Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Judgement of Sorts

Alarm clocks just seem to disappear around me, swapped for some pile of wired rubbish and a dent in the wall. It's not that I mind terribly, I mean, they do add a certain future-apocalyptic atmosphere to my room. But the whole thing does have one major drawback: I tend not to wake up when I'm supposed to. Take this morning, for example, my eyes flew open and I hadn't the foggiest what the bloody time was. Instead, I just hoped to whatever supernatural force there may be that I hadn't missed work (it took a few more minutes for me to realize that it was in fact a Saturday, and I didn't have any work full-stop - but this wasn't before I had leaped out of bed, gotten dressed and cleaned up in 3 mins flat).

I finally came across my watch under the bed while looking for a left sock, and saw the neon hands pointing towards 11 o'clock (which gave me a goddamned heart attack) and the small lettering 'SAT' (calming it back down). I sighed and got to my feet, turning around to draw the curtains back. Sun shining, birds chirping and all that, I reckoned it was a fine day for a walk. So, quickly grabbing my phone, wallet and a few mandarin oranges, I strolled out the door. Peeling back the first mandarin, I noticed I wasn't alone, and by the heavy panting and steady trot, I realized my big Alsatian had followed me out. I shrugged, 'the more the merrier', and we kept walking down into the ravine.

A few sniffs here and there, territorial-marking included, the dog was a having a damn good time. And aside from the vulturous mosquitos insisting that I leave without three or four pints of my blood, I was rather enjoying it too. We followed the ravine a while, until I decided we could both use a drink. I figured we were around 23rd and Rabbit Hill, so we headed up and onto the main roads. Before I could even decide whether I wanted Booster Juice, DQ or Orange Julius, I had a picket sign almost catapulted up my nose by some older citizen that looked like something out of a bad retirement ad.


"The end is nigh!" she spits in my face. I was taken aback, I hadn't realized I'd slept so long!
"Wait, what?" I said, before I realized I should have kept my bloody mouth shut.
"The Rapture is upon us!" she raves, waving her arms madly. "Hail the coming of the lord, to judge those unworthy of paradise!"

Then it hits me like a brick wall. It's the 21st. For those of you who aren't aware, Harold Camping, the Christian radio broadcaster and president of Family Radio, has used Bible-based numerology to predict exact dates for the end of the world. This 'modern genius' had seemingly deciphered the ancient language of the Bible to predict the Rapture to occur on May 21, 2011 at precisely 6 pm. He followed up his first 'scientifically proven' statement, with the vengeful and divine destruction of the Earth and universe five months later, on October 21.


Now, despite having previously predicted that the Rapture would occur in September 1994, almost seven years ago, Mr. Camping has been quite the sport in opening both himself and his radio station up for public and private interviews. He does not claim Family Radio to be a church, nor an ordained or hierarchical authority within a church or institution. But he still maintains his own set of distinct and controversial christian beliefs. For starters, although he believes that humans are not totally depraved and enjoy a relatively free will, he subscribes to the idea that salvation is not in our hands in any way. We cannot win it either through good works, deeds or prayer, for it is solely an act of God's grace. He also does not believe in the warm-climate of Hell, but teaches annihilationism; that unpure, unsaved souls will cease to exist. But perhaps his most controversial teaching is that all churches have become apostate and must thus be abandoned. Instead, he encourages personal bible study and (naturally) listening to Family Radio.

Camping's bases his Biblical study and predictions on Jewish feast days in the Hebrew calendar, the lunar month calendar and a the Gregorian calendar tropical year, combined with other 'trivial' information in the Bible. He gained notoriety, skyrocketing to the headlines, after proclaiming that 200 million people (~3% of the human population) would be 'raptured', while the other 97% would simply cease to be. How lovely.


When asked what it would mean if he turned out to be wrong (again), he replied: "I can't, I can't answer that question, because it is going to happen, absolutely."

Well, Mr. Camping, a big fan of Voltaire myself - though I may not agree with what you have to say, I would fight to the death for your right to say it. This is of course, given my right to do the same and say what I want.
Goddamnit, I was having a bloody wonderful day before you and your half-crazed cronies had to waltz into my Saturday morning and mess it up. The sun was shining, birds chirping, a lovely breeze was blowing, and now I find myself trying to dislodge a picket sign from my left nostril.
Well. 18:00 has come and gone in many parts of the world (including the promised land), and we've seen no locusts, no fire raining from the heavens, the ravine was still good ol' H2O when I sloshed through it, no zombies, no toads and my friend Hugh (a devout atheist) has neither boils nor sores. Mr. Camping, I think it's about time for another of your decadely, Biblical revision.

Besides, we all know THIS is the way the world's going to end:

You can check out Mr. Camping's website here:

Friday, May 13, 2011

Who Are You?

Who are you? No, I don't mean spoon-feed me your SIN, driver's license and health insurance card. On a deeper level, times come when we consciously reflect on the kind of person we've become. Yeah, we've always had that role model in our lives - mum, dad, Ghandi, Erin Brockovich, Harry Potter - and I'm not entirely sure about you, but I don't just scratch my head and stroke my beard at every choice or decision asking myself: "What would Jesus do?" (Those orthodox christians have us ALL fooled).

Fact is, these role models are generally subliminal. Their characters, personalities and personas are something we've tried to parallel, but try as we may, they're simply not who we are, trait-for-trait. Admiration is rarely overrated, emulation is often excessive, and worship is always unnecessary. But, from time to time, we do find ourselves at the end of a decisive moment, wondering how we came to that verdict or choice. Was it according to our beliefs? Our opinions? Our values? Was it honourable? Just? Fair? Honest? And then things get complicated - we start wondering "Where did I set out from in the first place?" We try to remember what it was we had tried to model ourselves on, and then groan in agony as we see our mistakes, or beam with satisfaction as we realize our success.

But do we really see ourselves as well as anyone else? I mean, c'mon, be honest with yourself. If you've even the tiniest bit of sense, you'll admit that you've a serious bias. And it's not just in one direction either - there are those of us who enjoy being a little lenient with our ideals, and those who insist on cracking the whip a little too much. Do we then turn to those around us? Are those judgements, the juvenile gossip and wide-spread-high-school-reminiscent stereotypes all far more accurate and honest than our own? Maybe so. Maybe you really are the brawn-over-brain jock who'll end up a balding, 50 year-old living in your mum's trailer still wearing that ratty old football jacket from senior year. Maybe you are that womanizing jerk who'll end up slapping ass and taking names for the rest of his life... playa. Maybe you're that computer dweeb who never leaves home without his graphing calculator and will likely never get laid. OR alternatively, you could be that modest, nice guy who everyone appreciates and respects - but hey, who wants to be him? That's just boring, right?

We can't objectively step out of our shoes and see ourselves without bias, but in the same way, we can't fully put our faith in those close to us to offer a clear and honest judgement. Ulterior motives are everywhere. So, then what? You can spend your entire life trying to shake off a stereotype, to free yourself from that gossip-born ball & chain - regardless of how it came to be - and still be burdened with it for the rest of your life. Why? Because that's society. That's the power of social interaction. We, humans, are creatures of communication, completely dependent on it to retain our sanity. We feed ravenously on its fickle ability to put us in the spotlight and give our fragile egos that boost they need so dearly... To be in the limelight, the centre of attention, to nurture and feed that image we crave so badly in an effort to escape our own dreary personalities - is it worth it? Instead, our directionless efforts either dig us deeper into that hole or throw us headlong into another. Even then, can we ever truly know if anyone knows us as well as we seem to know ourselves? A vicious circle; the more we try to be understood, the further from the truth (if one can even call it that) we seem to stray. We're then the puppeteer, the master, the mind orchestrating our own image - almost unconsciously.

The hunger will consume you, leave you powerless and debilitated with as much rational sense as a frenchman in a brothel. Who are you then? The creature of your imagination, the monster of the social body or a terribly wonderful mix of the two? Perhaps neither? And here's the sinker: Is it really up to you?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Have You Seen The Light?

"Tell me, have you seen the light?"

Said the Vicar to the boy.

"Nay Father, I have not yet.

But I've heard its tainted joy."


To hear the word, this word of God.

'Tis something we must trust.

'Else wait the fiery pits of Hell,

Forsake our faith we must.


Why must we wait, toil and suffer?

For a power we cannot see?

The truth these men so eagerly hide.

The power is you and me.


They don their robes, their cloaks of gold.

And speak in tongues long dead.

And preach the word of a Greater Good.

That only to them was said.


We are the good, although they preach,

Unworthy of peace untold.

But watch us purge this leperous arm,

And behold the change unfold.




It's us, it's we

It's you and me.

Left to us, it's true.

To right these wrongs,

And sing these songs,

And do just as we do.


No higher place, no stronger race,

No almighty being who can.

Save our souls from sinners' blows

And love our fellow man.


Against plague and troubled hardship,

Together we must band.

It takes good deeds and human needs,

To save this wondrous land.


We are the Good, we are the Light,

The Beauty and the Love.

And in the end, we all take flight

To soar as peaceful doves.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Quietus and Freedom

To break free of these mortal bonds, Man has embarked upon quest after quest. Delving into the mystic and ages old books of yore, seeking out the legends and myths kept alive by scholars, passed down by peasants and nobles alike: to drink from the Holy Grail… to bathe in the Fountain of Youth… to sip the Elixir of the Philosopher’s Stone… Many names, for one quest.
One might say it is in our nature to focus only on what we can achieve, what could be… and not what is. So absorbed in our own selfish core, we don’t dare look upon our lives, fearing disappointment and the pangs of guilt. Why? Because, again, it’s our nature.

True as that may be, nature can be overcome: “That monster, custom, who all sense doth eat, Of habits devil, is angel yet in this” (Hamlet). With patience and the practice of true virtues, we can achieve the end of selfishness and banish it from our minds. From practice, into habits and finally to custom: we can conquer our own nature. How else does one face their fears? Heights, spiders, enclosed spaces or another Rebecca Black single, it’s all the same. Go sky-diving, subscribe to The Fear Factor, move into an elevator or learn to tie a hangman’s noose (let’s face it, there’s no other way).

We take for granted what we have, blind to our own blessings. Is not everything far more beautiful when we are mortal? One thing is sure in your life: that you will die. Whether its of old age or sickness, we are all doomed, and it is THIS doom that makes everything we experience in this life so valuable. The end will come, you may know of it, you may not, but it is there… waiting. But do not fear it, embrace it. Accept it. THAT is how we conquer death. It is in fearing it that we give ourselves up to it, that we lay down our arms and surrender.
The quest for mythical objects is a fool’s errand. It is BECAUSE our time on earth is limited that every moment becomes precious. It is BECAUSE we are doomed that we are so fortunate. Immortality is a curse, nothing holds meaning or significance. Carpe Diem... for it comes only once. And it will not come again. Therein lies it's value.

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift, and that is why it is called the present. Cherish it.


Like it or not, when all else dissolves and melds together into something we cannot understand, the wisest thing to do is to extricate ourselves from it and get back to basics. We broaden our views, we reevaluate our values, our beliefs, our ideas. We ponder what matters most and what we can do without. Purge ourselves of the things that cause only pain. When all's said and done, we can look at ourselves and be happy. Why? Because we've managed to isolate what makes us happy and we've gone for it; full steam ahead. What else is there to life, than to be happy? To enjoy it? To rejoice in every smile and revel in each moment we are with those we care about?
But we are only human, and as such, we are prone to such fits of rational thinking that we forget what makes us happy, and debate it instead. Things are no longer so simple as: "That makes me hella happy." No, now it's become: "Does it really make me happy?" Why follow in Hamlet's footsteps? LOOK where it got him. Life is not without risks, to try and avoid every single speed bump, every tight turn and every shady corner, would be to lose sight of what life is really about. It's about the rush we get from sheer and utter bliss. It's not about the breaths we take, rather the moments that take our breath away (Cheesy? yes. Wrong? No.)
Life is a Kaleidoscope; a barrage of ideas fired at us in quick succession. What we make of them, is up to us and us alone. NEVER for others to tell us how, why and what to see in them. Take what you see and make it your own! That's your right. Your inalienable right to a choice. A choice to live life the way YOU want to, not the way you THINK you should live it.

Purge. Recapture. Live.

We see what we want to, and to others it may be completely different. One man's treasure is another's trash. The most brilliant diamond; a piece of dirt. The most delicate bloom; a loathsome weed. It goes on, and on, and on. Once lost, we forget the ties we held and we see things in a new eye, sometimes better, sometimes worse than we saw them before. WE must do what's right by us. It's a fool's errand to do otherwise.

The past is not the present, nor will it be the future unless YOU allow it to. Those who live in the past, allow it to transcend to the present, live beyond its time and (without due action) become the future that awaits all of us. Lose yourself, and you find what you are REALLY made of. Lose all the preconceived facts that you THINK make up who you are, and you get to the nitty-gritty, cold, hard beauty that is YOU. From there, you write your own person, your own choices, your own beliefs, your own fate. Look in the mirror, everything you are is a result of your choices. You are the artist of your own life: a painting of epic proportions, a mosaic of untold beauty, a sculpture of the utmost detail and a piece of music the likes of which the world has NEVER heard, nor will it ever again.


“I don’t want to be anything or anyone I wasn’t meant to be. I am who I am, and to be anything different isn’t being true to myself.”

It’s these words that bring me out of my half-dazed state in Rutherford Lounge. I shake my head, what does that even mean?
Tell me, when did humanity become so static? When did timeless Change suddenly decide that human nature was exempt? Since when were we just one person? One set of invariable and inert characteristics? Never.

I turn to my friend, drawing her gaze until I have her attention.
From the time we’re conceived, brought kicking and screaming into this world, we change. Time changes everything, second by second, day by day and year by year. To be so naive and self-consumed that we are one, stable being and character unaffected by Time’s eternal and inescapable grasp is a fool’s notion and is better abandoned than strived for.

She sighs, unconvinced, we are only as capable as the world around us allows us to be, operating within a set of limitations and boundaries. I shake my head.
Granted, we are small beings, but with immeasurable power over our own lives and others, our smallest actions reverberate through a world connected through emotions and feelings, thoughts and ideas. Not only do our own actions change others, but in so doing, change ourselves as well.


She rolls her eyes: it’s the fight for our beliefs against the accepted dogma that allow us to preserve ourselves. I nod: but does that fight not define you? Make you stronger? Make you more confident?
Why not embrace it and let it change you? Change can be beautiful too - you just have to change yourself to see it, accept it with new eyes. We build who we are over time, build character, integrity, courage, honour, trust, temperance, fortitude, prudence and justice. Trying to avoid it is futile; it is natural, it is all-consuming, it is beautiful. It takes so many diverse forms that we cannot even begin to understand how far it stretches, over boundaries, both physical and psychological. From the beat of the smallest butterfly in India, to the chaos of the largest hurricane in Mexico. From the most insignificant, fleeting wink, to the three most powerful words on the planet.


She raises an eyebrow and begins to actively listen, as I grin and continue.
We grow. We learn. We live. We love. We take risks, make choices, lay it on the line. All of these things change. Yeah, each choice is based on the way we think, but each choice in-turn changes how we think thereafter, influencing future decisions for years to come. Change is not biased, nor is it limited. It can act microscopically and macroscopically, changing everything and anything. The more we try to avoid it, the more we become slaves to it, letting it control our actions regardless; all done in a fruitless and barren attempt to keep it from touching us.
She taps her fingers unconsciously on the worn plastic table before us: But I’m no quantum physicist, Alex. I could sure as hell try, but I’d be a useless wreck. That’s who I am. I chuckle awkwardly, yeah alright, but there’s a difference between ability or potential and enjoyment. You might not be in place to enjoy quantum physics right now, maybe never, but who says you can’t do it?

People often say that they can't help who they are, that they can't escape it. It's your bloody choice to walk away and accept difficulty, to give in, to submit. Don't try. It's just an intention to fail. You choose from the very beginning to be overwhelmed. The human mind is capable of more than many of us can dream. It was once unthinkable to amass $1,000,000,000. Enter John D. Rockefeller. Human flight was a fairy tale. Thank the Wright Brothers. The very idea of a black president was a joke not even worth mentioning over dinner. Barack Obama challenged it. ALL of it has changed. Why? Because people believed that things could change. People can be selfish, can be cruel, can be wicked. But they can also be selfless, good and benevolent.


Blinking repeatedly, she ponders what I’ve said and the recognition shows in her sea green eyes.

You can sit on your ass and blame the world for your predicament, but quite frankly, it’s on you to change. It’s nobody’s fault but our own that we find ourselves where we are. A good friend of mine has managed to turn full-circle: 360-bloody-degrees. From a life he despised, from a past he was once ashamed of and from a future he saw as nothing but bleak and hopeless - he found change. He found choice and he realized it. He found happiness and he hangs onto it, clinging on to it with everything that he is; because he knows he deserves it.
I pat the same on the shoulder as he chokes on an Italian BLT, swearing at me through a mouthful of lettuce.

We trade youth for wisdom, opening our eyes and seeing a world we only strolled through and couldn’t/wouldn’t/didn’t understand. It’s these individual changes that shape us, mould us, make us. You never lose sight of who you are, nor do you become someone else. You’re still you, just more so with time. Time changes, and so do you.

So who are you? You decide. You don’t find yourself. You create yourself. You don’t know yourself. You understand yourself. Your very choices -from when to get up each morning, to which drug to take from a shady black guy with bad teeth and a wicked leather coat - shape who you are.


Every choice sets off another completely different set of decisions you can make, the lineup changing with each and every subsequent choice you make... each “encounter could create a time paradox, the result of which could cause a chain reaction that would unravel the very fabric of the space-time continuum and destroy the entire universe!... Granted that’s a worst case scenario.”


And though every choice is immortal, it's effect isn't. You choose to act on it, change it or keep it.
The table goes silent. Done with his sandwich, my friend’s eyes dart from person to person before decidedly ninja-ing the white-macadamia nut cookie sitting in front of me. Shoveling it down hungrily, he looks to each of us. What? I was hungry. You weren’t hungry enough. Cookie’s mine. So sue me.
Funny, I can’t remember him being such a goddamn fat-ass.
Everything begins with Choice.
Welcome to Evolution at its best, at its most microscopic and detailed level.

Welcome to Metamorphosis.