Reader feedback:

It’s always nice to receive positive feedback from guests of Smokencanvas. Eva writes:

I’m excited to have the opportunity to be reading your blog, and adventures. It’s down to earth, fearless, and humorous. Your writing draws me into your story, and makes me want to read more! Most of us are restricted, and have conformed to how we live by our fears and what society dictates. I live through your words. They bring me freedom, smiles, and laughter. Keep up the great work, and be safe in your journey.

Would it be rude to preen? Of course it would. *PREEN*

Thanks Eva, I’m glad to hear Smokencanvas has made a positive impact in your life! The blog has been a fun down time hobby thus far, and will continue to be. Thanks again for your support!

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Evolution

gorilla

Before I had set out on a mission to rebuild my life two years ago, I must have been over 6K in debt. The duration of this rebuild has had it’s ups and downs, but the pay off has proven to be bitter sweet. I’m now sitting on a solid foundation of money.

I currently have three monthly expenses: my cell phone bill, public transit commuting, and a TESOL certification course, which are all minimal expenses.

I live like I’m poor. I can afford to purchase my own whip, but I don’t want one. I can get my own space closer to work, but what’s the point if I’m not staying long. I hate dining out. I’m getting close to the level of money and lifestyle I had before I left (“Fill in the blank yourself”) on my first term of employment (4 years ago), and I barely work. My managers/ supervisors have quickly learned to not even bother trying to pawn shifts onto me. 😉

As i sat at the kitchen table today and checked out the newspaper advertisements over a coffee, I noticed there’s a crap ton of crap I can buy right now: fresher shoes, shiny watches, fancy colognes, and a nicer backpack. But i don’t need them. I looked through the flyers for an hour and the only thing that got me out the door was Giant Tiger’s sale of ribbed tank tops for $3.00 a pop. When my mom and sister asked me what i wanted for my birthday earlier this year, I told them to buy me a card. If you told me I had a month to live, I’m 100% positive I wouldn’t buy or change anything.

What a weird place to be in with no want, no object of desire.

A few years ago a bar buddy told me, “Sometimes it’s better to want something than to have it.” That holds heavy meaning to me now. The way I see it- wanting something/ someone puts you in an insecure state of mind that diverts you from the important questions which reveal y[our] foolish characteristics. It distracts us from our existence.

Looks like the time is nearing for me to go international, and hit the road once again. Tons of interesting experiences to come. Although, without a mission it can be just as shallow to rack up new ventures like it is female escapades. What’s going to guide me to an honorable end? What will motivate me to get up when i fall? What will make me a better man?

Maybe having a serious committed relationship will do it. I can go to China, settle down with a cutie and consider contributing to the hatching of an egg. That will keep me challenged for a while. For the majority of human civilization, having a child solved the mission dilemma.

But, NO… I’d rather remain a single bachelor. Monogamy to me appears like early retirement from the most notable parts of life.

You know how when someone is sure to die they’re put in a hospice so they are as relaxed and at ease as possible? I feel like I’m in life’s hospice. Just fucking around to amuse myself, wishing the hands of time weren’t against me. I’m nowhere near wealthy, but this must be how wealthy people feel.

I feel hollow. Not happy or sad, just hollow.

Let’s go for a run!

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We’re going to go for a five mile run. Make sure your shoes are tied properly, take a couple deep breaths, and brace yourself. I’m not going to go easy on you. Ready? Three, two, RUN!!!

Our starting pace isn’t fast nor slow, approximately 8.5 minutes/mile. 25 minutes – 26 minutes/ 5 kilometers is a time our doctors will respect.

Although a five mile run is a warm up to a marathon runner, 99% of the North American population find this to be difficult. After all, it is a steady forty to forty five minutes of moving your legs.

Your first mile is a breeze. Your breathing pattern is still stable; brush ya shoulder off holmes.

Surprisingly there’s no one else running outside. It’s a beautiful day, and these suburbs are dense. They probably have elliptical machines/ treadmills at home, or are at the gym.

You’re starting to adjust your breathing to your steps. As you start breathing heavier and heavier, blood flow is being redirected to your muscles in action. At two miles in, you’re tired as fuck; your preference would be to stop now! Your body says you’re starting to use valuable resources while your first cramp kicks in.

The halfway mark is nearing, and the endless looking hill you’re trekking up is discouraging. Your breathing becomes very rapid, and your thighs/ legs/ everything burns like… WASP STINGS!

If a genie in a bottle appeared now and granted you one wish, your very wish would be to stop, but you can’t; you’ll black out before you stop.

As your lungs start giving out you realize it’s necessary to pull back; your pace is dropped to 11 minutes/ mile. Your legs are still moving, that’s all that matters. “Look there’s a major intersection over there, after I reach that I can think about taking a break” you tell yourself…

Hell no! You’re going to keep moving those legs until they fall off; let’s see if they fall off by the time that bus stop ahead is reached.

Your body is drained; it’s prompting pain all over as a final attempt to get you to stop. Although, you are relentless; you start mastering the ability to deceive your body with your mind. If only your body discovers that you’ll finish, it’ll handicap you with even more cramps and discomfort.

Ah, the essence of being at one with yourself; encapsulated by plain suburban air as cars swerve by. The sidewalks are covered by blades of cut grass and sticks/ twigs from yesterday’s storm. The landscape is desolate, isolated; your view is that of people in moving pods, in a rush to go nowhere important. Look at the bright side; this is better than running next to someone who stinks of Bo or unpleasant perfume at the gym.

Woo! Those two minutes of 11 minutes/ mile made a huge difference; you feel like you can manage this all day.

Here we go, back to 8.5 minutes/mile. You’re gaining momentum, and nearing the four mile milestone; no words of encouragement, no one holding your hand. You are your own support, and encouragement.

DISREGARD!

It’s way too hard, it hurts too much; you drop back down to a pace of 11 minutes/ mile. Your arms get weak, and start to dangle by your sides to conserve energy maybe. Your eyes start to widen as you spot the end though; a big red stop sign that you started at over half an hour ago.

Your mind signals to the rest of your body that the end is near, and your legs move faster than you’ve ever seen them move in your whole life! Your body, that fucker, could have moved like this earlier since that major intersection.

Who knew, your body can lie to you too?!

Welcome to the big red stop sign. A few great stomps transpire to slow down; you feel your heartbeat pounding in your head, neck and chest.

Take a deep breath, and walk it off.

Congrats! You did it all by yourself, and no one held your hand. No one will ever hold your hand, not even you.

Freedom and my backpack ep. 1

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Writer: Samantha S

I didn’t know where I was. The bus stop had led me to the edge of the earth, or what felt something like it. It was frozen, maybe -25, but this frigid air didn’t take away from how beautiful the world looked from the horizons border. Winters breath carefully frosted over the boardwalk and the many rocks outlining the waters perimeter. Lights followed the timbered pathway, mimicking low hanging stars that forgot to shine. Effortlessly, white snowflake doves danced in the light, gracefully resting on the fluffy alabaster bedding below. Our footsteps painted the untouched canvas pathway that stretched out as far as the waters edge. Lightly, each step brushed gentle strokes across the newly fallen surface. Each stride required a trudging effort to maintain a constant time signature within each step, creating longer and more defined roaming patterns. In the distance two trees had stolen my attention. Outlined in a tangled web of colorful lights, I was looking through a kaleidoscope. We walked onto the cold glacial mount of snow, slowly the wind cut our faces. We passed by the collapsed fence that attempted to contain the amount of delicacy behind it. A wooden staircase leading to a small landing caught his gaze. He walked to it, sat down and looked out into the endless glass platform. I, captivated by this new lens, walked into the darkness until I met the edge. My feet eventually came to a halt, I could smell the Arctic cover. It’s motion was still, movement came in undisturbed tranquil gestures as the layers shivered together. Rolling blue waves that once gently welcomed the shore transformed into a mirrored platform, now supporting fragments of hovering snowfall. In the silence of the night, I heard a gentle pressing on the snow as he walked down the wooden steps and followed me to the edge. Together, we stood soundless as we began to make sense of the transcendent view ahead. Shattered glass lay motionless, patiently awaiting the morning sun.

 

Freedom and my backpack

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Credit: Samantha S

The past couple years of my life have taken me down some interesting avenues all due to my pursuit for freedom. What I’m about to unleash on you may not be conclusive for everyone, but this is based on my experience. This is what freedom means to me.

Freedom is not having obligations or constraints. Freedom is not having a job that you rely on. Freedom is not having a girlfriend who is expecting your call, or having a date with friends where your absence must be explained with a detailed excuse. Freedom is not having to give an extended notice to end a contract or job. Freedom is not owning so much stuff that you need a storage unit. Freedom is not having a fat wallet full of so many cards that your life turns upside down when you lose it.

I’m reminded of my freedom when I’m on a bus or train to another town, city, or province. All my important belongings are in my backpack, which is always tagging along for the adventure in the seat next to me. Nobody has a clue where I am, nor do they care. I’m traveling solo to a place I’ve never seen before as a complete stranger, with zero burdens to see anything or visit anyone. I don’t have any worries or concerns; no bills, no duties. I’m leaning back on an old chair, but I might as well be hovering above the street without a rope wrapped around my neck pulling me back to where I started. I could die on the Via Rail in between cities or provinces I’ve never touched ground on, and it would take a couple days for anyone who knows me to find out. My backpack could disappear and within a day I could easily have everything replaced. This is freedom.

I wouldn’t trade these train rides and endless possibilities of future adventures of not having to answer to anyone, for all the money in the world or all the women in the world. I lay back, shut my eyes, and allow my thoughts and dreams to go wherever they want, with no stress or tension disturbing them. There’s no rush. I am free. The whole wide world can demand something of me and I can brush it off with a laugh. The government can freeze all my accounts and take all my money, but they can’t find me on this train.

I may stay in my destination or I may not. Maybe I’ll create a new identity, or maybe I’ll be myself. Maybe I’ll take a bus, or maybe I’ll walk. I wasn’t free when I lived beyond my means, when I depended on the dinero man would provide me with every two Fridays. I started spending significantly less than my earnings, and over a short period of time it has started to bless me with freedom. The only person I envision myself answering to is me. I can disappear tomorrow, and never check my online accounts or answer my phone again. If I just vanish, I’ll do just fine. If you can’t close your eyes and just say adios to the world, you aren’t free.