Thursday, February 28, 2008

Journeys of the mind

Sitting behind me on the bus this morning was a man who was having an interesting conversation. At first I thought he was on a cell phone, but I soon realized there was no cell phone, nor was there anyone sitting with him engaged in the other side of the conversation. No, his only travel companion was in his own mind.

The conversation went something like this:

Billions of people do it. Every day. New born babies do it….
I saw a photograph of Jesus Christ once. It was like those pictures where a million tiny pictures make up one bigger picture…
You have to understand, son - you usually get so upset…
It’s KK. You know – KK – with Tom and Joe on 92 CITI FM…
I’m Metis. Aboriginal. But white too. White people don’t like me and Aboriginal people don’t like me either….
People say to me “smoking will kill you”, but none of us is going to live forever, are we? Maybe we are. Maybe we are….
I know whom I have believed…
I’m not German, but I’m Dutch…

It was an interesting bus ride. I wonder what journey his mind was taking him on. I also wonder whether, if those of us who feel like we have a good handle on our mental capacity were to speak every one of our random thoughts, it might sound a little similar.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The wisdom of a child

Above the cacophony of the birthday party going on downstairs (Nikki turned 12 last week), I heard an odd noise that sounded something like “home…home…home…” coming from one of the bedrooms. I tip-toed down the hall to investigate.

There was Maddie, perched on her bed, her back toward the door, sitting in a lotus position with her outstretched hands pointed sky-ward. “Om…Om…Om…” she repeated, like a miniature yogi in deep meditation mode.

I stood and watched her for awhile, enthralled with yet another way that this five-year-old surprises and amazes me. Why was she here when all the excitement was downstairs?

Despite my efforts to stay silent, she spotted me. I thought she might be embarrassed, but she smiled a welcoming smile.

“What are you doing?” I asked.


“Why are you meditating?”

“Well, I just thought I needed time to myself so I wouldn’t get too worked up.”

“That’s a really good idea. Did someone teach you how to do that?” I knew she’d never seen anyone in our house model a meditation pose like that. Perhaps her teacher or a daycare worker had showed her.

“Nope. I just taught myself,” she said, matter-of-factly, as though it were commonplace for a five-year-old to disappear to her room for a time of meditation.

A few days later, I heard the “Oms” coming from her room again, and this time I didn’t interrupt. Another time, she said to me “Mom, let’s go meditate together.” So we did.

For twelve years I’ve been a mom. You’d think by now I’d know that these little people entrusted to my care teach me way more than I can hope to teach them.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Happy Birthday, Buddy!

You're still my one and only!
And you're still a little bit crazy!
P.S. Thanks for cleaning the bathroom on your birthday. :-)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Just call me Alexander

Remember the story of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? Well, that's me today. I don't know whether to cry or beat my fist against a wall. Neither would do any good, but at least I'd have an outlet. Or a hole in the wall.

It's a long and sordid tale, and I can't really go into any specific details, but it has something to do with dealing with foreign consulates, trying to get the necessary permits and visas for our trip, a passport that was supposed to be back in Edmonton by Friday but wasn't released by the consulate, a frantic few days in which we tried to track down said passport and have it couriered there in time for a flight to Hawaii today, momentary relief when the passport was found and in the hands of a courier, followed by another frantic day while the courier company couldn't track down the package that was supposedly in Edmonton but couldn't be found (slipped off a conveyer belt), in the end resulting in a missed flight to Hawaii, an unhappy couple of people, and me feeling like I'm the one to blame even though there was so, SO much of this that was completely out of my control.

And after all this, an overwhelming sense of dread that we won't actually be able to manage to pull off this trip to Southeast Asia because there are still so many hurdles to pass through. Navigating foreign bureaucracy can sometimes feel a little like tip-toeing through a minefield. I'm not sure what's going to blow up in my face the next step I take.

Alexander's got nothing on me. Or the guy who's supposed to be basking in the sun in Hawaii tonight but is still in cold Canada.

(In the end, the passport was found and he'll get there a day late.)

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Just give me eight steps

Today I want eight steps. Eight easy steps to a happier healthier you. Or eight steps to living the life you've always wanted. Or eight simple steps to losing 40 pounds without even trying. Or eight steps to whipping your house into shape and keeping it that way. Or eight mind-blowingly easy steps to getting that book published you've always dreamed of. Or eight simple things you can do to turn your children into the most obedient, most cooperative children on the planet.

Today I don't want to do the hard work - I just want someone to tell me the eight easy steps or "the secret" so that I don't have to slog through all the crap along the way. Today I want to breeze through life in a straight line instead of taking one step forward and two steps back.

Why is life never quite as linear as those eight simple steps seem to suggest?

Sunday, February 03, 2008

It all depends how you look at it

When I look into Maddie's room, I see alot of boxes. She looks in and doesn't see a single one.

Instead, she sees an airplane, a house for Joe Banana, a swimming pool, and a guest house for all of Joe's friends. It's a magical room for a magical little girl, where cardboard transforms into whatever she wants it to be.

What do you see, boxes or possibility?

Friday, February 01, 2008

Basking in the glow

Oh how I love a good singer-songwriter – someone who paints magic with words and a guitar. Check out some of these lines and see if you don’t agree with me that Martyn Joseph is one of those…

Exhibit #1
“It’s the weight of the world
that gouges the land,
shrivels the sand,
praises the bland
And it’s the weight of the world
that frenzies our fears
so when hope disappears
we start sharpening spears”

Exhibit #2
“We ask virtue to defend us
but she’s got a new career,
selling pills to make us grateful
and time-shares for our soul.”

Exhibit #3
“Faith – The other side of knowing
and a thousand questions how”

Exhibit #4
“And all I really know is that kindness is better
than any sort of terror any kind of spite.”

Exhibit #5
“But that seems like the place we could start now
Ripping prayers through the open sky”

And that’s only the words! The music adds a whole other layer to that magic painting.

That’s just from his latest album. I’ve written about some of his older stuff before. He’s been my companion for many a melancholy day. Like the day that the abandoned tanks in Ethiopia made me cry. And the day after I found out my unborn nephew has a tumour on his back.

Everybody needs a good cd or two that’s just the thing you reach for when you’re torn between melancholy and hope.