Saturday, 16 May 2015

Where the Magic Happens

It was the fall of 2014 when my muse handed me a book and told me to read it.
Yes, I have a muse. And yes, I know you think it's absurd. If you haven't acquired a muse, I highly recommend them. As Ferris Bueller would suggest, "They are so choice".
But everything that's collectively transpired for me in the last 6 months has been absurd, and like writing a blog or a memoir, will be open to criticism. 
I'm not arrogant to assume my life is ever so adventurous and consequential that A) I deserve a muse and B) I deserve a memoir. But I calls'em like I sees'em.
It was fall, and Danni had handed me a book that we had discussed prior. I've always been attracted to minimalism. I tried it during my tenure as a husband of 14 years. Let me tell you, minimalism definitely conflicts when you have kids. As does marriage to a consumer whore. 

We consume quite a bit. Here's a fucking clutter stat for you: 

A) There are 300,000 items in the average home.
B) Home sizes have tripled in the past 50 years.
C)1 out of 10 Americans rent off storage facilities.
D) Average 10 year old owns 238 toys but plays with average of 12 daily. * This stat has a caveat  attached as I owned more than 238 Star Wars figurines, Ships and Space Stations and EVERYONE OF THEM was integral to the macro storyline I had created.  
E) Average American woman owns 30 outfits, one for everyday of the month. In the 1930's that figure was 9.

Okay, enough stats. The reasoning here is that consumerism isn't bad. Hell, I did it. I do it. But I accumulated a lot. I was a clothes whore. Let it be said, I don't look at anyone and think that their choices to buy and consume says anything about them. It doesn't. It just says a lot about me. 

When I'm stressed, and I mean when my throat sinks into my stomach and it's twisted and bunched up in knots, that's my stress. What I've done in the past was treat the symptom and ignore the cause. Last several months when I've felt the need to implode, I've asked myself to hang onto the feeling I'm currently having and save it for another day. Why? The reasoning is to diagnose it after the dust settles. What causes my stress as opposed to what ailed it. Once I understand the issue that created that, it was about changing patterns and behaviours. To eliminate the unwelcome stress that plagues our lives, is a step towards happiness. 
After married for 14 years and working through personal demons to let go of old thought patterns, bouts of depression and unhealthy decision making, I needed to make a life change. 
It was December, and my attempt to downgrade my life was in effect.  I was in need of a vacation and not sure as to what the answer was. As an Executive Chef, I have anxiety about leaving my job at anytime during the year. It's a siege only those in the industry ever understand. 
I had a dream once about Belize. What I can only assume was Belize. When you have never travelled there, it's easy to confuse a Belizian palm tree for those of the Dominican Republic. The point is, when I awoke, the answer was provided to me. Belize. 
There's only a couple bucket list destinations for me. Belize since that dream, topped that list. By complete fluke, my ex wife took it upon herself to find a website that offered good travelling packages. As she said in the email: "In case they ever have a Belize offer!" I searched that website that day, just for a lark. Of course the offer up for grabs was Belize. 
Heart palpitations commenced. Surely I couldn't just pack up a backpack and take half a month off to do this. What about my responsibilities? I stared at the website for hours. Click to buy. Everything in my head said no. One word in my heart said yes. Enter the muse.
I have known Danni for several years now and I've never met a woman more easy going and aware of her life choices. Correct that. Human. It would be fair to suggest I liked Danni immediately. She's a go with the flow woman and I was always enthralled by her stories of travel with her girlfriend, Teags. Narration of backpacking into worlds of uncertainty and adventure reinvigorated the lost elements of me I cherished as a kid,  but washed away as I got older.
Danni responds to my need to discuss heart versus head. Feelings versus Logic. Growing up with a collective group of women in my life tends to support that mentality. Hell, my best friend growing up was a girl.

Danni would walk by my office every once in awhile and check up to see if the trip was solidified. Click to Buy. There I was...still entranced. Not able to make a personal commitment to myself. I think even for her, watching a man at 40 years of age struggle in that capacity, was enough for her. She simply grabbed a piece of paper and scribbled a crude drawing on it and placed it in front of me. Today that crude drawing hangs on my wall as a reminder as to where I was to where I am. Always a visual man, the drawing did it. The reality is, the drawing, while it was poignant in approach, it was a friend like Danni who steered me outside of my fear of uncertainty and re-tapped into my love for going against the grain. To feed my need to explore and never stay still. I made the leap and purchased the ticket. A two week stint to fly to Central America with only what I could fit into a carry on back pack into a country I had very little knowledge about. 
The story that follows will forever change my life.

"We sometimes have to put aside the things we think we are supposed to do, so we can do the things we are meant to do."

Sunday, 26 April 2015

I wanted to be an 80's private investigator.

What do you wanna be when you grow up?
Chances are if you grew up anywhere remotely near the North or Western Hemisphere, this was no doubt a question posed to you at some stage of Elementary school. Not to be done, this question will without a doubt follow you through out your life in some form or another. Masqueraded as "When will you settle down?" or "When are you having kids?"
We are an eager little civilization, aren't we? Rush to define, but more strangely rush to achieve. 
To be clear I'm not against this question per se, but I'm not sure we ask the important questions enough. Sure, I don't know exactly what the "important" questions are. So I can only speak for myself, and well, since this is my fucking blog, sit down and shut up, cause it's always gonna come down to my perspective.
I should preface myself here, so you understand my disconnect towards this question and the manufacturers of it, namely archaic school systems. The "chalk and talk" technique as it's been described and meticulously duplicated. Sectioning out children in strict rows of desks, sections of study blocked off by capricious values of time, and the grading and teaching of "the middle" learners. If you have kids or have ever been to school, The "Bette Middlers" are the kids the teachers aim to focus on. Keeping mid row, just enough to bore the kids that "get it" and advanced far enough that it leaves the "Modifiers" without a hope.
As a kid, I wasn't exactly "a safe Bette". According to the school system, it's where I would fall short. Under achieving in most subjects, over achieving in one and falling somewhere in the realm of "passable" in the remaining few. I was a modifier. And in the 70's and 80's sugar coating or political correctness wasn't on the horizon. The room in which you were sent was clearly labelled and recognized as "special".
I'm not sure I ever really got over the indoctrination of this style of learning. Designed to feel like an outcast, once I found my place in the system, it would slowly subside, but the scars run deep for the ones lost in the system. 
As I approach my 41st birthday and learning to eliminate the questions once asked to me, as a child. I started asking myself the questions I feel are more important at this stage of my life.
 "How do I wanna feel when I grow up?"
"What kinda man do I wanna be?"
"How do I wanna leave this earth?"

These questions are resonating with me in the last 3 years and on my borrowed time before I embark on a new venture for myself, I remind myself to stay present in the moments and make sure that I'm no longer interested in human being, but more inclined to human doing. That the ventures for all of us are half chance and accompanied with success and failure. 

Once announced that I will leave my job, and move to a foreign country with little concept to plans, the most resounding question was, "What if you fail?" The reality was and still is, I have just as much chance at failing taking this risk as I do staying inside the little system I have resided in for 40 years. Inside this "bubble" hasn't protected me from any falls and bruises. They are unavoidable measures of life, no matter how one chooses to live. 
Failure doesn't bother me, never has. Just maybe it was the system I became a product in as a kid that helped me get apathetic towards it. Challenges aren't real challenges if we have assurance that all our plans will work out. If it did, I think I'll pass.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Discovery 1.

It started with a book...Actually, it started way before that. But for all intent purposes we can start at the book and likely work our way backwards like a journalistic entry of Memento. The book in question was Everything that Remains a memoir by the Minimalists. From there, a seminal work of life changing events and renewed thought process managed to take a $53,000 a year professional chef and father of two teenage boys to quit his job, sell all his belongings and move to Central America to venture alone into an unknown world with only the contents that fit in his Minaal backpack. Flat Stanley, once a character device used to journal adventure for children, is now an inspired idea for myself as I take the next five months and chronicle what could be the greatest and most grandiose life changing venture I have ever under taken, chronicling it and learning from it as I go, to find my place amongst the rest of us and maybe... my way home.