In Hindsight

Happy 2014 everyone!

Can I first express how disappointed I am with technology? Hello, where are the holographic video chats and the flying cars? I was really looking forward to a new hoverboard for Christmas. C’mon Science! You’re slacking.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I wanted to do a little recap on 2013 and what this new year means to me… all that sentimental mumbo jumbo. Everyone seems to be talking about how 2013 was such a bad year with all the deaths and natural disasters. I admit it wasn’t the roaring 20’s but 2013 was an ok year. Like every year it had its ups and downs, but what year doesn’t? Here’s what 2013 was for me, the good and bad:

This is small on the grand scale of thing but if I hear “Blurred Lines” again I think I’m gonna shoot myself. I think a little part of my soul dies a little every time it comes on. There were others that were abominations to the Arts but that one particularly irks me. 

On the more serious side of things, a lot of people died this year, and I don’t just mean the famous ones. It’s sad, but I think what’s more sad is the fact that some people’s lives were considered more valuable than others. Don’t get me wrong, my heart goes out to the families of all those celebrities that died, but it also goes out to the others. Where’s the mourning for the infants that die every day in a developing country because they didn’t get the right facilities to cure a disease as simple as the common cold. Or the newly orphaned family who’s mum died of HIV/AIDS. Then there’s the death of Nelson Mandela. He was a great man and an inspiration to us all. However, I don’t understand why everyone was so sad about his life. He lived a long and fulfilling life, we should be celebrating it, not mourning it. Nelson Mandela isn’t a man who died, He LIVED!

National Disasters were another wave tragedy in 2013. They were devastating, I’m not gonna argue that. However, the human race is faced with great tragedies every year. I think it says more of how we deal with it and the triumph of the human spirit. Even with all the horror, I say many band together to help those in need. Now let’s not argue the merits of charities and if all the money got to them, but the fact that people went out of the way to help and donate to the cause is what we should be discussing.

This year is honestly a blur to me. I know it’s not been the best because I remember being sad or mad or whatever but I can’t remember what I was mad or sad or whatever about (real intellectual sentence right there). I make me think how insignificant that was in the grand scale of things. Like the ice storm we had here in Toronto.  Sure it sucked and we lost power but at the same time it forced me—and others I bet—to actually spend time with their family this holidays. I know the whole “silver linings” explanation usually sounds so terribly cliché but I warned you this post will be filled with sentimental mumbo jumbo. The anwswer don’t always have to be grand and mind blowing, sometimes it’s something we already know but choose to ignore.

Now on the positive side of things, these are more personal than the above ones. 2013 was a good year for friendship in my life. Not only did I wake a lot of new friends but my friendship with current ones really blossomed. I have a lot of friends who were just people I didn’t really know but hanged out with but I think on a more emotional level, I got to know many of them this year. I guess it’s because it’s going on my third year in one place which is an achievement for me. I’ve only stayed 3 years in one school once before and this will be the last time because of me graduating and all. It was also a great year for new friends. You know how you have these connections with people where you click and become amazing friends in such a short period of time, well that happened to me a lot this year. It must be because of all the camps and the mission trip I went on and being forced to spend time with the same people around the clock. What’s even more amazing is the fact that I still kept in contact with a lot of them which usually doesn’t happen. I’m tired of regretting cultivating friendships that could have been so I decided to change that. This year was also one of life changing experiences. True, I had to travel to another side of the world to experience it, but it happened none the less. So yeah, I guess 2013 was a good year for me. I dunno how it was for you, but what I do know is that no matter how bad things get, there truly is a silver lining.
Sorry for the cheesiness with extra cheese.

Quote of the Post: “I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.”- Nelson Mandela

Happiness for Sale

What does it mean to be happy?
Is it smiling and laughing all the time?
Is it having dozens of friends?
Is it owning hundreds of things?
Everyone’s always saying, “money can’t buy happiness,” so why do all the pictures of rich people have smiles and the ones of poor kids in Africa have tears?
I don’t want to be happy.
That’s a weird statement, probably one you wouldn’t expect me to say, but here it is –I don’t want to be happy. Why? Well, let me just clarify what I mean by being happy:
Happiness is an emotion –temporary
Happiness is a series of chemical reactions in your brain –temporary
Happiness can be changed easily by circumstances –temporary
Happiness is temporary
Do you see where I’m going with this? Every day, we are bombarded with images of happiness and products that can give us that so called euphoria –but they don’t work. Sure, getting a new pair of shoes can make me happy for a while, then I have an argument with my dad and then suddenly –it’s gone.
What do things have to be with being happy anyways? I live in a place where we’re all supposed to be happy because we have everything, as far as food and things go; yet in North America, the third leading cause of death in teens is suicide. That’s a crazy statistic. If we have so much, then why are we all so sad?
I, personally, have had the opportunity to see the ‘other side of the world’ many times, and the picture I get there is completely different. Yes, there’s poverty and all that. People have next to nothing –but they are some of the happiest people I have ever met. I would meet a kid who doesn’t even own a pair of pants yet still shows off his toothy grin in a smile every time I saw him. How is that contrast even possible? It doesn’t make any sense.
Going back to my original statement, “I don’t want to be happy.” I neglected to say the second part, “I want to find joy.” Now you may be thinking, “What’s the difference? It’s simple really:
Happiness is temporary, joy is permanent.
Happiness is an emotion, joy is a lifestyle
How do you even achieve joy? Well, I’ve found that the first way is by choosing to be happy, despite the bad days, sad days and mad days –that came out way cheesier than I intended. Joy is choosing to be content. Now I must clarify, contentment is not complacency. Being complacent is choosing to be a doormat and not doing anything to change that, just accepting your fate in an almost bitter nature. Being content is knowing your circumstance and accepting it, while still allowing a possibility to grow.
The next step on the ‘road to joy’ is the elimination of self on the brain. When one is depressed, sad, etc, it’s often due to them concentrating on themselves and their problems and flaws. Have you ever done that thing where you sit by yourself, alone in your room and contemplate your existence?  Next thing you know, you’re rocking on the floor in fetal position, crying in despair. I feel that when we get out of that habit on thing of ourselves and focus more on others, that feeling despair goes. I don’t know about you, but I’m usually happiest when I’m helping others. Volunteering could possibly be the best form of therapy. This is not to say that it’s easy. I would be lying if I told you that you could switch on a button and be content and generous and happy. It’s a process, but it’s one you have to force yourself to start.
Anyway, this went on a lot longer than I wanted it to go –again. I should probably apologize for taking long to update as well, life’s been getting in the way. I’ll just leave you with my new found philosophy:

I don’t want to be happy, I want to find joy.
Natz
Song of the Post:  All Star By Smash Mouth

Quote of the Post: “Be content because that makes you automatically awesome.” –Quote developed by my friend, Miriam R., and I

Soul Searching Encounter

Hello people of the internet. So, I know it’s been a while since my last update, mainly because I’m a major procrastinator. In this post, I’m going to do something a little bit different. In my Writer’s Craft class, we have this exercise where we get a couple minutes of free writing in which my teacher gives us a topic and we write whatever comes to mind. Unfiltered thoughts and expression. I’d like to share with you my latest one which turned out a lot better than I expected. It was one of those bursts of inspiration that couldn’t stop flowing. So here it is- keep in mind this is unedited and uncensored (there is no inappropriateness, just my thoughts are kind of all over the place)

The topic was “A chance encounter which changes a person’s life”

Have you ever walked in a crowd and still felt so alone? Even when you’re with your friends, you sometimes feel isolated. Have you ever considered though, “maybe it’s my own fault? Maybe the only reason I feel lonely is because I’m not opening up to people”
Opening up to people is hard though, when you know them- when you value their friendship. Maybe they will think you’re weird, maybe you’ll lose that relationship. Sometimes, the best way to open up and get all that’s bothering you off your chest is by talking about it to a stranger. With this, you have nothing to lose, so why not?

So you go, into the world looking for a onetime confidante. A friendship only meant to last a moment. You find yourself in a park on the other side of town; one you have never visited. There is a solitary bench under an oak tree already changing colours for fall. You sit.

Another person sits next to you. You don’t look up to see who it is. You don’t even know if it is a man or woman. You start to speak. “Can I talk to you” you say, “just about what’s going on with me right now?”

The person doesn’t speak, but makes no move so you take that as an approval.

You begin to tell your story. Where you were born, your family-whom you feel are weird, your beliefs –that you’re unsure of, your plans for the future-which scare you. You confide with this stranger about your problems and your fears, your dreams and your interest, even your secrets that only you know. You even tell them what you had for breakfast this morning.

You tell them the story of you.

All through it, not a word is spoken by this unknown individual. No reaction is made, whether positive or negative. They simply listen. They simply accept.

You, comfortable in this atmosphere of accepting facts as they are, have a chance to stop on contemplate the last few moments. You’ve never had a chance to really lay yourself right out there. By telling this stranger about you, you’ve also explained part of you to yourself. For the first time, you feel like you can understand yourself just a little bit more.

You inhale, taking a deep breath as your eyes close instinctively. You feel a strange sense of peace, as if a burden has been lifted off you. You realize one has, for the first time, you were completely honest with yourself. 

You exhale.

You tell the stranger thank you. You and the hidden person get up and head in opposite directions. Your paths never intertwine again.

You are content with this fact.
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So that’s it. I honestly don’t know what to make about this journal yet for some weird reason, I felt it was something worth sharing.

Song of the Post: Somewhere Only We Know by Keane
Quote of the Post: “We sometimes encounter people, even perfect strangers, who begin to interest us at first sight, somehow suddenly, all at once, before a word has been spoken.” -Fyodor Dostoevsky