A Panhandler’s Contribution

I recenly had a dream that I was a panhandler.

Okay – it was more like a nightmare – but it ended up still inspiring.

It was such a vivid and interesting dream,
when I woke up I had to write it down.
I didn’t know how I was going to use it, but I knew there must be a purpose.
*

winter flower

Winter Possibility

The other day on a trip into the city core (in Toronto, Canada); I came across the usual people that is often seen day in and day out.  It is rather sad because they put so much effort to be at their corner every day (like a job), they could easily see solutions to their challenges and make a difference in their life.

Then I remembered my dream.  And I’m going to share it with you here.  I hope there is hope and possibility that maybe someone will pass this on to others who can use this idea.

***

I was sitting on the downtown corner of Bay and King Sts – the financial district to Canada’s financial power and major economic decisions.  So anyway, I wasn’t doing so good in getting money from people passing by.  Actually – NONE!

I was so saddened and disappointed in people that they could not spare a quarter; when they often pay $3.00 for the small cup of orange juice they were drinking. I thought to myself, “Don’t people realize there is poverty, despair, struggle, and other challenges that people face every day among all this wealth and privilege?”

Now, remember this is a dream.  Yet, while I was thinking that, I really couldn’t blame them – I suppose.  What do I mean to them other than just another faceless tragedy lost in the game of life.  As the warloads would say, “There’s bound to be collateral damage when progress is made.”

I was a cold morning; and the winds were pushing their way around the concrete structures without any shelter other than what I provided for myself.  Not the best way to invest a life – any life.  Even a dog would be taken in.  I would look up into people’s faces as they walked by and noticed their frustration as well.  Not one smile, or a glance, or even an acknowledgement that a human body was living on the corner for the day.

Sometimes I can be a little dense in my thinking ( – even in my dreams I’m not any smarter, lol); so it took a lot of time to work through how I was going to survive a winter on the desolate wasteland of financial power and oppression.  Of course, it took a lot of time (frustration and humility mostly) for me to work it through.

It took a lot of introspection about myself – about my past, present, future; about my skills and abilities; about my life lived as an “unfulfilled expression to the world” in my own little way. In dreams, as we know, there are no real time barriers or set patterns; so I managed to get in all the learning I got from life from my waking past to cram it all in, lol.

I learned something in Sales (in real life) many years ago and it came back to me in the dream.  It was about human motivation – their wants and needs – and the role it plays in getting people to do things.  It is actually based on psychology and is used in our lives by the media the most.  I remembered the very most single important thing that affects every single human (and sub-species, too).  It is this:

WII-FM:

What’s In It For Me

We are all in life for ourselves.  The individual is most important to themselves; otherwise, there would be no effort to live.  No point in eating if we don’t care whether we want to live or not.  So with that in mind, I came to the realization I had nothing to offer the people as they passed by.  There was absolutely no reason whatsoever to even look at me because I was not more than street furniture.

In the dream, I decided to give something in return for their donation.  So then the idea hit me!  This is the inspiring idea:

  1. I contacted a small business printer who prints business cards.
  2. I sought out the printers that give free cards in exchange for free advertising on the back of the card (WII-FM).  There are a couple in Toronto.
  3. With the cards I had printed 250-500 cards with inspirational and motivational quotes and anecdotes (with the ad on the other side).
  4. When I am on the street, I hand them out to the people as they walk by.
  5. The person will read the quote and (hopefully) get inspired from the “Thought for the Day” (or another title). In the fine print, you request a small donation.
  6. The next day, the person will take another card (with a different quote) and remember to give a donation the next day. The person remembers the feelings the card left her/him over the course of the day. They wanted to get the WII-FM – and they do!
  7. That day next, the person will have some change already taken out (from their cofee shop stop); and when they take a new card, they begin the habit of leaving change every day.

So, as you can see – everyone benefits as I can make a contribution in their daily lives – hopefully it’s a smiling and fulfilled day for the collateral damage of having someone inspired and happy around you every day at the office.  In this process, the WII-FM is fulfilled for everyone (printer, panhandler, donor) involved and everyone benefits greatly.

All it takes is a very little creative thinking and some work in the research.  ANYBODY can do this – no matter who they are!

***

So, that’s my dream from a little while back that I wanted to share with you about the possibilities in even the most worst conditions in life.  I also wanted you to consider sharing with others with whom you may cross paths.

Namaste

k

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Awareness: How The “Lobster Effect” Holds Us Back

  I rationalize non-completion – that’s what I call it when I let a project die on the table.  This doesn’t mean that I accept the label of “failure”.  What I do is give myself permission to let the idea go without going to pieces.

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I still get depressed because of another lost opportunity (at least I believe so).  And sometimes I know I am just making excuses because I know another idea is coming down the pipe waiting for me to act upon it.  But it sure leaves a trail of ‘dead carcasses’ along this trail I leave called life.

Over my lifetime, I can assert with confidence that I have had several hundred ideas that were (and still are) marketable and possible.  Be it music, business idea, product invention, or service methodology – I have lots of ideas.  Even with the mere fraction that I’ve acted upon and completed, I still have a long record of achievement. I’ve even put together file folders together (hard-copy before computers) just to keep track of them.

***

For many of the inspired and motivated, we are NOT a part of the so-calledOne Percent” crowd with resources readily available at our fingertips.  We tend to face a lot of challenges (problems) and growth opportunities personally during every stage of our idea/career/life/dream development that money could otherwise buy, rent, or hire by the wealthy to make the problems go away.

As the One-Percenters see it: Don’t worry about the business plan – hire an expert.  Or how about selling your art – rent a small space in the village.  Trying to break into a close-knit industry – no problem, just headhunt someone who is already successful.  You would figure they’ve got it made.  Easy street paved with opportunities.

Yet >>> we see examples of missed achievement all the time from all across the spectrum of society.  Even when someone can literally buy his or her own (perception of) success, they miss the target.

***

Why?

Regardless of where we grew up, the personal culture of our families (an off-shoot of the greater culture) was from where we learned about life. Those life lessons were imprinted into our brains and created the foundation from where we would seek to live our lives through these values and beliefs we learned.

So, for example, if you grew up in poverty like myself, the chances are you will be taught beliefs about money that represent power, oppression, and opportunity.  Money represented the answer to problems.  Education meant getting a secure job.  Security meant swallowing your pride.

Likewise, someone born from wealth (to which I’ve been exposed), s/he may hold beliefs about people as tools, automatons, or collateral damage.  Money is a tool to create more money.  People will do anything for a price.  Most people are weak and insecure.

***

Regardless of our social location in life, the values and beliefs learned and held are skewed because they came via values and beliefs borne out of experiences and opinions from another time, place, and person.

The saddest and greatest injustice of it all
is that most of the time; we are the last ones to see it
.

Yet, we don’t often see the emotional and psychological effects that stain and blot our actions in our everyday lives. And because we practice our biases every moment, there are always plenty of examples from which to choose in order to validate our hurtful thoughts and actions towards ourselves and others.

Actually, we are taught/conditioned from all our social influences (education, media, family, friends, etc) to NOT see it.  A fantastic example of social values and beliefs gone awry is the television show from the 1970’s.

It was a sitcom about the challenges between living in the past with biases and prejudices and how it conflicted with more openness to human dignity.  If you are North American and over 40, you will still vividly remember “All In The Family”.  Check out some episodes by clicking here.

Oh yes, the “Lobster Effect” …

***

I use the following example of cooking lobsters to illustrate how we are caught in the trap of denial and lost opportunities.  When a lobster is prepared for human consumption:

  1. We find a large pot suitable for holding several lobsters.

  2. We fill the pot with water and heat to boil.

  3. When ready, we put the lobsters in the boiling water while still alive.

  4. As the lobsters get boiled to a slow agonizing death, the ones closest to the surface try to escape the deep pot.

  5. The other lobsters underneath, knowing they cannot escape, pull the lobsters at the top back into the boiling water.

  6. Eventually, the top lobsters give up resisting the others and accept their fate.

As humans, when we are up to making changes in our lives, the same thing happens.  Let’s substitute the objects in this analogy:

Lobster at top              =            you, me

Other lobsters             =            society, family, friends, media

Boiling water               =            the challenges/problems/issues you/we face

Pot                                =            project, dream, idea, personal change, etc.

When we prepare ourselves for personal achievement:

  1. We discover our goals and dreams and decide to go for it (the pot).

  2. We prepare our lives for the changes that will happen (the water).

  3. When ready, we dive in and start to fulfill our dreams.  We have no idea how dangerous or painful it will be, but what the heck …

  4. As the dream starts to develop, we are confronted with issues, challenges and problems.  The plan is delayed; need more training; money is not there; etc. (boiling water).

  5. The people and influences in our lives begin to notice changes in us as we try and escape the bonds of our current life.  For whatever reason, they relentlessly tug at us to stop putting ourself through all this pain (the pulling-back).

  6. Eventually, we (the top lobsters) give up the struggle and accept our fate that maybe everybody is right (the slow death).

***

So, how do we let this happen to ourselves?

We listen to others and their opinions on what we are up to.  Worst thing – often they are uttered with the best of intentions and love towards us.  People who love us don’t want to see us fall.  Worse still, we listen to and trust them when they tell us (not usually as blunt):

  • I am making mistakes – not enough education.

  • I can’t do it – not enough experience.

  • I don’t have past evidence of your expertise.

  • It’s already been done before.  Try something else.

  • It will make me different – I’ll end up being an outsider.

  • I will get hurt because there are a lot of cheats out there.

  • I’m setting myself up for failure – it happens all the time.

  • I’ve tried before – just get a secure job.

  • Money is tight and the economy is rotten.

After being bombarded with negative influences from everywhere over time, we begin to question ourselves.  We look at the normal and natural challenges that come with change, compare it with what people are saying, and measure the results with our goals.  Here are some of the things we usually do by this time:

  • I begin to doubt myself – “what if they are right and I am just fooling myself?”

  • I become afraid of the risk (I knew what was involved) and start to grow the concerns to justify my fears.

  • I become afraid of change and only look at the negatives of the work of chasing dreams.  “Short term pain for long term gain”.

  • I begin to look at my previous attempts and start making “checklists of futility”.

  • I can become angry at the world for conspiring against me to achieve happiness.

  • I get depressed from thinking that maybe I just wasn’t destined to be happy“.

Then … well, you know what happens next …

We return to our safe world

and accept that we will

DIE a Brutal and Slow Death

waiting willingly each day

for change to happen

TO our self

instead of

making change happen

FOR our self.

Then, after 50 years and several attempts to reaching for our dreams; we realize we are living a world of “should-have’s, would-have’s, and could-have’s”.  And we eventually die realizing the world has missed an opportunity because of our own mistaken fears, values, and beliefs.

***

What to do?

Here are some thought patterns I’ve created and practice for myself so that I can continue on the road of dreams.  They are not mind deceptions or games I play with myself in order to carry on.  That would be unfair to me because I’d be just living in a false world.  Instead of chasing a dream – I’d be chasing a pipe-dream.  These are the things I remind myself about when I’m working on a project or idea to keep myself on track:

  1. Regardless of what happened in the past, it is the past.  It has no relevant bearing on my current dreams.

  2. Whatever I erred on previously were learning experiences towards getting it right.

  3. People don’t mean to be negative – they just don’t want to see me ‘fail’ because they care about me.

  4. People don’t know any better.  They’ve had their own setback and challenges in the past.  They just want to impart their knowledge to help.  As well, they are conditioned just as I have to just play it safe in life.

  5. There is a path to everything.  If it’s never been done before – then I’m the first.

  6. If I feel uncomfortable as I do the work – then I’m on the right track.

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Holding Back

Every time I dare to dream,
I test myself
To see if it’s all true;
Always running
Not to hurt myself
From fear of actions dared.
 
In the middle of a dream,
I pinch myself
To find a hidden clue;
No need for stopping
To curse myself
My comfort once again is spared.

(orginally written June 2011)

Values & Beliefs: The Evil of Graham James’ Criminal Sentence

With the sentencing of the pedophile Graham James, is this an indication of the Canadian justice system not understanding the true effects of sexual abuse against boys?

At least to me, there seems to be a huge void within the official government system in coming to grips with the true reality of the effect of this kind of abuse – against anybody!

How this act of ignorance by the justice system is still allowed to continue is beyond me.  In all their history and education, do they not truly hear and feel the effects on victims when their stories are shared?  Do they not have information from medical and psychological experts that worked with victims?  Do they not have access to cold statistics from agencies that show the cost to society?


The government of Canada is not short of information and resources
to know
the evil and life-long negative effects this can have on a victim.


It cannot be avoided in this day and age of wide open communication and personal expression to realize we are only now beginning to see the victims come forward with stories of heinous acts perpetrated against them.  What’s becoming more evident, is that we are only starting to see the “tip of the iceberg” on how wide-spread this epidemic will spill into the everyday walking public.  And how does the justice system deal with it?

I know one thing for sure, every organization that works, or have worked with young people going back 40 to 50 years ago are certainly shaking in their boots right now as they desperately re-visit their pasts.  And sadly, I have no doubt (given the conversations I’ve personally had with victims of pedophiles), that there will be a lot of shocking (or maybe not) news of organizations who have either made the complaints go away or turned a blind eye to the “quiet whispers” within the ranks.


Sadly still, this will not be limited to boys.
I’m sure we will hear about girls’ groups and organizations as well.

***

But back to the sentencing.

I’ve tried to look at it from different angles so I could firmly get a grip on my emotional rationale.  (Isn’t that a contradiction in terms, eh?)  Anyways, I was wondering how the public and the Justice System would react to such heinous and evil acts were perpetrated by Graham James if the boys were abused in a different way.

Now, I am just looking at the effects any particular crime would have on a victim.  I’ve considered the vulnerability of the victims and how they would relate to my following made-up scenario victims.  I’ve chosen that particular type of victim because I personally believe the same types of vulnerability relate.  They only differ in that James’ victims have an emotional/psychological disability, whereas the victims in the story below, they are physical.

***

Would the sentence be different if the boy’s lives were destroyed by James from a criminal misdeed such as this:

As a trusted community leader wielding enormous and unquestioned power (a dream coach), James promises success to blind boys who live by his every directive and hang on his every word as if he was a god. But after their work, James chooses specific vulnerable individuals who are told they must secretly drink a questionable and disgusting muscle-enhancing cocktail – or no more chances at fulfilling their dreams. They simply cannot say no. “Besides”, they think, “it’s not hurting me, and James would never hurt a blind boy trying to reach his dreams”.

After many years of increasing problems, the boys find out the cocktail was not healthy; rather, it was a poison that slowly eats away the brain. James deliberately gave it to them – on purpose – without their regard – with false promises – all for his personal and diabolical satisfaction while knowing that some day those boys would be physically broken, struggling, and never be the same again.

Some time later, James finally gets caught and admits his heinous crimes. As a serial offender with many other blind victims now living in the same shame, guilt, and pain, the epidemic of poisoning blind kids becomes more known to the public (80,000+ in Canada at some estimates).

When James go in front of the judge for sentencing, he tells the judge he’s sorry that he destroyed lives, and families, and CHILDREN who are now walking around quietly suffering without end.

***

This is what I HEARD IN MY HEAD (that other voice), what Her Honour had to say on passing sentence (interchange the real and made-up events):

“Mr. James, I believe you are truly sorry. I don’t believe you have any more now-adult blind victims out there (out of the thousands you were in contact with) who were forced to drink your poison when they were just boys.  So I’m going to be lenient.

Mr James, while statistics show otherwise, I believe someone who poisons blind boys for their own personal satisfaction usually only does it once or twice.  I believe that after attending that short program on how to stop poisoning blind boys, you have convinced me that you are honest in being cured of wanting to poison any more blind boys. Your truthfulness calls for leniency.

Mr James, I don’t see any physical issues your victims are currently facing. We can’t see how their minds are still slowly being eaten away after decades.  They are walking around and running their lives.  The issues they face can be fixed after a short program (something like yours).And finally Mr. James, forget about how their families suffered all those years as the poison quietly ate away at the victim’s brains. They don’t look like they have been or currently are suffering in trying to deal with the horrible effects and how they manifest in the victim’s actions.  Besides, all families fight, have secrets, and shame issues.  So, I will go easy on you.

Therefore Mr. James, I will only sentence you to 2 years for the following 10 reasons:

  1. admitting your actions (only after you’ve been caught),

  2. feeling sorry (only after you ran out of legal options),

  3. abusing your immense power (and getting away with it your decades),

  4. inflicting life-long pain on your victims (from which they would never recover),

  5. hiding in another country to avoid detection (hoping people will ignore or forget),

  6. being nice and coming back (to save you from a longer sentence),

  7. deceit, lying, coercion, destroying trust (on thousands of kids and adults who believed in you 100% without question),

  8. forcing the victims to risk their identity and shame by having to come forward publicly,

  9. allowing me the opportunity to totally disregard the severe and devastating impact on the his many victims, and

  10. I don’t think this crime is that much of a big deal. They were only blind kids and you only poisoned them a few times many years ago.

I trust this meets with your plea bargain.

***.

I know I am biased in my opinion when I compare these stories because I chose the scenario.  Personally, I believe vulnerable young people who are give their trust, innocence, power to an older and trusted individual, are ripe to sexual predators and pedophiles (whether against boys or girls).

.

Would you accept James’ actions if it was for poisoning instead of this type of crime (and hidden epidemic)?


After all, they provide the same result.

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Self Expression: What about Personality Tests?

I don’t know how you feel, but for me, I sometimes feel skeptical about Personality Tests.

I would like to put a more disciplined faith in some of these; but I currently think they are more or less a benefit as a social scientific guide to personal development.

I tend to be a skeptic is because the negative outcomes that can arrive once I decide I am ‘this way’ or ‘that way’.  (I will need a caveat for this one: I do use a test for its accuracy and personal understanding of myself.)  I don’t endeavour to ‘become a better fit’ for the category – I just ‘am’.  I don’t want to box myself into a static profile, so I use several of these psycho-tests as a guide to be aware of my thoughts, decisions, and behaviours.

      One of the things I like to check out once in a while are the different personality tests that are available on the internet.  A lot of these tests are sometimes used by some companies and institutions to measure the ‘right fit’ when they are hiring people.  Another use would be in the court system.  There are many others.  For me, I like personality tests just to get a constant check-up from the neck up (thanks CAMH) – and for a teeny bit of entertainment (kinda like reading the newspaper horrorscope predictions).

There are a couple that I like and use; and I’ve gone back several times over the years to re-do the tests just to check the validity of the profiles and see what, if any, changes occurred in my personality that I intuitively felt shift.  I don’t like to use them to define myself.

None of them are perfect alone; so I don’t keep myself to just one or two, and I check out all kinds and have fun with them.  I’ve used a few of them together and found it to be quite interesting … and enlightening at times.  Bottom line though, is that the sum of the group is more valuable than of any one single ‘test’.

If you are interested, I’ve linked a web page from Geocities here that has a whole list of personality and psychological tests.  You can spend a whole rainy afternoon just playing and learning.

By the way, the test I respect the most is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). I first did the test with a professional ‘test-giver’ in the mid-80’s.  As mentioned above, I’ve revisited tests over the years, and this is one of them.  I find this test the most consistent.

According to results, I am considered an INTP (with a ‘sometime wobble’ to INTJ depending on my mood – my diagnosis).