March 6, 2018
"There's random snowflakes in the air and the sky is shades of gray. I'm trying something different this morning. I'm here in bed listening to Taylor Swift videos and drinking my coffee".
I am a creature of habit. I have a fairly set routine and I have grown comfortable with it. At least that is what I tell myself.
Every morning of a day I am scheduled to work I do basically the same thing. I wake up. I use the washroom. I make coffee. I surf the internet checking my emails and Twitter. I get ready for work and I leave. There are slight variances in the routine. For example I might go onto the metaverse, or watch a couple Youtube videos. I might wander upstairs, if I do not work until after 3pm and therefore do not leave until 2pm, to let the dog and cats out or in and see the sunshine for a minute or two. I have a fairly set routine and I have grown comfortable with it. Not really.
It has been my routine for over a year now. When I was living in Alberta I did things similar to what I am doing now. Sometimes, on a rare occasion, I would go out and sit on the back deck while drinking my coffee but only rarely.
On this particular morning I noted in my journal I decided to try something different. It was a nice change from my routine. It was a change I wish I could bring myself to do more often. But then, alas, with my OCD it would have to be a permanent change as "random" just does not work for people like me.
I have mild undiagnosed OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). I do not need a doctor to tell me I have it and give me drugs. I can live with it. Sometimes my OCD works in my favour. It has helped me to be a more productive worker and to have routines that keep me working. When I wanted it to these routines helped to advance my career or to run my own business. Sometimes an even mild obsession for detail can be a good thing. One time it helped me to get a promotion.
I sat down in a meeting with my boss. He wanted to tell me about a management position opening up in the company and he felt that I was qualified for the job. "Let's face it, you're anal when it comes to details and that's a good thing" he said, I am paraphrasing a bit but not much he really did call me "anal". My attention to detail was a symptom of my OCD, a desire for, maybe not perfection but certainly close to it. I applied for the job and got it, the first step in a four year management career. I later left the company for other opportunities but I always remember why I got the job - basically my OCD. I have a fairly set routine and I have grown comfortable with it, unless I want to have fun.
On the other hand, however, my OCD can be a negative thing.
First, a point I won't get into much, is how my OCD can clash with the randomness of others and their routines. I do not feel like discussing sociology today so I will save that for a future blog (in other words procrastinate on it until I have forgotten about it).
I am sitting here on my bed, my computer is on a low table so I just sit on my bed to use it. I have to have my books piled beside me in a certain way. There is a clipboard with my daily To Do notebook on it (I will go into that OCD routine a bit later). My journal sits above next to another notebook in which I keep some login information. While a bit over to the right is my metaverse log where I write things down for my roleplay characters. Financial papers are in another pile, but separated between those that need to be filed and those I might want to refer to in the next few minutes.
My To Do notebook. If you read it right now you would see this:
First, let me explain each entry a bit more.
Finances - means I need to update my budget or my accounting book on transactions I have done in the past day or ones coming up that need to be recorded.
Journal - my diary, reminding me I should write in my diary
CJ - stands for "Corran Journal" telling me that I need to write a roleplay story for my metaverse website
blog - is this blog, reminding me to write an entry
laundry? - this is reminding me to do a load of laundry today, the question mark is because someone else's laundry is in the washer and dryer so my doing a load is dependent on them getting theirs out of the way
Gathering - metaverse online get together tonight at 8pm I need to attend because I am hosting it
And then, schedule, the start times over the next day to seven days that my shifts are at work.
So, "what is the problem" you are asking yourself, a lot of people keep 'To Do' lists. That is true, they do. There isn't really a problem so much as pointing out how mild OCD appears in my day to day world. The OCD comes into my routine with the entries in the notebook, in particular "Finances, journal, blog". I write these in the book every day whether I intend to do them or not. I write them even after I have done them. Imagine, for example, today. I just wrote my list about an hour ago. I had already worked on my finances. I have to include it though because it is a part of my day.
The 'To Do' list serves a dual purpose as a past and future log of my activities, sometimes better and more frequently than my journal.
Small changes in routine can take months even years to achieve. You see how those entries are preceded with small boxes. That step is so I can check things off (like Finances) as I do them. For a while, July to September last year, I would scribble black the boxes of things I didn't get done. It was a way to tell me to add them to tomorrow's list. But then after a week of procrastinating I realized that this method was not working so I stopped. Those boxes used to be lines. An underscore that would be the place I would add my checkmark. I tried circles instead of boxes, that lasted one day.
And yes, as I am writing this I checked off "blog" and added the notation "- OCD" next to it. I keep detailed records of my day to day life more out of obsession and routine than the need to ever look back to see what I have done. That being said I have looked back before, it has come in handy when there is a financial issue such as a delayed payment or I am waiting for someone to reimburse me. I can look back, hopefully, and see when I last communicated with the person on the issue. I have a fairly set routine and I have grown comfortable with it. It serves me when I need to argue something.
Everything has its place. Now, what makes my OCD "mild" is that while things have their place those places are not absolutely set in stone as they are for someone with severe OCD. My routines are fluid, not so much in the outcomes, but the steps to achieve them.
If something is out of place it can cause mild anxiety. Let's say I just ate a sandwich and my crumb filled plate is sitting by my side here on the bed. If it is to my left, as the place I put food dishes, my OCD will kick in. The plate can not be sitting by my side. I have to put it further back, on the bed, out of my peripheral vision. If I can still see it I have to move it a bit further until it is out of view. This is temporary, mind you, it won't sit there for hours because another OCD check kicks in and I have to get up, clean the plate off, and place it back on the shelf.
This step kicks in immediately if I change positions on the bed. If I decide to lay down to watch a movie then that can lead to other steps depending on what position I lay in to watch the movie. If I am sitting, with my back to the wall, then the plate must be cleared immediately as this new seated position brings the plate into view. If, however, I lay on my side, then the plate is behind me. Depending on what was served on the plate it might sit there for a couple more minutes or the entirety of the movie I was watching.
I am not compulsive, however, as the routines and steps can be delayed or altered slightly but never broken. I find myself experiencing anxiety whenever set steps are delayed. I have not sat down and really analyzed these steps though as I really do not want to know how obsessive compulsive I really am. I have a fairly set routine and I have grown comfortable with it. I wonder what I am missing out though by not stepping outside the lines more often.
I bet you are sitting there asking yourself what the point of this blog entry was. What is the take-away? What can I un-pack from this? Well, nothing basically. I do not write these entries to deliver nearly packaged morsels of sage advice. I write them to express thoughts on my mind, to share with others who might be experiencing the same, perhaps to open dialogue or discussion on a topic. You be the judge of what you can take-away from this. While you do that, I have to go move something.
First, I wanted to clarify a typo I made on my intro page for my website. I had stated that I would donate all of my ad revenues including Orange Key bonuses to charity. I honestly meant to say "part of" my Orange Key bonuses. After all getting people to sign up for Tangerine isn't simply achieved by letting the ad just run on my website. Regularly I forward links to my Twitter (daily), Google Plus and other accounts encouraging readers to make the smarter choice and switch to the best bank I've encountered out there.
I mean, seriously, can you name another bank that pays you INTEREST on your CHEQUING (checking) account?! I can not. I was with RBC before and for the same monthly access to MY money I was PAYING $10.95 in service charges. In two months with Tangerine, my combined accounts have earned me over $3.00 in interest and saved me over $22 in service charges! Don't you think you should try Tangerine? You can find the link on various pages here on my website. Sign up now and you'll get a bonus when you open an account with a reasonable qualifying deposit.
Okay so now that that plug is done I wanted to tell you I noticed that I had a Bonus Payout deposited into my account. I couldn't confirm exactly where it had come from but I did notice a check mark next to the $50 level. So, I have just made a $50 donation to the Second Harvest food services in Toronto, Ontario through the Canada Helps organization.
For those of you who don't know who Second Harvest is their mission is "to rescue and deliver fresh, surplus food to feed people experiencing hunger". They take fresh surplus food from a variety of sources and redistribute it to 2533 social service organizations across Toronto..
I did say when I made my donations I would blog about it here, so, here you go. I just wanted to take this opportunity to say 'thank you'.
UPDATE: The money was a bonus for me joining Tangerine Bank, doesn't matter I still donated $50 to the Second Harvest.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
First, let me begin by saying I am not a scientist or used to writing papers on scientific theory, therefore, I apologize in advance for the simplistic way I have defined things in this blog. I am not trying to write a paper for college I’m trying to express my views as generally as possible to the widest audience of readers. My definitions of each theory will, no doubt, vary some from the experts and from my readers and that is okay. I hope in the end my definition, at least, generally defines the theory.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them in the comment section below or by emailing me. Your emailed comments will be edited and may be shared in future blog postings anonymously.
I have been wanting to write about this for several years, but I felt I did not have a complete grasp on the question until now. It was only around 2010 that I understood one of the theories I will write about below.
What is Pre-determined and fluid?
Pre-determined is defined as “a course defined or decided in advance”.
For example, let us pretend that there are two towns, Town A and Town B that are located on a stretch of Trans-Canada 1 (Interstate 80) twenty kilometres (14 miles) apart from each other. I need to travel from Town A to a meeting in Town B and I am running late.
There are other rural roads available that I could have taken but the best course is clearly defined as TCH-1 (I-80). I will drive the shortest, fastest route to my destination, TCH-1 (I-80). The direction I will take to get to Town B has been predetermined.
Fluid is flowing and more optional in its definition as an “object with no fixed shape that is subject to external forces”. In my example, the objective of my trip does not change. I still need to go from Town A to Town B for a meeting. I will, however, change “I am running late” to “I have two hours to get there”.
The course of the events remains pre-determined. Traveling from one town to the other for a reason. The direction I take there, however, becomes more fluid. The outcome is ultimately the same. I arrive in Town B for a meeting, my arrival time becomes fluid.
The conclusion of a predetermined and fluid future would be that the course of events and outcomes are established, however, the driver (you) gets to choose the course through their actions. Each course remains pre-determined and, overall, not clear to you but the outcome remains the same.
What are Cause and Effect?
A cause is an action and those actions create dozens, if not millions, of effects. It is defined as a “relationship between things where one is the result of the other”. Wikipedia defines “causation” as “in general, a process has many causes, which are said to be causal factors for it, and all lie in its past. An effect can, in turn, be a cause of, or causal factor for, many other effects, which all lie in its future. Causality is metaphysically prior to notions of time and space”.
To summarize causation is defined by Newton’s third law of motion that tells us that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Another name for this is “karma” where each action has an effect and a reaction. Positive actions yield positive effects while negative actions result in negative effects. Now I know some of you are reading this and thinking ‘well that is not an opposite reaction to my action’ and you are correct. In the law of motion, 'Ball A' rolls across the table and strikes 'Ball B'. The ‘pushing’ of 'Ball B' away from 'Ball A' is equal to the force ‘pushing’ 'Ball B' in a direction. Rolling To something and rolling Away from something are opposites.
Let me give you another example. The alarm clock rings. I need to get up for work. Instead of getting up for work I turn off the alarm and remain in bed. An hour later the phone rings and it’s my boss calling asking why I have not shown up for work. I tell them I am sick and staying home. My boss then calls a co-worker and asks them to come into work in my place. They go into work. The result is that my co-worker is at work in place of me based on the chain of events that were created when I turned off my alarm clock.
The theory of cause and effect (causation) was present in the movie “The Butterfly Effect” starring Ashton Kutcher and Amy Smart. (spoiler) To summarize Ashton’s character went back into his past and changed an event. This caused what is known as the butterfly effect. Basically, his character discovered that altering one small action (choice/decision) can have a rippling effect that changes everything else. Causation is the closest thing to “free will” that humans have.
I can not really provide you with a personal experience on this one since it involves going back in time and following a different timeline. There are pivotal moments in my life where my actions, my decisions, changed the course of it entirely.
For example, April 27, 1989, on that day I rode my bicycle down to the park, saw a girl sitting by the bridge and gathered up the courage to speak to her. She would end up becoming my first official girlfriend. We dated for six months and I took a summer job at a lodge for six weeks because of her, right before I went off to college.
On August 27, 1989, we broke up. That was one of the pivotal moments in my life. I went off to college alone and at the edge of depression. I completed my first year but withdrew before my second. I do not have any regrets, but I often wonder what would have happened had she and I stayed together. How my life would have gone from that point involved in a long-distance relationship with someone who could have been emotionally supportive.
What is random chance?
You know these two words “random” and “chance” in your day to day life. Random is when things happen that are not predetermined, and a chance is the random outcome of predetermined actions. Many circles, religious, scientific, like to call this “fate”. When all hope fails, and it seems like the world will not change fate steps in and opens a new possibility.
Now I will not write about how all “random outcomes” are “not random”, I will leave that for another day. If you really want to know about it now you can read this article on the randomness of algorithms. The basic understanding of random chance or fate is the deviation from the original course.
This “fate” or “chance” is present in the movie “The Adjustment Bureau” as the reason for the characters paths crossing even though “the plan” was different for each of them.
Random chance, now I have a story for you that I think falls under this category. Whether it was by the hand of some omniscient power or simply dumb luck it changed the course of my future.
I was thinking about running in the upcoming election for the position of councillor-at-large, but I needed $100 for the application fee. I was living on a very fixed income and owed on a credit card, so I did not know how I would get the money to apply. Then one day fate stepped in.
I was at work doing my job as usual. I was thinking about how I could come up with the money while I was straightening one of the sections in my department. I believed strongly in the ‘law of attraction’ and I was starting to see the ‘signs’ all around me that there was a greater force at work in the universe than just dumb luck.
I turned the corner, looked down at the floor, and there before me was a $100 bill. I looked around and no one was anywhere near the section. I reached down, picked it up, and did a double take around to see if I was being pranked. I held onto that $100 bill for the rest of the day being mindful that someone might report it missing. No one ever did. To be honest, how do you lose a $100 bill? It is not like it would just fall out of your wallet or purse. Someone, something, left it there right where I was about to walk in answer to my desire. I used the $100 for my application fee a few days later and ran in the election. I did not win but events through the course of running changed my life forever, stories for another time.
What is pre-determined and fixed?
I have defined pre-determined above, fixed is exactly that – fixed and unwavering from deviation. Fixed implies that any course has a set pre-determined direction and no matter what you do to try to change it things will be forced back to the path. Think of pre-determined and fixed as the guard-rails along the highway of your life. If you slip off course and hit them they are designed to push you back on the path.
This idea was presented in the movie “The Adjustment Bureau” starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt. (spoiler) To summarize the architect of your predetermined life (the Chairman, in the movie) writes the course your life will take and all possible outcomes of your decisions. There is no “free will” only the ‘appearance of free will’.
My views on this topic
For the longest time, I believed that my life was this way. It seemed like nothing I did would work out for me and my life was heading into a downward spiral. I was not raised this way specifically, but I came to believe that the stereotype was the life that I needed to live. Friends, college, career, marriage, kids, mid-life, retirement, death, in that order. Ironically while I lived my life going through the motions another part of me felt there was absolutely no plan at all. The two worlds collided in 2002 when I saved my soul from dying by asking for a divorce.
I sometimes wonder if life is not fixed. If the victories and pitfalls we experience throughout our lives are not lessons required either for future events in our lives or the conclusion of it. I think the best example to use is the one I call “my minimalism”.
When I owned my store, I could not maintain an apartment and my business and had to live in the back of my store to cut expenses. But when I lost my store to bankruptcy I found myself living in a mock up room in a friend’s basement. I was forced into the lifestyle of having few possessions and only owning the basics that I needed to get by. This minimalist experience prepared me for my next adventure, living and working up north in remote Nunavut.
I spent most of my time up there being shuffled around from room to room never really having a place of my own. And when I returned to Ontario, and to a different restrictive setting, I lived in a small bedroom on the second storey of a cottage sized home. I was there for several months through until spring when I decided to load up my van and head west.
This move out west with no destination in mind required me to live out of my vehicle for a month with none of the comforts of a ‘home’. I would use the facilities at Husky Travel Centres for showers and washroom, and park in many public places like parking lots as campgrounds were not yet open for the season. I had received the skills to take this risk and travel across Canada thanks to losing my store and to living up north.
I say that this is predetermined but fixed in that it gives an example on how skills that are acquired through what seem like cause and effect are required for future events. This implies that our futures are pre-determined and will follow a set course no matter what we do if we ‘go with the flow’.
And now, the survey. I asked 33 people the following question.
“Do you personally believe your individual future life to be…”
And provided them with the four responses, that you read above, to choose from. I did not provide them with my view and, while offered, no one asked for clarification on the definition of any of the choices. I have smart friends and followers.
Here are the results of the survey.
B. Cause and effect 46%
A. Predetermined and fluid 21%
D. Predetermined and fixed 21%
C. Random chance 12%
Nearly the majority of those surveyed, 15 out of 33, believe that “cause and effect” or causation is the governing force behind their own personal future lives.
Now, three people, including myself chose two possibilities. As the question desired only one answer and for the sake of simplification, a response of “mostly B and sometimes C” meant that they dominantly believed that “B. Cause and effect” was the answer.
Another comment I received was “75% B 25% C you really reap what you sow, but there are always those random elements that ‘come out of nowhere’. They are unanticipated, no matter how careful or well prepared you are, sometimes you are ‘saved’ by some eternality that prevents or aborts a bad result”. This response was counted under B – cause and effect. It is interesting to note that these three individuals who answered with two choices all believed that a percentage of their future is left up to random chance.
I answered D 75% and C 25% much like the plot behind the movie “The Adjustment Bureau” mentioned above.
I believe that, while my future has the illusion of being undetermined, it is in fact pre-determined by a force greater than myself. I do wonder sometimes if our world does not have ‘angels’ that adjust the course of events. I do not see the course of our civilization having a ‘finish line’ anywhere in the next few millennia. I believe that fate or chance can add challenges to that fixed course, that things do not always work out ‘to plan’. Perhaps fate is residual ‘free will’ bouncing around in this box of predetermination.
I am curious to know what you think and what your views are. Please respond below or send me an email.
A special thank you to all of the talented photographers and creators who contribute their works to Pixabay for use commercially without the need for credit. It is now my number one source for images for blog articles and other projects.
Yes I am working on a blog about fate and destiny but it will probably be another week before it is done. I'm devoting a lot more time to this than my usual blogs so there is lots of data to gather. Thanks for your patience.
This is going to be a challenging blog entry to write because I did not prepare for it in advance for how quickly I run through the years of my life, perhaps at another time I will write about them and explore them more. Read back in my blog, there is a few interesting things that have happened to me I hope.
My Bell Let's Talk day started rather boring and I was compelled to just follow other Twitter members and retweet inspirational quotes and song lyrics. But the more I thought about it the more I wanted to do something a bit different. Bell Let's Talk is not just about motivating discussion it is about sharing your story with others. In sharing your story, my story, hopefully there are young people out there who will see they are not alone and that if you keep looking ahead there is light beyond the darkness, just reach out. So, my story, yes, that is what I am going to do with you right now.
It begins back around high school, around 1985 or so. I was a nerd back in school and did not make friends easily. The ones I did I kept for many years and treasured some of them more than they will ever know. I wish I could mention names because there are some that deserve to be recognized. So in high school I was shy, nervous around girls, and I rarely did anything to set myself apart from the shadows. Ironically I did run for students council which opened me to criticism but I believe in our democracy and equality for everyone so it was a passion more than anything else. I was depressed a lot, perhaps by environment or by genetics it did not really matter the source but I admit there were a couple times in high school when I felt I couldn't go on. I did think about taking my own life a couple times. One time I thought about strangling myself and another letting myself fall off a high train trestle in our town but both ways had a small percentage of survival so I did not attempt them. I recall many times walking over that trestle at night and staring down into the darkness below.
In around 1987 a friend of mine drowned in the icy river. I remember visiting his grave to talk to him and telling him that he was the lucky one. He escaped all the bullying and sadness. I said on more than one occasion to his grave that I wished I could switch places with him on that mild spring evening. He was a good kid and had a future before him and in my mind it just was not right for him to be taken away when I wanted to leave.
I won't tell you their names but in my senior years, when I ran for students council, I made friends with two girls from the 'popular' crowd. They supported me in my efforts and after I lost the election (to a popular kid) one of the girls told me "you may have lost but you gained the respect of so many students for trying". The support of my friends, all be them few and far between got me through some of the dark days in high school.
There were many days when I was 'popular' not for what I said or did but popular with the bullies, and there were a couple, one in particular whose name I still remember today, he sought to abuse me mentally and embarrass me publicly. I also faced some physical and mental abuse outside of school that I will not go into at this time so I dealt with bullying during a good portion of my waking hours. I do not know how kids today can survive it all. I could not. At 3 o'clock when the bell rang and you went home you could turn off the bullying and turn off the noise. You could sit in front of the television or do your homework or listen to music (I listened to a lot of "instrumental" music during that time that society would later label as emo or slit-your-wrists music) or play with your friends at the local park. Today kids can not escape it with social media and their own smartphones (which I do not agree with). If I lived in today's teen world I would probably not be alive to write this today.
In 1989 I had a girlfriend for six months at the end of high school just after turning 18. We were a match but mis-matched at that time in our lives. She was quite emotional (as many teenage/adult girls can be) and needed attention while I was a short fuse and emotionless at the best of times. There were a number of incidents between us where she needed me to be there emotionally but I was trapped in my own mind and thoughts. We broke up just days before I entered college in August 1990 (not a regret but certainly a mistake).
In college I was faced with even more problems. The stress of finding my own way in life, classes I did not like, professors I did not like, challenges with landlords and others. It was all getting overwhelming. In my spare time I was mentally abused and threatened by another student in the house I rented in. I would hide in my room, which did not have a door by the way, behind the sofa just so he would not know I was there. I would take long walks down along the Kempenfelt Bay to think about the world and my life. My thoughts matched the darkness that surrounded me back in those days (the harbour district back then was empty fields with nothing but a parking lot near the metal statue). I remember one night sitting on the cold, wet snow of a baseball diamond with a 2 litre bottle of Coke just wishing that I could freeze to death and it would all be over.
In college one day I talked with a counsellor who promptly referred me to the mental health facility in Midland, I was even provided a ride up there to talk with two other counsellors. It did not help. In fact quite the opposite. I felt I had put everyone out of their normal routine and traveling all that way (over half an hour by car that I didn't own) was not something I could do several times a week. I felt intimidated and awkward. Now, I had friends in college, a few of them, but I still felt alone. I completed the year and left to move back with my parents.
About a year later I moved down to the city and got a job. Things seem to 'hang on' for a few years but I was still depressed and not taking anything for it. I remember the long walks I would take in Brampton at night. I used to go down along the railroad tracks that ran through downtown and wonder what it would be like to just hop on a train and leave my world behind. I did not date anyone for the years I lived there. I was part of a social circle of online friends and we met a couple times a month down in Metro. They were good friends but I was not really part of the 'inner circle' so I did not do anything with them otherwise. I did fall in love with one of them and remained friends with them for many years afterward but nothing really came of it.
In early 1994 I met someone online, we had a relationship and we married that June. I moved to the US in December and that is when the darkest side of my depression tried to consumed me. I had no support from my spouse or her family and my suicidal thoughts and depression got substantially worse. She lied from the first day I met her and she was mentally abusive and I did my fair share of it in return.
I finally reached out around 1997 and got professional help from the local resources. They tried to counsel me and give me drugs. I have, what you might call, a rather intellectual mind, and could see right through all the therapies and reasonings. Therapy is about trying to change your thoughts and I agree and support it, but when you can see the end of the road and you are depressed you jump to the final block without taking the walk first.
Counsellor: "What do you want to get out of this time in therapy?"
Me: "Well, I don't know but I know this method and this method and this method do this and this and this so that won't work"
Drugs (the medication prescription kind that is) work for some, they stabilize you to help you get back to where you "should" be. I think if you have mild depression or general anxiety you should look to other resolutions though but that's just me.
The environment around you is a big factor in your state of mind, when I left her and moved back to Canada my depression seemed to become a lot more controllable. I did not have several people implying to me I was worthless and a disappointment because I would not bow down to their control or demands. It is about finding and keeping balance in your life and walking away from those people and places that seek to harm you.
I'm straying off track here. The point of all this, from someone who thirty years later still suffers from once or twice a year bumpy rides of depression and undiagnosed general anxiety I can tell you that the support of friends, family, whoever, is key to your survival. Friends are everything because without them you are alone. But I do not want to give the impression that someone must be labelled a "friend" just to care about another.
And if you are someone reading this who knows someone who might be "a little blue from time to time" don't try to cheer them up. People who are depressed don't need 'cheering up', they didn't just choose the wrong type of ice cream they are consumed in a world of darkness where they feel they are worthless and do not matter to the world.
It is not about trying to tell them they are wrong to feel that way. It is not about telling them what they feel is 'not normal'. It is normal. It is a part of the grand puzzle of life but it does not have to be their entire life. With your help by just being there it can change a life. You can save a life when you smile at a stranger or be friendly to someone in line at the grocery store. A simple "hello" is all it takes to prove to someone that they exist and that others 'see' them.
I have loved and been loved. I might not always be smiling on the outside (I have a "resting serious face") but inside I am okay. I am okay because I know that there are people who care about me and I hope would miss me if I were gone.
My name is Kevin M. Klerks, 46, blogger, politician, advocate. I am a Canadian and I have manageable (after decades) mild depression and general anxiety. I hope that does not change what you might think about me. I am the same person you knew before. I am me. Let's Talk.
I actually spent my entire Saturday in the basement on my computer and never went upstairs, that's kind of creepy. I just opened the nearby window at 2 am Sunday and the cool breeze is coming inside.
I checked the temperature and it's mild at -0'C with a -4'C windchill. I can see the moon through the treetops in the backyard. It's an eerie feeling to realize you skipped an entire day.
I have to laugh though. I texted my friend upstairs earlier on Saturday around 4 pm. I have to share it with you :)
I have the coolest friends. So what was I doing with my Saturday that had me sitting in front of the computer all day you might ask? No, it wasn't porn, okay not all day at least. I had a couple projects that I needed to get done this week while on vacation. The first was one of my resolutions for the end of calendar year 2017.
A couple years ago I published a chapbook of poetry under a pseudonym with the intent that, some day, I would update and re-publish it under my real name. Well, after over a year of telling my publisher friend that it was still a work in progress including a bungled first draft I decided to abandon what I called 'Book 2'. I decided to release my poetry on my website instead, a link to which can be found here.
I got a couple things sorted out in the real world online and then continued on the crusade on Twitter against the blunders of our rather unpopular Prime Minister. It is not hard to point out the err of his ways when they are published so frequently in the mainstream media. History classes a century from now will remember us for our childish leader Prime Minister Socks immediately followed by how the economy of Canada almost collapsed in the early twenty-first century under his rule.
I don't want to make this entry political so I am going to continue on with some more answers to the questionnaire, right after I close the window because it is getting frigging cold in here.
Q: At what age did you have your first kiss, your first sexual experience? Was it bad?
A: My first real kiss came about five years before my first sexual experience. It was with my girlfriend at the end of my high school years, at age 18. I think it might have been within the first day or two after we met. We were walking along the railroad tracks north of town and decided to sit down in the grass and talk about life. After a few minutes I leaned in and kissed her and the rest they say is history. I am still friends with her today.
My first sexual experience was with the woman I would eventually marry, at age 23. It was not how I intended my first time to be. I had hoped it would take place about five years before but that was not to be the case. And to answer the second part, no, it was not bad. I lost my virginity and we had a great weekend together at my apartment in the city.
Q: Has it affected the way you view sex as an adult?
A: Well, no not really seeing as I was an adult for all of my sexual experiences.
Q: How many sexual experiences have you had? How long is your longest relationship?
A: Okay well that question is getting a bit too personal I think but I will answer it anyways. A recent study in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour found that the average Generation Xer has had ten sexual encounters in their life by this time. I just did the list and, well, I will not dispute that number. I guess you could say that following my divorce from my ex- I made up for lost time.
I never cheated on her during our almost nine years in a dreadful marriage though I did come very close one time that I wanted it to happen. I met this beautiful intelligent woman while I was working as an assistant manager for a convenience store. She was a customer who would stop in on her way to work and a co-worker told me she had expressed an interest in me. After stopping her one night I agreed to meet up with her the next morning to talk. We started meeting up several mornings in the week and we started sharing poetry with each other. Yes, poetry, I told you I am a romantic at heart, albeit sometimes misguided.
I felt a strong attraction toward her and I knew she did toward me. When I was close to the point of having an affair with her she had second thoughts and broke off our friendship. She ended up sleeping with, what sounds like, a random guy because she couldn't sleep with me. How do I know; because she wrote me a poem about it confessing her actions. A short time later she received a work transfer she had applied for before we met and relocated to another state. I never saw or heard from her again.
That being said in the final months of our marriage I met someone online that I hoped would evolve into a relationship but when I returned to Ontario I discovered that was not to be the case. I believe she did step out on me in the same final months and as I explained earlier she married an old friend of hers just two weeks following our divorce.
Now, excluding my ex-wife, my longest relationship appears to be about six months unless you count the woman who had an affair with me and that was somewhere around two years total. My shortest relationship would have been a one night stand I had in the mid 2000's.
This is not my final opinion on the topic of gender. I have found myself, in this past year, evolving in how I view gender and gender identity. So please be kind if you are commenting on this blog and know that I do not know everything about the topic nor am I firm on my beliefs at this time.
With that being said I have been presented with a couple comments and I have replied to them. The comments are in bold italics below.
In the very diverse world we live in today, what do you do when you encounter someone who tells you they're non-binary or that they feel they were born into the wrong gender? I'm not asking you to defend your opinion per say but this is a thing that comes up frequently. I have several friends who would classify themselves in this way. I mean how do you react if it's a stranger? A co-worker? A friend?
I don’t encounter anyone like that. In our area we have gay people who are men and women. I’m not sure about the schools because I’m not in them but that gender bending nonsense seems more like a ‘city thing’ in Ontario. The problem is the definitions are being re-written and this isn’t possible.
A male is born with male parts, a female with female parts. No matter what you call yourself you are still male or female unless you get all your parts changed. When I see transgenders in the media I refer to the sex they were born with and all language as such. For example, that one, in the US the treasonist who says he’s a woman. He still has his man parts as far as I know so to me he’s a man.
I don’t classify them more than male or female. It doesn’t really matter to anyone but yourself what you “identify” with. And we went for generations accepting that some women were tom-boys and they just, like you, accepting that society saw them as women wanting women things. It’s no different than how society thinks I should act based on the media out there. I’m not aggressive but protective, I’m not negative just realistic but society labels me one way or another. You read about that in my daughter post. Me not liking it doesn’t change things and when I had the opportunity to morally I couldn’t.
I don’t “react”. First, strangers don’t come up to me and tell me they identify as one way or another. Around here I think they know that people don’t give a damn what you are. I have a couple gay co-workers, males who are attracted to other males, but we don’t sit and talk about it. That’s their personal business not something for discussion around the water cooler.
As you know I have very few friends in my life at the moment to really draw a rounded opinion from, but those who do are straight or perhaps bi-sexual to my knowledge. Any women who were bi- so what, they identified as females attracted to females and none of this gender bending crap. And hey, what guy isn’t turned on by a woman who likes guys AND girls?
I am quite content with people being attracted to the same sex. Who cares. But don’t make me change words that have been around for centuries just because you (the generic ‘you’) feel bad. I just watched a discussion the other day between a trans-gender man and he makes a valid point from 1 minute on. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbTwoLah2VY
I agree if you want to create a new set of pronouns to describe them, then fine, but don’t force me to change existing pronouns that have been around forever. I won’t bow to the social bending of reality. I would call Blaire White a transgender woman, but it doesn’t change the fact “she” is a man. In public, I’d call her a woman because she looks like a woman.
the push to force me to change has only made me more anti-gay than pro-gay, now I couldn't give a damn about gay rights (outside of basic human rights that is) concerning marriage etc. I'll support it still but the whole conversation has gotten ridiculous to the point of insanity.
I see gay and transgender as separate things though. You can have people with same sex attractions who are VERY entrenched in society's male and female stereotypes even.
The same thing is happening with these sex stories in Hollywood, which I refer to as "McCarthyism wearing a dress". Some of these people have gone on 20 years accepting it and only now through #MeToo are speaking up. Lauren Southern did an excellent video about it from the early days of this whole thing how people will jump in. Let me see if I can find it quickly... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CrCp6UKYVs her video doesn't entirely support my comments, but it's interesting how she basically predicted what is happening now
We are the only animals who can change our bodies or identities by choice. I mean a caterpillar to a butterfly is a process, a set pattern. And no you cannot change your race, even though I read one rather unusual news story of a woman faking being African American with extreme tanning, but you can by choice change a great number of physical features. I mean I think of people who have cosmetic surgeries, are heavily tattooed and pierced etc. It's not changing your gender; which is way more invasive, but some of those choices are quite significant. I don't know I always think of the science of it, and there's probably more I could be reading. But in science we frequently think we've understood all the variations of an organism, and then all of a sudden more variations are discovered. It's possible that some of those variations are psychological.
Well first one who claims they are another gender would argue the change is not by choice but because nature made them wrong. Only when Man intervenes does nature make mistakes. In the end however changes to ones physical appearance does not change their genetic sex. You can gut all of the plumbing out of a house but it's still a house.
Psychological and physical attributes are not interconnected. I can feel pain yet no body part shows pain. I can feel I'm a woman but my physical body still says I'm a man.
More questions from the questionnaire:
Question: What are your top three insecurities?
Is that like doing tasks as good as people expect them to be, or perhaps as I believe they expect them to be? I would say that, as an adult, I have used the phrase "I'll do as best I can" more lately than ever before.
My insecurity or anxiety or lack of confidence is definitely rooted in how I believe others perceive me and the "impression" I give to others. The problem is this is based on environment and my feelings of frustration which then project an image I am someone I am not.
Insecurity would be how others see me in a work capacity, since socially I have very little interaction with others. At work so long as I have the necessary resources available to me to complete the task I will. I will admit to holding myself back on several occasions, declining to step forward to take an opportunity to advance because I felt I was not ready at the time. That is a feeling of insecurity. In the end I would take the job and do my job but I was always a bit 'slow out the gate' so to speak.
Question: What was the situation surrounding a time you had your heart broken (if any) and how did this affect your life?
Which time? Does not every relationship with another that ends end in a feeling that your heart was broken or about to break? Is there ever a time we are truly happy to see someone we care about leave our lives? While some women in my life have let me down in some way or another by ending a relationship I would not say overall that I have been left heartbroken but at the time my heart felt pained.
Do I recall a specific time that I felt the pain to the point of heart break?
Yes I do. It has been some time passed now so I can write about it.
A while back, over a decade ago, I met a woman on one of those online dating sites. We met at a motel room for the intention of having a one night stand. She was married, had two kids, and, according to her comments her husband neglected her because she did not have the model body he wanted her to have. I was horny and single so it did not matter to me that she was still legally married.
The one night stand worked out nicely for both of us and at dawn we were both left satisfied but still wanting more. Our relationship was based on sex but we did seem to have a connection emotionally.
She and I had several consensual sexual encounters in places I never would have imagined myself in before. I think I added about four or five new "Have you ever had sex in..." places to my list. Besides the sex, which was good, I respected her and valued her for who she was as an individual and who she wanted to be and our talks brought us closer together.
After about two years of secret rendezvous in parks, parking lots and a couple other places I will not mention, she decided it was time to re-commit herself to her relationship with her husband. I think that they re-located down to the city and I have not heard from her since.
I can say this is one of the times in my life that I was left heart broken. Could it have worked? No, probably not. The baggage that would come from a volatile break-up with her husband would have led to her possibly losing custody of her kids and her stable lifestyle.
So yes, as I write this I am sure there are women out there reading who condemn me and say they would never be with me because I chose to have sex with a married woman. Fine, not that I will remind you that it takes two participants to have a sexual encounter. I do not care what you think and you do not have to worry because if you feel you can judge someone for their past actions I would not want to be with you anyways.
If you ask how I would feel if some guy did that to me with my wife today (I do not have a wife by the way) I would tell you that I would never allow my today wife to feel she was worthless just because she had a few more pounds than "normal". I can not help that she was on the website. I can not help that she sought me out and that she came to the motel room that night.
I think it was just last year that someone had asked me if I had ever really been in love. I said, Yes, that while the words 'I love you' have certainly been used by me in the past there are three women in my life I can stand here today and say that I truly loved. I had fallen in love with her and she with me.
Today I’m continuing answering the questions from the questionnaire I mentioned in a previous entry.
Question: How close are you today to the person you were in high school?
In high school I had a couple close friends. I was nerdish but not too geekish. Two friends that I made way back mid way through elementary school and kept until early adult life. I have always been interested in politics and being a part of the democratic process. I think that might be the Aries in me, if you believe in that sort of thing. I tried running for student council in grade eight and grade twelve and, unfortunately because I was not one of the “cool kids” I lost both times.
I investigated the idea of participating in it in college but decided that my path was taking me in a different direction. As an adult I ran for municipal council and finished at the second to the bottom of all candidates. Today I am still interested in politics though not as involved as a decade ago. I could see myself getting into it again but right now I just do not feel any specific party (geesh it really does not like the word “particular” for anything that I write) or group represents my vision of what the future should be.
In high school I played Dungeons & Dragons and now I play online metaverses like the Great Canadian Grid, so that’s similar.
In high school I was depressed, had a short temper and some issues with my health like allergies and poor posture. Now I get frustrated when things don’t make sense, suffer general anxiety and continue to have allergies and poor posture.
In high school I was single, there were girls I liked, a couple that I wish I had dated, but I did not date anyone until I had turned 18. We lasted six months, at the time she was over-emotional, and I was the opposite. I am single now, divorced, but I have dated and had consensual sex (would not want to give the wrong impression here since we all know how that happens) with several women since high school so that is certainly better.
Question: How does who you are now compare to what people thought of you back then? Overall do you feel that you exceeded or fell short of people’s expectations or you since high school?
Honestly, those who get to know me now and compare me to then would probably think me similar, though now I am far less emotional and a bit more openly opinionated. I am open but cautious, somewhat intelligent with an IQ around 115, a defender of equal human rights and still, despite all that has happened to me, a romantic at heart.
I think initially I might be viewed as falling short since I left college after my first year. But then they would see all the things I have done with my life since and some have thought me “brave”. I laugh, when I separated from my ex- and left my job in Ohio to move back to Ontario my boss at the time said I was brave. He said that to handle it the way I was, to lose my family my job my home and go back to somewhere I had not been in almost a decade. He could not do it he said. I see my life and just see choices I have made as the natural progression of life decisions.
Question: What kinds of feelings bother you the most?
Frustration, the knowing that something can be better, but circumstances do not allow it to be so.
Anxiety, the unknown or uncertain bothers me. I like stability and predictability. I hate surprises in all forms.
Question: How easy is it for you to trust someone?
In the past it was hard, then it got easier. Then people abused my trust so not it is not as easy. I would say it has evolved to a reasonable medium.
I plan on writing nine entries in my blog this week, one for every day I am off for vacation. Some days might have more than one, it depends on how inspired I am.
I have decided that for my blog I would like to offer everyone the knowledge I have acquired through my years of experience. I do not, by any means, consider myself an expert in any field of study. I do, however, know that I possess knowledge that others do not. Though I just discovered, while writing this, that I have not yet gained the knowledge of how to open my truck door without setting off the alarm occasionally. A lesson that I share with anyone, walking within twenty metres, quite annoyingly.
Today I received a copy of Herman Siu’s “Find Your Passion Questionnaire”. I am going to take it seriously, as it suggests, and try to answer the questions as truthfully as possible. I plan to share “some” of my answers with you along the way.
The first part talks about Parents & Family. In my case my father is still living so I won’t be sharing some of those answers with you as they will be too personal. My mother passed away from cancer back in 2013 and I might share some of my experiences with her with you. This journey will help me to grow and might help others too.
Question one – describe each of your parents the way you remember them as a child.
Since I was a “child” until I was 18 I’ll consider this to mean when I was a kid up to my early teen years.
In the years growing up my father worked forty hours a week as a furniture maker. He would leave for work early in the morning before I got up for school and return every evening. I remember him being home in the evenings. I remember laying on the basement floor watching television and he would sit in one of the chairs. He was not a regular figure in my life, but he was still there in the evenings and weekends. He was strong but understanding. Any discipline was done by my father when I was younger. He did rule the household and while my mother was the more outspoken one he appeared to have the final say. He was the rock and our family was well balanced as a result. He was very conservative, we got things when we needed them not when we wanted them, but we were never left without. He was the workhorse and worked at the same job, until it closed, for over 30 years.
My mother was more emotional. She was in my life a lot more. I would be up for breakfast and she was there. I would come home from school and she was there. She was the housewife in every sense of the word. I know when she was younger she worked outside the home and while I was growing up she did babysitting jobs but for the most part she was the one who raised me. She would get sick a lot from ulcers, I remember my friend next door watching me a couple times while they took my mom to the hospital. She had a necklace that looked like tweety bird, she called it her “worry bird” and would wear it a lot. I think she had a lot of anxiety.
Question two - How did each of your parents compliment you? What specifically would they say?
This question is hard. I don’t think they ever did but I’m sure they did. I remember doing things and achieving things, but it just seems to me like when I did right it was “normal” and when I did wrong I heard about it. I’m not going to accept the fact they didn’t compliment me as an answer to this question. I am going to say that the praise or compliments I was given were not over embellished or given just for the sake of boosting my ego. I think they wanted me to have realistic expectations.
Question three – Did either of your parents criticize you? How?
For the most part, no. If I acted like a child I was treated like a child. I mean when I was a bit older.
Question four – How were disciplined at home? What role did each parent play in disciplining their children and you specifically?
I remember not being grounded very often. I was, for the most part, a good kid. I think the longest grounding I got was a couple months for doing something stupid and I don’t even think they enforced the entire term. My mother was the role of jailer. My father handed down final judgement but because she was home all day she had to carry out the time off TV or being forced to “play outside” and so forth.
I remember one time I wouldn’t eat something I didn’t like. My mother told me I had to sit in the chair until I ate it. I let it go cold, she took it away and I sat there. I think it was about 20 minutes or, so she said I could leave but I stood my ground and didn’t leave the chair for the hour. She never tried that tactic on me again. I don’t remember all the circumstances, but I do remember sitting on that dining table chair looking around the kitchen at things trying to entertain my thoughts to stand my ground without getting bored to death.
I got the spank on the butt from my father when I was bad, as a child. It worked, and I didn’t turn out as a serial killer as a result I might add.
Question five – what did each of your parents do for a living?
I think I answered that one. For the most part of my growing up my father was a furniture maker, my mother was a housewife (or home maker if you want to use PC titles) and she did babysitting when I was a teenager.
Question five A – what role did each parent play in supporting the household finances?
My father was the “breadwinner” as they say. He made the most income and provided us with all the needs, food, shelter and clothing. I think my mother was the “supplemental income” and worked when his pay alone couldn’t cover all the bills. I believe they could pay for everything and never owed any great deal of money. While I didn’t learn for several years my parents certainly understood what it mean to “live within ones means”.
Question five B – What did your parents want you to be growing up?
Happy. No seriously. They never placed any direct expectations on me. I know some people say, “well they wanted you to work, to get an education, et cetera”. Yes, sure. They wanted me to have an education and to find gainful employment. But they never steered me toward any field or career. I remember years later when I asked my mother about religion she said that they had raised us to be open minded and to find our own paths.
Question six – What was each of your parents’ main advice to you about life?
I don’t think they gave me advice, persay, in the “sit down and listen to me” sort of way. I think I learned certain things just from their actions and the way they lived their lives. True, some things took making mistakes to learn – like finances and debt, but others came more naturally.
Work hard to provide yourself with the basics, food, shelter and clothing but don’t make work your entire life.
Don’t give up on something you don’t achieve the first time but don’t become obsessed with something that you don’t pursue other things.
Be honest, loyal, family is important but apparently not after you become an adult (I’ll explain that one more later). You don’t need material things to be happy.
I had and still, albeit buried sometimes under crap, an active imagination.
You don’t need all the toys and crap, material things, to be happy.
I never really learned to fight because my father was, overall, a pacifist. I think it came from being raised in post WWII Europe and then coming to Canada as a teenager. That isn’t to say he didn’t get into his own sort of trouble, he never really talks much about his growing up, so I don’t really know.
Question seven – How would each of your parents describe the way you were as a child?
I think my mother would have said I was quiet, compassionate, loyal to my friends. I was easily hurt, honest to a fault, perhaps a fiery temper. I am an Aries and used to be very much the fire sign it represents.
My ex-wife told me that my father once said that I was quiet and introverted growing up. I didn’t have a lot of friends but the ones I did I was very close and loyal to. The kind of friends you make for life, which is funny because of my two best friends growing up I only message one of them occasionally, while the other one abandoned me. I do make friends and keep them for many years even decades in some cases. I think my father would describe me as quiet, kept to myself, had an imagination and wasn’t in to sports.
Question eight – Do you know who you’re named after? Is there a significance or story to it?
I am not named after anyone. I think my parents just liked the names I was given. I know my mother said she liked my middle name but when the school wanted to use it to differentiate me from other “Kevin’s” in the class she said no. So, there was a significance to the order of my first and middle name if not to their specific meaning. I do know that I adopted this and did not like my middle name for many years. I only started to use it when I returned from the US because there was, by that time, one other Kevin Klerks’ in Ontario and four in the world.
Question eight A – Do you know which parent named you?
Like I said my mother attached some significance to my middle name being my second name not first, so I get the impression she named me. I should ask my father about it some time. Growing up I had a musical toy that included my middle name in a whimsical song. You would turn the wheel on the front of it and it would begin to play the song. I heard the song so many times over and over that I can still recite it in its entirety today.
My name is Michael, I’ve got a nickel, I’ve got a nickel all shiny and new, I’m going to buy me all kinds of candy, that’s what I’m going to do.
I’ve never actually thought to look it up and see who wrote it. I should check Google right now and see if it has ever heard of it or not. OMG it is, it’s part of a song called “Playground in My Mind” by Clint Holmes. I never knew that, perhaps all this time the key to something has been sitting there right in front of me
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