Posts tagged with "self-improvement"


I’m rid­ing on so much momen­tum it feels like I’ll nev­er come to a stop. This is a dras­tic change from only a short while ago, and I can attribute it most­ly to the chances I’ve had to apply the lessons I’ve learned. Being able to prove to myself that I still have things to dis­cov­er, that I’m still refin­ing myself as a per­son, has left me feel­ing con­fi­dent and hum­ble late­ly.

420 protest on Parliament Hill

April 20th is the one day I wish I owned a BeaverTails stand. Protesting does­n’t get any more peace­ful than this.

Making peace with myself used to be a strug­gle. Now that I’m actu­al­ly hap­py with who I am, I real­ize how low a bar that used to be. I’ve been through stretch­es like this before though and they’ve nev­er last­ed, so I’m still approach­ing it all with cau­tious opti­mism. At least now I’m wise enough to know that hap­pi­ness is some­thing that needs to be worked at con­sis­tent­ly, in the lit­tle ways, and I’m strong enough to keep it going.

Jon-Kabat Zinn has been help­ing me on this path too. I’ve been lis­ten­ing to a series of his mind­ful med­i­ta­tion exer­cis­es, and I car­ry a sense of calm through the day when­ev­er I hear his voice. Every now and then he offers gen­tle advice on doing this kind of work, like how impor­tant it is to give your­self per­mis­sion to feel what­ev­er it is you’re feel­ing, and I’ve been dis­cov­er­ing that so much of it has rel­e­vance in oth­er parts of my life.


I’ve been look­ing for new inspi­ra­tion and lis­ten­ing to as much new music as I can find recent­ly. I haven’t dared go into much of my old music. I sup­pose that means I’m not yet com­plete­ly over some­thing or oth­er. Thankfully, peo­ple send me new songs all the time (this gem cour­tesy of Mansour Chow), and often it keeps me going until the next addic­tion.

I haven’t picked up my gui­tar late­ly either. For the first time, the break has been self-imposed, though out of a desire to pur­sue oth­er inter­ests more than any­thing else. Also pos­si­bly the fact that I lost two months of growth when I chipped my thumb­nail, and I’m not inter­est­ed in learn­ing any­thing that requires a thumbpick right now. Ever since my dad gave me Larissa as a birth­day present two years ago, I haven’t able to put her down until now. I’m hop­ing it’ll reset a few bad habits, and give me more focus when I start again.

Practicing gui­tar has been the one tan­gi­ble way in which I could tell I was improv­ing. Now that I’m tak­ing a break, I’ve been faced with an unset­tling sense of stag­nan­cy, cause I’ve always held self-improve­ment as one of my main rea­sons for liv­ing. But I’ve also real­ized that it’s not always pos­si­ble to con­tin­u­al­ly improve, so I’m try­ing to be hap­py with who I am at the moment, and accept that it’s nat­ur­al to go through cycles of growth and stag­nan­cy, pain and heal­ing, frailty and strength.

it is impossible to stop the motion of snow at night

I got what I want­ed for Christmas.

Piles of it. Sheets falling from the sky, melt­ing instant­ly on your wind­shield, forc­ing the traf­fic to 20kph on the high­way. So much that you have to brush off your car if you leave it parked for more than a minute, but the sky glows orange for you to savour every sec­ond.

house in the snow

Not that I cel­e­brate Christmas, but I do enjoy the trap­pings of the sea­son. The lights and the dec­o­ra­tions and the spir­it and the snow. I’m just sick of the con­sumerism. It seems per­verse to see all this fan­cy paper wrapped around a box only to be torn off and thrown away. To see peo­ple scram­bling to buy things just to have some­thing to give. I’ve got it just right, where I don’t exchange gifts with any of my friends cause I don’t want either side to feel oblig­ed. I’d rather give a present when the time is right for both peo­ple, and save my mon­ey so it’s some­thing spe­cial every now and then. The last thing I want is to be a scrooge, but the old­er I get, the more I feel like that’s what I’m turn­ing into.

The hol­i­days are the only time I tru­ly veg out. I watch more TV on Christmas day than in the entire year com­bined, marathon reruns of Dog the Bounty Hunter and Parking Wars and Cake Boss. Shows that are fas­ci­nat­ing in short bursts with the right com­pa­ny and snacks, but nev­er good enough to make a point to watch on my own.

trees and night

I was lucky enough to spend some qual­i­ty time with a cheap elec­tric gui­tar. The body was dusty, the strings were dirty, and the into­na­tion left some­thing to be desired, but the action had me feel­ing like all the time I’ve spent with a stiff steel-string acoustic has paid off. About a month ago I put down a $200 deposit on the nylon-string beau­ty I’ve always want­ed (with the promise that I’d get my deposit back if I did­n’t like it) so I could wrap my arms around the body, run my hands across the glossy fin­ish, and feel the fret­board beneath my fin­gers. Guitar has been my only ther­a­py late­ly. The only thing I can throw myself into and for­get about every­thing else, the only part of myself that I can tan­gi­bly tell is improv­ing, some­thing I need to be feel­ing right now.

I’ve nev­er been this uncer­tain about the future, and it’s freak­ing me out. I already had a feel­ing 2012 was going to be a new start. My projects would be done by the end of the year, I’d have a nice lit­tle break, and I’d be ready to begin again. Now I’m forced into that real­i­ty, and life is soon going to be very dif­fer­ent. I don’t know if I’ll be able to han­dle it, but I sus­pect I won’t have much of a choice.

a short break in adolescence

I’ve been feel­ing like an adult.

This isn’t due to my fis­cal respon­si­bil­i­ties or my tidy home or any oth­er things I used to use as a mea­sure for matu­ri­ty, but from feel­ing like every­thing makes sense. Like I have all the answers the way adults seem to do, because I can see the big pic­ture, I under­stand what tru­ly mat­ters, and I don’t sweat the small things any­more.

It’s only now that I’m at a point where I feel like a grown up. Like this is final­ly who I’ll be for the rest of my life.

That’s not to say I’ve fin­ished grow­ing, that I’m not human or infal­li­ble, but there aren’t the same strug­gles or changes that I used to have, so my emo­tions and atti­tudes have evened out.

For a while I won­dered if I’d just become anoth­er turn­ing-30 cliché, but I real­ized it was nev­er about age. Various things have brought me to this matu­ri­ty, from con­ver­sa­tions to rela­tion­ships to trips far away. It all hap­pened to be around the begin­ning of a new decade in my life.

Maybe I’ve been feel­ing this way only because things are going so well. It’ll take some hard­ship to test how far I’ve tru­ly come as an adult, but until then I’ll try to live like a child, cause too often youth is wast­ed on the young.

the art of longing's over

So the great affair is over but who­ev­er would have guessed
It would leave us all so vacant and so deeply unim­pressed

On a sleep­less night in Paris, I came upon the sud­den real­iza­tion that the last thing I should be think­ing of was a per­son I had­n’t spo­ken to in more than half a year.

It brought to mind some­thing Jason told me once, about a pol­i­cy his life-coach has for his ses­sions (which are very for­ward-focused): if you bring up some­thing neg­a­tive from the past three times, the life-coach would end the work­ing rela­tion­ship cause it’s in indi­ca­tion that you’re hold­ing on to some­thing that keeps you from mov­ing for­ward.

So there’s three things you can do:

  • change the sit­u­a­tion
  • change your­self
  • noth­ing (which implies that you stop bring­ing it up, because you’re not doing any­thing to improve the sit­u­a­tion)

For so long, hope meant that I’d been try­ing to change the sit­u­a­tion. And when I final­ly, final­ly, final­ly under­stood the futil­i­ty of it all, I knew I had to change myself, and come to terms with what I did­n’t seem capa­ble of accept­ing. Being in anoth­er coun­try, sur­round­ed by an indul­gent, hedo­nis­tic cul­ture and filled to the brim with hap­pi­ness, was exact­ly what I need­ed to gal­va­nize myself into that change, and end things on my terms.

I’ve been set­tling back into my reg­u­lar life, and I don’t feel much of any­thing now, except free. Like I’m final­ly in con­trol, above water, instead of tread­ing it.