A Whole New Chapter

I’m sitting in my brother’s apartment, where I’m crashing for the next little while. Excited to start at CAMH tomorrow!! This is the start of a whole new chapter. I updated my profile on LinkedIn so now it’s official LOL.

Last week’s walk happened on Tuesday Oct 11 – Week 41! It was Dussehra, which I remember because Neesha sent me this cute animation in the morning:

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Dussehra, The Defeat of Ravan and triumph of good over evil

Dussehra (also known as Vijayadasami, meaning Victory) represents the triumph of good over evil – on that day it is said that Lord Rama defeated the great demon Ravana, at the end of a long, arduous journey to win back his wife Sita (who he later turns away because she is considered impure, but that is another story altogether), and also it represents removing the 10 bad qualities within you which are synonymous with the 10 heads of Ravan. These qualities are:

  1. Ahankara (Ego)
  2. Amanavta (Cruelty)
  3. Anyaaya (Injustice)
  4. Kama vasana (Lust)
  5. Krodha (Anger)
  6. Lobha (Greed)
  7. Mada (Over Pride)
  8. Matsara (Jealousy)
  9. Moha (Attachment)
  10. Swartha (Selfishness)

I think I’m going to need more than one day to remove these qualities!

Before I headed out for the day, I waited for the cable guy to come and hook up the internet. Poor guy had trouble finding a parking spot because of the construction and because the loading zone was occupied. He finally made it up, bumbling through, apologizing and talking away. He hooked up the high speed, and I set up a password (which Raju thought was lame and is planning to change) and I was all set. It was nice to have internet after relying on my Telus plan (which had gone over by $250 the month before!! It’s because I was in Ottawa and still using it as if I was in Toronto :p). It was using it as a personal hotspot that did it. Geeta Foi had told me how you can do that, and so I tried it out and watched shows on Netflixx which cost me like a million dollars.

The cable guy also told me that there was a gift for me hanging from the door!

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Welcome to the building gift from Victoria

On Thanksgiving I’d met a girl Victoria on Raju’s floor, and I’d knocked on her door the next day – she wasn’t home but her boyfriend was and looked rather shocked to see me. Anyway, she was so nice and left me this gift bag full of facial products – a cleanser and toner and bronzer. I texted her to say thank you and she mentioned that she doesn’t actually live in the building but had just been visiting that day. Hopefully I get to see her again.

I walked out of Raju’s place, down Gerrard and to the Atrium to do my change of address (as I write this I’m slowly processing that I’ve moved out of my place – yeah I’m a little slow that way).  I did an address forwarding thing for the next 3 months… I still have to inform all the banks and stuff of my actual address (who knows where that will be come January 1). Right now I’m a bit of a nomad. I don’t mind crashing at people’s places though, I’m really grateful for it and also it’s actually pretty fun and exciting (as if I could use any more excitement right now).

I went down to the harbourfront to see my doctor, who I just missed because she only works until 3 PM, then I texted Yarina who told me to come by. First I walked by the lake and stopped to listen to this soulful singer named Woody (I will have the add the video later because it’s not uploading right now). He sang “You say it best when you say nothing at all” – such a beautiful song! After I listened to him, we talked for quite a bit and he told me his story. Over 34 years ago, he visited a psychiatrist to deal with his grief over his father’s death. Yet instead of helping him, they sent him to a mental institution where he spent over 2 years, was locked up, often with no social interaction, given shock treatment against his will, and diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and was deemed incurable and unemployable. He said that’s it taken him over 30 years to heal, and he is only now getting back on his feet and singing (he does a little bit of pot and drinks a bit to take off the edge).  He said that while he was in prison (the mental ward), he heard the voice of God speak to him ever-so-gently, telling him not to lie or steal, and from that guidance he was able to forgive his perpetrators and felt an enormous energy course through him, freeing him from his pain albeit momentarily. He has worked hard over the years, defying expectations, doing every job from lifting concrete blocks to landscaping to waterproofing roofs. His story is featured in the documentary Low Down Tracks about Toronto’s street musicians. He says that the newspapers won’t feature it because they don’t want the city to look bad, and that it would shine a bad light on the situation of homelessness in Toronto and across Ontario.

I could have spent all day by the lake, but realized I was late so I headed to Yarina’s which was definitely the highlight of my day. I love her so much! I got to play with the baby and talk about Navratri and Dussera with her and Sandro. I’m really grateful to have them in my life – it always feel like home. And I swear that baby could melt the stoniest heart – she is the cutest thing in the world!!

Omigod I almost forgot – I met a lady earlier in the day (she must be called the ‘pigeon lady’) in front of SickKids that attracts all the pigeons and sits peacefully among them. She reminded me of a man that I met at St. James park that feeds the squirrels.

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Woman with the pigeons, SickKids Hospital

I really want to write about what I read in If Nuns Ruled the World, but it’s almost 10 PM and I have to get home and get a good night’s sleep before my first day of work!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wake Me Up Out Of My Slumber

11:48 PM. It was a bad idea to come home and do my body scan meditation before starting to write! I really should write while all the ideas are fresh in my head and I’m going off the energy and excitement of the day.

It was nice to sleep in and then walk to my creative writing class. We explored character and how important character is to a story; all other aspects – setting, plot, language – are attached to character. And what makes a great character is inner conflict – a person who is torn between two (or more) conflicting thoughts/ideas/emotions that cause them to act often irrationally, inconsistently, or at least explains their behaviour and the motivations behind it. It is important that the story reveals what the character really cares about in terms of long-term and short-term goals. And is what they say they want really what they want? We gave some examples of characters in movies/books that stood out for us. I thought of Lord Rama in the Ramayana, and how he battles with himself throughout the story. Especially in the seventh, often hidden book, where he decides to send Sita to live alone in the forest because society does not accept her after she has lived in another man’s home (Ravana’s). He is conflicted and torn, and whatever decision he makes is sure to lead to great pain. It sucks when both options are painful – sometimes you are likely to pick the less painful one, but really it gives you an opportunity to actually do the right thing, because either way it’s not going to be easy.

After class I walked to Balzac’s, where I read a few chapters of The Color of Grace. It is a beautiful story about a young woman who goes to Uganda to help children that have suffered greatly due to war. She is deeply affected by what she sees and through the depths of her soul, offers all that she has to her work, to God, to the children, and all those she encounters. It is unbelievable to read her diary entries and witness the depths of her own suffering and of the little souls she encounters, and to find beauty, hope, and resilience through incredible hardship and trauma. In one of her diaries, she references the great poet Khalil Gibran:

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls, the most massive characters are seared with scars.

Interesting… I’m just now noticing that the quote I chose actually links to the ‘character’ theme of today’s class – so cool! Today was actually a huge synchronistic day for me… I saw my number (69) probably at least 20 times. On license plates, signs, addresses of buildings… it was everywhere! I’ve gotten so used to it now that it no longer surprises me but is a constant reminder that the universe is alive and there is an underlying force that connects everything and everyone. It is comforting, sometimes scary, and always beautiful. I wish I could say that it was enough to wake me up out of my slumber, but it seems I’m taking my time – the conditions aren’t quite right and I get defeated easily still. But all that is changing and I have lots of hope for this year! I’m so behind on all my resolutions but I know I’ll get them all done because it’s just the way I am. When I say I’m going to do something, I do it.

Following Balzac’s I went to see Daniel Clowes speak at the reference library. I haven’t been there in awhile and it felt good to be back. It was an engaging discussion about his career and his process in creating the comics and how he sees comics making a comeback and becoming more popular in the future. Following that I walked all the way home! I’m proud of myself for completing the 10km today because I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it!

 

Breasts Like Cups of Nectar

I went to the ROM today and was mesmerized by the bee colony. The kind gentlemen who works there spent probably twenty minutes explaining the inner workings of the colony, and how everything works synchronously, with all the bees doing their own part without being told what to do (don’t you wish humans were like that?!). It seems as though it’s by magic that everyone knows their roles, without being told, bribed, or without any hope of reward. Basically the queen bee runs the show, the worker bees know exactly what to do in their respective roles, and the drones are only needed to fertilize the queens. The feminist part of me loves this – impregnate me and get out of my way. Ha! The drones die soon after mating, or else they are ejected by the worker bees once the food runs out.

I listened with fascination as he told me how some bees may return to the colony drunk off the pollen. These drunk bees are killed because they are useless and can’t work. Bees get bloated with the honey and pollen and when they return to the colony, they regurgitate it to release it and put it into the cells. There are undertaker bees that carry away the dead bees and dispose of them far from the hive (so that animals are not alerted to the presence of the hive). Everyone has their role, their duty, and nothing is out of place. Everything is exactly as it should be.

So fitting because it is similar to what was discussed in my Myth & Meaning class this morning. The teacher is Raj Balkaran who is a gifted storyteller and scholar in comparative mythology. He talked about Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell and the Hero’s Journey. All of us are on a hero’s journey. A part that struck me was when he described his conversation with his friend who was experiencing deep grief, and he said to him “think of when King Dashartha had to part with Rama when he went into the forest for 14 years” and his friend was able to see that his grief was not unique, it was a shared human experience.

The power of narratives and stories is that it sheds light onto human experience, which has lost perspective in the age of reason, where everything is logical and not valued unless scientifically proven. He talked about a subtle reality that exists, where energies align and events occur that appear like coincidences but are actually examples of this synchronicity at work. I’ve experienced this myself quite profoundly over the last 3 years, with the number 69 appearing over and over (God only knows why that is my number!), suddenly tuning into the time at 11:11 over and over, and having thoughts that lead to my questions being answered, or running into the person I was thinking about, or something or someone coming into my life that addresses my very thought or intention.

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At the Eastern civilization exhibit, I came across a beautiful picture of a dancing gopi. Gopis are the dancing cowgirls who were all in love with Krishna, and would leap out of their beds and leave whatever they were doing when they heard the enchanting sound of Krishna’s flute. Gopis were in a state of constant ecstacy, because of their complete surrender to Krishna and abandonment of their self-consciousness and wordly obligations. There is nothing that could stand in the way between them and their beloved. Gopis are revered because they exhibit the purest love that only complete devotion can yield. Radha was Krishna’s favourite gopi, and the two of them enjoyed many ‘loving pasttimes’ together (aka sex).

Then I went to visit the dinosaurs. I feel like a little kid in this exhibit, because I cannot believe that there was a time when dinosaurs roamed the earth!!!

me at the rom

Overall an amazing day! I wish I could spend every day at the ROM!