New Book Out: “The Search For Life”

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“This book is about my life experiences to date around the idea of searching, and the various ways that search has looked and unfolded for me. These words were written for myself initially, in an effort to write out these experiences using my own writing style as I reflected upon each one of them. Then, it was designed to share and pass on these experiences for others to enjoy and benefit from, especially those coming after me, the next generation.”

– Author’s quote, taken from the Introduction

After an exhilarating few year’s journey, I am thrilled & excited to announce that I have written, published, and released my first book! This writing project has been quite the adventure, an incredible milestone achieved, and a dream of mine fulfilled.

Now, for a little bit about this book:

The title is called, “The Search For Life,” and it’s about searching for the meaning of life. I have written 13 chapters that talk about different ways a person may search for and find meaning in their own life. The book you are reading is comprised of a number of sub-themes, which all branch out from the larger theme of searching. The context for these sub-themes is how they relate to a person’s life. Essentially, this book is the personal story of one young man’s journey in life, mine, who is, and has been, on a search for some of the most important areas life has to offer. It is an attempt to bring out into the open both world’s of darkness and light that a human being goes through as they navigate their way through life.

You can order your own copy from Amazon using the links below.

Paperback:

 

e-book:

 

Here is an excerpt from my book taken from Chapter 1: In Search Of Adventure:

“It seems to me that adventure is what the human heart desires the most, and it can come in different ways for different people. For me, I find adventure in the things that are new such as  travelling and sports, including skiing during the winter months and slalom skiing in the summers, as well as golfing, road biking, and roller-blading.

In the book Wild at Heart, John Eldredge explains that there are three core desires to a man’s heart: a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue. I sincerely believe he is both accurate and correct in this assessment of how men are wired. In this chapter I want to focus on that second key desire: the theme of adventure.

Adventure’s in Europe 

Travelling is one of the areas where I experience a heightened level of adventure. I have been fortunate to travel to two different continents over the last three years: Europe and Africa. As it would be, I set foot on both lands for six weeks each, and travelled by myself for the majority of each trip.

I’ll start with Europe. I went there in 2012 after completing six years of post-secondary education, coming out with a Business degree and an Information Technology diploma. I knew it was time to travel and see the world. I travelled with a tour group on my own and got to see 19 countries in five weeks. I then stayed in London for an extra week. Looking back, the whole trip was a wild and grand adventure for me. I really enjoyed the whirlwind experience in seeing the vast majority of the countries in Western Europe. I took the greatest amount of pictures I have ever taken on a single trip to date, totalling more than 7,000.

Here are some of the highlights of this adventurous voyage:

Paris – Just being in this iconic city felt incredible. I climbed to the top level of the Eiffel Tower and saw the amazing, panoramic view of the city; explored the limitless works of art in the long-stretching wings of the glass pyramid at the Louvre; and watched our bus driver just go for it and merge across eight lanes of traffic at an uncontrolled, hectic traffic circle at the Arc de Triumphe, which was an exciting adrenaline rush! Paris taught me to enjoy the artistic side of humanity and to develop an appreciation for romance.

Rome – I thoroughly enjoyed touring both the Roman Forums and Colisseum. This portion of the trip was complete with an amazing tour guide who was extremely passionate about Roman history and made Rome come to life. Eating Europe’s famed gelato ice cream while visiting the Spanish Steps followed this tour. Other memorable events included tossing a coin into Trevi Fountain and seeing the main attractions of the Vatican City: The Vatican museums, St. Peter’s Basillica, and the Sistine Chapel, all of which were breathtaking to the natural eye. In Rome I learned about a civilization that existed long before I ever did. Hearing stories of what took place in these places and standing at the epicenter of these historic places taught me about the brevity of life and gave me a glimpse into how powerful the Roman Empire really was in its day.

Greek Islands – We parked our tour bus and jumped on a cruise ship to five Greek islands: Mykonos, Rhodes, Santorini, Crete, and Patmos. We also made a stop in Kusadesi, Turkey, where I got to see the ancient Biblical city, Ephesus. Seeing its immense amphitheatres, the city’s original library, and walking the same street as the Apostle Paul did was truly incredible. My favourite island was Santorini with its renowned white-washed, blue-domed architecture set amidst in the Aegean Sea. I would love to go back there. One of the biggest take-away’s from this experience was appreciating the impact ancient history still has on our world today.

Another was re-discovering the importance of being able to sit still and relax while taking in the mesmerizing beauty before me, though both land and ocean.

London – In one week I got to see more than 25 of the top sites London has to offer such as Ben Ben, Churchill Museum, Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and Westminster Bridge, to name a few. I loved exploring this historic city all by myself, and it was a thrilling and highly productive week. Through my time here, London gave me a glimpse of how old our world really is. As a Canadian, our country just celebrated its 150th anniversary, and to contrast that with London having been founded in 50 AD (not to mention that some of its building’s are hundreds of years old), was quite a history lesson.

This trip meant a lot to me because my dad had gone to Europe after he completed High School, and I wanted to follow in his footsteps. I always loved hearing the stories he would tell me about his European travels, and I wanted to be able to have similar stories to share with my children one day.

It was an adventure because this trip was the first time I had visited a different continent outside of North America. It was a very exciting time for me, especially with all the planning and preparation that went in beforehand and then being able to live it and see it unfold before my eyes.”

Get your copy today!

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On Birthday’s – Part 1

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Golfing in Phoenix – photo taken by the author

“Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!”
– Dr. Seuss

John Lennon writes in his song, “Happy Christmas”:

Another year over / And a new one just begun

This is true for me, as in this case it relates to my birthday. I am a spring-baby and April is my birthday month. This month in particular brings with it the reassuring promise that winter is coming (emphasis on ‘finally’) to a close and the much-needed season’s of spring and summer are right around the corner. April is a month that very clearly distinguishes seasons; that is, it is marked by the end of one season and the arrival of another of nature’s finest. Of course, my birthday follows The Master’s, which being the greatest golf tournament of the year, is played at the same course every year at Augusta National GC, in Augusta, Georgia. I love the time of the year and the month that I was born.

The anticipation of a birthday can be quite profound as well. This is what it’s been like for me all along. It’s always been a teeter-totter experience between the feeling’s of excitement & nervousness. On one hand it’s exciting because of everything that a birthday resembles. On the other hand, it’s a nervous kind of feeling as I don’t really know exactly what to expect. And so the countdown begins about a month or so before my actual birthday, and then a few weeks out, followed by that one week to go, and then the coming days leading up to the night before my special day. I really can’t explain this except that it seems to occur every year.

After all, I had no control of my entry into this world and I certainly could not have picked the day of my arrival. However, the day seems to get packed with all the wonderful, heart-warming, and very cool cards, texts, Facebook birthday wishes, phone calls, etc I may receive on this particular day. It’s a very anticipatory and expectant time, even if I don’t know what I’m expectant of. It’s kind of like Christmas Day as a kid growing up. When the day does finally arrive you’re besides yourself, after hardly sleeping the night before, and full of anticipation of what the day might bring; of course, this moment may be understated, but I digress.

The Next Step

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“Concision in style, precision in thought, decision in life.”
– Victor Hugo

In this piece, I’d like to offer my reader’s a practical and useful tool to readily have on hand when facing a decision, of any kind. Many times during our week we’ll be facing a situation, or a choice of some sort, which we may not really know how to handle or even know where to begin. At this point I have found it helpful to ask myself the following question: “What’s the next step for me to do?” I have used this question many times and have found it helps me focus on the next thing to be done.

This methodology can be applied for big or small decisions you may be facing. It’s essentially designed to help get the ball rolling for a person to prioritize what needs to get done. We as human beings seem to like and work best when we have a checklist-of-sort as we work through an issue or an idea. Having this list also gives us a sense of accomplishment as we work our way towards a certain goal, as well as when that goal is completed. Life is essentially a series of steps, once broken down, that can be actionized through this next step process.

Think about this the next time you’re feeling stuck about a particular matter and ask yourself, “What’s the next step for me to do?” and then go do it.

This Ordinary World

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Flying High Above the Clouds
Photo taken by the author

Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent. – Victor Hugo

Music is probably the only real magic I have encountered in my life. There’s not some trick involved with it. It’s pure and it’s real. It moves, it heals, it communicates and does all these incredible things.
– Tom Petty

Music, it appears, speaks to me in loud, yet quiet ways – all at once. Certain types of songs seem to have this profound effect on me. Ordinary World, written by Green Day’s frontman, Billie Joe Armstrong, is one of these song’s. The songwriter takes us through ordinary experiences in life that we all encounter. Armstrong talks about how the simplest form of being in love, with two people just being together, is “more than enough.” There’s no mention of having bigger or grander of anything; just two ordinary people, a guy and a gal, who are together. And apparently, as ordinary as that sounds, it’s more than enough.

Throughout this song, Billie Joe talks about other commonplace occurrences. He ponders where he can find this “city of shining light.” It’s as if he is trying to find some spiritual meaning to make sense of all the mundaneness around him. Like most of us at some point in our lives, he is searching for something, or someone, that is higher than himself, and can provide answer’s to the tough question’s about life. I also believe he is wanting to find and experience a place within himself that has real and lasting peace.

He then talks about wanting to leave a “buried treasure behind.” My interpretation of this line is he wants to leave a legacy after he has left this world. He wants to know that what he has given his life for, will not only be remembered, but will have left an impact and imprint on this world. What he speaks of is every man’s, and woman’s, greatest search for significance. He wants to leave a buried treasure behind in hopes of someone finding his lifetime legacy of treasure long after he is gone.

He next turns to the issue of birthday’s. These annual, celebratory reminder’s of our birth-date, which represents the day we officially entered this world. He mentions how “the days into years roll by” which alludes to as we live out our days, each day at a time, it is like a snowball rolling down a steep toboggan hill, quickly gaining momentum. That is, the days become weeks, which become months, which over time accumulate into year’s, then decades, and finally, into a lifetime. And it’s these “days” where each of us “live until [we] die.” This can be a sobering thought, but I think of it more as a linear approach to living. It’s just like this as this is how the world and our lives work.

Where words fail, music speaks.
– Hans Christian Andersen

The “shooting star” he speaks of are the dreams and desires we each hold deep down in our heart’s. They become what we would “wish” for if we “saw a shooting star.” It is these hopes that add vivid colour to our lives as they give life to us by making our world un-ordinary. It’s not only the wishing that counts, but it’s even more so when a certain wish is granted where all the majestic display of colours come bursting into our world. It is these ultra-cool moments that make living in an ordinary world bearable. It’s like hitting the sweet spot on your driver just that one time during a round of golf. All those other drive’s were just okay, or ordinary, but that one drive that really popped off the centre of the club face is that one extraordinary shot that instantly sends us back to the golf course in hopes of attaining this elusive, driver-sensation, yet again.

He then says, “I’ve walked to the end of the earth and afar.” What he means is, he’s been everywhere. He’s travelled to the four corner’s of the earth, and even a bit beyond, and has seen all there is to offer on the earth. He’s also speaking to each of us in this lyrical line for this is why we travel and go places. This helps explain our innate, and often unfulfilled, desires of each travelling place we venture to. At the end of each excursion there is only one conclusive certainty that remains: we realize that we must travel again – and so, the relentless preparation’s start all over again.

One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.
– Bob Marley

This song for me reveals a rich lyrical meaning because what is written is something I can relate to. This song makes sense of living and speaks of how I spend the majority of my days, as well as containing those vivid dreams of mine, which for me are those extraordinary, remarkable, and special moments – splendid gifts – that life offers along the way.

 

People – Problem and Solution, con’t

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Endless Colours
Photo taken by the author

“Here lies one who knew how to get around him men who were cleverer than himself.” 
– Andrew Carnegie

Up to this point, I have been speaking of those things we would like to get done in our lives, but this approach, or saying, of “people are always the problem and people are always the solution” also applies to relationships. Primarily, I am talking about interpersonal relationships, when two or more people are involved. By way of example, let’s take the time when two people who haven’t seen each other in a while decide to get together to meet for a coffee and catch up. This seemingly simple act involves organization and coordination, on both parties, in order to bring a meeting time to fruition. Let’s step inside this meeting set-up, each step of the way. First, one person will usually send the other person a text, or a phone call, expressing their intent to meet up for a coffee in the near future, say in the next couple of weeks. As it has been a while since either person saw the other, there may be an exchange of word’s in relationship building, namely seeing how the other person is doing and what they have been up to. It’s a kind of friendly exchange, if you will.

From here, the other person receives the text and responds, saying something to the effect of “yes, let’s meet up!” There is a mutual agreement reached between both parties in getting together, at some point over the next few weeks. Next comes the arrangement of when and where to meet up. At this stage, one person looks at their schedule and availability and suggests a few possible dates and times for when they are free, to which the other person either selects one of those dates that works for him or her, or suggests other dates that may better work for them. After this back-and-forth dialogue of the place and time to meet up, there is an agreement on where to meet up and what date and time to be there for. At this point, each person then puts this time into their calendar, as a kind of saving-the-date, and more of a reminder so they actually do show up when the day comes.

Then when the day arrives, both parties meet up at the predetermined location at the agreed upon time. As a courtesy in terms of diplomatic, human relations, one person may usually offer to buy the other person a coffee, and possibly add the line, “would you like anything to eat as well?” At this point the decision is on the one receiving this question. This person may choose to accept or not to accept, or offer to buy in return. Either way, both people grab their drink & food item and sit down somewhere in the establishment. Then, both friends chat for a while and get caught up with one another. As for duration, their time together normally lasts anywhere around the one hour mark, but can be as short as say half an hour or up to the one-and-a-half or two hour mark, depending on how much there is to catch up on and if one or both people have another commitment afterwards. Then in closing, both parties agree not to wait so long until the next time they see each other and agree to meet up again sometime soon in the future. After the meet-up, both people leave feeling rejuvenated and excited from their interaction together.

“All virtue is summed up in dealing justly.”
– Aristotle

What I have just explained involves at least an eight step process, from beginning to end, of two people who wish to get together and reconnect. If at any point, one or more of these steps is missed or not followed through on, then the rest of the process can not be completed or is at least delayed until that current step is completed. This is called a breakdown of communication in interpersonal relations. Now, just imagine if there are more than two people involved and instead of there being a coffee meet up, the occasion is for an evening party. As you can see, the number of people increases the complexity of steps involved as well as the people to communicate with and hear a response from. This in turn can put a lot of stress and pressure on the person organizing the party. Now some people are more natural at hosting a party than others; that is, they have a talent at being able to organize and facilitate a large group of people in coming together to connect. This ability is one in which all or most of the people invited actually want to be there as they know from prior experiences, or parties, that it will be a fun time.

I realize this philosophy of ‘people are always the problem and people are always the solution’, can also be extended to other area’s of life as well. In other words, whenever people are involved this saying holds true. The important thing to remember is that anytime there is something we want to do or get done, at one point or another, there are other human being’s involved at one stage or another. Bearing this in mind, there is always the potential for one of two ways this interaction can go: either not-so-well or very well. It all depends on who is involved, what is trying to be accomplished, and the style of leadership offered. I offer this philosophy as food for thought for the next time you encounter a situation involving people.

People – Problem and Solution

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YYC Evening Sunset
Photo taken by the author

When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.
– Dale Carnegie

There’s this saying I have had in my head for quite some time now about human relations:

People are always the problem and people are always the solution.

I have always innately believed this saying and it’s only been within the last few year’s that I have actually been able to put this belief into words. And yet, time and time again this saying continues to prove true for me. I don’t know what it is about this line, but it has been my observation that this saying just seems to play out like it does, in nearly any interactions involving people.

It seems that in any area of life, somehow or another, people are involved. This can be in the workplace, at home, while running an errand, at church or our own place of worship, the grocery store, the library, filling up your car with gas at the pump, doing a favorite hobby or playing a favorite sport, literally any place that you may go throughout your week. Even with the increase of machination, it still holds true today that it takes a person, or a group of people, to get something done. And generally speaking, when a task goes well, it really is cause for a celebration, no matter how small or large the task may be. In other words, this successful task is really a miracle, considering all the steps, stages, and people it takes to execute one particular task to completion. This is so because in any process or way of life it usually involves people, lots and lots of people, to ensure the successful completion of one thing from beginning to end. And the steps along the way normally require a whole string of people needed to ensure the process actually does get done, gets done well, and on time.

Yet, this same process can also be when a breakdown could occur at some point during the beginning to end of whatever is trying to be performed. Of course, we all know what it looks like and feels like when either a product, service, or task goes wrong. In the same way that negative news sells, so it is when a process breaks down. In other words, people tend to talk about it far and wide, as these people whom are affected recognize that at some point along the way, some person or group of people, did not do what they should have done in the necessary steps towards the completion stage.

I have seen this from time to time in the various company stores I frequent in getting the things I need. That being said, when there is a problem it’s because people are involved, and when a product or service turns out as it should it’s because people are involved. There is simply no escaping this fact of life that it takes people to give something a person may want. We live in a world of over seven billion people on God’s good, green Earth. The idea that any one of us could get something we desire or want on our own is simply a ridiculous and ludicrous idea. Essentially, we are all part of one larger picture of human relations and each of us is learning what it means to work together with our fellow man, whether the end result turns out well or could be improved upon, because again, people are involved, for better or for worse. It’s no wonder it can take a lifetime in learning how to deal with this fairly simple and straight-forward concept of getting along with those in whom we interact with. This concept of human relations really is quite mysterious and wondrous when you think about it in this light.

Tribute to Lady Di, the World’s Princess

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Westminster Bridge with Big Ben in the background
London, England
All photo’s taken by the author

I don’t go by the rule book… I lead from the heart, not the head.

Life is just a journey.

They say it is better to be poor and happy than rich and miserable, but how about a compromise like moderately rich and just moody?

If you find someone you love in your life, then hang on to that love.

Helping people in need is a good and essential part of my life, a kind of destiny.

I’d like to be a queen in people’s hearts. 

– Diana

Do you remember where you were when you heard that Princess Diana had been in a car accident?

It has been 20 years since the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Known as the “people’s princess”, she is a global ambassador for women, motherhood, and promoting humanitarian aid. Her life and who she was shows the far-reaching effects of what a person with passion and a devoted cause, close to her heart and mind, can achieve. Diana was like a modern day Mother Theresa, only transfigured from royalty to touch the common person, everywhere she went.

I can remember hearing about her death in the news that fateful day of August 31st, 1997. It was an abrupt end to the conclusion of summer and before school began that fall. I remember this event more than the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre. 

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Looking down The Mall from Buckingham Palace

There’s a road near where I live, John Laurie Blvd, which has an overpass connecting 14th Street above and a tunnel underneath. It is here where I first envisioned Diana’s unfortunate death occurring when I heard the news. Ironically, there is a police station a few blocks up from this tunnel. As you’re driving along this long and winding road there is a beautiful spacious green park, Nose Hill Park, on the North side. This green-side, natural beauty resembles and emulates a certain level of peace, calm, and urban respite despite being able to see Calgary’s downtown core on the opposite side of the road. I don’t know why it is at this place, but I guess this location seems to match that fateful tunnel in Paris where she was driving when her car crashed. I think about Diana each time I am on this road and when I approach this tunnel. I envision how her life was cut so short and what her life would be like if she was still living.

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Westminster Abbey at sundown

I recently watched two documentaries about her life on Netflix and I was profoundly moved and touched by her and the life she had lived. I was reminded how completely drawn and captivated I was to this magnificent women, as I think we all were. I guess I didn’t realize how much of an impact she had on my life all these years.

Her death was a tragedy and in my opinion one that should never have happened. Her departure from this world was quite frankly, untimely. She was only 36 years old. She had SO much more life in her yet to live. I’m 32. I can’t imagine my life being over so soon. There is simply no end to what she could have achieved and become, had she lived a full life.

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The famous dome atop St. Paul’s Cathedral 

Lady Diana was seemingly personified as a divine angel sent from above and appeared in humanity’s form. Everything about her was glorious and transcendent. As I reflect on her extraordinary life, here are some elements I appreciated most about her:

  • her ability to be so graceful while the entire world watched her every move
  • her charisma and win-some approach
  • her radiant smile that drew people to her every time she smiled
  • the warmth in her eyes
  • her confidence
  • how she showed hope and courage when appearing to us all, while fighting her own inner battles
  • her love for the world and everyone in it
  • her desire to make the world a better place to live in
  • her compassion
  • her ultra-loving heart
  • her humanitarian efforts and her willingness to travel great distances to help those in need
  • her strong love and affection for her two boys as they were the greatest joy in her life
  • her ability to move on with her life and to find love again
  • her ability to use the media in an uncanny way and to her advantage
  • her creativity and zest for life
  • the platform she created for herself and her ability to use it for the good of other people
  • her ability to relate to the everyday person and make them feel a personal connection with her
  • her strength of character and integrity
  • her resiliency & “bounce-back” ability 
  • the enormous influence she drew
  • her ability to think by herself, for herself, yet with other people in mind
  • her ability to boldly confront and stand up to that camera man while she was trying to enjoy a ski holiday with her boys
  • her ability to say ‘no’ to people invading her life
  • her ability to stand up for the truth and for what is right, despite the costs involved 
  • being a spokesperson for those who don’t have a voice
  • her ability to stay true to herself and who she is
  • Di coming into her own person

 

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Looking up at St. Paul’s Cathedral, front entrance

When I was in London five summers ago I went to one of the memorial’s for Diana in Kensington Gardens. This area of the park was fairly quiet the day I visited. As I walked along the grounds I couldn’t help but think of how much she had meant to me personally, even though I had never met her. I also was thinking about all the noble and admirable things she had done in her brief time on earth. This of course led to my thinking of how much more she could have done for the betterment of mankind had she still been living 20 years later.

What would she be doing now? Where would her humanitarian life have taken her? What laid in store for her next 20 years, 40 years? Would she have been re-married and found someone that could love her for who she is and share in both her personal and professional dreams? In what state would the Royal family be in as a result of her effect on this prestigious family? Where would her two sons be with their mother and greatest advocate by their side? 

These and so many other questions are to remain unanswered but only wondered by those of us who grew up alongside her. Yet, I believe, she would be living in the best years of her life, doing what she loved most, and forever impacting our world in a very powerful and far-reaching way. As you can see, Diana has inspired me and I hope she has inspired you too, in some way. I am thankful for Diana and her impact on this world as well as my own life. Thank you Lady Di for making me a better person.

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Overlooking the city of London outside the Golden Gallery, St. Paul’s Cathedral