Thoughts for tonight

From Zen and the Beat Way (Alan Watts):

Agriculture and industrialism … have created a glut of material goods and a great poverty of time. Most people have a way of life devoid of everything except maintaining and servicing their material existence 12 to 14 hours every day. In contrast, the Aborigines [spent] 12 to 14 hours a day in cultural pursuit. (quoting Robert Lawlor‘s 1990 book on Australian Aboriginal culture, Voices of the First Day).

Imagine what your life would be like if you spent 12-14 hours a day in “cultural pursuit,” i.e. meaningful activity — the stuff you do when you consider you’re having fun. Come to think of it, rich people do have that opportunity, and on the whole they don’t seem to make much of it. Without a wide cultural context, maybe it’s impossible. But i want to give it a try.

One more:

[In] essence, mystical experience and ecological awareness [are] simply two ways of talking about the same experience.

That is a profound statement — one i find suffused with hope, in that “ecological awareness” is starting to make deep sense to people in the West.

Waterfront Schmaterfront

False Creek mapUkee, Toff … don’t let those developers snow you into letting go of the waterfront as a public resource. I spent about two hours walking the shores of False Creek, ALL of which is public walkway.

The land must be worth bazillions, and developers must have lusted after it and lobbied for it like crazy. But the zoners stood firm in Vancouver, and they should stand firm on the West Coast. There’s no need to pander to these people and their pocketbooks.



Below, a public walkway on the south side of False Creek. Cambie St. Bridge in the background.

Public walkway

Here’s the Olympic Village construction, south side of False Creek. How ’bout that sexy footbridge, huh? The Olympic committee ain’t sparing our taxpayer dollars on this project. I counted ten giant construction cranes. After 2010 it’s all slated to become housing — 250 units (out of 1,100) designated “affordable,” whatever that’s going to mean.

Look at the density in north False Creek. Is this gettinig to the “too much” stage?

High density in north False Creek

They’ve done some model projects in reclaiming some of the industrial land.

reclaimed and filled land in False Creek.

In the city (Burrard St. here), both density and construction are going through the roof. Again, when is enough enough? Many of my friends now say the condo market is going soft.

Density in north False Creek



I’ve been reconnecting with old friends at a variety of java joints all over town, and guzzling in the process larger-than-usual quantities of tea, steamed milk, chai and (once) Perrier, but never coffee. I’m talking (or at least trying to talk) more frankly than is my wont, and deliberately asking about schools, spiritual paths and whatnot. I’m not much for small talk. Rather, i tell myself frequently that i’m not much for small talk, so i more or less believe it. Important distinction.

It’s interesting how easily i can slip back into old patterns with people, even after years’ of absence. But at least i’m more or less aware of it now. That’s a priority on this walkabout: No unconscious slippage.

There’s the aforementioned (in this blog) Ms Erica, driven to understand and apparently doomed never to understand. She’s pretty much the wisest, most delicate chick i know. Strong like glass, but fragile. We’re opposite-sexed doppelgangers, E and i, both members of the Church of Bumble.

Pure HelenHere’s the bubbly, adventurous, adorable Tofitian-at-heart Helen (a.k.a. Pure Hel), ‘nordinately proud of her new camping stove. She’s a force of nature in the department of relentless cheer. About anybody else that would be a mild insult; about Pure Hel it’s a statement of admiration. I mean really.

Jocelyn & Robert Here long-ago housemates Jocelyn and Robert are about to be thrown out of Starbuck’s, shortly after we were all thrown out of the VAG‘s KRAZY! exhibit. (Go see the show, but know that it’s huge — two or three visits would be best. And Tuesday is the cheap day, not Thursday.) Sometimes it amazes me that i am capable of sitting in civilized company and not making an ass of myself. These two make it easy.

BonnieAnd Bonnie, my oddest acquaintance in that i don’t know how we became friends, or even why we’re friends, just that we are friends, and have been for years. We agreed tonight that she’s a DQ (drama queen), but man is she smart in the way of the world. Good for advice. Dang, i forgot to ask her about schools.

All these people mean something to me in the merry-go-round of existence. It’s weird how some people do and some people don’t, and that nothing seems to characterize one group or the other.

Most of the above being women, i know they’re going to read this blog entry and their Machiavellian, multiply interconnected, hyper-intuitive female minds are going to be incensed, wondering Is that how he thinks of me? The answer is no, that’s not how i think of you, but i’m a man so that’s how it comes out. No offence, we’re still friends, i don’t hate you, it’s not over.


I dropped in to Tom Lee Music on Granville St. today. They’ve filled out their hand percussion section since i was there last, and i found and tapped on Mountain Rhythm‘s well made frame drums. a cadillac version of the Remo cheapie i’ve been spending hours a day on for months now.

Unfortunately, frame drums, though certainly among the more portable, are hardly the sort of thing one wants to be carrying on his walkabout.


Interviewer: What is Zen?

Alan Watts: [Soft chuckling.]

Interviewer: Would you care to enlarge on that?

Alan Watts: [Loud laughing.]

—Front matter of Zen and the Beat Way (1997)

I borrowed the book from the Vancouver Public Library yesterday with my spankin’ new BC OneCard, good at every public library in B.C. That’s like gold for the homeless wanderer, folks.