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! ☯

How Not To Get Your A$$ Kicked…

I’ve reached a point in my life where I’ve been doing martial arts for more years than I haven’t. In those decades, I’ve seen some pretty incredible things and have used martial arts to help deal with a number of situations. And most of those situations weren’t fighting.

Most people consider the martial arts to be a fighting art. Although this may true on some respects, this isn’t the reason why they were originally created.

Depending on who you speak to, and what their sources are, the martial arts are believed to be several thousands of years old. Their origins are believed to be rooted in China or India, although there is some debate on which of these two cultures developed it first.

Ultimately, the Shaolin monks in China originally created what is known as their version of the martial arts as a means of staying fit and in shape. It was also considered a means of defending the monasteries if it became necessary. My style of karate is a descendent of this Chinese style.

These days, thanks to mainstream cinema and other forms of media, the martial arts is often viewed strictly as a fighting art. It would be remiss of me not to mention that the concept of the Mixed Martial Arts has unfortunately deepened this view.

“Discipline is not the enemy of enthusiasm” – Joe Clark

But it is true that traditional martial arts has a deeper purpose than simply being able to clear a room of enemies in epic empty-hand battles. The martial arts has shown to improve circulation, maintain proper health and body weight and increase confidence and personal discipline.

Certainly, over the past thirty years I’ve enjoyed the increased benefits of karate in regards to my health and Diabetes. Training hard and consistently has allowed me to be the exception to the Diabetic rule. Unlike most people afflicted with Type 1 for as long as I have, I still have a clean nervous system, clean cardiovascular and renal function. My circulatory system is also clean and clear and I don’t usually have the foot and extremity problems that most type 1 Diabetics have.

Karate has certainly been good to me over the past thirty years and has provided a wide variety of benefits, health-wise and even professionally. And if I were to recount the instances where I used it for actual fighting, I can probably count the number of physical fights on one hand. I’ve come to find that once you’ve trained long enough, the need to fight actually becomes less and less.

No matter what your reasons are for being in the martial arts, make sure that those reasons are for you and and for the betterment of yourself and those around you. If one’s only desire is to fight, there are sports in which one can indulge those desires. Martial arts is not the place for it. ☯

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. ☯

Yes, You’re Entitled To It…

I once read somewhere that opinions are like bad flatulence; everybody has it and it’s impossible to hold it in forever. But once you let it slip, everyone will notice it and most people will likely want to leave the room. A little touch of comedy to start off this post, but most will agree with the thought behind it.

All jokes aside, opinions are everywhere. In today’s society of online debates and instant information, everyone offers and provides their opinions, even when it is unsolicited.

Webster’s Dictionary defines Opinion as “a view, judgement, or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter.” The important aspect to remember about one’s opinion is that it is not always based on fact or knowledge.

In fact, more often than not, opinion is based on one’s own perspective and little else. A good example includes comments I received on this very blog from someone regarding a post I wrote regarding the consumption of meat versus vegetarianism. When this commenter’s opinion began to ignore actual scientific evidence and information, her comments turned towards personally attacking and insulting me as the writer as opposed to dealing with the facts.

We live in an age where technology is at the forefront of our daily lives. Although I no longer participate in social media, we often see, hear and experience “armchair warriors” who are so quick to offer up an opinion about something without having any knowledge or basis for it.

Here’s a challenge for all of you: go on whatever social media platform you are currently using and write out a status or message on your home page. All you need to write is “I believe in [insert ANYTHING here]” I can almost guarantee that you’ll get a response contrary to what you’ve written. More often than not, especially these days, some of those responses will be extremely aggressive and negative.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Although throughout history this hasn’t always been true, freedom of speech is an existential reality these days in the Western world. Modern Western society has combined such a vast cornucopia of religious and belief backgrounds that they often conflict and use strife when strangers intersect, especially on the Internet.

Be mindful of this when lending your opinion. Although well intentioned, your opinion may not always be well-received. Trust me, I’ve dealt with that aspect myself. People don’t always understand, even if you’ve “been there, done that.”

Be receptive when receiving an opinion. As I said, everybody has one. Some good, some bad… All information is good information, right? Opinions are just that: opinions! You can’t be faulted for hearing an opinion then walking away from it.

Whether you’re providing or receiving an opinion, always remember this: it’s all just thoughts and words. It may not always give you what you need or want, but it may often give you something you didn’t expect. The important detail is to be respectful, no matter which end of the opinion you’re on. ☯

The Whole Is Greater Than The Sum Of Its Parts

Aristotle is believed to have coined this saying, although many dispute that it belongs to him. It describes the synergy that can occur between two or more parts that can lead to a greater whole.

Collaboration within a society is a good example of this. Although one person may be good at gathering and building shelter, a group of people will certainly provide more resources, skills and protection than the one would get alone.

So what does this mean in modern society? Certainly, this can apply to the family dynamic. But this has unfortunately shifted drastically with the advent of Millennials and Generation Z. More and more, some believe that a life on their own is more promising and alluring than building a family.

What are your thoughts on this? Although most of the statistics I’ve been able to find are based out of the United States, it appears that there has been a measurable decline in the purchase of homes and having children. There are a number of reasons behind this, from rising housing costs and increasing student loan debts. Psychology Today has a great article that goes into some of the details (https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/singletons/201804/should-we-worry-about-millennials-not-having-babies)

I’m sure many of you have heard about “power in numbers”. I know that I would personally be at a loss without the support of my family and friends. It would certainly be impossible to face and deal with the issues of life without my wife at my side. Even my son adds a certain je ne sais quoi… despite how destructive he tends to get. Four-year olds, am I right?

Although the nature of the world may be changing, the benefits and advantages of having people in your life has not. Don’t be afraid to reach out and be with people. You may come to find that the end result will certainly be greater than the sum of your parts. ☯