November 19, 2015

Frosty Weather

Dispatch + Frost

After how pleased I was with my Line of Trade canvas bag that arrived last month, I decided to continue on with Bespoke Post to see what the next offerings would be. I settled on ordering their Frost box and it arrived a few days ago. I was quite excited to open it up because the feature item was a pair of lambskin leather gloves from Gilded Age.

Simply put: these gloves are amazing.

I had a pair of other gloves that were okay for walking around in during the cool fall weather here in Kelowna, but I found my hands getting cold in temperatures below 0°C here. That happens to be the average temperature for a winter here, so I wanted to find something better. When the lambskin gloves showed up as an option, I leapt at the chance to try them out.

Trying on the gloves for the first time, they are a little snug, but after a few days they have stretched out enough to feel great on my hands. The leather is soft to touch on the outside, very smooth, and not bulky at all. I was able to slide them into the front pocket of my jeans easily to retrieve my keys. The inside is lined with a wool-cashmere blend that feels perfect on the hands, and a wrist snap to keep them snug to your arms. The gloves also have separate pads on the index fingers and thumbs to allow you to operate your touchscreen phones. While the pads do work on my iPhone, I didn’t play around with it too much, mainly because I’m not super comfortable texting on my phone while walking around regardless of whether I am wearing gloves or not.

The perfect test for the gloves is a long walk outside in varying temperatures. I took them out for a 3km walk to my favourite coffee place in Kelowna1 in the sunshine, and then returned on a shorter 2km path after the sun had set and the weather cooled off. My biggest concerns with any fall/winter clothing is sweating too much. I tend to get sick easily when unzipping a jacket to cool off or removing my toque when I get too sweaty. Thankfully, by the time I reached the coffee shop and pulled off my gloves, they weren’t sweaty at all. Nice and dry to handle the hot mug holding my Americano.

Heading back, they kept my hands warm when going past the strong winds coming off the lake. I did not feel much of a breeze on my wrists either. The wrist straps kept the gloves tight to my arms, which was appreciated. The clasps were a bit tricky to snap once I had a glove on, but I think after some practice that frustration will disappear.

Also included in the Frost box, was a white pine hand salve from Barnaby Black. I will admit, I was a bit skeptical of how it would smell or feel. I’m not one for lotions beyond my shaving supplies from Harry’s 2 but I am open to change. The smell of the hand salve is intoxicating. It reminds me of being outdoors on my hikes so much, that I actually have the open jar sitting out beside me while I work. It smells exactly how you would imagine white pine sap to smell. Rubs easily into my hands and they don’t feel sticky afterwards. A little goes a long way and I am sure it will last me through the short winter here.

There was also a large box of Fisherman’s Friends cough lozenges which are sugar-free. They are my preferred brand for when I get sick, so this was a nice bonus.

Altogether, this box was $45.00 US, which becomes $80.00 Canadian after shipping and exchange rate. Well worth it, in my opinion. The hand salve is listed at $20.00 US on Barnaby Black’s website. Comparable gloves were priced around $35-50.00. Throw in the large box of cough drops and it’s quite the good deal.

I am sure to be warm on my winter walks this coming winter and for many years to come.

Check out all the fine details at: Bespoke Post

  1. Il Travolino on Richter, behind Save-On Foods in Lower Mission. 

  2. I have two free razors to give out. Email me: 

November 11, 2015

36 - What Took You So Long

There have only been roughly 18,000 players in the history of Major League Baseball. How many out of that number have played in a playoff game? One third maybe? I’ve played over 1,400 games, and that was my first playoff series. Out of those 6,000 or so, how many players have been lucky enough to be in a position to change the outcome of a playoff series with one swing? Maybe 10 percent? And how many have succeeded?

None of this math was going through my head when I was standing at the plate. That came later on, when I had time to reflect at home. All I was thinking in the moment was, This is your chance. Just relax. Get ready early. See it and hit it. -- Jose Bautista, Are You Flipping Kidding Me?

Bautista didn't just hit it; he crushed it.

That moment meant more for the die-hard Blue Jay fans than anything in the past 22 seasons of play. It's difficult to place into words how meaningful it was. The raw emotions that people felt from coast to coast to coast were such a mix: tears of joy, excitement, amazement, disbelief.

Today is my 36th birthday. It's the fifth year I have written these retrospections of the past year. Each year, I seem to learn more about myself, especially when reading through the previous years' posts. It is an interesting journey to re-read the heartache, the stress, and the small breakthroughs I continue to make. This year has been no different. More stress and breakthrough than heartache, but that is to be expected when I have problems dating.

This year, I wanted to start with baseball. Not because it delivered one of the biggest moments of the year for me, but for how it relates to my minor breakthrough this year.

Baseball is measured by a player's ability to fail less than the rest. Percentages, decimal points, even the game is ended with a failure- an out. Failure is inevitable in baseball, it's just a matter of who fails less than the others in the game.

Failure is inevitable in life, as well. It is something we want to avoid as much as possible, but despite our attempts to get around it, it happens. This year has taught me more about how to deal with failure than ever before.

In previous years, I fostered this deep anger inside me when things didn't go right. I can see it in the words I used when writing about the breakup four years ago, or the struggles I faced in building up readership for this blog. My cure for the hurt and disappointment was always to write

There have been multiple times before where I wanted to sit down and write out my thoughts, to respond to other blog posts, and to zone out while watching a movie. It is what I did in the past to conquer my failures and disappointments. Doing such is not the best way for me to feel better, however. It is a band-aid put on a gaping wound.

Writing wasn't very effective in helping me manage disappointments then, and it wasn't until this year when things started to change. Reading and writing more about mindfulness and Buddhist practices has helped me focus on what matters: the breath. The present moment.

The past should not be dwelled upon, nor should future achievements. Only on what is happening in the moment.

That point is constantly on my mind now. It is both wonderful and powerful with how it softens the blow of disappointments I have received in the latter half of the year. The biggest test of this happened in September.

Last August, I enrolled to be licensed in property management through the University of British Columbia. I set a deadline of completing the course work before my daughter ended the school year in June. My thinking was I could write the exam in the next month while everything was fresh in my mind. Starting in late January, I started going through the assignments and was on pace to finish on time. I completed the final assignment and then looked at the schedule for when I could write the exam: they were scheduled quarterly, with the next one happening in September.

That was a little disappointing, but no big deal. Several months to enjoy the summer weather with my daughter, manage the vacation rental, and the other work I needed to take care of. August came around and I started to delve back into the material. I was getting nervous about the exam because of the large amount of material involved. In the exam room, I took some deep breaths while they went through the instructions, then wrote the exam rather quickly. I had to wait three weeks for the results.

I failed. Barely, but barely doesn't matter on an exam score, just like it doesn't matter in baseball. I missed the homerun by 3 feet. The kind of hits that no one remembers.

After reading the results, I took a hike out to my favourite place, Paul's Tomb, and sat out on the rocks overlooking the lake. All I did was sit, take it all in, and put the failure behind me. It was a minor setback, something I can overcome in three months time and put myself back on track for greater things. It didn't matter why I failed, or what questions I missed. The important thing was I was breathing. I would do better.

That tone in thought has continued through the past few months. Not losing weight fast enough? Breathe, and do better. Someone fails to pay me back on time leaving me short? Breathe, and make do. Someone lies to me or tries to start an argument? Breathe, and put it behind me as fast as I can without letting it escalate into something worse.

A constant cycle of deep breathing, and emphasizing what matters most to me in each moment.

Putting the emphasis back on me and not putting so much energy towards negative things that have happened in my life has improved my outlook on life. It is still difficult at times, of course, and I know failure is right around the corner once again. When it does happen though, I will be better prepared to handle it.

I am sure I will read this over next year and for years after wondering, "What took you so long?"





Five ways to wish me a happy birthday:

  1. Treat yourself to some of the best coffee out there, and give me a cup at the same time at: Blue Bottle Coffee
  2. Order the Aeropress, my favourite way to brew coffee: Canada and USA
  3. Order one of my favourite books this year which set me down the mindfulness/Buddhist path: Buddha Walks Into a Bar: A Guide to Life for a New Generation
  4. Discover some really great products at BespokePost
  5. Or make a Donation

November 03, 2015

Fifty Thousand Words

I’ve known about NaNoWriMo for years, but the thing is: 50,000. That’s a big number, like almost an insurmountable number. I’ve never felt like I wanted to participate, but I always was impressed with those who did manage to at least try.

So this year I am going to do it. But I’m not writing a novel. Ben Brooks, My NaNoWriMo Challenge

When I mentioned earlier that I was considering taking up the NaNoWriMo novel challenge, I had similar thoughts as Ben. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed impossible for me to muster the creative energy to write that many words that flowed together in a logical manner. 50,000 words is not impossible if I allow myself the space to write about in a manner with more freedom.

Towards the end of my Dispatch piece on Medium, I wrote about the ideas overflowing in my mind. Every day I open up Safari to see many tabs of articles I wish to touch on or that have inspired me in some way. I need a better habit of getting those ideas out into the world on a consistent basis. So for the month of November, I am going to try to publish 50,000 words between this site and Medium. In the end, I may bundle it all together.

You can keep track of my progress, and what else I am up to on a new Now page which is a growing movement around the world.

October 26, 2015

Thoughts On Money

For the monks, this way of life expressed simplicity. It wasn't an expression of poverty mentality. With this monastic approach, you don't worry about survival. You live day-to-day. You think just of today; you don't think of tomorrow. Tomorrow comes, it doesn't come- either way, you don't worry. You continue to live in a very simple way. It is an everyday life of simplicity.

The problem is not always how little money you have to spare but, rather, whether you are allowing enough space for yourself. The sense of poverty often seems connected with a lack of space. It may seem pretentious or insensitive to suggest to a destitute person that they need to create more mental space, if they are living in financially troubled conditions. However, if you can appreciate the aspect of simplicity in your life, then you don't have to involve yourself with money more than is really necessary.

Chögyam Trungpa, Work, Sex, Money: Real Life on the Path of Mindfulness

My relationship with money has always been strenuous. It seems when I have money, I tend to give it away; when I don’t have it, I still tend to give away what I can.

I could never really figure out why this happens nor why I was so comfortable with giving the money away. It never seemed to matter what my financial state was, even if it left me being on the brink of disaster, I was always generous. To be clear, I have never left myself in a desperate situation where I found myself living in a car, and I do treat myself now and then to things like the Macbook Pro last year, or the canvas bag from Bespoke this month. More often than not though, I reach the end of the month and wonder where all the money went. The thoughts linger for a flash, then I am at peace with my situation again.

I have been like this since my first real full-time job as a technical director at the Regina Performing Arts Centre. At that time, I didn’t loan money out to people, but I did go out and purchase new lighting fixtures for the theatre without charging it back. I also donated a lot of equipment to the theatre when I left that position without feeling like I lost money. In the coming years, it was buying people drinks at the bar or loaning small amounts to help them get by. Almost always, this was done without thinking, an automatic response to others’ needs.

When I started reading the chapters about money in Chögyam’s book, it started to make more sense to me why this happens.

Chögyam defines the personal value of money beyond its monetary value and introduces the concept that money is related to energy. You can spend the money like you give love and have it be returned equally, or you exert your energy to gain power and control over another. Because of the power money has, it is constantly on our minds, from worrying about how much we have, to how much something will cost, to how much we will be earning by completing a task. We grow attached to money, wanting to keep our energy banks full for when we need to use it for love or power.

When we grow beyond the egotistical demands of money and become more generous with it, we give people more than just money or objects. We are giving those people the opportunity to free themselves from the relationship they have developed with money. They stop thinking about how much something cost, and more about what that item means to them. When an object is thought of only as an object, it frees them to develop their own sense of value for that item.

This is the mental space he describes in the quote at the beginning. If the monetary value of an object is ignored and separated from the object, then we are not as concerned when that object is damaged or lost. We forget about losing a thousand dollars, and focus more on that we lost something that can be replaced in time.

This detachment of monetary value from an object is not a simple task and something that definitely takes time to produce. There is no simple path to this besides becoming more aware of how you spend money, and how you feel when spending it. Spending money on lots of things or expensive things is not necessarily a bad thing either he says, unless the motivation behind those purchases could be considered bad. If you use the purchases to place yourself above someone or a group to look down on them then that is a negative practice, for example.

However, by living a simple life, the detachment from money becomes easier. This is a very desirable goal from Chögyam’s point of view. We become free from the chains money holds over us to create the mental space. The mental space allows us to see the greater opportunities surrounding us, like sharing with others and helping them become free.

You should try to create a space of loneliness as much as possible in your lifestyle, whether you are rich or poor.

As we become less concerned with money, our mind becomes divided. Our concerns with money become isolated in a different part of our mind, which allows us to concentrate on the things that matter most to us in life. When we have that separation in place, then we will only think of money when absolutely necessary.

At some point in my life, I must have started to cultivate that separation on my own. Now that I am more aware of it, I will continue the process to create a more defined space of loneliness that Chögyam describes, and continue living a simpler life.

October 22, 2015


Starting a bit of a social experiment: publishing smaller pieces to Medium and working on lengthier pieces here.

First one was published, Dispatch:

I thought it fitting that the word dispatch has multiple meanings that can tie into Hume and my own exploratory writings. The definition of the word can mean a short message sent quickly, or the dismissal or rejection of something. Two things that I hope to accomplish with writing in this space.

October 14, 2015

Ego And Work

If there is that kind of communication going on between yourself and the object, then ego doesn't get a chance to digest anything; it doesn't get a report back from you and your work. When your work becomes natural and spontaneous communication, ego doesn't get a chance to act as a middle man. Generally what happens, however, is that ego has messengers that bring information back to its switchboard. Then ego accepts or rejects. Everything depends on the pleasure of ego. On the other hand, if you have good, fluid communication with the work, then you are working without ego's authority, which is very humiliating for the ego.

Chögyam Trungpa, Work, Sex, Money

The type of communication Chögyam is discussing is our reactions when we see something: bending over to smell a flower, taking a picture of a sunset, smiling when seeing a toddler run up to you. Those reactions are natural and instinctive. When dealing with work, referring to any task, there is an additional obstacle in place that doesn't allow for the natural progression to completion. We stop to analyze what has been done and what needs to be done, which leads to discouragement in one form or another.

I have been having the urge to write for the past week, but every time I sat down at my computer to start the process, nothing came of it. I thought about why this was happening when I was on a three hour hike in the hills surrounding Kelowna the other day. The quietness of nature and separation from distraction allowed me to think more clearly about the reasons that prevented me from writing and doing the work.

I remembered that I had saved a quote from Chögyam related to my problems. I read it more carefully and discovered my primary issue:

We have two quite common approaches to work: filling the space so there is no room for the creative process, or being afraid of the creative process and therefore being unwilling to embark on it. ... By filling the space instead of letting be and letting a creative process develop, ego automatically imposes the next clue on our awareness about what is taking place. This is because we are afraid of a gap, which would allow us to look back and see our basic origin. It is very disturbing for ego to see its own nakedness, which brings the sense of a defeat for the ego. Therefore, when you see this open space, you become afraid of embarking on any further creative process that might reveal the space again.

I am constantly finding inspiring words in the Buddhist literature, with Chögyam quickly becoming one of my favourites. I have been saving the quotes to my phone's notes app in the moment so I can write about them later, only to discover my motivation to write disappears when I read them again. Even now, I started off reading the second quote and questioning whether I could write more about it. I took the time to read the entire chapter once again, and here I am writing.

Defeating the ego in order to accomplish something is more difficult than the actual task for many of us. He defines ego to be derived from confusion, which comes from fear and panic. The simplest way to describe it is to imagine yourself in an uncomfortable situation (lost in the woods, or stuck in a convention hall with thousands of people you don't know). You don't know what may happen, you start to panic about what to do, and you're so confused by all the options available that you end up doing nothing.

Making the decision to be doing something without worrying about the consequences is tough. The mind is quick to come up with so many obstacles to ensure you don't make any progress at all. That happens with my writing constantly and it needs to stop. I need to quit analyzing what I am writing and focus on doing the writing. I also need to further develop my connection between my mind and the words, not be afraid of what I am typing and trust that it will be valuable when done.

My issue with ego and work is not restricted to my writing. It is there with my other work. Completing the book late last week was a big challenge. There was constant doubt about what I was doing and whether to stop, but I reminded myself of the commitment I made to publish it by Friday. I reached that goal and it felt great to have something finished. But I also noticed that the concerns about having another gap in my work life. I did not have a next project to begin or other project in the works that needed to be finished. I almost delayed the launch- not because of not being finished, but because I did not want to be done.

The battle is still happening with my health and fitness, too. It seems so long ago that I made the initial jump to explore the paleo lifestyle only to find excuses along the way to pull me back. Whether it was money or stress, I never fully committed to that lifestyle. I decided to push myself more and try to make it happen again.

I have been fasting for most of the day and limiting my eating periods to a few hours in the afternoon to help my body transition to using fat as an energy source rather than carbohydrates. The first few days of this were awful, but by the fourth day I was feeling much better. I did my three hour hike before I ate and I felt much better going up the hills than the other times. That was surprising and very encouraging. Every morning, I'm feeling better and trying real hard to not focus on the weight loss. It will come if I keep working at it.

These are only a few areas of my life where I am discovering the challenges the ego is placing on me. I know there are others, and I am eager to break down those barriers to see where I end up as a person. It will take time, and work, but it will happen.

October 09, 2015

I Made A Thing

I've been quiet in my space1 here for several weeks for good reason. I've been reading and thinking a lot about the practice of mindfulness and Buddhism, which I hope to tackle more of in the coming weeks, but I also did something a little unexpected: I made a thing.

I decided to take on a challenge being promoted by Gumroad, the online digital goods store. The challenge was to conceive, create, and publish something within ten days. I didn't go as deep into this challenge as other members of the challenge did (not posting in the group regularly or partnering up), but I did create something and pushed it out into the world.

My creation is a short ebook to help introduce people to the world of vacation rentals. With me getting my property management license in the new year, I thought the book would be a good give-away to generate business for my consulting services. Around 10,000 words in length. In the coming weeks, I plan to create some spreadsheet tools that people can use to assist them in preparing for launching a vacation rental but I think this is a good start.

It was my first real writing project that I have undertaken since my University days and I quite enjoyed the process. I couldn't think too much about what to write. I just did it.

The frightening thing is it went so well for me, that I'm contemplating attempting the NaNoWriMo challenge to create a short novel in a month. I have three weeks to prepare for that so it may just happen.

In the meantime, my book is free for now. Check it out and forward to friends if you know someone interested in it: Vacation Rental Revolution

  1. Yes, I know, I'm generally quiet everywhere.  

September 23, 2015

All We Have Is Breath

Breathing expresses the fact that you are alive. If you're alive, you breathe. The technique is basic and direct: you pay heed to breath. You don't try to use the mindfulness of breathing to entertain yourself, but you use the mindfulness of breathing to simplify matters.

-- Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Cool Boredom | Tricycle1

The most important lesson from my readings into mindfulness and Buddhism so far has been how important the breath is. Strip away everything else happening in life and just breathe. It's probably the most challenging part of really buying into living a life of mindfulness, because it's difficult to turn off that switch in your mind that causes you to think. This is especially true with me. My mind tends to dart around a bit and think about various aspects of parenting, finances, work, and the people in my lives. It's hard to make that switch and learn how to focus on what is in front of you.

The easiest way for me has been going on hikes. On a hike, I'm glued into what is in front of me more than anything else: is the trail going down, are there any rocks, are there people, anything worth photographing? While I push myself up the hills, the only thing I am fully aware of is how hard I'm breathing.

Slowing down life to focus on breathing is also a great form of stress relief. An over-active mind when dealing with stressful events is the worst. I tend to over-think things, replay events that have transpired and role-play better ways to approach those situations. The problem with thinking about things is it doesn't make me feel any better about what happened, nor does it make things better for the future when it happens again. The best way for me to get past something is to either forget about it, or remind myself that what happened doesn't really matter.

It's done. It's out of my control.

The most important thing is my breath and to keep me moving forward.

The easiest way for me to manage my frustrations with life and work is by going for a hike. Once on the hike, I find a quiet place to just sit and breathe. That's it. In and out, while taking in my surroundings. Whenever I find my mind straying back to what was causing me the stress, I try to bring my thoughts back to what is in my front of me. What is current is more important than the past.

Of course, this is easier said than done. There is a reason why they call it a meditation practice or practicing mindfulness. It doesn't come easy and no one is perfect. All I can do is to keep practicing it, becoming more aware of the triggers happening within me, and try to bring it all back to what matters most: my breath.

  1. The article in Tricycle magazine is an excerpt from his book, Mindfulness in Action. It's currently my next book on my list to read after I finish another book of his, Work, Sex, Money 

September 22, 2015

A Step With Buddha

Enlightenment is awakening from the dream of being a separate me to being the universal reality. It’s not an experience or a perception that occurs to a separate person as the result of spiritual practice or cultivated awareness. It doesn’t come and go, and you don’t need to do anything to maintain it. It’s not about being centered or blissful or peaceful or any other experience. In fact, enlightenment is a permanent non-experience that happens to nobody. The separate person is seen through, and you realize that only the supreme, universal reality exists, and that you are that.

Adyashanti, The Taboo of Enlightenment | Tricycle

It's been over a month since I wrote The Call of Silence-a month of developing a better self-awareness with myself. Thanks to the Okanagan valley being blanketed in smoke for the first half, I was able to put more focus into reading about mindfulness and Buddhism. During that free time, I have felt a real pull to explore my mind, to discover the loop that makes me feel better about the direction I am heading.

As with my journey to be more productive, I started the journey by first committing myself to a subscription of Tricycle Magazine, a magazine focused on Buddhism and mindfulness. At $40 a year, the price is inexpensive when you factor in that it gives you access to their full archive of articles and movies online, plus a series of free eBooks. Every day, I also receive an article of short to medium length to think about. I have been reading them every night when they hit my inbox- a restful way to end my night. Some of the articles were above my knowledge level- the terminology, or the phrasing of arguments. I needed something more basic to begin with.

The Buddha Walks into the Office by Lodro Rinzler was a pleasant find while browsing the bookshelves. Lodro has a written quite a few books tackling different aspects of life and how a practice of mindfulness and Buddhism relates to it. I thought I would relate more to his writings about business, so it was easy for me to choose this book. It turned out to be a great choice to make, too. I want to write more about it after I have a better understanding of the underlying philosophies and have likely re-read it, but the process of reading it has been wonderful. Equally as wonderful has been the experience of reading the daily reflections from Tricycle Magazine or the other Buddhist writings I am discovering.

More often than not, my reading sessions have been started with me preparing a cup of tea,1 and sliding into my La-Z-boy recliner. Sometimes, I have been playing some Tibetan meditation music to help relax my mind further before I start to open the pages. I find myself going through 50-100 pages in each reading session, getting lost in the words, but always remaining present. These reading sessions put me into a meditative state: as my mind tries to wander away from what I am reading, I pause to remind myself to focus on the words and ignore the outside influences. It is far easier to remain focused on the writings when I am being continually reminded through the words to be aware and present of what is happening now, not the past or the future.

Because of this reading practice, I have been feeling more drawn to reading on a daily basis than doing anything else. TV shows and movies are being missed, social feeds are being ignored, and I don’t find myself seeking out a partnership through the online dating sites as much. I haven’t experienced this drive to explore a topic since my University days of exploring the works of Jean Genet, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Eugene Ionesco.

After a month of having this daily reading practice, I am more comfortable writing about this journey. The words have been dancing in my mind for the past few weeks now but I haven’t felt the pull to write them down yet. Quietly taking it all in, reflecting on who I am, and putting more emphasis on myself instead of sharing.

Those first few steps have been taken and now I am prepared to reach my hand back to help pull others forward to discover this new path laid before me. I am eager to share everything that I have discovered.

  1. Sencha Green Tea, from David’s Tea. 

August 15, 2015

The Call Of Silence

I think of my reading as drawing water from some bottomless, timeless well. In goes the bucket. The rope slides through my hands. I’m sitting on the couch in the living room, the French press on the coffee table, a book open in my lap, a chipped mug balanced on my knee. The city is asleep all around me. The sun is asleep beyond the earth’s curve. And now up comes a cherry tree in blossom, the tolling of a distant bell, a burning stick of incense, a small man in a wooden boat on a perfectly calm lake at dusk. The images are plain and clear, refreshing. I drink deeply, then lower the bucket for more.

Leath Tonino, A Quiet Subversion | Tricycle

The past month, I have become acutely aware of how much silence there is in my life. Being an introvert has helped me not become too bothered by it, but it is there. It's become unavoidable. My daughter has been spending more time with her mother this month and it's left a void in my home. Gone are the countless questions and her insatiable curiously about what I am doing and whether she can help. Gone are the sounds of her favourite shows playing on Netflix1 that normally play while I prepare meals or we wait for our swimming pool to warm in the sun. All that's left is silence.

My hiking activities the past few months have taken me to less travelled parts of Kelowna. Partly focused on improving my fitness levels, partly to discover new sights and sounds, these hikes have put me in situations where I need to be more alert about wild life. Because of the potential run-ins with black bears or cougars, my headphones have been left out of my ears. Moving away from my car and the roadways brings me to places where sounds are infrequent. No cars, no people talking, and hardly any sounds from birds or squirrels. Just silence.

In those moments at home or out hiking, I recognize the silence and enjoy it for what it is: a time to reconnect with my body. I can hear my heart beating in my chest while breathing heavily after climbing up a steep hill. I can hear myself yawn deeply when waking up or my stomach rumbling with hunger. I don't feel the need to fill that space with noise, whether it'd be the television or music, but instead I take it in and appreciate it.

But on the other hand, I'm also becoming more aware of what isn't there. My daughter, obviously, but also the lack of notifications buzzing from my phone or noise coming from the pool area or hallways. I'm left to my own devices to choose how that absence of sound is to be filled rather than struggling to block out, filter, or add to the layers of sound. I almost always choose to keep the silence- quietly wishing my phone would buzz more often.

At home, I eventually cave and replace the aural silence with visual noise, however. Scanning over news feeds, Twitter, Instagram, and so forth, I keep my brain stimulated on a modern loop of information, a constant bounce between apps and sites. Not to ensure I don't miss something, but to keep something there. In my visual field, in my head.

Until now, that loop has been operating fine. What changed, I don't know, but there's a growing restlessness and unhappiness with this current loop. I couldn't pinpoint the problem until I started to browse through Tricycle, the Zen Buddhist publishing site, and found Leath Tonino's piece.

He starts each day in silence, reading ancient Chinese poetry while having a cup of coffee. He doesn't read news sites, Facebook, Twitter, etc. When he asked himself whether he was in the loop with current events, his response made me pause.

[Reading poetry is] a bigger loop, an older loop, a far more stable and enduring loop. Dating back 3,200 years, the Chinese poetic tradition represents the longest continuous literary movement in world history.

Am I in the wrong loop? Is it that important for me to be aware of what is happening instead of discovering the older, wiser texts that are out there?

He writes that it is not important to seek out the ancient writings, but instead the joy in discovering that, "[you] can choose, at least to some degree, what [you] admit into that special space [you] call [yourself.]"

Choosing to be in silence is the easy part. Choosing what loop I want to allow myself to be involved in during that silence will be an ongoing challenge, but a challenge I hope I can ultimately conquer and enjoy the process of discovering the right loop to be in.

  1. Currently, Peppa Pig.  

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