the thought came to me, well… without thinking! I explained that life is a little bit like trying to roll a boulder uphill. You already know the boulder is heavy. You already know it’ll be hard. You’re also acutely aware that if you give up and let go, you’ll be crushed under the weight of that boulder; in other words, everything that life will spill on top of you if you let your guard down.

Life in its generalities is very much the same way. We know it can be hard and we know it forces us to carry a weight on our bodies and souls. Such is life. It was never meant to be easy. Without difficulty and challenge, we would finds ourselves unable to grow and prosper. Humanity would never progress in its evolution. But if you give up and let go, there’s a very real chance that life will dump a whole bunch of consequences on you that one typically won’t want to deal with.

All that being said, when one is pushing their boulder up the hill, it’s important to recognize that the only way to reach the top is to remain consistent. It won’t happen by simply giving the boulder one solid shove and hope it reaches the apex. Only through steady and consistent pushing and rolling will you manage to get the boulder to the top. Once on the top, you may find yourself surprised by the fact that it only takes minimal effort to support the boulder and keep it in place.

If we apply this concept to life, you may struggle and have difficulties. But only by staying consistent and steadfast will you overcome your struggles and reach your desired outcome. Once there, you’ll find it’s much easier to sustain and maintain the standard of life you’ve created for yourself. As long as you don’t take the fact that the boulder is at the top for granted, you won’t risk having it roll back down, likely crushing you as it passes. Such as it is, with life.

Last but not least, never forget that the boulder will be easier to push to the top of the hill if someone is helping you do it. Much like sharing the weight of the boulder, the problems of life become easier when faced with someone by your side. As the proverb says, “A problem shared is a problem halved.” And best of all, once you get your boulder to the top, having someone to share the burden means you can even let your guard down, once in a while. And rest from the rigours of life. ☯️