The Humans (And Demons) Within

The things that make us Human and the demons within.

Why do we worry? Why do we stress? Why do we let the smallest things that happen to us make us fly off the handle?

I’ve known people in my life who are like this. People allow their emotions to control them. People who’ve surrendered to sorrow, anxiety, and depression. People who allow their minds to spiral into destructive waves of circular logic.
What causes this? Why do this happen?

Everyone has their reasons, family ife, abuse, loneliness. Some blame society. For some it’s larger, for some it’s smaller.
For some of us it it makes up a small part of our life. For some of us it completely overtakes our life and reduces the quality of our relationships, our emotions, and our mental and physical energy levels.

I can only relate to my own experiences concerning this matter. Those days where I walked in darkness, and the days where my vision was clouded by my own skewed self image.

Everything I mentioned used to be me. Raised in a household with a father who was short-tempered and mother whose expectations I never quite felt I could make. A child who was the butt-end of the jokes of his peers and subject to constantly bullying. A child who grew into a teenager who felt he was never good enough for anyone or who wouldn’t amount to anything.

Hardly the things you’d expect of a straight A student or who was the shining star of the school band. But in a socity where social image has become so important such trivial things like “grades” hardly matter when someone that age judges their own self worth.

I believe at those young ages it’s impossible for a child or youth to properly rationalize why the things happen to them happen. For those of us who were mentally abused, bullied, and never socially accepted it is difficult to know where to lay the blame. Thus many of this us at a young age squarely place this blame on ourselves. It may be no fault of our parents or our peers but it may be something that is “wrong” with us. The seeds of negative self-image planted, other emotions such as shame, loneliness, anxiety, worry, and depression begin to set in.

I remember days of feeling hopeless, tired, and sad. Days where I felt like I had no reason to live. Days where I wondered why my father yelled at me, why my peers wouldn’t accept me. And it wasn’t until later in life where I finally realized why this was happening.

Damaged youth grow into damaged adults. And the burdens I carried into adulthood nearly crippled me.
When I reflect on my University experiences now I realize how my “condition” had allowed me to waste many great opportunities. “The fresh” start for me turned out to be more of the same. In a welcoming environment where everyone was “new” and for the most part friendly I never took full advantage of all the opportunities it offered.

My first year I was still lost. The school piled and the frustration levels mounted. I had no support system there. Shame and anxiousness prevented me from seeking the help I so desperately needed. I’d been walking the same path I had before, as if my life had been a broken record stuck on the B side. I’d made friends but kept them distant. I’d turned down parties out of fear of not knowing anyone and being alone. I never joined any clubs and mostly kept to myself in my room. The fear that had been borne out of my youth had kept me from living a life worth living.

Fear is the demon that haunts us all. The fear of being different. The fear of rejection. The fear of the unknown. The fear of ourselves. When we dwell on such things it controls our actions and it controls our emotions. As the old star wars addage goes, fear leads to hate, hate leads to suffering. It leads to emotions like anger, makes us short-tempered. Makes us hide, reject or lash out at the people who care about us.

Fear makes us selfish, fear makes us hurt people.

And ultimately it makes us hurt ourselves.

This the life I lead.

Until one day I stepped into the light.

Cause We’ll Go Up Up Up.

I’ve recently discovered an inspiring kid named Zach Sobiech. For those who don’t know him watch his “My Last Days” video here.

Zach is an inspiring young man who died last May of Osteo Sarcoma. But in his last days instead of choosing to hide from the world, instead of being scared and alone, Zach welcomed the world with open arms and made a conscious choice to live, to love and to be loved.

Being a former cancer survivor I can empathasize with his situation to an extent. (However I was not terminal so I can’t say entirely what’s it like.) What I can understand is however, is how utterly terrifying and horrific a disease like Cancer is. It changed my life profoundly. When your sudden mortality becomes evident you have 2 choices:

1) To rise above.
2) To let it defeat you.

Even to those without Cancer though we also face live with 2 choices.

1) We can choose to be happy and free.
2) We can choose to worry, stress, and let anger and despair rule our emotions.

True many of us have pasts tragedies, heart ache that have plagued us for as long as we can remember. But I truly believe within each of us is the human spirit that can choose to leave it all behind.

Though a general statement I believe that allowing ourselves to be loved, and love, to forgive and to forget, and to truly move on with our lives without clinging to the shadows of what may have been is the answer.

Why do I say this? Many of us cling to the past grudges and experiences that have shaped who we become. Many of us believe we are not worthy of being loved, often the thought is “I’m not good enough” or “I don’t deserve this.” Have you ever told yourself that? Have you skipped out on a party because “I’m not good with people and i don’t know anyone.” ? Or ” I can’t talk to her, she’s way out of my league” “Or ” I can’t apply for that job I’m not good enough to make it.”. These are the scripts we unconsciously recite in our minds shaped by the image of who we think we are.

You need to stop blaming the world for who you are. You may not have been responsible for what happened to you in the past.

You are now responsible for who you are now. You are responsible for what happens to you now.
You are worthy of being loved, you are worthy of loving.

Perception and attitude it such an important part of living. If only more people stopped to appreciate what they have instead of what they lack. If more people focused on their positive features instead of their negative ones. If more people stopped to love one another instead of being spiteful and angry. This is the “Glass half-full” method that I’ve adopted that’s led to so many extraordinary changes in my life.

Years ago I stopped lying to myself that I was never “Good enough”. I stopped calling myself things like “Useless” and “Ugly”. I started to appreciate the moment I was living in instead of being stuck in memories of the past. I stopped carrying baggage and burdens, and I stopped caring about the things I knew that didn’t matter.

Even though it’s easy to fall back on the wagon of complacency that is our lives. To revert to old habits. But if you truly wish to start living, take your life by the horns. Life is too short…it’s time to start living.

If you stll don’t believe me, how about an 18 year old kis who’s lived more in the few months he had left than most of us live in a lifetime?

The Secret to Happiness?

Has anyone seen this video?

More than a few of my posts these days may be Soul Pancake related:) I’ve recently stumbled upon this delightful little youtube channel that suddenly makes things like “Love” and “friendship” cool again!

In a world where the news constantly pummels us with images of death, tragedy, and destruction I’ve found this is like my daily source of self-improvement:) (I’ll write more about that in another post.)

Anyhow I’ve decided to try the little exercise in the video for a few friends.

As I wrote these letters, ithere were an amazing the amount of memories that came flooding back to me. How often do we stop to reflect on all the -Good- memories of our past? The happy times? The people who truly made a difference.

If you aren’t already doing it, take some time to reflect on al the important things and people in your life and the good they’ve done. Then, try writing a letter to some of them, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The next stop when I get home (i’m currently away ) is to take the next step…calling said friends and reading the letters I wrote to them.

Anyways without further ado, here’s my letter to a lovely girl who changed my life.

There’s a wonderful girl in my life named Kate.

We first met each other by chance…a new friend on this new thing called the Internet. Little did I know how much this girl would impact the rest of my life.

Kate was one of those friends who you could talk to. She’d listen, she wouldn’t judge, she’s simply care, and love. For a long while she was the best part of my day. Through the turbulent time that was my life when i was 16 she was there. She was my rock. She was my sanity.

Hours we’d spend laughing, crying, and understanding one another. In this sea of troubles that was my life she was the calm in the storm. Those were some of the best hours of my life.

When I got Cancer when I was 17 it was a devastating blow to my life. I thought the world was going to end. She was always there. There in the nights when I was alone in my room with no one else, always reassuring me always telling me that she was there.

Years past after and we drifted apart. I can safely say that letting this happen was one of the biggest regrets of my life and if I could change anything it would have been to have those years with her.

Yet it was my new found appreciation for the bond that we shared where she taught me the greatest lesson of all. The lesson that there were so many wonderful things in life to cherish and to never take anything for granted again.

At the age of 20 as I sifted through my old messages with her I realized what a wonderful thing I’d let slip away from my life. Her friendship, the one thing in my entire life into then I would have given anything for. Through the love and care she had shown me the veil of life and self-deceit had been lifted from my eyes. Through her love and kindness I learned to embrace my own, both towards others and myself. I think of her fondly and I think of her often.

She was the catalyst for the largest change that ever happened in my life. The Gift of Love, Kindness and Forgiveness. She taught me to forgive myself, to love myself, that I was a human being worthy of kindness and deserving of warmth. She taught me to love others, to forgive others no matter how bad they’d hurt me. To Live life without regrets, without worry, and without burdens.

She is the one that set me free. I don’t know if you’ll ever understand just how much you mean to me. But you are the one person who I can’t ever forget and on your new adventure of life I wish you well and hope that we will always be friends no matter what the future holds for both of us.

Thank you.

Do you have someone special in your life like this? Take the time and let them know.

(As an aside I copy and pasted that letter from MS word…Wordpress can’t seem to handle the spacing when I try to edit. Proper paragraphs! Argh!)

One thing learned a day.

Today I decided to start sharing my thoughts on life with everyone.

We all seem to have those days. Those days where something invariably happens to us. Where the light bulb goes on and the magical “Ah ha!” moment happens. This blog is dedicated to those moments in my life.

I’m a 28 year old musician from Toronto Ontario. I’ve seen the best and worst of what life has to offer. From a childhood filled with sorrow and grief, to a life I live now as full as I can my life has gone many ways.

I’m a cancer survivor. Diagnosed when I was 17 it was probably one of the scariest things I’ve ever had to go through. But I lived, and I’m stronger than ever.

I’ve had great friends in my life, the best friends anyone could ask for. Loyal friends. Friends who love. Friends who care. 

Everyday I’ll post reflections, letters and thoughts. Come on the Journey with me. Let’s walk this life together.