Seafarers and Lovers

What do Seafarers and Lovers have in common?

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


For over a thousand years, Europeans looked at the vast Atlantic and saw a dangerous beast too overwhelming to conquer. They saw rogue waves and brewing storms ready to dash their tiny ships on jagged rocks. They saw nothing but a sapphire abyss waiting to swallow them whole.

Simply put, most of them were like, “there’s no fucking way I’m crossing that shit.” It was so much easier to sit on the beach, drink mead or watered down wine, and enjoy the view.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Unfortunately, a lot can happen after the honeymoon phase wears off. There will be an abundance of excuses, reasons why it’s easier to turn the ship around than it is to weather the storms, the hunger and the thirst, the disease carrying rats, and the crashing waves.

It’s easier to look for excuses than it is to put in the work in to figure things out. Especially now, with humans disposed of and replaced with the swipe of a finger, it’s so easy to stay safe with our feet (and our heads) in the sand. It’s much easier on the beach. It’s easier to shut down parts of ourselves to our lovers and throw away the key.

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

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

It’s why I can’t help but see a comparison between lovers and those crazy mother fuckers who once sailed the deep, dark, uncharted Atlantic Ocean. They both wanted paradise, not easy.

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

Be good to each other,

~MG.

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

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

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

Ocean

“I am that.”

What is it, exactly, about the ocean that calls to us? What is it about her waves whispering in our ears that fill us with the excitement of a child and the calm of a sage instantaneously?

Our ears wiggle to a music that seems to speak to somewhere deep inside of us. We close our eyes and listen to the singing seagulls and the chorus of crashing waves with smiles on our faces.

It’s a song that forces us to stop thinking with our rational brain. Instead, we let our bodies tell us what to feel.

Watching her waving waters as they dance to the steady beat of a lunar drum that we cannot hear, we begin to realise there is intention in nature. We feel a magical impulse, a divine will, a call to action, a collective soul.


We witness the energies of the universe as they swirl all around us. No one knows where they came from. No one knows exactly what they are. But now, in the overwhelming presence of the source of all life, we can feel them. Life’s energy.

It’s in this moment, gazing at her colossal strength and infinite beauty, that we realise that these are the same energies that ebb and flow within us. We look at life in motion and we say, “Ah, that’s who I am. I am that.”

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“I am that.”


Even if it’s just for a moment, we transcend our consciousness.

In this transcendental experience, we realise that we already live in the kingdom of heaven. We remember the promised land has nothing to do with real estate, titles, or deeds. We understand that nirvana is inside of us, exactly where we stand. We may even laugh at the all too curious realisation that we ARE the mystery which we are seeking to know.


The Gods didn’t kick us out of the Garden of Eden. We banished ourselves, and we continue to do so every time we lose sight of these simple truths. The ocean reminds us to come back into Eden and eat the tasty fruit of who we really are.

That’s why the ocean calls to us.

Or, maybe, you just like to surf and sun tan.

Be good to each other.

~MG.

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Cover Photo Courtesy of: http://bighugelabs.com/

On Women:

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

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

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

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


Picture this;

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you cannot give unconditional love to her when her waters get rough, you’re treading in waters too deep and powerful for your 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.

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

Actions Speak Louder Than Words:

Facta, non verba.

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Be good to each other,

~MG.



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

On 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.