A Letter to My Father:

My last Echoes post is for Father’s Day! A Letter to my dad.

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Dear Dad,

I’m in my late twenties. I’m not even done with school yet. I have absolutely no idea about so many things in my life. Like where I might be living in a year from now. Hell, I’m not even sure about the continent I’ll be on. I’m not sure what I’ll be doing or who I’ll be doing it with. I’m still learning about myself and how I relate to this world. In many ways, I’m still a kid.

And then I think about the fact that at my age, you already had three young kids to raise. One of them was your only son, a crazy little bastard named Michael, who had the same amount of energy and caused the same amount trouble as an entire classroom of children his age.

I’ve realized how scary that must have been for you. You were still trying to find a career, and trying to find yourself. You were still trying to figure out who you were as a man, as a husband, and how you were gonna make things work financially for you and mom. Then, all of sudden, you were trying to figure out who you were as a parent to three young babies who relied on you.

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Just a couple guys trying to figure out if neon and/or pastel colours worked with our skin tone.


Today, I think it’s become almost common for kids to grow up blaming and criticizing their parents. I know I was one of those children and, at some point, I think all of us are. But now I realize how absolutely ridiculous that is.

Imagine if when people were learning a new sport, or musical instrument, or how to cook, we judged them in the same way as some of us judge our parents.

It doesn’t matter how many online videos someone has watched on the technique of skating, we expect them to fall many times the first time they lace up those skates and hit the frozen pond.

It doesn’t matter how many books someone reads on playing the piano, none of us would realistically expect someone to jump behind those keys and start playing Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-Sharp Minor. So why do we expect perfection, or anything close to it, from our parents?

No matter what it is that you’re doing in life, nothing will ever prepare you for the actual learning experience. You’re going to stumble along the way. Mistakes are essential to learning. We’re all just learning as we go. We’re all doing the best we can with what we have.

Every parent is at a different place in his or her life, and every parent has a different capacity for parenting.


Trying to stand in the shoes you were wearing at my age has shown me just how special you are. I know you beat yourself up sometimes about your early days as a dad, but today I want to acknowledge you for just how amazing you actually are, and how great you were for me as my father.

You supported me in every conceivable way. I never went without anything I ever needed. Even if you had a complaint or two about the price of something I asked for, I honestly don’t have a single memory of anything you didn’t give me that I truly wanted. You never let me down.

You worked some insane hours to support your family and still always made it to the important moments in my life. You were at every big game, graduation, departing flight, birthday, and religious event that I experienced. You have no idea how much that meant to me, even if I didn’t really understand it then. I definitely understand and appreciate it now.

I have absolutely no idea how you did it. You might not of been ready. You probably weren’t ready. But you pulled your boots up and you chose to be a father. Because, at the end of the day, parenthood is a choice. I think it’s time I acknowledge the choice you made to be in my life. The amount of bravery, love, and kindness that it took is beyond words.



I think relationships between parents and children would vastly improve if we all just acknowledged our parents for that
simple choice they make to be our parents. They didn’t need to choose us. They didn’t have to stay, or to keep us. But they did. Even though they weren’t truly ready for it.

If we acknowledge that, in the same way it was our first experience being someone’s child, it was our parent’s first experience being someone’s mom or dad, we might start seeing things a little differently. 

We made mistakes as we grew older and wiser, why would we expect anything less from our parents?


You are an amazing man. Even now, at my age, I still know you won’t let me down. We’re gonna have our fights. Sometimes we’re gonna bump our thick Italian heads. You’re still learning what it means to be a dad and I’m still learning what it means to grow up.

But I know you’re in my corner, and you know what? You’ll always be the guy I want in my corner. If I ever find myself in the 12th round taking a beating from life, you’re the voice I want to hear yelling over my shoulder to keep fighting

You didn’t quit on me, or my sisters. You didn’t quit on your family. There’s no one else in the universe I would rather call dad, and I have a strange feeling there’s no one else out there who was supposed to be my father.

I love you, and I miss you!

Your crazy little bastard,

~ Michael

Stop Holding Yourself Back:

There are two painfully self-restricting words we humans have a habit of using too much. I hear them all of the time.

“I should.”


Anytime we use those words, there is some form of self restriction at play. We’re applying a sense of duty, of honour, of what’s expected of us, of guilt, of shame, of caution, or a lack of confidence to our decisions. We think we should study medicine because our parents have high hopes for us. We don’t think we should quit our job because we’re not sure if we can make our dreams work. We should push away loved ones because we don’t feel deserving or worthy of it. We shouldn’t take a chance because it might not work out.

Every time we use the word should, a story is being repeated to ourselves. Ones we learned from teachers, parents, mentors, friends, and celebrities. Stories of the status quo. Stories that were meant to keep you safe, but actually keep you feeling small and afraid.

Don’t get me wrong, I think everyone should have a code. Everyone should know and keep their own boundaries. But there is a difference between healthy boundaries and self imprisonment.

But the word “should” is one that is much better used to free yourself of your own prison, rather than keep yourself in chains.

You should open your heart to love, because you deserve that special someone who loves and cherishes you. You should chase than dream, because you were born to do just that. You should quit that job sucking the life out of you, because you deserve happiness in this life.

Be good to each other,

~MG.

Cover photo courtesy of bahaiteachings.org.

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 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

Get Excited!

We’ve all heard it before. We’ve heard it from our friends, our parents, our siblings, and our teachers.

Don’t get TOO excited.”

It doesn’t even seem to matter what the scenario is;

Trying out for a team and you made the first cut? Don’t get too excited.
Applying for a job and got an interview? Don’t get too excited.
Had the most amazing day with the person you love? Don’t get too excited.
Finished the second year of a three year degree? Don’t get too excited.
Lost a couple pounds of body fat? Don’t get too excited.

The excitement police is ever vigilant. But my question is this: When, exactly, are we supposed to get excited? The “don’t get too excited” warning – in my opinion – has two negative suggestions that accompany it.


The first is the suggestion that something may yet go wrong. You could still be cut from the team, you could still be passed over for the job, your loved one could leave you, or you could still fail out of your degree. You might slip up and eat some cake, putting those pounds back on. “Don’t get too excited” suggests we shouldn’t be excited about these things because they can still be taken from us – as though there is anything in this life that is permanent.

The problem is, the “may yet go wrong” mentality never ends. Once you make the team, you can still be benched, released, or break your femur in a thousand places and never play again. Once you get that job, you can still be fired. Once you get married, or start a family, you can still lose that loved one to death, or divorce, or circumstance. Once you get that degree, you can still be jobless or considered under qualified. A lack of permanence is in no way related to your ability to enjoy and be excited about a moment.

If you’re waiting to celebrate something permanent, you’ll be waiting a very long time. Laying on your deathbed, many years from now, you’ll realize nothing can be truly grasped in this life. So, no matter how fleeting or small the moment, get excited about it. It is these tiny moments of success, progress, and joy that – when their tiny parts are finally collected and assembled – we look back on and remember the life we created for ourselves. You’ll never get a second chance to get excited along the way, so do it now and do it every chance you can.


The second suggestion that comes with the “don’t get too excited” warning is that you somehow haven’t finished yet. You’re not at your goal or your destination. It carries the dastardly assumption that there IS a destination in the first place. But what if, at the end of all of your days, you realize there never really was a destination. What if you looked back on all the little steps you made along the way, and realized life was about the journey? Would you wish you got excited about and celebrated the little moments a little more?

Thinking about life as the destination leads to false regrets. You’ll always focus on the places you didn’t reach rather than the joys and growth you were lucky enough to experience. You’ll see yourself as never have making it to the big leagues, rather than seeing all the friends and mentors you met along the way, and the positive experiences you shared with them. Even if you do eventually reach that destination, you’ll replace it with a new one.

I’m not saying having goals or dreams is a bad thing. I think we’re all born with dreams and we should all let that call of our soul guide us.

What I am saying is this life is inherently exciting. The good, the bad, and the ugly. The small moments and the grand ones. It’s all part of this journey we call life. The journey naturally excites us – so allow yourself to get excited about it.

Get TOO excited about it, even.

Be good to each other,

~MG.

Featured photo courteousy of forums.marvelheroes.com

Celebrating the Individual:

It is time to celebrate who we are.

There’s always something about the first words you type onto a blank page. It’s like splashing paint onto a crisp-white canvas. I believe we all have words pent up inside of ourselves. Those first ones break the pressure. You kind of just let the words fall onto the paper as they naturally would. Your soul is the bursting cloud, allowing droplets of inner wisdom to sprinkle the land underneath it.

It seems much too rare these days that we allow our soul the ability to speak its truth. Too often we are stifled by social and cultural concerns. I think its a pretty sad notion that our individuality is being suffocated by the very people that should be celebrating it: ourselves.

We’ve seen the unique nature of each human being oppressed in many different ways by many different tyrants.

We saw it masterfully done by the Catholic church after the dark ages. We were told we were all beautiful children of God who loved us infinitely. God would love us until the end of our days, unless we looked upon the stars with our own eyes and suggested, perhaps, that our solar system wasn’t exactly structured as the church had taught us it was. That, maybe, we weren’t the centre of it all. Then we were heretics; we were blasphemous, spoiled spawns of darkness.

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This isn’t just our solar system, it’s our entire universe. If you disagree, then you’re going to burn in hell, you God damned heretic.

We were loved by God so long as we accepted our fate as peasants, farming for dukes and bishops we would never see. Don’t worry, we were told, if we allowed ourselves to be powerless and impoverished in this life, the next one would have rainbows and beds made of clouds. Our sons were loved by God as long as they didn’t love other men. Our daughters were loved by God as long as they didn’t stay connected to their feminine nature or the earth. As long as they didn’t embrace their sexual power and remained subservient to men, our daughters were wonderful indeed.

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How dare this woman worship the earth she came from and the rivers that gave her life. I heard she also sex with Satan, doesn’t she know she is the property of her husband and of God?

We saw it done by Hitler and the Nazis, who told us we were perfect specimens of greatness. Unless, of course, our hair and eyes were too dark or our skin produced a higher amount of pigmentation. Then we were somehow sullied; we were somehow corrupt. Capitalism told us we were successful and smart, as long as our car was new and we had the latest smart phone. We were always perfect as long as we fulfilled someone else’s definition of it.

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What a perfect little Nazi. Now why can’t your brunette sister be more like you?! She would be perfect too, if she was.

You would think after all of the great individuals, the great men and women who stood in defiance of the oppression of the uniqueness of humanity, that we would learn to celebrate the diversity of one another and of ourselves.

We are shape shifters by nature. We are flexible and bendy. We can wear many different hats. We are water.

Our ability to bend and twist and move and flow is proof enough that none of us were made to be packed into rigid little boxes of conformity.

And yet still we act as our own corrupter. We still restrict our own freedom to be individuals. We are still barbarically behind in a deeper understanding of who we are as individuals and as a species. From the very time we are school children, we speak and act harshly toward those who stand out, instead of celebrating them.

Celebrate who you are, and support others who do the same.

Because you’re all pretty fucking awesome.

Be good to each other,

~MG.

Photos:

Featured Image: inesperkovic.com
Geocentric Solar System: pics-about-space.com
Witch Hunt: hiduth.com
Hitler Youth: spartacus-educational.com

On The Stories We Tell Ourselves:

We waited outside of our bungalow. Our drivers pulled up fifteen minutes late. The van – formerly white but now the colour of a frozen cheesecake – was loud and leaking a curious brown fluid everywhere. The van carried a wonderfully blended smell of a gas station and burnt toast. The exhaust pipe was choking out ink-black fumes.

Isn’t the story already writing itself for you? Something bad is about to happen, right?


The driver stayed in his seat while his compatriot jumped out to greet us. His English was the best I had heard from a Balinese person since I landed on the island. He had a bright smile. I liked that he was going to be our guide for the day.

But I couldn’t stop looking at the driver. The ash from his cigarette was longer than the actual cigarette. The smoke rising from it danced into his bloodshot eyes. He had an Iron Maiden shirt on, which one could presume he wore to the bar the night before. His bed-head hair might have been evidence that he was the reason why they were late to pick us up.

Like Tom Cruise about to jump into a Grumman F-14 Tomcat, he coolly slid sunglasses over his sleepless eyes. Go time, we must have both thought at the exact same time. Danger Zone was playing in my mind.

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An artist’s rendition of my driver.

We took our seats and I reached for my seat belt, except (of course) there wasn’t one.

Perfect, I thought. We were about to drive up the side of Mount Doom on an island which has little in terms of road rules. We would be attempting this task in a death-trap built in the 1980’s, driven by the Balinese version of Otto from The Simpsons. No seat belts. One might assume this is how it would all end for me.

The kicker? We still had to stop and pick up eight more people. To, you know, make sure death bus was full so we could all burn together.

Fast forward; miraculously, we had all survived.


But now I was mountain biking down the side of the volcano. I was doing this on roads without dividing lines, and without enough space for more than one car. I was accompanied by a group of inexperienced cyclists that were a far greater threat to my health than the speeding scooters or farm trucks I was attempting to share the road with. In the villages rabid dogs barked as I passed by, and the streets were even more congested than in the countryside.

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Catching the view from the side of a mountain rainforest that day.

Fast forward a second time; we made it. Sure, I had a couple bruises and cuts from some of the girls slamming their bikes into my leg. And yeah, it was hot enough to cook an egg on my bike helmet (I wondered how my driver – the hungover Balinese Maverick – was feeling in this heat). But all of us were just fine.


The thing is, we were always going to be okay. We didn’t put ourselves at some great risk that day. It’s only the stories we hear in our own society that make us feel fear in new experiences.

We see an old van and our consumerist conditioning tells us it’s not safe because it isn’t new and sparkling. We see the Balinese Iceman in his heavy medal t-shirt and remember what we’ve been told about a man who looks and dresses like that. That he is somehow more reckless and dangerous than a man in a suit. In reality it was probably his van, and his eyes were bloodshot because he probably stayed up late making sure it was running well for our trip. Maybe not.

The point is, the stories we tell ourselves will often be the only difference between a truly enjoyable and memorable experience in Bali, or being terrified the entire time and never getting to enjoy it. The entire experience that day, from the van ride to the bike down the side of the mountain, was one of my favourite Bali experiences.

But I certainly could have ruined it by telling myself fearful stories about not being safe.

Be good to each other,

~MG.

Why We’re All Artists:

Have you ever had a moment when you’ve observe genius and you were instantly inspired?

That was your inner artist showing itself.

Have you ever had THE moment? I think we all have, at some point in our lives. The moment we observe genius and we’re lifted into action on the wings of inspiration.

It might have been the first time we set our eyes on Claude Monet’s “Water Lilies.” For some of us, it was the first time we heard the angelic voice of Freddie Mercury singing “Somebody to Love.” It could have been the first time we read a poem by Sylvia Plath, the first Steven Spielberg film we watched, or the first time we saw Meryl Streep on the big screen.

Regardless of what the moment looked like, that was your inner artist showing itself.


 

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“Water Lilies” (1920-1926) by Claude Monet.

I’ve had many such moments in my life, but I remember the first time with absolute clarity.


 

When I was growing up, hockey didn’t appeal to me much. It was very un-Canadian of me, I know. I hated getting up before sunrise in the middle of winter to skate in an arena with ice on the walls. I didn’t like how my feet would be frozen for hours after I took off my skates. I didn’t like how much it hurt when I fell on the hard ice. I decided hockey wasn’t for me.

One night my family was watching hockey on T.V. A guy named Mario Lemieux was playing, and I was instantly hypnotized by him. He was a magician. His stick as his wand, he cast spells no other human could. Every time he stepped onto the ice, he created something from nothing. He made everything look effortless.

To this day, he’s still the closest thing I’ve ever seen to a unicorn. I didn’t understand it then, but I was witnessing genius in motion.


 

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Super Mario: In my humble opinion, the best to ever lace ’em up. [Photo Source: http://images.performgroup.com%5D.
Needless to say, my little heart was inspired. I gave hockey another chance. Suddenly, the arena didn’t seem so cold. The broken bones didn’t take so long to heal. The frozen feet thawed a little quicker.


 

So why does the witnessing of genius inspire us the way it does?

Art – in all of its forms – comes from a place we’ve forgotten. It comes from the higher realms of the self; it comes from the same place as our souls. We give it many names: heaven, the cosmos, the universe, Valhalla, source, Olympus, and the list goes on.  From the moment we’re born, the deepest parts of ourselves call us to return to that place.


 

This is why a masterpiece inspires us. It gives us a glimpse of the divine; a glimpse of the divine within all of us. For it is only when we see God in another that we come to realize that God is in ourselves. We stop seeing ourselves as separate from the universe around us, and start seeing the cosmos as a part of ourselves.

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“Taken Under the ‘Wing’ of the Small Magellanic Cloud” : I know this looks fake, but it’s not. This is a photo taken by NASA of a small cloud galaxy that orbits the Milky Way. It is a small fraction of the universe you are a part of. It is a small fraction of you. [Photo Source: NASA – http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/wallpaper.php?id=PIA16884 ].

That is why it lifts our hearts when we express ourselves with creation. Our soul sings when we dance and paint because, for a moment, we are opening ourselves up to the higher realms that we came from. For a moment we remember that we are Gods.


 

You don’t have to paint the Mona Lisa, or write Romeo and Juliet to find that place. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece. The most intimate parts of ourselves don’t care for acclamation or praise. Our souls only long for us to remember who we are; to remember the divine perfection in all of us.

A soul – personified as the artist – is in each of us.

It is why Michelangelo spent over four years painting the Sistine Chapel.

It is why Mario Lemieux  spent tens of thousands of hours on frozen ponds.

It is the reason that I write.


 

Art is the language of our soul and the artist is the one who speaks it. So take some time to create something, big or small. Paint a self portrait, build a tree house, or write a ballad. Take a dance or yoga class. Write a song, or learn an instrument. Find a way to express the soul trapped inside of you. Remind yourself of that feeling you get when you open yourself up to the heavens.

Remind yourself of your own divinity.

Because you are as infinite and as sacred as the stars we look upon.

Be good to each other,

~MG.

 

 

 

On The Grass being Greener:

Is the grass greener on the other side?

We all have the “grass is greener” person in our lives.

“I hate this place,” they might say, “once I save up enough to move to (insert location here), I’ll start fresh and everything will be okay.”

I grew up around them my whole life.

Constantly blaming suburbia for their discontent, their lack of meaning in life, their lack of total stimulation. They were too big for such small places. They needed the bright lights of the city, or the warm beaches of a far off, exotic place.

A lot of them made it there. Most of them remained unhappy and unfulfilled.


 

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That isn’t to stay travelling or moving your roots is a bad thing. I think travelling is essential for destroying much of the ignorance there is in the world.

The problem becomes when a place serves the same external function as any other material desire.

As soon as you get that corner office life will get better. As soon as you get to Bahamas life will get easier. They are all obtainable desires that will have us perpetually chasing our tails, but cannot give us what we think they can.

The destination will be exciting and new to start, much like the new car or home. New people will help you forget old ones, all the while not knowing exactly who you are. The beautiful location makes it easy to fall in love, or forget old lovers.

For a moment, the escape seems to be going exactly as planned.


 

Eventually, the new bright lights will dim. The people of the place will feel very much like the ones you left behind. Other travellers will have moved on, romances will have burned out in a pile of dust and lust. You’ll start to feel like you always have.

No matter how many events and new people we surround ourselves with, we’ll still have those silent moments by ourselves. Even if we find someone to fill the empty space next to us in bed, they’ll still be times when we have to face ourselves.

Because that’s where the real magic will happen.

That’s where it was always going to happen.


 

Fact is, happiness, enlightenment, and fulfilment are not things you will ever find externally.

There is no magical island that has special air that induces happiness. Just like there is no special elixir or tonic that will give us everlasting life.

As long as you’re searching for answers externally, you’ll always feel lost and unsettled.


 

Everything you need is right there, inside of you.

You have the ability to choose happiness. You have the ability to choose love.

Exactly where you’ve always been.

Be good to each other,

– MG.

 

On Friendship:

Who are our true friends?

Daylight was breaking on the horizon.

The lake was so still that the sun’s reflection was a perfect mirror image; it looked like the morning had two suns rising at the same time.

Our chairs were still firmly entrenched around the fire. Our toes were still stuck in the sand.

Our once roaring fire had been reduced to barely-smoking ashes, but not one of us had noticed. It had been a warm evening and we had been distracted.

For the past hour or so, two of our friends had been engaged in a heated exchange of words. I say “heated” in the traditional sense, as this is a pretty common and socially accepted practice amongst my group of friends.

The five of us that were not involved pulled up a chair and listened to the insults being traded. As always, we served as the referees, judges of style, and the crowd – all at the same time.

It wasn’t Canada Day, but there was certainly some fireworks that night/early morning.

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Canada Day celebrations. Note: This is NOT what happened on the night/morning in question. [Source: THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Sean Kilpatrick].

The battle had ended with the sunrise, and both combatants had felt they had gotten the better of their opponent.

One of the word warriors got up and headed back to the cottage, presumably to grab himself an ice cold James Ready for breakfast.

The other gladiator sat in silence, with a very strange grin on his face.

We took the bait. We asked him why he was smiling.

He told us he had an ace up his sleeve the entire time in case his victory was ever in question. He said it was lucky for his opponent that he hadn’t felt the need to use it.

We huddled around. We wanted to know what his secret weapon had been.

He leaned in a whispered and few words to us. He howled with laughter into the morning air.

A few of us released nervous laughs. Others just exchanged looks of shock. Maybe it was the hangover setting in, but some of us looked sick. I couldn’t help but ask:

Was this too far, even for us? Did we even have a “too far”?


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Does a group like this even have a “too far” ?

Growing up with these guys, I used to wonder if we were even actually friends.

How could people who claimed to love one another – even to like one another – constantly go at it the way we did.

At first I presumed it was some sort of struggle of machoism; putting each other down to get to the top.

I later took comfort in the belief that it was a natural occurrence within a team, a sort of humbling system to ensure no single ego rose above the interests of the group.

But here we are, some of us twenty years later, and we’re still very much the same.


Like most of us, my biggest problem in understanding friendship was my definition of a friend.

I had confused acquaintances, schoolmates, and co-workers  as my friends. I had confused people that I co-existed with, with people I flourished with.

It wasn’t until I realised the key element of a friendship that I truly understood why my group of friends had stuck together as long as it had.


 

This is because a true friendship is for the sake of friendship itself.

You are required to give no more to the relationship than your friendship, and expect nothing more in return.

As soon as the friendship is based upon other intentions or motives, it ceases to be a friendship at all.


 

Take your high school experience, for example. Some of the people you considered your friends you considered them so only because they were a part of your social group.

The intention of the relationship was founded on the motive of maintaining cohesion and harmony in your group of friends – not on the friendship itself.

Odds are you no longer maintain a relationship with those people.


 

We had a team of practically the same 17-18 guys every season for a decade, and yet only 8 or 9 of us are still close. Some were friends for the sake of the team, the ones who stayed close were friends for the sake of friendship.

It’s not to say we don’t love them. I’m personally fond of all of the guys I played with. Our relationship simply wasn’t built on something that lasts. It served a lesser purpose.


 

North American Silver Stick Champions
Whitby Minor Bantam AAA – 2001-02: Several of us are still thick as thieves, others have drifted out of our lives.

When there is no expectation in a friendship other than the friendship itself, we attain a certain freedom.

We don’t have to fall into line, wear certain clothes, or perform desired functions. We’re accepted exactly how we are.

We don’t have to be someone we’re not.

We don’t have to hide.

Friends see us exactly as we are, and they love us for it.


 

This is why my group of friends could constantly joke about each other’s idiosyncrasies, faults, habits, and mistakes, without anyone getting too bent out of shape about it.

We all inherently knew that the group wasn’t trying to change us as people. The group was confirming our own humanity.

We were telling each other that who we were was good enough. We were laughing at each other’s faults because they were normal; our mistakes were human.

We forced each other to look in the mirror, and be perfectly okay with what we saw.


Does anything truly exist if no one is witness to its existence?

Friendship is both the confirmation of our existenc

– exactly how we are – and the complete acceptance of it.


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Friendship is deep conversation at a dingy pub table – liquid courage is accepted but not required.

True friendships are an integral part of a happy life.

Not only because we – as humans – are social creatures, but friendships help us to understand ourselves and the world around us.

Instead of living in those big beautiful brains of ours, we can talk with someone deeply without fear of judgement.

We can express our fears of things like death, inadequacy, flying, or clowns. Through these connections we learn our fears are perfectly normal and, more often than not, we work through these fears together.

We can hear each other’s ideas on the afterlife, on happiness, on love. We can help each other to grow.


This is why the greatest lovers are those who founded their relationship upon strong friendships.

It is why you so often hear couples in their 90’s call one another their best friend.


 

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We should have known these two would end up together. [Source: The Lion King].

Beginning a relationship around lust is the same as beginning a friendship with the person from your social group in high school.

It’s the same as a friendship based on a professional connection.

It is the same as a friendship based on money, popularity, protection, or benefits of any kind.

They all serve ends that can be obtained.

You can attain harmony of the social group; you can attain the pleasures of the flesh; you can attain that promotion, you can attain the acceptance of a gang.

If the friendship – or relationship – is based on desires that can be attained, they are doomed.

The relationship ceases to meaningfully exist once it serves its purpose. 

A friendship, on the other hand, will always have the friendship to aspire to.

It is something that will last forever.

Any true friendship will.

Be good to each other,

– MG.