The Gift of Being

The Gift of Being

On the train from Winnipeg to Toronto
On the train from Winnipeg to Toronto

“Me” time. I’ve never understood the concept. I found it to be a little obnoxious if even. Why do I need to take time for myself? As if I’m not constantly making decisions that benefit me.

But this last month has been full of reflection. And I think I might finally understand the concept of taking time for yourself, although I’d probably call it something else.

Generally speaking, the motto for my life has been: be a better human being. And you can imagine how quickly someone might fail at this quest. Every day I hadn’t accomplished something to save the world, advance my future or change a life, was a day that hadn’t lived up to my enormous expectations.

And in that deep and ambitious search for purpose, (because that’s really what I’ve been trying to find) I found myself not only constantly physically and emotionally exhausted, but deeply guilt-ridden when I felt like I’d wasted my time.

But here’s the thing: If I’m going to beat myself up for every time I watch a movie on Netflix instead of figuring out how to become a better human being, I lose part of my humanity in the process. I lose out on one of the most valuable gifts we have as humans, the gift of just being.

In this last month, I took plenty of time to just enjoy this gift. I took a 36-hour train ride solo from Winnipeg to Toronto (a “waste of time” I could’ve easily avoided by taking a plane). I stretched my musical muscles and released my inner gamer geek. I watched tv shows and movies. I went biking and worked muscles I didn’t know even know existed. I started sewing and painting again. All things I’ve been meaning to do for a while. But I just couldn’t give myself the time. I couldn’t see how any of these activities would add up to something meaningful, something I could use.

But most importantly, I learned to write again. And I think that’s what really did the trick. Writing has played such a huge role in helping me process life. Every time I’ve put a pen to paper, I’ve come out with a strong sense of self and understanding of the world than I had before.

So here’s to allowing yourself to just be. And in that process, becoming a better human being.

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The Magical Place

The Magical Place

Two days ago, I stumbled upon the most magical place. There’s a park close to where I intern in downtown Toronto where I often go for walks. I turned off the main path for a moment, away from the hustle and bustle of the street and found mother nature’s niche: a wide plain carpeted in yellow autumn leaves and guarded by three large maple trees. 

I was immediately enchanted. I tried my best to capture it with my phone but it didn’t do it justice. So I planned to go back the next day, better prepared.

In the morning, I got ready intentionally for my trip to the magical place. I picked a bright red shirt to contrast the carpet of yellow autumn leaves. I packed my camera and a berry lipstick. 

The time finally came during my lunch break. I was so excited. The sun was radiant. The air was crisp but tepid. I was feeling adventurous. I ordered food from a burrito place I’d never been too and planned to eat it under one of the huge maple trees in the magical place.

But then I walked out from the restaurant with someone else’s burrito. I swear it was an honest mistake. Same order, wrong number. I grabbed it after a short 2 minute wait and confidently walked out the door. Nobody even flinched. Nobody stopped me. By the time I had realized what I’d done, I was already half way down the street. Oh well, this just added to my adventure.

I made my way to the magical place, retracing yesterday’s steps. There were some people walking through the area, but it didn’t matter as long as they kept moving. I had to eat before I started taking pictures anyways.

But out of the corner of my eye, I spotted an offbeat character. I can still remember him so clearly: a tall, older, white male with pale blue jeans and a black hat. He zigzagged through the magical place at an awkward pace until, he reached the back bushes, placed his hands in front of his waist, and stood perfectly still. Too still.

I hesitated. Was he…? And then I saw the gush of liquid.

He was pissing on the magical place.

I scurried away, disgusted and in shock. I had to find a place to sit and eat my stolen burrito that was as far away as possible from this horrible man. But everything looked so dirty. Who had slept on that park bench? What animal had peed by that picnic table?

I finally sat down on an empty bench. At least there was still lunch to comfort me. I unwrapped the burrito from it’s packaging and took my first bite into mystery. Turns out it’s original owner had a similar palette to mine. But I couldn’t help nitpicking at every little thing inside. It was alright I guess but it wasn’t mine. I stomached most of it and threw out the rest.

My thought was to go home, write about this strange experience and end with the life lesson: the world is never a magical place. Or maybe something about karma. If I had turned back to return that burrito, I would’ve never see that man pissing in the magical place. I would’ve never known and it would still be magical.

But instead I chose to end it by going back to the magical place and taking pictures anyways. Maybe not as liberally as I had originally intended. With new found wisdom, I didn’t lie down on the ground or sit by the huge tree. I captured it the way an admirer would. And it was well worth it. 

The world is not a magical place, and it’s important to remember that. But it is beautiful. Don’t let anything stop you from appreciating it.

The Magical Place

Texting on the run

Texting on the run

“Check texts on the run.” —said a Samsung smart watch ad.

“Wait — what?” I did a double take. The young, fit jogger on the poster smiled at me. I realized that this was more than just a clever pun. Samsung was actually trying to sell me a smart watch by telling me it would make it easier for me to check my texts while running. Pfft, as if I even exercise on a regular basis. And when I do choose to exercise, running is definitely not in my routine.

But to all the spirited runners out there, do you really wish you could check your texts during your morning jog? Is this actually a desire that’s been burning inside of you?

I’m going to take a guess here and say no.

“So Samsung, why do you think this would work?” The woman on the poster keeps smiling. I’m not sure what she would say to me if she could talk.

“It’s convenient.”

“Now, you can be connected even when it’s incredibly inconvenient.”

“Haven’t you always wanted something to stare at while waiting for the light to change?”

I laugh. Nice one, Samsung. Technology is supposed to make things easier right? Even when it doesn’t always make sense.