Saturday, 31 December 2011

Creating space

I was recently shown the following article by a fellow blogger and aspiring author and there is a perspective not present in the text that needs to be addressed. Following is this perspective.

The issue: A Davids Tea shop has been opened in the mile end neighborhood of Montreal, Quebec. The locals feel that this business has a "chain like" feel and will contribute to the gentrification of their neighborhood through the inevitable arrival of "chain restaurants", Starbucks, and the like.

I have a hard time believing that the locals would be reacting in the same way if the owner of Davids Tea, David Segal, would have opened his first store exactly where this new store is, seeing as this would give it that "home town" feel. However, what is actually different from this situation and the present one?

The article clearly states that this is the only store of its type in the neighborhood, and so the introduction of this new "chain store" will not decrease the number of customers that frequent the surrounding stores. Those people that enjoyed their morning coffee and bagel at Cafe Olimpico can still do so, but now people who do not enjoy the taste of coffee can now enjoy a cup of tea.

Should the introduction of a new store really be opposed just because it has been successful elsewhere? Should tea lovers be denied the opportunity to purchase an enormous variety of teas just because this new store is successful?

As I see it, the issue really isn't as stated above, the issue is that the local working class see their shadow in the successful Davids Tea franchise and are exhibiting the same visceral reaction that the 1% have shown towards the occupiers in recent history.

Of course, the shadow of the 1% is the 99%, so this is nothing more than the same situation flipped on its head.

The collective unconscious is suffering from a great schism; we separate ourselves from our shadow with a great iron curtain. So long as the other side stays behind the curtain, we can live our lives in whatever way we choose in blissful ignorance. As soon as the other side begins invading "our turf", however, we show the above mentioned visceral reactions. Tool has a great song about this.

We could go on repressing our shadows and exacerbate the problem, or we could choose another path: allowing space for the other to exist and for ourselves to grow. There are obviously some underlying feelings of hurt resonating in the reactions mentioned in the article. They feel as though their working class lives are somehow inadequate because they don't have many luxuries or comforts as the other side, so they seek solace and comfort in their rigid ideas about what businesses should be allowed in their area. If everyone else around them is small, then their own imagined smallness becomes less apparent.

However, as one much wiser than I once said: Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

So instead of running from our shadow and sticking with our self-imposed smallness, why not allow ourselves to be victorious? Why not ask yourself: "What do I have to give that others need/want?" and work valiantly to spread that gift around. There are people in the community that would love to have so many tea options available, so why not let them have that?

That is, why not allow space for ourselves and others around us to grow and flourish? Perhaps you will even find that you are powerful beyond measure.

On that note, I'll end with some more words of wisdom from the brilliant mother Theresa:

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.
 Live long and prosper,


Friday, 30 December 2011

A steep in the right direction.

Most people don't put much thought into their morning brew. If you're anything like me, then you're likely to put the cereal in the fridge on occasional. It's a good thing I like my frosted flakes.

I tend to stick with some kind of breakfast tea in the morning, appropriately enough, since, as you may have guessed, my brain needs a little encouragement in the mornings.

We all drink tea for our own reasons. Some need to relax and drink chamomile, while proponents of ayurvedic medicine drink a special brew of herbs that helps to balance out their particular dosha. What does tea do for you?

It's the end of the year and I am feeling particularly reflective, so I'd like to share with you what tea has done for me.

A few years ago, I took a course on abnormal psychology and met the person who would start me on my tea drinking quest. We were both particularly keen on learning about abnormal psychology, sat next to each other in class, and got along fairly well, so getting together to discuss the intricacies of the human psyche seemed logical.

It became a regular practice to meet several times a week, closing out multiple tea shops.

At first I would stick to basically the same tea at each place and would not stray far from "old faithful", aka Earl Grey. Eventually though, as our perspectives broadened through mutual exchange of ideas (She was very artistic and holistic in her thought processes, whereas I was much more logical and algorithmic.), the desire to branch out and try new teas began to grow inside me.

After the course ended and we both did splendidly, I more or less stopped drinking tea. (She went to Concordia University to take art therapy after that semester so the regular tea drinking escapades stopped.)

This summer, however, another friend of mine introduced me to a tea shop that I had never seen before, even though I had walked by it many times. My first cup of tea there, a buttered rum flavored tea, was pretty amazing, so I started going there more and more frequently.

They had a "tea of the day" deal on in the summer, where you could get a cup of tea for 1$ so long as you had a certain mug, which I purchased without hesitation. Little did I know it, but that seed that was planted earlier began to grow with every new tea and I eventually decided to try every tea from the store.

This quest had an unexpected consequence: I began to think about tea, and myself, in a new light.

 I noticed that certain teas could counteract particular imbalances. For example, chamomile tea can decrease anxiety, and caffeinated teas can counteract the tendency to refrigerate cereal.

I then started thinking about the tendencies that I have-how I react to certain situations, how I think about others, how I approach my daily life.- and began to look for "imbalances". In other words, which tendencies are helping me, and which are maladaptive? Moreover, if a certain tendency is maladaptive, what can I do to compensate for this?

In other words, the quest for tea drinking glory has caused me to leave some of my old tendencies behind. Which, I must say, has been a steep in the right direction.

Live long and prosper,