Seafarers and Lovers

What do Seafarers and Lovers have in common?

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Standing up here on the rocky platforms of the Gods, high above the sounds of crashing waves and squawking gulls, it’s hard not to see the similarities between the greatest seafarers and seasoned lovers.


For over a thousand years, Europeans looked at the vast Atlantic and saw a dangerous beast too overwhelming to conquer. They saw rogue waves and brewing storms ready to dash their tiny ships on jagged rocks. They saw nothing but a sapphire abyss waiting to swallow them whole. Simply put, most of them were like, “there’s no fucking way I’m crossing that shit.” It was so much easier to sit on the beach, drink mead or watered down wine, and enjoy the view.

And then someone did. Some dude 1 landed in The God-damned Bahamas. After over a month of sailing with a broken compass through dangerous waters on a disease-ridden ship full of hungry and tired sailors, he and his crew had found a paradise. A little slice of heaven, perfect for colourful cocktails with little straw umbrellas in them.

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“With this sword, oh merciful lord, we shall cut thou lime, place it in thou coconut, and drinkith up.”

I know what you’re thinking though. How does this relate to lovers?

So many of us are fond of the idea of having real love in our lives. Not one night love. Not high school bullshit love. Not drugged up or shitfaced love.

Somewhere deep inside of us is thrilled by the idea of meeting that person who we instantly know is different from the rest. The one we can trust will never do us wrong. The one who will never abandon us. The one who gets us. Who smiles when we say something we think might be weird or strange. Who can always deal with our shittier moments and laugh about them with us later.2

But how many of us are actually ready for that kind of love?


I think part of being young and naive is looking PAST the journey when we decide we want that kind of love in our life. We call in our soul mate not really understanding what conscious love entails. We’re thinking of going from that great view on the beach in Spain straight to The Bahamas, without realizing that there’s a whole bunch of shit to trudge through in between; a bumpy ocean journey that not many who came before us had been willing to take a real crack at.

Like the sea was to Columbus, that special person we manifest into our lives will be our greatest test and our most difficult journey. The mirror they provide for us will force us to look into the deepest and murkiest waters of our soul. It will seem overwhelming at times. It will be full of endless love and laughter and fulfillment, but it’s also the hardest trip we’ll ever take in our life.

Unfortunately, a lot can happen after the honeymoon phase wears off. There will be an abundance of excuses, reasons why it’s easier to turn the ship around than it is to weather the storms, the hunger and the thirst, the disease carrying rats, and the crashing waves. It’s easier to look for excuses than it is to put in the work in to figure things out. Especially now, with humans disposed of and replaced with the swipe of a finger, it’s so easy to stay safe with our feet (and our heads) in the sand. It’s so much easier on the beach. It’s easier to shut down parts of ourselves to our lovers and throw away the key.

But the seasoned lover knows its not about easy. She knows that her soul mate isn’t here to give her cushy. She knows he’s here to challenge her. To shine a light on her wounds and her baggage. Their many struggles as a couple will show her the things she needs to learn. He’ll reveal her triggers, defense mechanisms, and fears – all while being the rock she needs to lean on to work through them all.

He’s here to set her on fire and watch her raise from the ashes. Shit, deep down the last thing she fucking wants is easy. She’s willing to pay the price of pain so that she may shed her skin, her baggage, and dance on the creator and the destroyer of the universe. Somewhere inside of herself, she knows the only way to paradise is to sail through an ocean of her own bullshit.

It’s why I can’t help but see a comparison between lovers and those who once sailed the deep dark oceans. They’re both here for paradise, not for easy.

Or maybe you are here for easy. Personally, I’ll take paradise every single chance I get. Imagine if Columbus would have stayed on the beach?

Be good to each other,

~MG.

 

1   This dude is better known as the Italian explorer, navigator, and colonizer, Christopher Columbus.

2You might not think that such a person exists. You might see everyone as equally loveable or equally disposable. Or maybe you’re legitimately such a perfect human specimen that you’re everyone’s type, and you’re miraculously compatible with every personality. You carry with you absolutely no emotional wounding or baggage and every person on this earth would stand by you until the very end. That’s awesome. Either way, to each his own, my friend. But I wouldn’t suggest reading any further.

Columbus photo courtesy of: http://teacher.scholastic.com

On Women:

Men think. A lot. Sometimes, thinking too much doesn’t allow much room for feeling.

When we’re sick or something is broken, we try to figure out the problem. We look at the issue systematically. What’s broken? What can we use as a replacement? How do we fix it? Finally, after identifying the cause of the issue, we decide on a solution.

Eventually, depending on the problem, we buy new brake pads, take some antibiotics, or smash twelve shots of whiskey and put an irresponsible bet on the number six horse. Just like that, the problem is solved. The brakes aren’t screeching anymore, our head cold is gone, or we blew off the steam we needed to blow off – even if we lost our rent money for the week in the process.

When we relate to women, our problems start when we try to approach issues in the same way. When we try to force our way of doing things onto the women we love.


Picture this;

We have plans with her in the evening. When we arrive at her house, we’re instantly aware that she’s in a shitty mood. She’s wearing a permanent frown and won’t speak to us. We watch as the storm brews inside of her. The room goes dark with her anger. We’re a bit put off by the entire situation. There’s something repulsive about her wrath. An ancient piece of ourselves is a little afraid at the dreadful power of our wild woman.


What’s HER problem? We think as we immediately go into problem fixing mode. Like virtually every other problem in our lives, we assume there is a single problem we can find and fix to make this situation better.

We think and think and think, but can’t come up with anything. We don’t know what we said, or did, or didn’t say, or didn’t do that caused this issue. What’s worse is, no matter how much we ask her what’s the matter, she constantly tells us it’s nothing.

Why does she have to be so COMPLICATED, we ask ourselves.

Eventually we become sick of asking what’s wrong, so we simply sit next to her without speaking. Maybe she breaks the silence by lashing out at us for not knowing what’s really going on. Maybe we make the very dumb mistake of saying “calm down.” The storm finally breaks, and we feel as though we’re forced to duck for cover.

We walk out, telling her to call us when she’s willing to talk about things calmly. At this point we’ve not only failed our woman, but we’ve failed ourselves as men.

We’ve wrongly assumed our woman’s situation is the same as a bike with a broken chain. We’ve wrongly assumed it’s as simple as finding the piece we need to fix. We’ve wrongly assumed – like all other problems in our lives – that it’s our time as men to TAKE CONTROL of the situation. Like a ship’s captain that finds his vessel has strayed off course, we attempt to change her direction.

We’ve tried to steer her, but our woman is not our ship. She’s the ocean that we’re sailing in. Vast and mighty, if we try to wrestle her immense waves we will lose every time. We will drown. She might not even know she’s doing it, but she will swallow us.

Our job is not to be the captain, or a ship. Our job is to be the rock, standing strong off the coast of the ocean that we love. Our job is to be there, and to be there for no reason other than our love for her waters.

Like any body of water, there will be days when she crashes against us. Wave after wave, it might feel like the ocean will never again be calm. When her tide is high we may feel like we’re close to drowning. Sometimes she hits us so hard we think we might crack. But if we remain full and abundant in our love for her, and constantly present in our masculinity, it will pass.

Her waters will quiet. She will once again lovingly caress us, her waves gently lapping at our ankles. She will completely open her heart in response to our stubborn love. She will trust in our strength, and feel safe in showing us the depths of her dark and healing waters. She’ll let us dive into her completely and we will taste her salty kiss. She’ll show us just how much we have to learn from the mysterious gifts she has to give us.

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Will you only swim in her when the waters are calm and the scenery is peaceful?

Until, of course, another storm shows itself on the horizon. But our job as the rock never ends.

So, if you cannot love her sunrise as much as you love her stormy weather, she isn’t the woman for you.

If you cannot find humour in the situation and need to lash out or walk away, you’re not the man for her.

If you cannot give unconditional love to her when her waters get rough, you’re treading in waters too deep and powerful for your swimming abilities. It is better for you both if you find a smaller pool to dip your timid feet in, and for her to find a man willing to embrace her inherently wild and endlessly passionate nature.

Be good to each other,

~MG

Featured Photo Courtesy of http://www.wildwomanjourney.com.

Do You Know Your 6ix?

We know where, and what, the 6ix is.

Thanks to Drake, we even know what the views from the 6ix are like.

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But do you know who your 6ix are?


I’m talking about the six men or women who will stand on each side of your corpse and carry your casket. Can you think of them now? Can you even think of six people you want to carry you from this world until the next?

If you can, are they the same six that you’re going out for drinks with after work on Friday? Or are those drink mates just people you’re passing the time with? The people that happen to be interested in the same thing as you? Will any of those drinking buddies keep in touch after they take a better job offer in a different city?

If you can name your six, are they the same six you ate lunch with in high school? Or were they just the other people who arbitrarily fell into the same “group” you did?

Is the last person you were intimate with one of your six, who will be there by your side even after you’re gone? Did they know your all of your hopes and dreams, and want to support you however they could in chasing them? Or were they just a one night dance, a single serving dose of validation and a few hours escape from loneliness?

What about the last person you dressed to impress? Or who you last sacrificed your time, energy, or integrity for? Were they in your six? Will their love-filled tears splatter on the cold concrete as they say goodbye to you in this life?


When was the last time you told one of your six that you loved them, appreciated them, and acknowledged them for all the light they bring into your life? When was the last time you sent them a text, instead of worrying about all the people who have nothing but self-serving interests when it comes to you?

Know your 6ix.

Prioritize your 6ix.

Love your 6ix.

And let them know who they are to you.

Be good to each other,

~MG

Featured Photo Courtesy of http://www.worldspaceweek.org

Black Balloon

Riding a black balloon.

I know your boat waits in the sand
I know it’s not for me.
I know I must release your hand
I know you must be free.

I know I musn’t think too much
I know you had to leave.
I know someday again we’ll touch
I know I must believe.

I know this helped us both to grow
I knew it from the start.
I know the things that I should know,
I wrote them on my heart.

I know that I won’t see you soon
I know it will be cold
So I’ll just ride this black balloon,
Until it turns to gold.

~MG.

Featured image courtesy of: dreamwallpage.blogspot.com

Actions Speak Louder Than Words:

Facta, non verba.

Translated literally, it means “deeds, not words.” It’s been a motto of the wise since the time of the Romans. Even in the ancient world, so much more centred around actions rather than words, it served as an important reminder.

Today’s world places an exuberant amount of importance on words. We’re triggered by the harsh ones and we’re attracted to the pretty ones. We, at some point, began placing more importance on what’s being said than what’s actually being done. We’re blinded by all the dancing words around us.

It’s a lesson I’ve failed to learn many times. I hear the loving, or trusting, or agreeing words from work mates, friends, or the people closest to me, and I can’t help but believe them. Most of us can’t help it. I’ve recently realised that, like so many other parts of our lives, we assume people treat words the same way we do.


But like anything else, you can never assume people’s values are the same as yours. Nowhere is that more true than in the realm of words.

Some people are guarded with their words. They choose them carefully and use them sparingly. They say what they mean and mean what they say. When something comes out of their mouth, you can trust it. You know it won’t change in an hour, or a day. Obviously some things can change instantly, and that cannot be helped, but for most circumstances you can take their words to the bank.

Others use words more frivolously. They like the way the words sound at the time, or like the reaction those words have on other people. They use words to avert attention, avoid certain situations, or to gain an advantage in their favour. Their words are tools. Not tools of truth, but of manipulation or power. Their words change as commonly as the weather. The words sound lush and full of real emotion, but you can grab them no more than you can hold the air in the mountains.


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“Men are men, vows are words, and words are wind.” – Jon Snow, A Dance with Dragons.

It’s sometimes very difficult to tell the difference between the two types of people. Some people talk a lot and mean every word. Some people speak sparingly but never with truth. Sure, sometimes it’s easy to notice when a person’s words are empty and not to be trusted. Like those who whisper loving words when seas are calm but spit venom into your face at the first sight of disagreement. We should be thankful for those moments, but not everyone is that easy to read. The key is to listen to the languages of the body. We must learn to listen to actions.


It’s incredibly easy to lie with words, but it’s much more difficult to live in that lie. The problem is, most of us ignore the signs of the body, the actions. Someone tells us they miss us, but something keeps coming up and they just can’t seem to make it for the coffee catch up. Someone tells us they love us, but their actions are cold and unloving. They tell us they will/want to try, but you see the effort isn’t there. Stop ignoring the actions which, in hindsight, are always painfully and obviously contrary to the words.

We don’t have to always be around the actions over words types. A lot of people would rather be surrounded by soothsayers and flowery loving words, because let’s face it, it’s easier and less confronting than the words of people who will be brutally honest but trustworthy. It’s easier than the triggers. It is the age of participation ribbons, after all.

But it is important to know the people you can trust at their word and those you must diligently watch in their actions to see what they’re actually thinking and feeling.

When it comes to life, and especially to love, the actions of others should always be your guiding compass of who you should keep in your tribe.

Actions have always spoken louder than words, be brave enough to start listening.

There are people who will tell you they will always be there, but there are others who will show you they mean it.

Be good to each other,

~MG.



Photos:
Featured Image Courtesy of: 
commons.wikimedia.org
Jon Snow Courtesy ofblacknerdproblems.com

On The Power of Love:

Our connections of love is what our universe is built upon.

There are 7.4 billion of us on this planet.

Think about that for a moment.

The largest arena in the western world is the Big House in Michigan, and it can hold around 108 000. It should be called the Mad House, because it’s absolute bedlam when it’s packed to capacity.

It’s hard to conceptualise just how many people 108 000 is. Yet over 155 000 newborns came into the world today.

It would take just over 30 million of us to link hands and circle the entire earth once.

And that would only be 0.4% of our population.


 

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Remote camera placement for the “Under the Lights” game with Michigan and Notre Dame at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., on September 10, 2011. [Source: http://www.fanthem.com ]
So what is it, out of a trillion possible combinations, that brings us together with a single other human; our better half; our twin flame?

Some of us may have had many partners throughout our time, and some of us never find “the one”, but for the many of us, we come across that woman or man who takes our breath away and never gives it back.

We form a bond that time and space cannot erase.


When I think of that bond formed between two lovers in a sea of others, I think of an ocean. Sea what I did there? I’m shore you did.

Take an individual water molecule, composed of oxygen and hydrogen. On one end of the spectrum, there is basically an infinite amount of both hydrogen and oxygen in the universe. Because of this essentially limitless nature, the bonding of one oxygen to two hydrogen is actually the bonding of all hydrogen with all oxygen.

In the same way we do not perceive an ocean for each of its tiny water molecules, it’s as redundant to differentiate any single bond between a hydrogen atom and an oxygen atom from another bond of the same make-up.

In reality, however, and no matter how seemingly arbitrary the match, a singular hydrogen atom finds itself bound to a singular oxygen atom for an astronomically long period of time, in a bond representing the limitless connectivity of the collective, but also a connection of an infinitely intimate nature.

The molecules do not choose their bond, the bond chooses the molecules through a series of intricately functioning cogs of chance, coincidence, and fate.


 

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Ocean (2005) by Vija Celmins
I see the same in a relationship between two human lovers. Between you and I.

When a man falls in love with a woman he is, in fact, every man to have ever existed loving every female to have ever walked this earth, and yet – like his oxygen and hydrogen brethren (for what are we if not primarily a collection of water molecules?) – he is still a singular man bound to a singular woman in a seemingly arbitrary connection of a love that is truly boundless and extensive beyond time and space and race.

We are part of a love that is everywhere, in everything, and yet part of one that is infinitely unique to the singular bond that has – like the bonds which hold water together – chosen us.

Hate destroys and love creates.

We are representative of a love infinitely expansive but equally as inclusive. Each of us as an individual is actually all men and women coming together, and by extension we are each a collective love which is simply in a perpetual loving relationship with itself.

And yet, we are at the same time, a singular man out of trillions bound forever to a singular woman out of trillions in a apparently random yet infinitely complex and interconnected web of life and love.

This is the power of creation; the universal love that holds all things together.

And it’s the force that keeps you and I in an endless return to one another, for all of eternity.

Be good to each other,

– MG.

On Attachment:

Why are we so afraid of attachment?

“Don’t do it,” my cousin warned. “Don’t get attached.”

I laughed at him. He obviously didn’t have to worry about that.

But my laugh didn’t seem to convince him.

“You have no idea who she is – she could be crazy.” His warnings continued.

Valid point, I thought. I hardly knew her.


I had met her only a week previous, on the night of her birthday.

The mood was festive. Her sister was visiting and her friends were with her. The weather was perfect. Anyone could be a pleasure to be around in such a perfect setting.

But we hung out the next day, and it felt the same.

My cousin didn’t seem worried, until he found out I had left the boy’s trip to Sydney a few days early to catch a Greyhound bus and sit through a three hour trip back into town just so I could take her to a movie.


“You could get hurt.”

I hated to admit it, but that one struck a chord.

He’s right, I thought, I could get hurt. Having, in earlier days, considered myself a stoic, I saw the potential danger in the path I was walking with this girl.

But I couldn’t shake the feeling that it didn’t matter.

I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had found someone that I wanted to be attached to.

But when did we start to correlate suffering with attachment?


It’s a thought that sort of worked it’s way into the western mentality from its distant origins in the east.

The idea of dis-attachment is nothing new. Various Buddhist and Hindu sects have always determined attachment to be a major source of human suffering.

Attachment is the origin, the root of suffering; hence it is the cause of suffering.” The Dalai Lama at Harvard, 1988.

A very superficial understanding of the concept has worked its way into our psyche.

We see attachment as a bad thing.

It means opening up.

It means being vulnerable.

It means falling in love with a person who could take that love away from us at any time.

It means getting hurt.

But how much truth is there to this simple understanding of attachment?


 

I look around me, and I see that attachment makes up the very foundation of life.

On a purely molecular level, hydrogen molecules attach themselves to oxygen to form water – the elixir which makes life possible.

The biological attachment of man to woman creates life, and the attachment of a mother to her child is what allows that child to survive infancy – as her mother cares for the child out of that attachment.

The tides of our oceans are intricately attached to the gravitational pull of our moon, which in turn is attached to the pull of the earth, which spins happily in its attachment to the sun and our solar system.

The bloom of the African lilly is forever attached to the spring for the perfect conditions, the bees for its pollination, and the sun for it’s nurturing kiss.

In an infinitely interconnected universe, attachment is creation.

Attachment is life.


 

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Starlight over the Rhone Near Arles [1888] by Vincent Van Gogh.
And yet attachment can be a dangerous thing.

It is when our attachments are based on reliance that it has a high propensity to cause suffering.

It is when we fill the void inside of ourselves with attachment that those attachments gain the power to hurt us.

It is when we attach ourselves to the love of others rather than the love of ourselves that our attachments become toxic.

It is when we attach ourselves to the acceptance of our peers rather than ourselves that our characters become weak and dependant.


 

Someone close to me always says that you have to fill your own cup. It is when our attachments fill our cups that they become dangerous, because at any moment we may lose them.

This leads to cycles of loss and gain, unbalanced relationships of power and reliance, and, for the most part, pain.

That is the lesson of the west, the lesson of the Buddhists and the Hindus. We mustn’t attach ourselves to sources of love and happiness that we should be getting from our own heart and souls.


 

But fearing attachments because we may lose them is only weakness.

It is a fear of loss.

It is a fear of being hurt.

It is a fear of not being worthy.


 

But we are worthy of love.

We are worthy of acceptance.

We are worthy of real, committed relationships.


 

Allowing ourselves to become attached is one of the greatest forms of vulnerability that we can demonstrate to each other.

The more attachments we have, the more we’ll lose.

The more we’ll suffer.

But that pain is the price we pay to live life to the fullest.

To avoid pain and live life in solitude is the life of a monk.

It is the absence of vulnerability, and it is the absence of the awe and wonder our indulgence in this human experience provides us.

It is human to be vulnerable.

It is human to attach.


 

The vulnerability that we demonstrate in attaching ourselves to another forces us to dive deeper into ourselves.

It is an essential journey into finding out all the intricate details about ourselves – the good, the (not so) bad, and the things we need to work on that we would have never noticed otherwise.


 

But finally, it teaches us acceptance.

It teaches us to accept ourselves as perfect just the way we are.

It teaches us to accept another as just as perfect.

It teaches us to accept that we may lose that person or thing at any moment, and that’s okay.

In fact, it makes that person or that thing even more valuable and beautiful because we may lose them tomorrow.

In the acceptance of eventual loss we find appreciation.

We find gratitude.


 

We’re not perfect. We never will be.

We will struggle to reach that higher place of existence for the rest of our lives.

But we can learn to be happy by ourselves.

We can learn to love and accept ourselves.

And along the way, when we get that undeniable feeling that we’ve found someone we want to attach ourselves to, we’ll be absolutely fearless when we do it.

Be good to each other,

– MG.

On The Sydney Siege:

A year has passed since tragedy struck Sydney; What have we learned?

Horrific events such as those which took place in Sydney a year ago, and those seen in Canadian parliament a few months before it, make it easy to lose (at least a little) faith in humanity.

 They make it is easy to generalize.

It becomes easy to blame and to point the finger.

It becomes easy to hate.


Yet as easy as it is to become less humane, it is not the reaction I witnessed in the aftermath of the Sydney siege.

I saw Australia come together as a people, no longer bound by any political, ethnic, or cultural differences.

I saw the brave men and women of Australian law enforcement sail into a storm of bullets attempting to save people they had never met.

I saw people of all religions rally around the hash tag #IllRideWithYou, supporting those beginning to feel ostracized by their faith – which extremists’ constant misrepresentation has sullied with a crimson stain – to continue to freely and without fear commit themselves to their God and their religious beliefs.


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The warriors of love made their mark at Martin Place. [Source: http://www.photoforum.com.au ]

I saw candles lit for the safe keeping of those taken hostage, brothers and sisters we knew could be our own.

I saw a country – and a global community – in mourning for a son and daughter taken too soon. We willingly made their families’ pain our own.

I saw, if even for a moment, how beautiful humanity can be at its best.

For at least a day, I saw us no longer blinded by a veil of ignorance. We were – all around the world – simply human.

That universal empathy for the human struggle was alive in all of us. We had no idea of the races, religions, or cultural dispositions of those taken hostage. Yet we feared, hoped, and prayed for them in earnest and with a single voice.

Most importantly, that love exclusive to humans – the one which transcends space and time, life and death – beat louder than ever in how we responded. We were a singular beat in a united human heart.

It is always difficult to look past the hate, to see light in the darkness. Sydney was no different. Why is this so?


Because love isn’t as jarring as a black flag pinned against a shop window, held up by victims terrified for their lives. It isn’t as easy to sensationalize as a man driven by darkness, willing to cause pain and suffering to pursue his own deranged motives. It isn’t as loud as early morning gunshots shattering the innocence of a peaceful nation.


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The jarring image that many of us remember. [Source: http://www.bbc.com ]

But isn’t that what makes love such a special thing? It isn’t easy to find. Its rarity is what makes love precious.

We see glimmers of it in the passing smiles of strangers and in the laughter of children before it drifts away on the changing winds of the seasons.

We too often let hatred and prejudice bury love next to our slowly eroding humanity. But we didn’t on that Monday a year ago.

Instead, we came together.


What happened in Sydney was not a demonstration of the deterioration of humanity through hatred and social division.

It depicted a single lost soul who had allowed himself to be corrupted by the evils of fanaticism.

My heart aches for all of those who are mourning the loss of those we lost on this day a year ago. Yet it hurts more to think that the memory of them will be tainted by associations with the evil which manifested itself in the form of a broken man.

Instead let us remember the lessons of love that came from their deaths.

Let us remember the brave men and women who risked their lives trying to save them.

The thousands upon thousands of complete strangers who turned an entire Sydney square into a garden of Eden by filling it with beautiful flowers, paying their respects to people they had never known.


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Australia turned a site of horror into a garden of beauty and love. [Source: 702 ABC Sydney: John Donegan ]

The coming together of all races and religions in astounding candlelight vigils full of love and empathy.

The memory of those lost must be remembered for what that event showed us.

It demonstrated how truly powerful love can be when we fight all the prejudices suffocating it. That is how we can honour their memory. That is how we must make sense of such mindless and depraved acts of violence.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King Junior, A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches.

We must remember the phoenix as it shines brightly in the night sky, not the pile of blackened ash from whence it came.

Love, like happiness, is not a singular end that can be obtained. It is constantly struggled for; it is a way of life.

Love is a beautiful war, and the Sydney siege showed that together we can win it.

Be good to each other,

– MG.

On Paris and Beirut

Choose to be a champion of love and acceptance, rather than a slave to hatred and fear.

I didn’t plan on writing about the horror that struck Beirut and Paris, just a day apart, over a week ago. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure why.

I guess a part of me didn’t think it was a time for heavy-handed words. Humanity was once again bleeding from wounds caused by senseless violence against itself. Infected and swollen from thousands of years of agitation, we had once again ripped off the scab. 

I wanted to sit in that wound. I wanted to feel the pain and the sadness that my brothers and sisters across the world were drowning in.

A part of me wanted a moment to breathe. We humans, when overwhelmed with powerful emotions, are vulnerable to overreacting. I didn’t want to be swept away by the tsunami of aggression, hatred, bigotry, Islamophobia, and calls for vengeance that flooded my news-feed.

Another part of me felt a bit hypocritical writing about Beirut and France while I, like most of us, had largely ignored the other 287 terrorist attacks that have taken place thus far in 2015.

Even the tragedy in Beirut was barely whispered about, until the Lebanese community came together and made themselves heard.

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Female relatives of Samer Huhu, who was killed in the Islamic State twin bombing attack, mourn during his funeral in a southern suburb of Beirut on November 13, 2015. [Photo Credit: Getty Images]

There was also the part of me who witnessed so many of you fighting the good fight; rational minds not being overwhelmed by fear; pure hearts preaching love instead of hate; devote warriors of peace refusing to be goaded into a trap and ambushed by the desperate plotting of Ares.

In short, I felt that you didn’t need my words to echo your own, and I still don’t believe you do.


But I recently come across a story that Livy included in his “History of Rome” that really struck home with me. Although it seemingly has nothing to do with Beirut and Paris, I think under the surface the two events are directly related.

Gaius Mucius Scaevola was a Roman warrior who was captured during a war with the Etruscans. Mucius was brought before the Etruscan king who showed him a raging fire. Mucius was told that unless he betrayed his fellow Romans, he would be thrown into the flames. 

The king was using the heat of the fire to strike fear into Mucius, and attempting to use that fear to break him.

Mucius announced that he was a citizen of Rome, and that he would rather die than be a slave to fear. Livy explains that after his declaration, Mucius

thrust his hand into the fire that was kindled for the sacrifice. When he allowed his hand to burn as if his spirit were unconscious of sensation, the king was almost beside himself with wonder.”Livy, History of Rome.

Staring into the eyes of the king, Mucius demonstrated that he would always have the power of choice. Outnumbered and helpless, he choose to put his own flesh to the flame rather give into the fear the king was trying to use to control him.

He did not scream. He did not flinch. The pain was welcomed. It was a demonstration that Mucius, though in a dire situation, never gave away his personal power and freedom.

The king feared Mucius’ bravery might be a representation of the Roman people as a whole. He released the man and immediately sought a peace with Rome. 

He knew that if the spirit of a people cannot be broken, then the people themselves cannot be broken.


tumblr_ml0lxp3ieI1qbhp9xo1_1280
 Mucius Scaevola (c.1680-4) by Sebastiano Ricci; Although in this rendition the artist’s flames are not quite big enough to be “flung into” – the fate Livy suggests was awaiting Mucius – the act of defiance is equally as powerful.

We, as a collective people, are in the same situation that Gaius Mucius Scaevola found himself in. 

Paris and Beirut were our captures. ISIS, sensationalized media, and governments with very specific agendas play the role of the Etruscan king. Muslims and refugees are our fellow Romans; our brothers and our sisters.

Here we stand in front of the king’s black flames of hatred of ignorance. ISIS watches eagerly to see if the heat of those dark embers will scare us. They watch to see if their tactics of fear will make us turn our backs on our family in the middle east. They need and want us to betray our fellow humans. 

For their power comes only from our weakness; they cannot break us from the outside, so they pray that we will cave in.

The power of choice is ours. I look around me and I see the strength in all of you.

Stand before that fire of darkness. Look defiantly into the eyes of the love’s enemies and keep your steady hand in the flames of their hatred. 

Choose to be a champion of love and acceptance, rather than a slave to hatred and fear.

If one man changed the mind of a king and altered the history of Rome, imagine what humanity can do if we stand together, as one, against prejudice, fear, and hatred.

Be good to each other,

– MG.

An Open Letter to Joe Rogan:

I realised that hate is a reflection. The things we think we loath serve as our greatest mirrors. The hateful things we say tell us more about ourselves than they do about the person we say them about.

Dear Joe (Joey? Joseph? Giuseppe? You’re right – let’s just stick with Joe),

You don’t know me and you probably never will. Odds are slim that you’ll ever read this, but that doesn’t matter.

I just wanted to say that I’m sorry. Let me explain:



I once hated you Joe Rogan.
The sound of your voice. Your shiny, bald head. The fact I couldn’t watch a UFC highlight without hearing your screams of astonishment and excitement. I hated all of it. I brushed off the people who talked about your pod-cast or stand up comedy. I assumed they were the same borderline retarded individuals that spent their week nights watching Fear Factor (which I hated you for as well). I hated idea of the very stench of you, which assumed would be like stale cigarettes and cat faeces.

This was the kind of arbitrary, empty hate people have towards the Yankees or Lebron James. It transcended reason, and was something in the very core of my being. This was something deep seeded and toxic. You weren’t the only one who I felt this way about, either.

At the time, it didn’t even dawn on me how absolutely ridiculous it was to have such judgemental and negative thoughts towards another person, especially someone I was in a one-way relationship with. I was so lost in my life that I would blindly project my negativity onto someone I didn’t even know.

A few years ago I left my home town and began a journey of self discovery. Like many who begin a journey to find themselves, I’ve come across various Eastern philosophies regarding the self. 

It led me to a Buddhist practice of compassion. In this practice, one thinks of someone they love, then move onto someone they are neutral about, and then finally someone they hate the most. They love, forgive, and find compassion for each one of those people. The practice is designed to get harder with each progression in order to put us outside of our comfort zone. It is a powerful process that allows us to let go of useless and destructive negative energy.

I had slowly become a different person over my travels, and was truly learning to let go of harmful negativity that I had always accepted in my life. When I discovered this practice of compassion, I immediately committed to doing it every morning. Eventually the practice resulted in a painful revelation.

I had slowly worked through the people in my life who I had been holding a grudge against, or had a bad history with. My options were running out. This particular time I had to think of someone I hated, it was you, Joe Rogan.

I couldn’t understand it. It actually bothered me. Why did I hate you so much?

Finally, and somewhat reluctantly, I found the answer. Facing that answer brought a certain peace, and taught me something very important about all of us.


I realized that there was nothing at all that I hated about you.

Your bald head bothered me because I had spent countless hours in my vanity worried I would go bald before I turned fifty. It didn’t define you like I thought it might define me.

The sound of your voice was not unlike my own, which I had always hated for its raspy sound. I hated mine because it was unique. Your voice captured people’s attention, and I was too ashamed to have mine heard.

Being a sweaty athlete as a child and a young adult, I always had a fear of being the smelly kid. I assumed I didn’t smell good, and you were again a reflection of this.

I started to realise you and everyone else I felt negatively towards had always served as a magnifying glass for my own insecurities about myself. When I thought about a person that I hated, whether it was you or my arch enemy from high school who popped into my head, I was actually thinking about myself.

You were chasing the things that knocked your head back. You were exploring all the wonders that caught your eye. You were completely indulging in the authentic you, and I resented that. I hated you because I knew, deep down, that for the past twenty something years I wasn’t doing me. You weren’t anyone but yourself, and I was everyone except myself.

I realised that hate is a reflection. The things we think we loath the most serve as our greatest mirrors. The hateful things we say tell us more about ourselves than they do about the person we say them about. Nelson Mandela once wrote that we must learn to hate; I would add that we must first learn to hate ourselves.

I was afraid to turn my lens of observation inwards, so I projected my hatred onto you. This realisation has been the single greatest catalyst for the vigorous campaign of self-love and acceptance that I’m on today.

So I also wanted to thank you, Joe Rogan. For in my desire to find love and compassion for you, and everyone else I felt negatively towards, I found it instead for myself.

Love and respect,

~MG.