My main mantra throughout my life goes as follows: “Make the most of each moment.” At a very early age I realized how quickly time went by and that as it goes by, it does not return ever again. So each moment happens only once. So I should try to make the most of each moment.
This has mantra has served me well in that I have been engaged with my life in the present moments trying to do worthwhile things rather than wasteful things. This mantra has also helped me get through times when both the future and past look bad.
The near past can be full of conflict, sorrow, and loss while at the same time our future can look bleak and nearly hopeless. “Nearly” is the operative word because no one knows the future although we help create it in the present. Without hope, there is no future. So this leads me back to the present and making the most of each moment.
If we find ourselves in a position where our future is uncertain and bleak, likely a continuation of the near past that also was filled with loss and sorrow, we still have the present and precious moments to make the most of.
The present is a present and springs into being all on its own filled with possibility and beauty. Ever-changing, the present is rooted in the rhythm of the earth. Earth’s changes are what sustains life after all. Nature is balanced, but it is never static.
My advice when squeezed between the uncertain future and the certainly loathsome past is to connect with (or reconnect with) nature and the life force that animates and sustains us. All life pulses with the seed of germination and growth. Life thrives even in the dark—and darkness is needed for life, regardless. Plant something or metaphorically plant your desire and will. While it may be something that will lay in the dark underground in the present, it represents making something out of nothing and thus creating meaning and purpose in our lives.
Let the earth restore your hope. Try to align to the truth and beauty within you and that which is there in the moment. Be ready for action, prepare, hope, and make the most of these moments. Do not let that sorrow-filled past and that uncertain and wobblily future ruin your day! Sometimes it is up to us to step forward and create something from nothing, so to speak, and thus connect more closely with the deep cosmic creative force itself. And that is never a bad thing! Remember, the Universe loves us and wants us here for its own divine purpose even if we have these times when we are unsure of what that purpose may be.
There are times in our lives when we feel like we are trying to get somewhere better than we are at—we can see it through our windshields, but vehicle of our life seems to be stuck in such a way that we are getting no traction, and thus, no forward progress toward that better place. We feel frustrated, at best, and defeated, at worst.
Here is when we should look backward a bit on the road we have travelled to get to this point in a positive, not negative way. The positive energy of our past is with us during these difficult times and the primal seed of our purpose in life is still sitting back there in all its glory! All that we have done up to this point of unwanted stasis and potential burnout can not only propel us back into the fast lane, or at least onto the entry ramp to the fast lane or main road, but also provide comfort for the pain of the moment and hopefully keep us from abandoning our quest.
To take this analogy a bit further, it is useful to remember that a car can travel many thousands of kilometers when traveling along the open road even with many starts, slow-downs, and stops. (Without these natural braking, accelerating, slowing, cornering, and rough roads, a car motor could go even further without burning out!) But when we place our car against a wall or barrier and keep pressing on the gas, the motor is not going to last very long at all! So at times like this in our lives, it’s okay to take the foot off the present, look back to the past, and re-affirm our quest toward our future.
These times are primarily an intellectual challenge. Our mind can seem to be surrounded by so many negative forces that only way to break through them is with our emotional self. We could remind ourselves of the great unconditional love that the Universe provides for our lives and know that those pesky negative intellectual forces that stalling forward development and happiness are no match for this great love and life. Also, envision the future as full of great love aside from material and mental forces that can be a kind of distraction to the main goals of life.
Yes, our vehicle of life can seem hopeless stuck in the rut of maxed out credit cards, no job prospects, or no advancement prospects. We can feel the points of all these blades pointing our way as if we are surrounded by enemies trying to keep us down and in place. The way to cut through this difficult surround is to keep our minds focused on the main goal ahead. It is like if we were surrounded by six swordsmen and we are armed with a single sword, the best bet is to cut through an opening rather than fight them all at once. One swift step out of that circle of swords, then trusting to the inevitable push and pull of the Universe to keep us going. After all, the Universe is fundamentally a stable place, but its stability is manifested through change and as such, like the ocean tides as the moon pulls and loosens its gravitational grip on them, does not want you to stay stuck in any position for too long!
We should celebrate all completions! In fact, a day without celebratory moments and time-outs does not appear in the Universe’s day schedule. What we find also in celebrating our achievements is stability. Stability is good—and needed for harmonized leaps into the future as the world keeps turning and introducing new conflicts with which our mind, spirit, and bodies to struggle.
After a struggle comes completion, stability, and celebration. These struggles do not need to be epic! Or age-marking struggles. After I have engaged in trimming the grass in my yard, for example, I open my fridge, take out a cold beer, open it, pour in a glass, and enjoy! This beer tastes so good! It’s goodness is directly related to the celebratory nature that we infuse in it. There is a brief pause in the struggle of keeping a neat yard as I survey my handiwork. I feel as stable as my nearly-level lawn and neat trim lining the flower beds, fences, and trees. I understand that this feeling cannot and should not last. Even as I look at my grass in that almost-stalled and wonderful moment, the force of life is pushing alterations and growth that soon enough could/would/should easily obliterate this neat, stable, and tidy yard before me.
Ahhh…that moment to be enjoyed! We must remember to schedule it in our day plan. It is just as important as scheduling the daily struggles and challenges needed in our lives. I know that I have often neglected these precious and important moments as I feel there is just too much to do and this break-time can wait. And, up to a point, these moments when we literally break (or brake) time can be postponed—but they should never be forgotten or worse yet, forsworn!
When it comes to larger struggles that exist over expanses of time, there also should come times to feel completion, closure, stability. Recently, I was terminated from a long-term job. I was ready to leave it regardless, but it took a while for me to reach that celebratory completion that would have been there from the day of my voluntarily exit! As it was, it took me a bit longer to close and move on. It was a ragged experience in the sense that my fire kept going up and down in fits as I either metaphorically threw wood on the fire or let it burn down. By contrast, completion is the steadily burning fire. The moment I had to get to with this struggle was that moment when all the wood is burning perfectly in a circle of life/death. In the life and death of a fire this is when there is enough heat from the past and enough new wood for the present to reach that sweet spot where we can sit back and enjoy the warmth of our efforts, as time stands as still as it can be, and we are as stable as we can be.
We need these times because the Universe and our own spirit will nudge us onward toward the uncertain future, and when that inevitably occurs, it is best if we are rest-assured, thankful, and full of the love of creation as well as the wonder of self. These powerful elements will better impel and position us for the next phase, challenge, conflict, and growth.
It is better to have some closure and finality even if our satisfaction with the near past was not as self-fulling as it could be than to not have that closure. In spite of our natural restlessness and uncontainable quest for challenge and conflict, these moments of completion and stability are much needed and should be enjoyed!
Truth is something we find inside and outside ourselves. Truth is one of the primary principles of the Universe. It exists outside of us and in us. Of-course this is because we are children of the Universe, in spite of some lies to the contrary that we, as a species, seem to propagate.
When we forget that we belong here, and we are part of this cosmic magic, we drift into the abyss of the will. Another way to see this drifting is to imagine the nothingness or complete isolation from the contexts into which we are born and live. It is a place without colour and fellowship in life.
It is dangerous to be human because of our heads are so full of ourselves that this ego/will/head can detach from its bodily and cosmically joined heart and simply go its own way. It is possible for our rational minds to justify the most insane cruelties that hearts would never allow. It is possible for our heads to metaphorically detach and be held by the most cruel and negative forces that push truth aside with equivocations.
There are so many examples of this in our history such as Nazi Germany’s death camps. Imagine all those people who did unspeakable things to their Jewish brothers and sisters as detached heads held by a massive lie personified in the leadership of their country. A danger in using this example is that it can suggest that the head/heart separation only occurs in extremes such as this. But this is not so. All of us separate our heart and head when we allow our food animals such as chickens and pigs to suffer unspeakable lives in wire cages and sunless barns. Picking up that bargain eggs and bacon rather than sourcing from humanistic sources that allow these animals to have good lives–and just one bad day, is a type of equivocation contrary to the truth in our hearts that would not do this knowing the cruelty that is present in that breakfast.
As we understand the quantum theory universe (its all a cosmic vibration), we need to ignore the lying and equivocating head and listen to the truthful heart. When our will is properly directed it can be like the Queen of Swords (in some Tarot decks) lopping of the heads of those lying people and institutions and ideologies who have already separated their heads from their hearts metaphorically and practically. A truthful person will stand tall with his/her sword of truth that will cut down those heads who are so full of lies. An image on which to meditate may be something like a queen holding this sword (as a reflection of yourself) in one hand and the severed head of a liar in the other hand.
A wonderful future cannot be had through lies: only through truth. This applies to individual people as well as institutions and countries. So we need to hold that sword of truth, metaphorically beheading those liars that surround us and whom already have, tragically, dis-joined their heads from their hearts. It will lead to a future of us being able to shine and vibrate at wonderful frequencies that the Universe supports, emboldens, and wants for us all.
We all would like life to go our way. This is what is meant by manifesting our will. It may be a time in our lives when we are at the crossroads of some change typically forced on us, or something we stumbled into. This COVID virus is a good example of something that has forced many of us to that crossroads.
Standing there in a kind of limbo looking down the roads open before us and knowing that there is no going back to travel them all. So what can we do to start life going our way?
Step one is to clarify our will. We need to imagine ourselves with what we want and start today on using all the resources available to us to begin the manifestation. It is a good time to take an inventory of all the blessings/strengths to which we have ready access in the now.
Next step is to look back and inventory all the accumulated wisdom of our past. After all, what is life, if not an accumulation of wisdom? Perhaps some of us cannot get over the pain and anger of the past which forms a great barrier to benefiting from all the light and love hidden back there. We need to envision that in the dark cave of our past life, there is a wise hermit carrying a lantern holding our light of life ready to brighten and enlighten our present. We should not be afraid of this hermit in us. The hermit has so much wisdom to give!
When we manifest our will, our cups fill up with radiant energy, and we see our reflections as beautiful, full of character and grace rather than self-loathing and other very dangerous ways of looking at ourselves.
The future, past, and present are all connected intimately when facing these crossroads or multiple pathways. We should not wait to start the journey down a chosen pathway today. That pathway is formed by the Universe, of-course. But we are the free-willed children of this Universe. And the Universe loves us and wants us to be in harmony with its magic pulse. Our will, manifested, will shine light and create good energy and perhaps even help in the bringing forth of new, and beautiful life into this enchanted space in which we dwell.
Borscht is a soup made from beets giving its unmistakable colour and flavour: red is best. I love the stuff. My mother makes a fantastic borscht and I have learned to make it myself.
My recipe follows. It is beetle approved, so why not turn up some Beatles songs, get some fresh beets and make some soup? May I suggest, “Back in the USSR” as a starting point?
Boil peeled and sliced beets in water for at least 30 minutes or until soft and translucent. Note: boil gently to get the best flavour and colour. If you have time, simmer for a longer period.
You may include washed beet tops in this boil as well as other vegetables but it is not necessary. I will sometime include carrot tops in the boil if I have them handy. This does give the finished soup a slightly different flavour, however. Also, this will make the broth less red, and the rich red colour is part of the appeal of a great bowl of borscht. I have also sometimes included bone broth in this boil: chicken bones are what I typically would add to the boil if I have them handy from leftovers. This again will change the flavour slightly, and you will have skim the fat from the broth once the boiling/simmering is over.
Strain all vegetables (and bones if used) from the beet stock.
Add vinegar to taste to the stock. This is a personal preference. Start with a small amount of no more than a tablespoon. What you are aiming for is the perfect balance between the sour of the vinegar and the sweet of the beets.
You can use just plain white vinegar, but for other flavours, other types of vinegars are good to try such as balsamic. My favourite is to use garlic vinegar from Olive Us. (The tasting room on main street, Vernon). Well worth it, but not necessary. Also they have other types of vinegar that I would like to try sometime.
Add some fresh dill to taste once you have added the vinegar; use freeze dried dill if you do not have fresh dill. Again, start small. I like to use a teaspoon in about 4-5 cups of broth. Dill can overpower the other flavours, so be careful; you are aiming for a complement flavour with the dill.
Serve the soup hot.
You can add other things to the hot soup to taste at the table. I have recently tried adding Greek plain yogourt and loved it. Other options include sour cream, sweet cream, cream cheese.
Add salt and pepper to taste in the bowl, if desired.
In my classroom while teaching the paragraph, I often will use this sample paragraph by Martin Luther King Jr to illustrate how a great paragraph works. King’s use of repeated key words, pronouns, and syntax to achieve coherence; his clear and arguable topic sentence; and his concise/effective development and summary are writing skills to which all writers can aspire.
Here it is:
Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. It is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. The old law of an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding; it seeks to annihilate rather than to convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends by defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. A voice echoes through time saying to every potential Peter, “Put up your sword.” History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations that have failed to follow this command. – Martin Luther King Jr.
These words, however, have taken on a new and important meaning for me as I watch the violence, looting, and rioting occurring in the US over the past months since the horrible (and morally repugnant) death of George Floyd.
Martin Luther King Jr, if alive today, would be laying his life down to stop this madness and descent into chaos. And the thing that bothers me most today is how none of our Canadian leaders or even general population (like myself) will take a stand and say, unequivocally, that this lawlessness and violence is wrong!
I do not know exactly how many people have been killed (including children) or how many law officers have been killed and injured; it is hard to get exact numbers…but seriously, how bad does it have to get before we say anything in support of those forces that are trying so hard to keep the peace and stop the US from sliding into a civil war? …don’t think it couldn’t happen. How long will it before the extreme right starts marching with armour and assault weapons (flying Confederate or Nazi Flags) as I saw on the news: a group of black paramilitary marching through the streets flying their flags? Is this what we want?
I get that the problem is that our leaders (and many Canadians) sympathize with the BLM motives–so while they, like Trudeau, will kneel down in support of BLM, they dare not criticize the protests/violence/rioting/looting/statue desecration, etc. and come out in support of those brave people trying to restore order because it upsets their world view of us/them–or to put this in its most basic (allegedly) morally superior terms: the racists (represented by law enforcement) verses the non-racists (represented by those throwing insults, bottles, bombs, and even bullets at the police.)
When we refuse to come out and say that we want this violence to end, our silence is condoning it. Another great quote from King is that “the only thing required for evil to triumph in the world is for good people to do nothing.”
Many people and leaders who are appalled at what is going on are too afraid to say anything publicly against the rioters because then they will be called a “racist” and could even lose their jobs because of it. Look what happened to Don Cherry, as an example of the 1984 Thought Police ethics that are now patrolling all public discourse in our country!
I know that there are many people, even among my family and close friends, that will vehemently disagree with me and express their holier-than-thou attitude that there is just cause for these horrible demonstrations that are anything but peaceful and non-violent. They say: We have to end White Privilege and Black Exclusion–at all costs! and through any means! This attitude (as reflected in our leaders’ silence on the rioting) is very dangerous and is very mainstream today.
So I hope you all can see how I think that this silent (condoning) attitude toward violence is dead wrong. Please give a fair hearing to Martin Luther King Jr. Or if not him, open your mind to the certain teacher, alluded to in the final line of King’s paragraph. According to the accounts written in the Gospels, when Jesus was being led away to the crucifixion, Peter stood up and drew his sword, cutting the ear off of one of the Roman Guards about to arrest Jesus. Jesus said to Peter (and I am paraphrasing here) put your weapon away. Violence only breeds more violence. That is not want I want for the world or my legacy.
His words still echo in my head and have the ring of truth to them. I encourage everyone to listen, weigh them with an open mind and heart. And ask yourself if violence to achieve racial justice can ever be condoned, justified, and/or successful?
It has often struck me as kind of odd that “Thou shall keep the Sabath Day Holy” is the #3 or #4 (depending on the version) in the Ten Commandments
I don’ think there is a kind of order of importance for these ten, but being up there in the top 5, seems put an emphasis on this directive that doesn’t manifest into our society and civil laws as well as many of the other commandments like don’t kill, steal, commit adultery, etc.
But maybe it is very important for we humans to have a day off once a week? And may it be doubly important for our globe, at this point in our massive population surge and related environmental catastrophes?
The recent Covid-related lock-downs have shown the world what happens when we stop the 24/7 world in which we live. Birds returned and sang, waters cleared and fish returned, skies opened to show the beauty of the mountains and oceans for many city-dwellers who hadn’t seen them in years and, possibly, life-times for the young.
Can we imagine a world that more-or-less stops one day a week–like my world used to do in my youth growing up in Edmonton, Alberta, when we still upheld The Lord’s Day Act? What other benefits besides lessening our brutal treatment of our planet would there be? Better health and less disease? More peace and less war? etc…
I know that stopping our 24/7, jet-speed world for one of the commandments will never happen these days, but one of the things that Covid has shown us, is that it is possible to stop the inessential stuff and still carry on.
Wishing is a human trait that has (like all of our traits) a dual nature: good and bad or helpful and harmful.
Perhaps too often, we find ourselves wishing that our past had been different. In extreme cases, this backward looking wish mental activity becomes so obsessive that we fail to experience the moment as anything but mental anguish. And here is the worst part: when we fail to wish forward, hope barely glimmers in the dark depressions that can follow.
If we think about it, a backward wish cannot do anything, while a forward wish can move mountains. As trite as it may sound, we cannot change the past, but we can change the future. But the future will not change if our present is mired in regret, guilt, anger, self-pity, inactivity, self-loathing, self-abuse, etc.
Our physical, earth-bound selves are wired to learn from mistakes: this is, of-course, a key survival mechanism built into our humanity. So it is very easy to let this natural tendency to obsess over past mistakes occupy more of our minds than than future actions and possibilities. This is why I believe it takes so much more human effort to wish forward than backward.
Another strange thing about our humanity, is how intense and vivid our memories are of past mistakes and emotional trauma. For example, I have had gout attacks off and on for the past ten years. When the attack is on, the pain is so intense that I could almost cut off my foot or leg to get rid of it. But when the attack is over, I cannot bring up a vivid memory of the hurt. Whereas, some remote emotional hurt, like when I was insulted or had lost/failed some dream of years ago, can come to the surface/present with the same burning intensity.
These two aspects of our humanity may be why our wishing tends to be more backward than forward, thus doing us and our brief time on this planet more harm than good.
So when I find myself falling into those backward wishes, I have to make the effort to start wishing forward, kindling hope instead of despair. It works almost all the time (for me) to pull me out of that dark world of regret, guilt, and lost hopes/dreams. It changes my focus to what can be from what was and cannot be any different.
Perhaps this is why so many people find prayer helpful? Because prayer is essentially a wish forward and can be a very powerful weapon against those mean adversaries of guilt and self-pity.
As far as we know, the Universe goes forward, not backward. So should we.
So happy to announce the launch of this new song and video!
It has been a while in the works: I first learned of the Chilcotin War in 2018 while looking through some library books at Okanagan College, this picture caught my eye.
I started reading about it and was hooked. I knew immediately that there was a song in here. And after a few months of research, the song took shape.
I presented my research and song at a few conferences over the past year, but did not get down to the recording until this past spring. I recorded it in a studio I built in my home in 2016: I call it the “Walter Machura Studio” because it was my first solo-building project that I had ever done. I will never forget the day when it was completed, and I was thinking about naming it.
As I thought and enjoyed that incredible moment of accomplishment (along with a nice cool scotch and soda), it occurred strongly to me that my dad (who can build and/or fix anything) is in this work that I have just done! That’s the name!!
It has taken me more time than I thought to start releasing some music from this great studio, but oh well…we all know how life laughs at our plans!
So, without further ado, here’s the video and song–the first song from my upcoming album, btw.