I know really cool people, like you.

If there’s something I’ve learned in life, it’s that it’s not about the money. In the slightest. In my experience, some of the happiest people I have ever met are the ones with next to nothing.  Perhaps the dolla dolla bills, or the things they purchase, are a distraction in themselves from the truest, purest forms of deriving happiness in life. For me, that happiness comes from all of you. People I have grown up with, or known for years, or just met recently, it doesn’t matter. To be able to adventure around this awesome planet with such diverse and entertaining folks is what fills me with energy every morning (or night if we’re at a good party!)  Strangers are only friends you haven’t met, and my life would be a hell of a different place (and a lot more boring) if it weren’t for all you strangers! Much love!

How you treat anybody is how you will treat everybody

And what you do with your days is what you do with your life.  It is all too easy to put off our great ideas and our kindness to another day, another time, another person.  Someday is not a day of the week, and the only fear you should heed to succeed is the fear of not trying hard enough today – because all too soon, all the todays will blend into a lifetime and all the goodness inside of you will still be right there where you left it.

A World Under the Waves

As I drift down to the gloomy depths of 35 meters below the sea, slowly out of the murky darkness looms the ghost of what was once a mighty ship, master of the seas. Devoid of one type of life to make way for another, coral and fish abound in this underwater novelty, making every twisted, broken nook and cranny their new home.

We explore the curvature of the hull at depth, playing around with a machine gun turret designed to protect the boat against being here in the first place.  Surely some nitrogen narcosis was in effect when our dive master signaled “okay?” And swam into a port hole small enough that he had to twist sideways to drift through.  I could not hold in my excitement at the thought of entering those dark, silty, cramped ruins with nothing but a flashlight and my own abilities to solve whatever problem I may run into inside.

As I enter the boat I begin to realize that every twitch of a fin counts in these closed quarters, with twisted metal shards pointed in stark contrast to their original form, ready to snare the unwary diver.  Truly this was a test of personal confidence, fine motor skills, and self reliance. Our dive master went first, followed by each of us in turn.  There was no room for turning back to help your buddy for meters at a time – if something went wrong down there, you would have to be the one to fix it.  Making mental notes of the last large opening we saw just in case we had to make a quick escape became routine as our instructor led us through what was seemingly the most cramped and technical areas of the ship.  The almost callous attitude of our instructor seemed to indicate total confidence in our abilities, which was not unfounded – gladly so! If we had a diver less advanced or confident on our team who succumbed to panic in the wrecks, it surely would have ended poorly – not only for the panicked diver, but for anyone on the other side of what ever bottle neck passage was being navigated at that time.

The dark and silt was so complete at some spots that it was all you could do to keep your dive buddies fins in your flash light beam without him taking your mask off with them!  Up, down, around sharp corners, through holes and reams I never thought a diver could fit through, trying to remain conscious of my air consumption and breathing, yet surprisingly I am totally calm for the entire dive, revelling in the meditative like silence and in awe of all I am seeing around me.

While remaining a challenge unlike any dive I have ever attempted before, this underwater wreck also provided some of the most spectacular vistas of colourful coral and abundant sea life – an interesting dichotomy between the terrible after effects of war and the sublime peace beneath the waves.  Torpedo holes in the hull of the boat allow bright turquoise sun beams into the darkness we swam through to illuminate clouds of thousands of miniature fish who have taken up habitat within the protection of the wreck.  All sorts of coral have attached themselves in and onto the boat, creating their own vibrant ecosystem.

We exit from a cargo hold on the far side of the ship, slowly swimming up through a large opening to view the most magnificent sea garden flowering on the deck of the sunken war ship, with a family of lion fish lazily guarding what is now theirs, what is no longer a home for humanity.  I look up and see the bubbles from my trapped exhalations reflecting the sunlight that awaits me at the surface, shining pockets of gas that are as out of place down here as me.

Nature never frets over the end of one thing – it may just be the beginning of something better.  And our Mother is never one to let anything go to waste.

Thoughts from a window seat

There is something about the window seat of an air plane that gets my mind reflecting more than usual, looking out over vast landscapes and all the people contained therein.  I find it useful to assess changes to my opinions and perspectives when I face changes and new destinations in my life.  I am not the same person I was a year ago, or even 6 months ago.  Perhaps in living a life of constant motion, those few moments of solitude and aloneness are all the the opportunity I have to reflect on making the most of my time.  While others resolve to make changes to their lives at the end of every year (after which many go right back into the same routine) I try to evaluate and learn from these past experiences each time my life is set into motion and I have the time to think them through.

And here are my thoughts:

I have learned to appreciate my own country, snow covered or not. I have learned that the people within it are hardy (fool or otherwise) for living in it year round;

I have learned that people older than you are not necessarily wiser than you, and that people younger than you very well may be. Experience leads to wisdom, but it is never too late to learn from your mistakes and make the most of your time, whatever form that may manifest;

I have learned that money is but a means, and to not need it is the same as having overmuch of it (for which so many blindly aim);

I have learned that a regular routine need not (indeed, SHOULD not) be set by anothers’ agenda, unless your true goals coincide (money is never a true goal);

I have learned the value of a single friend, and the amazing variety of people that inhabit this planet and how much there is to learn from them;

I have learned that one man is enough to catalyse an idea into a movement and drive it- but it is dependent on that man’s drive (no small credit to the help received along the way);

I have learned that the only fear to be afraid of is the fear of failure, the fear of apathy and not trying, which is the easiest fear to conquer since the very fear itself spurs me into action;

I have learned that only the people you let hurt you can hurt you, and that I highly value independence in all of my relationships;

I have learned that learning how to learn is a key skill for all people in all walks of life, and that we all need help in this education;

I have learned that moments need to be created and identified, and that deep talks are occasionally necessary and should not be skirted;

I have learned that thinking big, dreaming bigger, and then acting on that is a worthwhile human endeavour;

I have learned that all systems have wiggle room, that with the right combination of charm and reasoning (or even just asking!) can get you more than you expect;

I have learned that the way to be respected for your views and character is to OWN them, not to hide them nor be ashamed;

I have learned not to align my values on the persuasion of another, whether through positive or negative suggestion, but to evaluate the facts presented and judge based on those;

I have learned to always question, and to have no fear of changing your opinion if it is merited by the facts.  But in subjective cases to make up your mind finally and stick with it sets your mind free from regret and increases your overall happiness;

I have learned that the human mind is organic and prone to more inaccuracies than most are willing to admit. Admit them, your memory is imperfect and work with your mind lest it work against you. Learn to control it lest it control you;

I have learned that although slight signals may be picked up by others’ subconscious, they may not always know how to interpret them and so my feelings, though transparent to me, are often obfuscated to others, and that I should make my intentions clear through honest and open communication;

I have learned that I need to become more comfortable with my emotional self around those I love;

I have learned the importance of EDITING – finding the important parts of life worth spending time on;

I have learned the importance of EXTRAPOLATION – looking ahead in life, thinking BIG PICTURE, and evaluating consequences;

I have experienced the joy of being in a moment, senses, feelings, peace, nature, company (or not) intertwining to manifest the beauty of life;

I have learned that problems are not black and white, and not to confuse motion with progress, but also that honest attempts lead to experience and progression towards a goal, that complex systems to solve a problem wholesale are not born overnight;

I have learned to stand on the shoulders of giants and expand my knowledge of a problem through others;

I have learned that we learn more through our mistakes than through our successes, and to seek out those mistakes to learn from them rather than fear them;

I have learned that I don’t need to drink or party to impress anyone else and that the reason we do it in the first place is to have a good time, but that the best and craziest stories happen at the end of the night in a good environment full of randomness;

I have learned to have pen and paper on me at all times, to record events and make way for inspiration when it comes;

I have learned to read into others’ body language and to trust my intuition;

I have learned that each brain is of two minds and to use my conscious to control my sub conscious mind monkeys, and that mirror neurons that elicit sympathy from the plight of others also fire AT YOURSELF – meaning you are truly of two minds;

I have learned that there is as much to learn from someone’s intolerance, impatience, or hatred as there is from their tolerance, patience, and love;

I have learned that all things need moderation, even moderation itself;

I have learned that cause and effect are seldom equal, and to watch for and utilize small causes that have greater effects, but to let other small causes with small effects pass by the wayside so as not to waste my time;

I have learned that I will not have time to go everywhere and do everything I ever want to see or do…and that is what keeps life exciting right to the end, so TAKE PLEASURE in the things you DO have time for;

I have learned that everyone is entitled to their own INFORMED opinion, and that no one is entitled to be ignorant, but these opinions may be formed on vast cultural and societal differences as well as personal biases. Respect that;

I have learned that when I am presented with evidence that confirms my hypothesis, I will mistakenly give it more weight than it deserves. Corollary: A kind word directed to stroke the ego has more significance for the hearer than the speaker;

I have learned to lead when the situation calls for it and not to follow the response of the crowd if none stand forward;

I have learned to evaluate a budding movement and act as the first follower to add to its momentum if I am in agreement;

I have learned that ‘ever or never’ questions are often pointless – that isn’t a concern at this point. Needs, wants and circumstances change over time.

I wonder what I will learn next time I have too much time to myself daydreaming in a window seat.