Surfing Emotions

sine-wave-emotionsI created this diagram to articulate what I think can be helpful with understanding emotions and how you think about them. Opposites exist in all things. Up, down; left, right; in, out; on, off; alive, dead; heaven, hell; wet, dry; high, low. One side cannot exist without the other and to know one, we must know the other. Our emotions are no exception. They are a part of us and our conscious experience in the moment. As discussed in Eastern Philosophies, the center-line going through the sine wave above is the “middle-way” and this is where you should ideally spend your time; a balance between extremes. Of course there will be fluctuations; we are human after all. Spikes in magnitude to either the positive or negative with short duration I consider to be normal and part of a well-balanced life. Your girlfriend left, promotion came through, late for an important appointment, news of a baby on the way, are all entitled to some sort of emotional response. These human emotions cannot be “denied” and if you to deny them, then also realize acceptance is at the other end of that spectrum and it may be wise to observe both extremes within you but not be emotionally invested in either. Emotional obsessions about an experience generates continuous emotional feedback that can have a negative impact on your well-being. Large magnitudes and erratic fluctuations between the + and – are not good and would represent an emotionally unbalanced person. Likewise, someone who is constantly at one end of a spectrum would also be cause for concern, possibly not for the individual experiencing the emotion, but to the external world, could appear to be unbalanced. Living in excess, we see it everywhere. It’s in our emotional states, our diet, our foot print on this planet and our laws to keep us safe; everywhere. The word “excessive” shows “moderate” as being its opposite which I don’t agree with. A more suitable word would be “insufficient” with “moderate” right smack dab in the middle of the two. That being said, the term “middle-way” and “moderation” are interchangeable in this sense. I don’t want to remove emotion from my life, it’s an integral part of the human experience, but like everything else in existence… a degree of moderation or balance is key. How this moderation or peace is realized is subjective and each have their own ideas and understanding about these concepts; all you need to do is realize “something” that aligns with you.

– Geary LeBell

The irrational battle within

I don’t consider myself a competent writer. Hell, I haven’t been doing it that long! During the past year I’ve written more than I have in my entire life. Why did I take it up a notch? Generally, I’m troubled with myself, society, our mark on this planet. I feel that writing is a valuable outlet for my thoughts and somehow reinforces what I know, which I’m beginning to realize is, nothing. Trying to make sense of it all seems infinitely impossible and anytime I delve into a question, any question, it leads back to me. Me. Who am I? Like it’s talked about by so many people before me, maybe there are two aspects of my being. The true-self and ego. Will I ever let my true-self out? It seems to have difficulty getting through the ego unscarred. I say ego in the sense of insecurities, doubt, pride, prejudices, shame, fear etc… I feel that to show people who I really am doesn’t always reveal an accurate picture of the “real me” because it’s influenced by my ego. Put another way, I’m clouded by my insecurities, doubt, shame, fear, etc…; you know, all those worrisome concepts in your head that only exist because you think they do. I once believed that these characteristics represented the real me without question, with no sense of true-self or ego; I was just me. Not so much these days. They’re still present and always attempt and usually succeed at exercising a certain amount of control; “thinking” and “being” are not the same though. Do I make progress? I believe so, for instance; simply by writing and watching my thoughts from a distance without being “attached” to them. To let go a little at a time in every situation and try to realize that; living your life through this kind of ego is living a life of madness. I think a large part of “not letting go” is the fear of the unknown. Not knowing how you truly feel to begin with and the external reactions to that unknowingness; instead of being comfortable with not knowing, accepting it, embracing it. In doing so, could all the negative ego evaporate and its existence not even fathomed inside your mind?; you cannot even comprehend how you could feel that way? It’s scary and confusing, but at the same time, freeing. As Alan Watts once quoted “One is a great deal less anxious if one feels perfectly free to be anxious, and the same may be said of guilt.”. At one point while I sit here writing this piece, a moment arises where I think “hell yeah, you got this all figured out dude!”, which is immediately followed by the thoughts “where did that come from? You’re full of shit.. Is that my ego talking? What am I so sure of? Is my ego impersonating my true self!?”, then followed by “Why shouldn’t I be excited if I feel that way? What’s wrong with that? Would you just shut up!”; a vicious circle sending me down the rabbit hole. When I reflect on these thoughts though, it becomes clear that it’s not the emotions or feelings that are the problem, but dwelling on them, investing in them, creating an excessiveness and anything in excess is not good. When the time is right, I will be happy, I will be compassionate, I will be sad, I will be angry and it’s the constant incessant thoughts that run wild, out of control that collude my true-self. Why control something that shouldn’t be controlled?; and the act of trying to control it is what gives birth to it! You are the enemy and ally, which are both illusions created by you. The true emotion is one that you don’t have to think about. It comes unexpectedly, is experienced and then let go. This is me attempting to show a little of my true-self; my thoughts; being vulnerable; taking a risk.

At least I hope it is… if this is my ego pulling a fast one, I’m going to be sooo pissed ;)

– Geary LeBell

Sugar Sugar

The body needs so we feed
Survival being the key
The mind turns to greed
Wont you hear my plea?

Like a drugs from thugs
Shoveling their crap
Not even a shrug
Not realizing the trap

Newsflash, the thug is you too
Falling prey to your desire
A self-inflicted screw
The situation is dire

A Mountainous fountain of sugar
In everything we eat
Think it’s not your fault?
The systems got you beat?

Painful and shameful to go cold turkey
Wake up to what you consume
The start will be murky
shocking what you’ll exhume

For the love of body and mind
It’s about quality of life
Otherwise you will find
Future days full of strife.

– Geary LeBell

8.5 on the Richter Scale

When trying to picture my emotions as they relate to my life through time, I find myself visualizing a method used to measure earth quakes; the Richter scale. Movement of the earth’s surface is represented as a line that remains constant or centered when little or no activity is present. Depending on the magnitude of the tremor, the ground shakes, the line spikes, but normally subsides quickly and returns to center with no damage to people or property. Sometimes the quake is extreme and leaves death and destruction in its wake. Similarly, your emotional state when you’re calm; content; at peace represents that center line. Somewhat like earth quakes, we can have limited control in that moment when a tremor develops and our emotions spike causing “our” ground to shake, but we can control the magnitude and duration of the tremor and bring ourselves back to center before any major damage is dealt. Earthquakes are a natural phenomenon, like our emotions. They’re a part of our life, not to be resisted, but embraced as “what is”. Luckily, we have the ability to detect and neutralize our internal earthquakes, bringing us back to “our” center. The emotion from the initial quake is naturally occurring and would normally subside in a reasonable interval. I reason that if an emotional state continues, then it is self-perpetuating and disconnected from the initial event which set it in motion. The prolonged attachment to this “rogue” emotion or feeling is not natural and downright toxic to your well-being; both mentally and physically. We are faced with emotional spikes with every experience, some more or less in magnitude. The magnitude is unique to each individual and is directly related to importance and attention we give to it. From our addiction to sugar, being cut off by another motorist, losing a loved one, being embarrassed, losing at billiards, being criticized or belittled, the Richter scale concept holds relevance and the time it takes to get back to your center will ascertain the damage done.

– Geary LeBell

I’m setting pride aside

A Facebook friend posted an info-graphic the other day listing the different “prides” each ethnic group has. There was “black pride”, “mexican pride”, “asian pride”, “muslim pride” and “white pride”. The info graphic basically stated that all ethnic groups can have their “pride” name with the exception of “white pride” as it is considered racist. There were a few humorous comments posted attempting to come up with a non-offensive name that “white people” could use to be afforded the same opportunity that other ethnic group names enjoy. I jokingly suggested “Caucasian Pride”, or adding a “y” to the end of “white” wouldn’t be met with much resistance ;). Another person asked “do full race people even exist anymore?” suggesting that many are mixed race and a name for those people should be created. She went on to suggest “caramel color pride”; I quickly responded with “rainbow pride”, although that one’s kinda already taken. It was all very light hearted and humorous.

What does the label “white pride” mean to me? Nothing… I don’t feel it carry’s any significance at all. Saying the name doesn’t evoke any emotional tie to me being “white”, or make me feel proud or ashamed. The name is empty in that way; it goes nowhere. On the other hand, saying “white power” clearly has negativity & hatred attached to it. When you say that name, you get a clear picture of its intended meaning and intention. Another name that evokes a positive meaning is “black pride” and thoughts of an oppressed people rising in unity against an oppressor come to mind. History has formed and shaped these words and they continue with us, but I do feel that their impact is being diluted for such reasons at mixed race, integration and generally, the passage of time that distances us from the past events that sparked the language in the first place, but that’s just my perception. I’m sure the reasons for their continuance is still strong with many; no matter the ethnic affiliation, but will it be as strong in their children or their children’s children and so on?

To be honest, I used to utter all the typical race offensive names we’re all familiar with, for example, the N word; not so much anymore. The funny thing is, I work with a skinny white guy who is just loves gangster rap and I’ve heard the N word more in the past few weeks then I’ve heard my whole life combined… go figure… could it be that a racially offensive word is related to the context in which it is said? I believe he would be referred to as a “wigger” by some; if I’m not mistaken… In my younger years, saying the N word was more of an insult in the general sense being that I’m pissed at the person and not the color of their skin, cultural background or their race; comparable to saying asshole, goof or dink. Simply a language I grew up around. Kind of like Canadians adding an “eh” to the end of each sentence… eh? It didn’t and doesn’t represent my position on race. I’ve even used “redneck” in the same fashion to represent a supposedly backward, undeveloped, uneducated and plain old stupid white bread cracker. ;), but I don’t believe that about rednecks… Like I said, they’re all just learned labels that carry less and less significance as time passes. These days, the term I use for any person I’m displeased with, regardless of race, religion or political affiliations is asshole. If nothing else, it’s equality! :P

It is plainly obvious we are ALL equal. We’re all in this existence together and have inherited a past created by other’s that I personally have no real connection with and what reasonable choice is there but to evolve from it. History has led us to believe that we’re unequal, but this is not the case and time will sort that out. I feel that anyone who doesn’t believe that is attached to something from the past. In the case of “white pride”; or “white power”, it stirs thoughts of negativity and hatred; in the case of “black pride”, something positive giving people strength. Ultimately, they will all fade and we will become one people with a past that will be increasingly difficult to recognize and relate to; or it could all blow up and we’ll go on repeating the cycle of cruelty between one another?

As far as all the ethnic groups out there that have their own “pride” name, I respect and understand the sense of “pride” and unity it provides you. For this white guy though, the white pride name option isn’t being tabled. While I can certainly understand other ethnic groups motivation to take pride in their culture, history and accomplishments, I personally don’t feel that connection with my own and have no need to celebrate in this way. All of us, the human species are connected and I’m thinking, a name that encapsulates all humanity should be coined.

Just did a last second search on Google for the word origin of Pride. It’s based on the late Old English word “prȳde” and has a history of being associated with arrogance, excessive self-esteem, and conceit. The word can seem to take on a dual meaning depending on its context and I’m not insinuating in any way that is the case with the usage of the name “pride” in the current cultural sense, but Isn’t it interesting how the definition, intention and even a words existence can change, fade or completely disappear from our vocabulary over time?

We are not our words; they’re a method of communication whose meaning can be interpreted differently depending on the time period and context they appear in.

We are not our history or the people who created it; but rather a bi-product of it.

We are creating history right now; how will it be written?

Write anything, I only hope that the words; hate, anger, oppression, racism, inequality and cruelty are not part of it,

and of course; I hope it’s actually a true history and not fabricated or written with bias for one or more ethnic groups.

eth·nic (ĕth′nĭk)
Of, relating to, or characteristic of a group of people sharing a common cultural or national heritage and often sharing a common language or religion.

– Geary LeBell

Problems are the problem

What problems exist in the world today? Ask 1 person from 10 different nations their top 10 problems and you may get some overlap, but generally, it will be a long list as every person has a unique view how these “problems” affect them and the importance they place on them. Not going to get into my top 10, but I’ll take a stab at some major problems that I think many could agree upon.

  • Dependency on and depletion of non-renewable natural resources
  • War
  • Animal Cruelty
  • Poisoning of our earth, water and air
  • Genetically modified food
  • Climate Change
  • Over population
  • Capitalism greed
  • Obesity
  • Processed foods
  • Addictions
  • Disease and mental illness
  • That damn cricket in the basement that won’t be quiet…

These are not problems in their own right; they’re bi-products of another problem (singular). These so-called problems did not appear from thin air and the funny thing is, they DO have a single source; the source is the same for each and every problem we face today, faced yesterday and will face tomorrow and we fail to recognize that one source. Our attempts to solve these problems is analogous to continuously adding air to a tire that has a leak instead of repairing the hole; yes, you can continue to drive on it, but it’s not really fixed and will fail at some point; It itches away at your thoughts because you know the tire has been compromised, but you’re so busy there just isn’t time and hey, it’s working so… screw it for now. With all the problems that exist in our civilization, it is we, humanity that is broken and the fix is to simply look inside ourselves. I’m not talking about society, a group of people, a race, religion or any other demographic. I’m talking about you, the individual, your consciousness, your ego. It all begins and ends with what you think, believe and act upon. If you want to make a difference in the world, make a difference in yourself; the bi-product of course being that the world as a whole will benefit. We’ve gotten ourselves in quite a mess and there is no easy way out for society / humanity. But there is a way for yourself and that must be the focus. In doing so, you will be strengthening our society / humanity. We need more hope, less despair; more courage, less fear; more gratitude, less anger; more love, less hate; more surprise, less anticipation; more compassion, less indifference. Right thought; to let go. To not judge and to not fear being judged. To let go of the incessant negativity that consumes our everyday lives. Sounds impossible doesn’t it. I don’t pretend to live my life this way, but try not to try so hard and be open to “what is”. Make no mistake, over 40 years of learned behaviors, thoughts, opinions, judgement and corruption of my true self is not something that can be let go of easily; or maybe it can, but I’m standing in my own way, maybe these obstacles don’t really exist and are illusions I tell myself… I think it is true that as babies, we were the purest form of our true selves and for most; not given the proper tools for “right living” early on, has led to lives of not being happy with what we have, who we are, hating our jobs, judgement of those different from us and ultimately at its core; the problem; not accepting and loving ourselves to varying degrees. This love and acceptance of yourself will be mirrored to everything external you come into contact with. This doesn’t mean you don’t act when a wrong-doing is taking present, but it doesn’t consume you, jade you, destroy you. You might be thinking to yourself right now, this guy is whacked…. and you know… you might be right in the overall sense of lifeforms, existence, reality, purpose… the universe. I will say that “knowing your right” may be a problem… ;) It’s very simple and at the same time, difficult to grasp. It’s right inside us, yet eludes us. The wall the separates us from our already existing happiness, openness, and peace is built and maintained by us alone. If you feel what I’m talking about, then it’s within you to adjust your thinking and change your life. How you ask? Not my problem… But I will say that it can start small and build from there. Start by researching and exploring the world of nutrition with the goal of realizing we’re a nation that’s poisoning our bodies and minds in the name of corporate greed. A properly cared for body and mind will give you a clarity that cannot be explained with any true meaning for you; it must be experienced! Read the interesting perspectives of Buddhism, Taoism, Zen, Alan Watts, and George Carlin to name a few to realize something about what may be, or not be, our true nature. I’m not saying you have to believe anything! Just to be open and question everything you “think” is the “truth” for you.

Perhaps the most important part of jump-starting a change in humanities future are our children. Besides the somewhat difficult task of agreed subject matter, religion, politics and general negativity it will no doubt encounter, nutrition and right thought as described above should take a CRITICAL role in our educational system. Imagine a future where nutrition isn’t thought of in its current context; or isn’t thought of at all as being “truly” physically healthy is simply a bi-product of how we naturally live our lives. This alone would rid many diseases and mental afflictions that now haunt us and it’s only getting worse the way I see it. Government can’t stop it, Michelle Obama can’t stop it and the corporations sure as hell are not going to stop it. You must stop it in yourself and it will then naturally touch those around you. The same holds true for right thinking. We must instill real values of love and acceptance into our children’s natural being so it becomes their nature.

It’s not about giving humanity “a chance” for survival, everything works in cycles (up/down, hot/cold, left/right, life/death, civilizations rise and fall), it’s about this very moment, the now and experiencing and appreciating it to the fullest without the past or future consuming our thoughts; for they are illusions and to focus on them takes away from the now, your life, being, your purpose.

It’s not you, it’s me…, now you say it…

– Geary LeBell

Rise Again

Born out of a moment of joy
A soon to be mother and father
Ahoy, a random boy to destroy
Another “I” for the slaughter

Awoken open 45 years ago
Fallin’ a sleep ever since
No flow while pushing the scuffle hoe
The very thought makes me wince

Humanity is not to blame
Victims themselves of a broken being
Playing the same lame game
Clouded from that which is freeing

Searchin’ for my-self in this existence
Double my effort before the clock runs out
Persistence in my resistance no matter the distance
This continuous battle arouses doubt

A reality under my control
External influences attempt to breach
Kicking my soul into the ole dark sink hole
These are all just figures of speech

Watching thoughts run through my head
A feeling the corruption can be reversed
The dragon’s head not dead but realizing instead
The false belief of constant thirst

Yesterday’s but a thought
Tomorrow’s make-believe
A mind fraught with a taught plot
A clash of conflict you will weave

Rise and notice with conscious attention
Thinking patterns that are scattered
The ascension to a dimension observing the tension
Realizing the NOW, everything else shattered.

-Geary LeBell

The Bathtub

bathtub-field
Photographs taken at Legacy Vintage Building Materials in Cobourg, Ontario.

Distant echoes are all that remain of my life before being torn from the place I called home. The cool ceramic tile floor, dressed to the nines in polished chrome fixtures in a home kept toasty warm with wood heat. My pristine appearance was always a going concern. Of the few families that bathed in my presence throughout the years, the one that makes me smile both inside and out when in my thoughts were a young couple, deeply in love. Being a permanent fixture in what you could call an “intimate environment”, you get to see truth in people that they normally don’t reveal to others and it was plainly obvious that these two were in it for the long run. During our fifteen years together they had a child and I was witness to some joyous, although messy times; you know kids… Many times I wanted to come out of the closet; so to speak, reveal myself, communicate that I care for and appreciate them, but could not allow this. Their awareness would jeopardize my position in the home. I mean, think about it. Who would knowingly embrace a supernatural presence in their company? And so the years past, the silent poltergeist observing but not interacting.

bathtub-ghotThere was no reason to suspect this renovation would be any different than the two before. The sink, mirror, floor and once, even the walls were taken away and replaced with more modern accompaniments. I was witness to all. My completeness shattered, then renewed as I got to know and love my new ensemble. Like a wise old man, with iron bear claws firmly planted, I commanded respect and held the room together through thick and thin. Then, came along a new owner. I knew something was amiss as I observed the main upstairs hallway through the bathroom door transform from a timeless classic into something foreign. I felt a darkness and distance growing between us. Towards the end, it was somewhat like being on death row; caged with no escape; knowing my end had been slated.

When dreaded day arrived, there was no question that my reality was about to be reluctantly redefined. The renovation, although, I prefer the term “massacre”, seemed so much more brutal; maybe because it was happening to me this time. The free standing iron pipes that fed me water were severed with indifference. I was stripped of my chrome fixtures, dragged and toppled viciously onto my side without regard. All I could do is lay there powerless and witness my world be ripped apart. The journey down the stairs, across the foyer, and out the front door was surreal, reminding of the same journey 75 years prior, but in the opposite direction; then suddenly, jolted back to reality as they damagingly toss me into the back of a truck.

You know, I thought I was the only one. I don’t remember where or when I was created. My first memories are being unpacked and installed in my previous home. But here I was, in a vintage salvage yard, surrounded by 40 or 50 other similar looking bathtubs somewhat uniformly staggered on an unkempt, weed infested field. The worst part, I was the only tub who seemed conscious. It was like being surrounded by brothers and sisters that had all deceased; an observer to my eternal graveyard. People would walk through and occasionally one of the other tubs would be taken away. I like to imagine that they’re getting a second chance; picturing them all setup and comfortable in their new home. Not me though. The damage to my left side during transport has rendered me essentially worthless.

old-pianoDumped in the snow on a mid-February morning; it’s a coldness never experienced before. Surrounded by the other tubs that are mostly covered in snow; it’s almost like a burial ground. A rough couple of months to say the least, but could there be light at the end of my tunnel? The last snow melts away and the temperature climbs revealing a place full of color and life. My eyes have been opened to a world hidden from me for over 7 decades. The flutter of a starlings wings racing past me to a nest in a nearby weathered piano that stands crookedly on three feet; the field grass grows with randomly placed blue and white followers shooting up everywhere around myself and my silent tub friends. The sound of crickets, bees and the consistent locomotive that passes at the same time every day is a music I’ve never really listened to. The fond memories of my previous home will never fade, but after three seasons of experiencing this miracle of constant change that surrounds me, there’s no place I would rather be. A continuous cycle of birth, death and rebirth in all its beauty. Never the same, I am awe struck and thankful for this front row seat to life.

-Geary LeBell

Broken and complete coexisting

baby-buddha-cham-shan-temple-niagara-falls
Photograph taken at Cham Shan Temple in Niagara Falls, Canada

Last weekend Irene and I were in Niagara Falls, Ontario looking for something “non-mainstream” to do. Tired of the usual Clifton Hill trek, Irene took to Google to see what we could find. Turns out there’s much more to Niagara then the typical Falls and shops that we usually frequent. Several options to fill a few hours were quickly revealed, but ultimately, we decided to visit the Drummond Hill Cemetery and Cham Shan Temple (Ten Thousand Buddhas). The cemetery is the burial site of Laura Secord and was also the location of the Battle of Lundy’s Lane between British and Americans soldiers in 1814. The Cham Shan Buddhist Temple on River Rd. is a 7 level complex on a 3 acre property. If you want to view inside the temple though, you’ll need to visit between June and October for one of their guided tours, as we found out. Photographing the exterior is OK, but you cannot bring your camera inside the temple or main building.

So the car is parked, the camera is out and we start our unhurried and observant walk through the entire property. I’m not sure how busy it gets during “peak” season, but going this time of year there were almost no people around, plenty of space, time and peace. Needless to say, I took many photographs, which I’m sure you’ve seen on my social accounts or website.

While exploring I came across a small baby Buddha statue (see above). Just slightly larger than a hand and resting on the corner of a sizable solid base that held another larger Buddha statue. It caught my attention because it seemed so out of place. Similar bases were located all over the property, but this was the only one that had a baby Buddha resting on its corner. Then I did something I shouldn’t have, I touched seemingly solid statue with my finger; ever so gently as to not disturb it. The interesting thing is, this article wouldn’t exist if I had not touched it. As my finder came in contact, I noticed movement in the right arm. As I inspected closer, the small statue was in fact broken into several fragments. A strong wing, a person accidently bumping or carelessly touching the small statue is all it would take for the pieces to separate and fall to the ground most likely breaking into even more pieces.

There was a great deal of symmetry that day. Buddha statues, dragons, the architecture of the Cham Shan temple all perfectly aligned and fascinating, but it was the out of place, broken Buddha statue I’ll remember the most. A solid stone sculpture that could fall apart at any moment over a delicate nudge and interestingly, there’s someone here to pick up the pieces and put it back together. My memory of the small broken stone sculpture can be accredited to the individual who gives their time to put the pieces back together. I find myself wondering how long has the tiny Buddha been broken, how many times has he been reassembled, how long has he been sitting peacefully on the corner of that concrete base and the really intriguing question, will he be there the next time I visit? I hope so.

Thank you to the person who demonstrated coexistence of broken and complete.

Dog of Carnage

dog-of-carnage
Photograph taken in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

As you can plainly see, my vacation to Puerto Plata in took a turn for the worse when encountering this aggressive beast of a dog. The solid iron fence structure barely contained this ferocious monster; I swear I could see the bars starting to bend! The owner, a deceptively delightful little old lady did nothing but sit there and smile as I stood traumatized, shaking camera in hand, praying that this savage killer wouldn’t end me where I stand.