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- Editorial
- How to get a lifestyle

'Spiritual cleansing with clowns. Help us integrate tap dancing into the community at large. Bellydance with Venus. Learn Salsa with Nestor the Mambo King. Learn Mime essentials. Come and shop at our yoga lifestyle store. Learn Flamenco'.

It’s the Fall; yes, the small ads are full of new courses and exciting amusements that will change your life. Absolutely. If only you actually signed up for any of them. But hey, isn’t that the night West Wing is on, no? but then I’d still miss '24' Part Two, damnit.
The Fall, the time when we put off what we could be doing tomorrow for another day.

Besides it’s raining.
I’ll do the summer program.

There are actually people who do courses, who do change their lives. You can tell who they are because those are the shiny happy people you glimpse going around in a group talking animatedly about what they are doing. They are all around us, organically fed, chemical free, practising yoga, praying to a selection of new age gods that reward in the here and now, rather than promise ‘paradise’ sometime in the future. They are busy rejuvenating their skin, shedding old lives, old friends, deleting the soul of the inconveniences and embarrassments of the past. Out go memories (save traumatic ones, which of course can be revisited and used for more therapy later). They practice life affirmation – put that ‘thought’ out there for what you want and it will happen. (I’m way too sceptical for that to happen to me.)

Life purging is a big thing now, send away the negative feelings, the bitterness, imagine it doesn’t exist, fix a smile on your face and people will start to love you. Fill yourself with joy and life will be boundless with gifts.
There is, of course some truth to the idea that if you go around with a smile and a good word for everyone they will tend to think you are a pretty nice person. On the other hand, be a tad too undiscriminating, you’ll be sending an invite to every moron who ever walked the earth.

These are scary times. I am not talking about Bush’s White House. I am referring to all those people working on ‘spiritual practice’ developing guru management systems. There is a phalanx of people starting up courses on perfecting your life, jump starting the inner you, cleansing the soul with clowns (yes really, they are on W4th in Vancouver), empowering the ‘real’ you. There is a real hunger to become a new age disciple. Wisdom 101 at $300 a class. Invent a new lifestory; bury the old one for good. You really can be a new person.

The phenomenon is fed by fear. Fear of chemicals and carcinogens in our food and air.
Fed by the last feeding frenzy at the god of cheap oil where everyone has to have a SUV because somehow you have to prove you don’t give a shit about the planet. Gurus all drive SUVs. Fear is everywhere. No job is secure, no one can really plan a long-term future and you only work to pay the mortgage and hope like hell you that don’t lose your job.

You see the phenomena at work in those people hitting 35 and up. Sometimes just before a person hits 40, they start to wonder exactly what they have done with their lives so far. This can also coincide with divorce, your kids starting to hate you and you miss a promotion at work.
Life can be driven by guilt, despair or just plain disappointment. (This may occur at 29 also – however all lives are different and yours may well be perfect. Hackwriters accepts no responsibility for a life that does actually amount to something.)

Who to turn to for advice? What to do with your life? Signing up for lifestyle courses is therefore the obvious way forward. Haven’t got a lifestyle. Buy one. We do live in the age of shopping after all.

Now matter how disaffected the media is, or how little value you place on your ‘job’ (the one you get a salary for) or how little time you have to do any living after work; you have to have a lifestyle. No, going home to watch TV is not an lifestyle. It is not even an option here. Sell it, give it away. It is stopping you from living. Seriously.
Creating value in and with our lives is very important. How you do it doesn’t matter.

If an arty intellectual thing doesn’t appeal, then run, jog, climb, swim. Folks in North Vancouver do the ‘grind’ about three times a week. Climbing Grouse Mountain’s 900 vertical metres from the car park at the skilift. (There’s good coffee at the top so they can reward themselves when they get there.)

Of course as you get older, you’re supposed to exercise more to get back to that natural fitness you had at 25. The reward is that people always remark on how fit and happy you look and that might be just enough to get you through that lowball you get everytime you think about what your life has been ‘worth’. With luck you’ll be too exhausted to think at all.

Two hundred years ago only the gentry had lifestyle issues and they invented ‘sport’ to keep themselves fit. Mostly it had to do with killing lots of things from the back of horses.
Did they get bored? Yes, of course. Did they worry about what their life amounted to? More often than you think. What about the rest of humanity, out there sweating in the fields and coalmines and shipyards and factories? Well no. Lifestyle choices hadn’t been invented. But oddly enough they had one. They sang, (when they weren’t tired) told each other stories around the fire or in the pub. They joined choirs, sewing circles, novel appreciation societies, brass bands, joined religions, theatrical groups and all manner of things. They knew that even though life was hard, there had to be more than just work to give it value. And when none of it was working for them, when life got too damn hard and governments created so much misery with taxes and wars and pettiness, they got on ships and came to America, Canada, Australia and Africa to build a better life. Even then they were often following a guru management guy with a long beard and glowing list of promises. Moses was one of the first guru management guys.

So this fall, don’t sneer at shiny happy people going off to nightclass. Discover that these are the people who have realised, just like those immigrants 100-200 years ago, that you have to do something positive to make your life count for something. Every step towards that, even if it is tap dancing classes (which are very hard but brilliant exercise), is a step towards your becoming the person you always wanted to be.

James Skinner reaches the Greek Islands on his long Mediterranean Cruise. James Campion discusses the chances of a Democratic revival in the house this November, Colin Haslett thinks Parents should be licensed, Al Dieste wants you to visit Cuba, Colin Todhunter writes on India and takes a almost lethal ride on an Enfield. We have a look at the crisis of doubt that is creeping over Switzerland and Rev Antonio Hernandez has things to discuss about the Yoda! Tom Donoghue gives us a million things to do in Starbucks and whilst Alex Grant gives us his top fifteen movies and more reviews, Serge from Stockholm by way of Russia discusses the Role of Art in politics.
Also Paul Blake offers his excellent First Chapter from his new novel NorthRoad End read it and let him know what you think.

Whilst we await an update from Japan from Mandy Mand and more, we have three new writers joining us this month: Jenny Brown (actor/dancer/writer) Alan Gibson (marketing /actor) Stweart Clayton (teacher/writer) - their internship with Hacks begins Oct 2nd.
Oh yes, and last week I took my camera for a 'Walk along Main Street'. Just a simple day with a camera, but it is surprising what you learn about a city.

© Sam North - Editor October 2002 Hackwriters

Previous Editorials:
The Kids stay in the picture
Hacks visits the new Museum of Glass in Tacoma
- August
Hot Sweats in a Cold Read at the Anza Club- August
LIFE ON FAST FORWARD - Vancouver on speed -September
SweetSista'Shorts Carousel Theatre- Granville Island -
Off Fringe
The ROUNDHOUSE is celebrating its FIFTH ANNIVERSARY. - September
Arts in the Community is for real - Sign up for a course now


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