Hurts So Good…

What does it mean to be in pain? Well, from a strictly medical perspective, pain is when our sensory receptors send a signal through our nerve fibres , all the way up to our brains. Then the brain interprets the signal as pain. The human body uses this signal as an avoidance reflex, meaning it’s telling you that whatever you’re doing is harming your body and should be stopped. (Although not everyone is quick enough to stop hurting themselves, sometimes)

From a Diabetes standpoint, we experience a wide variety of pain. Neuropathy, open wounds that are extremely slow to heal and pain prior to numbness from lack of circulation are simply a few. And certainly not the worst.

It’s not always bad. From a fitness standpoint, pain can be a positive thing. SOME pain is necessary in order to help the body sculpt and grow. The idea here is to know when enough is enough and to stop before serious damage can occur.

But there’s one form of pain that is largely ignored in most circumstances. I’m talking about emotional pain. When something affects us in a negative way, we feel a sort of pain that is often very hard to describe. For some, it’s an increased feeling of fatigue. For others, it can manifest itself in any number of nasty ways including but not limited to, becoming ill, nausea, depression, problems with the digestive tract and even alcoholism or substance abuse. The expression “this breaks my heart” stems from the fact that one usually feels some discomfort in the pit of their abdomen during emotional distress.

The important thing to remember is that what hurts in your heart can also affect your body. Although that sounds a bit cheesy, it’s quite accurate. Sometimes we need to look at the big picture and acknowledge that the pain is going to happen, and take steps to help deal with it as opposed to ignoring it.

Ultimately, pain helps us grow. In any way, shape or form, it allows us to learn an develop. After all, imagine if as an infant you put your hands on a hot stove and it didn’t hurt… You’d likely leave your hand there and keep playing and critically damage your tissues. But by feeling the pain, you learn that “Oops! It hurts to touch the stove. Better stay away!” Most forms of pain will teach you something.

So ask yourself, what is my emotional pain teaching me? Am I doing something wrong, or something I disagree with? Or is it simply a case of doing the right thing? That can also be painful sometimes. Just remember that in grand scheme of things, nothing lasts forever; not even pain. ☯

Sometimes The Wrong Choices Bring Us To The Right Places

I don’t believe that any person is perfect. Life often throws situations at us and we deal with them as best we can. As I’ve written about before, it’s possible to commit no mistakes and still lose; that is not a weakness, that is life. I love that saying, and it rings quite true.

I was out for a run this morning, because exercise is important and apparently because I enjoy pain first thing in the morning. The path I took was quiet and peaceful, with not a soul around. The sun was shining and the sky was blue with only the occasional touch of white cloud visible on the distant horizon.

As I ran, I had some quiet time to consider some of the choices I’ve made in my life. I’ve always believed that all things happen for a reason. When I think back to specific “bad” events in my life, I am usually able to trace them to how I got to the here and now, which includes all the good in my life.

I’ve come to make an important decision; one that will alter the course of my life and change the dynamic of my family for quite some time to come. The stress and anxiety that has existed leading up to this decision has been substantial. But now that the decision has been made (although not executed), it almost feels as though a massive weight has been lifted from my shoulders.

I’m taken aback by the fact that life can still surprise me. There really is no such thing as routine, and even when things seem a little mundane, learn to appreciate the dynamic in your daily life and the little changes that add what’s called the “spice of life”.

Life rarely cares about one’s plans

Even when one tries to plan each and every aspect of one’s existence, it’s important to remember that life doesn’t care about your plan. Every life has similarities. Each life begins and ends the same way: starting with a birth and ending with a death. It’s how you fill the chapters in between that is up to you.

So enjoy every moment, including the little surprises you weren’t expecting. After all, as someone once said: “Life is short. Smile while you still have teeth.”

You Gotta Plan, If You Want To Fly To The Sun…

As a child, I used to love the story of Icarus and his wax wings. You may know the one; the story of the young lad who uses wings made of wax and feathers and flies too close to the Sun?

As the legend goes, Icarus was the son of Daedalus, the designer of the Labyrinth that was built for King Minos of Crete. King Minos ended up imprisoning Daedalus in the Labyrinth, so Daedalus fashioned some wings out of feathers and wax for himself and his son, Icarus. Daedalus warned Icarus not to fly too low and risk the sea’s dampness clogging his wings, or too high, which would cause the Sun’s heat to melt the wings.

As the father and son pair took flight, Icarus got excited at the ability to fly and went too high. The Sun’s heat melted the wax and his wings came apart, ultimately causing Icarus to fall into the sea to his death. Was it hubris? Or poor planning?

Icarus’ wings, melting in the Sun

There’s nothing wrong with reaching far and soaring to new heights. One need only to be aware of what might be waiting for you if you overreach. ☯

Home Is Where You Hang Your Hat

What is a home? Oxford Dictionary defines it as “The place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.” But what does it mean, in a less clinical sense?

Humans were not originally sedentary creatures. Up until about 12000 BC, humans were nomadic creatures and roamed based on where food and resources were available. But as of that point, they started to realize that staying together in one place in larger groups made it easier to accumulate resources, develop agriculture and ensure better survival.

A Natufian dwelling, from the Paleolithic Era

What’s my point? That’s a good question, and I’ll be the first to admit that I tend to rant and carry on a bit. So here we go: As of today, the majority of the planet’s population has become sedentary. And that’s a basic expectation of modern life. Go to school, get a job, start a family and find a permanent home.

As a people, we tend to attach a lot of value to our homes. After all, our homes contain our family, and is usually our safe haven from the outside world. But is that safe haven truly the structure itself, or what we make of it? I’m inclined to believe it’s the latter.

Since my early childhood, I have had twelve different homes. I had to remember and count those out in my head to recall every place I’ve lived, but it’s factual. And I can promise that each and every place I’ve lived was filled with love and warmth. I know not every person is as fortunate, but the point is that the family I was raised with learned over the decades to make the most out of the location, and that “home” is wherever we’re all together. A value I try to pass on to my family as well.

A house is simply a structure. A man-made construction that serves to contain people and their possessions. The people and their affection for one another is what makes the home. This is why, even when human ancestors were sedentary, they still had a “home” in the sense that they were all together.

Always remember that no matter where life takes you, or what challenges you face, home is not only where you hang your hat; it’s also where you are with the ones you love. ☯

Sometimes We Need To Lose The Small Battles…

Serena Williams once said: “I’ve grown most not from victories, but setbacks. If winning is God’s reward, then losing is how He teaches us.” No matter what faith you follow (or any lack thereof), those words should make sense.

We don’t learn anything from winning. Look at any sport celebrity who has managed to win their way into being “undefeated”. They end up spending the majority of their days trying to find something to fill the void that the challenge has left behind. More often than not, and not in every case, this leads to scandal or criminal charges. I use this as an example because they are usually the most prominent, and the public are generally the most aware of them, but this can also apply to all of us.

But so long as a person is hungry and willing to work hard, setbacks and challenges can lend the spice to life that is required to keep on growing. These are the thoughts that have been floating through my head in recent months. How much farther do I need to push in order to win against an opponent who should have never BEEN an opponent in the first place? So, does this mean I’m destined to lose?

I believe that at some point, every person should evaluate what they are doing with their lives, what contributions they are making and what the end result for themselves and their families might be. Change is good. There’s nothing wrong with change; it shows us that progress is happening. And sometimes that change comes in ways we would have never expected. After all, all things happen for a reason…

I’m not used to losing. It’s not something I’ve had to deal with. Maybe it’s my hard-headed nature or my stubbornness, but my track record for winning against any challenge I’ve faced so far is pretty decent. I have lived into my 40’s despite being told in my youth that I wouldn’t live past my teens. I obtained a black belt in karate after being told that I couldn’t train in the martial arts due to my Diabetes and my health. I also pursued my chosen career and obtained promotion sooner than most of my colleagues based on my own sheer force of will. But I am tired…

When I say I’m tired, I don’t mean I need a better night’s rest or a nap and I’ll be good to go. I mean my soul is tired. I wake most days feeling as though the weight of the world is resting on my shoulders and with every step that I take in my current battle, two more take its place as the next step.

Sun Tzu wrote: “The supreme Art of War is subduing the enemy without ever fighting.” Maybe that’s what I need to do in this instance. Winning may mean no longer fighting. Perhaps I need to lose in order to win. And there’s no shame in that. Ultimately, other challenges and other opportunities in life await. And I simply wouldn’t be me if I didn’t continue on the journey. ☯

What’s Right…

The Buddhist system follows something called the Noble Eightfold Path. This includes Right View, Right Resolve, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration.

These things are important as they help a person find a balanced middle ground through the turmoil that is life. This becomes especially important to someone who seeks to cause harm to others.

First and foremost, Right View teaches us that actions have consequences, even after death. One needs to consider these consequences before committing oneself to action against another person.

Right Speech tells us that we should avoid lying or being intentionally dishonest. One would tend to think that this is pretty straight forward, but you’d be surprised how often we omit details or lie, despite the knowledge of what it could do to others.

Right Actions is the last one I’ll touch on in this post as it becomes important because what you do goes hand in hand with what you say and how you think.

As a people, humanity has grown to strive for personal gain, even at the cost of others. This is a false way to live and can cause damage to others. And that damage will have repercussions that can never be taken back. It’s important to treat others the way you want to be treated. This means being respectful at all times and accepting your fate instead of blaming it on others.

The Dharma Wheel

Those who know me personally know to what I am specifically talking about, but the jist of it is that what goes around, comes around. The damage you cause will eventually come back to bite you in an appendage and there may be no fighting your way out of it. So it becomes important to do things RIGHT.

And to those of you who may be suffering through a struggle of your own, perhaps brought on by the injustices caused by another, remember not to let the outcome alter who you are. The goodness that makes you who you are should not be corrupted by others. Keanu Reeves has been pretty popular these days, so I’ll close out with one of his quotes: “If you have been brutally broken, but still have the courage to be gentle to other living beings, then you’re a badass with the heart of an angel.”

The Nation’s Capital

I’m a little late on the ball with providing a post today. This is because I’ve been travelling across the country. Specifically, I travelled to the City of Ottawa.

For any of my friendly readers from abroad, Ottawa is Canada’s National Capital. The population sits at just over 1 million people and boasts a number of tourist attractions, as well as being all around beautiful.

At Regina Internal Airport, waiting to leave for Ottawa.

I’d like to say that this was a pleasure trip, but I came in order to deal with some work-related matters.

Riding the public bus to the downtown area in Ottawa.

In fact, with the exception of these few quick photos, I didn’t have time for much of anything. I arrived yesterday afternoon, spent the night and attended meetings all day today. At the conclusion of my meetings, I was ushered back to the airport where I started the trip back home.

The lovely Ottawa International Airport. It’s quite spacious!

I wish I would have had time to see a bit more while I was here, but what are you gonna do, right?

Hustling through Toronto Pearson Airport, looking for something to eat between flights.

As I write this, I’m waiting for the next leg of my flight to board. It’s been delayed by over an hour and I feel like I’ll never get home. At least not tonight. By the time I reach Regina, it will likely be past midnight and a new day will have begun.

Found a small deli that serves delicious Reuben sandwiches. Expensive, but good!

So there you have it, folks. It’s short and sweet and I’m aware that it doesn’t carry the usual content, but they can’t all be winners, right? Sometimes it’s worth it just to share in the journey. Hopefully after a day’s rest, I can get back on track tomorrow. ☯