(Why Not) Reach Beyond

mountain

In this world we live in

There is always a plan,

In it’s own chaotic nature

Life gives what it can.

With humankind engaging

Conflict plays to survive

Living near it’s outer limits

Only to keep us alive.

Look beyond what we think we see

Take a breath from a fragrant tree

Touch the soil of humanity

Taste the joy we are meant to be.

In this life we live in

Breathing opportunities abound

Our dreams are thoughts are things so real

We can look around.

We know this life so raging

It’s in the way we feel

We know it’s more than human nature

We can make our life real.

Reach beyond what we trust to be

Gasp the change from possibility

Breathe new life into new memories

Love the joy we all can be.

Living true life with new energy

Loving the joy you too can be.

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The Leader’s Creed

orchid - JonSullivan

Imagination, Inspiration

Motivation, Do;

Passionate Leaders guide us on

That’s what leaders do.

Holds the night light, sees when no sight

Helps the frightened through;

With Imagination and Inspiration

And Motivation to Do.

(c) 2013 Kevin Collins

The Day My Life Changed Forever – 2

Every dark cloud has a silver lining! :)At such a young age, I never considered the existence of out space to be bigger than the universe God created for us.  Man hadn’t landed on the moon yet, so what little I knew were the space walks and John Glenn.  To think space went on and on forever … well, I suddenly felt so small and meaningless.

So, in the darkness and alone, when I learned that our galaxy was one of a uncountable number – I just about died right on the spot.  (You remember last post about the world stopping?)  Given this information was not on TV (where I knew it was mostly fake) and in found in a library book, I had to consider it true.  That was the first blow to my min and difficult for me to understand – and I was confused as heck.

Then I thought … why is science, history, and religion so different?  It seems like we are supposed to believe – but what?  How am I supposed to know what is true?  Another slap in the head with another thought … if religion is true, why is there less proof?  Why do so many believe?  How is it justified?

As you can see, I had a fertile mind (and still do).  I loved understanding things and how it all fits together.  My mother came to have a habit of saying: “You will be a jack of all trades and a master of nothing.”  I was/am in awe of everything. (And she was right, I guess.)

And then to top it off – I panicked.  Then I started thinking things like: Now I’ve been duped by everyone.  Everyone is in on a conspiracy.  Is there something I don’t know yet?  What am I supposed to do and believe?  This is where I am practically wailing (silently) in the cold attic.

All of my pain and agony started to come back.  I put a lot of trust in religion.  I invested all my hope in it.  Now how do I approach religion and my spirituality?  I felt my greatest growth and development as a person through experiences that began from a religious source.  Now this astronomy thing …

***

I already had many traumatic experiences up to that point in my life (for example – I vividly remember being up close and intimate with the psychotic murder of a family next door as it happened).

Scared as heck, I tried to fit in as “normally” as possible, i.e. “not be seen or heard”.  I did what I was told; did it without question; and did it to the best of my ability.  My father conditioned us very well – we were all little child soldiers ready (and fearful) at his calling.  I did it out of safety, a sense of belonging, and for acknowledgement. (I got none!)

Then I found religion; and upon discovering everything it stood for (to a child in distress) – I thought I hit the jackpot!  It had all the answers to everything that was wrong in my world:

  • Patience, forgiveness, unconditional love, corporal punishment, sacrifice, reward of paradise, threat of eternal damnation, and much, much more.
  • It helped put my pain and suffering (and to my siblings) in a palatable acceptance of life

The biggest thing I noticed the religion I was born into did to people is what I witnessed as a power of belief and the changes it made to them.

Heck, for years, my father was transformed for 2 hours every Sunday morning for years as he proudly towed along his 8 kids to church.  He even walked differently (with attitude)!  When I caught an understanding of this a few years earlier, I knew there had to be something to being religious.

So, I remember thinking to myself that if I wanted any happiness in this world of plenty, then religion was the way to go.  By that time, I was attending St. Michael’s Choir School in Toronto, Canada.  I had the scholarship and the musical talents (piano/voice); and from that, religion wrapped me in a spiritual blanket.  My inspiration was fueled with thoughts of hope, faith, humility, and service – all of which brought me great joy in those years, and they set another layer to my personal foundation.

Yes, I learned forgiveness, albeit the difficult way; and I still gained valuable lessons about people and myself.  I still benefit greatly every day from these lessons learned.

A small confession:

Being a realist at the time (in hindsight, a budding Existentialist), I always felt the Bible wasn’t something to be literally believed.  I understood clearly they were stories written down to teach us things.  When I saw people expressing their 100% devotion to the faith, I didn’t understand how that could be so.  But one thing for sure: I DID believe in Heaven an Hell – and now this astronomy.

I realize now that I was questioning the trust I put in Christianity.  I trusted every other authority figure I met; and the level of trust had eroded to the point where I thought – at least in this case – that I didn’t believe enough.  I thought I could do better, or look for more suffering, or put myself down and then I will be happy.  And don’t get me wrong.  I had a great many spiritual experiences with people over the years hence.  But …

***

According to my plan, everything was going along great at this point.  I learned to avoid my father’s wrath, I kept up my school marks, and I practiced the piano every day (the Conservatory was expensive!).  Oh yeah – I prayed a lot too. Didn’t seem to make much difference though.

I’m sure you can understand how my life could change with this new knowledge.  And I realize I was just a kid, but my thoughts grew with the expectations set upon me from all the adults in my life.  All I know and remember from almost 50 years ago is that it was a common occurrence for the adults to have a plan for me and not tell me about it.

In a great lesson from that, I learned about Fear.  I guess that’s why I have no issues with experimenting, discovering, change, creativity, expression, performance, and all the other great things about living life.

***

As you can see, my world was rocked.  In a matter of about 2 hours one evening in the fall, I had (and wasn’t aware of it, btw) a personal experience that set in motion a path for a journey that would have me take on life with an unquenchable desire to understand the world.

(tomorrow – final part: How the next 40 years turned out …)

The Day My Life Changed Forever

It was after dinner, and everything was cleaned up.  The rest of the time for the evening was mine.

In my tiny attic bedroom, quiet, alone, and free from my 7 siblings, I sat in the middle of my bed with the oversized book across my folded legs.  I leaned over and stared at the full-colour pages glowing under the eerie beam of the small reading lamp.  The moment flushed warmth from my face; and then a large teardrop raced gravity to fall below perfectly into the middle of the bright yellow sun.

weather-supercell-by-Sean-Heavey“No way…” I whispered to nobody else.  And then – time actually felt like it stood still.  No sound, no smell, no breath – not even a thought.  I noticed myself looking around the room without moving my eyes.

Up to this point in my life, I have never experienced anything like this from reading information.  I had never read anything more baffling and completely life-rocking – except maybe from some passages in the Bible or health class.  I figure the only thing that would be worse, I thought to myself, was to actually hear someone tell me that what I was reading was true.  My world was immediately tossed like a leafy dinner salad with just the very possibility.  “…No way.”  I shook my head.

If there was something I thought for sure I knew, even at this tender age of 10 years old, is when I am being duped by adults.  After all, I’d already been abused in many ways and many times by every authority figure I ever trusted in my short life.  All of a sudden, I am reading a book that was putting into question THE last refuge in which I had placed myself to gain and maintain any kind of sanity and hope in my life. Now, it too, shattered?

(I know, I know.  It’s a little heavy thinking for a kid, right?  Yet, at the same time; my life was already tested from the abuses, foster homes, continual trauma, and my (first) medical near-death experience a few years earlier.  These things change a person – even at a young age – whether I knew it or not.)

***

As a little guy fast growing up to quickly (or ‘forced-up’ as little adults, how I always explained it), I was already gaining a reputation in my family, with friends, and within my close community as a “Whyz-Guy”.  I was very extroverted and loved being around people older than me.  With them, always wondering, asking questions, and always asking why gave them a feel-good moment.  I was so fearless back then (and it’s because I didn’t know any better), I would even stop strangers on the street (I still do), and ask them why – or how (my second favourite question).

(Check out my earlier post on “asking why” called: “Asking Why Without The Stress, and have a look at the “WhyzAss Creed”.)

Was it curiosity? Getting an understanding? Being nosey? A vice or addiction? Or maybe a psychological response to other issues?  I know now from an incident a few years earlier, I felt I lost my father’s trust.  So maybe I was trying to prove my worthiness to him.  Who knows?

All I know for sure, is that if something caught my attention – and it happened often, I had to know the answers.  I was, after all, having fun learning all this stuff too. I discovered that life is interesting and can be filled full of excitement all the time if we wanted it to be so. It is just up to ourselves.  I guess that is why I have been to so many schools, training programs, and educational experiences – to keep having the fun! (And just to let you know – I was never geeky or a ‘know-it-all’ towards anybody.)

So, back to the incident and it’s foreplay.  In response to my personal angst, I decided to create a plan for myself to protect me and help me get through these years of continual pain and trauma.  What I did was to I build these emotional and social walls around my world.  I designed a lifestyle for myself that gave me a sense of safety; and a lot of it had to do with a solitary lifestyle.  Not knowing so, but I am an introvert by nature already, so it wasn’t a big stretch for me to be comfortable with the aloneness.  (Where I had the problem was in the loneliness.)

I had already been exposed to too much of life.  For example, I was travelling (on public transit) downtown on my own six days a week and saw some of the darker sides of inner-city life and survival.  I already had my first near-death experience (as memorable now as it was 50 years ago). The emotional and physical abuses at home compounded the secret trauma I was already experiencing from several incidences of sexual abuse by several adults (of both genders) – and that really messed me up that I could tell nobody.

What made it so difficult was the contradictions I saw and experienced about life, family, love (yada-yada).  Because of my treatment by my parents, I had the privilege of seeing and hearing healthy ways of child-rearing and relationships; and I just couldn’t understand why I didn’t have the same kind of lifestyle in my upbringing.  “Why wasn’t my family nice?” “Why was I always afraid?” “Why is it different?”

In my plan, I decided to keep things pretty simple.

Other than escaping to my little cave in the attic (my bedroom) to draw, paint, and read; I also hung around two places outside the home: the local recreation centre – the place that saved my life and molded my ethics, morals, and values; and the library – the window of escape to anything I would ever want to know as a kid.  If there was another thing I was sure I knew – the recreation centre was safe, friendly, nurturing, and fun; and the library was a place where I can trust the information and the people who were responsible for it (the librarians).  I volunteered at both places often there and participated in a lot of great intellectual and personal growth games and challenges.  The library is where I got the book I was currently reading (and causing me great stress!).

As far as I could tell, it was a good plan.  I stayed out of sight like my parents wanted it.  I stayed out of trouble which my parents demanded.  I stayed in line and obeyed everyone.  I thought it was working (even with the acknowledged abuses) because I was getting through it day by day. (How do you eat an elephant? One spoonful at a time.)

At school, I tried my best and did well (much to my peril).  At church, I was an altar boy and went every day.  With recreation, I can always be found at the Rec Centre.  At home, I played the piano (Conservatory scholar), did my chores, and stayed away from controversy.  Alone, in my attic refuge, I usually listened to the hockey games on the radio while I drew, painted, and dreamed of better days.  It was just a matter of time.  I believed that because I was told often.  Patience.  Reward.  Penitence.  Humility.  These were all the things I could look forward to in my young life as I exercised the best logic in my daily habits.  And still …

***

So, here I was on this evening, under the dust of yet another crumbling psycho/social pillar that held my life together; I too, broke down, cried, and shook away certainty once again.

All I want is HOPE.  If there was anything I could count on, it was at least my future and it’s possibilities.  I knew enough from my varied learnings that at least I had some kind of control over that.  (Like I said, I had already seen and done too much; so my level of thinking was more survival-mode than anything else.)

Here I was – reading a book – and now even the possibility of future inner peace and happiness in my life was questioned.  I knew I wasn’t happy, and I wanted to be.  Was I placing my trust yet again in more lies and deceptions?  I felt my life sinking into the pit of misery.  But how could this be so?  All I had to do (according to adults) was to get a good education, go to church, raise a family, and lead a life of compassion towards others.  Now this was even being destroyed – and I put all my trust in this “plan”.

Never in a million years did I ever think that astronomy would be the defining wedge that would shape and direct my life for many years to come.

***

(More tomorrow. K)

Ten Ways To Get Everything You Want

In the pursuit of our lives, we are often distracted with the most important thing in our life:

the ME.

We do everything to make the ME comfortable, as it should be, and ensure we are pain-free and without external conflict. It is the most natural thing the body does; and our minds, well it ensures we are emotionally pain-free.

***

rays-on-the-meadow

We are always looking for secrets on how to be comfortable (and still safe) while enjoying the fuits of our existence.  We bathe, sprinkle, cosmetize, stretch … well, you get the idea.  And hopefully, we get what we want out of life.

We spend, and record, experience limits, buy swag, eat and eat.  This way we get what we want – right?  All we have to do is indulge ourself, right?  Or is it?

***

Personally, I think – in this day and age, we would know enough about life and society and ourselves that tell us that all of these kind of distractions get us nowhere except further into the pit of ‘waiting to arrive’.  We work hard at it too.

But if we were to concentrate less on ourselves and more on others, what are the chances we probably would have more than everything we ever wanted?

Sadly, in all our worlds we experience, there’s this underlying current of fear, mistrust, and misunderstanding that always gets ourselves into trouble. You know – the interpretations, assumptions, whispers, rumours, etc.  That, of course, only gets us 1 thing for sure: trouble!

So, I’ve compiled a list of things we can do to get anything we ever wanted from people and our life.  It’s not in order or comprehensive.  I didn’t give much thought to it other than just write as I think it here. Do you want everything you ever wanted?

  1. Be a Friend

    No matter what, be there for someone. It always benefits everyone for a long time.

  2. Listen more

    It’s easy to tell when someone is not really listening. When listening happens – things you never imagined before happens.

  3. Be a Risk-Taker

    Enjoy a little lottery of life without the money. Do something different that stands out. The greatest expression we can offer to others.

  4. Love Life

    This is the only go around. We don’t get out of this life alive, so enjoy the leaf, flake, eye colour, tear, and all the beautiful results of life.

  5. Understand “WII-FM” (what’s in it for me) concept

    We all live in the realm of life that protects ourselves first (that’s why heroism is recognized).  When we understand people – on an individual basis – and what they seek from life, we can connect on a deeper and more profound level.

  6. Buy It

    The easiest and cheesiest way to get what you want. (Unless, of course, you worked your butt off saving money for a long-held dream). Besides, the joy wears off quickly enough.

  7. Love People

    Do this and people will love you. What else is there to want, huh?

  8. Influence

    Is influence a good thing? Does it depend on it’s motives? Can we influence and maintain the goodness of getting everything we want?

  9. Serve

    My personal favourite. At service to others can be an honour if employed in an altruistic and ‘good’ way. The world has many ways of looking at service as a way of being; and I tend to see it as the gateway to getting along with each other. Besides, we cannot survive without each other and that has a lot to do with serving others.

  10. Be a Bully

    I suppose this is a way – and it works most of the time.  But while the bully is getting everything s/he wants, where the real meat of living takes place in the little interactions between people.  The whole point of having everything is moot.

Here’s a bonus one, but I wouldn’t recommend it:

  • Wait for it to Happen

    Sadly, this is where we tend to lurk when we want our goals and dreams to happen.  And not even just those – but the next promotion, the minor surgery, the fitness, the …

Things I Love

Image

This Valentine’s Day, in particular, I am feeling down – not at all what I expected. I was feeling lonely and off-centre. Life just didn’t occur to me this way – not in a hundred years to me anyways.

I had plans.  I was jazzed to enjoy today as probably the most important thing that was ever going to happen to me for a long time … but …

*

I belong to a couple of LinkedIn groups, I enjoy watching and reading more than participate too much (because it will overcome me, for sure).  I was emailed a discussion – and for the first time (I think), I actually got down and wrote something on the computer that wasn’t work related.

And boy-ole-boy – I needed it today!

***

Nope!

It’s not happening!

(I hope she doesn’t read this > ), but I was to visit a dear out-of-town and long-time friend of, maybe by now, close to 30 years.  It’s been a long time since I saw her – maybe 20.  We have been talking about it for some time – all by email. Every time I write, I can hear her voice as if she’s right in front of me.  Every time – I can see in the vivid minds-eye of my memories:

  • her animated and hilarious antics
  • her laughing and putting the guys to shame
  • she was the smart one
  • her 2 beautiful (now grown/ing) daughters (only pics for now)
  • the most fun person I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing – because it’s all fun.
  • she has more balls than some guys (sorry – to everyone, lol)
  • it’s not about sex – besides, we’re two old buggers, now!

I was going to visit her after all this time; invest some time into each other’s lives (you know, get the scoop on all the drama and such from the past – console, yada yada) and share as much as any moment we were able to cherish or dare to remember.  We were planning on 3 or 4 days together.

Nope!

So yes, I am disappointed.

***

Yet, lo and behold – I was saved by the web (or eaten) and came across a group with this LinkedIn post:

“Quick! In honor of Valentine’s Day, name 20 things you love!”

In a most uncharacteristic moment, I decided to sit right down and start writing.  I knew this would help.  And it did.

To make a long post (story) short, this is what I posted as the “Things I Love”:

  • a light sprinkle of snow on my face on a sunny afternoon,
  • the joy of a boy and his dog frolicking and talking to each other as they tumble together in the snow,
  • when a stranger comes up to me at a coffee shop and wishes me “Happy Valentine’s Day”
  • chocolate when I shouldn’t … shhhhh!
  • a busy, busy day and get absolutely nothing done >> yet still had fun!
  • getting a compliment from my coach(es) and a wider share on a blog post
  • all the women who ever said they loved me 🙂
  • all my nieces and nephews (they eventually go home, lol)
  • my housemates – to a point, lol
  • my ability to recognize an opportunity when I see it … by start writing.

I can’t come up with any more for now.

Thank you Jeanenne at NonProfitCommunity for posting this activity. I was feeling lonely as my Valentine plans went to … {8-/

I needed that; and now I can get on with my work.
Kevin
Happy Valentine’s Day” everybody.

Is Something Wrong? or …

“My rant against the bias towards Disabilities”

Serene Pathway

*

I swore that I would,

if only I could

change my life completely around.

From many time of trying,

I’m now used to the dying

when you tell me my mind is not sound.

*

I look in your face,

vainly search for a trace

that makes me want to believe.

I’ve heard it before,

and I’ve come to abhor

your labels designed to deceive.

*

Your smiles are crooked,

and your posture does show it

there’s something amiss in our sharing.

Thinking you know,

I’m not status quo

without ability for the Daring.

*

My abilities – yes different,

my mind – most competent

seeking out dreams – just like you.

I certainly can’t,

and most definitely won’t

humble myself for you.

*

Disabled you call me,

Unable you see me

But I don’t fit your profile.

I make no transgression,

I work at discretion –

your feigned ignorance reviled.

*

Scandalous at times,

most shameful, poisoned minds

your integrity completely lost.

Stolen power is yours

knowing patience wears,

at attempts to create trust.

*

Challenges – indeed,

I still look to succeed

not discouraged from daily falling.

Strength I am gaining,

gathering, sustaining

towards living my personal calling.

*

Chasing My Dream,

Life begins to redeem

and is giving me freedom to live.

I refuse to give up,

I’ll keep getting up

I refuse to be held in captive.

*

I pass now to you,

a chance to renew

your desired belief in another.

I willingly stand,

to help you understand

we are, after all, here for each other.

*

*

Namaste

(c) 2013 Kevin Collins