Posts Tagged ‘covetous’

Trish and I are celebrating our one year anniversary in Dallas….but this is just the latest stop in a long line of stopovers. As Canadians, we are considered an anomaly. Most people in my country tend to hunker down, build a nest and stay in that one place for life, in the same job, short term vacation, paint the house every five years, have 1.2 children, put a different car in the driveway, buy a house they can’t afford, spend thirty five years trying to pay it off, divorce at least twice…. and never leave their comfort zone until  taken out in a box. Canadians in general are sedentary unimaginative and predictable people. The banks and government love them for acting like sitting ducks.

Many people emigrate,  we are nor immigrants…. we wander by choice. We have zero intention to stay in one place, instead we float in a dish of cream. When the milk runs dry we will  be on our way. In the past ten years in particular, we have been ‘on the road’ so to speak, living in hotel rooms and long stay executive apartments. I particularily like countries that rent furnished apartments by the week, like Australia. It’s liberating to move from one great view to another. I do not want plants or animals tying me down. I have a beautiful wife …why would I need a little furry buddy to assuage my inner emptiness? Aside from Dallas we have lived/ worked in  Paris , Amsterdam, London, Bristol, Beijing, Singapore, San Francisco, Bangkok, Hong Kong, New York, Maui, Helsinki,Denpassar,  and visited many places in between…..prior to that..  long stints in  Fiji and Brisbane homeschooling our son on the beaches. For university prep we gave the boy a top boarding school education and he went on to spend six years living on the campus of a great university. He is very independent and we’re quite proud of that.

The travelers lifestyle got under my skin when very young. I suppose you develop a mindset after a while where ‘home’ becomes a concept rather than a place. Our circle of friends are living around the world rather than the house-frau and her balding husband across the cul de sac. I’m permanently tanned from too much time in the sun, whereas in Canada they’re sounding alarms against the idea of even 15 minutes exposure. My travel flesh is deep and dark. My rotator cuffs  joints in arms and hips are grinding like an old transmission from too much time spent in swimming pools and surf lines…my travel bones are worn. And still I have no want to return ‘home’ and begin collecting china or automobiles….or even worse….take up golf.  This a hell of a lifestyle…. but someone has to live creatively.

Canadians in particular are jealous to the extreme, they covet  and become angry when anyone has something they cannot. It’s a peculiarity of the culture. You’ll find  conversations with Canadians  begin with  identifiers ‘what do you do….where do you live, how much do you make.. where have you been on holiday’? It is a Canadian caste system that defines who you are financially compared to every one else. They’ll want to know if they’re ahead or behind so that they can either envy you or despise you. Vancouver , for example has been polled as being the loneliest, least friendly, and difficult to make new friends in as a city…. there is a large population of people reporting some form of depression and mental illness due to the social isolation. People there are so covetous of anything another might have that they can’t decide to ‘just be normal’.A visitor to Vancouver will notice a desperation to own real estate and a huge number of newly leased cars…. but no theater scene, no music scene, art scene, no cool neighborhoods…..just a lot of miserable people sitting around telling you how great their city is as justification for what they’re paying every month. In fact…it has to be the most miserable , covetous place I have ever been.

But I remind people that what you do in life is a choice. ‘Change your mind.. change your life’… is a phrase that popped into my head when I began my career as a traveler hitchhiking around North America and then branching off to spend decades wandering the world. It works for me…..and if you don’t like where you are…pack a suitcase and go somewhere you do. Hey…it works for us. I guess I’ll have to keep my crown as ….THE KING OF PAIN.

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Pat and I flew into Vancouver Canada for a short road trip. I forgot how unwelcoming the city can be…starting with the soviet era airport. I guess we’ve been spoiled by the stellar airport services we’ve received elsewhere in the world to have expected the same from the Canadians. The distant gates for international flights from baggage claim and not having carts available for passengers is perhaps an oversight…but no car rental kiosks in the building?

Once through the gauntlet of overzealous agents we found ourselves slogging a hundred yards through the pounding rain down wet and unlit and uncovered gravel walkways…without the benefit of any signage whatsoever…to find the car rental counters in a dark basement underneath a long term car park. It made us think we were being targeted as ‘bad people’ for not having first located public transit. I say this because Vancouver is a violently anti-automobile city…..in spite of the perpetual inclemency and incredibly poor public infrastructure. I thought of how vulnerable and scary this first introductory experience might be for a single woman new to the city.

Is it this first introduction that has people voting down Vancouver in newspaper polls as the unfriendliest, unwelcoming and loneliest city on earth…a veritable trifecta of reasons people don’t come back? Vancouver bills itself as ‘the greatest place on earth’….wasn’t that line coined by a circus impresario whose entire shtick was to create illusions….is there some cosmic metaphor on the zeitgeist of Vancouverites being played for fools by the politically correct hucksters that have run this place badly for too long?

The weather has to have an effect overall….it’s crappy…there is no more honest way to describe it….prospective visitors have to know. 10 months of the year the skies are overcast and the rain constant. A recent government pronouncement stated that mental illness is spiking in Vancouver…their excuse…” due to the lack of sunshine and immigration”. How they came up with that bizarre assessment I don’t know…you’ll have to ask them…I only read the article published in a local newspaper.

I would add my own observation. The city of Vancouver lacks any cultural expression, there are no museums, no art galleries, there is no cafe culture, no cool neighborhoods to hang out in, the style culture of poverty-chic is to dress down and look as miserable as possible while drinking to excess at an Army Navy legion hall among the fading memories of a greater generation. The cost of living is astronomical, people are generally working poor and deeply in debt due to the highest and most unaffordable real estate prices and high rents against a backdrop of the the lowest incomes in the western world. Vancouver’s cultural nightlight is the drunken bloody brawls orchestrated by a cynical and brutal police force on Granville Street in the two blocks of booze tinged neon called ‘the entertainment district’.

The once vaunted film business has died and moved to Toronto leaving thousands of faux hipster malcontents without a future due to the lack of mobility in Canadian culture generally. People feel entitled to be supported in one place for a lifetime without taking personal responsibility for the consequences of their inaction. The video game trade has left for Montreal and London hollowing out the tech space to an echo of what once was twenty years ago, there is no art scene, dance, music, club or theater scene. Don’t think about coming to Vancouver and finding a blues or jazz club.

You are not welcome to hang out in a coffee shop and surf the net….they will harass you out the door for being a ‘laptop hobo’ taking up space without disgorging a constant stream of revenue. I know the property taxes in Vancouver are egregious but the culture of kicking people out of a coffee shop for surfing is disingenuous…..don’t you think? I think some of these little discussed factors may be contributing to the general reasons why people are so miserable ( according to the polls) here, while the financially driven promoters of Vancouver’s tourism trade untruthfully exclaim the city as ‘livable’….how sad.

The disparities between rich and poor are wide and ugly…. leading to the less fortunate developing a nasty covetous streak that vents hatred on any showing of personal success. Vancouver has a minor elite of highly paid civil servants whose obvious luxury and decadent display serves to push the average workers face in the mud. It is the civil service who enjoys a high position of class affluence and wage disparity over the citizen in Vancouver and not any industry or business culture in the city. Did you know that the fastest growing segment of food bank clients are working families?

There isn’t a single global head office located in Vancouver to provide any semblance of internationalism, flair or balance. Has anyone not heard of Vancouver’s ‘Downtown East Side’ where miles of filthy blood stained blocks of drug addicted derelicts , the huge population of homeless and assorted transient poor as well as the brutal regime of the streets who ply their trade in misery of every kind in the worlds largest open drug , prostitution and stolen goods market. Don’t go there…not even to get a titillating look…it is violent, very dangerous and you won’t see a single policeman….ever.

Vancouver bills itself as a green city concerned about environmental causes..but that is also a chimera…it is a sad fact that the city of Vancouver pumps million of liters of raw sewage and untreated toxic hospital waste in the ‘pristine’ waters of Vancouver Harbour and English Bay …every day! There are signs along the water front warning people of the fecal count on the beaches after the effluent is washed up on the sand…but these signs are very small….indeed. Walk along the famous seawall and you’ll literally step over the massive pipes leading into the water without knowing what they contain….yuchhhh!

Cities like Singapore did a fantastic job of developing their waterfront area’s into gleaming livable spots where restaurants and businesses are mixed with residential development. The evenings on Singapore’s Esplanade and Clark Quay are vibrant and pleasant. Vancouver’s waterfront seawalls at night are a dark, lonely and scary place of sordid sexual assignations and to be avoided at all costs for your personal safety. Ladies…..don’t walk alone in ‘famous’ Stanley Park…day or night…there has been a long history of violent predatory assaults.

I’m lucky I get to leave next week…..I fully understand why young people go into full blown mindless riot mode every once in a while and start looting smashing and burning police cars for no apparent reason….there is a reason of course….the politico’s don’t want to discuss it……the booze, drugs, loneliness, lack of cultural expression, covetous materialism of Vancouver would drive me crazy too.

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Believe it or not, I have often come across people who are not very happy that I have adopted this carefree lifestyle of rootless traveler. These are people who are alive but do not live. They are not happy for me. I am sometimes met with envy, jealousy and covetous contempt.  I call these people the  ‘Zombies Astral’. The term refers to a person who has had their soul stolen by a powerful wizard and are subsequently encased in a bottle or vessel of some kind for all time. Once trapped, their spirit is under the domination of the spells of the shaman and they must do what they are told to do, by the holder of the vessel, dead or alive, without free will, there is no prospect of peaceful release for the zombie astral.

The ‘zombies astral’  I meet occasionally come in all shapes and sizes, from all sub-components of society. They can be artists whose lack of  skill in the art of living makes them die hard malcontents  seeking release through recognition and the distant perception of freedom that a windfall of accidental and overdue discovery might bring. The majority of zombies are the day-workers, professionals and otherwise who feel trapped in an unhappy  job, unsatisfying career or dead-end lifestyle that they themselves have chosen to follow. The idea that I am a butterfly enrages some people. I get the feeling they would trap me in a net and pin my wings to a cardboard sheet if that were possible.

I have far less future security or financial wherewithal by comparison and yet they envy me, because I am free. Freedom is the one natural attribute that holds itself above all human values, it is pure and always rises above the market. We are all given the gift of freedom at birth and then most people either foolishly give it, exchange it, sell it or barter it away for possessions during the course of their lives. That zombies astral  are trapped by their own design and see no way of extricating themselves from the mess they have wrought in their own lives is not something I have had any charge in. They have fallen for the siren song of the trixster who rules the marketplace. The things these people have most in common is that they envy everyone and anyone whom they perceive as being ‘better off’ than they are and….. that they are  slavishly addicted to playing lotteries of any kind as if only some cosmic magic will alleviate their terror and mediocrity. The ‘Zombie Bottle’ is the life they have made for themselves…. their own choices have enslaved them.

The covetous nature of the intent of advertising has had a devastating effect on people of my society. Emotions have been replaced by objects, desire has been supplanted by possession of popular things. I began to notice that conversations in the west had begun to generalize across certain nations in particular where the initial exchange was only about position, possession and pretense. “Good Morning” in my culture is always followed by “What do you do?” so as to categorize a person financially in the social strata. Next is always “Where do you live?” In my city everyone knows the property values from area to area as well as they know what’s in their refrigerator. Automobiles have been sold as replacements for personality, as if a certain model can cloak who you are and replace you with a magic message of cool or renewed virility.

I don’t fit in to these conversations or exchanges, I am an outsider, without the necessary accoutrements to identify myself to those around me. I am like the troubadour singing an unpopular song outside the gates of a dark city at war. My presence in certain quarters creates an uncomfortable dissonance as if a window has been suddenly opened in the dark rooms of a crack house and a cleansing light has flooded in. A new set of golf clubs will not take your heart soaring to the heights that stories of fabled places will do, you can’t replace your feelings with possessions, nature will not allow it. I get the feeling in these cases that the zombies would like to eat my brain when they have realized  their possessions mean nothing to me. My presence makes everything they have worked for seem worthless. It is incomprehensible to me that people will hate you for something as naive and beautiful as travel, but it is so. Instinctively, freedom is what the soul desires most…..freedom is a window into the mystic.

I decided a long time ago that I didn’t want a mortgage ( the origin of this word is Latin meaning ‘to grip until death’) . I have no use for automobiles as I am told that I was born handsome and well endowed. The purchase of ‘things’ will do nothing to create a better person so I’m stuck with who I am. The older I get has money meaning less and less every day, the acquisition of power and position is just too time consuming and wasteful. The collection of memberships in ‘special’ clubs is nonsensical to a person like myself who seldom wants to visit the same place twice.

I say to the ‘Zombies Astral’ of the world………life is what you make it…..get a life. Take a journey through the landscape of imagination.