Thanks 2015, I Hardly Knew ‘Ye

Still No Better This Year

Instead of making resolutions for the coming year, which will fail within weeks, I thought it would be better to look back on the past year with an eye to giving a nod to the things for which I’m truly grateful. Below, is a list of fifty things I was grateful for in 2015:

  1. My kids. They hold a mirror up to the good and the bad in myself, which is humbling but also a source of wisdom. I am acutely aware of the emotional impact of how I relate to them and I want to get that right. It’s the impetus behind my efforts to be more conscientious in my conduct in the world. My kids help me understand the virtue of relishing simple pleasures; the value of deep, interpersonal relationships compared to other objectives, like career or financial aspirations. My efforts to be a better parent have allowed me to grow as a human being, even if just a little. 
  1. My partner. She’s beautiful and lovely. She’s Italian; has curves that aren’t too big or too small, and big brown eyes. She laughs at my jokes and is the sweetest, most kind-hearted person I know. I can’t believe I met her totally by fluke while we were both sipping coffee at Starbucks, each with zero intention of dating at the time. How lucky is that? 
  1. My best friends, because I’ve known them twenty-five years and – I can’t believe I’ve had friends for twenty five years. Holy shit. 
  1. Birds, because they are spectacular creatures. Some of my favourites: Northern Flicker, White-breasted Nuthatch, Bohemian Waxwing, and Indigo Bunting. I love crows, not because they are beautiful but because they are incredibly clever animals.
  1. Mozart, because his music leaves me with the sensation of wading naked in a pool of molten chocolate, while sipping a cup of melted butter and honey from a straw.
  1. Chocolate, because it’s better than cocaine and costs way less.
  1. Jesus, because he was a rock-star rebel and had a bushy hipster beard before hipsters ruined the motif. If he were alive today he would be the moral foil to the greed and corruption that divides humanity and destroys the planet. He would also tell the hipsters to stop being so cynical and pretentious.
  1. Starbucks, because it’s the sanctuary from my office, even if it is an over-priced, frou-frou beacon of gentrification. Some days, it’s the only place where I can sit and read a book. 
  1. Assholes, because they make it so much easier to appreciate the small acts of kindness in my day. I’m grateful for finding a way to put a positive spin on the existence of assholes.
  1. Sunsets because there is something about them, isn’t there? It’s so intriguing you cannot help but look. 
  1. Sunrises, because ditto #10, except sometimes it’s harder to get up early enough to enjoy them. Sunrises are the poor, under-appreciated apprentice to sunsets, which is a shame.
  1. The facebook site Humans of New York, because it is the one thing on facebook or other social media that is genuine. There is no click-baiting, there is no ‘hey, you won’t believe this,’ there is no contrived sentimentality. Sometimes the stories are heartbreaking, and sometimes they are uplifting. What is more, the comments from followers restore my faith in humanity because the supportive ones outpace the hating trolls by a margin of about ten to one.
  1. The sound of the leaves on trees rustling in the wind on a warm summer day. It’s like the best white noise ever.
  1. Public gardens, because I can’t keep a cactus alive. They provide a beautiful venue to sit and stroll that I am too incompetent to create myself.
  1. Bees, because they are vital to the food supply and work tirelessly for the benefit of humans and other creatures. It’s almost divine how one creature’s contributions sustain the nutriment of countless others. 
  1. Dog videos that make me laugh until I cry. I love dogs, and wish I had the time and space to have one of my own. Although, I really hate picking up dog shit, so there’s that.

  1. Sappy, sentimental movies that, no matter how hard I suppress my tears, make me cry like a six year old whose ice cream cone fell into the muck. Damn you “The Fault in Our Stars” you made me sob like a putz in front of my twelve year old; which is okay, of course, because boys DO cry. 
  1. Basil, paprika, garlic, and oregano. They make food taste better.
  1. Cheese, even though it is fattening, smelly like sports socks, and makes my belly ache.
  1. The original weirdo bands like The Smiths, The Cure, New Order, Kraftwerk, because they were pathbreakers and outcasts with widespread appeal. It was a huge relief when I was an angst-ridden teenager who wondered if there was any place for self-appointed outcasts who didn’t want to fit into the crowd.
  1. The Velvet Underground. Because, Lou Reed. I mean, Lou Reed, right? The world is a lot less cool because he’s not in it. 
  1. The Canadian election in October, where a race-baiting, public-servant hating, Conservative douche-bag was handily shown the door by the Canadian electorate. The sound victory for Justin Trudeau and the Liberals restored my faith in the sanity of my fellow countrymen. Thanks Canada for not being a bunch of redneck, Social Darwinist jerks.
  1. Yoga, because it chills me out. 
  1. My job. I don’t love it by any stretch, not even close, but it pays decently and has great benefits (see point # 40). There are a lot of jobless people out there and I don’t take for granted the grace of having a full-time, permanent job.
  1. Pizza, because it’s greasy, fattening, rife with nitrates and preservatives, and delicious. I usually eat about five slices more than I should. Thanks pizza, for launching me to the cosmos in a state of glutton-induced bliss and making me fatter than I should be. 
  1. Earplugs, because they help me sleep and drown out conversations that are stupid or that have me launching into a flurry of derisive internal commentary about the people having it, which makes me feel like a judgmental asshole. Earplugs spare me the whole ordeal. 
  1. My infinite neuroses. The catastrophically tangential nature of my inner-narrative propels me to be pro-active where it really matters. If I wasn’t wracked with irrational fears of dying of some heinous, rare type of cancer, I never would have got off the couch or bothered to eat a vegetable. If I wasn’t worried about going nuts, I wouldn’t have picked up things like meditation and spirituality to guard against the random fear I am inclined to madness. Nobody in my family has ever gone mad. 
  1. The smell of fresh-baked bread. When I was a kid I used to steal buns from a bakery adjacent to my house. They would put their bread trays outside in the parking lot behind their kitchen to cool off. The aroma would cascade into my bedroom window, summoning me out of bed in the morning. It’s the main reason I went through a really awkward pudgy phase when I was about twelve.
  1. Black Sabbath, because I was a metal head in the 80s and 90s and so many metal bands I thrashed to wouldn’t exist if they hadn’t been influenced by Sabbath.
  1. My mother because, even though she was far from perfect in seeing to my healthy emotional development, she charged through the struggle. As a parent myself, I know how difficult it must have been to be single with two kids to raise.
  1. The fact that, even though we are divorced, my ex-wife and I get along. There are ups and downs, of course, but on the whole we still respect and support each other as co-parents and have yet to throw a single knife at each other.
  1. Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Ministry of Silly Walks. German philosophers versus Greek philosophers in a football match. The Spanish Inquisition. The Holy Grail. I could go on. Very well then, I will. The Life of Brian. Village Idiots. The Dead Parrot. I should stop now because I’m being a bit of a ninny. 
  1. The fact people read my blog, even though it’s obvious some stumbled on my site while looking for porn. A lot of folks stuck around and enjoyed a few articles before they got back to the main task of finding something to jerk off to.
  1. The female of the human species. They are the life-givers, even if generations of wily, self-serving males have fashioned clever lies to make us believe otherwise.
  1. People whose work involves serving others, even though the pay sucks, the work is often dangerous, and sometimes thankless. Teachers, nurses, social workers, fire fighters, police officers, soldiers; they deserve our gratitude because they sign up for jobs that most of us wouldn’t want. These are the middle-class heroes.
  1. Literature. Vonnegut, Tolstoy, Garcia Marquez, Dostoyevsky, Flaubert. I wish I had three lifetimes so I could have the time to read all the greats.
  1. Nature trails, because they give city-slickers like me a chance to be outdoors and spend time with my kids doing something we all enjoy.
  1. Silliness, because it’s out there, if you’re willing. My favourite silly thing to do is to speak to my co-workers, out of the blue, using any one of the dozens of accents I can do.
  1. Laughter, because it is the best medicine, even if it is a cliché.
  1. The chance to help Syrian refugees escape the war and conflict in their country. In fact, I’ve been in Jordan for a while now, and it is a wonderful place. Despite how grueling the pace of work is, I am proud to do something real to help people in need, even though it meant I had to be away from my partner and my children through the Christmas season.
  1. Meditation, not because it’s fun, not because it makes me a spiritual maven, but because it works. I don’t know why, I can’t explain why, and I’ve stopped trying to figure it out. It doesn’t matter. 
  1. Dance music; dancing in my underwear until I am sweaty and faint. It’s a guilty pleasure that nobody knew about until just now. I wish I was as good as this kid:

  1. The marvels of human ingenuity, curiosity, creativity, and inventiveness – advances in art, culture, science, and technology. They testify to the virtuous parts of the collective human endeavour.
  1. Writing. I still battle the inner-critic that tells me I am a terrible writer, that it’s a total waste of my time. But it’s therapeutic; it’s an outlet for an innate craving for creative self-expression. I am grateful for an avocation fueled by passion rather than necessity. 
  1. That I made it to forty-five things to be grateful for in one sitting. I didn’t think it was possible. I’m grateful to have so many things to be grateful for.
  1. Having the chance to live in the Middle East for a time; to have countless everyday experiences to dispel the negative media caricatures over my entire forty-something lifetime of Muslims, Arabs, and other humans who call this part of the earth home. To watch a Jordanian man interact with his little children is to completely obliterate everything I learned second-hand about Arab-Muslim men.
  1. Peanut butter because it’s delicious, creamy, and nutty. I am grateful I’m not allergic because a day without peanut butter is like a day without sunshine. 
  1. Love; the feeling of unity, the awareness of a fate intimately shared with something or someone other than myself. The sense of vulnerability that comes with letting-go into the thing loved is both frightening and quintessentially life-affirming. 
  1. Beauty; a phenomenon that makes the hairs across my flesh stand tall, that gives me the butterflies. Some things hit my senses and an energy radiates throughout my body before my mind is aware it’s happening, and I am in awe for reasons I can’t explain. I am grateful to be  touched by beauty.
  1. Nature, which provides me and every living thing on the planet with infinite avenues of existence. If we destroy nature, we destroy ourselves. I am grateful more of us humans are serious about living in harmony with nature in 2015 than did in the past.

What were you grateful for last year? Think about it. Try and jot down a list. Most of all, have a Happy New Year in 2016.

 

 

A Mountain of Evidence in the Gender Wars

The gender wars are a hot potato and I don’t tread into those waters lightly. But the other night I was inspired. So here it is feminists, may you tar and feather me for the latent misogyny that I unleash. Since I am a Western man it’s likely I’ve done something to deserve it. It’s what I was trained for, after all. So here I go.

Before I proceed, I think it’s fair to lay out exactly where I stand on the issues that demarcate the gender divide. First, I am a man, and therefore not a woman. Second, I am male, and therefore not a female. I know I could be either a woman or a female if I really wanted to, but I don’t; not that there would be anything wrong with it if I did. There are many days I really wish I didn’t have a penis, so I totally understand why a dude would want to rid himself of the crippling appendage. It’s like our tether to chaos, at times.

I think there’s a few things we can all agree about the differences between the sexes:

1. Males can’t have babies.

2. Females can’t have an erection, and don’t live in perpetual fear of getting kicked in the balls.

3. Men are socialized to be knuckle-dragging cretins who desire to conquer, dominate, and ultimately destroy everything on the planet, including the planet itself.

Other than that, until today I would have said those were the only definitive, universal differences between the sexes. Then, I went in the kitchen and saw this:

Men Can't Do thisThis is the pile of dishes my partner made today. ‘Pile of dishes’ doesn’t do justice to the masterpiece that is this, um, pile of dishes.

Okay, my partner is a woman, which I don’t object to. I happen to like women who are female, and the point of this blog post is to highlight something distinct about females who are women. Or, females who aren’t men. She’s a woman with a vagina. You figure it out.

She made that pile and I’ve never ever been able to produce anything like it. The other day I tried to match the feat, and broke a really nice gravy boat in the process, which wasn’t cool. Like making babies, gingerly stacking a pile of clean dishes is yet another thing men can’t do which makes us that much more stupid and depraved than women. We’re just a bunch of knuckleheads who need thirty square feet of counter space to lay out an evening meal’s worth of dishes so they’ll dry.

I have scientific proof. My mother, my ex-wife, my ex-mother-in law, and now my partner (the female woman) all have been able to erect mountains of dishes that spanned vertically into the stratosphere. When I do dishes I can’t do that, and I’ve never seen any man’s pile of dishes come anything close to what you see pictured here. Men tend to make Mongolian steppes of dishes, not Mount Everest.

My ex-father-in-law was mentally and physically incapable of doing dishes at all. He only ate from dishes and piled them in the sink on top of the other food-encrusted dishes. In reality, I think he probably did that to get under the skin of my hectoring ex-mother-in-law. It’s no wonder they are separated. You learn a lot about a couple from how they navigate the touchy subject of dishes. I knew they were doomed years before they split; my ex-father-in-law was completely whimsical with his dishes, quite frankly.

My grandfather put his dishes in the dishwasher and didn’t believe in piling them up – either dirty in the sink or clean in the dish-rack. But he was a great cook. Man, I miss his Fettucine Alfredo. He and my grandmother used to stand on either side of the dishwasher as they filled it up after a great feast. They were in the kitchen, dishing with each other until the day my grandfather died. He went to the grave after forty-eight years of marriage, having licked his plate totally clean when he left us.

The Dumb Dog, The Cheshire Cat, and the Big Brown Bear

It’s said they are man’s best friend, but since my teens I’ve had a love-hate relationship with dogs. When I was eleven, my mother took up showing dogs as a hobby which I saw as pay off for my years of begging. I was thrilled to finally have a dog in the home, but the hobby turned to obsession and one dog turned to dozens in a few short years. The  constant chaos of a life lived among throngs of smelly dogs was cramping my teenage style, which I had very little of to start.

The scent of dog was deposited like sediment in every pore of my unwashed teenage body, and picking up tonnes of their waste as part of my daily chores left my nose hairs perpetually coated in the oily effervescence of fresh dog shit, which I began to smell everywhere I went. To this day, I can’t help from checking the bottom of my shoes. The experience severely dampened my total enthusiasm for all things dog.

Sit, not shitDogs are an enigmatic species of beast. They can detect tiny nuclear components and small amounts of drugs in shipping containers, act as the eyes and ears for persons with disabilities, keep law enforcement on the trail of escaped fugitives, but can’t be potty trained to for all the Milk Bones in the world. Walking through a dog-owner’s back yard is like tip-toeing in a Cambodian minefield.

I’ve had clever, toilet-trained six-year old dogs who would periodically just decide to crap in the house, lift their leg on the bedpost, or water the fern in the living room. Just because. Imagine, a forty two year old accountant taking a dump in the corridor or peeing on his cubicle wall at the office because it was Wednesday and he was in a mood.

Doggy leg-humpingIf you threw a ball off a cliff a dog would blissfully leap off the precipice to fetch it. They lick incessantly when you put peanut butter on the roof of their mouth. They can’t help from sticking their heads out the window of a moving car and letting their tongue flap about in the wind, which makes the most regal canine look like a bloody imbecile. A dog scratching its anus is the most deplorable behaviour of any domesticated animal, with leg-humping a close second.

I had a relative whose dog ate his lawn furniture while he was at work. When dogs meet each other in the park, even if they’ve both been trained to shake a paw they’ll still sniff each other’s anuses to say ‘hello.’ For many dogs, their own frozen poo is the piece de resistance in canine cuisine.

The truth is, no matter how awesome they can be, dogs are basically a bunch of morons.

Competition between dogs and cats for domestic pet supremacy is a common row between enthusiasts of each species. On the plus-side, cats do their business in a box, which is easy to clean and out of the way. All cat breeds are small. If they sleep on your bed there’s still plenty of room for yourself and other intruding family members.

Oh, so I can't sleep on the bed, then? Fine. Good night, then.

You’re kidding right? No more sleeping on the bed! That’s hilarious, you petulant human! … Oh, you mean, you’re serious. Okay then. Good night. Sweet dreams *you dead motherf ….*

Cats fit on your lap easily and purr when you pet them, but don’t stay there forever because they basically detest humans, and tolerate us only because we’re their main source of food. They don’t bark and growl at random phenomena for hours on end. In all, unless you’re allergic, a cat is a pretty unimposing pet and can seem like good company if you have a vivid imagination.

And that’s the problem. They’re perfunctory. They’re a soft, furry stand-in for a sentient being to project your misguided affections and stoke the delusion you’re in a relationship with someone. In reality, they give you nothing in return other than their body weight in waste every other day and random piles of hair-soaked vomit. They shit in a box because that’s what they do – they aren’t doing it to please you. They’ll sit on your lap because it’s the warmest thing in the room, not because it’s you. If you put a heater under a rock, the cat would choose the rock over you.

Shit outside the box

So, you want to feed me that bargain-basement sawdust you call cat food AND want me to poo in the litterbox? Hey, that’s funny! You know what else is funny, those smelly gems on the floor to my left. Ha! Ha! Ha! Now THAT’S funny!

If you were hiking in the woods with your cat and got caught between a big brown bear and its cubs, the cat would scratch you in the face to slow you down and make its getaway. There’s something evil in their DNA, a diabolical streak behind the ‘Cheshire cat grin’ that barely conceals the fantasies they stoke in feral minds that desire to eat you in your sleep.

Cats aren’t loud creatures but they keep weird hours, when the noises they make are magnified ten-fold. In the middle of the night they’ll run around chasing invisible mice or utter shrill, ghoulish growls at some random slight they’re pissed off about. They are usually bitchy and hissy to your guests, and are capricious as hell in dishing out and receiving affection. They’ll purr in bliss as you pat them in your lap, until the moment they grow weary of the stimulation, then they’ll bite your hand and viciously slash your arm to make you stop the annoying petting.

Cats are often blase about your arrival from a long day at the office, as if to say, “Oh, yay. You’re here *yawn*. So, I suppose you want your chair? Pfft.” Then, as they leave the room in a passive aggressive huff without uttering a measly ‘meow’ to say hello, they’ll sharpen their claws on your couch and dash to the litter box to take a shit and kick some litter around; maybe even pee on the wall to put the most pungent, offensive icing on a box of clumping cat-litter cakes.

Eating with catsCats are unrepentant and vengeful. I had a cat that looked me in the eye as she stood in the litter box and peed on the wall because we hadn’t gone to the grocery store for her wet cat food. The same cat used to paw my nose in the middle of the night and sit on my face to wake me up and give it water.

Cats clean themselves, which is great, but then they hurl and wretch disgusting hairballs in the middle of the night, which is more aggravating than just giving them a bath. They’ll rip your furniture to pieces and pierce their claws into your skin when startled while sitting in your lap. It’s as if they know eventually something will startle them as they nestle in your lap, and they’ll have a ready-made excuse to tear your succulent flesh without being punished for it. I cottoned on to that feline gag and can report the myth is true: cats do land on all fours, no matter how much indignant rage goes into throwing them across a room.

The reality is, cats are preternaturally pathological leeches.

I hate f*ckin' rats.

I hate f*ckin’ rats.

There are few human beings capable of the unflinching loyalty of a dog. If I was in the slammer for axe murder, Fido would be waiting anxiously for me when I returned home. He wouldn’t judge me for being a ruthless criminal like other fair-weather friends. He’d cuddle with me and play ball without making me feel self-conscious about being a homicidal sociopath. If I were being chased by that bear, Fido would see his death before that bear got to me.

There are legions of stories about how dogs have helped make the lives of people with intellectual disabilities, depression, or other neurological impairments better and more independent. They don’t take your flaws and throw them back at you. They sense when you aren’t right emotionally and have a protective instinct that makes a person feel safe and secure. I’m never surprised to see a homeless person with a dog. It’s another mouth to feed, for sure, but necessary for the soul of a person suffering so much hardship.

Cats vs Dogs

Which is why it’s a no-brainer in the cat versus dog debate: dogs by a landslide. I should qualify: big dogs. Small dogs are like cats in their futility of purpose, except they’re dumber. They can shit in places you won’t find until it’s long been fossilized. Every time I’ve been bitten by a dog it’s been one of the small breeds, whose owners believe them to be friendly because they’re little. ‘Friendly’ compared to a badger, maybe.

The temerity of these mini-dogs when encountering larger dogs accentuates how stupid they are. To their credit, the big dogs are bemused at the posturing, as if to say “What is this funny little thing that barks at me so? Can eat this squeaky toy?” I ruefully imagine the day a German Shepherd grows weary of the petulance and wolfs it down, taking its stupid Jimmy Chu doggie-shoes and Vera Wang sequined jackets in a single chomp. When the day comes, I’ll thank Kaiser Wilhelm and be content that my heels are safe from another rat on a leash and I’m spared the side-show of an owner feigning incredulity that it happened.

Buried under ten feet of snow? Killer cough? Nol problem for these big dogs.

Buried under ten feet of snow? Killer cough? No problem for the big dogs.

So, in the cat vs. dog debate, I’ll go with the big dogs and leave the cats and dressed up chihuahaus to the celebrities and Real Housewives who collect them like Barbie dolls. In a big dog I’d have a friend who could pull me out of a burning building or rescue me from an avalanche and bring me a mini-Keg of Neo Citran for my troubles. He’d wake me up if I was sleeping through an inferno, or bark in telling fashion when he senses the woman I’m trying to win over at the park is an emasculating gold-digger.

Me and my big dog would run through meadows and lie joyously among dandelions and daffodils as I rubbed his big furry belly and his leg kicked uncontrollably. He’d still crap in random places in my yard and I’d still have to clean it up. And yes, he’d also hump my leg, and bark at leaves, and eat frozen poo and jump off a cliff for a ball. He’s a dog, after all. But he’s also a best friend who’d gladly stand up to a bear to save my sorry ass.

The World and All its Plans, Foiled Again by ADD

The other day I was running really late to my kung fu class, which I help instruct, and I hadn’t had a chance to eat after work. So I threw the fixings for dinner in a bag, jumped into the car, and off I went through rush hour traffic making my dinner and eating it on the way. It was a simple meal – ham on rye with mayo, cheese and crackers, yogurt, and an oatmeal bar. It got me through three hours of kung fu without my knees buckling from lack of nutrition. But on the way, I had a pang of guilt. Should I be doing this?

This isn’t something I’m proud of, but experiences like this are fairly common occurrences in my life because I am an adult with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). ADD is real, and I’ve lived with the impediments my entire life. I didn’t realize well into adulthood why I seemed to always be my own worst enemy, until I got the diagnosis. It isn’t a syndrome cooked up by pharmaceuticals, shrinks and parents looking to drug misbehaved pre-pubescent kids into quiet submission.

I am pathologically weak at planning or managing time well enough to accommodate the chaotic life I’ve created for myself. The big things are no problem – work deadlines, major projects – these have sufficient urgency to keep my eye on the ball. It’s the little daily tasks that are the most problematic. It’s been that way for as long as I can remember, which means many more meals on the road in my future. I realize this is in the same category of things a person can do to add to the list of hazards while driving, and might rightly be called irresponsible. Maybe, maybe not.

It wouldn’t be the first time a person with ADD had been called irresponsible, by the way. Or lazy. Or “underachieved”. Or insensitive. Whatever. Let me ask you this, if you were a passenger in a plane that lost an engine, or were rolling into hospital emergency having been mangled in a multi-car pileup, or were taking heavy enemy fire while pinned down in a “kill zone” in a theatre of battle, who would you rather have in charge, the one who needs to sit and think things through all the time or the one who is cognitively his best when in the midst of total chaos?

People with ADD have to think straight amidst chaos because that is where we keep putting ourselves – most often sub-consciously. In some cases, it’s what our brains require to think straight. My guess is many people in adrenaline-filled jobs have ADD, whether they know it or not. They are also probably known to sail through traffic driving with their knees while eating a ham sandwich.

I’ve been told many times in my life that planning things out and managing time a little better might make my chaotic life a lot easier, less stressful, and less burdensome for others. People without ADD are often quick to needle those with the condition about some of their habits that drive them crazy: being late for everything, forgetting to do things, getting lost, being unable to follow through on things, committing to too many things, and my favourite, for being disorganized.

There’s an assumption that I like to be late, and to keep other people waiting; that I like being disorganized.  It’s striking that people think they’ve had an epiphany in saying “hey you, Mr. Late Asshole, you should plan better so I don’t have to wait,” as if this was sage advice I hadn’t already thought of.

It isn’t. And I have. But things like time and organization aren’t paramount in my mind, especially when I’m mired in a particular task. I am task oriented to a fault which means awareness of time is the first casualty of a tenuous attention-span. In the past, there were many days where I’d start into a bit of work near the end of the day and get so engrossed that only when the phone rang with my wife saying “where the hell are you!?” would I realize I’d been at it four hours and it was eight o’clock at night.

Planning and organizing are sort of nebulous, airy-fairy concepts that are difficult to grasp, mostly because they require you to construct a distinct picture of a distant future that is nearly impossible for me to fashion in my mind today. Talking about the future in my ADD mind is as abstract and pointless as talking about unicorns and the Easter Bunny, or making sure the house is clean for when Santa Claus pops by.

It is no exaggeration to say that, for me, a meeting in three hours is as abstract a concept as the idea of an asteroid hitting the earth in a million years. It just depends on what I am doing now and what that meeting in three hours happens to be about. This makes it difficult to conceptualize the specific tasks that are required now for the thing later. The thing needs to be really specific to keep my mind from drifting off task because it lacks such specificity.

This is why my blood boils when I hear people say things like “ADD is bullshit.”  Even if I explained to them “sorry being on time is really difficult for me because I have ADD” they would still think I’m a jerk – with ADD. This perception seems to dog many people with disorders of a neurologic nature. According to the legions of armchair neuroscientists out there, depression, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, and ADD are all elegantly fabricated canards that conveniently absolve their so-called sufferers from serious behavioural flaws in their character that they have been unable to control.

Except ADD is real and it sometimes makes its sufferers prone to impulsive behaviours without a mind for the consequences. People seem to accept the behavioural side-effects of other neurological diseases: Parkinson’s, Alzheimers, Multiple Sclerosis, obviously because there are physical symptoms associated with them. It’s a raw deal, but one many of us have come to accept.

One of the main side-effects of ADD is a regulatory issue with strong emotions. There’s a disconnect between the two parts of the brain involved: the part of the brain the emotions stem from and the part that allows us to make sense of that and decide on next steps. It makes for extreme difficulties being involved in emotionally-charged situations. I tend to disengage mentally to give my pre-frontal cortex (the “executive” command centre) time to kick in and govern my responses to things.

This is not easy to do when people are goading for an argument. So an argument is what they’ll get, and folks with intelligence and ADD are often good at arguments. It’s the closest thing to a fist fight you can get in civilized society. The problem is, in the heat of things, you can forget yourself and throw all kinds of verbal sucker punches in order to win. Ay, there’s the rub.

In the past I’ve regularly taken to bouts of intense self-flagellation for failing to rein in a few thorny mental traps that I repeatedly fall into. These are the ones that spawn actions that end up being the root cause of others’ anguish because they keep me far busier and more disorganized than I can manage.

There also seems to be no single, unified theme that underlies the many things I end up getting involved in. That is the source of my bitterness about the condition. It has undermined the progression of certain natural talents I have into a career that I am passionate about, because I haven’t been able to channel the limitless energy I possess into a mental focus that remains fixed, even on the things that I love. Instead, these passions fall victim to a mind that craves novelty; that is so infinitely capable of boredom.

The idea of planning is sometimes anathema to how I conceptualize the world. Things need to be concrete, otherwise I lose focus and attention to detail. This has been more of a hindrance to me than it has to all the people inconvenienced by my tardiness, absent-mindedness, or harried existence. In the aggregate it doesn’t mean I’m an insensitive jerk, it just means that, most often, I am excessively well-intentioned, even if aimlessly so.

Instead of planning for a nebulous future, I tend to go with the flow depending on how things feel in the “now”. People above a certain age view this ethos with disdain. It’s cast off as flaky, jejune, and immature to not have plans for the way forward. I wonder about that kind of criticism. Most people’s lives never unfold according to plan, or if they do, their perfectly planned existence ends up making them into dull, boring, one-dimensional human beings.

I’ve always lived in opposition to this way of thinking. It’s pointless to force the world to suit my plans, or to stick to a plan when the world presents circumstances that should compel a change in thinking. It seems either extremely inflexible or woefully delusional to make an ethos out of ignoring what the world is telling you just because it doesn’t appear to suit the idea you have of the future.

Nobody above the age of sixteen should believe the world works that way; that they’re actually capable of definitively shaping the future with specific actions in the present. It cannot ever be this way, which is why it is best to know yourself, to pay attention to each moment and to listen to whatever it is your heart tells you to do.

While unintended, I live my life like the players in a movie without a script who have been given only a general outline of each scene in a story with a simple plot. In every moment the actors must allow their talents, energies and creativity determine how the story unfolds. Some of the most memorable moments in cinematic history were unscripted; made great by people completely possessed of their characters and in tune with the essence of each scene as it played out.

The fondest memories in my life have always emerged from situations born of serendipity. Allowing myself to get lost in the moment was the catalyst for feelings of bliss that resonate in my mind still, many years later. These were times when anxieties about an uncertain future or burdens from emotional demons of the past were set aside; overcome by a total surrender to the fullness of a particular moment in time.

The world can be sublime if you cultivate a mind that welcomes spontaneity. Sometimes, the notion of living life according to a ‘plan’ is a fine rationalization for living life with blinkers; for resisting things simply because they don’t necessarily line up with expectations. No thanks. It’s not how I roll. With age, I’ve come to accept that as part of my DNA. Dare I say, there’s some argument to be made that more of us should live this way.

All of this means that, from time to time I’m driving somewhere while making a ham sandwich, having my bacon and eggs for breakfast, shaving, or finishing getting dressed. And I dine while driving because I’ve run out of time; because I’m overrun by everything I’ve crammed into my life. These things happen because I am a terrible planner, not an insensitive jerk. That said, if I have three things to focus on, the focus I bring to all three is much better than if I only had one tedious, mundane thing to focus on, like driving in rush hour traffic.