March 27 – do you believe?

246/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  As people sit down this Easter Sunday with their families, I’m assuming a lot of them are celebrating Jesus’ resurrection while others are using the holiday to be with their families be it having lunch, hunting for eggs, getting their chocolate on etc.  On these “holy-days”, I often wonder how many people are celebrating the true nature of the holiday be it Easter, Christmas, Labour Day or whatever you have and how many are using it just as a long weekend, yard work day, shopping day, extra respite from work day and so on.  I’m in the latter category but that is because of a conscious choice – I am agnostic in my personal belief system (only one in my family) but I am very encouraged by and impressed by people who have their beliefs and live by them.  In my life, with family, friends, acquaintances, I have seen hypocrisy in that one thing is preached in respect to others’ behaviour based on personal belief systems but exceptions happen for personal behaviour.  This is no attack against anyone’s religion but more of the way one chooses to follow that religion – that was one of the reasons I made my personal choice.  However, I also understand people need something to live for/believe in providing values and a way to live one’s life.  I could never live my life that way and I can admit it but I do have examples of those rare exceptions who follow their faith and live their life truly by it without judging others.  You are also in my life as family, friends and acquaintances and I am thoroughly impressed by the way you live your lives and you also have also shaped me as I know I haven’t got it in me but I am encouraged by your choices.  You have not judged or criticized me on my choices and that is one of the things that I appreciate the most.   As they say, to each his (her, their) own – you keep doing you and following your belief path and I will keep doing me and following mine and still maintain our bonds 🙂  Thank you both groups for shaping the way I choose to believe!

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January 20 – those white brown family members

180/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. Yesterday I spoke of my father’s family. Today it’s about my mother’s family but not her immediate family such as siblings and their offspring. No, this post is of her extended family – specifically her mother, my (almost centenarian) grandmother’s side. My grandmother was the oldest of her siblings – she had 6 brothers (or was it 7). Almost all the brothers were either raised or born in Canada back in the early to mid 1900s. All their wives were very modern Indo-Canadian women – I’ve seen pictures from the 60s (mini-skirts, bouffant hairdos, all class). Their children (who would be my mom’s cousins but are younger and older than me) all born and raised here were very Western – some moreso than others. As I grew up watching them, I envied them as they seemed to negotiate the Western world that I was born into with ease but my parents still had traditional Indian beliefs that challenged the very being of who I was. I would see my mom’s extended family drinking wine and other spirits, some smoking, speaking English, in western garb, modern haircuts and some in relationships with white people (oh the shock for a kid like me 😉 ) basically free with their being and no worries of what other Indians thought of them – and this was the female relatives as well as the males. As I’ve grown up, I have challenged the constructs of what it is to be Indo-Canadian and I have had to shatter some of the preconceptions that my mom and dad held. I have to thank my mom’s extended family as they subconsciously influenced me to not have to skirt who I was and wanted to be in order to fit into a pre-defined mould of what I was supposed to be. However, I do have to mention that I am glad that I received the morals and values instilled by my parents especially not forgetting my heritage as that also makes me unique and uniquely me. I thank my mom’s extended family for allowing me to dream and then be a part of the Western culture I was born into while still retaining my ethnic values.

January 19 – getting my tradition on

179/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. My family background is quite diverse. My dad’s side of the family is smaller and although they are from the Punjab region of India and Sikhs in their beliefs, the physical proximity of my dad’s village is closer to the Himachal Pradesh area of India (foothills of the Himalayas) which is predominantly Hindu and many of their beliefs have been filtered down and embraced in my dad’s family even though they are Sikh. I am more than a bit of a skeptic when it comes to religion and religious traditions – yes, heresy in some people’s minds – and have a difficult time believing in and observing some of the ceremonial customs that I must participate in. Upon various trips to India, I have had to walk barefoot through mud to a temple to make offerings, I had to take a 3 day pilgrimage up a mountain with my mother and uncle to the Chintpurni temple, I had to have my head sheared (I refused but did compromise), I had to bathe in water that I knew would never pass a sanitation test here in Canada, I had to sit in the back of a crowded truck full of people with no personal space whatsoever on a week long tour of temples, I had to dance with Hijra/Khusras – the list goes on. However, even though I fight the cultural obligations around religion and ethnic tradition that I must partake in, I realize that they have meaning to my family and thus, I honour them by (albeit reluctantly) doing what is expected of me. The more I reflect on it, the more I know that the Indian traditions and beliefs of especially my dad’s family have had a positive impact on the man that I have become and I can appreciate (whether I agree with them or not) what believing in and respecting does for self, family and community. Thank you to my dad’s family for instilling in me the values of Mother India!

January 17 – are you a sell out?

177/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. How strong are my convictions? Would I sell out my beliefs for a pay cheque? For a career? I’ve often wondered that and because I have, I have been very cognizant about defining what I believe and living what I believe – all because of one guy. When I was finishing up my Education degree at UBC and most of us were desperate to secure a job teaching anywhere, I recall one of the Education guys that I had become friends with (and I am very disheartened that I don’t remember his name especially because of his impact on me). We were sitting in the lobby of the Commerce building and some of our fellow classmates had secured teaching job interviews and even jobs with districts within the public school system. This guy, with his great marks and secure self (a few years older than me – I also believe he was a young father at the time) also had a few call-backs but told me that he wasn’t going to follow through with them. I was in shock – here I was desperate to get a teaching job, any teaching job and here he was deciding not to take the teaching jobs that he was offered (that were eluding me). I asked him why and he mentioned that he definitely should take the jobs especially since he had a young child and had taken a year off to pursue the degree but that he couldn’t take a job in the public school system as the BCTF goes against all his beliefs as a Christian. I had no clue what he was talking about but because I like to understand people’s reasoning, I asked for more information. He told me that he had researched all the organizations/groups/beliefs that the BCTF supported or had links/ties with and he had discovered that they believed in choice (abortion) and he in good conscience and as a good Christian couldn’t work for an organization that went against his values. Although I didn’t agree with his belief system (no offense to anyone reading this), I told him that I had great respect for him in that he had defined a belief system which I didn’t have at that time and he stuck to his principles even if it meant giving up a lucrative career (okay, lucrative is debatable 😉 ). Seriously though, I was so very impressed by him and have thought of him many, many times when making my own decisions around my core values – true to myself or lured to the mighty dollar or whatever else it might be. WWEGD (What would Education Guy do?). – Huge appreciation to you for putting me on the path to developing my conscience in order to make important life decisions.  I hope you are living the best life for you and yours!