The other day, while walking on a beautiful forest trail, I suddenly thought “this would make a nice scene in a movie.” The thought was so out-of-the-blue, it really struck me. I had been thinking about what the North was like before pharmaceuticals, how people truly lived off the land. They used the plants that grow naturally to cure things that bothered them. They learned what plants helped what problems by trial and error, and by following their intuition, and the knowledge was passed down verbally from one person to another. I was completely focused on nature, which is why the thought about movies was so surprising, and, of course, it got me thinking about media.
I wonder how much of the time we relate our real lives to things we see on film and on TV. How often do we compare our lives to the glamour we see on screen, and feel unsatisfied or inadequate? How often do we think about what we look like from the outside, or how our situation must look? I think we do it all the time, sub-consciously. We are all like Abed from the show Community, we just don’t say it out loud. And I just did it again.
Go back in time (like Michael J. Fox), in your mind (it’s such a beautiful one) and imagine a time before there were movies, TV or the internet. Think of Little House on the Prairie. See how it goes? By just mentioning shows or actors you know, I can very quickly get us all on the same page and go from there. Starting with the obvious things, before there was TV, people never thought about getting home in time for a show, or recording it, or when the next episode will be or what might happen. They never shopped for a new TV or a flatscreen. They never thought about bandwidth or usage. There was no Hollywood and they never thought about what the stars were doing. They just went about living their lives — okay, they might have listened to the radio! — and they never talked about something they’d watched with their family or friends. They must have talked about other things.
Think of how much we refer to media in conversation. We do it to make analogies so that we understand each other. A friend recommended I watch Warm Bodies. It’s a love story about a young-man-zombie who falls in love with a normal twenty-something girl. He saves her life and cares for her, and she gradually starts to like him, too. As a result, he comes back to life and starts a biological/spiritual movement that sweeps through the zombie world, causing lots of others to remember their humanity and come back to life. It’s a great story, and because my friend and I shared the experience (even though we didn’t watch it together, we can talk about it now), we have all sorts of great zombie jokes and references.
It all seems harmless until we think about the deeper consequences. Watching a lot of media makes us think of our lives as if they were movies. We want to be entertained, informed, or get caught up in the drama, like when we watch media. We subconsciously expect everything we do to fall into one of those categories. We think of our life as it if had a plot. We hope there’s a happy ending. We want our love lives to be full of romance, and we want our vacations to be glamourous. We love hanging out with that funny friend of ours because he makes us laugh. If one day he goes through a tragedy and isn’t funny any more, we don’t know how to relate.
I wonder if too much media might make us seem less vibrant, more shallow. Comparing our lives with movies or TV can lead to discontentment. Of course, it’s not all bad if it gives us jokes and helps us relate. But if we need media to relate to one another we’re in trouble. I have an acquaintance that watches very different things than I do (I’m almost completely off-TV as it is), so it can be a challenge to find something to talk about. When we do find something, however, we have great, meaningful conversations — much deeper than which shows are good and which aren’t worth the time.
Another thing to consider is this: how would you cope without any media? Would you be able to have conversations with others? How would you keep yourself entertained or spend your time in general? Would it be so bad if you didn’t watch the news? You know I love making you think, and that’s really all I am doing in this post.
Boxing Day. The most materialistic day of the year. I am still coming to terms with modern society after my sabbatical-of-sorts in Wrigley. As we drive around Edmonton, I just can not get over how many stores there are! And new developments — whole new neighbourhoods have sprung up since I last noticed. But I think it’s the stores that bother me the most. I even said out loud on the way home after supper, “do we really need this many stores?” My family agreed that no, we didn’t.
Yet I don’t want to be a hypocrite. I need stuff too sometimes. I have to remember that there are thousands of people that need stuff, so of course there are going to have to be stores to serve them. There are students, freshly moved out from their parents’ places who need to furnish whole new apartments. There are people who have moved from across Canada to take advantage of Albertan opportunities. These people I understand. They make sense to me. But I have a feeling a lot of people who really don’t need new stuff spend a lot of resources (time and money) buying stuff they don’t need. More candles. New curtains. Just stuff.
This bothers me. I don’t know why. But, when something bothers me, I try to understand why it bothers me so much. It must be a mirror to me — showing me something about myself. It’s an opportunity to learn something new about how I tick.
It could be because I see how people are trying to fill a void in their lives with material things. It could be because I think people are being programmed by commercials on TV until they believe they need things they don’t. It could be because I lived without stores and was totally happy! It could be because I lived without new things of any kind for so long when I was a university student — I joke that I was food bank girl — that I know it can be done. It could be because I feel that the world’s resources are so limited, we shouldn’t be wasting them on more scented candles and unnecessary curtains.
Yet I know that the world is far more abundant than we think. I have seen abundance in the trees, snow, and the immense size of the Mackenzie River. I know that the world is healing itself faster than we can hurt it. Little old mankind has less effect than we think — it’s egotistical to think that we can “destroy” the whole planet. We make significant marks on the surface, to be sure, but Gaia is not in danger. But I digress.
I think what bothers me the most is this: I perceive that people are very materialistic. This isn’t actually true, so as a result, I feel unsettled. That is all. If I can adjust my thinking to see stores as a good thing, or a sign of a prospering economy, rather than a sign of social disease, I know I will feel better. Edmontonians are actually kind, generous people.
Could it be universally true that when we feel bothered by something, it is only because we are thinking, or believing, something that is fundamentally untrue? I think so…
Or maybe I’m just a little freaked out by the $99 long johns at Cabella’s. I’m still buying everything at second hand stores if I can. :)
One unexpected negative side effect of the scientific revolution — the way that science has crept into every part of society — is that we have become quite analytical about reality. We want to measure things, inspect or observe things, quantify and describe things, and generally try to get a good handle on the objective reality of the world around us.
The problem is, we get so caught up in examining what is there, we forget that we have the power to imagine what we want and create our reality. We also tend to take a pessimistic approach to what we see, and this makes us more likely to get into a rut, or worse, a downward spiral.
For example, if you watch the news, you may hear about various aspects of a recession that is going on. They’ll give stats or anecdotal stories about how it isn’t ending yet, it’s worse in this sector or that area of North America, or whatever. But that is such a small part of reality! In lots of areas, things are looking up, business is increasing and people are prospering! I’m as busy as ever (hence I haven’t been blogging much, sorry about that), and this winter is predicted to be a really busy one. While there might be unemployment elsewhere, that sure isn’t the case around here. In our local newspaper, they reported that the only limit to our “boom” this winter will be staffing shortages. And I can’t help but think it’s partly because we don’t give too much attention to the “reality” that is talked about elsewhere. I’ve heard that US news is still very heavy on the the recession, while Canadian news is not. Could that be why it hasn’t hit us as badly — because we don’t give it as much attention?
I wonder what would happen if we went on a “news fast” and stopped listening to stories about other peoples realities, and just focused on our own? What if we spent just 2 minutes every day, imagining how our lives will be in 6 months? I bet that in 6 months, we’d be exactly where we envisioned ourselves, especially if we did this imagining or envisioning consistently.
Let me give you an example. I was able to manifest an incredible crew on the York boat last spring, once I got incredibly clear on what I wanted in a crew. I was very specific; I had a list of about thirty things that I wanted. After I got that clarity, the crew just worked out perfectly — and I mean perfectly — even though people still cancelled and I could have reverted to my mode of being stressed out about it. But I didn’t. I believed that the perfect people for the crew would be on board. Whenever I was tempted to feel stressed, I just reminded myself about the clarity and fanned the spark of faith — faith that I would end up with a great crew. And let me explain what I mean when I say “after I got that clarity.” I am not speaking of divine inspiration or a profound message of intuition. I just sat down and in my rational brain, with a hearty dose of imagination, said and wrote down exactly what traits I wanted/needed in a crew.
They key to it all was getting past my current reality. I was two people short. One guy could only do the first 4 days — then what?!? Who would I find to do the other 14 days? I only had a confirmed crew of 4, including myself — I thought it wasn’t possible to go with less than 7. It turns out we ended up with only 5, but they were the perfect 5 and we didn’t need anyone else. We managed superbly, so well in fact, I’d say we thrived. So even though the photo above looks like we are working hard, we were actually having the time of our lives! You just can’t tell by looking and you just can’t believe what someone else says is “reality.” Get your own!
**Look closely at the photo above, and count how many people you see. See 6? Extra people came out of the woodwork when we needed them, and we actually did have 7 people for about 2 days. Although it worked, we were a little crowded. So, you see, all that time before hand I was stressing about finding a crew of 7 when all along I only needed the perfect 5.**
I should be in bed sleeping. Or sending important emails, or working on other aspects of this huge project I’m managing, but I just got a flash of insight so clear, I had to blog it.
Why do bad things happen to good people?
Because they expect it to happen.
Watching a mere five minutes of the news will convince you that the world is full of terrible people, all your neighbours are criminals, war is breaking out everywhere, all policemen are corrupt, and Mother Nature is punishing us with natural disasters. And we are all pretty sure we know why — we deserve it.
Here’s an example of how the news has affected a lady I know. The evening news was filled with serious reports about forest fires raging through Slave Lake, a medium-sized town in Northern Alberta. There was a strong wind pushing the fire, causing it to spread faster than they could put it out, at least initially. The whole town, around ten thousand people, were evacuated and a whole neighbourhood, about a third of the town, burned down — a serious situation, even a tragedy. The Premier, being interviewed for the news, looked like he might cry.
One of the first comments I heard this particular lady make was “oh, there will be looting! With all those homes empty, there will be LOOTING!”
What?!? The town is empty! The only people there are fire fighters, and even if there were others around, that is the absolute LAST thing that would happen. I know this town, and it just would not happen. But years of living in a big city, listening to the radio news every hour and watching TV news throughout the day has completey skewed this woman’s view of the world, and also her expectations.
She expects the worse. Wherever she goes, whatever is going on around her, she sees crime, tragedy, illness, and other newsworthy stuff. I’m afraid to say that this is what she will attract into her life, because the Law of Attraction is ALWAYS at work.
You ever heard of the lawyer’s house that gets broken into repeatedly? The woman who continually has car trouble because she is always worried about her car? That man who gets ripped off because he’s always trying to cheat the other guy?
We each get what we THINK about most, especially if there is strong emotion involved, and what we EXPECT. It’s sometimes also what we WANT, but sometimes we get the opposite of what we want because the thinking and expecting are so strong.
Except for today, I have not watched the news for weeks. It’s a good thing, because I am working on focusing only on positive things, and I gotta tell ya, I get courteous drivers around me, holes in the traffic, mostly green lights (but red lights let me check my map or change my music), and I believe it happens because I know it’s possible. It is not only possible, it’s virtually* guaranteed when I focus on good things, and look for the best in people and situations around me. I have started expecting to have days that go smoothly.
Sometimes it’s hard. With the fires in Slave Lake, all I can think of is that this is a chance for our fire fighters and emergency co-ordinators to shine. And shining they are.
* only “virtually” because I’m sill practicing!
I’d love to hear your comments on this!
Christmas is fast approaching, isn’t it? The days surrounding Christmas can sure be fun! Crazy. Exciting. Busy. Frantic! But not for me.
I grew up without Christmas. (pause for the shock to sink in) The religion my family belonged to didn’t celebrate it. If you are an old school mate, you might remember what a “weirdo” I was; I didn’t make cardboard jack-o-lanterns at Halloween — it was strictly pumpkins for me. All the trappings of Christmas were stripped of art class — no Santas for me — I made “winter trees” or snowmen. My poor parents had to go to parent-teacher interviews each year and explain the situation. I think it was much harder for my older sister, with her classmates and teachers. At least when I came into the system 2 years later, the teachers remembered my weird sister and would say “oh, yes, we remember the drill. No Santas, no valentines, no Easter bunnies.”
We didn’t have anything to do with these holidays, with Christmas causing the most fuss. Think about it — what do kids talk about for a MONTH at school? Where they are going for Christmas, what they might be getting, the candy, and then in January, for another week, the only topic of conversation is what they got for Christmas. I don’t think the kids who rode the school bus with me were trying to be mean when they asked “what did you get for Christmas?” But my answer stunned them every time: “nothing.” I think some of them thought it was because we were so poor (I wore a lot of hand-me-downs in those days). Kids who weren’t in my class didn’t see the all the other signs I was different than the rest.
I am not bitter for growing up in this different way. My sister and I put up with quite a bit of teasing and shunning; I didn’t have any friends at school until grade 5 or 6. I am very grateful for the kids who did befriend me. Some of the teachers treated my sister and me differently too, besides the basics of being banished to the library during Christmas concert practices. Actually, that was kind of fun, ’cause we had the whole place to ourselves and could run, make noise, and throw paper airplanes.
I survived the school years without any aspect of Christmas. When our religion changed and started to become more main-stream, many people struggled with how to change their thinking and traditions. We had our own traditions and holidays, you see, that were quite meaningful and beautiful. It was as hard to toss them out as it was to accept new ones that had been the source of our rejection, and we’d been criticizing, for all those years. Christmas trees are pagan, phalic symbols, don’t you know!?!
So, it might come as somewhat less of a shock to hear that my husband and I aren’t really doing much for Christmas. We have lights on our house, and some family/friends will get small presents, but we aren’t giving anything to each other. I don’t think we did last year, but we got married at the beginning of December and things were pretty hectic due to that (our wedding was also a small, un-hyped affair). Do you think that strange? Impossible? Crazy? Maybe it is for you, but I think a LOT of what happens at Christmas is pure distraction. Some traditions are lovely and some families do manage to keep it simple, but MOST of the stuff that happens has nothing to do with Jesus (the reason for the season, you know) or family bonding. Never mind the soap-opera-like baloney that goes on among people offending each other, re-offending, being offended, shunning… mostly because of presents or other silly reasons. The stories I hear from some people make my head hurt!
This got me thinking that a lot of what happens in life in general is distraction. I use the radio as a distraction on my drive home, for example. To keep me from thinking about what, I don’t know. TV is a bad culprit for this, and so are books. We enter another world through these media… I wonder what is wrong with the one we’re in? Jobs, tasks, goals, children, hobbies, material things, holidays, traditions, and entertainment are all huge distractions to what we really are. Perhaps you’ve heard the expression: We aren’t human beings on a spiritual journey, but spiritual beings on a human journey.* I think that sums it up nicely.
In the busyness, craziness, and loveliness of this season, please don’t forget that we’re all on this planet to share an experience. Don’t try to control others, just as you hate to be manipulated. Be patient. Love the ones you’re with. :)
* quote attributed to Stephen R. Covey.
Just saw this, and it’s too funny!
I still think about China sometimes… the friends I made there, what living in Beijing is like… how they can be so happy in such a crowded, busy place! How they can find time to think or have any serenity! They do it, though… not sure if I could!
Life is such a balancing act, isn’t it? I need enough sleep, but not too much. Enough food, but not too much. I definitely need more exercise, and I don’t think I’m in danger of getting too much, but some people are! A little caffeine is great, but some days, coffee makes me jittery. A little sugar is okay… some vitamins… enough free time, enough work…
What about my mental state? I’ve realized that it’s okay if I’m not happy all the time, but I wouldn’t want to be down and out very often either. A person has to think about money sometimes, but if you start to obsess, that’s going to skew your perspective. I like to be positive, but also a bit skeptical of what I hear — it’s easy to go too far and end up a nervous basket case (which sounds so much better than “paranoid freak,” don’t you think?). I don’t even believe the news on TV, because I think it’s usually over-summarized and often has a slant to it. Finding the balance between taking some things seriously and others with a grain of salt is tricky.
Life naturally has good days and bad, happy and sad, easy and hard, and if it didn’t, it would be like living in a monotone world. I think we all naturally need these contrasts; if you’re dissatisfied with your life, perhaps you have too much of something?
You could be stressed because of too much instability, or bored from too much security. It’s good to avoid certain extremes:
|Too much instability||Too much security|
|Too much routine||Too much adventure|
|Too much stuff||Too much nothing|
|Too much money||Too much debt|
|Too much work||Too much down time|
|Too much busyness||Too much laziness|
|Too much loneliness||Too much togetherness|
|Too much freedom||Too much religion (or too many social expectations)|
Look at the table above — what areas do you immediately relate to? If you think to yourself “well, I certainly don’t have too much adventure” then it’s possible you have too much routine. A balance of both makes for an interesting life! Maybe you immediately realize you have too much stuff… have you thought of getting more nothing? Giving things away, and not buying things you really don’t need? If you recognize you have too much of something, rather than simply decreasing it, try increasing whatever’s in the adjacent column. If you realize you don’t have enough of something, try decreasing whatever’s in the adjacent column.
Also, we all need beauty and creativity in our lives! Make sure you have a creative outlet, whether it’s creative cooking, building, a hobby, music or art.
That’s all for now! Okay, one more China pic!
I know I don’t usually do this, but I don’t usually surf on You Tube. Yesterday, I was a little bored and went in search of some funny videos. I lost all track of time, but I came across some very cute, funny videos. Thought I might as well share them here! First, a couple of funny cat ones:
Simon’s Cat – “Cat-Man-Do” and any other “Simon’s Cat” animation. :)
…and a couple to poke fun at men with fast cars (thanks Loretta)!
See, I told you commercials have a plot and a hidden (or not so hidden) message! These ones are funny, but most are designed to create a want or a feeling of lacking something. It’s subtle, and you may be so used to it, you don’t even notice. Anyways, enjoy these ones, and have a giggle!
*CAUTION* You can easily get sucked into YouTube for hours and not even know it!