When I hear the quote from Greek philosopher Epictetus, “it’s not what happens to you, it’s how you react to it that matters,” I admit that the words are sometimes a bitter pill to swallow when my frustration is beginning to swirl.
However, over time, I have discovered the wisdom of those words when I have seen the contrast in my own feelings over a recurring situation, and how those feelings can change depending on any number of contextual factors.
The first snowfall of the season is an excellent example.
As a young boy, that first snowfall was consistently met with joy and excitement as it meant a switch in the games we played outside at recess.
Running after snowflakes and catching them on our tongues to see who could catch the biggest was a favourite (clearly, it didn’t take much to amuse us). Piles of snow would become the focal point of a game of “king or queen of the castle”. And of course we would blow off steam with the occasional snowball fight, just for the fun of it. Continue reading
After being a daily bus commuter for 35 years, I did the unthinkable… I got a parking pass and started driving to work.
Last year, my office relocated just a few kilometres away from our previous job site. In theory, that move should not have created much of a disruption to my commute, but in reality, my total daily commuting time crept up to a 2 ½ to 3 hours.
After 35 years of doing the right thing for the environment and in doing my part in not cluttering up arterial roads, I felt the balance had sufficiently tipped. Three hours per day was a huge overhead cost to me personally. But once I got into the driving habit and I reclaimed some serious time in my day, every day, I knew this was the right decision for me.
However, I do want to express my deepest gratitude to our bus company, OC Transpo, for getting me where I needed to go throughout my high school, university and career years. It was efficient, affordable, reliable service. I was a clear supporter.
After 35 years, there will be some things I will miss:
10 – The “cosiness” of a bus filled to capacity with fellow commuters;
9 – The boundless generosity of commuters who demonstrated huge courage in leaving their sick bed, braving the work day and selflessly sharing their cough and cold germs with their fellow commuters;
8 – The extreme warmth of buses on cold winter mornings, especially when Continue reading
Filed under Humour, Lists
With school back in session, so begins a new season of the commuting reality show “Backpack Head Whack”.
Does this ever happen to you?:
– You are on an elevator; the elevator gets to your floor; the doors open and before you have a chance to take a step out of the elevator cab, someone storms in, essentially blocking your path.
– Your bus or subway car is overflowing with passengers and approaching your stop. You get up and make your way through the crowd to the door. Near the door, a passenger wearing headphones does not respond to your polite “excuse me”, so you gently tap them on the shoulder to indicate you’d like to get through, only to be met with the “death stare”.
– On a sidewalk or an escalator you find yourself behind a group of people who are side-by-side-by-side, blocking the entire width of the path and leaving no way to get around them.
When I was a kid, I vividly recall the “village” that raised me (parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and babysitters) said things like a gentle “tasse-toi” (step aside), “laisse le monsieur passer” (let the man go by) and sometimes a quickly articulated “Woosh woosh” which was a catch-all that would mean the same as above in addition to “Go!”, “Do it!” and “Hurry up!”
They all spent a fair bit of time trying to reinforce the concept of spatial contextual awareness since I was sometimes deep in my own imaginary world. However, I would like to think that through lessons like this, they did a good job in helping me grow up to be a polite and courteous member of society. But what has happened to contextual awareness?
Just a few days ago, Continue reading
It is clear that when I write, I feel most at home when I am in the calm of the room I set aside for writing. I light a few candles, put on some mellow music, get a cup of tea (sometimes wine, depending on the time of day of course), get into some comfy clothing, take a few deep breaths and then let ideas flow.
Unfortunately life sometimes gets busy and finding the time to sit in my “happy space” is not always possible, yet the ideas are coming whether I like it or not. I feel bad for the folks out there with writer’s block, but this is the opposite extreme which can be just as inconvenient.. it’s almost like a “stomach flu” of words. So the question is how to harness this flood of words and ideas when I am not otherwise occupied.
The ideal free time seemed to be during my commute to and from work which can yield a good 90 minutes per day (And that is on a good day! If traffic is bad, it could take up to 2 hours total) The only trade off would be to sacrifice some of my quality reading time, but I figured if the brain wave was there and would help to populate my new blog, I might as well ride the wave!
At first the idea of writing in public, especially on public transit, made me feel strange… a little shy, in fact. I don’t know why, but the idea of people seeing my unfinished work is probably on par with a feeling of being naked in public. Continue reading
Filed under Humour, Writing