On Going Through the Motions:

In meditation, there’s a few different reasons as to why the mantra is used.

Some sects of Buddhism or Hinduism believe that muttering certain words manifests change. The words plant a little seed in the plan of the universe which is then nurtured by our positive deeds, good intentions, and dedication to our practice.

Other sects believe that the mantra is a set of arbitrary words used to numb the mind.

This is because when we take any word, and say it over and over and over and over again, it loses all meaning.

When the word eventually fades into the realm of meaninglessness, we are essentially muttering nothing at all. We have short circuited our way to an empty mind. A quiet mind.

A mind content in its meaninglessness.


entrevo-keypersonofinfluence-get-started-meditation
[ Source: http://www.keypersonofinfluence.com ] .
An integral element of turning a word or a mantra meaningless is that there must not and can not be anything behind the words. We have to say the words without putting any feeling behind it.

We may have originally known the intention of our mantra, and we may have started our chants with intense purpose and sincerity, but somewhere along the way we must lose that intent and meaning in order for words, and their meaning, to fade into oblivion.


 

This is exactly what happens in life when we go through the motions.

We get up every day and follow the same routine. Go to the same job, to perform the same functions, with the same faces surrounding us, who are also performing their own monotonous functions.

Too many of us call this life. Too many of us call this living.

Like the mantras that lose all meaning, along the way we’ve lost what’s behind our words and our actions.

We’re performing the action of living, without actually possessing the intent to live.

We’re just saying the words over and over and over again. Our actions are for the sake of action.

And in this way our lives become meaningless.


 

We confuse the action itself as being the crucial element of life, when in reality it is the intention behind our actions that matters the most.

Life isn’t about the vacation or the trip, it’s about why we’re going, what we’re getting from it, or what we’re running from.

It isn’t about the code we live by, it’s about why we’ve chosen that path. It’s about discovering the fears and the pressures that have convinced us to live life a certain way, and it’s about choosing – for your own reasons – to find a different code to follow.

It’s not about the corner office job, but why we get up and work there every day.

Once you lose the intention behind the action, it becomes meaningless.


One should therefore not rely on mere words, but everywhere search for the intention behind them.” Buddhist Scriptures.

And that goes for anything in life.

You can be a brilliant poet, painter, athlete, lover, worker, or mother, but if the intention behind it isn’t pure or has been forgotten, then your actions cease to have meaning.

Your actions become a mantra.

Your boss, your partner, your children, and your team mates will all begin to feel the insincerity behind those meaningless actions.


 

Life is never about the choices we make.

It’s about why we make those choices. It’s about those tiny moments of integrity, when we know we’ve made an unpopular choice but have stayed true to ourselves.

It’s about being fearless in the face of external pressures or socially constructed fears.


Portrait Herm of
Socrates : One of My Favourite Examples of a Man Unconcerned With Social Fears or Pressures.

Life is the fire, intention is the oxygen that gives it strength and beauty.

So breathe some fresh air into your life.


 

Take some time to reflect on why you’re doing everything in your life. Look at everything you do today as a choice, and question the intention behind that choice.

That is where your power comes from.

You have the choice and the power to live life how you want to live it.

Don’t let any person or misplaced fear take that away from you.

Don’t go through the motions.

Live your life with conscious intention.

And you’ll be living a meaningful life again.

Be good to each other,

– MG.

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On Social Media:

Don’t we think it’s a little strange that, in a world of nearly seven and a half billion (7 383 900 000) people, so many of us feel like we’re all alone?

I’ve always found the term “social media” to be a curious one. 

Admittedly, if you break the word down into its respective body parts – “social” and “media” – it’s a word that makes perfect sense. Yet it’s not its pieces that make it a puzzle. 

The term feels like a misnomer. It doesn’t feel right. I look at social media and I fail to see anything social about it.

Media is not an inherently social entity. From newspapers to Fox News, there is no social interaction actually involved. 

We may feel as though we’re socially interacting. Like we’re connecting with that horoscope columnist who just really seems to “get” us, or the newscaster covering our sports team who seems to always agree with our opinion of the new head coach.


Ron Burgundy: One of the Only News Anchors to Truly Understand Us, San Francisco. [Image Credit: Anchorman]
Ron Burgundy: One of the Only News Anchors to Truly Understand Us, San Francisco.
[Image Credit: Anchorman]

But we’re not.

We’re still sitting alone at the kitchen table, keeping our eyes on the newspaper while we hurriedly force down the coffee we burnt before work.

We’re still messily finishing that crossword on the train with the stranger in a brown suit next to us as our only companion. And no, it doesn’t count as social interaction because we asked him for a four-lettered word for a famous son of Chronos.

The media doesn’t want to interact with us. It wants us to read, to listen, and to watch their version of what’s happening all around you. It wants to tell us what perception of reality to accept. 

Social media, in turn, has taken us one slippery step further down this path of human isolation.

Social media has stolen from us our innate love of society; we have never been more antisocial than we are this very moment.

There was a time, before bullet trains and water spraying jet packs (which are pretty awesome for the record), when our nearest neighbours were fifteen kilometres away and the fastest method of travelling was on horseback. Yet we called on each other weekly, if not daily, to fulfil that natural desire to truly interact with other human beings.


Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god.”  – Aristotle, The Politics.


Fast forward to today, and I haven’t called on my neighbour since before the first Jurassic Park movie came out.

Social media has negatively affected every (formerly) social activity.

I see us capturing moments – beautiful sunrises and breathtaking full moons – through Instagram filters instead of capturing them with our eyes and keeping them in our souls.

We write those moments as Snapchat stories instead of writing them across our hearts, as part of our own stories that are constantly unfolding.

We use the check in button on Facebook to let our friends know where we are and what we’re doing, instead of checking in with a call or catching up with a visit.

We’ve mastered messaging with “abreeves” but forgotten how to carry a face-to-face conversation.

We live tweet sports events from our couch instead of taking a road trip to catch a live sporting event with some friends.

We text acquaintances while we sit around a table with our actual friends.

We don’t notice the love of our life next to us in the cafe because our eyes are down on our phone as we try to find love on Tinder. They walk in and out of our lives while we’re swiping right and left.

We’ve exchanged real friends for followers and lovers for “matches.”


And yet, don’t we think it’s a little strange that, in a world of nearly seven and a half billion (7 383 900 000) people, so many of us feel like we’re alone?

It’s because we are alone. Every social media platform offers an additional layer to a wall we’re building between ourselves and those around us. Another filter. More paint on our masks.

We’re given the means to limit and skew the images of ourselves that we put out there, and everyone else is doing the same. It becomes a terrifying idea to show people who we really are, so we don’t. Everyone tries to be like everyone else.

We’re creating a world where no one will truly know anyone.


I think that’s a tragic thing, because the greatest protectors of the beautiful uniqueness and natural individuality we possess as humans should be all of us, together.

Governments and, further back, religions have always feared and denounced the individual; the threat to the status quo. 

And yet, individuals such as Copernicus, da Vinci, Tesla, Picasso, and Einstein did amazing things by questioning that same status quo, by letting their unique thoughts and feelings be their compass. 

They didn’t follow tradition, and we celebrated them for it.

Self-Portrait (1512) by Leonardo da Vinci.
Self-Portrait (1512) by Leonardo da Vinci.

I’m afraid we’re starting to lose that. We’re falling into line.

Not because of fear or oppression – those things could never break our powerful spirit – but because of distraction.


The irony of it all is that I’m communicating this via an outlet that was only born in the age of social media, and sharing it on multiple social media platforms.

I think our advances in technology and our ability to connect with one another is astounding

I’m thankful for Skype, Instagram, and other means of keeping in touch with all of those that I love and miss at home.

I just think it’s important that in our quest to be more connected, we don’t severe our connection to each other; that we don’t become the snake that eats its own tail.

Recognize each other. Appreciate someone when they do something differently, wear something strange, or embrace their authentic self in any way at all. 

You’ll find people start encouraging you to do the same.

And, my God, that will be a beautiful thing.

Be good to each other,

– MG

On The Things We Want:

Race cars, Barbies, video games, shoes, a new hockey stick, the list goes on. We were shamelessly invested in the fantasy of our birthday.

Another year has gone by, and another birthday arrives to remind me. It’s funny to think how much things have changed since we were children. The world used to stop for our birthday. We were kings and queens for twenty four hours every year. I remember my twin sister and I would start counting down the days as soon as October came around. It was always the most exciting part of the year.

Then, slowly, birthdays became less exciting. The countdowns started later, and the parties became less extravagant. Eventually, we stopped caring. Some of us have started to dread the day we turn another year older.

For me, birthdays have become routine. It always involves a little bit of cake, some close friends, some family, and too many vodka shots. Lately, birthdays have been followed by a day or two of recovery (in bed, with Netflix). For the most part I couldn’t tell you a single thing that has separated one birthday from another. Except for this year.


Something happened that has never happened before; not a single person has asked me what I wanted for my birthday. It was with this realisation that something strange dawned on me. This was the first time in my life I could have answered that question from the bottom of my heart.

Growing up, we used to love the question of what we wanted for our birthday. It gave us a chance to voice all of the superficial and material desires that raced through our little minds. Race cars, Barbies, video games, shoes, a new hockey stick, the list goes on. We were shamelessly invested in the fantasy of our birthday. We were convinced the day was so magical it might actually produce all of these things that we wanted.

But those weren’t the things we truly wanted, were they? Those wants were the result of targeted advertising aimed at the minds of tiny children and young adults. Those desires were what someone else convinced us we wanted and needed. Those wants came from being convinced we weren’t good enough the way we were. Those desires were someone else’s idea of happiness, a happiness of the material kind. Our birthday lists were so long because pursuing material happiness is endless. Material desires will always leave us searching, wanting, and needing more.


Just a couple of kids who have no idea what they actually want in life.
My two sisters and I: just a few kids who had no idea what they actually wanted in life.

Part of my journey to Australia was inspired by the growing resistance against the idea of waking up one day and being sixty years old. I was terrified I’d work for the weekends for my entire young adulthood, scrape by with the money I earned over fifty hour work weeks, and spend it buying things I didn’t love or need in order to pursue somebody else’s idea of happiness.


And that’s not to say I don’t like the idea of the picket fence, walking in the garden with the girl of my dreams, with miniature versions of ourselves running around (hopefully stressing us out less than I did my parents), with a family dog chasing them around the yard.

BUT maybe that picket fence isn’t in the suburbs. Maybe it’s at the end of a long dirt road that twists and bends, with a few large evergreens on either side. Maybe my nearest neighbour is half a day’s walk away. Maybe the food we’re eating is picked from our own garden. Maybe I’m running around all day with the kids and the dog, because I don’t have to put on a suit every day and leave my family before the sun rises and come home after the sun sets. Maybe my kitchen smells like the jasmine, basil, and mint growing in small pots in the sunlight pouring in from the window. Maybe my wife laughs at me when I buy her a necklace, not because its not from Tiffany’s, but because we both know she’ll never wear it. We both know we’ve never measured or demonstrated our love in this manner. Maybe we can lay in the grass together like children, after ours have gone to bed, and look up at the stars without a veil of light pollution obstructing our connection to the heavens. Maybe we’ll fall asleep under those stars because she feels so warm in my arms. Maybe my arm will fall asleep too, but maybe she looks too beautiful to disturb her when she’s sleeping.


This scene from Gladiator gets me every single time.
The picture perfect driveway: this scene from Gladiator gets me every single time.

Maybe I’ll find a way there. Maybe I’ll have my picket fence on a plot of land. Maybe I’ll be the boy of her dreams. Maybe I’ll be the loving father I know is inside of me. Maybe I won’t. Maybe it’s not in the cards for me. Either way, I know which journey I want to take. At least it’s not someone else’s version of happiness. At least it’s not someone else’s vision of the perfect life. At least it’s my own dream that I’m chasing. At least I’m being honest about who I am.


There are two tragedies in life. One is to lose your heart’s desire. The other is to gain it.” George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman.


So, even though no one has asked me, I’ll tell you what I want for my birthday:

I want you to strip away all the of the influence society has had on your mind. I want you to search deep inside of your heart. Dive into the very depths of your soul. Find that child inside of you that was never convinced of being anyone other than exactly who you are. I want you to ask yourself – ask that child – what it is that you actually want in life.

And then I want you to go and get it.

Be good to each other,

– MG.

On Money:

In the material world we live in, money is king.
And yet, there is nothing material about it.

It’s been said by many people in various ways that “money makes the world go round.” It goes without saying that it plays a large part in our lives. We see it everyday; we see it swap hands in the coffee shop, we throw it into piggy (or real) banks, and we spend most of our days working for it. We watch as experts trade it and predict its future value. We judge the value of material goods by how much money it costs; in the material world we live in, money is king.

And yet, there is nothing material about it.


So What Is It then?

Yes, money exists in the physical world; it has weight and density; we can feel it. At a point in the not-so-distant past, it was even made up of (materially) valuable resources. But the money we worship, as it is, is of no intrinsic value. It’s what that money becomes that gives it worth. Money is a shape-shifter; it is Mystique, The T-1000, Merlin, Professor Lupin; it can be anything.

The famous shape-shifting wizard, Merlin - as seen in Disney’s Sword in the Stone.
The famous shape-shifting wizard, Merlin – as seen in Disney’s Sword in the Stone.

It can be a night downtown, complete with bottle service and a booth to call your own. It can be a new book, the smell of fresh pages still intoxicating in their strength. It can be a water pump for a thirsty village in Africa. It can be a lady of the night, or a donation to the church. It can be tickets to the show, the game, or to get on the overnight train to visit an old friend. It can be a university education or a down payment on a house. Money, simply put, is a promise of the future.

And that is why it is such a terrifying thought to spend one’s life pursuing it.


There is nothing less material than money, since any coin whatsoever (let us say a coin worth twenty centavos) is, strictly speaking, a repertory of possible futures. Money is abstract, I repeated; money is the future tense.” – Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths.


I’m not so naive as to think money isn’t important. It serves its purpose, and can be put to use in some pretty amazing ways. I, like Epicurus, tend to believe money has a limited role to play in our happiness. It can give us the food and shelter we need to survive, or the education we require to follow our dreams. It can cover the cost of rent for your new yoga or art studio.

The Epicurean graph of Money vs Happiness, as found in Consolations of Philosophy by Alain de Botton
The Epicurean graph of Money vs Happiness
, as found in Consolations of Philosophy by Alain de Botton

But it will never make us truly happy.


Why it’s crazy

It seems almost ludicrous to think money will lead to our happiness. Spending one’s life chasing the accumulation of money, or the material items that money can transform into, is perpetually pursuing the future. There is no life, no experiences, no love, or laughter in the future. Those things are found in the present moment; they are found in the here and the now.

It’s been said that the minute we fulfil a fantasy we can not, and will not, want it any longer. This is because it is never the material desire that we want, it is the fantasizing about that desire that we seek. Think of the time you fantasized about being single, getting a puppy, or buying that new car. If I could just obtain “x”, you thought, I`ll be happy – only to find out that happiness doesn’t work that way. Even a small child desires the shiny red ball or those magically rattling car keys, until he or she obtains them. We may get a brief fulfilment out of finding a new (or multiple new) partner(s), playing with the new pup, or wheeling around in the new whip – but that novelty will always fade. It fades because these things only serve to plug a hole inside of ourselves, a void that can only be filled from within.


This is why money – and the pursuance of it – it such a foolish prospect.

If we spend our days accumulating money, we’re spending that which gives money value in the first place – our future. We’ll have many coins that can turn into many things, but with no time left to perform such powerful magic. Our future, much like the money we attain by wasting it, is not something we can bring with us after we pass from this life.

A fulfilled life isn’t measured by the number of fantasies you fulfil or the material objects you obtain. It’s measured by the experiences you have, the people you share it with, and (most importantly) being fully present in those moments. Spend your time in the future, or chasing it, and you’ll miss the collection of moments that fulfil us, the ones that pave our way to happiness.

Don’t spend your life in a constant chase of the next future fantasy. Chase the present moment. Live in it fully, love in it fully, and laugh it in fully. Your happiness is not a fantasy to be fulfilled. It is right in front of you this very moment.

Take it, its yours.

Be good to each other,

– MG.

On James Neal:

The truth isn’t always easy. In a society mainly concerned with comfort, we will often seek convenience over the truth.  Our love of the scapegoat is a perfect example of this. We’ve seen it many times in many realms; we’ve seen scapegoats in politics, in war, and in sports. We do it because its easy. It’s easy to find a singular, simple source of blame than it is to scratch beyond the superficial surface of an issue.

A Flashback:

I remember it was an unseasonably warm Australian afternoon in late June. I had just finished a four hour Corporate Law exam and was waiting in line for a double triple shot of espresso so I could stay awake for the rest of the day. Friends back home were taking part in the Canadian past time of watching the NHL draft and criticizing their favourite team’s picks as couch-ridden, unpaid general managers. I turned my phone on, and it blew up. 

James Neal had been traded to the Nashville Predators. I was shocked. Not because he’s a 40 goal scorer. Not because of his big body presence or his quick release that would make most players envious. Those things can theoretically be replaced. The reason the trade struck me as curious was that I couldn’t for the life of me propose a valid reason as to why it happened.

The (debatable) official reasons for the trade eventually surfaced. Over the next few months a number of additional articles emerged discussing the trade. There was an overwhelming theme that this trade was chemotherapy for the Penguins; that they had eradicated a cancer in removing James Neal. Articles claimed that this trade improved the character and the dressing room environment of the Penguins (without providing any real evidence). Usually, the writer hinted to whispers amongst pundits or equated on-ice discipline with who Neal is as a person and a professional. James Neal – the player and the person – deserved more than that.

The Player’s Player:

James Neal is, and always has been, a great team-mate. He’s loose in the dressing room. His on and off-ice chemistry with Geno was rivalled by few power duos in the league. He’s a professional in every sense of the word. Coaches and players past and present vouch for his relentless work ethic and dedication off the ice and during practice.  

Neal and I playing for Whitby Minor Bantam AAA for the 2001-02 season.
Neal and I playing for Whitby Minor Bantam AAA for the 2001-02 season.

I played for nearly ten years with James Neal. We put on the same jersey for close to 1000 games of hockey. For most of them, he was my captain. He’s a silent yet strong leader who leads the way by example. He’s more dedicated to his body and his craft than anyone I’ve ever met.

He is selfless and will do whatever is asked of him (just ask Craig Hartsburg, who took Neal to fill a third line checking role with Team Canada on its way to World Junior gold in 2007). He’ll hit hard, he’ll fight if he has to, and he’ll do whatever gives the team the best chance of winning. He wants to win more than anyone in that Nashville dressing room right now. Ingrained deep within him is a sense of integrity that will never allow these things to change. Nashville is extremely lucky to have him, and they know it. Simply put, he’s a player’s player.

James Neal winning the U21 World Juniors in 2007. [Source: Getty Images]
James Neal winning the U21 World Juniors in 2007.
[Source: Getty Images]
He’s shown himself to be a leader since his days in junior, and he’s already taken nicely to the assistant captain role in Nashville – showing that he can not only play on the defensive side of the puck, but also relate to and mentor young superstars who are learning the professional ropes.


It begs the obvious question: If he possessed such a cancerous character, why were at least 15 other teams in the market to acquire him? Why did Nashville commit to the remaining twenty million dollars on his contract, and give him the assistant captaincy?  It doesn’t exactly add up.

James Neal was painted as the villainous cancer in Pittsburgh because it was easier than addressing a massive lack of depth and toughness that the Penguins are suffering from.

Let’s Be Honest:

The trade was a bad one. It was a knee-jerk reaction by a new general manager who felt he needed to make a big splash to show fans that the perennial underachieving of the Penguins was not going to be tolerated. Neal was the biggest name that also doubled as a disposable commodity. Let’s face it, Crosby and Malkin weren’t going on the block. When you look at the trade, at both face value and in greater detail, it requires an additional layer to make it justifiable to fans and experts alike. The James-Neal-is-a-cancer myth served that purpose.

The Real Issue:

The Penguins maintained the core of superstars that won a cup, so why is post season under-performing becoming a theme in Pittsburgh? They lost the character that it takes to win in the play-offs.

Think of game seven against the Red Wings in ’09. Remove Max Talbot, his grit, and his two clutch goals from the Penguins line-up. Does Crosby lift the cup at the end of that game? Probably not. 

Max Talbot scoring what turned out to be the Stanley Cup winning goal in 2007. [Photo Source: USAToday.com]
Max Talbot scoring what turned out to be the Stanley Cup winning goal in 2009. [Photo Source: USAToday.com]
So how did the James Neal trade fix this culture of quitting when the games get tough? Of folding when adversity strikes? How did it help with character?

It didn’t. 

The Pens didn’t add anything in that department, and their play-off woes remained the same. You need sandpaper to win in the play-offs. Neal has that, and I’ve yet to see it in his replacement(s).

James Neal, The Person:

I understand the convenience behind the scapegoat. I understand its logical use in deflecting attention away from under-performing franchise players and in appeasing fan criticism. I understand that Neal was the perfect head to roll and this is a business. It would have been much tougher for Jim Rutherford to roll up his sleeves and go to work on the actual problems plaguing the Penguins. Yet something deep inside of me can never agree with how they turned James Neal into a scapegoat. They did it by attacking his character and his person.

There’s an entire human being the fans and media don’t see. They don’t see the guy who wakes up before sunrise to put long hours into training during his off-season. They don’t see his charity work, in both his home town and in Nashville. They don’t see the guy who takes care of his friends and family, all the people who love him for the man he’s become. 

James Neal supporting Smilezone Foundation at the abilities center in Whitby, Ontario. [Source: James Neal's Official Instagram]
James Neal supporting Smilezone Foundation at the abilities centre in Whitby, Ontario. [Source: James Neal’s Official Instagram]

We’re all entitled to an opinion. If you believe Neal’s departure was the start of a positive change in steel town, I respect that. I only ask that in your endless justification of the trade, do not stoop to taking shots at his character or his integrity.


It’s too easy to criticize a man when he’s out of favour, and to make him shoulder the blame for everybody else’s mistakes.” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace.


Big Picture:

These players are human beings just like you and I. It is in recognising them as such – through our human empathy – that we must find the strength to resist the urge to join in the whispers of defamation and gossip. The people we use as scapegoats, in politics or in sports, are certainly not perfect.

But they do their best. They make mistakes, but so do we. They love. They bleed. They sweat. They cry.

Treat them that way.

Be good to each other,

– MG.

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.

Follow Your Own Path:

Why you have nothing to lose finding and walking your own path.

For all of you none-sports fans out there, I promise the greater message behind this short story is worth the wait. So, bear with me!

At some point last year, I had just finished watching the Chicago Blackhawks knock out James Neal and his Nashville Predators in game six of their first-round NHL play-off series.

It was one of the most exhilarating play-off series I’ve seen in a very long time. It was full of goals, hits, skill, clutch plays, over-times, heroes, villains, and drama. In short, it was everything that sports fans watches hockey for. 

James Neal, Alternate Captain of the Nashville Predators
James Neal, Alternate Captain of the Nashville Predators Photo Credit: Nashville Predators Official Twitter Page (@PredsNHL)

When the game ended, Chicago being victorious, I  couldn’t explain why I felt a deep sense of injustice inside of myself. That injustice followed me around all day, a looming shadow constantly nipping at my heels. Why was I so rattled over the result of a game?

It bothered me until I was forced to stop and face the feeling in an attempt to understand it. I wanted to sit with the emotion in the hope that eventually I would let it go. Catch and release.

♠ ♠ ♠

On the surface, the source of that feeling seemed fairly obvious. Nashville had done everything that every young player is taught would result in their success on the ice. Not only had they done everything right, but they had done it better than Chicago.

And yet there they were, eliminated from the play-offs.

I felt as though something had been taken from Nashville. Like they deserved better. But why?

The more I took a deeper look at this feelings, the more I began to realize the root of the problem wasn’t specific to sports. It’s something we all deal with, every day, a humans.

In this particular instance, my negative feelings lay in a strange idea of hockey “justice” that had been indoctrinated into me at a young age. As athletes, we are taught to place all of our faith into the notion that if you play the game a certain positive way, a specific positive result will follow.

The problem with investing so much faith into this belief is that in sports, as in life, there is no actual guarantee of that desired result.

♠ ♠ ♠

In life, we’re faced with these false promises every day of our lives.

If we just follow these simple academic guidelines, we will get into a good university and find a respectable job. If we just master these certain athletic skills and systems, we will soon be playing in the big leagues.

If we find a beautiful or handsome spouse, own a white picket fence, a family dog, two new cars in the garage, and make six figures, we will find happiness. If we act in this holy manner, we will go to heaven when we die.

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“Dear God, I’m sorry I didn’t eat my broccoli. Please let me into heaven. And give me that big red fire truck toy I asked mum for.”

Most of the time it is either implied, or explicitly stated, that not following these guidelines will lead to the opposite result. We will fail out of school, get cut from the team, be unhappy in life, or burn in hell.

♠ ♠ ♠

I think that these inferences hold merit on a basic level.

If you refuse to attempt a mastery of your athletic skills, you probably won’t make the show. If you refuse to dedicate yourself to reading and writing, your academic pursuits will definitely be more difficult. I think basic instructions on the improvement of dream-specific tools serve as strong groundwork for anyone pursuing those dreams.

There are certain things you can’t ignore while chasing your dreams. Things like hard work, passion, and sincerity will always be crucial to your success.

So why do I think our How we should do things sense of justice is such a potentially dangerous set of beliefs to put our faith into?


Because we ignore the possibility that a team like Nashville can follow the age-old formula, preached by hockey clergyman, and still lose the game.

We ignore the possibility that we can obtain that corner office and own the dream house in the suburbs and still be unhappy.

We can experience hell on earth even if we are morally good people.

We can have a chiseled six-pack and still be unhealthy, or unable to truly love ourselves.

We ignore the possibility that we can wake up at twenty nine years old in peak physical condition, be highly skilled, but still be in the minor leagues.

♠ ♠ ♠

It is in our ignorance of these very real possibilities that we create very real suffering for ourselves. We see life as unfair or unjust. We’re shocked and appalled when these negative possibilities come to fruition. We waste years pursuing something because someone else told us it will bring us joy. Then we feel as though life isn’t fair when that joy doesn’t magically appear.

Yet, there is absolutely no logical basis for us to feel this sense of injustice when these perverse results occur. The injustice lays only in the vast faith we’ve put into the doctrine of “how things should be.”

In cases where one acts correctly but still suffers disaster, one is left bewildered and unable to fit the event into a scheme of justice. The world seems absurd.” – Seneca the Younger, as quoted in The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain De Botton.

This may seem like a negative perspective, but it’s not.

I believe that understanding these very real negative possibilities gives us – as human beings – real strength.

If you can fail by following the rules then you can succeed without fanatically following them.

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There are no rules. Only choices. See the world, chase the sun.

You can be a respectable person without pursuing a traditionally esteemed occupation. You can publish an influential academic piece without attending Harvard, or topping all of your classes. You can be a great champion without a pedigree or without following the traditional path of your respective sport or discipline. If heaven is your goal, you can still find that stairway if you step outside of the three thousand year old guidelines written in scripture.

You can be a happy person without following the status quo or chasing the American dream.

I can’t give you a blueprint that guarantees success for your pursuits in life. I can’t tell you the way to happiness. But neither can anyone else.

So break the chains of expectation. Free yourself from the prison of how things should be, the shackles of how we should live. Stop wasting time following other people’s blueprint for happiness, achievement, success, or spirituality.

Carve the path that calls to you. Follow your dream whether or not convention considers it probable, because convention can’t guarantee you success or failure. All you can do in chasing your sun is keep your feet moving and your eyes on the light.

And let come what come may.

Be good to each other,

~ MG.

Photo Use Courtesy of:

(1) Cover: joecoculo.tumblr.com
(2) Boy Praying: ministry-to-children.com
(3) Girls at Bondi: blog.ishine365.com

On Substance:

When I think of the word substance, I think of weight. I think of density. A bowling ball, a newborn baby, a dying sun. I think of what actually makes up the matter of someone or something, beyond the mask or façade on display.

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Disclaimer: I have no way of measuring the density of this artistic rendition of a star. But, to me, it looks dense.

We attach varied levels of importance to things tangible and intangible according to the meaning and value they have to our individual experience. Yet the word always carries the same meaning for all of us.

When we say something is of substance we are vouching that it possesses a depth beyond that which can be recognized on the surface, and that depth is essential to its meaning or existence. Substance is the existence of something beyond what we see and, more often than not, it is something of value.


Humans are the perfect example of what it means to have substance. We are much more than the surfaces we allow each other to see.

We are never skin deep. Each one of us is the result of the hundreds of thousands of intricate internal and external relationships and experiences. We appear to be made up of seamless and simple skin on the outside, yet internally we are a patchwork of a million personal pieces unique to ourselves.

It is this chaos inside of us, and not the calm surface, that makes us human. It is what separates us from one another; it is what differentiates us from the similar skin we’re all sharing.

Your internal substance is the part of you that isn’t easy to read or boring to learn about. The vivid and unique oils of your internal landscape are a personal portrait. Consistently being altered by the paintbrush of life, each stroke of colour adds to an already endless wonderland of adventure and intrigue.

Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat (1887) by Vincent van Gogh.
Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat (1887) by Vincent van Gogh.

So why then, are we so obsessed with hiding our complexity?


We meticulously maintain and groom our shallow surfaces. We carefully polish our vast array of smiles and we rehearse our jokes – for those are the weapons we’ll arm ourselves with during this weekend’s social campaign.

We place an unhealthy importance on the mastery of crafted emotions; our gasps of shock and fits of laughter must be believable and emphatic. We carefully iron out our faces after our trousers and we use the same mirror to apply our emotions in the same way we do our lipstick. We spray on our personality with our fragrances. We wear around our necks the persona we want others to see and then we hang Tiffany pendants and wooden crosses from them.

Our outward expressions, no longer useful tools in demonstrating the inward feelings we ignore, have become gadgets we use to accentuate our surface appearances. They serve the same purpose as our Marc by Marc Jacob clutch that matches our new Prada pumps or our Burberry tie that creates that must-have contrast with our Armani suit.


We’ve somehow began equating our surface with our substance. We’re only as beautiful as our most recent Facebook profile picture, the filter we choose for it, and how many likes it receives.

Our experiences are summed up in small collages and uploaded to Instagram, its value judged by how many people stamp their approval with little digital hearts.

We’re only as healthy as our body-fat percentage tells us we are, or the amount of gluten we avoid. Our spirituality is defined by the colour of our Lulu yoga mat.

We’ve forgotten that there is an entire world inside of us. It is a world full of experiences, memories, ideas, ambitions, and beliefs. It is a place that would take a lifetime for us to completely explore.


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There is a magnificent kingdom inside all of us. When will you find yours?

Yet we’ve never cared to examine or maintain this inner kingdom. Our inner selves have become, like Dr. Frankenstein’s monster, crudely sewn and stitched together with ideas scavenged from the surface. Surface-deep ideas of what the superficial world insists makes us a whole person.

Instead of planting the seeds of wisdom, acceptance, confidence and self respect in our endless internal garden, we’ve left the weeds of ignorance, denial, doubt, and loathing to grow in their place until they strangle us.

The demons who feed off of these negative plants – such as fear, jealously, sadness, and paranoia – have grown strong and have multiplied. They prowl unchecked in the shadows of ourselves, and have become the tyrant kings of our domains while we have become strangers in the only place we can truly call our own.

Look well into thyself; there is a source of strength which will always spring up if thou wilt always look there.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations.

So maybe skip the hair /nails /tanning appointment or the gym today (unless its leg day – don’t skip that). Find a patch of grass and sit in silence. Watch your endless thoughts drift slowly by like the calming stream that they are. Trade in your typical Saturday night debauchery for something that inspires real growth. Instead, sit around a table with a few close friends – turn off your phones – and really connect with one another in real, human conversation.

Whatever you feel inclined to do, take some personal time and trim the rabid weeds strangling your soul. Plant the positive seeds of wisdom, acceptance, confidence and self respect that will grow into the beautiful garden you can be. Take back your kingdom, even if it’s inch by inch.

Do a little bit every day. Like Rome, you won’t be built in a day. In fact, you’ll never stop planting, cultivating, and exploring yourself. As a child of the stars, you are as limitless and as endless as the beautiful universe from which you came.

You are dense. You are full of substance. You are perfect.

Be good to each other,

~ MG.

Photos Courtesy of:

Cover Art: Storm At Sea (1820-1830) by J.M.W Turner
Star: zodiac-compatibility.tumblr.com
Meditating woman: odishasuntimes.com

On Motion:

It occurred to me that everything around me was in motion. A fleet of clouds sailed across an ocean of burning suns. Finely manicured blades of grass wiggled playfully like toes in the evening breeze. The flames of the camp fire danced a crimson cha-cha.

The voices of a few people close to me bounced around my ears. Their musical consonance provided a soothing background symphony as I lay in the grass looking up at the night sky. Despite being stranded somewhere in suburbia, the stars had managed to sear through the light pollution and were sparkling brightly in the heavens above me. The crackling of the fire was calming. I was still. I felt at peace.

In my perceived stillness it occurred to me that everything around me was in motion. A fleet of clouds sailed across an ocean of burning suns. Finely manicured blades of grass wiggled playfully like toes in the evening breeze. The flames of the camp fire danced a crimson cha-cha. The Aurai ran their kind hands softly through my hair and down my neck, inspiring goosebumps with every gentle gust they granted me. As still as I was, I couldn’t help but notice my chest expand and collapse with the huffing and puffing of my breathing bellows. I started to run with the idea.


Nothing about us, or the milky way we’re swirling in, is meant to be still. Motion is in our very genetic make-up. From head to toe we are wired with veins, interior aqueducts dispersing and directing the life force that flows down from our mountain heart. The large part of us that is made up of water yearns to ebb and flow with the tides, our distant cousins that crash upon the ocean cliffs. Our legs are powerful propellers designed to run, jump, and swim. Our feet are designed to absorb the impact of that motion, doubling as fins when we flap them underwater.

The music of our heart is a constant drumming, the unique resonating rhythm our body constantly dances to. Our breath is constantly flowing through us, winds that whisper new life into the deepest, darkest depths of us. Our minds are magnificent machines, master of our endless mental motions.

clarity
Everything I could see was in motion.

Nature is no different. Everything around us is revolving in a cycle of motion. The sun and the moon chase each other endlessly. Rivers restlessly flow into lakes that are never truly still and silent. Fields giggle with the gossips of grasshoppers. The swaying trees of the forest shelter the busy bees, beetles, and bugs. Even mountains move ever so slightly, their rocks forming slowly over hundreds of years.

Our nature consists in motion; complete rest is death.” Blaise Pascal, Pensées.

Then I take a look at our society. I reflect on the values and norms we’ve convinced ourselves are correct. I look at all of us, in a constant war with our desire to move, twist, and flow. I see us slouching over computers in blank cubicles that are as small as prison cells. Chained to our desks, our legs bounce with the defiant motion desperate to escape its confinement. I see us slave away in factories, separated from our constantly moving world around us by thick cement walls.

We flip through magazines as we sit for hours in airports before seeking solace in the rigidity of our neck pillows during long-haul flights. I see hyper-active children incapable of sitting still being sent to the principle’s office before doctors recommend a plethora of medications to cure them of their perpetually-moving disease. We’re stuck in libraries for hours sweating over the books we’ll be tested on for finals.

The gluttonous goblins of mindless media – such as Netflix, reality TV, Fox News, and Hollywood productions – share in the spoils of mental warfare as they gobble up entire years of our lives. Even meditation has been misconstrued as something that seeks to silence the mind, rather than allowing ourselves to slowly drift down our river of the thought, observing it without judgement.


The entire journey of life is a constant motion. We are meant to consistently learn, grow, and evolve. And we’re meant to do it together.

I’m tired of being chained to a library desk. I’m tired of seeing the people I love being confined to professional prisons. I’m tired of seeing my fellow humans drowning in socially constructed quicksand. I’m sick of sitting still. I want to use my arms and legs for the propulsion they were designed to provide me. I want to be cured of this sitting sickness. I want us all to remember the freedom and peace we feel when we keep ourselves in motion. I want us all to fly, together.

Be good to each other,

– MG.