InCourage

Home and AWAY

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Coming Home to Carnage

After spending three weeks of hiking (135km in total) in the spectacular Patagonian landscape, traveling when my body said eat and eating when my body said sleep, getting up early daily to lurch from one must-see destination to another, and then spending over 17 hours sitting next to a guy on the plane half my size but seemingly requiring twice the space - I was a bit crispy by the time I got home. My wife was traveling elsewhere, so no one was here to greet me, but a friend did pick me up at the airport (past midnight) to provide door-to-door service on a wet slushy night in Toronto.

Coming home after a big trip has always been a bit tenuous for me. I'm happy at home and happy to be home, but I struggle with the instant nostalgia of where I've been. The contrast of leaving sunny and hot Buenos Aires and arriving in damp grey Toronto wasn't helping. My friend told me about the freezing rain in the forecast. Nice.

With my lower lip protruding, I headed to bed. My own bed. Not a lumpy bed that isn't long enough for my frame, in a crappy and noisy hostel. My own bed, my own pillow, in my own (quiet) neighbourhood. Needless-to-say, I fell into slumber pretty quickly.

And then it began. CRACK. At 4am it started. Trees and tree limbs were starting to fall. I got up to take a look but couldn't see anything. Despite being woken up a number of times, I decided to stay in bed until I could at least see what was going on. I did manage to sleep in but decided to get up when I heard knocking at the door. A group of neighbours were walking around clearing branches from driveways and checking in on people. This, my friends, is community. This is Eden Mills. In future blogs you'll get to know this place more, and why after a spectacular three weeks AWAY, coming home - even to an empty house - is good too.

A Better World Starts with a Better You: 2012

On Kelby Barker

I have been into self-improvement for a long time now. For almost five years now I have religiously followed a number of authors who speak to becoming a bigger, badder you.

However, the pursuit has always felt a little hollow to me. Becoming a better you has always felt to me to necessitate an overly inward eye. Many years ago I took a pledge around a campfire to live my life for others. While I was just a kid at the time, the pledge is still something that I take seriously, something that has been fed by my activities since.

This campfire experience is one that came back to me several years later when I sought to learn more about Buddhism. My interest was academic rather than spiritual, but I was struck by something on a deeper level nonetheless. I was watching a video series with basic information about what it was to be a Buddhist, and I was struck by a statement the monks said ad the beginning of each installment. "... to achieve enlightenment for the betterment of all beings..."

That is how self improvement reconciles with altruistic, charitable living.

That is how I want to live my life.

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