The Examined Life – Ideas of Philosophy from Someone Too Young to Have a Philosophy

11 Nov

This week when I met with a gentleman at the Max the Mutt Animation Studio in Toronto, I got a bit of an ego stroking. He told me, “Chantalle, I loved your essay so much I read it twice. I don’t often see so much philosophy in the entrance essay”. I was a little caught off guard. I hadn’t thought I had included much philosophy, but then I remember that I had written this little gem.

“Wanting something with everything that you are is the definitive act of being human. When we strive for our goals with tireless ambition, we often relate ourselves to Gods, when in actuality, we couldn’t be more as men.”

…and I suppose I can understand what he meant by philosophical. I’ve spent much of my young life hearing from people that I was “wise beyond my years”, and let somehow I never managed to believe that I was.

A good friend of mine gave me the reality check I needed when I sat down in the car, frustrated that despite my best efforts, the school would not accept me without seeing more of my art (which I didn’t have). She asked me: “Why do you rely on other people to tell you something about the way you are? Just believe it for yourself and you’ll never need anyone to stroke your ego”. She then promptly told me to get rid of my ego all together.

Well, that’s another topic all together, and a much larger pill to swallow, let me tell you.

Sometimes even I’m surprised with what comes out of my mouth. I once had someone tell my mother that I had an “old soul”, and regardless of my lac of spirituality, that nameless woman’s opinion of my (which was in my infancy, I might add), has followed me around my entire life.

Further on in my essay, there was the line…

“Art is something I’ve always loved. To me there’s something phenomenal about taking a physical, tangible object, and using it to make you express something completely intangible. Our eyes follow lines, assess colours, we reminisce, we become nostalgic, we appreciate, and this is how art captures us. Artists have a depth of being that they want to share with the rest of the world. Whether through music, or paintings, or any other medium, connecting with an audience on a deeper level is always the aim of any artist.”

I suppose that’s why I always wanted to be an artist. I believe that I see the world in a different way than most people. Maybe my ego has something to do with that opinion, but then again, maybe it doesn’t. We all see the world through a different set of eyes. Is there a sense of superiority in believing that the artist’s is worth sharing more than that of the average Joe? Possibly, but there’s a lot of shitty art out there now-a-days; just look at the Jonas Brothers.

Truth be told, I examine my life on a regular basis, and I think it’s important to know where you stand, and ultimately be able to describe the world you see through your eyes to others, so that they might share your perspective, or see things from a different angle.

Plato said that a life unexamined is not worth living. I’ll go a step further and say that an unshared examination of one’s own life is not lived. Sharing who we are, and how we perceive our world is the only way to really connect to other people, and in the end, the only thing that truly enriches our lives is how we connect with others.

… but then, as a master of short quotes, that may have been too much of a mouthful from Plato.

When I left high-school, I saluted by English teacher, quoting the Walt Whitman poem: “O Captain, my Captain!”, because he made me see the world from a different perspective and opened me up to books and stories that would further facilitate the broadening of my horizons. I hope one day to be able to do that for others as well, and I hope that I can do it through my attitude, through my writing, and through my art.

do ALL the things!

8 Nov

All of them you say, my good man?

It’s fair to say that everyone has a bucket list. Whether you actually take the time to write it down or if you have a short list of things just stored in your head, you know that there are at least a few things that you need to do before you kick the bucket.

My list now had 283 things on it.

Some of which include:

- Learn to play the guitar
- Drive cattle on horseback through the Australian outback
- Learn to SCUBA dive
- Drive a very expensive car through the streets of Tokyo at night
- Win big in Vegas

Truth be told, I have a lot of stuff that I have to accomplish. When I tell people this they immediately go into this whole over-sensitive attitude. They say things like: “Don’t push yourself too hard…” or “You’re putting too much pressure on yourself!”

Better yet some people even say: “You can’t learn how to do all these things! You need to pick a couple so you can focus and excel in them.”

Since when did everyone become such pansies? Seriously! Don’t be too hard on yourself? We should all be demanding MORE from ourselves. You think anybody got anything done with that attitude?

Heheheh… Joke’s on them though, because you want to know a secret?

I CAN LEARN ANYTHING I WANT AND PERFECT IT TO MASTERY!

Listen, I’m not asking to cure cancer here… I’m not looking to go to the moon (although that would be amazingly cool). I’m looking to have some experiences in my life. I want to go back to school and become a comic book artist. I want to read 15 books a year. I want to run a marathon. I want to learn a language. I want to learn how to play guitar.

And that’s just in the next five years!

I’ve been trying to figure out why on Earth anyone would possibly say to someone “You can’t/shouldn’t do this”. And now, don’t get me wrong, people aren’t telling me no… but they are trying to limit me in some way, enough for me to begin questioning if it’s possible to do all the things I want to do. What I do know is that whether you think that you can or you can’t, you’re right.

If one wants to get a lot of things accomplished than one must get into the habit of being dedicated and making sure time is had for everything. Because my work schedule to so erratic, I’m going to assign tasks to specific days of the week. On its assigned day, I’ll be sure to spend an hour or two on that specific task, and by the end of the week, I’ll feel more accomplished.

Sunday – Reading
Monday – Drawing
Tuesday – Writing
Wednesday – Guitar
Thursday – Reading&Drawing
Friday – Writing
Saturday – Guitar

There, now that doesn’t seem like too much, does it? Now the trick is sticking to it.

Oh, and for those of you who don’t think it’s possible to dedicate yourself to so many things; to you I say…

 

 

This Ain’t No Disney Park Ride, Boy! – Why the world our parents grew up in is not the world we live in today.

16 Sep

Recently having watched a documentary on the dangers of anti-depressant use in children, I speculated for a moment exactly why problems like Autism, ADHD, and other behavioural issues have only reared their heads in recent years.

But let’s take a step back for a moment.

I see and speak to my Great-Grandmother on a fairly regular basis. I visit her about once a week, and we talk about topics as light as the weather, to as heavy as life and death. Recently we’ve been speaking a lot more about health, and in particular, cancer. Now, to most people my age, cancer is something we hear about and see every day. We’re constantly reading in the news about cancer rates spiking, or hearing about some new kind of cancer impervious to treatment. So, imagine my surprise when she says, “I don’t get it! When I was a kid, none of the old people died from cancer. None of the young people, neither. Cancer was just something no one ever worried about.”

I think at this point, we know what the cause of most major disease is – modernization. Back when my Great-Grandmother was a child, plastic was a very rare thing. You certainly weren’t cooking your meals in it, nor were you drinking your water out of it. Plastic was an industrial product, and companies didn’t start benefiting from it’s convenience until much later. It wasn’t until the 40′s that we started using plastics to preserve our meals. and right up until the 60′s Coca-Cola bottled all their beverages is glass. Now, Coke’s been in the market for over 100 years… but it’s only recently that they’ve started using modernizations like plastic and HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup). I’d say if it was only the Coca-Cola company who was using these products, then it’s no big deal! Take a minute and look around your house. You can probably spot ten things in the room you’re in alone that are created using plastic.

Oil’s been called a lot of things, one of my personal favourite’s is the “Devil’s Blood”. People don’t seem to realize how much havoc it’s reaping in our lives. Oil runs cars and machines that pollute the air, their bi-products create plastic which pollute the ground, the oceans and our bodies. And when I tell my Great-Grandmother this… she just shakes her head and looks out the window. Her view is of the hospital where my Mother received her cancer diagnosis.

“They don’t care about us,” she tells me rather sadly. “They care about money, but they don’t care about us.” Then with a defiant finger, she points up the sky and raises her eyebrows over the rim of her massive old-lady glasses and says, “Their money won’t save them from God.”

To which I replied, “Grandma, that’s the most badass thing you’ve ever said.”

But, I digress. I wonder what would happen to the state of the world and the state of our health if we abandoned these modern conveniences. They say if you have pain, that’s just a symptom of a bigger issue. Well, I suggest to you that diseases like cancer, ADHD, maybe even Autism (who’s rates have surged since the 1980′s) are symptoms of a sick society. Our society has been made sick by oil, and the greed of a few rich men.

Perhaps my Grandmother is right… they really don’t care about us. So, if they’re not going to care, then we need to start taking care of ourselves. All I can do is hope that there is a God, because the greedy can’t evade justice forever… and as I remember, greed is a deadly sin.

Oh, What is There Left to do But Hope and Pray?

12 Sep

Fuck Cancer.

I look out in to the world, and I see so many things. I see happiness and beauty. I see love and hope. But there so many other things like pain, suffering, loss…

I think that if one day, God came down to all of us, and said “Tell me one good reason why I shouldn’t wipe you out, all your hungry, and your disease and start from scratch all over again… I would tell him to look into the most beautiful parts of humanity. Look to our compassion, and our hope to make things better. These are never things you will see on a large scale, but only things you will see in the hearts of each person. These are little things, that you will not hear in the voice of politicians, or in the plight of the economies of countries. These are the things you hear in prayer.

I pray, not to God but to all of us that we might find happiness among the pain, and hope among the hopelessness. In times like these, what is there left to do but pray.

Review: Movie – The Beaver

10 Sep

Now, before we start off of this whole journey, let’s get one thing straight. As a person, I don’t like Mel Gibson. He’s made it pretty clear that he’s anti-Semitic, racist against blacks, and violent towards women. A lot of people use this as justification to NOT support his films and other endeavours. That being said, I don’t give a shit about who Mel Gibson is personally when it comes to his career. He is and has always been a very talented actor. I first saw him in the World War One film Gallipoli, and even then I thought he was amazing.

I try to keep my professional opinions and my personal opinions as far apart as I can. Professionally, Mel Gibson is very good at his job. Personally, I would not be his friend.

Moving on.

I’ve been wanting to see The Beaver for a very long time. As most of you know, I’m very, very into film. I’ve known about the screenplay for quite some time. It was listed among some of the best screenplays that had yet to be made into films as of 2009. When I heard that it had finally been picked up by Jodie Foster and her production company, I was excited. When I heard that Mel Gibson had finally been cast, I was disappointed, hoping that the original choice, Jim Carrey would get the spot.

But now, having finally watched it, I don’t know if anyone could portray the character “Walter Black” with as much dignity and as much genuine emotion as Gibson.

The Beaver appears to take place in a smallish New England town, and most of the major characters form the Black family – a dysfunctional, but generally loving tribe who are coping with the mental illness of their figurehead: Walter Black. Walter is very obviously suffering from a pretty debilitating case of depression. His family suffers through this for years until finally, his wife (Jodie Foster), pushed to the brink, decides it’s best if they live apart, for the betterment of their children. The couple has two sons, a younger son, Henry, who is tortured at school by bullies and wishes himself invisible, and an older son, Porter, who seems to have lost all patience in regards to his father.

Soon after being kicked out, Walter, finding a discarded beaver puppet, rents out a hotel room and attempts suicide, twice. What stops him from being successful the second time is a voice that sounds remarkably like a cockney version of Gibson’s true Aussie accent. The voice calls out “Hey!” and Walter falls back in a drunken stupor, knocking himself unconscious. The Beaver is then introduced as Walter’s inner confidence and acts as a liaison between Walter and the rest of his family, trying hard to make amends through an unlikely channel.

This film takes a very interesting look at mental illness/depression. Early on after the beaver is introduced to the Black family, we learn that Walter’s father also had depression, and ended up committing suicide because of it. It’s interesting to note that depression can sometimes be inherited, and can often times represent itself in mid-life, particularly in men. Slowly his family softens to the idea of Walter reaching out, the hardest one to reach being his eldest son, Porter.

I don’t want to give away too much, but this film is worth watching. Sometimes it’s so easy to disregard people because of their actions without giving pause to consider what emotions are making them act the way they are. I can empathize with Walter’s character. Since my mother passed, I know sometimes I’ve been acting strangely, maybe even a bit more reserved, generally doing or saying things that are not in my character. People sometimes don’t realize that mental illness, depression, a sudden loss of confidence, takes many forms and has many, many faces. Using compassion and understanding in these cases can serve to make you more human than just protecting yourself from these people for what you believe may be your own good.

This is a four star movie, folks. Please take the time to rent, or download it. Either way, if you know and care about someone with depression, you’ll be glad you did.

Addendum: Upon an additional viewing of the ending, I think I should add that this film is not JUST about depression. It’s a SEVERE case of depression, and includes suggestions of mania, self-harm, attempts of suicide and delusional psychosis. The end gets pretty extreme, but really doesn’t surprise me. If you are sensitive to these subjects then I may suggest that you do not watch this film. If you suffer from or believe you may suffer from depression, please contact a psychiatric professional.

My Love-Hate Relationship with the Pearson International Airport

1 Sep

There’s a line Hugh Grant’s character in Love Actually recites while considering Heathrow International Airport in London. He says:

“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion… love actually is all around.”

And this is very much the way I’ve always felt about airports. They’re usually the only places in the city where people of all different races, tribes, and religions congregate to welcome home loved ones. Sometimes it’s only been a couple weeks, sometimes there are tearful reunions, put on display for a world of perfect strangers to see. No one ever rolls their eyes in disgust of their emotion. No one is ever unhappy to see someone again after an absence. Most everyone in the arrivals section of the airport is happy, excited, waiting for someone whom they’ve been waiting for… and it’s always a beautiful feeling when the waiting is over.

But it’s funny how much a tone can change on such a short escalator ride; for at the Toronto Pearson International Airport, those departing are transported skyward, and the ascent is flavoured too much like a voyage to heaven. Friends and family wait in line as their loved ones check into their flights early. Overpriced coffee shops are often dotted with tearful goodbyes, or promises of seeing one another soon – some of which will never be fulfilled.

Goodbyes are often so hard, and coming from someone who has had so many of them this year, I can tell you that there is a sickly sweetness in the melancholy of goodbye; whether it be forever, or for only a few months. Even if for a moment, there’s a period of time afterwards where you’re left with the feeling that although someone is gone, they’re still with you, and that in itself is such a beautiful feeling.

So you see, there’s really nothing to hate about the airport, even though it might seem like there is at the time. People coming, people going, friends returning, and loved ones leaving – all of it such a rich tapestry of emotion housed in marvels of engineering and architecture.

Truly humanity at it’s finest.

Update in the Life and Times

29 Aug

The irregularity in which I post this blog truly is pathetic. Not to say that I haven’t been writing at all. Quite the contrary, I believe if anything I’ve been writing too much. However, every time I post here, I always end up confessing that I’ll make more of an effort to post more often. Before I know it, nearly two months has passed and this wayward project of mine gets placed on the back burner once more.

How sad…

Regardless of the fact that I’m unemployed and have been how for about five months, time feels like it’s moving at a mile a minute. Indeed it’s been seven months to the day since my Mother’s funeral, and it hardly feels like I’ve blinked. However, It does feel like I’ve wasted an abundance of time. People who know me will argue and tell me that it’s just not the case… sometimes I can’t help but wonder if this is what the rest of life is going to feel like – a listless, floating existence without cause or direction. I feel so powerful and yet there’s nothing to really direct it toward. I feel capable of everything, and yet I don’t really want to do anything.

In my concern for my mental health, I turned to a therapist. He asked me some pretty poignant questions that I hadn’t really considered, which was refreshing, because I was under the impression that I had asked myself every question there was. I left feeling a little more broken than when I went in, but I had expected that. You can’t fix something without breaking it first, and I had spent a great deal of time trying to hold my shit together.

It’s my hope that in the coming months, things will start to become a little more clear, but right now my emotions are a pretty murky place.

Besides that, I took a bartending course a couple weeks ago, and it turned out to be way more fun than I was expecting. I thought I knew quite a bit about alcohol, but I was put to shame several times. That being said, whenever our instructor would ask, “Has anywhere here ever try a [insert cocktail name here]?” I raised my hand almost each and every single time. All with the exception of the Caipirinha, which I have not tried due to the fact that it’s popularity is centred mostly around Brazil. So… I want to say that it was embarrassing, but it became a point of pride as the week went on. I met some awesome people there too. One of which I hope will teach me Chinese, and the other who I hope I can schedule wine-tastings with. But, I digress.

The last couple months have been exciting. I got to meet a few people that I otherwise might not have been able to meet. I did some things that I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do. I saw U2 in concert, I learned a craft I’d always wanted to learn, and I started my journey of fully appreciating time. Now that I’ve not been working for as long as I have, I’m beginning to wonder how anyone can enjoy even a fraction of life by spending their time at work. So much so that I’ve made myself a solemn vow:

I will never, ever work another desk job as long as I live.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.