Saturday, December 22, 2012

A sneak preview of my novel, "Completing Your Life"

In the process of writing my novel, "Completing Your Life" I have seen many, many, many revisions of my ideas, thoughts, and writing. This is called "the process."

Now, I am fairly close to what I want my novel to be.

So, in preparation for it\s launch, and after many requests, I thought I would leave a teaser for you here of the Prologue and the intro to chapter 1. I imagine when the editor gets it, it will change a bit, but I will start off with how it looks now.

I hope you enjoy it...Completing Your Life


This is a story about my life which happened to be a journey, and not a destination. The inside of this story is filled with emotions like love and hate, happiness and sorrow, hope and despair, longing, yearning, contentment and finally, peace of mind.

I think that you’ll find that my story is not much different than yours. I was an ordinary man with a simple life. I lived and existed surrounded by my thoughts and feelings, all of which were very significant to me. These led me to platforms in my life where I made decisions from the choices in front of me. I made many choices and many more decisions in my life, and looking back at them all now, I can see one that stands out distinctly inside of all the rest which started off a series of events that became the life that I lived into. I often wonder what would have happened had that instance not occurred, and how the rest of my life would have played out. Eventually I caught myself, and know that it all happened perfectly, even when I didn’t realize why it was happening.

I realized a long time ago that it was my agenda in life which was really stopping me from what it was that I thought I wanted. As it turned out, it really didn’t matter what I thought I wanted; it really came down to what it was that I needed. Unknowingly, my wants became my needs, and this caused my life to get caught into a vicious circle; a downward spiral of feeling trapped in every area in my life. I was completely overwhelmed and had no idea how to break this cycle. I held no control over my life, and this fear dominated me in every manner of being.

The most affected of all of these was my love life. It is an area of such significance to people, and certainly I was no exception. Throughout my entire life, I searched and yearned for a partner who understood me; someone who had my back and loved me the way I wanted and needed to be loved, even when I didn’t know how to do it myself.

Wonderful women came and left my life, and the impact of each one affected me so that I became a different person each time the next love came along. I started off in these relationships being loving and caring. Then over time, I became increasingly more jaded, less trusting, cynical, and a host of other negative emotions that each future partner paid for unknowingly. What I didn’t realize is that each time, something was telling me with surprising detail that these relationships weren’t a proper fit for me. I was unwilling to listen because I was so attached to these feelings of significance. I held on to my view like it was my life’s prized possession and refused to give it up to anything new, and this became the reality I lived into. I was determined to do it my way, and nobody was going to tell me otherwise.

Perhaps it wasn’t as bad as I am making it out to be; our lives never are. I was so busy looking at what wasn’t working in my life, that I wasn’t appreciating or acknowledging what was working. One of the biggest observations that I had in my early twenties is the battle of time and money. Some people had lots of money, but very little free time. A lot of people I knew also had a lot of free time, but very little money. But very few people I knew had a lot of money, and a lot of time in their lives. This provided the element of choice, and from choices like this, you could create any possibility you choose.

By the time I was 26, I had saved up enough money to experience time and money in the same moment. I had always wanted to experience backpacking through Europe, so one day I took action. Instead of wondering if it was the right decision or time in my life to do so, I bought a Eurail pass for ninety days which enabled me to get on and off any train in almost all of Europe. The day that I committed to purchasing that ticket launched me on the path which defined my life as I knew it. It was one action which lead into another, which opened up the world of cause and effect and what became my life.

It is this journey and the story it became that I would like to share with you.

Chapter 1

To me, it all comes down to the final five minutes of your life.

In those final moments, everything that mattered to you gets measured on a scale of yes or no. All the money in the world cannot buy you a do-over, and there are no second chances when you are confronted with your own mortality. Those precious seconds get compounded by a fight for life, and the need for being understood. The fulfillment of your legacy then gets left open for interpretation. If you are able to convey your last words to have closure with your life, or be surrounded by your loved ones, you may have less room for interpretation. In the end, did you leave a firm understanding on how you wanted to leave the unique story of your life? If your time ends suddenly, are you fully prepared and complete with leaving how you lived your life?

Most of us leave this life with life insurance for our family and loved ones. Yet, rarely do we leave emotional life insurance to provide closure for us and our beloved. We toil to create a legacy which can get clouded at the finish line because we don’t attain closure in every aspect that matters in our lives. This leaves us with words unsaid, and the opportunity that is forever lost.

I wondered why I never thought about this growing up. It was never brought up or talked about in my family. Besides, I was caught in the world of accumulation, and  I felt invincible to the world. It took something that rattled my belief system to force me to look at this. Suddenly, all the things that I chased as a young man seemed pointless, and I was left with the moments that defined my time on this earth. Before I realized it, a bright flash filled my vision and my life flashed before my eyes. In an instant, the gateway to my life opened up.

I remember it all starting on the hottest day in summer. Of course it was only the middle of June, yet the heat was unrelenting that day. I was leaving in less than two weeks to backpack throughout Europe for the entire summer, and my friends had decided to send me off with a goodbye party. It was the start of summer in Canada, and the heat draws out people to patios, pools, beaches, and other areas where they come to gather on hot summer days. Though I complained about the sweltering heat and humidity, which turned my flowing locks of curls into a dizzying array of spider web entanglements, I soldiered on. My friends and I went downtown Toronto seeking meaningless fun, unaware that I had my own date with destiny...


Monday, December 17, 2012

The Connecticut Shootings and Mental Health

There is a saying, “Success leaves clues”. There is always a pathway to it, and if you usually follow it step for step, you will always end up with a flavour of it. Well, so does failure. It has the same pattern in which it follows, yet with obviously different actions and results.

The tormented soul that walked into that school in Connecticut and shot an innocent classroom of young children and educators including his mother, needs to be finally addressed.

It needs to be studied like an FBI case unit, and used as a textbook example of what it looks like to follow the path of a tormented young gunman. Society needs to look at his mindset, education, groups and affiliations he was apart of; mentors and friends of his need to be extensively interviewed. Every ounce of this kid needs to be dissected and spun into a big web of a mental health profile, and it needs to be shared with every parent in the world.

This needs to be addressed and talked about like we are introducing the big pink elephant in the room that everybody sees, yet ignores and hopes it goes away.
Well, it’s not going anywhere.

I’m really clear that this isn’t solely a gun control issue. I’m pretty confident that a twisted deranged person like this would have found a way to commit this heinous crime in his own way, so I won’t waste time addressing that issue.

My issue is that this kid’s behaviour was developed over time and he was ignored and allowed to slide under the radar. It went unaddressed for who knows how long, until it became so unbearable for him that he felt his only self-expression was to take the lives of young kids in an unprecedented manner. I find that completely unacceptable, and it brings our society to a new low.

We have seen some pretty horrific crimes, yet this one can never, and will never be understood. It can only be studied, documented and learned from so that we can see that we have a communication issue with our children.

To me, there are many issues to address here. There is the Mental Health issue, the gun control issue, the communication with our kid’s issue, and I’m quite sure that there are many others. This seemed to be the perfect storm of a combination of unaddressed issues that turned into something so horrific that it will affect the way we move forward.

Someone like Michael Moore may make a documentary about it, the media will enable it to get into every home telling us who to be afraid of, and who is to blame for this, yet the real issues go unaddressed, and to me, it starts with something simple.

We need to let the scared and terrified parent who doesn’t know that it’s ok to ask for help, that it’s ok to ask for help.

They need to know that they are not alone, and more importantly, that it doesn’t mean that they are “bad” parents. We need to let them know that it’s normal to have the feelings that they have while struggling with their child’s mental illness and not look down on them.

We need to extend to them the empathy that they need to love their child even though their child’s brain does not function the way we think “normal” does. Only until we can have an open conversation about this, and lose the stigma presently associated with mental health issues, will we see progress, and the pink elephant will cease to exist amongst us.

Yet until then, the pink elephant moves from home to home, ignored and unaddressed until something like this happens again…