Archive for February, 2009|Monthly archive page

The Watermills

Sometimes things in life converge in a peculiar way. For the past few weeks I’ve been practicing, or attempting to practice, some  forms of meditation to help alleviate stress and anxiety.  Stress and Anxiety which stem from personal difficulties, but also, I’m quite sure, from the nature of the actual world we live in. A world that puts first and foremost the constant striving for success and achievement, both personal and professional. The constant comparing with people around you, are they happier than you, do they have more money than you, are they in better shape than you. You find it almost impossible to just exist in your own skin without going all over the place and compare, judge and critique. The mind, the modern western mind, is in constant chatter. It always has something to say, and at least for me, most of the things it has to say aren’t really positive or nice. It reminds me of what I can’t do and what Iwas never able to do, no matter how much I tried. It lives almost exclusively in the past or the future, and almost never in the present.

So it was interesting to me, specifically in a time like this when i’m trying to subdue the mind-chatter by meditation (and mostly not succeeding for now, but at least I think I understand the concept), that I happened to watch Akira Kurosawas’s Dreams. Now, I hope I don’t need to mention that, but Kurosawa is one of the greatest filmmakers that ever lived and Dreams is one beautiful, mesmerizing film. It is made up of eight stories that represent, well, dreams. But those are not the dreams of The Sopranos for example (which if you ask me are more “realistic” portrayal of how actual dreams unfold) but a more subdued version, more like surreal short stories. The main theme of the film, as I see it, is of celebrating life and nature and it has a major criticism against science and technology as harbingers of pollution and misery. Of course, it is not technology itself but what Man does with it, which means this is ultimately a film about the spirit of man and its capability to create and destroy at the same time.

But the film is so visually breathtaking, and so slow and deliberate in its presentation (this is most certainly NOT a Hollywood action film), that,  if you’re in the right mindset for it- and after three weeks of partial-meditation I sure was – you may be rewarded by something which is akin to a meditative state. This film is magical.

It was exactly what I needed to see right now since it complemented perfectly my state of mind or rather the state of mind I was trying to achieve. There is something at the same time soothing and frightening in it. For some of the segments are truly beautiful and serene (Crows, The Peach Orchard) but some are grim and scary (The Blizzard, Mt. Fuji  in Red). In the end, I was especially struck by the final segment, titled Village Of The Watermills. It takes place in one of the most beautiful locales I have ever seen. I find it hard to believe a place like this can actually exist. It looks like paradise and not in the commercial, cliched way –  an island with white sands and palm trees – but actual paradise, the real one, up in heaven. It consists of a conversation with an old man followed by a rather joyous funeral procession filled with song and dance and I almost cried with the beauty of it all, and wished I could visit it.

The Village of the Watermills seems like a manifestation of what your own self should ideally feel like when you’re in a meditative state: Serene, peaceful, with nothing of the outside world barging in on you. A place which exists only for itself and which represents your inner being, after all the clutter and noise and bullshit of the modern world is swept aside.

At the end it’s just us and nature, from which we came and to which we return, and if we try and remember that, remember what the important things are, we may be in peace.

I think most of us deserve it.

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Canadian For Beginners

If you are coming to the great and wonderful land of Canada you should learn to communicate with the locals. It’s not easy sometimes, and most times it’s frustrating, but still, once you get the hang of it you’ll be like a fish in Lake Ontario.

I have been here for almost two years now and have compiled a short thesaurus to help you navigate the rough waters of Canadian lingo*:

“It’s cool with a nice breeze” – It’s cold and windy.

“It’s cold” – It’s freezing.

“It’s freezing” – You better leave for the equator.

“It’s hot” – It’s rainy

“It’s rainy” – It’s hot

“What are you doing tonight?” – Wanna go have a drink?

“We need to talk”  –  Wanna go have a drink?

“God, I’m won’t finish this before seven” – Wanna go have a drink after seven?

“I’m unhappy” – Wanna go get drunk together?

“I’m happy” – Wanna go get drunk together?

“I Love You” – Let’s go have a drink in a really nice place.

“Let’s have sex” – Let’s go have a drink in the nude.

“You guys want more beer?” – Beat it or pay up.

“Can you split the bills?” – It’s not like splitting the atom, you know.

“Oh, I’m sorry” – Oh, I’m sorry you stepped on my leg by mistake.

“I apologize” – I apologize, I didn’t notice you pushed me.

“Next stop College street” – You will all be able to breathe soon. (this is more of a Toronto speak, actually).

If you know of more Canadian speak please feel free to add it!

*This list is based upon findings in the Province of Ontario. I wouldn’t count on it being relevant in Quebec. They all speak French there. Not to mention British Columbia, where they all speak British.