Pebble In The Pond

“Just As Ripples Spread Out When A Single Pebble Is Dropped In The Water, The Actions Of Individuals Can Have Far Reaching Effects.”

– Dalai Lama

One of the most important aspects of our existence is karma. Lots of folks refer to karma, usually in an angry context. “Karma will bite you in the ass” or “Karma will get you” are popular ones. People rarely concern themselves with their own karma or how to influence their own lives through their own actions. And I think it says something about modern society when we’re more concerned about someone else’s negative actions rather than our own.

Karma is the totality of everything you do in life, and the resulting energy that ultimately decides the outcome of your life and potentially future lives (if you subscribe to such beliefs). In layman’s terms, what goes around, comes around. So if you do bad, you get bad. If you do good, you may get good. Clear enough?

Another way to look at it is causality. Cause and effect. This is a phenomenon that describes that an action or event will result in the production of a new action or event, usually believed to have been at least partly caused by the original action or event. This means that every action has a result. So if you do something wrong or bad within the scope of your own existence, you’ll likely cause a negative result.

I find that a lot of people tend to do things on a whim, good or bad. And they’ll move on with their lives and forget about the things they’ve done, regardless of the result it may have had on someone else. This is a big part of the issues I’ve been dealing with in recent years. One person’s negative actions have caused immeasurable damage and chaos within my own life. But despite the fact they may have moved on and forgotten about the problems they’ve caused, eventually karma will catch up with them and everyone at some point needs to pay the piper.

As described in a movie I once watched about Bruce Lee’s life, you drop a pebble in a pond, you get ripples… Soon, the ripples cross the whole pond. I believe that the message was that your influence can be far reaching. However, it can also mean that any action on your behalf, good or bad, will affect other people. So make sure you make them positive. You never whose life you may damage. Or improve. ☯

Social Distancing ≠ Social Dissolving

One of my biggest fears when faced with the current state of the world is the after-effects that will continue to linger within our society. For the longest time, we’ve been a society that tends to ignore the world around us. Unless we happen to be online, where most people suddenly become activists, politicians and armchair warriors who always seem to know better. But I digress…

There are many cultures around the world who have ALWAYS practiced social distancing, so the recent pandemic hasn’t create anything new. However, for the folks who haven’t done it before, social distancing may have effects that will take years to recover from. If you’re an outgoing person who enjoys being among the masses, suddenly being locked away in your home can have detrimental physical and emotional effects.

I’m sure you’ve all seen some of the memes and jokes online about social distancing; like the group of dads having beer in the street in a large circle, standing six feet apart. Social distancing has been blatantly difficult for some people to accept and maintain, despite its necessity in helping stem the current spread of COVID-19.

In fact, according to an online article posted by USA Today, large-scale social distancing is required in order to prevent the virus from running rampant and overwhelming the healthcare systems in respective countries, leading to large numbers of fatalities in the coming year. The article goes on to explain that we are nowhere near to ending social distancing and that we NEED to maintain it, in order to stem the propagation and bring an end to the pandemic. (https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2020/03/26/coronavirus-pandemic-growing-too-fast-stop-social-distancing-column/5083173002/)

Despite this requirement, the need for everyone to come together has never been greater. Isolation, whether with family or alone, can involve a number of problems that we may not recognize before they become serious. Depression, hopelessness and the use of drugs and alcohol can become very real aspects to cope with the current state of self-isolation. It’s important to remember that there are a lot of ways, especially in today’s modern world of technology, to stay in touch and communicate with people, thereby maintaining social contact and preventing the dissolving of society.

This is one of the rare occasions where social media can be an asset. Although still a nasty source of false news, misinformation and a destructive means of sharing private information, social media’s ability to help people stay in contact despite long distances can’t be denied. I know that a number of my family members make use of Facebook and other means of online communication in order to stay in touch with friends and loved ones.

A handy tool that many people seem to forget about these days, is the telephone. What with texting and social media, most folks seem to forget that the plastic brick in their hands is actually intended as a means of verbal communication that was invented over 140 years ago!!! Despite the fact tat we live on opposite ends of the country, my mother and I speak by phone every few days, even if only to stay in touch (cue the mama’s boy jokes, here).

My point is that we need to ensure that we don’t begin to accept social distancing as the norm and begin to shy away from in-person contact with each other. It may be necessary in the here and now, but when the smoke clears and the pandemic is over, we will need to rebuild social bridges and allow ourselves the benefit of each other’s company. The worst thing that could come out of all this, is to survive it all just to become xenophobic against society for fear of what else may happen. After all, there will be a lot of work to do once every steps back out into the sunlight; and we’ll need each other more than we probably understand. ☯

One Good Turn…

With all the difficulties in the world and how much suffering everyone seems to enjoy spreading, sometimes it’s nice to share a story of something nice done by others. I always try to push karma in the right direction, and it makes me happy when I see that others are able (and willing) to do the same.

We have a family SUV that we use for daily errands and such, but I have a personal car that I use for going to work and any medical appointments and such that I may have to attend. Given the current state of affairs in Canada, and the fact that saving money is always an important concern for any family, my wife and kids travelled with me to Saskatoon for my last eye injections.

This means that my car has sat idle in our garage since sometime in January. Despite the fact that it’s not really an OLD car, it tends to die out if I forget to unhook the car battery between Saskatoon appointments. This is exactly what happened in this instance. I had the car parked in the driveway at some point in January, and our neighbour (who goes way out of his way to be helpful and we love him) asked me to move the car so he could snowblower our tandem driveway.

I pulled the car into the garage, which is unusual for me. I normally back it in so that I can unhook the car battery. But I didn’t. So the car sat there, with the latent background electronic systems using up battery power, for about two months. So yesterday, I decided to check the car and get it some fuel. I turned the key. Nothing. Brutal. So I used an energy pack to boost the car and headed down to a local gas bar to fuel up.

The beauty is that gas prices are actually REALLY good right now. It cost me less than 40 dollars (Canadian) to fill the tank from less than 1/8th. I had two twenty-dollar bills on me, so I gave it to the pump attendant and told him to use the change to buy himself a coffee. Seems like a trivial thing, but I’ve been where he is, so I figured it would be appreciated.

I was walking on air from the low gas price, until I paid for my fuel and tried to start the car. Not a sound. Fuck. It’s only a five minute drive from my house to the gas bar, so I had to assume that I hadn’t driven long enough to allow the car battery to build up a charge to allow me to stop and start it again.

I ask my pump attendant if he had a power pack to boost my car. He, and one of his coworkers, came out and hooked everything up in order to jumpstart my car. It didn’t seem to be working. A random stranger came over and offered to help push my car so that I could pop the clutch to start the car. Luckily, the car turned over and started. I was unconditionally grateful and thanked all three men for their help and assistance before driving away.

Rest assured, I drove around the neighbourhood for a while and charged up the car before backing it into the garage and unhooking my battery. But it got me to thinking about how some people will still go out of their way to help a total stranger. I mean, those gas bar employees didn’t HAVE to boost my car. And that random customer didn’t have to come offer to push my car to start it.

Sometimes we forget that a random act of kindness can mean the world to someone. It may seem like nothing to us, but it can make all the difference to the person you’re doing it for. Those guys probably carried on with their day and totally forgot about boosting my car, and hour after I pulled away. But the fact they helped me without any gain showed me that there’s still good in the world.

We get so busy with our daily grind that we sometimes forget that there’s an entire world around us. Don’t be afraid to do something nice for someone, even if it’s someone random. Not only is it good karma, but you’ll better for it. ☯

Balancing Yourself And Finding Your Inner Zen

Many people believe that certain lifestyles help to eliminate the negative aspects of life and help to prevent negative emotions, such as anger, frustration and hatred. The big problem is that these aspects are an inherent part of every living person and can’t be eliminated or ignored. Although certain belief sets and practices can help to reduce stress and control negative emotions like anger, it’s important to remember that like everything else, there must be a balance.

I’ve often been accused of being cold or emotionless. On some occasions, I’ve been complimented on my ability to keep my cool and stay calm when faced with difficulty. While this is true to some degree, it’s important to remember that this doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of emotion raging beneath the surface. I’ve simply developed the skill to redirect or control said emotions.

You don’t always see what’s beneath the surface

Nothing would be better if we could all walk around being little rays of freaking sunshine all the time, but that just ain’t life! And it wouldn’t be normal, anyway. Life is all about balance, and your emotions are no exception. Sometimes, you gotta just let the negative out.

I always try to be as positive as possible, even when faced with the many obstacles that life throws at me. And I try to avoid negative comments against others, although those close to me would agree that I usually fail at that one. There’s nothing to be done for it. The question isn’t whether you feel and or express these thoughts and feelings, but how.

There are practices that help to redirect and control the negative. Meditation is a good one. I may or may not have mentioned that on occasion. When life is pissing you off, deep breathing and clearing your mind can definitely be an asset. When the actions and/or personality of someone else with whom you have to deal with may upset you or make you angry, rigorous physical activity is excellent. A punching bag almost pays for itself, as it provides physical exertion and allows you to vent your negative feelings in a positive way.

As long as you can remember that all these things are normal, the positive and the negative. As a friend of mine told me a couple of days ago, be like a battery; a little bit negative, a little bit positive… but all power!!! (Thanks, Daryl) ☯

All Things Considered…

What’s been happening in the world in recent weeks is certainly stressful and I think I can comfortably speak for everyone when I say that the hope is that this pandemic will pass quickly. With all non-essential services being shut down and the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada having doubled since I posted about it two days ago, things are looking bleak.

With families self-isolating and people gathering two-week supplies of everything and staying inside their homes, schools and businesses closing and little to do outside of the routine many of us get so used to, it can be easy to go a little stir crazy. Far be it from me to intentionally break the rules, but certain necessities still need to be accommodated. I’m talking about groceries…

I stepped out of the house to gather some required groceries, and there were a number of things that I noticed along the way. There was a sort of hush over the city. This is saying quite a bit, considering the fact that we live in a suburban area of the city. There are always sounds of car horns, people moving about and the continuous pulse of the city. But not yesterday morning.

There was an eery yet calming silence as I walked to my vehicle. I could even hear birds chirping, which is usually not the norm. As I drove to the local grocery outlet, traffic was light and things felt calm. I didn’t have the typical stress and anxiety I usually experience while running errands, which was kind of nice. Despite the reason behind it, less vehicles in motion, less hustle and bustle and a quieter environment certainly was nice.

Then I walked out of the retail location I was shopping in, and found something I didn’t expect: a rock! More of a stone, really. But it was painted and polished and left sitting on top of one of the concrete pillars outside the building. It caught my eye, and as I looked closely I noticed that it had the words “donut worry” painted on it.

It was kind of nice to know that amidst all the chaos, some people were still trying to encourage calm and peace. I snapped the photos attached to this post, but left the stone where it sat, so that others could enjoy it as they stepped out of the store.

A close-up of the stone

Despite everything happening in the world right now, there are always little rays of light that shine through. We need only to be receptive to them in order to see them. Stay safe and stay the course. ☯

Love Yourself, And All Your 2000 Parts!

Life is never without difficulty. It seems as though no matter how hard you work at it, there is always a new bump in the road, a new obstacle to overcome and another problem to solve. Sometimes, carrying the weight of the world is more of a burden than the toned shoulders are worth!

We all have aspects of ourselves that we’d rather live without. Some of these aspects are internal; a personality trait or emotional state. Some of those aspects may be something physical, like my love handles. There’s nothing to love about them, really! I joke, but the honest truth is that no matter what aspects of ourselves we don’t like, we really need to learn to love ourselves, flaws and all. If you can do that, then your flaws become strengths. Allow me to provide you with a vague, yet fitting example…

Let’s say you’ve cooked your specialty for dinner. Maybe it’s a meatloaf or a shepherd’s pie; something you’re really good at making (speaking from experience). It’s absolutely delicious and the whole family enjoys it. Unfortunately, there is some left (or fortunately, depending on your perspective). You scoop the leftovers into a tupperware container, intent on enjoying it the following day.

Now, if you forget that the meal is still hot, seal the lid and place your leftovers in the fridge, the heat and cold contrast will create a heavy amount of condensation. When you remove the lid the following day, all that wet condensation will fall onto the leftover food, making it wet and soggy. Do you still eat it? Or do you get grossed out by the prospect and toss it in the trash?

If you chose to toss your leftovers on the trash, you have much to learn. After all, that condensation is actually part of the meal you prepared. The moisture is a byproduct of the heat from the food and the cold from the fridge. The gaseous vapour from the food fall into solid form and collects on the container. Regardless of how you look at it, that moisture is part of the leftovers and shouldn’t be simply tossed aside, even if your perspective of its effect may not be favourable.

The same can be said about yourself. No matter what you feel your flaws or weak points may be, you owe it to yourself to love yourself despite these things. If it happens to be something you can work on and improve, then go to it! If it’s something that you may need to simply accept and learn to live with, this can be a tad more difficult but you can do it. Even if it means you may have to adjust or learn to focus on the positive. After all, you’re worth it. Don’t let the world tell you otherwise. ☯

You’re Not An Exhaust Pipe, Quit Venting!

There is suffering in the world. More than we often choose to acknowledge or discuss, but some of this suffering comes at a personal cost and in our personal lives. Because of this, we are usually want to complain. After all, most people feel it’s easier to complain or “vent” then it is to spread positivity.

Depending on what school of thought you adhere to, venting can be beneficial. It allows you to get things “off your chest”, which in turn is meant to make you feel better. Normally, this can be a good practice as long as it doesn’t become your modus operandi. If you make complaining your normal habit, it can also have a number of detrimental effects on you and the people you’re complaining to.

First and foremost, long term complaining can lead to quite a few physiological problems. Increased stress, increased cortisol levels, lack of sleep and weight gain can all be long-term effects of constant complaining. Not to mention that if you’re a constant source of negative, verbal diarrhea, you’ll start to notice your friends, acquaintances and family start to avoid you or make excuses not to be in touch with you. Couple that with the psychological effects of constant negativity, and you’ve got yourself some real problems.

I was reading an article posted by Inc.com that covers the topic of complaining too much. I was entertained by what Dr. Jeffrey Lohr, a psychologist who studied venting, mentioned in the article, “People don’t break wind in elevators more than they have to. Venting anger is… similar to emotional farting in an closed area. It sounds like a good idea, but it’s dead wrong.” Funny and entertaining, but he makes a good point.

The article goes on to explain that our brains are wired in such a way that the more we express negative thoughts, the easier it becomes to do so. More than that, it becomes habit. Further to that, it has the same effect on people who are around you while you vent. Here’s the article: https://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/complaining-rewires-your-brain-for-negativity-science-says.html

I’m still of the firm belief that the occasional venting is important. Sometimes, you just need to get things off your chest. The important thing to remember is that the recipient of your venting should understand what’s happening and why. And even if they’re a trusted family, spouse or friend, it shouldn’t be a constant thing. Otherwise, you could find yourself becoming the subject of THEIR venting as opposed to the recipient of yours. ☯