Finding Inspiration Among The Stars

Happy “May The Fourth,” everybody! And may the Force be with you! It’s no secret that I’ve long considered myself to be a nerd. And proud of it, for that matter. I think there’s a lot to be said for enjoying and finding inspiration in fantasy, science fiction and make-believe. And I’m one of the more hybrid fans, who won’t subscribe to a specific “camp.” What I mean by this, is that I’m a huge fan of Star Wars, Star Trek and all the other brands of fantasy and fiction including J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert Jordan, Brian Keene and Lee Child.

I spent the majority of my childhood, immersed in books. I escaped the cruel world of Diabetes, hospitals and illness by walking the road to Mordor with Frodo, travelling the stars with Captain James T. Kirk (and later Jean-Luc Picard) and learning about the One Power with Rand Al’Thor (That’s the Wheel of Time series, for you muggles!) What was particular and special is that Diabetes didn’t seem to exist in these worlds, which as a child, was one of the most appealing aspects of it. That, and a genuine love of reading kept me occupied whenever I wasn’t in karate class or studying.

Star Wars Day, or May the Fourth, started in 2011 as a way for fans to celebrate, well… Star Wars. Ironically, George Lucas had nothing to do with creating the so-called holiday but has since embraced it. I grew up on the original trilogy (Episodes IV, V and VI) and absolutely loved the use of a light sabre. It was actually one of the inspirational thoughts behind my study of Kendo. And there’s no denying that Jedi robes can easily be seen as something akin to a martial arts uniform. The Jedi Temple very much resembles a monastery, especially since they refer to themselves as the “Jedi Order.”

I know that not everyone has been a fan of the prequel trilogy or the newly-minted closing chapters of the Skywalker Saga (Episodes VII, VIII and IX), but I’ve loved and enjoyed every one of the movies, television shows and spin-offs. Except for Solo. That was a poorly-filmed piece of shit that cost me time I’ll never get back. But that’s just an opinion. I think that everything before, during and after the original movies painted a fantastic saga, and the books are even better. For example, I’ve read a book trilogy from the Old Republic days about the rise of Darth Bane and how he developed the “Rule of Two,” where there are only ever two Sith: A master and an apprentice.

I sincerely love that over four decades after the first movie was released, Star Wars is still hammering along has continued to the next generation of viewership and is adding more depth to the story. I’ve recently started watching The Mandalorian and it’s quite good. There are more plans in the works for different shows and features as well, and this nerd couldn’t be happier. Never discount a bit of sci-fi and fantasy. A touch of imagination and indulgence can go a long, long way. One might even say it can transport your imagination to a galaxy far, far away… ☯

Make Sure It’s For You

Look at that bald, handsome devil! I may be a bit biased, of course. This is me on my way to work, last week. Despite the current pandemic situation, I don’t have the available space or resources to be working from home. So I go to the office. There are a very limited number of staff working on site at the moment. And most employees have taken to dressing somewhat more casually than they usually would, with a full office. So, this begs the question… Why do I go through the effort of a clean shave and a properly tailored suit? I do it for me. Plain and simple.

Appearances aren’t everything, and this much is true. But there’s definitely something to be said about taking some steps to improve your self-image by dressing and/or training in such a way that makes YOU feel better about YOU. I could no doubt sit in my office in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, but my suit makes ME feel professional and improves MY self-image. This leads to healthier, happier days and better productivity as a result.

This line of thinking came to mind when I was having a conversation with one of the guys at the office, who mentioned his disdain for people who constantly post photos of themselves without a shirt and flexing at the gym. He commented that he wondered who that was for and felt that it was a bit on the braggy side. I can honestly say that I agree. I know people who do nothing but posts constant stream of photos of themselves in various flexing poses and such. I know, I know… THIS, coming from the guy who just threw a GQ pose into his blog post…

I’m mostly referring to the folks who don’t post the photos to show their progress or to show the “before” and “after” side of their journey, but just take photos for the sake of flexing for people to comment on them. There’s a big difference between having a healthy image of oneself and being narcissistic. This is a personal opinion, of course. I’m sure there are those who feel that constantly posting photos of themselves does in fact help them to self-motivate and work towards their fitness and self-image goals. And as they say, to each their own. It simply isn’t the way a humble person does business.

The simple bottom line is this: Dress to impress. But it better be to impress yourself. How you look and feel to yourself is the primary importance. As long as you have a positive self-image and feel great, you’ll project the confidence and energy that you need to be successful. And if you’re brave enough to share your fitness journey through photographs, be sure that it’s also being done for you and your continued well-being. You’ll be all the better for it. Food for thought… ☯

A Boy Needs Heroes…

When I was a child, my father and I sat through the original Christopher Reeve Superman movies. That’s plural, because by the time I actually sat down to watch them, I was about the same age as Nathan and they had just released Superman III, with the original Superman movie being released a few months after I was born. Now that I’ve effectively deepened my legendary status in nerdom and properly aged myself, I do have a point…

As long as he behaves himself, Friday nights are usually the evenings I spend with Nathan. My wife generally takes advantage to try and get some extra work in so that she can have her weekend, so Nathan and I will usually watch a movie, crash on the living room floor with sleeping bags and enjoy some snacks. As I mentioned, it’s all contingent on him behaving himself throughout the day. But everything had gone reasonably well yesterday, so we sat down on the couch and discussed what movie we would watch.

Much like the joke about couples never being able to pick a restaurant, Nathan is notorious for never making a choice but declining any offers I make. Last night, I asked if he’d like to watch a Superman movie. He nodded enthusiastically and I started to search my streaming services for one we could watch together. None of the original Christopher Reeve movies were available, so I opted for 2013’s Man of Steel.

Comparatively much more violent than the originals, considering the actual fights, punching and battles scenes involved, some may argue that such a movie wasn’t the most appropriate for a 6-year old. But I was then caught by surprise as Nathan learned a significant number of important lessons throughout the movie. And I’m going to share those lessons with you now. I should probably point out that sitting through an entire movie is something of an amazing accomplishment for Nathan. So, there’s that. Moving on…

If you’ve never watched Man of Steel, proceed at your own risk, as there will be spoilers. That being said, I have a great appreciation for the movie, since it steers away from the typical depiction of the all-powerful and invulnerable Superman in favour of a hero who actually feels and who can be affected/harmed by significant opposition. The movie starts by showing the birth of Kal’El, followed by his being sent out amongst the stars by his parents before the total destruction of Krypton. Although any Superman fan is well aware of Krypton’s destruction, it made for an interesting piece of the story to actually SEE some of the storyline, rather than the typical movie with the red and blue suit stepping into the frame within the first fifteen minutes.

As Superman’s parents place him in the rocket and say their heartfelt goodbyes, I glanced over at Nathan and noticed he was red-faced, red-eyed and had a single, fat tear rolling down his cheek. I asked him if he was alright and why he was crying. he responded, “I’m sad…” When I asked him why he was sad, he explained that those parents had to send their baby away and they would never get to see him again. He also pointed out that the baby would never get to know his parents. I was caught off guard with the emotional and mature response he provided. I don’t mind saying that it was extremely uncharacteristic of him.

As the movie progressed, there are a couple of scenes that reached Nathan and we discussed them. The first was when Clark Kent is working in a truck stop restaurant as a bus boy and tries to intervene against a trucker who’s harassing a female waitress. When the trucker confronts him, Clark chooses to walk away. Nathan asked why Clark didn’t just beat him up, as he was obviously stronger than the trucker. This gave us the opportunity to have a talk about how just because you’re stronger than someone else, doesn’t mean you should exercise that strength against them.

The next scene came when we flash back to Clark’s teen years and he gets shoved to the ground and taunted by a group of bullies. Clark sits there and ignores their taunts until they depart. He’s helped to his feet by another classmate and as he releases the steel post he was braced against, we see Clark’s hand has imprinted on the steel. Nathan was blown away at the level of strength and asked why Clark wouldn’t fight back and beat up the boys, since they started it and he should defend himself. I explained that Clark showed restraint, which can often be a more valuable quality than a show of force. Especially in light of the fact that he managed to de-escalate the situation by avoiding a fight.

There were a number of other scenes but honestly, I’ve made this post long enough at this point. I often say that knowledge and wisdom can come form the most unlikely sources, and last night effectively proved that point. What started out as an evening of movie-watching fun proved to be an evening of important life-lessons for my young son. We still had fun and enjoyed the movie, but a little growing was done at the same time. Not too shabby, for a Friday night… ☯

You Can’t Please Everybody

Everybody wants to be liked. Of course, they do. Even the people who puff out their chest and claim they don’t care what other people think would prefer to be liked than disliked. This is a natural compulsion and it makes sense. After all, life is always easier when dealing with people who like you than the opposite. But the big problem is that you can’t please everyone. No matter what you do, there’ll always be someone in the equation displeased with what you say, do or think. Trust, I know. I used to be one of the people who tried to please everyone…

Although the average person tends NOT to think so, complaining about the negative always seems to be easier than simply appreciating the positive. If people could simply be happy with what/who they have, the world would likely be a more peaceful place. And if you haven’t noticed, I’m kind of keen on the whole peace thing. I used to try and accomplish this by doing exactly what was described above: trying to please everybody.

I can remember some specific circumstances of when I’ve done this. I remember the one time where I attended a party with a handful of people. (I know, right? We actually used to do things like gathering in groups and the police WOULDN’T show up) Anyway, I lost a bet and it fell on me to buy the “adult beverages” for the evening. Beer. I had to buy the beer. There were only a handful of us and we had a bit of an organized game night happening… D&D. We were going to be playing D&D.

So, I accepted my loss and graciously purchased a case of beer, which would provide each of us with a couple of drinks. This was more than adequate for our early 20’s metabolisms and we needed to keep our heads clear for the game, anyway. Out of the friends who were there, there was ONE guy who decided he was unhappy with the brand of beer I purchased. Now, I know what you’re thinking: the guy should have been reasonable and appreciated the drinks he was getting for free, regardless of the brand. That should have the way of it.

Instead, this guy indicated that he doesn’t drink the brand of beer I brought and wouldn’t be drinking it. Some of the others indicated their disapproval of this opinion, especially since it was brought for him and it was free (albeit through the loss of a bet). But as the game started, the guy actually pouted a bit and would glare at me regularly. I should probably point out that I was the storyteller, what’s referred to as a Dungeon Master in D&D circles. But I’ll stop firmly establishing my throne in nerdom and point out that it was ridiculously childish and distracting while I was trying to focus.

So, what did I do? Did I tell him to suck it up? Did I tell him to stop being petty and have a couple of drinks, since they were provided for him at no cost? Did I have enough of his petulance and kick him out of the game. No. No, I didn’t. I put the game on hold, asked him what brand of beer was his favourite and actually went to the corner to grab him a 6-pack of his own. I brought it back, he smiled and grabbed a bottle and we got on with our game. I’d like to say that it was because I just wanted to shut him up, but back then I genuinely just wanted to please most people.

Should I have done this? In retrospect, I shouldn’t have. All I accomplished was showing this guy that complaining and pouting about something would eventually get him his way. If I’d been smart, I would have put my foot down so that the rest of us could enjoy our game. The debt incurred by the bet had been repaid and there were bigger fish to fry. All I really accomplished that night was putting myself out further than I should have. Sure, all the guys got what they wanted that night so I guess that in a way I “pleased” everyone, but at what cost.

I recently read somewhere that “You can lie down for people to walk on you and they will still complain that you’re not flat enough. Live your life.” An that’s quite true. It’s always a beautiful thing when you can get along with everyone, but it’s unrealistic to think that you’ll ever be able to please everyone. If you make a meal, there’ll always be an aspect of the meal that someone at the table won’t like. The important thing to remember is the effort you’ve put into the things you do. If there are some who don’t like it or aren’t please with you, so be it. You can’t base your life on whether or not you’ve pleased everyone. ☯

Unlike Footprints In The Sand, A First Impression Rarely Washes Away

It’s a pretty classic story; you attend a local business or service and received really, really bad service from the salesperson. This may be one that you’ve never met before, but they seem standoffish and not really interested in selling to you or helping you. You leave the location thinking about how bad your experience may have been. Then, while chatting over coffee with a friend you discuss your experience only to have your friend indicate he’s dealt with that sales person before and they were wonderful and the service was great. Was it just you? Either way, the first impression that salesperson gave you marked him AND that location in your mind as a place to avoid.

Impressions mean a lot from the perspective of the person looking out at the world. I use the example of a salesperson because it’s a simple and easily understood example. But I’m sure you can think of others. For example, let me tell you about two different people you might see out in public. The first is a young male, well dressed, shirt and tie with dress shoes. He’s clean-shaven and looks to have an ever-so-slight smirk on his face. He appears happy and seems to be on top of his game. At first glance, most would think he may be a local manager or business person. The second person is wearing torn, dirty sweatpants, has at least a few days growth on his face, hair askew and is wearing a canvass coat over everything that quite frankly, smells a bit off as you walk by. At first glance, one might be inclined to believe this person to be homeless or derelict, looking to pander for change or a free meal.

What do you think? Do you agree with those descriptions? From a personal standpoint, first impressions make a difference because they set the bar for how people interact with you. If you’re meeting your significant other’s parents for the first time and you keep a straight face and seem standoffish, that impression may lead them to think your not personable or good as a partner for their child. But if you take the time to smile, shake hands and/or hug (depending on the family, of course), you’ll make a much better first impression. The point is, impressions can last and although every person’s perspective and view of the world may be different, it’s usually pretty difficult to change that impression once it’s been made. It’s a reflex that humans have that’s somewhat connected to our survival instincts.

Now, it’s important to understand that there’s a big difference between making a good impression and worrying about what others think of you. Those are two entirely different things. If you were to tell me that I shouldn’t care what others think of me, I would agree that you are correct. But unless the meeting of someone has an underlying negative connotation anyway, making a good impression is important. Almost as important as never judging a proverbial book by its cover, which brings us back to our two subjects from the second paragraph. I’m sure you’d like to know who and what those two characters actually are…

The first man, the one in the suit; he’s actually a homeless guy who’s been crashing on friend’s couch. He’s barely eaten in the past week after losing his previous job due to illness and he’s on his way to an interview that he hopes will provide him with a new career. His smile denotes his optimism and hope for the future. He sees good things ahead, and plans on benefiting from them. He borrowed the suit from one of his uncles so that he could make a good first impression.

The second man, the one with the hair all over the place and smelly clothes that looks like he may be a homeless person? He’s actually a successful investigator with a large, family home just outside the city. He’s built his businesses to the point that he can be home or absent from work whenever he chooses and never has to worry about money for the rest of his life. Why is he dressed this way, with a strained look in his face? Because he helped one of his neighbours clear out his back lot after some light flooding dragged forest scraps and waste into his yard, hence the filth and the smell. He worked in similar industries in previous years and knew he’d be able to help.

If you had known this information about those two at the very beginning, how would it have changed your impression of them? It would be lying to say that it WOULDN’T have, right? But as I said, first impressions can be important and although I mostly refer to the impression you yourself make on an approaching party when meeting them the first time, impressions are the message that others send to us when meeting for the first time. So always put your best foot forward. No matter what side of the counter you find yourself on, no what kind of attitude or personality the other person has or what certain biases may surface in your brain. You’ll be all the better for it AND you’ll go a certain way towards making a better world. ☯

It’s Not Your Job To Belittle A Job…

It can sometimes be easy to forget that all jobs in modern society are necessary, especially when some of those jobs are ones that we would generally prefer not to do. For example, I think we could agree that the average kid usually doesn’t say they want to be a garbage collector when they grow up. But without people to DO that job, imagine the mess and inconvenience we’d be in? It’s lucky for us that there are folks who are not only willing but able and happy to do these jobs so that we don’t have to find out. But it would be nice to see some appreciation, as well.

Through my late teens and most of my twenties, I paid off student loans and made my money by working at a local fast-food restaurant. For obvious legal reasons, I’d rather not name the restaurant but it usually has arches up front, if that gives you any indication. I lost count of the number of people who commented negatively about my working there and belittled the job as a whole. Although i can admit that it was by no means a “glamorous” job, it taught independence, skills, the value of hard work and introduced me to the world of management that has eventually led me to the hear and now.

Some years later, I held a job as a janitor. I swept and mopped floors, emptied trash receptacles and washed windows. Most people in the building wearing suits and carrying briefcases would walk past me without ever noticing me, despite my occasional smile or wave. I was “beneath” them. But this job taught me attention to detail, perseverance and the importance of cleanliness. And it would have been interesting to see the results of my team and I not cleaning their building for an extended period of time.

I guess one could easily say that I’ve done a bit of everything, and I’ve always believed that each and every different job I’ve held has taught me something, provided me with something and has helped make me a better person. This is why it seriously bothers me when I hear someone say something along the lines of, “If you don’t study hard and get a degree, you’ll end up like THAT…” As though any given job they name doesn’t have value and worth. Some of that is based on modern society’s belief in accomplishing BIG things. But what’s big? Sometimes it’s simply a matter of perspective.

“Flipping Burgers Is Not Beneath Your Dignity. Your Grandparents Had a Different Word For Burger Flipping – They Called It Opportunity.”

– Bill Gates

No matter what you do in life, so long as you give it your all and do the best you can at what you’re doing you’ll always find its value. Nothing is beneath you, and no one should ever belittle you for what you do. And should you happen to be the one doing the belittling, shame on you. If you’ve never been below your current station in life, at least understand that every job is essential and pertinent to your existence; even a job you’d prefer not to be doing yourself. And lastly, money isn’t everything. There are plenty of sources that have proven that if you do what you love, the money will come. Unless what you love is sitting on your couch eating nachos. Then, I can’t help you. ☯

On The Brighter Side…

Sometimes life can be difficult to navigate and things always seem darkest before the dawn. I’ve had my fair share of difficulties in the past few years, and not all of them related to COVID-19. But if you take the time to slow down and pay attention, there can be some nuggets of golden wisdom among the dust. I recently reconnected with a friend from my childhood and he posted something that resonated with me. As a result, I’ve decided to share it here.

I wasn’t able to track the source of where he got it, and I’ll be translating it from French, but the message should be pretty clear. We often take things for granted and especially when things are rough, we ignore the good things in life altogether. With that thought in mind, I present for your consideration, 10 signs that things in life are actually going well:

  1. You Have A Roof Over Your Head: It’s appropriate that this one is first on the list. A safe home to live in is something that not everyone has the benefit of having. I can admit that even I have often taken going home at the end of the day for granted;
  2. You Have Food In Your Stomach: Next to having shelter, an empty stomach is a problem faced by more and more people. One wouldn’t think this would be a problem in modern society, but it is;
  3. You Have A Heartbeat: This one resonates most with me, because my brother and I have fought against health issues for our entire lives. The bottom line is that if you’re still alive, you can still fight the good fight;
  4. You Have Water: Hydration is the key to life. I’m sure you’ve all heard that you’ll live longer without food than you will without water. And that’s pretty accurate. Not everyone has access to clean drinking water;
  5. You Have Access To Personal Hygiene: Right up there with the previous four points, self-cleanliness is often taken for granted but provides so many benefits in one’s life BESIDES smelling nice…;
  6. You Have Friends And Loved Ones: There’s nothing worse than going through this life alone. Even people who claim to be loners will usually yearn for companionship now and again, so just imagine how lonely it is when you have no one in your life;
  7. People Love You: Okay, so this one kind of goes hand in hand with the previous point. But the lesson here is that the people in your life love you, and that’s not to be taken for granted;
  8. You’re Doing Your Best: This one is pretty subjective, but as long as you’re doing your best at whatever you do in your life, you’re doing okay. Trying and failing doesn’t make life tragic. Trying, failing and refusing to try again is the problem;
  9. You Have Clean Clothing: It’s one thing to be clean yourself, but being dressed in clean, properly-fitting clothes is not just a matter of image but a matter of health and wellbeing;
  10. You’re Still Breathing: I once read somewhere that if you want a simple test to know if you’ve completed all the challenges in life, it’s this: if you’re still alive, you haven’t. No matter what comes at you, always remember that you’re still breathing. You’re still alive. And as long as you’re still alive, there’s always hope.

I look at this nifty little list and I recognize that I’m blessed with all ten of those points. I have a home, a family, food in my belly and clothes on my back. I know my family loves me and have a great support system. And despite everything I’ve been through in recent years, I’m still breathing. I’m still here. It’s important not to take any of it for granted. Not everyone has the benefit of everything listed here. ☯

A Little Taste Of Electronics…

My wife and I are both avid readers, with thousands of books lining the east wall of our home’s living room. Lately, I can’t even be sure who’s coming out ahead on the number of volumes read, since I’m currently reading Robert Jordan’s the Wheel of Time series for the third or fourth time and it’s a large, 14-volume series with about 600 to 700 pages per volume. It makes for pretty long reading, especially with children in the house as a distraction. And no, my 6-year old doesn’t sit still for books, before anyone suggests that.

Anyway, I recently started taking public transit to get to work and since it’s about a 20 minute bus ride, a friend of mine recommended that I use that time to read. Although I’m inclined to agree that this is a better option than sitting idle or crying on the bus, I was faced with the prospect that I carry a pretty full briefcase and didn’t have room for the collector’s edition volumes of Jordan’s books. Even the average pocket book wouldn’t have much space allowed in what I currently carry.

My friend decided to be a smart ass and said, “There’s an app for that,” referencing my post where I wrote about the various fitness and health apps I use. You can read THAT post here. But then e-readers were brought up and I remembered that not only am I a big fan of e-readers but I have one of my own. And weighing at only a couple of ounces and thin as a wafer, I could easily slip it among the other items in my duty bag. Problem solved.

Me, with my e-reader. I look like Powder!

A modern solution to a small problem. I don’t know if I would necessarily say that not having something to read on the bus is inherently a problem, per say. But it’s nice to have the option. This damn thing is so small that I occasionally forget that I have it. And to the friend who reminded me, thanks for the recommendation. It definitely takes the boredom out of the bus ride. ☯

My Safety And Security Shouldn’t Offend You…

I had a strange incident happen to me at my local corner store a while back. I’ve always been the type of person who covers up his debit machine PIN pad when entering my PIN number. This is something that everyone should do. If you don’t, I highly recommend that you do. Having a random person obtain your PIN number can lead to a host of financial and identity theft issues that you’ll find yourself having to deal with. Not to mention that they’ll likely drain your accounts. But anyway, on with the story.

Even before the pandemic started, I’ve always been a fan of maintaining a reasonable distance form other people. There’s a variety of reasons behind this, including my chosen profession making me somewhat paranoid. But health and hygiene issues have always been a consideration, as well as the security surrounding when one is at a cash register. I’ve often found myself asking folks to take a step back, with chosen replies including “no problem,” all the way up to “go fuck yourself.” Some people just like to watch the world burn.

On this particular day, I was at my local convenience store, checking my weekly lottery ticket in the hopes I had a winner and purchasing a few days’ worth of energy drinks. Since I hadn’t won the lottery (imagine that) I asked for the next ticket and placed my energy drinks on the cashier’s counter. While I was doing this, a tall, scruffy-haired guy saunters up next to me with a slurpee and asks for a certain type of chicken wing they had in a warming display. The cashier asked him to wait a moment as she was currently finishing my transaction.

Not only did he seemed annoyed at having to wait, but he approached the cashier’s counter as well and kind of floated into my comfort zone. The guy, I’ll call him Scruffy Bastard, was close enough that I could smell his mixture of unwashed flesh mixed with cheap aftershave. I knew I was done and on my way out, so I didn’t bother to ask him to step back while I punched in my payment on the debit machine. I did, however, cover the key pad with my hand as I entered my PIN and turned my shoulder towards him. This is the exchange that ensued:

Scruffy Bastard: You worried I’m gonna steal your number on you?
ME: Excuse me?
SB: You’re hugging that thing like you’re worried I’m gonna grab it from you. You worried about me, or something?

At this point, I thought maybe he was just joking around. It can be especially hard these days, since everyone’s face is covered up and one can’t get a read on other people’s facial expressions. In the interest of avoiding an unnecessary conflict, I kept my response polite and mild.

ME: Nope, just being safe and protecting my PIN number…
SB: Funny you should do that as I walk up. Are you trying to say I look like someone who would try to steal it?
ME: (now realizing he was actually annoyed and not joking) No, sir. I’m not suggesting anything. It’s simply a habit to ensure the safety of my PIN number. It’s something EVERYONE should do.
SB: So, you do that everywhere you shop? With everybody who stands behind you?
ME: Yes, sir.
SB: Seems rude. As you can see, some people might take it offensively, as though you’re accusing them of being dishonest.
ME: Honestly, that’s not my intention. But I’d rather someone think that I find them dishonest than have my bank accounts hacked but someone who WOULD copy my number. I’m not accusing you, but I certainly don’t know you. And my security and safety isn’t something that should offend you.

I grabbed my stuff and walked out. I was leery for the few moments it took me to load my cans into my car and hop in to drive away, as I was confident based on Scruffy Bastard’s body language that would potentially come outside to confront me further. Then I remembered he was purchasing items the cashier had to get for him and it gave me the time to make my way out of the parking lot. I abhor fighting and I’m just as glad I didn’t have to find out if he wanted a further confrontation.

When it comes to protecting one’s interests, you can never be too careful. But I’d be lying if I said it isn’t very entertaining (and just a little bit sad) seeing people’s reaction to someone taking protective steps. The worst part is people like Scruffy Bastard would be the first to raise hell if they had their identities stolen or their accounts hacked. It’s surprising how many people get frustrated and angry at certain protective steps that are taken in their interest. But the Light help those same people when something happens BECAUSE they didn’t embrace those protective steps.

Maybe Scruffy Bastard was taking in too much sugar from the slurpee he was drinking. Who knows? Like most encounters of this sort (and I’ve had more than I care to admit) it left me with a small knot in my gut, wondering why someone would choose this kind of approach with a total stranger. For all I know, maybe he HAS been accused of something in the past and this is why he reacts this way. All I DO know is that like the old saying goes, I can only control my words and actions. Not how others react to them. ☯

A Little Inspiration From Confucius and Clark Kent

I’ve always said that inspiration comes from the most unlikely places. Based on today’s title, one could say I’m definitely reaching both extremes. Confucius is well and widely known for his philosophy and is responsible for the way of life known as Confucianism. Clark Kent is, well… Superman. Although a fictional character, inspirational quotes and knowledge have often come from such sources, albeit never credited to the writers who actually created the script. But I digress… My point is that both these sources have used a quote that I’ve been pondering of late.

“It May Be Easier To Hate, But It’s Stronger To Love”

– Clark Kent, Smallville Finale

Although I had firmly stepped away from social media in all its forms about three years ago, I’ve been allowing myself a soft return to the uncontrolled arena. This seemed like a natural next step to help share this blog, as platforms like FaceBook allow sharing on a broader scope than simply hoping people will like and follow directly from the blog, and my YouTube channel allows me to provide some “in person” perspectives on certain topics that don’t require me to cite sources or quotes.

For the most part, it’s been reasonable. I’ve even managed to make contact and reconnect with some people I haven’t spoken to since high school, which has been motivation enough for me to actually spend time on my personal accounts as opposed to interacting solely as The Blogging Buddhist. In recent weeks, I’ve come to notice a trend of negativity from a select few that I’ve known as friends for some years. As many of you are aware, the elimination of all forms of suffering is kind of my thing and negativity is very much a means of causing further suffering in the world.

The big problem is that despite being consistently negative and more often than not, spreading hatred, these select few don’t necessarily seem to be aware of it. But the effect is palpable. When you log into a social media platform and realize that every little thing a person posts is calling out, complaining, hating or boycotting something, it begins to weigh on you. Even when the topic of the post may not be about you. Negativity breeds negativity, and the more someone feeds negative energy into the world, the more it will negatively impact the people around them. It usually doesn’t matter if that negative energy was MEANT for a good purpose.

I found an article posted by the Psychology Spot that explains that psychologist from Harvard University concluded that “negative emotions are like the flu: the more friends you have that have the flu, the greater the chances of getting infected, the same applies to sadness and despair.” It’s pretty hard to disagree with that, when you can be in a perfectly good mood only to be brought down or “bummed out” by the simple act of someone else’s constant negativity. Negative energy is infectious and spreads like a virus.

“It Is Easy To Hate And It Is Difficult To Love.”

– Confucius

It can be difficult to be around such people when they breed negative energy on a constant basis. It’s even more difficult when they refuse to acknowledge or recognize their negative behaviour and consider it a personal attack on them when it’s brought up. I was the recipient of just such an attack recently, when a long time friend took my attempt at discussing an issue as a personal attack and began berating me for bringing it up. I didn’t necessarily oppose this person’s view, I was simply trying to offer up a perspective to help this person understand why the anger and hatred wasn’t necessary. The unfortunate side effect was damage to a long-standing friendship that could have been avoided.

So what is one to do about such situations? Block or unfriend such people? Delete all social media once again? It can be rough waters to navigate, but my main concern is wondering what’s gone so wrong in these peoples’ lives that cause them to be in a constant state of anger and hatred. Setting aside for a moment the fact that I’m a firm advocate of the “scroll on by” theory, where if one disapproves or is unhappy with something posted online they should feel free to simply scroll on by as opposed to becoming an armchair warrior and try to argue the point. But the reality is that if/when someone posts something on a social media platform, it needs to be understood that they’re inviting and even welcoming comments and discussion. If one does not want comments and discussion on a particular topic they post about, then the simple truth is that they should not.

Obviously, this is all opinion-based and it can be difficult to discern where the line is between one’s opinion and common sense. But there seems to be a growing trend of people constantly using social media platforms to spread their anger, hate and misinformed opinions. In both my personal and professional life, I’ve always considered it of the utmost importance to get the full story before taking action or speaking out against someone/something. But misinformation aside, the physiological and psychological effect that a constant state of anger and hatred has on one’s own body is measurable. The effects it has on those around can also be noted.

There are always battles to be fought. Such is the world we live in. But knowing how to pick your battles and being reasonable and level-headed about them are of paramount importance. Especially when it may lead to suffering and loss. As for myself, it’s given me a significant wake up call in regards to navigate the world of social media. I’m once again on the fence as to whether I’ll close up shop and walk away or if I’ll weather the storm and simply filter out the bad. Time will tell. ☯