Category: Keep Calm, Review On

June 12th, 2016 by sammaurice

Across the world, June is Pride month; a month where the world honors the LGBTQ community and their lifestyles. Growing up, being gay or knowing an individual who was/is gay was never a big deal. It STILL isn’t a big deal. My parents raised my brother and I on three principles: treat others the way you want to be treated, men and women are equal in all aspects and never change who you are for someone else. I realize that people may not have had parents, such as mine, who taught them these values but the majority of people I know have these values instilled in them. At least I hope they do.

My brother and I were taught to never hate others because of the religion that was bestowed upon us at birth. We were taught that violence was never the answer.  We were taught to never judge people because they chose to live differently than us. I was 13 when Canada (my country) legalized gay marriage. I was 23 when the United States did.

I remember the day when the United States legalized gay marriage, I had just come back from a three day music festival in Las Vegas. A festival which had an array of people; white, black, Indian, gays, lesbians and so on and so forth. Maybe it was because I grew up in a country where I never saw homophobia up close, or maybe I did and chose to ignore it, but I couldn’t comprehend the malice and the hurtful words I heard directed towards certain individuals. I couldn’t help but feel sad for them when I heard them say how lucky I was to live in a country that recognized their lifestyle and their choice to marry. And I couldn’t tell you how proud I was to see the United States finally recognizing them inclusively as opposed to viewing them as outsiders.

The events today in Orlando shook me to my core. This is the second shooting in Florida over the course of two days; this is the worst mass shooting in United States history (50 dead and over 50 injured). Since Monday, the United States had 7 mass shootings. In contrast, Canada has had 8 mass shootings in 20 years. Now I ask, why is the right to obtain and purchase a gun still in the American constitution? Why are you letting a piece of paper dictate who lives and who dies? Guns do not kill people. People with guns kill people. People with malice and hatred in their heart kill people.

Why hasn’t anyone learned?

How many more children, women and men need to die before anyone does anything? 

I’ve asked myself this constantly over the last 24 hours and I can’t even begin to comprehend how to answer them without feeling angry or disgusted. This is bigger then one person. This is going to take a village. And to gun enthusiasts, I ask you: What if it were your child? Your wife, husband, brother, sister or parent? Would you reconsider it then? How appealing would guns be then, huh?

There are 50 sets of parents, siblings and loved ones who are calling their loved ones, whose bodies are lying on a club floor. Their hearts no longer beat. Their voice no longer being heard. Who’s dreams and aspirations vanished as soon as that trigger was pulled. They are people who never got a chance to say goodbye. The only sounds now are those deafening cell phone ringers and behind them are frantic people just praying that their child or sibling or best friend or partner is not the one they have to make funeral arrangements for.

To the families and loved ones of these beautiful souls lost today, I send you my love, my prayers and my deepest condolences. I could never imagine what you’re going through or feeling. I don’t know what I do if it was my brother or best friends who died in such a tragedy. I am sorry that people have hate in their hearts. I’m sorry that you never got a chance to say goodbye. I’m sorry there will never be justice for the man who killed them. And I’m sorry that your political figures are doing nothing to rectify the situation.

Finally, to my dear friends and loved ones who are a part of the LGBTQ community. There are no words to describe how in awe I am of you all. You have more bravery, courage and strength that most people will ever have in a lifetime. Never forget that you matter. You are important. You are equal. And there is nothing no one can say or do to take away who you are. You are special and you are loved. I wish you all a safe Pride month. Please continue to be who you are. You’re the brightest stars in a world full of hate.

Who we chose to love is not a choice. But hatred, that’s a choice; a taught behaviour. As Ghandi said, we need to be the change we want to see in the world. We are the voices whispered in the silence. I do not want to raise my future children in a world like this. We can change things for the better. We just need to open our eyes and hearts to this change. Once we do that, we might see results.

Please remember to be kind. Be different. Stand out. And don’t give a fuck about what other people think of you.

And p.s. America, get your shit together. Enough is enough.

Posted in Keep Calm, Review On Tagged with: , , , , ,

February 1st, 2016 by sammaurice

Hello dear readers,

Welcome to ‘Mantra Mondays’. On Mondays, I will be sharing with you the writing style of my dear friend RoyalT. He so kindly shared his writing with me and I felt it was my duty to give him his own feature because his words need to be shared with the world. Lately, I haven’t felt too inspired by anything, but his words have changed that for me. He writes from such a personal place and through his words, I felt the struggle and despair he felt at that time of trying to make everyone else happy before himself. I know, at some point in our lives, we can all relate to this. Putting people before ourselves because we feel like it’s our duty to do so. We feel that by putting others first it defines us as being “a good friend.” But sometimes, it’s okay to be a little bit selfish. To put yourself before others. Because as my dear friend says “friends don’t come with a no trade clause.”

This piece that I am about to share with you has resonated with me profoundly. Over the past year, I’ve made new friends, reconnected with old ones and lost some along the way. I think the reason for this was because I began to put myself first; began to see myself in a new light. Began to understand my own self-worth because “I was trying to keep everyone constantly happy; starting to forget about my personal sanity.” I never took time for myself. I saw life as one dimensional and as I heard RoyalT’s words spoken to me, I began to understand that I had it all wrong. I was living life based on how much money was in my bank account, complaining about going to school and work everyday and forgetting about making the memories. Because that is the true essence of life. Is making the memories that you can look back on, with the people who matter the most to you. If we constantly strive for wealth, we begin to lose ourselves along the way.

RoyalT, I cannot begin to thank you for showing me your work and giving me the responsibility to share it with the world. I am so proud to call you a friend and proud that you are finally sharing your writing with the world. You have provided me with a mantra for the week. I cannot wait to see what you present me next.

Life is a short but scary

challenge.

Hoping that the bad things will never happen

To the ones you love, the ones,

you put above

All else no matter the cost, no

matter the cause don’t hesitate

no manner to pause.

‘Cause life isn’t a game still got physical laws

Remember friends don’t come with a no trade clause.

 

Tryna keep everyone constantly 

happy.

Starting to forget about my

personal sanity. 

Beginning to develop  a sense of

apathy

Towards the hobbies that used

to make me happy.

So I use this rapping as a stress

relief

Works better than self-relief.

So relieved 

That I’ve got something to

believe. 

 

In, and that myself, cause I use

people not money to measure

my personal wealth. 

And still, quality over quantity

I’m only as good as the people I keep around me

‘Cause trust is a quality that’s hard to find

To meet the same people with

the same state of mind. 

And that’s what I think life is

Emotional lonely mammals

trying to find meaning without

acting like an animal. 

Trying not to be radical while

looking for someone to help

them feel magical.

Damn, that’s what life is about

Beginning to end, everyday is a

new bout

So imma get up and square up

Go to work and turn up

I live life for the memories not

the cash to stack up. 

 

Happy Monday everyone! Keep your eyes peeled for most posts from me and my friend RoyalT.

All the love,

Sam

Posted in Keep Calm, Review On

January 25th, 2016 by sammaurice
                                                            
It’s Not What You Take, It’s What You Leave
“The thing I realize is it’s not what you take, its what you leave.”
– All The Bright Places, Jennifer Niven
Do you ever wonder what marks our time? Are we merely just words on a page or memories in a photograph? People have always told me that life has one beginning and one ending … the rest is just a whole lot of middle. But I’d like to believe that life is like a novel. Sure, it has one concrete beginning and ending but it’s the middle of the novel that makes the most impact. The middle resonates with us readers and leads to that final moment when everything begins to give us some clarity; a final movement. We begin to feel and immerse ourselves in the characters and in their stories, so how can one possibly say that life is just a whole lot of middle? It provides it no substance and it implies that people are just muddling through life, doing the best they can with the things they have. Yet, we still continue to strive for numbers; from pounds on the scale to the amount of money in our bank accounts but realistically, how is any of that going to change when we’re dead; when we no longer cease to exist in our physical beings?
Now, all of you might be questioning why I was drawn to write my first review about the finality of death and our impact on this world while we’re stuck in the “middle“. Firstly, I have my own personal reasons which I may share in later posts but the main reason as to why I’ve decided to immerse myself in these ideas is because I was incredibly and profoundly consumed by these notions when reading Jennifer Niven’s YA novel All The Bright Places. This novel not only aroused my intellectual curiosity regarding the fascination of death and the “middle,” but ignited me to renew my passions and embraces my fears while continuing to make my middle meaningful. I resonated with the characters of Theodore Finch and Violet Marksey. I felt for these characters who lives had gone from good to bad to worse in a fraction of a second. I found myself relating to Violet and Theodore, particularly when they found themselves as outcasts in a world that is socially constructed by labels. Furthermore, I fell madly, truly and deeply in love with their stories both collectively and individually. I identified with them and suddenly, I felt like I became them.
Theodore Finch is a curious character by nature but his fascination with death ignited my own curiosity. I could not comprehend how anyone could stand on their high school bell tower, ready to plunge into the unknown (metaphorically that is). His curiosity created an innate fear within me but as I continued to read, that fear later flourished into realization. I began to realize how quickly this life could be taken away from me whether that be by my own hand or the hand of another far superior than myself. I realized my time here was precious and if I truly wanted to make my life matter, make my middle matter, I needed to plunge into the unknown. I needed to do something that scared me.  Theodore Finch could be described as many things but a coward is not one of them.
Violet Marksey, also, had her own special affect on me. As I have previously implied earlier in my post, I have my personal reasons as to why this novel resonated with me and why the finality of death crossed my mind on multiple occasions while reading this novel. I understood Violet. I empathized with her traumatic response to the loss of her sister. I understood why she felt like an outcast. It was because I understood her pain.  It was because no one could ever possibly feel the pain she had been experiencing by losing her sister; her best friend. I’ve lost a best friend; the greatest friend I had ever known, my mother, and despite how quickly time can heal all wounds there is always a part of you that’s a little empty. I’d be lying to you all if I said it goes away. It never goes away even when you try not to think about it. But isn’t that the point of all of this? To feel pain, joy and sorrow. To explore places that could lie in your own backyard. To take the metaphorical jump into the unknown because sometimes, you might come out stronger than you think you would. Sometimes, it takes a tragedy or an accidental meeting to change your perception on the world. I think we forget that sometimes. We forget that life has a funny way of working itself out in spite of all that we have planned for ourselves.
I loved this novel but not because it follows the conventions of young adult fiction. I loved this novel because I saw myself in these characters. I understood them. I empathized with them. And isn’t that the greatest joy? To read a novel that, with every turn of the page, resonates with you more and more.  Maybe that’s the point of the middle. Maybe the point is for us to engage in conversations with people we never thought we’d have anything in common with. To venture into the world with nothing but our memories and to take in the moments where every problem we have becomes so much smaller in the grand scheme of things. To do the things that scare us because they might be the most memorable. When we die, our graves our marked from the day of our birth and the day of our death. However, what we fail to realize is the line that separates those two dates is a line full of moments and memories that make everything in the middle, the most important. Theodore Finch was right when he said that it’s not what you take, it’s what you leave. So to all my readers, I encourage to make your mark on this world. To embrace you fears. To live fully. To live happy. The only words I can leave you with now is to have a great “line” and make the most of it. Because what we leave in this world is far superior than what we take from it.
Remember that and tomorrow might not seem so scary.

Posted in Keep Calm, Review On Tagged with: , , , ,