Tag Archives: hope

Episode 40: Losing Sight

It’s been almost two months since my last post, and for that I apologize. Life has been pretty busy, and I just didn’t really find much to inspire me to rant and rave. Recent developments, however, have changed all that…

In the news the last little bit, we’ve heard about someone getting stabbed at the Toronto Caribbean Festival, and then two deaths and several ill after taking shady drugs at the Veld Music Festival. A friend very aptly pointed out that where there are large gatherings of people, your odds of finding violence or death increase. Fair enough. But then someone commented, and I responded by mentioning that the root of a lot of these problems is children not being raised properly. That parents don’t really take the time anymore, and (to use my own words) the deck is stacked against us in terms of improving the situation and making positive change. Now of course, you all know the internet. That comment sparked a war of sorts, which was resolved when I summarily tore apart every single one of the arguments against me (you think I’m kidding, but for a change I actually just tore them all to shreds).

And then up crops this foul-mouthed article (blog post?). It’s an interesting read, and a view that I have shared before, and occasionally continue to share. A lot of what he says, I cannot deny. But his message is largely a negative one. The only time he displays any positivity at all is at the very end, where he hopes that we can still have hope. But let’s be honest, even that isn’t very positive.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t disagree with anything he says in his rant (except maybe one or two minor points). It’s very well structured, his arguments are sound, and most importantly they match up to the opinions I had already formed. My only issue is his outlook for our future. Yes, I agree that things look bleak, but I just can’t shake the feeling that things have always looked bleak, and yet as a species, we’ve always managed to pull through in the past. My greatest concerns aren’t what we’re doing to each other, but rather what we’re doing to our planet. We’re surprisingly resilient creatures. We can bounce back from things that some people might consider impossible. The planet is resilient too, but there are now over 7 billion of us on the planet all clamouring for the same limited resources. That would put a strain on any eco system.

And yes, some might argue that the scarcity of those resources is exactly why there’s so many problems with the “elite” and the poor. Fair point. But as a species, we will still push past that crisis. Even if there’s mass starvation, and the greater portion of the population dies, still there will remain some, and they can begin the process of repopulation.

Oh, but every life deserves to live, you’ll say. True, they do. But should it come down to scrambling for resources where only the fittest and richest survive? I would surely never make it out alive either. I’m not saying my life is worthless, but we all know the consequences of having too many of us on this single planet. That’s just the way things go. Sure, it’ll suck. But what can I do? At least I’ll know that the fittest, smartest and (hopefully, but doubtfully) nicest of us will survive. We will go on to become greater as a species than we were before.

That being said, we’re not at that point yet. And we don’t have to be, either. Change would be good, and if it can be acheived, then so much the better. But it’s a long, wearisome process, and it requires all of us to work together. Not just on our own partisan ideals, but on a genuine, better-for-everyone, goal. Perhaps it’s interplanetary or interstellar travel, so we can populate new worlds and therefore ease the strain on this one. Perhaps its to spread the resources more evenly (although in my opinion that’s a temporary fix). Or perhaps we should engage in mass murder and genocide (but I think Hitler and many others have shown us how that one will turn out).

It’s a fascinating problem, and I don’t have the answer. I don’t know where we’re headed. But I’m going to focus on enjoying the journey, no matter what that means for us, and I suggest you do too. It’s not all bad, you just have to keep your eyes a little more open to see the good. And if you don’t empathize with your fellow man (and woman, of course), you can never hope to see the good, because after all, we are all in this together.

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Episode 36: Random Acts Of Kindness 2

Last week, I posted about how I’d become inspired to do one random act of kindness per day for a full week. So this week I thought I’d give you folks a rundown of the sorts of things I did. This way if you thought maybe it sounded like a good idea but didn’t know how to go about it, I could give you some ideas. I think I might have listed some of my acts in the previous post, but I don’t remember which ones, so I’ll just start with day 1, and move from there…

Day 1:
While at work, I bought water bottles for the people I was working with that day. They were 50 cents apiece, so it proved to be a highly affordable option, and also featured tangible evidence that my actions had an effect when one of the girls told me that she’d paid it forward later in the day.

Day 2:
Being a holiday (Victoria Day in Canada), I stayed home most of the day. But even then I managed to find an option. I helped my mum with some housework that I don’t normally do (yes I live with my parents at the moment, there’s a very long and unnecessary explanation that goes with it, so just forget about it and let’s move on).

Day 3:
I was at work and overheard an elderly couple discussing purchasing some artichokes. I had the box of fresh ones already and was set to work on the display shortly, but instead of waiting, I let them know that I would be filling it that moment, and if they wanted some of the older ones for a reduced price, I could get a bag’s worth ready for them. I even filled the bag a bit more than I usually do. From the thanks and smiles, I think it safe to say mission accomplished for day 3.

Day 4:
Again, a small gesture (notice a trend here yet?). I simply taped enough money for a chocolate bar to the vending machine at work with a little note explaining what it was, and asking for the recipient to pay it forward. I tried to add a little humour to the note also, so that it might inspire that extra little smile.

Day 5:
Finished work for the day and waiting to head home, I saw a woman loading bags of soil into her car. I went over to help her (despite the fact that normally when I’m done a shift I could care less about doing more work), and at the end a smile and a thank you were waiting for me.

Day 6:
Went to Tim Hortons (a coffee shop) for breakfast and bought the next two coffees after me. I suppose anonymous acts are more in the vein of a proper random act of kindness so this is a more appropriate example, but really I think doing anything you wouldn’t normally do counts.

Day 7:
I wanted to finish with more of a grand gesture for day 7. As the final day of the challenge, it seemed somehow appropriate to have a grand finale. Lickily, I knew just what to do. I’d recently met a girl who’d been pretty much forced into moving to a new area (conveniently the area I live in), and not only had she seemed pretty bummed about the move itself, but her birthday was coming up soon, and she didn’t really know anyone in the area, so she wasn’t planning on celebrating and seemed down about that too. Now interestingly enough her birthday landed on the same day as day 7 of my challenge. So I thought about what I could do. Then I remembered one of my friends loves to bake. So I called in a favour with her, to bake a cake themed to the new girl’s favourite chocolate/candy. Today was the day for the reveal, and you should have seen how happy and bright she became. It was a thing of beauty, folks. Truly a finale fit to be called grand.

So now the challenge is ended, and what have we learned? Well, I learned that not only do I give the world hope for a better tomorrow, but that from my inspiration, others are bringing hope as well. I learned (or I should say was reminded) that it’s not always about what you do or how much you spend on it, but rather just that you’re doing it at all. But also I finally realized that all those times when people have said that it’s better to give than to receive… They were absolutely 100% right. This has been one of the best and most fulfilling weeks of my life so far, and I am seriously considering making this a life-long challenge. It’s hard to keep thinking up new ways to perform a random act, but it’s good for the soul, and it’s good for those around me that I’ve touched with these acts.

They say you should be the change you want to see. Well, I’m doing my best, what about you?

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Episode 35: Random Acts Of Kindness

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here, but part of that is because it’s mostly been business as usual for me. Nothing terribly special has happened or given me pause and the desire to write. I’ll grant you, I specifically didn’t want to give myself deadlines so I wouldn’t feel pressured to making less than worthy posts, so technically I did nothing in the wrong, but still I feel like I’ve been neglecting this, and that was not my intention. However, with that said, something has come up, and it’s something I feel I should share with you all.

Yesterday I decided on a whim to perform a random act of kindness. It was nothing major, I simply bought bottles of water for some of the folks I worked with. It cost me very little, and not just in terms of money. And interestingly enough, I heard back from one of the girls that she’d paid it forward and paid for someone’s order at Tim Hortons (a ridiculously popular coffee shop, for those of you living outside Canada). Now alone in and of itself, my act had me feeling pretty good. Here I was, having done something nice for others. But then to hear that my actions had had a ripple effect and passed on to another, I wondered how far that ripple might go. It’s amazing what one simple action can set in motion, sometimes.

But the deed having been done, I soon moved on and went about my business. After all, they’re small gestures, and not truly something significant, right? Well I was wrong. A friend of mine posted today about his own random act of kindness, and proposed a challenge: one act every day for a week. And I thought, why not? I could certainly do that.

And that’s when it hit me. Each small gesture has a grand effect. Not only does it help restore faith in a world quickly becoming mired in selfishness and entitlement, but it also inspires others to do good in their own lives when they hear the story. I wasn’t the one who benefitted from my friend’s actions, but his words inspired me to take up the challenge and to inspire others to do the same. I posted a status to Facebook, urging my own friends to take the challenge, but still that didn’t seem enough. Still I thought I could do better.

Which brings us here. To WordPress, where the world can share in the story, and with any luck be inspired to change the world. You don’t have to take up the week-long challenge like I did. Just try to start with one thing. And should you do so, leave a comment with your story so that others might be inspired as well. Share this post on Facebook so that your own friends will be inspired. I know it seems like a bit of an attention grab, but to be honest, I’ve just always wanted to do something that would make the world a better place. I know I can’t do it alone though. And so I ask you: help me plant those seeds, and together let us watch them bloom into a better world.

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Episode 33: The Only Message You Need

I went stumbling on one of my internet journeys earlier today, and it set me to reflecting on my life. All of the things that have happened to me, that continue to happen, and that likely will happen in the future based on who I’ve grown to be. It’s not a fairy tale. They usually aren’t. But I realized there is one important piece of advice that I can impart. Something I suspect won’t seem like much help to someone in a similar situation as my own. I know I certainly wouldn’t put much store by these words if I wasn’t the one saying them myself. And indeed I wish I had more than just words to give you. But hopefully they’re enough to at least help you through the darkest of your days.

So let me begin by saying that I come from what some people would call a dysfunctional family. Others might call it a broken home. I just call it messed up. I won’t go into too many details because I believe my parents deserve some privacy in their lives, but there’s been any number of different varieties of abuse handed out from all parties. Myself included. I won’t sugar-coat my life and it’s struggles. This is meant to help those in the same type of situation, and it will never do that if you don’t understand the situation in the first place. Alongside the abuse there’s been financial struggles. My parents are in debt over their heads, adding tension and all sorts of other problems to the ones we already had.

I’ve blocked out a large portion of my early life. I have bits and pieces here and there, of both the good and the bad, but from what I can make out, life was generally fairly simple for me. A lot of things worked themselves out without my personal involvement. But the problems still affected me. There’s nothing like being less than ten years old and trying to physically separate your parents so they won’t argue, despite the fact that you’re probably only about a tenth of either of their strengths. I had an older brother, so generally at least it was two against one, but even so we rarely succeeded. I learned very early on to handle failure and move on. So I guess score one point to me. Yay.

The years passed and the problems only got worse. On top of the family problems, I became an outcast in school. It was not my decision, and I can directly connect my home life as the cause for my being ostracized. But I’m not trying to place blame. I’m simply saying that any aspect of your life will affect another aspect. Possibly even every other aspect. Nothing can be perfectly compartmentalized. Thank god I had my small group of friends, who either didn’t realize what was going on or didn’t care. Without them I could have turned out much much worse than I did.

But without feeling welcome in the real world (teenagers can be huge asshats), I turned more often than not to the internet. The soft glow from the screen bathing me in its safety an comfort. It was there I found my closest friends, the ones I felt most comfortable talking to about my hideous situation, and the ones I could most easily forget about it with. My situation never improved, but I was more able to ignore and distance myself from it. It became habit, and I avoided letting myself get truly close with anyone or fully trust them.

I still to this day struggle to trust people, but that’s not wholly my family’s fault. Some failed relationships have really hit close to home. I gave everything I had to them all, in turn. But through it all, I’ve come down hard on myself. Always ready to blame myself for any number of problems, always ready to give my own blood if it will make someone I care about smile. I have very little I can speak of as accomplishments in my life as a result. In fact, I still haven’t moved out from my family’s home at 28 years old, because I’m still giving them all the help I can, including working two jobs and seeing almost none of the money myself. But money is nothing. If my help were actually moving us all forward in a positive way, then it would be a small price to pay.

Through all this though, I still see a glimmer of hope in my own life. It’s buried deeply, and seemingly had no place in the rest of the things surrounding me, but (and here comes that all-important piece of advice)…

It does get better.

My life has been steadily improving as the years press on, and the more incredible the circumstances or the way you deal with them, the harder your struggle will be, but seeing the positive is the only thing that will truly help. I can’t even begin to explain it, unless you’re already in your own transition period, in which case I don’t have to. But that’s as simple as I can make it. Life will improve. Not on it’s own, not by a long shot, but it will. You’re going to have to fight for every inch you gain, and for every three steps forward, you’ll likely be forced back two and a half, but progress is progress. And at the end of it all, you will be a better person for it.

Now, you might ask: who am I to say these things when I haven’t even freed myself from the mire I find myself in? And I would say I fully understand and agree. You don’t have any reason to listen to me. Other than the fact that you want to. Because we all need hope. A very dangerous commodity to be sure, but handled properly, it can be the single greatest tool in your arsenal. But hope’s fickle nature is an idea for another day.

For now, if you need someone to remind you just how strong you are, just remember that I do believe in you. I fight my own fight for you.

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