I believe we can be anyone

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best to make you like everybody else is to fight the hardest battle you can fight--but never stop fighting! E.E. Cummings

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Lessons from a Homeless Man

One of the things that gives me joy is spontaneous interactions with people.  You never know what is going to happen.

I was walking home from getting a couple items from Shoppers Drug Mart the other day.  As I crossed the street, an elderly homeless man with whitish grey hair, a full beard, wearing a bright red kangaroo jacket and I "collided". 

He said, "Excuse me miss, but I'm campaigning for Mayor and am wondering if you could help me out with some fundraising." 

Well, that made me laugh out loud.  What a great and original line!  I said "You have my vote.  But I don't have any cash on me right now."

He says, "That's okay.  I also have a machine."

I laughed again.  We walked together for a block and chatted.  I offered to buy him a tea or something as we were walking by Steeps but he didn't want tea.  He said "Yuck, no thanks.  I'm just interested in booze."   As we parted ways I blew him a kiss adieu.

At least he was honest about what he wanted and what his needs were which is more than I can say for most people, including myself at times.

Sometimes I find it's still difficult to ask for what I need or want.  Why?  Well mostly it's fear.  Maybe I won't get it or maybe the offering will be rejected.  I know it "shouldn't" stop me but it still does at times.  But who knows, maybe someone will say "Yes" so what the hey then!

Is that going to stop this guy from asking?  Probably not.  Nor "should" it you or I.

Sometimes I learn more from interactions with "homeless" or so called "poor" people than anyone else.  Don't discount or judge them just because they are on the street.  You don't know their story or how they got there.  They deserve love, kindness and a listening ear from time to time like anyone else.  And who knows, maybe you will learn something from them!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

My Meeting with Lynne Twist

I wasn't prepared to be as affected as I was by going to see Lynne Twist on October 5th.  I mean, I "should" really know myself better by now.  My heart was deeply touched by the stories she shared about her life experiences; especially the one about when she met Mother Teresa.

I knew when I got the email about her coming to Calgary that I needed to be there.  I first saw her "speak" on a DVD by the name of "Crude Impact".  On the extras of that particular DVD were interviews with her and her husband Bill Twist.  I was completely blown away by her thought provoking and paradigm shifting philosophy.  To see her live is a completely different experience, being in the presence of her energy.  The DVD was and is powerful though because it was "enough" for me to want to see her speak live.

Below is a trailer for Crude Impact.

Below is a link for the DVD Crude Impact including interviews with Bill and Lynne Twist which you can purchase from their site.

I had expectations of seeing her speak on stage but none of the possibility of actually going up to meet her and speak with her face to face which was a pleasant and exciting surprise.  Along with hearing her speak, we received her book "The Soul of Money" http://www.soulofmoney.org/.  I waited in line to get my book signed.  I was a blubbering mess when it was my turn.  And those of you that know me know, that is just what I do.  When I am moved and touched to the core of my soul, my heart is open and emotions pour out. 

Lynne and I at the book signing.  What a beautiful human being.

Mother Teresa was and is her role model.  I told her yes, she is mine too.  But so is she (Lynne) and I shared that with her.  While there have been a few women role models, there haven't been a lot of them I'm sad to say.  Lynne is such a strong, authentic, grounded, honest, powerful and humble woman. She is someone I would consider being mentored by.  But in the meantime, I would look up to her as a role model of how I would like to be and continue to grow into.

"Be the change you want to see in the world", as Ghandi said.  I really get what this means.  All I can do is continue to make positive changes in my life and hopefully that will inspire others to do the same, just like Lynne has done for me.  I would like to believe that fundamentally people want what is best for themselves, the planet and us a community.  I want to believe that people will wake up and do what is right. 

Lynne and her husband created The Pachamama Alliance http://www.pachamama.org/ which is dedicated to preserving the tropical rainforests.  Lynne shared one of her stories about her trip to the Amazon Rainforest where she met the Pachaur Tribes. 

The Tribes mentioned that we in the West have created a nightmare for ourselves and have veils over our eyes to the truth in our current culture.  It's time to lift those veils and awaken to the truth so that we can make changes to create a sustainable way of living.  This includes living within our means (and not accumulating debt) and not continuing to contribute to the overconsumption of products.  Our way of life in the West has become a place where throwing away things has become the norm.  This has huge repercussions.

A consumer is described as:  an individual who buys products or services for personal use and not for manufacture or resale.  A consumer is someone who can make the decision whether or not to purchase an item at a store and someone who can be influenced by marketing and advertisements.  I would also describe consuming as the act of continuing to fill a hole in our souls that can never be filled with enough stuff.  That hole can be a longing to be a part of something bigger in our lives.  A life filled with purpose, meaning, community and doing things we love and enjoy.

I am not a religious person but I do believe we are spiritual beings that are connected to each other.  What one person does affects another.  I pray that we awaken and realize that how we are living needs to change and that there is a better way.  One that allows us to live sustainably and without harm to each other, ourselves and the planet.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

You Get What You Pay For

I have learnt that you get what you pay for.  I currently have two bikes.  One is my "errand" bike and the other is my "going for long rides" bike.  I consider my "errand" bike "junky".  It really isn't.  It's just I'm not too concerned about leaving it out for an extended period of time.  When I get on to ride it, it feels like a chore in a way.  It's heavy and bigger than my other bike but it gets the job done.  Five to ten years ago, my first and second bikes were too big for me too, but they also got the "job" done and allowed me some sense of freedom which I was truly grateful for.

Then there's my dream bike.  The bike I get on and it feels effortless to ride.  It just glides easily as soon as I hit the pedal.  It's a single speed, no gears at all and it rides like a dream.  Going around the reservoir is fun.  Sure sometimes it's hard going up hills because I need to work at it, but it's still easier than my other bike.  I love passing people who are pushing their bike uphill that are half my age while I'm going up a hill on a single speed, slowly but surely.

I just absolutely love riding that bike but I wouldn't leave it locked up somewhere for extended periods of time.  It's just too darn pretty and tempting for someone to want to take.  I would truly miss this bike.  So let's not even go there. 

Taking a break at the halfway point around the reservoir.

My precious bicycle.  I love it.  It rides like a dream.

This bike is my homage to the Japanese/Asian culture.  My girlfriend called it my "princess bike" which suits me fine.  I guess I probably was royalty in a past life so that makes sense.  Rick picked the perfect bike for me.  He saw it and he knew it had to be mine.

Eight or nine years ago, I went to Sport Swap to buy my first bike in years.  It was only $100 but it got me around and I felt free.  I have since let that bike go.  I have learnt after riding cheaper and clunkier bikes, that riding a bike that costs a little more is well worth the money invested.  Especially if you are going to go for longer rides.  It definitely makes riding a lot more fun if you have the right bike and the right bike that "fits" you. 

If a bike is too big, it's awkward to ride.  And if it's heavy, it's not that fun to ride either.  It makes riding laboursome.  It is well worth the investment for a decent bike and it doesn't necessarily have to cost a fortune.  It's like anything in life.  You pay for a cheap bike, it isn't going to last and it isn't as fun to ride.  I'm going to have this bike for a long time. 

What drives me crazy is people will spend a minimum of $400 and more a month to have a car. They will pay for a car payment, insurance, gas, maintenance and parking and yet they will balk at spending a $1000 on a bike.  Are you kidding me??  I don't have a car payment, don't need insurance or gas (except my own energy), it's very low maintenance and there are no parking costs.  Who is coming out ahead here? 

If I want a car, I go rent one every now and again.  There is freedom in not having a car.  When I say we don't have a car, people just won't get it.  It's like it doesn't compute.  Living in the inner city has its perks.  If we were in suburbia, perhaps it would be a different story.  I would rather ride out to suburbia to visit.  I like the convenience of living in an area where everything you need is right there.

Sure sometimes it sucks when it's freezing out.  But hey, I'm not spending $700 or $800 on a vehicle and I can save that money and put it somewhere else.  Ahh, cycling is freedom in more ways than one.