Every day, for the last week, there has been an article on MSN news about UFO's.
Food for thought.
Life can change very quickly. Living in the first world, we tend to overlook this, having a greater measure of control over our daily experience.
When unexpected and unwanted events happen, we are jolted back into a reality that most of the world understands on a fundamental, albeit subtle, level.
Freedom may, by definition, be the same no matter where in the world you live, but the experience of freedom is unique to geography and the worldviews inherent within specific societies.
By traveling - by experiencing these alternate worldviews firsthand, we are able to detach ourselves from the preconditioning of our perspective and integrate new methods of observation which will, ultimately, assist us in discovering the greatest freedom imaginable - freedom from our belief systems.
The brain is wired to react to things that have meaning before they construct the perceptions you think of as objects. The brain experiences events - both within and beyond our control, in the same way. We start with meaning and expand that presupposition into a story of what an event represents. All memories are a distortion resulting from this process of extracting meaning from events for the purpose of understanding why events happen. This formula keeps us in existential limbo, outsourcing our responsibility to respond, and - instead, defaulting to belief systems that prefer we react.
Think of it this way, you can respond to medication or have a reaction to it. This choice determines our predominant mental attitude which, in turn, determines how likely we are to respond or react to forthcoming events.
There is a difference between giving something up and having it taken from you.
Much of what we take for granted on a daily basis are luxuries to the rest of the planet. It concerns me that the majority of North Americans have no concept of this; for example, food.
In Canada, if I am hungry, I can eat. There is nothing stopping me. Having money only means I have more options, but my basic human needs are not threatened.
Until you have experienced life without basic human needs being met, even voluntarily, you will not fully appreciate living in the first world.
In 2008 I spent six weeks in Southern Ethiopia, in one of the most off the grid regions in Africa. On a daily basis, I found myself questioning what life would be like if I were stranded there. I also confronted the reality of dying there.
Those experiences fundamentally changed how I observed myself and others and I gained a new appreciation for the inherent luxuries of what I formerly called small things, like making pasta or buying a fully loaded hot dog from a street vendor.
It no longer takes visiting a developing country to be reminded of this. I feel it, now, whenever I travel and whenever I talk to people from countries not my own. Inevitably, I always get around to asking, "What was it like, for you, growing up in your country?"
I don't ever want to forget the privilege of my citizenship. Remaining teachable challenges our default behavior and is the only way to ensure I will not be silenced by indifference or elitism.
The great majority or adults will never realize the maturation of their personality because of pragmatic belief systems.
In Jungian terms, this would be the transition from the Divine Child archetype to The King.
Traveling has, for me, been one method of challenging my own belief systems and, ultimately, providing me with a greater context to observe the events that shape my experience. As a result, I have become more tolerant of individualism and a thorough unbeliever of absolutes. Experience shapes what we believe. Therefore, unless our experiences are all the same, we will never agree. Thus, absolutes are illusions.
The thing about becoming King is the inherent responsibility that comes with the position. Part of that responsibility is to embody the principles of your influence, and only you can determine what that influence will be. Another aspect of our responsibility as Kings and Queens is to die with grace. As we confront belief systems we, metaphorically, put to death stories that have taken shape by meaning. While these old stories may perish, meaning survives by taking on a new form - shaped by our experience, much as monarchies survived with the announcement of a new King. In this way, the immortality of our personality survives the turbulent waters of growth.
"Your brain is wired to react to things that have meaning before they construct the perceptions that you think of as objects."
I spent most of this weekend sleeping, eating, and being entertained.
Iceland has been everything I longed for and more, though entirely not what I expected in pretty much every way.
I am grateful to the Reykjavik International Film Festival for offering me a wonderful experience as a festival photographer, with access to daily Q&A sessions with directors and cast, brilliant international films, and an incredible location trip to the south coast.
The staff and volunteers who worked at RIFF 2016 were a truly global army, and I met some very wonderful people I hope to see again, one day. We will look back at this moment in time and smile.
“Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story.” Homer,