Tempus Fugit

Time flies… I’ve been hearing that expression, Tempus Fugit, all my life. But did you know it’s actually a misinterpretation? The actual Latin passage from the book reads as Fugit Inreparabile Tempus, which basically means “it escapes, irretrievable time.”

Time really does fly. I find myself often wondering how I got this far. I’ve often had obstacles in my way that should have ended my life; Diabetes, comas, insulin resistance and a score of natural causes too long for me to enumerate.

I still remember the morning I woke up without Diabetes for the last time. I recall feeling groggy and disoriented. I made my way to the bathroom and then sat at the kitchen table. My father was gone to work and my mother was setting out a bowl of cereal for me.

My parents had noticed that my weight had fluctuated and my mood had changed significantly in previous weeks. I had started wetting the bed for the first time since I was in diapers and I was an insufferable little jerk. Even more so than I am now, if those who know me personally can believe it.

A few moments into my breakfast, and I unceremoniously passed out into my cereal bowl. The next thing I remembered was waking up in a hospital bed. I only had a mild understanding of what was happening to me at the time, but the diagnosis was clear: Diabetes Mellitus.

From that moment on, my life was forever altered. The path I would be led on would be different in ways I wouldn’t understand for years to come. I often find myself wondering how my life would have turned out had I not been diagnosed with Diabetes. Would I have been more athletic? Would I have made different choices or pursued different things in life?

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve experienced a wicked number of things in my life. In fact, I find myself acknowledging that if my end of days came tomorrow, I would have no regrets as I’ve done and experienced more than many do within this life.

I don’t know anyone within my circle of associates who has travelled the world, overcome their own illnesses and shortcomings and meet any challenge head on and usually overcome those as well.

But as I sit back and take stock of where I am in the here and now, I have difficulty focusing on how I got here. A man in his forties with a family, kids, a home and career… And in the midst of all of it, exploring new venues and new possibilities that may once again alter the course of my life.

Sometimes it happens that way. As I’ve often said, friends, life rarely cares about our plan. When one door closes, we’re often so busy wondering why that we ignore the one next to it that has opened. Your path may not always be the one you want, but it can turn out to be the one you need. ☯

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Wisdom Comes From The most Unlikely Sources…

That’s a simple truth, isn’t it? How often have you watched a television program or a movie, or been walking down the street and heard someone say something or overheard a particular song lyric and had it speak to you? Perhaps it reminded you of advice that was given to you by someone important in your life.

While I was out and about today, I noticed two men arguing with each other. The first was an employee of that particular establishment and the second appeared to be a customer.

The employee was walking away from the customer as they argued when I overheard the customer say, “I don’t think that’s right. That isn’t the way I understood it…”

The employee followed up by saying, “How is that my problem? That’s you, that’s YOUR perception! Why would you assume that your perception is my responsibility in any way?”

I have to admit that I was missing a HUGE chunk of the story. It was playing out like a bad soap opera in front of my eyes, but without some context as to how this conversation started, all I had to work with was the scene playing out in the moment.

Now with the lack of said context, what I saw was a frustrated customer trying to explain something to an employee who appeared to have decided the conversation was over as he was walking away. Poor customer service, to say the least. But I digress…

My point is, his comment resonated with me. I’ve often heard people say “I can only control the words coming out of my mouth, not your reaction to them.” And there’s a significant truth to this. We walk through life on a daily basis and react to things based on our perceptions. How often has someone cut in front of you while driving? How often has someone made a comment that seemed inappropriate or rude to you, even if that wasn’t the person’s intention? What kind of a reaction did it elicit from you?

Our perceptions are how we interpret the world around us, so it becomes critically important that we be able to do so sensibly. What sounds like something negative to the recipient may have been intended as something positive from the sender.

That’s why we need to communicate better with each other. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, clarify and seek out more information. This can help to eliminate conflict and ensure that you’re getting the intended message. ☯

Please Use Other Door…

I was running errands this morning and when I tried to exit a retail location with my cart, I came face-to-face with a woman who was trying to walk in. We shared a confused look. She was confused because I wasn’t getting out of her way. I was confused because there are large, blue signs that read “please use other doors” on both glass doors that should’ve signalled the woman that she was entering by the wrong entrance and I couldn’t grasp why she’d foolishly walk into the wrong doors. Although I shouldn’t automatically assume that this woman could read, one would think she could have taken a hint from everyone else entering by the other door…

This is a common trend that has become more prevalent these days. It seems that most people are so rooted in their own “little world” that they disregard basic instruction from outside sources. And you can see it almost everywhere; from people who park in handicap spaces without a permit, folks who leave their shopping carts in the middle of parking lots or take up two spaces for their car, people using their cell phones while walking and almost barrel into someone ahead of them (and then keep right on going without any regard or apology)… One of the worst ones is travelling along a high speed roadway and having someone pull into the space I’ve left as a safety pocket between myself and the vehicle ahead of me. That gap was there so I could brake safely in the event of an emergency, not so you could squeeze your jacked-up Chevy pick-up truck in front of me, causing me to brake suddenly. Douche.

But before I allow my temper to compromise my self-control, let’s examine this phenomenon a little deeper. As a martial artist, and given my chosen career path, I consider being firmly aware of my surroundings to be of the utmost importance. But even to someone who doesn’t have this experience or similar training, awareness of one’s surroundings is kind of important. Especially if you consider that most people will walk out into traffic without looking both ways, simply because they believe they have the right of way. They don’t stop to consider that the driver may not see them in time to respect their right of way. This is why we teach our children to “look both ways”, but that’s a lesson that doesn’t seem to carry into adulthood.

According to an article by the Association for Talent Development, “we can take in thousands of bits of sensory data in seconds, cross-reference that data against the information stored in 140 billion brain cells in a micro-second, and retrieve memories of everything from a recipe, to our first date, to our current project plan from the same group of stimuli. And that’s just what we are thinking about on the conscious level.”

Pretty impressive, right? So why the hell can’t the average person just follow simple instructions and courtesy while out in public. A part of the above-noted article seems to be of the opinion that with everything happening on the conscious and sub-conscious level, it’s no wonder that some people don’t quite seem to be paying attention.

Part of the issue may be that we now live in a world where our digital devices provide our conscious mind with all the stimuli we can handle and the simple tasks in the real world depend on our body’s automated functions instead. This is similar to walking into a street sign while your eyes were lowered, reading a book. Not that I’m speaking from experience, of course…

A serious part of our survival depends on our ability to pay attention. This has always been true, throughout the evolution of humanity. And that truth is no less a reality now.

We live in a world of faster machines, increased crime rates and constant hazards and dangers, but our minds have stayed just as fluttery as they always have been. We need to pay attention. We need to keep our eyes up and watch what we’re doing. Our very survival may depend on it. ☯

Are Your Pants On Fire???

Lies. We all use them. Constantly. Don’t believe me? Think back in recent months when you may have declined to attend a social gathering due to other plans, only to be heading home to binge watch Netflix by yourself. Or perhaps you’ve told a loved one that their meal was your absolute favourite, even if it wasn’t all that great.

Sometimes we tell what are referred to as “white lies”, which are small, trivial lies that are mostly meant to spare someone else’s feelings. These are not so bad when they’re done to spare someone’s feelings. The problem comes when we start telling lies to further our own personal agenda or goals and we gain from lying.

First and foremost, I should explain the Buddhist aspect to all this. The Noble Eightfold Path describes one our most important aspects as practicing Right Speech, which essentially explains that you shouldn’t lie. There’s more to it than that, such as refraining from gossip and being rude. Depending on your interpretation, lying will eventually cause suffering, which then leads into The Four Noble Truths.

Let’s talk about what lying does to the body. Believe it or not, telling a lie is not as straightforward as speaking words that are untrue and moving on. Lying has a measured physiological and psychological effect on the body and mind.

According to an article posted by Medical Daily, lying causes a part of the brain to produce negative feelings that help limit the extent to which we are willing to lie. The article goes on to say that we become desensitized to this response the more we lie. As a result, the more you lie the more you get used to it and start lying more often. That’s why you often hear people say “tell a lie once and all your truths become questionable.” Here’s the article: https://www.medicaldaily.com/how-lying-affects-human-brain-telling-lies-desensitizes-amygdala-dishonesty-402310

As far as the body goes, I didn’t manage to find a great deal of studies on it but the ones I found describe that lies cause the body to release stress hormones, affects the heart rate and blood pressure. Over the long term, this can cause a whole bunch of secondary symptoms such as body pains and headaches, to name a few.

I once heard a television character say (I forget what show) that lying is like applying a band-aid to a leaky pipe. The similarity is that in the same way that the band-aid won’t be able to hold back the leaking water, lies will eventually catch up to you and overtake the harmony of your life. The worst problem with lying is that it’s not only about you. It always ends up affecting someone else, and normally in a negative way. I know this to be true, since some of the most difficult problems I am dealing with in my life these days is predicated on someone else’s lies.

Be honest and seek honesty whenever and wherever possible. Not only will it make your life easier, but the amount of energy it takes to maintain the lies in your life is brutal. Karma, “What Goes Around Comes Around”, “You Reap What You Sow”… Whatever your life perspective or your personal beliefs, the message is pretty clear. Eventually, the lies we tell will bite us in the a$$… ☯

History Can Repeat Itself, and It’s Not Always Bad…

I was out with my family this afternoon and took notice of something very particular. It seems that without even trying, I’ve come to mimic and repeat some of the things that my parents did in my youth. It took doing some of these things to realize it, as I had forgotten most of the little details. They say that those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it. But this isn’t always a bad thing.

We were out at a local fast-food restaurant this afternoon so that my son Nathan could burn off some energy in their play structure. I’m certainly not trying to endorse the consumption of fast-food, but sometimes you need to mix it up and do something different. That, and it was too damn cold to play at an outdoor park. And Nathan genuinely does enjoy meeting new children and climbing through the play structure.

My son Nathan climbing to his heart’s content

I remember that as a child, we used to hit up our local fast-food chain restaurant once a week. In the early 80’s it was considered “the thing”. I honestly used to dread having my father come home and all of us hopping in the car. I had a strong dislike for the routine and the monotony of always eating at the same place.

Climb, slide and repeat

The irony is that once I reached my twenties, I actually worked at that location and ended up managing it. The important lesson is that I didn’t know enough to appreciate those outings or how important it was to my family as a whole.

But I’ve noticed some of the similarities in my life to my parents and it’s almost a bit creepy. My mother is French-speaking and married to an English-speaking redheaded man. I’m a French-speaking man who married a redheaded English-speaking woman. That’s only one example.

Our parents do their best to pass on the better parts of themselves while raising us. That’s not always easy and as children, we don’t always understand how much of an impact the little things in our youth may have on us later on in life. ☯

Life Finds A Way…

Jeff Goldblum used that line as Dr. Ian Malcolm in the original Jurassic Park movie. In it, he was making the point that even if we intend to have something happen “this way”, life will find a way to make it happen “that way” if it suits the needs of nature.

A flower manages to sprout through a concrete curb

I took the above photo yesterday. I left the house the previous day and headed to my local retail outlet to pick up a few things for the house. Before I turned the corner into the parking lot, I came to a stop sign and noticed that this yellow daisy was sprouting, right through the concrete curb.

Even though most people have likely driven past this flower dozens of times on their home or to work, I felt compelled to return the following day with my camera and take a photo.

It got me to thinking about the perseverance of life. We’re often faced with daily obstacles that make us think that we just can’t… Can’t go on, can’t keep fighting, can’t make through whatever difficulty we’re facing…

But you know what? As long as you persevere and fight your way through, you’ll always find a way. Just like this little flower did. Think of yourself as this flower: faced with an impenetrable barrier and impossible odds, hostile environment and away from all your counterparts. And yet, still capable of rising up and blossoming in the face of impossible odds. And looking damn good while doing it, too!

You have that ability. It’s in you. Sometimes life makes it seem impossible, but think about all the times that water has penetrated stone. Or how the winds of time have moved and shaped mountains. Daily life seems pale in comparison to the effort needed to reach those goals.

So don’t be so hard on yourself. Let yourself take a breath. Hold it. Then let it out slowly. And then kick the ever lovin’ s&*t out of whatever stands on your way. Life always finds a way. And you, my friend, are life! ☯

We Often Find Our Destiny On The Road We Least Thought To Travel

You know something? I heard this saying for the first time from someone who is no longer in my life. In fact, she provided it for some very different reasons than what I ended up using it for…

That being said, it became one of the guiding expressions I’ve used throughout my journey in this life. And I still do.

One of the things I enjoy the most is looking back at my journey through life thus far and recognizing how things have played out contrary to how I thought they might.

Ten years ago, I embarked on a journey that changed my life. Although I should have remained friends and stayed in contact with almost three dozen people, time and distance put a rather quick stop to all of that. I never forgot any of them or the journey we shared together, but it nevertheless didn’t prevent that separation.

We don’t always understand the reason behind why some things happen. It would be fantastic if we had those answers as it might make it easier to get through some of the more difficult aspects of life, but it simply doesn’t happen that way.

It’s only now, at the intersection of that ten year journey, that I get a chance to reflect and take notice of the new friendships I never would have started if my path hadn’t taken me to the here and now. I’ve always been the kind of person who doesn’t believe in regrets.

Sometimes, it’s best just to sit back and enjoy the ride. It allows for the possibilities that one may not have considered. Strangers becomes confidants, false acquaintances fall away like sand in the wind and teachers become friends. It doesn’t always make sense, but it all balances out. ☯