New Year’s Eve and Resolutions

Standing firm in the face of doubts. The making of New Year's Resolutions.

Standing firm in the face of doubts. The making of New Year’s Resolutions.

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, at least not for the past four or five decades. However, this year I am deciding differently. I feel a need to put it in writing and to have others know in hopes that in doing so, what I resolve may actually come to be. It isn’t an easy thing to think carefully through one’s dreams, habits, instincts, and fears in order to arrive at resolutions that actually mean something.

For example, I had thought of making a resolution to travel. That soon showed itself to be a wasted effort as I already travel, and travel much more than the average person. I have already booked my registration to take part in the European Peace Walk [EPW] which will take me to six east European countries. I also thought that I should resolve to document my travels with photos and blog posts – again, that is my normal behaviour which thus makes the resolution a farce. So what could I do that honours the inner self that has been often ignored or passed over for the agendas of others? That is where I needed to begin my search.

I typically cave in when confronted with the claims for control by others. For example, I tend to accept the viewpoint of significant others when it comes to my being nude – when and where and how much – a habit of mine (knee-jerk reflex) that leaves me frustrated and angry, angry at myself for being so weak. This has to change. The holders of control want it changed so that they don’t have to take the blame anymore for my feelings. I want it changed so that I can have better respect for myself. Where will that take me? Good question. I don’t know. Only by doing what needs to be done will the answer emerge.

I have to plan my outer life better and thus make time for the things that I want to accomplish. There are rounds of visiting to children and grandchildren that will happen with return visits expected from them. There is the EPW to fit in. Scheduling book-signing events and attending them are also important to me. I also want time at at least one naturist campground. I can schedule that camping with a book-signing in a nearby city, but is a dedicated camping that I most want, not an add-on to fit into someone else’s life so that it isn’t inconvenienced.

More than anything else, I don’t want to be lurking at the edges. I want to be fully present in my life.

There, I guess that about sums it up for resolutions. I will check back here in a year’s time to see how it went. Just how badly do I want it? Will I find the courage to be true to myself regardless of the costs? We’ll see.

Friendship – An I-Thou Relationship

Simon and Emma.

Sometimes it is so simple. Friends are just that, friends. Emma is my friend and a friend to countless others in face-to-face life and cyber life. The only expectation that one has of friends is that they are “friendly.” They don’t owe us anything nor do we owe them. Until there is an issue of trust being breached, all is good.

It doesn’t matter that one risks being naked with a friend, for friendship isn’t dependent upon what one wears or doesn’t wear. Could you imagine some sort of “rule” that defined friendship as dependent upon wearing a certain brand of clothing? I have friends who are clothed, and others that are naturists. Some of my clothed friends in my day-to-day, face-to-face life, have seen me naked (well more that you would think, especially when I add in the poetry books with nude images). They didn’t stop being friends when they happened to see me in my yard or in my house without clothing being worn. Friendship is tied to something that is intrinsic to one’s inner presence being seen because we dare to be authentic people with others whom we come to accept as authentic.

Martin Buber called it an “I-Thou” relationship.

Whose Responsibility is it?

I’ve been having a discussion regarding the idea being responsibility for other people’s thoughts and feelings. Our society pays lip service to the notion that we all must own our own thoughts and feelings. But in truth, the reality is much, much different. For some reason, call it insecurity and self-doubt, we believe others when they tell us we are responsible for their anger, their sadness, their happiness, their very life. With the exception of being responsible as parents to care for our children until they can care for themselves, this is not even remotely true.

If I, as an adult male, smile at a child (I am a grandfather and father and not a paedophile), the child invariably smiles back. I didn’t do anything but smile. Yet somehow, if the child cries (what wound has the child suffered?) I somehow am responsible for that response. Why did the child cry when a hundred others smiled in return? If I am to believe that I am responsible for the tears and the smiles with the same action, logic gets thrown out the window.

How you respond to any stimulus is your responsibility. Of course, since most of those responses are unconscious responses based on complexes that grew out of your adaptation to life, it becomes easy to understand why you would blame others for your feeling responses. Society is nothing but a collective of this individual unconscious response, magnified. And it shows up in our laws, in our phobias, in our responses to others who appear different, behave different, think different, pray differently, and even eat different foods cooked in strange ways. These others become our scapegoats the ones we blame for our own fear and confusion. The last person we would expect to be responsible for our bad behaviours towards others would be ourselves.

“She deserved to get raped. Did you see what she was wearing?” We blame the victim. If a child suffers abuse, we still have a hard time with the child turning his or her parent in to the authorities. In the end, the child gets blamed for ripping the family apart. If a man gets raped, he is to blame for not having the balls to stand up for himself. He is punished for being weak.

And finally for this post, this last image spells it out clearly. Somebody is at fault and it sure as hell isn’t us. [Yes, this was said with a bit of sarcasm]

Between Sunshine and Showers

A pause between torrential downpours.

Yes, it’s been that kind of day. The walk along the beach typically ends with a swim in the sea. Today, the gathering clouds had me decide to skip the swim after walking for just over two hours. I made it back in time to avoid the downpour. When it passed, it was time for me to spend an hour or so on the rewrite of my novel in the outdoor shade. No sooner had I completed a task that I had set for myself when another downpour had me retreat indoors. There’s no point in having the laptop get rained on.

Lunch and again I was able to get out for a few moments of sunshine on my lounge chair. It was soaking wet, but since I didn’t have to worry about getting my clothing wet, it wasn’t a problem. But then it decided to rain again. I had planned on getting out for an hour or so of sunbathing, but the weather continued to tease, alternating between sun and being drenched. And now, I’ve given up on that idea and have returned to writing. It has been a good day.

A Gift of Self in the Form of Art

A gift of self in the form of art

It’s Christmas Day. I spoke with my son and grandson via the computer this morning and learned all about the best Christmas morning ever that began hours too early for my son. It was a good thing that there is a bit of time-zone difference as I was more awake for the video call in which I got to see my grandson operate new toys and make his father play-dough ice cream cones. When the call was done, and breakfast was over, I took time for my morning meditation on the stoop that leads into our kitchen from the back garden.

With meditation done, I took this photo (well the photo that served as the source file) just so that I would have a photo for the day, a naturist photo. I have been able to do this for most days since we’ve arrived. However, this is the first time that I had “edited” the day’s photo. I guess it was my Christmas gift of art to myself. My mood was positive, if a bit tired from a late night with other “gringos” here in Mexico, an evening which featured a bit too much wine, games, and off-tune karaoke by the late hangers-on well after Christmas Eve had turned into Christmas Day.

It is now just about time to eat our midday meal before heading out into some unexpected sunshine to walk the beach. Hopefully today we won’t find a downpour that pelts us as we race back to our Mexican studio as happened yesterday. It’s a good Christmas.

Wishing each of you Joyeux Noel and Feliz Navidad!

It's the Day Before Christmas

Morning coffee on Christmas Eve in our Mexican garden.

We’ve been in Mexico for just over two weeks and already I feel some of the excess weight that comes with less activity with early winter on the prairies (considered to begin with the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend in mid-October. Not only a drop in weight, but my colour is beginning to return. The tan line is due to my bikini swimming briefs necessary for strolling on a public beach. I have begun to use a beach location at distance from the busy public beaches for some sunbathing so that I can eliminate the tan lines.

It’s the day before Christmas and we walked to shop for wine, gift chocolates and a baguette in the neighbouring village of La Colonia, a three kilometre walk one way. We are heading out for a Christmas party with other snowbirds and expats for the evening. We will get our share of Christmas decorations, wine, and snacks with about two dozen others. Tomorrow we will head out for a Christmas dinner to include turkey, at a local beach side restaurant. It is truly strange as we are used to snow, our own Christmas tree and house decorations, Christmas socials with neighbours and family. But we’re in Mexico and this is just as valid as a way to celebrate Christmas.

A few years ago, we spent four Christmas seasons in China where we both taught at a university. Imagine classes scheduled for Christmas Day. It worked for us as we did Skype our children and grandchildren so that we could share, at distance, their Christmas stories. We had our first such exchange yesterday evening and expect more tonight and tomorrow as there is very little time difference to consider making it much easier than from China.

I don’t know if there will be a post tomorrow, so I’ll wish all of my readers Merry Christmas.

Mexican Morning with Coffee

Waking up with a cup of coffee

Awake to a day where time seems to shift. I’ve entered into a realm I once knew as the future, yet I am still in the present as far as my consciousness is concerned. So the illusion of “yesterday” and the mindfield I found myself caught up in has vanished into some sort of magical place called the past. Now my mind has a different relationship to myself, a kinder relationship. If I didn’t know better, I would say that there is magic behind all of this.

As I walked the beach beside my wife late this morning, the sea continued being as I have known it, voicing its presence as it washes ashore broken bits of seaweed and debris. The sand beneath my bare feet shifted between my footfalls and it wasn’t long before there is no visible trace of my passage. Ahead of me and behind me the shore creates a scene that isn’t dependent upon me. In moments, it is as if I hadn’t existed as far as the sea and the sandy shore erases, shifts, realigns and does so again and again, even when I am not walking on the shore. Permanence and impermanence.

I look inside of myself and find the same rhythmic movements occurring. What I have defined as myself changes as soon as I have tried to contain that self. The only thing that is permanent for now is a name I have been given and a somewhat solid container called my body, which if truth be told, is never the same from one breath to the next.

Yet more confusing is how my mind wraps itself around the belief in identity and self-definition. Like the hours, days, and years that have passed, I exist as “me.” I drink coffee, I sleep and I waken, and who or whatever I am, I am authentically human. Beneath clothing, beneath persona – I exist.