Choose to be optimistic. It feels better. – Dalai Lama

The happiness of travel

What’s the meaning of life? If you go to the Video Gallery on this site and look for my short Jamaican documentary (it’s 10 minutes!) you’ll 3 find little girls at a school in Ocho Rios who come up with the answer in 30 seconds by asking Mr. Google in the Box that same question. (Hint: The answer is “to be happy.”) Don’t be afraid of Mr. Google; he knows everything! If you learn the meaning of life, no matter what age you are, that’s called wisdom. Mix wisdom with a little humour and you are well on the way to becoming happy. Here’s some wisdom I have gathered from other travellers along the way. Enjoy!

· It’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future – Yogi Berra

· If you’re reading this…Congratulations, you’re alive. If that’s not something to smile about, then I don’t know what is. ― Chad Sugg

· The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom. ― Isaac Asimov

· When nothing is going right, go left. – Anonymous

· It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to. ― J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings.

· You do not write your life with words. You write it with actions. What you think is not important. It is only important what you do. ― Patrick Ness

· When I hear someone sigh that life is hard, I am tempted to ask: “Compared to what?” – Sydney Harris

· The only way to get through life is to laugh your way through it. You either have to laugh or cry. I prefer to laugh. Crying gives me a headache. ― Marjorie Pay Hinckley

Smiling faces

· We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us. ― Joseph Campbell

· Risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. ― Leo Buscaglia

· A wise man will make opportunities than he finds. ― Francis Bacon

· Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking: “What’s in it for me?” ― Brian Tracy

·As if you could kill time without injuring eternity. ― Henry David Thoreau

· The journey is what brings us happiness, not the destination. ― Dan Millman

· Thanks to the interstate highway system, it is now possible to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything. – Charles Kuralt

· If you come to a fork in the road, take it. – Yogi Berra

· Our happiest moments as tourists always seem to come when we stumble upon one thing while in pursuit of something else. – Lawrence Block

· Kilometers are shorter than miles. Save gas, take your next trip in kilometers. – George Carlin

· If you are going through hell, keep going. – Winston Churchill

· Boy, those French. They have a different word for everything. – Steve Martin

· One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things. – Henry Miller

· Do not insult the mother alligator until after you have crossed the river. – Old Haitian Proverb

· I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train. — Oscar Wilde

· Gaiety is among the most outstanding features of the Soviet Union. –Joseph Stalin

· You got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.

–Yogi Berra


Smart phone addiction a sign of the times

Recently I read a fabulous interview in the Globe and Mail (URL enclosed at the bottom of this blog) about society’s addiction to smart phones. Yes, it is a true addiction, no different than drugs. The designers and manufacturers of smart phones admit that, and the next question is what to do about it. It’s an excellent interview and I hope the article is still posted on the Globe website when you go to look for it.

As an investigative journalist, long ago I learned to “back track” the story back to its beginnings. It’s W5 in action; who, what, where, when and why, followed by the more important “how.” In the case of cellphone addiction, I pose a question not raised in this fabulous interview. Simply put, why are people so unhappy with reality that they want to spend so much time in a virtual (fake) reality called cyberspace? Is real life so boring that you need to revert to constant diversion to make your existence tolerable? How do we get people to revert to conscious awareness of the NOW instead of twiddling their lives away surfing the Net and playing games?

If the subject in question is addiction, why not add drugs, alcohol, obesity, fast food, and consumerism to the list? Looking mainly at the United States (although smart phone addiction and consumerism are a global problem) that country seems to be in a downward death spiral manifested in endless and mindless violence, mass murders on an unprecedented scale. Obesity stalks the land like a herd of marauding water buffalos. Fast food outlets spring up endlessly to assuage the constant need for instant gratification. Hundreds of thousands of people are dying from diabetes and drug overdoses. How in the world did the United States end up as such a pathetically unhappy culture? What can be done about it?

Sign for Distracted WalkersI believe the answer can be found in the American Constitution written by the founding fathers, in which the right to the “pursuit of happiness” was written into law. I haven’t read all the weekend papers yet today, never mind the U.S. Constitution, but I do know that happiness is not something you obtain by chasing it. Happiness comes from being, not doing. America is a ruthlessly ambitious nation, constantly chasing wealth and luxury in the pathetic belief that will make them happy, blind to the needs of the heart and soul. At one time Americans went to church, and now they go to the mall. The pursuit of happiness is found in endless purchases of handbags and shoes. Heaven is “Made in China,” and the more we buy the happier the Chinese get.

Personally I have owned a cellphone for a few years. I was convinced I had to have one so I could “keep in touch,” or so that people (my wife) could find me. It’s not a smart phone and neither am I smart because I have never learned to use it aside from answering a call, surfing for flight times or finding out what time it is when I wake up in Ecuador and my brain is still in Vancouver. I pay $40 a month for it to sit on my desk and have done so for several years. I think I have received about a dozen calls on it. After reading this article about phone addiction I am going to cancel my subscription. Not that I am addicted, because I never use it, but because I now realize I will never use it. I am totally focused on the NOW, addicted to conscious awareness, eyes wide open everywhere I go. Why this particular form of addiction? Simply put, I find the world to be a wonderful place and it makes me happy to live in it, and to not lock my head into cyberspace. Try it yourself. You might like it, and hey! It’s free.

New documentary highlights aboriginal literacy project in BC

Kids in GroupsIn the Tsimshian language of the First Nations people of the Pacific Northwest, Wai wah means “just do it!” That expression exemplifies the spirit of the Write to Read Project, a literacy initiative for Indigenous children living in remote communities around the province. Originally started by former Lt. Governor Steven Point, an aboriginal judge, the project sees books, computers and Internet access established on participating reserves by bringing or building libraries and Learning Centres that connect them to the outside world. Now the project is the centre of a new documentary called Wai wah that explains its history and how other communities could replicate its methods.

Grand OpeningThe 30-minute documentary shows that First Nations people are vastly over-represented in Canadian prisons and that money would be far better spent on learning and literacy than incarceration. The all-volunteer project started by the Lt. Governor bringing books to schools, followed up by the ensuing Lt. Governor Judith Guichon taking up the cause. The film illustrates how remote from the modern urban world many First Nations reserves really are, and how difficult it has been for children to access books. It’s a “road trip” showing the varied geography of the province, showing how modular buildings were delivered by truck and barge to the coast and the interior, and now how the project has expanded to almost two dozen communities with many more First Nations showing interest.

Indigenous author, lawyer and business leader Calvin Helin sums up the philosophy after the final episode in the village of Lax Kw’alaams. “What makes knowledge valuable is using that knowledge to help other people. That’s really what wisdom is. Wisdom is when you take knowledge and apply it in a way that helps other people.” The Write to Read Project shows that literacy is the first step towards acquiring knowledge, the first step on a road that leads to wisdom. Look for a link to the Wai Wah video located on the Home Page of this website or log on to the Youtube version at the URL below.