A Saunter by the Sea
We wandered with no destination.
The journey was the destination.
We strolled along the seawall, following it around Stanley park. The ocean on our left, and a forest on our right.
Here we were a stones throw from high-rises, yet immersed in nature.
It was refreshing.
The salt air filling my lungs. I breathed it deeply in. Felt my batteries recharging after the long months of winter.
We talked as we walked.
Content to speak of whatever came to our minds.
Speaking of new ways to educate,and old as well, of future generations, speaking of our pasts, our future plans, speaking of romance, of friendship, much laughter, and sprinkled with some people watching.
It’s interesting, those people you meet, when a friendship is still new, yet somehow it’s length it meaningless, you feel as though you have know each other for far longer. Paths crossing serendipitously. Fast forming friendships. Maybe we had met before, in another lifetime perhaps.
We amused ourselves with the differing types of people on the journey. Runners in spandex, women in make-up, camera ready tourists sporting fanny-packs. Young and old, and everything in between. They all converged here along the waterfront. All of us on a journey by the sea.
How different we all were. Yet how much the same.
People. Just people.
I walked many miles during my stay.
The next day was a day to myself. My hosts were working, as they have a tendency to do.
I decided on more walking.
I walked down to English Bay, this time keeping the ocean on my right.
I could see across to Kitsilano. It looked nice, I decided to explore.
I walked the waterfront to Burrard Bridge where I crossed over false creek. A commanding bridge with views of English Bay and the city.
After crossing the bridge I wandered into a strip of cafes and eateries, but I wasn’t hungry and my caffeine addiction had been satiated for the moment. So I decided to take my journey elsewhere. I veered right. I walked along residential streets, gazing at homes old and new, and mostly large. BMWs and Mercedes Benzs lined the street. This was a place of the monied, the wealthy, the affluent.
I had wandered into Point Grey.
My feelings were mixed.
I could appreciate the beauty of these homes, large and impressive, with glass windows that a church might envy, hedges that towered over the passersby, and fences of stone and wrought iron.
And yet in the same breath I found them repugnant, excessive, and vain. How many people occupied these homes? How many square feet per person? How much adornment purely for the ego of a few? I peered into driveways lined with luxury SUVs and sports cars and thought about the people that were riding crowded buses with their arms full of groceries and their children in strollers. I wondered how many bedrooms there were, and how many of the beds remained empty on a given night. The guest bedrooms where no guests slept.
I thought of the man I saw sleeping on the street last night.
How can one have so much, and another so little?
I walked on.
I crossed paths with the wealthy residents.
Some in expensive track suits out for their daily jog.
We smiled at each other and said “hello.”
They were friendly and warm, when I acted in-kind.
They didn’t seem evil or covetous, just people. Fellow victims of culture. Hiding behind stone fences and gates. Protecting their amassed wealth from a world that wished to take it. Making vainglorious gestures of wealth to adhere to a cultural expectation.
“Keeping up with the Joneses.”
My emotions were like a mixing vat, shifting between pity and loathing, sympathy and antipathy, empathy and enmity. I wanted to smash their homes and their luxury automobiles, while simultaneously wanting to comfort them, tell them it was alright, tell them that they don’t need these “things.”
What does one man do amidst so much disparity, so much vanity, so much frivolity, so much iniquity?
He walks on.
And so I did…
I came to a small park overlooking the ocean. There were stairs leading down to the waterfront.
I decided to take my path away from the million-dollar-homes and went down.
It was an interesting place. Above the escarpment, were the mansions of the wealthy, but down here was an untouched coastline. Birds we feasting where the tide had receded, mosses and seaweed grew prolifically on the rocks. It was quiet, the sounds of the city above were unable to reach me here. I felt as though I could have been on some lost coastline away from the swells of humanity. The skyline of the city centre was across the bay from me, it seemed like an intrusion upon the hills surrounding it, like a foothold clinging to the land, trying not to be engulfed by the sea. And maybe that’s exactly what it was.
I walked along the waters edge, watching nature play out it’s endless cycles. Animals feeding, and subsequently being fed upon. In the background were the massive vessels, trading ships from far off lands, moored in the bay and waiting to load and unload their valuable cargo. What treasures did they hold? I wondered as I looked upon them. Some brought shipments up the coast from the far south; fruits from Chile and Ecuador, Panama and Guatemala. Others brought goods manufactured in far off cities to the west, the lands of the east; plastic toys from China, colour TVs from Japan, sunglasses from Indonesia.
What a strange way we choose to organize ourselves, we humans.
In some strange paradox of mathematics this has become the most cost effective way to operate. We mine resources here in my homeland. We then ship them to the lands of the orient, where they are formed into goods. We then place them back on a ship and bring them back to be sold here.
It’s said to be the most cost efficient way. I can’t see how. Not in reality anyway. I mean the cost of shipping these goods to the far side of the world and back again, how can that make it cheaper? The logic escapes me. But perhaps we are living in a world not held to the standards of logic. A world operating on some fantasy principle of the globalized economy. We are so wrapped up in it that we can no longer see the truth of the matter: It is flawed. It is unsustainable. It cannot go on forever.
How does one save a world that doesn’t want to be saved?
I sat upon the rocks overlooking the sea as I pondered this question. Watching the birds feed and the ships float. Trying to find some sort of solution.
I have realized some core truths over the course of my life. The words of wise men reaching out from the past to touch me here in the present.
The only thing one can change is the self.
I can’t change anyone else. I can give freely of the knowledge I have, the realizations I have come to, but in truth the mind of each individual is truly the realm of themselves. I cannot force it to change, and therefore I should not attempt change through force.
Violence will only beget more violence.
For every revolution there is a counter-revolution.
“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.”
Then what is it I should do?
Shine a light in the dark corners of our mind.
Bring light to the things we fail to look upon.
Inspire and encourage.
We live in fear of the unknown.
We fear the path we do not walk.
We cling to the status quo.
The “status quo,” what a funny concept. The status quo is gone the moment it is acknowledged.
Nothing remains the same. All is change.
Always changing in all ways.
We cling to the familiar. It feels safe. We know this ground, we have walked it before. Yet all we are doing is walking in circles. Over and over we walk the same path.
If we do this how do we progress?
If the great thinkers had stuck to the “status quo” we would not be where we are today.
Electricity, technology, philosophy, democracy, equality – all these were once novel ideas. Ideas feared by those adherents to the status quo. And now? They have become the “status quo.”
It is a constantly changing thing. We don’t always realize it because of our “short” lifespans. We don’t truly understand life before.
Imagine life before the automobile, how different the world would be. Life before the cellphone, or the telephone. Imagine a world where one man could “own” another man, or a hundred other men. If we had stuck to the status quo you would not be reading these words right now. There would be no internet, no computer, no printing press, no written language in fact.
Change, the only constant.
So how does one man stand against the “status quo?” How does a man fight the stagnation of fear?
He lives a life without fear.
He is fearless, he embraces change, he becomes change.
If I can truly only change myself, then that is what I must do. Change myself. Grow.
Hope to be an example to others.
Hope that by making changes within the self, others will be inspired to change themselves.
Reach out to others and say “be not afraid.” Change is what we are. Change is what we are meant to be.
Let us fulfil our purpose. Let us be change. Let us grow.
Embrace the change.
Change the world.
I said a thank you for what I had received.
The realizations I had the fortune of experiencing.
It was very much like a prayer.
Nothing versed, nothing rehearsed.
A genuine thank you to whomever was there beside me.
To all those who have walked this path before.
To all those who will walk the path after I am gone.
A thank you to all the events that had brought me to this moment,
sitting upon the rocks, looking upon the sea.
I had sauntered aimlessly, and yet here I was at my destination.
Serendipity drawing me endlessly
Exactly where I needed to be.
Thank you and
The Journey is not yet over…
Stay tuned for parts 4 & 5