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What I Learned From Dead Plants

We should never think ourselves finished, we should always look to what we can in order to learn something about ourselves.

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Something that’s been on my mind for a really long time is this idea that some people hold that it costs something to be the person you are. I need to explain this a little a more, so here’s some context.

Over the last little while I’ve looked at some theories of self-care. The idea of taking care of yourself in every way so that you can your best self. One theory of self-care I see a lot can be summarized in the phrase ‘Stop watering dead plants’. I see this specific phrase a lot, and I also see the idea behind it a lot more. The idea is if you stop using your ‘limited’ energy on things/people who are “dead” or basically cannot provide any return to you, you will be better off. This whole idea just makes me really upset. I feel that when most people talk about this, they’re referring to human relationships, but it can apply to a lot more. Here’s what it really boils down to; “Stop giving if you’re not getting anything back”. This, to me, is the mindset that is at the root of many of things people deplore. War, famine, racism, social inequality – these are all being contributed to by people who are not giving anything unless they’re getting some kind of return. I get that some people, just simply wont want to give anything unless they give anything in return, that makes sense. But I’m reading articles, guides, and seeing videos from ‘experts’ that say if you want to give and that gift is being ignored or not being reciprocated, then stop wasting your energy. People are being encouraged to ignore a desire they may have, a desire to give. The questions for me then become. What’s the cost to be you? What’s it cost me to be me? If I give and give, and I don’t get anything back, am I worse off? Does that make me vulnerable to people with an interest in taking advantage of me? If so, should I not be taken advantage of? Will that hurt my soul?

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I’m going to stick with the “Stop watering dead plants” analogy. I want to explain the possible benefit of watering a dead plant by telling you a little bit my orchid from a few years ago. (I am in no way a horticulturist, I have a limited knowledge of this so please forgive if the comparison isn’t perfect.) I had this orchid in my house, purchased from the store in bloom – beautiful purple and pink flowers. The orchid stood in the window sill in my kitchen. It received at least 6 hours of sunlight a day, and was in the kitchen so I saw it every day and didn’t ever forget to water it. The orchid stayed in bloom for about two months. Then the flowers fell off. Thinking that it was just getting ready to bud and bloom again, I didn’t think there was any problem. A few days later, the leaves started to fall off as well. Thinking that I may have watered it too much, I started to closely monitor how damp the soil was. My mom was a huge gardener so I had a basic understanding on how to keep plants alive. Then after two weeks, to my surprise, the stem of the orchid dried up and turned brown. I killed my orchid. I’m not sure how but I spent two weeks examining this plant, using my energy to support it, and it just died. There’s no happy ending to this story, I put the orchid in my compost and I haven’t owned another one. About 4-5 months ago I wanted to get another plant for my house. Orchids have some of the most beautiful flowers you’ll see, but after killing one, I didn’t think it was a wise decision to get one. Then I did some research on orchid care and found out about the dormant period. Now I know all plants have a dormant period, but I didn’t know what an orchid’s dormant period specifically looked like. Here’s a quote from JustAddIceOrchids.com:

“Throughout an orchid’s dormant time, blooms drop from the stem, and the stem may shrivel and turn gray or brown. The orchid’s leaves gradually lose their bright green gloss and upright stance, turning dull and flattening out around the orchid’s base. It is at this point that many new Phalaenopsis orchid owners think their plant has died and regretfully throw it away.

Interesting. I know there’s a chance that my specific orchid may have actually died, but there’s a key point there that there’s a chance that it may not of (until I threw it in the compost). But even still, a dead plant serves a purpose. That organic material will break down into its basic nutrients. Those nutrients will go on anchor, support, and develop new life. The analogy is just an analogy, I get that. But are the similarities dissimilar to life? To relationships? To career endeavours? To seeing a love one die? I say no, emphatically. There are lessons to be learned here. I know this because I’ve learned these lessons, or I’m currently in the process of learning  them. I’ve lost people, I’ve given up on myself, I’ve damaged my relationships. We should never think ourselves finished, we should always look to what we can in order to learn something about ourselves.

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It’s very coincidental that today is Valentine’s Day. I did not plan this, but it seems fitting. I’ve never celebrated it with a partner. The only special feelings that today holds for me is fond memories of my mom making me heart-shaped pancakes, or sending notes in my lunch box to school with me. However, in my plant analogy here, the water in almost every situation is some form of love that you can provide to another person or a situation, or even yourself. I’m refusing to give up giving love. I’m not exactly sure what it’s costing me, if anything at all. Maybe it’s just a part of who I am. If it’s costing me something, I’ll happily keep paying that price. I’ve decided to keep showing love, even if something appears to be dead because I don’t actually know if it is. And maybe something that looks dead, if given enough love, will surprise you.

Thanks for reading,

Ben

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These Words

This post doesn’t have any photos attached. Partly because I’ve been busy and not had an opportunity to take new photos I’m proud enough of and partly because… words. Words matter. They are powerful. My words matter and my words are powerful. At least to me, they don’t have to carry weight with anyone else to be important.

I started writing this blog for a few different reasons. I’ve not posted in awhile and that deals with some insecurities I have and I’m trying to get past that. I get discouraged when I’m not engaged after I put my thoughts or feelings out. Not just here but in personal relationships as well. Back to the reasons why I started this, I’m not going to get into all of them but I do want to talk about one. I want to talk about it because it hasn’t quite really happened yet, and that could be for a variety reasons. It’s also the catalyst for my discouragement.

I know that I have a certain degree of education, not a really good one, but some. I’m fairly articulate and I have a slightly above average understanding of English grammar. I mention all of that to say that none of it makes me smart, or an expert on anything. The things I’m writing here are just my thoughts – and I’m more than willing, even hoping, to be challenged on them. Just because I can arrange words in such an order that it sounds good doesn’t mean the point I was trying to make or my line of thought is correct. This brings me to the reason I started posting to a public blog. I want to be engaged on the things I’m writing about. I got some negative and positive feedback here and there but no one has really wanted to delve in deep into anything I’ve said. It could be that I’m not saying things interesting enough to talk about, or that my personality makes people from shying away from engaging with me. Or maybe it doesn’t even reach the people I want it to. My best friends even admit they don’t read this. I understand those things and am not blaming anyone for those things. But I do want to encourage anyone that feels like they want to talk to me about something, to not be shy to do so. Even if it’s to tell me that I’m dumb and don’t make sense, as long as you can prove that with a good argument then I won’t be mad at you. I had an old friend (old in that I haven’t talked to him in a long time, he’s also old, haha) reach out to me because of one of the first posts I made on here. I was really happy he did. We talked a bit on the phone and over text and we probably will more. He thinks I’m in a different place than I am, which is part of not explaining everything in detail on a blog. I’m not going to do that. This friend will get my full story eventually.

Back to material I talk about. I know I am very opinionated myself, so I may not see eye to eye with you, but the thing with opinionated people is that they generally respect other opinionated people because opinionated people usually have a reason for their opinion and I can’t get upset about that. However if you say something like “you’re wrong because you’re wrong” then you should just save the limited thoughts you do have for deciding on McDonald’s or Burger King for lunch. I don’t have time for your close-minded thought processes. I doubt people that think that way would ever find the courage to talk to me anyway, and that’s good because people like that make my head hurt, literally. I get headaches just thinking about the people I know that are like that.

Sidebar: I really hate guys that have dogs and their top one or two reasons are because they know girls like it and it helps them get laid. I know a few dudes like that, and I just can’t stand them. I first feel bad for the dogs, then I feel bad for the girls, and then I feel bad for the guys because they aren’t millionaires and when bodies and dogs age they get stuck with what they have left which is just their own douchebag personality. Ok, I’m done venting.

This paragraph is a conclusion. I’m grateful to my grade nine teacher who taught me about SEX and how it relates to essays. I’ve been slaying essays with minimal to moderate effort ever since. (She also featured in some sex related aspects of my life, but that was exclusively in my dreams and the one time I finished a test early, put my head down on the table and she put her hand on my shoulder and asked if I was alright.) This blog isn’t easy for me. Writing comes naturally but putting what I’ve written into WordPress and pressing “publish” is hard. I know I’m odd, I think differently. I don’t want to change, but I know I get judged. I don’t need people to think I’m not weird, but I do want to be afforded the same liberty I afford others and that’s to just be yourself and whatever that is, that’s great. I also want to be engaged. I don’t wanna fight, but I wanna talk. Every relationship I have can only benefit from being deepened. And relationships will deepen as long as both parties want it to and work to make it happen. I want that for my existing relationships, if I didn’t I would end it. And that’s what this all really comes down to. Who really wants to deepen their relationship with me?

I am Giving Up on Being Nice

Because life isn’t about living up to someone else’s expectation…

I am giving up on being nice. It may sound weird to hear but I have decided that I am giving up on being nice. I’m going to explain why I’m doing this but this I want to state that I realize some of you reading this may not think I was nice to begin with and that’s OK, assess me all you want.

Expectations – most people live their whole lives by them. It’s such an ingrained part of the fabric of our thought processes that we don’t even realize that we base our thoughts, decisions, and actions off of what is expected of us. Here are just some examples of who I am that carry expectation: father, husband, son, brother, friend, step-son, cousin, male, human. The problem with expectations, to me, is that they are almost exclusively from outside sources. Not only do other people expect certain things from me, but I expect certain things from myself but the catch is I was taught those things from outside sources. It was not my innate moral fabric that brought to this idea of how I should act as a father, but my socialization that taught me how I should act. And here’s my main concern about expectations from either outside or inside yourself: are we really being who we are as people if we conform to what’s expected of us? Am I being the most me I can be if I act, think, or feel in a way that’s expected of me, because it’s expected of me? Well the only real way to know is to stop letting expectations rule over your mind. In fact the opposite, I feel I must find a way to train myself to think without expectations and I’m not sure that A) it’s even possible or B) I’ll like who I am if I succeed.

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One of the biggest reasons I want to rid myself of expectations is because I don’t want to place expectations on my kids. I want them to grow up to be who they are or to be whoever they want to be if they want to change themselves. I didn’t always think that way though and switch was recent. Here’s a ‘quick’ story: I was at work one morning working with a woman I have a ton of respect for, her name is Autumn. Autumn has a couple kids of her own and we were talking about raising our kids and our philosophies on one topic or another. I feel like I had a lot in common with her to begin with, so talking about raising our kids felt more like we were just echoing each other’s already established parenting style. Anyways, the topic came to who our parents wanted us to be while we were growing up and how we don’t necessarily hold the same views for our own kids. I summarized my thoughts like this: “I don’t care what my kids are or want to be. They can do or be anything, as long as they’re just good people”. That’s a thought I had several times previous to that conversation and then Autumn dropped a bomb on me. I’m fuzzy on the exact words but she said something along the lines of “That’s an expectation. Not all people are good naturally”.

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So it’s been a couple months and I think I’m finally realizing the gravity behind the truth of that statement. Some people are just not good people. Some go around lying and cheating other people and taking advantage of them and they like it. It’s taken me some time to think that through and realize one or all of my kids could grow up and be like that, and if that happens I’m not going to stop loving them, I’m not even going to be disappointed. If being that way makes them happy, then I’m going to be happy for them, even if it means the only time I get to see them will be with 3-inch bulletproof glass between us and armed guards close by. Because life isn’t about living up to someone else’s expectations and certainly not your parents’ expectations. If my dad currently saw every single thing I did in a given month, I guarantee he would say that’s not how he “hoped” or “wanted” or “expected” or (big one coming) “prayed” I would turn out. And I’m pretty sure my dad either reads this blog or someone tells him about the things I say, but I’m not hiding anything. My dad is a smart guy and I’m sure he realizes some important things about putting expectations on to people, namely that it’s pretty often people will do the opposite of what you expect of them. He’s also known me for 32 years almost and I’m sure he knows that doing something just because someone told you to do otherwise is right up my alley. And to be brutally honest, if I imagine myself in 30 years, I don’t know if I want my kids to be thinking the things that I’m thinking and saying right now. I just don’t imagine it would feel good, but at the same time at least they would be thinking. Lots of people just do what’s expected of them because that’s what they were trained to do, they don’t seek out making life a better place to be.

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So what does being nice have to do with any of this? Well, I feel like all the expectations put on me so far in life have, at least in part, included the base ideal that I should be a nice person. There’s a lot of manifestations of what a ‘nice person’ is and I can say for sure that I’ve felt a lot of them, and I feel like I’ve lived a lot of my life that way. I recently read something about Libras, which I am, and it said that Libras tend to focus on other people’s problems, giving a lot of themselves, so they don’t have to look at or deal with their own problems. I never really thought about that before, and I’m not saying I’m some great person, I know I have a bunch of flaws. I know that some people would laugh at the fact that anyone else would consider me to be ‘nice’. But regardless of that I feel like I’ve let these pressures take control of decision-making process too much and I’m done. I’m not going to be nice anymore. I am going to make an effort to stop making an effort. To just be me, whether me is nice or not.

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So I feel like there are pros and cons to being that way. I’m 100% positive that I will still do nice things, and the best thing about that is that when I do those things, it’ll be genuine. It’s not like I haven’t been genuine before but now I can abandon any ulterior motives, or or least leave the accusations of ulterior motives behind me. My friend group has a phrase we say when someone wants to do something on their own or when a single person has a particular point of view no one else agrees with and it’s mostly said being facetious but there’s truth behind it each time it’s said and there’s a lot of truth applying it to someone’s life in general. It’s ‘you do you, booboo’. I feel that this little revelation that I’ve had, this ignoring expectations frame of thinking, this ceasing to be nice, is a great way for me to do me… booboo.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Ben

Passion

I realized something. Sitting on some grass at a concert, with friends who were there because I wanted to see a pop band and they were gracious enough to join me, I had an important revelation about myself. I wondered why I liked this particular band when I’m not a big fan of the genre in general and they weren’t particularly special when compared to other groups in that genre. What I realized is that the lead singer held conviction in his voice while he sang. He wrote and sang the lyrics of his songs with noticeable passion. I thought about a couple of other things in my life and realized that what I’m drawn to is the passion that other people have. I wonder if that’s something most people are drawn to or if I’m particularly drawn to it because of who I am. 

People can have passion for lots of different things – that’s nothing new. I know people who are passionate about: music, children, teaching, photography, other people, writing, religion, and various other things. To me, it’s interesting to see people pour themselves into something they love so much. A thing they feel rewarded by, feel like they can escape to, something they feel is worth all the effort they put into it, something that makes them feel really happy or full. There’s a lot of evidence, at least to me, when someone is passionate about something. It’s easy to see that they love an activity or love a process or whatever the case may be. It isn’t always easy to go out and do the same thing all the time, I’m not saying it should be. But I can tell when people feel the hard work is worth the outcome. The process may not be always the best part, but when it’s your passion, then it’s easy to see that you feel your investment is worthwhile. 

Thinking about passion, my own personality and who I am – I think I know why I’m drawn to it. The reason is that I don’t have passion for really anything. I don’t have anything in my life I feel like I could live without, there’s nothing in life that feels so good that I want to focus all my energy on that one single thing. I find small bits of happiness in a multitude of things but if I was forced to choose one thing to focus all my energy on or die, I would probably choose death. I’m not sure why I’m that way because the results of not being able to focus that attention are pretty bad. I’ve jumped from career to career and consequently have always stayed in low-paying positions, I’ve never been able to get really good at one hobby or sport – I’m just pretty mediocre at several different ones which means I don’t stand out in any activity and I really like standing out. 

I’m not really sure of the relationship between passion and purpose. I don’t think they are the same but I feel like some would argue that point. Maybe they are the same for some people and not for others. I hope so because not having purpose seems more discouraging than not being passionate. Right now, my purpose seems pretty clear – ensure the little humans I’m responsible for do not die. Essentially that’s it. I have lots more than I can be doing but I think that’s true for 99% of people living in a developed country. I’m not sure what to think about myself and a passion. Do I have to learn to accept that some people just aren’t like that? Do I simply just have to stop being so lazy and just decide on one thing and put everything I have into that? I really don’t know. I’m not sure if that trait is an attractive one or not but I know I don’t care – I am what I am and I don’t want to be anything else. I just want to enhance myself as much as possible without losing any authenticity. I wonder about that whole premise as well: do people have to make an effort to be who they really are? Thinking about who I am and what I do is just something that I do. It feels as though other people just let their reflexes rule themselves, that’s who they are, nothing deeper is going on. That seems like a less complicated way to go through life. That’s not me though – I analyze my reflexes after they are used. It’s not a choice I get to make, that’s just a function of the way my brain works and believe me, if I could switch it off, I would. 


I can tell you this. Having revelations about yourself is such a gratifying moment. It was one of those times that something just clicked. So much of how I think and so many parts of my historical story made more sense. I was dumbfounded that I hadn’t realized this before because it was so obvious to me after. But I know that’s another part of who I am, I have a hard time seeing my own self. Another thing I’m forced to think about. 


-Ben

More on Happiness

Being as happy as possible is pretty hard in our society. There’s too many expectations on us, too many people to explain their judgement of another’s behaviour, too many whispered comments into people’s ears at family reunions and brunches with friends.

I’ve come to realize that I have the potential to be really powerful and that’s not in the least bit unique. Everyone is capable of being powerful. Just as powerful as I can be. Each person with an intelligent mind controls how they look at things. They make choices. They can choose to use their power or not. Just like I can choose to use my power or not. The power I’m talking about is the power over ourselves. Controlling our own happiness, our outlooks, our frame of reference. I used to think those things weren’t in my control. I used to think I had no choice over those things in my life.

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Happiness is what I want to focus on. I thought for a long time I deserved to be as happy as I could possibly be. I feel like I didn’t even realize what that actually meant for me for a large portion of my life. But being as happy as possible is pretty hard in our society. There’s too many expectations on us, too many people to explain their judgement of another’s behaviour, too many whispered comments into people’s ears at family reunions and brunches with friends. But being as happy as possible doesn’t have to be what I, or anyone else, aims for. In a lot of cases it’s impossible for some people, it’s simply not attainable. Think of someone with a celebrity obsession, a stalker. The happiest they will ever be is when they are with the object of their affection, and how many times has that ever played out? Not many, if ever. There are a lot more different situations that bar someone from being able to be the happiest they could ever be. Hence, why I feel this isn’t something I feel like I should strive to grasp. I feel like that happens for a few lucky people, I just hope those people are grateful.

Happiness is a state with a bunch of varying degrees. I was happy 10 years ago. I am happy today. Those two kinds of happy are really really different, for lots of reasons. I’m not sure if it’s better to slide to one side of the happiness scale or the other. I don’t know if one end is “more happy” and the other end is “less happy”. I just don’t know. I feel like the happiness can just be of a different type. This is where our power comes in as people. We can choose to be happy with what we can attain. Being happy doesn’t mean everything on a checklist has to be checked all at the same time. Be happy failing, be happy not reaching your goals, be happy alone, be happy with others, just choose whatever you want to be happy with.

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It’s possible, maybe even likely, that I am extremely wrong. That everyone else is just going around being elated about their life. Working 9-5, washing the car, cleaning the house, going to soccer practice, etc. (God, that all sounds awful to me). But this is me using my power. Making a choice to pursue the happiness I can attain. I’ve had a depressed outlook before. Thinking that things are shitty and I wasn’t going to be able to make them better. To see things getting much worse for myself before they got better, and not knowing if I would actually make it out of those situations alive, literally. But I can use the power I have to make choices for my own life. Recklessly move towards something and leaving behind the potential and eventual judgement of anyone around me. Just like everyone else owns this power over their own life. It feels hard to do, even impossible in some situations. Recently a friend had some relationship struggles and I found myself telling them they had power over their own life. A choice to make in their given situation. Live with or without their partner and face the shitty feelings that either situation would give them. Because both staying and going was going to hurt in their situation. I was “lucky” to be able to give them my personal perspective which was extremely similar. Knowing that leaving hurts and knowing that staying hurts too. But the power still falls in our own hands and we can choose where on the spectrum of happiness we want to move towards.

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I’m a Libra and I don’t know a lot about what that actually means but I do know the symbol that represents Libra is a set of scales. Now I think what the scales are supposed to represent is that I have a desire to see fairness and justice, and I will work towards that. I’m not really going to talk about whether or not that’s true, but what I see scales representing in my life is something different. It represents a process of decision making. Choices aren’t always ‘Option A’ and ‘Option B’, sometimes, often times, there are a bunch more options to choose from. It’s difficult to wade through different options in life and make a decision. Especially when you’re young and it seems that your whole life is decision after decision. As a Libra, as scales, I feel like I understand the many different options, and I can weigh them. I definitely don’t always make the best decisions, some people would say I rarely ever make the right one, and maybe I don’t but I see them all, I understand the impact. When it comes to happiness, it’s a weight on a scale, another kind of happiness is another size weight on another side of that scale. I won’t ever blame someone who doesn’t pick the heaviest weight, because maybe it’s the least painful, or maybe you prefer to make decisions for someone else, or maybe you don’t feel strong enough to make a particular choice. Choosing to use your power a little or to its fullest potential is a choice everyone has, and you can’t choose incorrectly.

At the end of the day, all of this is opinion. It’s a bunch of jumbled thoughts that I’ve tried to write down and find connections with real life events. What I know for sure is that life is hard, being happy is hard, shouldn’t we all just take what we can get?

-Ben

Best Friends

I find it interesting that we assign varying degrees of meaning to our friends. I think the vast majority of our western society, if asked individually will say that they have one best friend, or a small group of several best friends. I totally subscribe to this. I always have, in my head, had one or a few “best friends”. There’s a line in a song from a band I really like. It goes: “Best friends means: best friends to me”. Maybe you think that means absolutely nothing, to me it doesn’t, I’m gonna come back to this.

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I want to be a certain kind of person. I know I fail at being that person, a lot. But I still try, and I will always try to learn how I can be better at being that person. Near the top of the list of attributes of that person is being a good friend. Being a good friend to more than one person is incredibly hard because being a good friend isn’t about what you want, it’s about what your friends want/need. Being a good friend isn’t about changing yourself into something your friends want to be, that’s probably the opposite. But it does include doing things you don’t want to, putting up with small annoying things, being in places you don’t want to be, changing your own plans to accommodate someone else.

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My point of this isn’t to say that I’m a great friend and I do all those things I said above, that’s not for me to decide. These are things that people have done for me. I know that I wouldn’t be here without my friends. I am so grateful to the people who have sacrificed something for my benefit, for whatever reason or for no reason at all.

“Best friends means: best friends to me”. What I take from this lyric is that a ‘best friend’ is someone that is going to do the hard things no matter what. They are going to do what they don’t want to do if that means it’s what’s best for you. They are going to do it consistently and for as long as you need it. Becoming friends is far from the difficult process of staying friends. Becoming friends is more about sharing a similar worldview, or having similar interests, or sharing the same type of humour. Once you get to know a friend on a deeper level, you almost have an obligation or responsibility to be there for them, even to do something that make them upset, sometimes that’s what people need. To me, a ‘best friend’ will just always be the person that’s the best at being there.

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For me personally, I’ve had lots of best friends. Some know it because I’ve told them, some don’t because I didn’t even realize it myself until I started thinking about this topic a month or so ago. At different points in my life, different people have ignored the pleasantries of their own life to do something for or with me, because they thought I needed it. I don’t want to leave things unnoticed, I want to tell people when I recognize that they’ve done something for me. The past year has been crazy for me. I’ve been in a lot of situations where someone else stepped up for me and I am so grateful to my friends for doing it. For stuff that’s happened in the last year and in all the years before as well.

I want to personalize this and specifically say thank-you to the friends that I know have been there for me over the years. All of the people who have been my best friend for as little as a minute (whether you knew it or not) or as much as a decade or more. The order of this list is mostly chronological.

To all these people I owe a debt I cannot repay but please don’t be afraid to ask me to. I love you all. Thank you very much:

Siah
Matt
Bek
Stevie
Nicole
Shawny
Maddi
Kam
Amby
Seb
Tim
Hayden
Brett
Koz
Mikey
Lauren
Shelby
Dylly
Allie
Chris
Allysha

And finally and most of all, Melissa. Thanks for seeing my darkest sides and still loving me. Thanks for being there for me and thanks for understanding a very complicated and high maintenance little boy.

-Ben

Happiness

“Actual happiness looks pretty squalid in comparison with the overcompensations for misery. And, of course, stability isn’t nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesquness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt. Happiness is never grand.” – Brave New World

I’m a romantic, for whatever reason. I’ve always believed that real happiness is a feeling in your chest and in your gut. The feeling that if bad things started happening to you, it wouldn’t matter, you could handle absolutely anything with a smile on your face. When a person goes through relational problems and it comes down to happiness of one, or both individuals, those individuals will be told, ‘you have to ‘happy’ on your own before you can be ‘happy’ with someone else’. I’ve heard those words spoken to me and I’ve spoke those words to other people. It makes a lot of sense when you think about it, you can’t rely on anyone else to make you happy because their agenda will always be make themselves happy first, after all everyone is being told the same thing. So that’s why you should make yourself happy, so you’re not relying on someone else to do it, because they don’t have your happiness in mind. That’s not so romantic.

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When I first got married I can tell you I was absolutely not complete. I was not happy on my own. There’s no way I could have been. I was too young to know who I was and consequently unable to know what would make me happy. I used my wife to complete my happiness, for lots of different reasons; some good and some bad. Over the years as I’ve learned about myself I thought I understood happiness, but in the place I’m in right now, I have no idea if I learned what it was or not. Brave New World is one of my favourite novels. The quote I posted above is probably the most depressing quote about happiness that has ever existed for a romantic like me. But I’m not sure if Aldous Huxley is right or not. On first glance, he absolutely is. Compare what a couple feels after being married for 30 years to what they felt on the first date when they had to fight to impress their new potential partner. Or think of it like this: two people are at a party telling the story of how they got to be at the party. Person A was simply born here in Canada and works with the host of the party. Person B is a refugee, they fled a war in their home country and nearly was killed on several occasions, the host of the party works in a centre for new immigrants and that’s how they came to be at the party. Now this example has nothing to do with happiness but which one of the stories is interesting? Which person would you like to talk to more? Person A is not ‘grand’ just as Huxley suggests happiness isn’t. Person B has an interesting story. This produces problems for a romantic like me. The me that wants the ‘grand’, the ‘picturesque’, the ‘spectacular’, and the ‘glamour’. The me that also wants to be happy, but is not sure how to get it with along with everything else. Is this the definition of getting cake and eating it too? Am I cursed by a personality with goals that reality cannot facilitate?

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Well this is going to be a cyclical argument but I refuse to believe that it’s impossible. That real happiness has to squalid. Because I’m a romantic. I have to believe that feeling in my chest and in my gut isn’t just because I have a good story to tell or because my life is overcoming some type of negativity. I want the happiness that includes the glamour, the grand, and the spectacular. I don’t want this happiness to be fleeting. I want to wake up every day filled up with this kind of happiness, and I want to understand that if it doesn’t happen, it’s my own fault. I control everything I do. At the same time, to some degree, I choose what makes me happy. And that makes life seem difficult. I put responsibility on myself to make myself as happy as I can be.

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What happiness actually is can be hard to define. I can provide a list of small things that make me happy, certain activities or events where I get that happiness feeling. But do those things mean I am happy? I’m pretty sure it doesn’t. And that’s what seems so elusive. That’s what is squalid according to Huxley. But what does that feel like? Do I have that and not even know it? Have I had that for a long time? Have I just gotten little tastes here and there? Did I have and it and lose it? Am I just too much into my own head and asking too many questions? I’m not really sure. Those are hard questions, they seem almost existential in the fact that if I was given an answer I would question how accurate it could be.

So I keep on living, really doing what ever I can, just to be. Trying my best to make the best out of each situation. Some of which I wish I wasn’t in at all because it feels like happiness wouldn’t have to be so complicated. But I put myself into all the situations I’m in. I’ve compensated for misery, I’ve chosen instability, I’ve fought misfortune, I’ve struggled with temptation, and I’ve been overthrown with passion. Here I am still questioning happiness.

-Ben