Monday, 26 January 2015

The art of living well, or... well, living the art.

A mid-week miracle happened the other day. It was sunny and beautiful outside at the very same time that I had a few hours on my hands. It was the middle of the day in the middle of the week, and I wasn't strictly compelled to be somewhere, doing something, so I went for a ride. Because I could. :)

Isn't it gorgeous? That's Brunswick Beach, the day's destination. I followed the Sea to Sky highway from Vancouver, headed north toward Squamish, which came in at number 32 on the New York Times'  52 places to go in 2015. It must be one of the most beautiful stretches of road anywhere on the planet, that bit, and I love that I can ride there in just over an hour.

photo from The Highway Bandits
That glorious view certainly makes the price of the Whistler Gran Fondo worth your while, especially since there are no cars on the road during the event. But on Wednesday I was happy enough to share the road with the motor vehicles, and delighted to bask in the sunshine for a few minutes on Brunswick Beach. And as I did, it occurred to me that two of my previous employers both live there. Needless to say, beautiful Brunswick Beach, a wee tiny suburb of the lovely village of  Lion's Bay, is one of the more exclusive neighbourhoods in the Lower Mainland. One of my past employers is on the spit, with one beach in the front of his house, and another in the back! Can you imagine? What a great way to live. And as I sat there in the sunshine, it occurred to me that both of them are people who are doing what they are passionate about. One of them is a geologist, and the chairman of a group of mining companies, and the other is an interior designer, and a good one at that. They inspire me because the two of them have both figured out how to make a good living doing what they love. What better life can there be for any of us?

I am certainly happy working with another great, inspired entrepreneur. I am part of a team which is taking the reality gaming world by storm. We just opened the first of three exciting, Immmersive and interactive adventure rooms, which are challenging the very nature of entertainment. No more going to the movies to see Indiana Jones. Now you can come to G.U.E.S.S. HQ and BE Indiana Jones. My current boss is another person achieving success by pursuing his passions, and that got me thinking...(don't worry, I didn't hurt myself this time round. Even small brains need exercise, you know.)

I have always admired artists, because they spend their time creating beauty for the rest of us, and better yet, the beauty that they create challenges people. Good art inevitably causes us to think, an to respond, and sometimes it even inspires us to change our ways.

The writing is on the wall.
I went to the Vancouver Art Gallery the other day, to see the Forbidden City artifacts, and though I did enjoy all of the beautiful and interesting relics from days gone by, I was enchanted with the more modern Unscrolled exhibit upstairs.

Bang at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Ai Weiwei always challenges the status quo.
Art is a noble pursuit, especially when its purpose is social change. Ai Weiwei has another installation here in Vancouver, a part of the new Bienalle exhibit scattered about town, and that one is definitely making a statement. It's called F-grass, and it looks just like a calligraphic F, too, because the Chinese word for grass sounds just like the F-bomb. He is telling the government censors to go fuck themselves, bless his heart. Sometimes art takes great courage.

But thank goodness for courageous souls like Ai Weiwei. It's really no wonder that tyrants are afraid of art, and beauty. Hitler hated the modernist movement, and no wonder. And Canada's very own tyrant has gagged scientists and burnt libraries, so it's up to us to fight back with beauty, and truth.

We went to the Belkin Gallery up at UBC a short while ago, to attend Tom Burrows' opening night. 

He has a long history of challenging the status quo, our Tom.  After the District of North Vancouver burned down his house on the mud flats east of the second narrows bridge, the UN commissioned him to examine squatters' communities around the world.  A few decades on, the Vancouver Art Gallery build a mock-up of that legendary community in front of the Shangri-la, the most expensive real estate in the city. 

From Shangri-La to Shangri-La
Given all of the perpetually empty properties owned by foreign nationals here in Vancouver, the idea of establishing another squatters community, this time in the heart of  waaaay more vacant than it appears Shaugnessy, is more than a little appealing.  After all, housing is a human right, and there are a lot of people sleeping on the streets in this town.  I love the way Tom solved his own housing needs. After he returned from his squatters inquiry, he bought a beautiful piece of south facing property on Hornby Island, and then he built - by hand! - a beautiful little house into the cliff, where he could happily settle in and create to his heart's content. Everywhere he has gone in life, Tom has left behind him a legacy of beauty and social change. I love that in a man.

He always has his finger on the pulse of culture itself, does Tom. He sees things few others are aware of, and he does it decades before it dawns on everybody else. He thinks so far outside the box that the box itself is irrelevant. He is one of those rare, beautiful individuals with a truly planetary consciousness, a man whose life is a kind of switch which serves to awaken the rest of us. A few years ago he held an exhibit of bicycles. Yes, bikes.  He strung them up throughout the gallery, a jungle canopy of two wheeled beauty, hung to inspire contemplation. And this is what he had to say about them.

I hope Tom's messages of sanity soak in soon enough that we see significant change over the next few years. It might still be possible to create a world where all life is honoured and respected, and where we live in harmony and dignity, instead of in absolute obeisance to profit, and the worship of this endless cycle of obscene consumption. Well, it isn't exactly endless now, is it? All lifestyles are created equal, but some are more equal than others.The writing really is on the wall. 

“At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed that all right-thinking people will accept without question.” 
― George OrwellAnimal Farm

Harmony. Symmetry. Balance. 
The irony is that there is so much joy to be found in a simple life. And function really does create form. So many people comment on my legs - daily, weekly, monthly... it happens all. The. Time. But though it looks as if I spend endless hours in a gym, I never, ever do. These crazy-assed gams are nothing more than the manifestation of many years of living in my happy zone, and of staying true to my convictions. You know. Four wheels bad, two wheels good. Better than that, though, my two wheeled place of joy keeps me sane when madness rules all around. Harmony, symmetry and balance are yours for the taking, too. Just park the car for a month and give your friendly neighbourhood bicycle a spin. You will be glad you did when all is said and done. Promise. xo


  1. I've never looked at art like that. I've never really looked at art at all but I might pay more attention next time.
    I rode part way to work today :) 42km return. Getting there...

    1. Wooot! Wow, that's quite a commute! 42 km is part way to work? Yeowza! If you rode all the way every day, you could prolly turn pro! Actually, at 42 km, it's almost ideal, cause after an hour and a half, your body starts to burn the fat in your bloodstream, and it tips the balance on your brain's happy chemicals, too. Long as you push yourself to your limit a couple of times a week. In fact, if you make sure you get up and move around every half and hour, and if you make sure you hug your kids, and make lots of love, too, you're set. You might just start turning back the clock.
      Thanks for being here, Harry. :) XX

    2. 36km each way if I do the full monty. I used to do it but I've dropped off in fitness so I catch the train part way for now. I like your advice but can you have a word to my wife please ? :)
      I tried being a Pro once but after a few hours on a street corner in a skirt I got bored and went to the pub.

    3. But it's practically the fountain of youth!! Just tell her about how having five orgasms a week slows the process of ageing. I don't have the study I read here at hand, but start with THIS.

      Lol!! And never mind the skirt, what about those heels?!

      That is a looooooooong way to get to work. At least you're not wasting your life away driving! Between riding a bike to improve your health, and whatever you do with yourself on the train, you have the ability to make the most of your time.

  2. Wow I definitely have to put BC on my list of cycling vacations. So beautiful. I bet you do more climbing in a day than I do in a whole year over here in "Flattario."

    I feel like we are approaching a tipping point when it comes to motorized vehicles vs human powered vehicles. In cities near me (Ottawa, Montreal) most workplaces offer free indoor secure (and monitored) bicycle parking, complete with lockers and showers. Whereas if you drive to work every day, you are looking at paying $150-$300 for monthly parking in those cities. From what I can see, even people who don't care about the environment, certainly care about the almighty dollar; more and more people are beginning to take this up.

    Many workplaces will also offer a "health" budget which you can spend on anything from gym memberships to bicycles and upgrades.

    1. I sure hope you're right about that tipping point! It doesn't really matter how people come to their bicycles, just that they do. My boss longboards to work sometimes, but he hasn't yet offered me any cash to help upgrade Bea bike, more's the shame. Maybe somebody should have a chat with him about that.

  3. In that first picture I thought for a moment there was a mermaid in the back left.

  4. I had exactly the same impression, though I'm quite sure she didn't ride there with Babs. Mermaids are noted for having difficultys with pedals.

    1. They would prolly crash as often as I do!!

  5. Babble, I love your World! Art, architecture, photography, fashion, bikes, spirited discourse…your overarching focus on responsible (non-destructive) interaction with Planet Earth. All good! Thanks for your very entertaining narrations…

    1. Oh bless your heart... thank you!! :) xo xo

  6. il Pirata est Mort3 February 2015 at 05:26

    "Anyone who paints the grass blue and the sky green should be sterilized."- A. Hitler

    Have your brain hooked up to a brain monitor and see what it does when you create. Every day living looks like ----------------------. Creating art looks like VVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVV.
    Much more stimulating! (I was playing around with a monitor last week).