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.

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 Romance:

In those days I wasn’t sure what ensued in her bed chambers afterwards, but I knew it represented the climax – no pun intended – of the romance.

The moon showed but a silver sliver of its full self. Laying in bed, I waited patiently for the Cheshire Cat to open his eyes and reveal himself in the night sky. He never did. Still, there was something in the way that celestial scimitar was standing triumphantly in the cloudless sky that inspired a deep feeling of romance inside of me as I remained caught in its gaze. Romance, I thought with a bit of a laugh. What is Romance?


Well, Google aptly defines romance as:

romance

rə(ʊ)ˈmans,ˈrəʊmans/

noun

1. a feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love.

I had a thirst for romance”

2. a quality or feeling of mystery, excitement, and remoteness from everyday life.

“the romance of the sea”


Growing up as one of the many young Romeos, all of us chasing the collective Juliet, I thought I conformed to a pretty standard notion of romance. It seemed pretty simple in those days. The boy bought (or stole from the neighbour’s garden) flowers, and then professed his love from beneath some sort of balcony. If he was a particularly adept romantic, he would do this by means of a sonnet.

The timing was important; it was best to perform the monologue under a full moon, but at sunset would also suffice. The woman was, for whatever reason, constantly awake, available to listen, and always waiting for young suitors to visit her at strange hours. At the end of the performance, the Juliet decided she was either:

(1) Not into the idea and sent the boy home, or;

(2) Was satisfied with the romantic gesture and let her hair down for the young man to climb up.


Sure, I might have gotten a few different love stories mixed up at that age, but I had the gist of it. In those days, I wasn’t sure what ensued in her bed chambers afterwards, but I knew it represented the climax – no pun intended – of the romance.

As I grew older I began to realize that my vision of what was romantic might not exactly capture the essence of romance. For one, my sisters began to give me an inkling that a truck load of chocolate might better serve a romance than any type of flowers – unless they were chocolate covered and edible. For two, I started to wonder what was in that “happily ever after” that always occurred after the curtains were drawn.

Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet (1884) by Frank Dicksee

We didn’t realize it then, but everything we watched or read during our youth emphasized the beginning of a love story as what should be considered romantic. Whether it was about new love birds or an old couple breaking apart before rekindling an old flame, the romance always lay in the chase; it was the pursuit that was romantic. It was always about that opening gambit and a few initial speed bumps before both prince and princess were ready for that royal wedding. Then the credits rolled.


Even now I think of the happy couple, rosy-cheeked in their romantic infancy, reciting the story of how they met for an audience of half-interested single people. It often runs along the same lines. Initially, the female wasn’t interested but the male romantically wooed her into changing her mind. We cover our hearts and say “aw” when we hear of the cheesy and “romantic” gestures that helped to sway the odds in this particular Romero’s favour.

There’s not much to say after the “how we met” stories concludes; they are in the middle of their happily ever after. The movie is usually over by now. Babies start coming, fights start happening, and a divorce will probably be the result. The spark has faded. The spark that, we’ve been taught, represents the romance. Of course if we see romance – and by an extension, love – in this way, we’re doomed to a never-ending cycle of needing the hunt. Like freezing Neanderthals in the winter, our lives will be spent focusing on chasing the spark, never enjoying the fire we’ve already set ablaze. Is that really what romance is?


I look around me and I see that isn’t true. I see romance everywhere I look. It floats on the breeze that swirls around the elderly couple walking hand in hand in the park. At the arrivals gate in the airport, it swims in the teary-eyes of two lovers locked in an embrace. When two people are separated by an ocean, romance twinkles in the stars they look upon while thinking about each other. It’s in coming home to that familiar face after a long day’s work. It’s in missing someone, even if you just dropped them off. It’s in the strange way you can be overwhelmed with frustration but still love that person with all of your heart.

Romance lives in forgiveness, and understanding, after arguments both big and small. It’s in the first handful of dirt a widower throws on his wife’s coffin. It’s found in the breast pocket of a dead soldier, in the recently dried ink of a letter home to his high school sweet heart. When we’re a shoulder to cry on, romance is that little wet patch of tears they leave on our sweater. When we’re the ones crying, romance is the familiar smell of perfume or cologne that we inhale as we bury our face in their clothes.

The sorrow of lovers parted before they met, laments over promises betrayed, long lonely nights spent sleepless until dawn, pining thoughts for some far place, a woman left sighing over past love in her tumbledown abode – it is these, surely, that embody the romance of love.” – Yoshida Kenkō, A Cup of Sake Beneath the Cherry Trees.

Not one of us will ever master love, or understand it. That is why everything about love is exciting and mysterious. As such, there is romance in all of it. We just need to move past our Hollywood conception of it and start enjoying the little things. Love isn’t perfect, and neither are we.

Our happiest and most exciting moments with our significant others will lay perilously close to the saddest and most dull ones. It’s all part of it, it’s up to us to appreciate each moment to the very last. There are little Romeos and Juliets in each of us. We are all romantics. We just need to embrace the romance that’s all around us.

Be good to each other,

– MG.

On Bravery:

It is in these darkest of moments that we, as humans, possess the inner strength to find a way. We pick up an oar and we paddle. We crawl across the blackness centimetre by centimetre, with every stroke bringing us deeper into that haunting abyss. Surrounded by fear, with no light to guide us, we find the flicker of a flame within ourselves.

As a little boy I was afraid of the dark. I’m not even sure what it was about the dark that terrified me as much as it did. Finding myself in darkness, a wave of dread would wash over me. I drowned in that great unknown which floods any heart engulfed by its greatest fear. Paddling furiously, with nothing but dread and panic to swim toward, I would try desperately not to choke on the violent waves of darkness crashing against me.

I often found myself envying those friends of mine that seemed unaffected by darkness. Some of them were even bold enough to sleep in their dark rooms without a night light. Those boys were legends. I thought I was a coward and they were the bravest souls I had ever met, because I confused their lack of fear with bravery. Life, however, has funny ways of teaching us lessons about what it means to be brave.

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Clearly one of the children who were not afraid of the dark.

Those of us who were lucky enough to survive the voyage through the arduous seas of adolescence, too often found ourselves in dark and stormy waters that shook our soulful ships down to their very core. Yet no matter how violent the gale, we sailed on with our tattered banners until they were glowing in the light of the dawn and the storm had finally passed. We came to realize we are so much more than masts of bone and sails of skin. We are durable. We are bendy. We possess a power somewhere deep in our hulls that cannot be measured by stress tests or feats of strength.


I believe it is the greatest storms which teach us the most important lessons. The greatest struggles sire the smoothest sailors. It will be such a storm which will teach us the true meaning of bravery. Life has its ways of forcing us to face our deepest fears. It has its way of sitting us in that dark room.

Though I recall my great storm well, I do not remember exactly when my ship changed its course. I do not remember the sun dipping beyond the horizon. I can only remember the darkness of the night. Life had put me on a ship that was empty with no wind in its sails. My breath would have been visible in the icy night sky, had there been enough light to see it. I was stranded in the deepest darkest waters of the mind and, like those heroic friends from childhood, had no light in the night to guide me.


I think, in some form or another, we all experience this moment in our lives. A desperate moment in time, void of hope and happiness, that threatens to completely shatter our resolve. We find ourselves lost and afraid to move. With our ship sinking, we feel it is our duty to go down with it. It could be something as little as cramming the night before an exam, or as monumental as hearing the cancer has returned. Regardless of the depth of the dark waters we’re thrown into, staying the course – whatever that may be – becomes the portrait of insanity and we begin to paint the thought of surrender with the most beautiful and exotic of oils. Nothing seems as simple as lying on the deck and closing our eyes, waiting to welcome the black waves as they devour captain and craft.

It is in these darkest of moments that we, as humans, possess the inner strength to find a way. We pick up an oar and we paddle. We crawl across the blackness centimetre by centimetre, with every stroke bringing us deeper into that haunting abyss. Surrounded by fear, with no light to guide us, we find the flicker of a flame within ourselves. We trust in that feeble fire because it comes from a place that no darkness can breach. It comes from a place we don’t understand, but that we have an unwavering faith in.

If we take the generally accepted definition of bravery as a quality which knows no fear, I have never seen a brave man. All men are frightened.General George S. Patton, Drive to Victory – General Patton’s Third United States Army.

Those who walk into darkness without a fear of the dark are fighting a battle they have already won. They may be bold and courageous, but they are not brave. The brave are not without fear. On the contrary, it is only when we are overwhelmed with fear that it is possible to truly demonstrate bravery.

The brave, when sinking into the terror of the deep, find a way to paddle through. The brave, when consumed and surrounded by darkness, find a light within themselves. It is those who trudge undeterred through the darkest parts of themselves that are the true champions of bravery.


The fact that you’re reading this is enough to tell me you’ve made it through your share of storms. Maybe you’ve even survived your great hurricane, your grand and defining moment. Our life, however, is a single voyage comprised of many storms and there will always be another on the horizon. It’s part of being human. Before you die, you will face many more storms in all aspects of your life. Some of them will terrify you. Always remember that fear doesn’t define you; we cannot choose the things which strike terror into our hearts.

But we can choose to paddle on. We can choose to be brave, because bravery is within each and every single one of us. You just have to know it’s inside of you. I promise you that it is. You are not a coward. You are unwavering and unbreakable. You are strong. You are brave.

Be good to each other,

– MG.

Photo of the boy in a costume is courtesy of funderlandpark.com

On The Journey:

I think when any of us take that leap of faith in ourselves, pull up our ancient roots, and jump outside of our comfort zone, these buried feelings will naturally float to the surface. We need to embrace these feelings because, in the end, they will always be our greatest pillars of strength.

Airport regulations had determined this was as far as we could travel together. I put down my carry-on bag, kissed my mom, and hugged my dad goodbye. I told them I loved them, picked up my bag, and trudged toward the terminal.

It all felt rushed. It felt like it somehow wasn’t enough of a goodbye, but deep down I knew there was no such thing. We all know it. We will never truly be ready to take a leap of faith, especially a leap of faith in ourselves.

I wanted to look back as I was walking away, but I couldn’t risk letting my parents see their twenty six year old man-child of a son with tears in his eyes. So instead of seeing them one last time I just kept walking, step-by-step and teary eyed, until I found my way through security and into my seat on a plane heading to the city of angels. Those were the first official steps of a personal journey that was long overdue.


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In my entire (short) stay in L.A, I didn’t see one single angel. [Artwork: Part of the piece “Sistine Madonna” by Raphael (1512)]

I remember the feelings swirling inside of my stomach after I had left LAX and was floating from cloud to cloud somewhere above the pacific. Each moment took me further away from a net of safety I had kept under myself for my entire life.

Without that net to fall back on, my fears and vulnerability were naked and exposed. I felt a deep sense of loneliness, fear, uncertainty, and had absolutely no trust in myself.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”Lao-tzu, The Way of Lao-tzu.

I think when any of us take that leap of faith in ourselves, pull up our ancient roots, and jump outside of our comfort zone, these buried feelings will naturally float to the surface. We need to embrace these feelings because, in the end, they will always be our greatest pillars of strength.



AFRAID:

I had just taken a massive dive into the depths of the great unknown. It can be dark and terrifying in there – for any of us. The journey can be anything. Whether you’re changing schools, considering a swap in professions, or moving to a foreign land, always remember that the inherent fear that accompanies such a leap does not define you.

It is the bravery you’re showing in facing that darkness that makes you who you are. You are strong and brave for even taking those little steps into the unknown.

The best part? You will never break. You may feel like you’re bending at times, but the unknown will never snap you. It will only show you your own durability. It will show you that you’re not made of glass, you’re not fine china. Instead you’ll see that you can bend and twist. You are as strong as the blacksmith’s hammer and as unbreakable as the anvil he hammers upon. The great unknown will teach you to trust in yourself.



LONELY:

I remember the feeling of loneliness eating away at my insides as I lay in bed over 18000km from everything and everyone I had ever known and loved. I had confused not having those people with me in the physical sense with having lost them completely. Yet time alone has the unique ability to change profoundly how we understand the things nearest to our hearts.

In time, we learn that we are never truly alone. The relationships you have with those closest to you have created bonds of immense love that you carry within you always. That love shines through you.

That love returns to you perpetually in the form of those people in your life that love you just as dearly as you love them. You will see that you don’t need them physically present to have them by your side.

Love is the one thing we can possess as humans that transcends both physical space and time. With this understanding also comes the realization that we’ve actually brought our safety nets with us. That reassurance is our protective light. For the dark depths of the abyss feasts only on those who are alone and unprotected. The courage and strength we get from knowing, deep down, that those close to us are still supporting and loving us is all we really need.



LOST:

Even with a rough plan of obtaining my Juris Doctor in place, I still had no real sense of moving forward and no real end goal in sight. I was lost. But something inside of me forced me onward. I kept moving, and so will you. We keep moving because we know inherently that it’s better than standing still and letting the entire world spin around us. We keep moving so we never get stuck.

And then a funny thing happens. We look back at our own footprints in the sand and we realize it’s never been about where we’re going. It’s about the thousands of steps we’ve taken along the way. It’s about the steady hardening of our soft little paws. It’s about seeing how we grow with each step, each moment of progression.

It’s about the pieces of yourself – what makes you whole – that you’ll rediscover and collect along the way. For on your journey you won’t be finding a newer, better version of yourself, you’re simply remembering who you’ve always been. And who you’ve always been has always been perfect.

So keep your head up. Keep yourself moving. Travel down your personal path, whatever it may be, every single day. Some days you’ll only muster a few small steps, and that’s okay. Just as long as you stay the course.

Be excited to look back on the steps you’ve left behind instead of stressing every day about where you may or may not end up. It’s never been about the destination. It’s about the journey, and yours belongs to you.

You are not alone and you will not break. Trust in yourself, because you’re already on your way.

Be good to each other,

– MG.