November 26, 2013

Embracing My Values

One of the good things about getting old is learning what in this world you really, really don't like. Or at the very least, we learn better what limits we find tolerable according to each of our own personalities; as well as to what extent we perceive to be unacceptable behaviour in others. I couldn't believe how rude the 20 year old girl was towards the person working the till at the A&W today. Just why?  There was just 0 reason to be so unpleasant to a perfect stranger. (Admittedly, on occasion I have had my own fair share of  bad days, resulting in my behaving somewhat poorly towards my fellow human beings...). But I try not to make a habit out of it!!! Show some (self-/) respect!!!

On the flip side, the more we live and experience life, the more things we see in this world which we may one day hope to adopt into our own lifestyles - to a lesser or further extent. 

Alternatively, a person could remain blissfully ignorant to the entire outside world and only ever (greedily) seek out and live by the plastic things that make him or her feel good. I think it might've been Captain Jack Sparrow who lived by the mantra:

"Take What You Want And Give Nothing Back"

That lifestyle choice, I refer to as "pirateering". It's possible no Disney Character ever said that at all, but my own perception of what I see in the world too damn' often seems to support the mantra. Maybe it has something to do with a person's propensity to be "bought by the system" or to "sell out" completely, rather than thinking for themselves more about what they can do for themselves and for this finite planet.  It was likely the music that kept my heart beating as fast as my fist was pumping that allowed me to realize that It's Up To Me! to be all I can be.

As easy it is to say I am going to work on truly sincerely devoting more of my energy to living up to the standards that I set for myself, it's also important to be adding and changing and tweaking our values. For example, I value clean energy and reducing my carbon footprint. But before I am at a point of being a Net Zero kind of guy, I will probably still be purchasing a pineapple from halfway around the world. And I might have to shop at Wal-Mart for toilet paper and toothpaste and something made in China. And I might just have to drive my car to get there. But at least it's goals, right? Not to mention that when you are accountable to others - a family - sometimes there is just no getting around that energy-intensive hurdle... without straining yourself anyways.

I must also work on the valuable asset of knowing how and when to apologize. With sincerity. People say Canadians are sooo apologetic - and this may be so - but seeking forgiveness for things unsaid, hurtful things said, not accepting you were wrong, or perhaps just not being there for another person who needed you most. Those things are values that often need to be considered and reconsidered to ensure that you never get too caught up in your own arrogance or closed-mindedness.

Ethical, selfless living is what I strive for.  Maybe not total selflessness, but selfless inasmuch as my ability to provide myself and the ones I love with the necessities of health & happiness. Security, unfortunately, is often provided by The System that punk teaches us kids to loathe. Punks can evolve too though. I think it was a high school physics teacher who said to us that what the world needs more of is punk rockers and skaters because of their ability to think outside the box! Weird, coming from a geeky physics guy - but Mr. Goldthorpe was right!  The only thing to try to do from that young age was to learn what your values are and embrace them with everything you've got.

Engineering taught that hard work pays off. Commitment. Persistence. That's how to get results. Also, that nothing in this world worthwhile comes easy. YEARS later, I received my parchment. My values and priorities for family have resulted in my limited opportunity to pursue much of an engineering career - but that doesn't mean that I haven't learned even more about the other values I cherish along the way. 

Things like sincerity and honesty and family. Perhaps if I was working typical engineer's hours all along, I might not have had as much of an opportunity to put as much work into my family.

Health. Healthcare, too. And healthy environments and all that entails. From the water I drink to the air I breathe. It can all make such a difference! A recent study looked at the air toxins around Fort Saskatchewan that may have a significant impact on human health. Also: Food and nutrition. Greens. Kale? I know spinach. Spinach is fine! I don't know why there was always such a bad connotation around spinach as a kid growing up... I've never tried kale though. I wonder if it needs to be organic... I've cut fast food out of my diet all but completely already, and I  have a blender at home that is pretty fun to use. No rum required.

Speaking of drinking - that is 1 more value that I just don't embrace at all. Never mind about MADD and the tragedies of alcoholism or liver problems: just CLEAR YOUR HEAD ALREADY. Okay - on occasion, I might have 2 or 5. But seldom more. NEVER when I'm driving. I always toyed with the idea of going Straight Edge like all our favourite hardcore punk bands... it's just one of those things that I will have to continue to reflect on and seeing if it's becomes a more prioritized value in my life. That said, I could really use a friend to go for a drink with to talk about girls and life and stuff.  Now.

Something that I have decided I am going to do for myself is to try to work towards embracing a vegan diet. Not tomorrow. And not all at once. And not "to be different". And not because I am going to stop the shipment of crates of hundreds of animals for slaughter every single day. But for me.  Starting small, reducing red meats in my diet - something I decided I should do when Mom first got sick. But then within the past year or so I realized that poultry and pork certainly don't promote the sustainability of a healthy body. The Western World has done an immaculate job of selling  farm animals to consumers: they say our economies are built on farm culture after all. I look to the fear-mongerers who say animal flesh is hormone injected and will surely make you sick, and I listen to the so-called "health experts" who say we ought to be consuming 70 - 90 grams of protein for every kilogram we weigh to stay healthy. And animal consumption is the necessary way to achieve that?

In the end, it's more than my empathetic heart that gets shredded every time I watch this or read a new Russ Rankin Full Stop post that makes me want to become vegan. The deforestation required for land for grazing, the over-fishing that's done in order to pack cruise ships with lobsters... It's about the energy & resources used to raise cattle, sheep, or chickens and piglets. Unfortunately, the fact that politically speaking, the issue of the ethical treatment of animals is often over-looked here in Canada - much like the obvious contributors to global warming. Not to mention that animal rights group PETA often gets muddled up in activities that tend to undermine the very cause they are trying to promote! Yet putting all this aside, CTV's W5 episode detailing the specifics of the lives of ... livestock do indeed disgust me. Overcoming the politics, hypocrites, sentimentalists, and globalists  - not to mention the belligerent redneck Albertans who think riding a bull at a rodeo then cooking its mate on a grill is fun? ...It's an uphill battle, and in the end I am resigned to the fact that I believe eating less meat is healthier and I know that I feel better knowing that I am not personally responsible for the direct inhumane treatment of Oryx's little critters.  

These are photos taken of a cargo ship hauling cattle across the Baltic Sea.

With all these lifestyle choices about finding that comfortable quality of life that let's me feel good about myself comes at a price. Judgement and scrutiny. Thinking, evaluating, and planning. Committing.  What if I am just more susceptible to developing cancer or any other debilitating ailment that may possibly be otherwise avoided if I took better care of myself? Eating less/no meat. Drinking only red wine? Eliminating stressors. Changing my environment. And routine. Reducing sugar. Increasing vitamin D. Having the support of someone who totally gets it and wishes all the same things...

I have already tried many things that have helped me feel like a somewhat healthier person. Sometimes it's difficult to decide where to begin and where to say "enough is enough", when you are told soooo many things can be done to your daily lifestyle to improve the quality/longevity of your life. The Heart & Stroke Foundation have been campaigning on how the last TEN YEARS of the average Canadian's life is lived in poor health. And it's sad to see how my Mom has lived an exceptionally healthy life - as best as she could afford to - and is now as sick as she is... I can't say enough how infuriating it is to see sloppy, disgusting, gluttonous, rude, crude, fat, smelly, smoking, drinking, OLD people -- being able to live their life when so many good, clean, hard-working people get terminal cancer. Makes me sad... I don't live by The Book of Mormon, I don't even know The 10 Commandments... I don't ask myself: "What Would Jesus Do" when moving along through my day. But what I do know is that I have a pretty good idea of proper manners,  right from wrong, and that I can consciously make ethical, correct decisions regarding the health and welfare of those I love the most. And when I do screw up, I know that I must continue to admit defeat and apologize for my thoughts, words, or actions. Hopefully, that won't typically be required for anything too too serious too often though. :)

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