Monday, April 29, 2013

Finding Liberty

Have you ever been searching for something that you didn't really know you where looking for?  An intangible object you did not quite understand? You know, that feeling that something is missing or a little out of whack but not being able to put a finger on it?

It is an uneasy feeling. A feeling, possibly, of insecurity, of being over whelmed, the loss of something....... love, beauty, happiness. It feels like hitting rock bottom.


Hitting rock bottom.... how do we know when we've hit it? I have often felt that things were bad in my life and couldn't get worse, and I was wrong. I hear stories of what others have gone through, the hardships, the sadness, and I feel ashamed for thinking my life as being conflicted with tragedy in comparison.
A friend shared a story with me about tragedy and I saw a rock bottom I have never come close to.
So, does everyone have their own rock bottom? Are there multiple layers of rock bottom?

A lot of us have felt bad, experienced some form of depression, suffered from some type of physical and/or emotional pain. But I think that we may have also experienced the complete opposite, because we've made, even if only momentarily, a choice. I know that I have. And I say momentarily because in a world full of hardships, we need to make the choice often, to see beyond the fog, to pull ourselves out of the muck.

One of the hardest things to find when it feels like life has swallowed you whole is strength; strength to do the right thing, strength to carry on. But I believe we all have it. Just like we may all have our own rock bottoms, we do all have our own strengths.

Love, beauty and happiness is there. It is our choice if we want to get it.

I have found and needed to remind myself, that I am or was, looking in the wrong place.

It happened to me not too long ago when I found myself inside of a miserable day, being plagued with uneasy thoughts, in a place surrounded by strangers. And I took a moment to close my eyes and breathe in, trying to relax, and when I lifted my lids, there she was, Liberty.

I was washed over with a bit of awe and amazement. It is a beautiful thing to come to realize the life that surrounds us is in fact ours. With regards to the economy and all of that other stuff that is out there, it is hard, for certain, but it is still our life. Our choices, our ability to think and act for ourselves. We don't have to be or feel confined or restricted. We don't have to give in to compulsion or coercion.

I saw my Liberty.... and regardless of the ups and downs and disappointments that life can, and probably will, still throw my way...... I know that I have the strength to hold on. And if I can do it....... maybe you can find yours as well. Maybe you already have.

Love, beauty and happiness..... and Liberty, they are all there.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

My Selling Curveball

To make it clear to some who may not know, I like to write. I've had two books published with a third on the way; all part of a series. If you don't know about my books and would like to find out more, you can go to my website here: I am proud of my accomplishments and I thoroughly enjoyed writing them, although the process of getting the story bound and packaged and all that, presented some headaches; but that was somewhat expected.
I am happy with the fact that I got to tell the story I wanted and I've received some good feedback, including both compliments and some constructive criticism. The books have not gone flying from the shelves and I have definitely not been able to start a future retirement fund for myself, but these things have not brought me down nor have they tarnished my passion to write. To publish, maybe, (It isn't free after all) but not to write and continue to develop stories.

Going the route of self publishing has been a little bit of a challenge and I suppose I haven't helped myself by being the quiet person I am. Marketing and/or self promotion is not my thing, at all. I can, at times, talk almost endlessly about the storyline, my characters, the thought process behind the book(s) and the way in which things developed, (of course this is all usually dependent on whether you ask me about it) but when it comes to making the sale, to actually saying "buy my book"........ it is not really me. I'm even having a bit of a hard time writing this. And whether this hardship that I'm challenged with is because of a difficulty I face with certain aspects of communication or because I'm simply shy/afraid of rejection, doesn't really matter much, it is the way it is.

Email and other forms of social media has helped, I can take the time with want I want to say, but I still don't push the 'sell'. I'm not your typical out going leader or salesman who can talk a good game and get everyone involved.

I have found though that when it comes to pitching something else, something to help out a cause, I tend to be just a little more 'on the ball' so to speak. I'm not going to say I'm a whole lot better at this, but I do try to put in a bit more effort. And since we are at the point of the discussion where we are, I will shamelessly plug the Heart & Stroke Big Bike Event that I will be participating in. An annual event to raise funding for critical care and research that helps sustain life all across Canada. Please visit my page and lend me your support: Mark Koning's Big Bike page!

Selling is a hard thing; some are born with a gift for it, some are not. Some people tend to push a little too much, some do not push enough. I tend to float around the later, or sometimes even less then that. But that's okay with me. Putting an effort toward advocating for a cause such as the Big Bike for Heart & Stroke simply registers with me more than trying to sell my book...... it's my curveball.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Bliss of a Shoelace

When I think about the first year I attended school after my illness my brain comes up with fond memories that bring a smile to my face. I remember that I was pretty much the most popular kid in my class. Teachers were pretty awesome with acts of compassion, helping me with any troubles that I might encounter; and students followed with similar gestures.
A boy named Roger and a cute little girl named Jennifer stand out amongst the many. He challenged me, but in the good way, to do my best; to pat me on the back and work with me to understand. She became my shadow and constantly reassured me with a smile. I can picture him getting me to sit up front, back straight, head held high. I recall her tying my shoelaces for me, constantly asking if I was alright and what else she could do for me.

Oh how simple life was.

Moving along throughout my school years things did tend to become more difficult and hard to understand. I lost my Roger's and Jennifer's as I became just another face in the crowd, my disability hidden to those on the outside, but in many ways, also from me. I would shyly sit in the back (on occasion slouched down) as I was sometimes afraid of being noticed, and no one was tying my shoelaces anymore. Regardless though, I enjoyed life and I carry some great memories of people I met and things I did or encountered.

I now know and understand my disability and what I went through a lot more; though I am sure there is more that I could learn. But do I want to? What difference does it make? When people say "Mark, everyone gets depressed" I now feel more of a sting from being compared to everyone else when I know not everyone else lives with a brain injury and endures the ramifications from it; but before, when I didn't know, I just rolled with it. Should I be happy now that I know why it is I have certain fears or challenges? And has my knowledge just made things worse? Because now I wonder if I am blaming my disability, my brain injury, on too many things.

So the question becomes, is ignorance (innocense) really bliss?

I recall a character by the name of Cypher from the movie The Matrix. A scene where he is sitting in the matrix, wearing nice clothing, sipping at wine, eating a steak, knowing that these things are not real. A harp is played in the background as he is about to betray the "good guys" to the Agent out to get and destroy them. "Ignorance is bliss" Cypher drools out with a smirk on his face.

Then I remember that Cypher never made it out of the movie.

It is a movie and it is a bit of a far fetched example, but it does kind of ring true. Ignorance may be bliss in the beginning, but it is knowledge that brings to us true beauty and peace. The struggle in life may still be there, (it most likely always will be to a certain degree) and the bumps may have increased and become rockier the more I've learned, but I have acquired a lot that I consider well worth it.

Things like self awareness and the ability to help others with what I know. People I've met from my journey of education and growth. The capability to contribute to society in ways I could not dream before. The fact that even though they may not personally be in my life, by my side, I can see that the world is full of Roger's and Jennifer's; and that is alright with me. And If I was truly blaming my brain injury on things, I would not be doing those things; saying that I wasn't capable and giving up.

I can tie my own shoelace now and be happy with the knowledge I carry.