Five for Friday

coffee.JPG

Where I normally like to read.

I had once wrote a post called Tuesday’s Tirade, wherein I would rant about something that irked me that week. After the first tirade, I realized I do not want to be ranting about something every week just to get a blog post in. Besides, I really don’t think I could, nor want to, be that negative every week.

That said, in the interest of good feelings, and general all-around happiness, I thought, why not post something I am grateful for, and do it on a weekly basis? So, here we are, at Five for Friday, where I will post, every Friday, five things I am grateful for in my life.

You might say, “Five things? Every week? That seems a lot.”

That may be true as time goes on, but for now I don’t believe it will be. I know I do have a lot to be grateful for; I just don’t take the time to acknowledge them. I would hazard a guess that, with the exception of Thanksgiving, many of you don’t take the time to be grateful or thankful on a regular basis either. I don’t think that is a bad thing; no one is being ungrateful, I just want to change my way of thinking and thanking.

There are many things, big and small, I take for granted that I love or love to do everyday. This week I am grateful for my partner, who is my rock; this blog, where I can write freely; my warm slippers, for my eternally cold feet; coffee in the morning, with a bit of cream and sugar; and my home, where I am always welcome.

What are you grateful for?

High Expectations

Maria_Spelterini_at_Suspension_Bridge.jpgMaria Spelterini crossing Niagra Falls from
the United States side to the Canadian side on July 4, 1876.
©George E. Curtis (1830-1910)
Original image is a stereograph published in 1876.

When we put someone high up on a pedestal there are some unavoidable outcomes that result from that kind of lofty placement. We expect them to perform continuously at the same levels of behaviour that we know and love them for, so when a fall does happen, the result can be devastating.

People rarely live up to high expectations on a continual basis. When a miss-step occurs from so high up, expectations are usually found shattered on the floor in a million pieces. This catastrophic fall makes returning the relationship to its pre-fall glory next to impossible. Most everyone knows the old adage, “If you don’t have expectations, you won’t be disappointed.” This made me wonder, Why then, do we keep having high expectations of people, when we know a fall from such dizzying heights can be so devastating? 

I think most people accept that they can either lower expectations, or alternatively, do away with them completely. Although there is a huge difference between lowering one’s expectations, and not having any expectations, both have a fundamental flaw ingrained deeply within their fabric.  There doesn’t seem to be any room for improvement or encouragement. These ultimately lead to a lack of compassion, and a lack of mentoring, because… what would be the point?

Although disappointment can still be a lingering outcome if lowered expectations are not met, our view of a person can be more on track with reality. However, I am not sure if lowering one’s expectations is the best route to take. Whether we are aware of it or not, when lowered expectations are in play, so is a lower level of respect for the person in question.

One alternative is having no expectations at all. There are those who believe when we have zero expectations, our lives will be free from negative outcomes. But, I am not too sure. Is this realistic? Is it even possible? Just having a preconceived notion of how a person should behave is an expectation. We mostly believe a person’s past behaviour dictates their future behaviour, and when that image changes for the worse, often, we are disappointed.

There is an entire industry trying to convince us that living with no expectations is the secret to living a Zen life. I think this can be a dangerous thing; it certainly is not the panacea that one would hope for. I think this type of thinking can lead to feelings of apathy, and an overall state of not caring or giving up on someone. For some, you risk instilling feelings of unworthiness, and creating a vicious circle of low self-esteem brought on by no expectations, and on and on it goes.

So what can we do to mitigate disenchantment? I would say just knowing that human nature is at play when dealing with expectations would alleviate the level of disappointment felt. Not to say we should expect disappointment, but perhaps hoping for the best, while a small part of you is prepared for the worst, might be the way to go. Doing this would, at the very least, lessen the impact of feelings of disappointment, resentment, and bitterness that usually ensues after a fall of this nature.

However, lowering expectations, or worse, not having any at all, often leads to negative outcomes. There is enough negativity in the world without my contributing to it. I don’t know about you, but that is not how I want to live my life.  Although I personally have experienced disenchantment and the resulting discouragement, I still believe the better alternative is to hope for the best for everyone at all times. Luckily, it has been my experience that most people meet or exceed expectations—and that, my friends, is something to celebrate.

Spent

It seems I’ve been feeling this way quite a bit lately, so I thought I would take the time to write it down. Enjoy.

racing
Everyday
Spent
Racing
Not calming down
Not pacing

I am a product of my pace
I am a product of this race
This nameless race
This nameless time
This unforgivable pace
That leaves me blind

Everyday
Spent
Chasing
Not catching up
Not breathing

Moving
Stressing
I don’t see
The thing
The thing that bothers me

This nameless race
This nameless time
This unforgivable pace
That leaves me blind

Blind to see
I’m missing me
Not taking time
Not being me

Everyday
Spent
Racing
Not calming down
Not pacing

I am too tired
Too tired to see
I am too Spent
I am not free.

“Dinner is served.”

plates

Dinner setting for twelve.

The other day we received a gift of dinnerware passed down from a relative. It was a set of 12 flowery-gold-trimmed place settings for what looks to be a six-course meal. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a six-course meal, let alone prepared one for 12 people. I am not sure I even could eat that much in one sitting; it sounds like a lot of food.

I know I could try eating everything, but make everything, that’s another story. The idea of it makes me think that I may have to start planning now to be ready for a far off date in 2016. However, I have to admit the prospect of trying to do this is tempting. Perhaps if wine could be considered a course, I may have more of a chance.

When I was younger, large family gatherings were the norm. Now, we’d be lucky to get together once a year, and I am not sure exactly why that is. Except to say that sadly, people pass on, and the torch is often left smouldering on the floor. When grandparents, and aunts and uncles pass on, no one has time, nor the will to do all that is necessary to organize a large family gathering. In my family, my grandmother did not work outside of the house. When there was a family get-together, she prepared everything. Everyone, of course, would pitch in once they arrived, but my grandmother did the heavy lifting—at least, that’s how I remember it.

Maybe the fear is, at least in my case, that the heavy lifting is too daunting a task to take on. My go to excuses include, but are not limited to: I don’t have enough chairs; I’m not a great cook; my house is too small; and the ever ubiquitous, I don’t have time. And now, given that my family is no longer concentrated in one city, the logistics of the entire process can get expensive.

So, I guess the era of large family gatherings is going by the way of the dodo bird. People are busy and distance is a factor. Perhaps Canadians need to take more vacation time, to have more family and friend time. Technology was supposed to give us more time, but it has only really succeeded in doing the opposite. Other than work, I think we tend to spend more time watching “reality” TV, and “socializing” with others while never leaving our houses than actually, physically socializing with one another.

We should be more active with our own reality. We could learn something new, and then share it with others over the phone or, dare I say, in person. Physically participating in an activity, a sport, or playing games and socializing with others used to be done on a regular, face-to-face basis. Now the norm is to post new life events on the Internet, and that includes cooking.

As with anything in life, there needs to be some moderation. I’m sure I could learn to make a six-course meal. I’d have to start with whom to invite. Do I even know 12 people? I’ll just need to plan the when, pick some music, choose the menu, purchase the ingredients, organize the meal, and cook the food… Hmmm, would I be able to cook some food in advance or must I do everything on the same day? I’ll also have to decide the serving style—all at once, or one dish at a time. Then I’ll have to decide if I should clean as I go, or just let things pile up until the end when everyone’s left, along with my will to continue. Would it be cheating if I used the Internet as a learning tool for this?

On second thought, I think I will start with a six-course meal just for two. It would be a test to see if I could do this on a larger scale. Then I’ll post the event online; old habits die hard, and so apparently, do new ones. I think that would be a good compromise, wouldn’t it? And yes, there will most certainly be wine involved.

To Paris with Love

FranceMap

I awoke today with the dreadful news that terrorists had attacked Paris in the name of revenge for Syria airstrikes and insulting Islam’s prophet. I felt powerless to do anything, but I also felt compelled to write something.

I don’t know of any God of any religion that would be okay with killing, let alone killing innocent people. These were not people that took up arms against Islam. They were not even asked what religion they belonged to, nor was there a threat assessment against them; they were never given a chance. These were ordinary citizens minding their own business, doing their own thing.

What were these atrocious, unforgivable acts against an entire religion and nation? Some of these people went to a concert; others thought it would be okay to go out to a bar or a restaurant. And, God forbid, some actually found it acceptable to watch a football game at a stadium.

If you say Allah is great, I have no reason to doubt you, but the taking of life in his name is another thing altogether, and is not what the Qu’ran teaches. In fact, the Qur’an says the opposite: “…Take not life, which Allah hath made sacred, except by way of justice and law: thus does He command you, that ye may learn wisdom.” (al-An’am 6:151)

A terrorist will take the text of Qur’an and only see, “And kill them wherever ye catch them.” (Surah al-Baqarah 2:191) In their convoluted interpretation, they view this as their God given right, ordained by the highest Prophet, of how to deal with non-believers. In fact, if we look at the phrase, “And kill them wherever ye catch them.” in its entire context, we find there is no permission to kill non-believers of the Muslim faith.

Thus, killing, under the law of the Qu’ran is a sin. In fact, it is a sin under most religions. Christianity, Catholicism, Buddhism, Islam, Protestantism, Hinduism, Taoism, Judaism, Lutheranism, Sikhism, and many more—all decry killing. I apologize for not listing them all here, but I am sure you get the picture.

When religious texts are taken out of context and manipulated and distorted to back a convoluted ideology, war is what historically ensues. Biblical texts have been taken out of context since biblical texts have existed. The numbers of wars that have been fought or continue to be fought in the name of religion are numerous, too numerous to mention them all. There were Crusades pitting Muslims against Christians; there is the Israeli–Palestine conflict that has been ongoing since about 1929; Protestants have been fighting Catholics, somewhere in the world, as early as the 14th century; Nazis used the bible against the Jews during WWII; and the Lebanese Civil War goes so far back that no one can agree on why it had started in the first place.

We need to stop killing in the name of religion. We just need to stop killing.