Who are you?

After spending the last 20+ years in your body and mind, you probably know exactly who you are.  Well, you would certainly think so!  Ironically, most can’t seem to find the time to ponder this question.  We are often too busy doing laundry, working, raising our family, hanging out or doing other things like finding Pokémon; partly because this question may not be important to dwell upon.  But thinkers like Socrates, Plato and Jesus often referred to the following as the pillar to one’s life: Know thyself.  In other words, if you don’t know who you are, then what’s the point of living?

In this post, I will use a proof by induction to explain who you are.  Induction is a mathematical principle used to answer certain questions.  It is analogous to falling dominoes.  Once one domino is knocked over, all other dominoes fall in sequence.  The implication of this is quite far-reaching. dominoes

To start, let us simplify the world as two separate entities: physical and mental.  The physical world consists of everything you can touch, see, hear, smell and taste.  The mental world consists of everything inside your head.  Clearly these two “separate” worlds are highly integrated and related to one another.  The physical world is easier to explain and less abstract; therefore, we will start there.  Once we are grounded in these principles, we can then abstract to the mental world.

We first need to know where ideas come from.  All thoughts inside your head were created for you and built in a predictable manner, similar to when two different Lego blocks come together to form a “new one.”  The example I often use to explain this is the following: a wheelbarrow is composed of three different components (ignoring the handle).  The first is a box, which is a placeholder to move the desired object we want to move.  The second is the wheel, a truly important invention.  And lastly, the axle allows the wheel to rotate around so that we can move the object from one place to another with minimal effort.  The wheelbarrow could not have been invented without first inventing a box, a wheel and an axle.  When these three components were put together in a specific order, we were able to create a new object:

Wheel + Axle + Box -> Wheelbarrow

Generally:

Object A + Object B + … + Object X -> New Object A

This example demonstrates that in order for new objects to be created, it must have come from already existing objects.  As a matter of fact, any physical object in this world can be broken down into separate components as was shown above.  If you accept this premise, then we are more than half way there.  This is exactly how ideas are created inside your head as well.  There is no such thing as an original idea.  All ideas stem from other ideas, which were simply put together in a different order, just like a wheelbarrow.  However, the ideas you have inside your head are highly dependent on the time and the place you live in.  If you didn’t have the wheel, axle or box invented yet, then you wouldn’t have the idea of a wheelbarrow either.  Therefore, you need to be present during a time and place where those components exist; otherwise you would never experience or see a wheelbarrow in your life.

The reason why the wheelbarrow example is so powerful is because we first invent in our minds before we develop our ideas in the physical world.  This allows us to look at objects we have created and then go backwards to see how we thought of these new ideas.  It is as if we projected ourselves into a physical object, which is usually referred to as art.  Hence the same formula applies for purely abstract objects too:

Idea A + Idea B + … + Idea X -> New Idea A

Now the crucial part here is that since each new object or new idea feeds into the “next new object” or the “next new idea”, it forms a clear pattern known as the inductive step in mathematics:

New Object A + Object B -> Newer Object C

New Idea A + Idea B -> Newer Idea C

Note that Object/Idea B does not need to be novel in the preceding example.  If we had just invented the box (New Object A) and assume that the wheel and axle already existed (Object B), then we can create Newer Object C, the wheelbarrow.  This implies that each new object or idea comes from existing objects or ideas.

To complete the proof by induction, we also need to state how the very first idea was created.  This is called a base case in mathematics.  Our base case consists of a new-born child knowing nothing about the universe it is born into.  Surely, most animals have instinctual characteristics that they are born with.  However, their ideas are generated from their environment and their experience with it.  This means that if the very first idea of a new-born child was created for it without their permission or control, and assuming the inductive step is correct (that each new idea feeds into the next), we can conclude that there is no free will, but that all ideas and objects just follow this simple process of creation when provided with the right components.

The objects in this world, whether mental or physical, are highly dependent on where and when you were born.  If you were born in a remote village in Africa you would have different thoughts inside your head.  If you were born 500 years ago you would have different thoughts inside your head.  If you were raised by a different family you would have different thoughts inside your head.  Therefore, who you are, has never been up to you because you do not control your environment and you didn’t get to choose where and when you were born.  Otherwise everything inside your head would be different and you would be a different person.  You are just merely a process which provides one piece at a time from which your personality is built for you, not by you.

You may ask, “how this information is helpful to me?”  Imagine a man getting angry each day at the sun when it goes down.  This man is yelling, furious for the start of darkness and cold.  However, if he knew that the sun was obeying the laws of physics and following a well-defined process which was out of his control, he would be less inclined to feel such outrage against the sun setting each day without asking for his permission.

sun_rising

A theory & proof on “The One”

People often bounce the idea of soul mates around: “I think he or she is THE ONE for you.” But is there such a thing? Yes, absolutely. We can mathematically prove this with a thought experiment. However, just like any other proof, we need to make an assumption:

 A human changes through time and we will assume that we know of all changes a human life undergoes in his/her entire life.

Now, take a woman and randomly pull two men from the entire world. If we know exactly how the woman and the two men will change through time, then one of the men will be a better match than the other. Let’s keep the better match and randomly pull another man from the world. We continually do this comparison until there are no more men left in the world. The last man standing is “The One.”

Of course, it isn’t very realistic to know that 1 out of billions of people on the planet is best for you. But if you agree with the proof above, then we can reduce the sample size to something more feasible – which includes everyone you will and have met in your entire lifetime. Running through the same analogy again, we come to the same conclusion: One of them will be The One for you.


A rigorous mathematical explanation for the proof given above

There are X traits/personalities/attitudes that exists in a human being which can be scored using S.  The score for a trait is a function of time, therefore, making it a time-dependent variable denoted by tAn ordered pairwise-set for two individuals A and B is created, meaning that SXt(A,B) does not equal SXt(B,A)In other words, Person A’s preference through time does not equal to Person B’s preference through time.

We need to find the maximum for this function:

max ∑ SXt(A,B) + SXt(B,A)

for all paired individuals A,B with respect to time t scored on traits X

The world population is estimated to be 7.4 billion and let’s assume that we meet 100,000 people in our lifetime, which is probably a gross exaggeration.  This equates to crossing paths with 0.0000142% of the world’s population!  In contrast, we will never meet 99.9999858% of the world.  Wow!

Since the majority never cross paths, they must be independent sets, which then gives us the ability to quantify a score based on the desired traits an individual prefers through time.  Using the ordering principle defined above, we can order the scores obtained for each individual to determine the best match between each couple.  We then eliminate each person from our set by pairing the highest scored pair first.  And continue eliminating them until there are no more possible pairs left to choose from.  Each of these pairs will be correctly paired with The One, even though they will never meet.

For the case where a couple does in fact cross paths, it is certainly more complicated in nature.  However, we would know that such a pair must have a higher score than any pair of their respective pairs in the 99.9999858% data set.  This is certainly less likely to occur, which is why it is considered a rarity to spend one’s life with The One.”

My proof doesn’t state that a person will actually meet their perfect match; instead, my proof shows that such a person exists.

A Homeless Christmas published!

 

I am excited to announce that an e-book version of my blog is now available for download at Amazon.

If you would like to receive a free hard copy of this book please email me and I will ship one to you.  There are a limited number of hard copy books available!

Thank you for all your support!

Nima Farzaneh

Ramadan

Millions of Muslims around the world fast during the month of Ramadan. I didn’t know much – if anything – about this holy month of the year. This year, I decided to learn more about it by immersing myself in this experience by fasting and researching on this topic.

The month of Ramadan is based on the lunar calendar, which differs from the calendar we use here in the West. The calendar we use – the Gregorian calendar – is based on the sun instead of the moon. And because these two calendars differ, the month of Ramadan changes every year with respect to the Gregorian calendar. In fact, Ramadan occurs in 33-year cycles and so every year this holy month advances by 11 days.

Islāmic fasting is quite strict compared to other religions. No food or drink is allowed from the break of dawn until sunset. There was some conflicting information on the fasting time period. Some sources claimed that the fast occurs between sunrise and sunset; however that is not correct. Furthermore, one has to abstain from smoking or sex during the daylight hours of this month as well. These rules do not apply to someone traveling, ill or on a menstrual cycle but any missed days should be made up before next year.

When I first decided to fast for the month, I started to read some literature on the effects on fasting. I was quite skeptical that no food or drink during daylight hours can have any positive benefits on the body. Nevertheless, in the Qur’an (Surah 2:184) it states: “And it is better for you that you fast, if you only knew.” During Muhammad’s time, science wasn’t as advanced as it is today. We are now able to analyze blood for every molecule and run statistical analyses on the results to see whether there are differences between a fasting and a non-fasting group of people.

My first thought was that some papers must have been written on this subject; so I did a quick search. A great paper I came across was called The impact of religious fasting on human health.” This paper uses a meta-analysis – which means that the authors combined different studies on fasting into one to increase the statistical power. If you are interested, I encourage you to read it as well.

The paper mentions that “while religious fasts are partaken primarily for spiritual purposes, they also have the potential to greatly affect one’s physical health.” Tests on fasting animals concluded that fasting can prevent cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, cancers and diabetes while decreasing heart rate and blood pressure. Do we notice the same results in humans? However, note that these animals were allowed to drink water during their fast.

One effect that is uncontested among all studies is that your body mass index drops. I lost around 10 pounds during this month. Since my body went into full starvation mode, my muscles disintegrated and were turned into food to survive. Most studies concluded that LDL cholesterol either drops or remains unchanged while HDL cholesterol increases. LDL is considered bad cholesterol while HDL is considered as good cholesterol. All studies concluded that glucose levels either drop or remain unchanged. However, since these results have too many confounding variables, such as fasting time which is based on where you live, smoking and dietary differences, it is hard to draw conclusions from these papers.

As for my personal experience, I found it to be quite difficult. It took great discipline to abstain from food or drink during daylight hours – especially in the summertime (17 hours). Temperatures in Vancouver do not come nearly as high as they do in a country like Saudi Arabia, but, without any water it is not a pleasant experience. And since I lead an active lifestyle, I was not able to be as active as I normally would. Instead, I would try to take as many naps as possible just to pass the time. Weak, tired and unambitious I was looking forward to break my fast each night.

I also noticed how everybody felt guilty for eating and drinking around me. The fast was my choice but I appreciated the respectful comments. This also gave me a chance to teach myself and others a little about this Islāmic practice. To appreciate the necessity of food and water – which are so easily come by in today’s society – I highly encourage others to fast at least once in their lifetime. Overall it has made me a stronger person; just not physically.

Vipassanā @ Merrit, BC, Canada

Vipassanā is a practical and logical method to purify your brain from cravings, aversions and ignorance.  It is an ancient and sacred spiritual practice which has been passed down for 2500 years.  It is not a ritual and has nothing to do with any organized religion or sectarianism.

Dhamma Surahbi is one of 158 international centers – located in Merrit, BC, Canada – where Vipassanā is taught and practiced.  As a beginner, one must take a 10-day course to learn this meditation technique.  Once a 10-day course has been completed, registration for a 1, 2, 3, 10, 20, 30, or 45-day retreats are possible.

Today, I completed a 10-day course from December 24, 2014 to January 4, 2015.  In this post, I will be sharing some of my experiences with you.

At these retreats, noble silence is observed.  That means no talking for 10 days! Technically, you can only talk to the Men’s Manager (for basic necessities – or the Women’s Manager if you are a woman) and the Assistant Teacher (for questions regarding your practice).  The last time I didn’t speak for 10 days straight was over 3 decades ago, when I first learned how to speak!!

On top of that, you are not allowed to use a cellphone, read, draw, listen to music, watch TV, exercise, make eye contact, communicate using gestures, take part in any sensual pleasures or any form of entertainment.  You basically, just mediate, eat, mediate, eat, meditate, watch the teacher’s discourse, meditate and sleep – for 10 days in complete silence.

The following 5 precepts must be observed during the course:

  1. to abstain from killing any being;
  2. to abstain from stealing;
  3. to abstain from all sexual activity;
  4. to abstain from telling lies;
  5. to abstain from all intoxicants.

The schedule that is strictly observed (~ 10 hours of meditation per day):

4:00 am Morning wake-up bell
4:30-6:30 am Meditate in the hall or in your room
6:30-8:00 am Breakfast break
8:00-9:00 am Group meditation in the hall
9:00-11:00 am Meditate in the hall or in your room according to the teacher’s instructions
11:00-12:00 noon Lunch break
noon-1:00 pm Rest and interviews with the teacher
1:00-2:30 pm Meditate in the hall or in your room
2:30-3:30 pm Group meditation in the hall
3:30-5:00 pm Meditate in the hall or in your own room according to the teacher’s instructions
5:00-6:00 pm Tea break
6:00-7:00 pm Group meditation in the hall
7:00-8:15 pm Teacher’s Discourse in the hall
8:15-9:00 pm Group meditation in the hall
9:00-9:30 pm Question time in the hall
9:30 pm Retire to your own room–Lights out

Try to arrive early.  Because when you do, you have time to speak to some of your peers before the silence commences.  Towards the end of the course, I starting feeling some great animosity against those who I didn’t get to know before the silence began.  This agitation was based purely on their body language – which I misinterpreted completely.  I realized this at the end of the course when I could talk to them.  More on that later.

I was really unprepared.  I forgot to pack: a pillow, a blanket, a towel, soap, shampoo, shaving cream, razor or even enough clothes.  I still managed to take showers – by squeezing hand soap in a cup and drying myself with paper towels.  Even I started laughing at my situation.  The center can provide you with some of these basic necessities in case you forgot them; but I decided to make things more difficult for myself to increase my appreciation and effort.

The meals they offer are vegetarian and very delicious.  You won’t even have a problem being vegan here.  Everything is prepared by volunteers at this center for you, so that you can strictly focus on your meditation.  There are many different types of foods to choose from.  However, if you look at the schedule closely – no dinner!  At first, it may seem like a big deal, but you get used to it.  They offer fruits during the tea break for all beginners.  Talk about getting a total body cleanse – I haven’t eaten so healthy and well in my life!


Now f0r to the actual course and my progression through it:

Day 0 (Christmas Eve):  As I mentioned before, arrive early to meet your peers.  I realized that this event attracts curious, adventurous, spiritual people who love to experience life.  We are given a small dorm room housing anywhere from 1-4 occupants.  Men and women stay on opposite sides.  The only time you see women is during the group meditation session, which takes place in a hall.  Even there we sit in a specific spot, separated by gender and ranked according to how many courses you have completed with the newest ones at the back.

On the Men’s side, there were more old students than new students.  In fact, only 9 out of 24 students were new.  Some had completed this course either 2, 5, 15, or 56 times in the past.  That’s right 56!  He hasn’t been unhappy/angry/sad in over 20 years!  He was a Vietnam war veteran shooting soldiers from a helicopter using a machine gun. And now he has dedicated his life towards spirituality and basically lived by going to different Vipassanā centers throughout the world.  If students are coming back in great majority, then this technique must be working effectively.

Day 1 (Christmas Day): The course begins bright an early at 4 AM.  A bell rings in the hallway and all of the men come of out of their rooms in complete silence.  We have 30 minutes to get ready for our first meditation session.  The atmosphere was totally new to me.  My first thought was, did I just check myself into a jail or a mental institution?

We sit down in the meditation hall and suddenly you hear this voice coming from the speakers.  Wow this is creepy!  Some chant.  I had no idea what was going on.  This voice was the teacher – Satya Narayan Goenka – who guides all lectures and frequently chants throughout the course.  He is actually quite funny, smart and interesting.

During the Teacher’s Discourse (at 7 PM every day), a video clip of the teacher is shown where he discusses spirituality, beliefs, god, human existence, science, matter, mind and various other fascinating topics.  He also summarizes how you probably feel at this point in time.  As a matter of fact, he was pretty much right on in all of his descriptions.

Day 2:  This day is considered hard day for some, but was not much of a problem for me.  I noticed how my mind loves to wander – all the time!  Focusing on a simple task, like following your breath, is actually quite difficult to do in practice.

Day 3: I started getting some VERY weird dreams and some VERY odd thoughts inside my head.  In the video lecture, the teacher noted that this was quite normal.  All of your deep, sub-conscious thoughts are going to bubble up to the top.  It is a process of purification.  He calls it – a surgical procedure of the mind.

Day 4 (My birthday): Happy birthday to me!  I decided to walk bare foot everywhere for this entire day to celebrate my birthday.  In my life, this would be the very first birthday where I did not create a single sound.  It turned out to be the most important day of the course as well.  On this day, we were actually taught Vipassanā!  The first 3 days are “warm-up” to increase the awareness of the mind and prepare it for the next stage, Vipassanā.

Day 5:  Lunch was delicious!  It was so good that I quickly signed up for a meeting with the assistant teacher (who is present on-site, the teacher who you hear over audio/video passed away in 2013).  I went to him and said: “Forgive me, but I am attached to the food.  Every time the bell rings at 11 AM, my mouth waters!”

Day 6:  This was by far the most difficult day for me.  I wasn’t considering leaving early at any point, but I could not sit still for 1 hour straight.  On Day 5 – you will be asked to not move for 1 hour during the practice of Vipassanā.  I just couldn’t do it.  Too much pain.  Too unbearable.  I felt defeated and so my progress took a hit.  Two women left on this day too.

I heard tears in the far corner.  It can be an emotional experience depending on which thoughts bubble up in your brain.  Some get a major burst of anger, agitation, sadness, madness etc.  It is different for all.  It will be different for you.

Day 7 (New Year’s Day):  This would be the first day that I could actually sit for 1 hour without any major movements!  I was really proud of myself.  Because when you open your eyes – which you shouldn’t do – and see how well and straight everybody else was sitting and meditating, it makes you doubt yourself on whether you are fit for this type of meditation.  I had a quick chat with the assistant teacher and realized that I was doing something wrong!  I persevered and it paid off.  Big time.  The next day.

Day 8:  Wow!  Wow!  Wow!  This was one of my best experiences during meditation here.  I can’t describe it for you because your experience would be different anyway.  But it was something I have never felt before in my life.  It took me a while to understand the technique.  I guess this is why they have a 10-day course because had I left earlier, I wouldn’t have learned it.

Day 9:  My weird thoughts have all disappeared at this point.  There were times when I could feel, communicate and understand the world around me using only sensations created inside of me.  However, I did become really restless at this point.  I understood the technique and now I wanted to go home.  Second most difficult day.  Someone left the room crying.

Day 10:  The noble silence ban was lifted.  We all shared our experiences.  I realized that everybody was really kind and friendly.  During the course, my mind painted visualizations regarding some peers whom I had never talked to.  I thought I knew their personality – which I magically gathered during the noble silence – and I was wrong.  Way wrong.

In conclusion, it was definitely one of the most amazing experiences; extremely challenging and extremely rewarding.  The facilities were clean, food was great and my peers were supportive and interesting.  Also, ask the assistant teacher to make sure you are practicing correctly!  I made some new friends, which I intend to learn a lot from.

Honestly, 10-days is a small sacrifice to learn a lot more about yourself.  I highly encourage you to give it a chance.  By the way, the course does not cost a single penny.  It is purely based on donations.  And if you enjoyed it, your donations will be used to support the next interested student.

If you want to watch a fascinating documentary regarding criminals being taught Vipassanā and their effects on them, please consider the following video:

God bless all living, non-living, moving, and non-moving creatures on earth, because they are all truly One and the same.  sādhusādhusādhu.

Two Years Later

Click here to start from the beginning

Two years ago today, I returned from My Homeless Christmas in the Vancouver Downtown Eastside, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Canada.  A Christmas without money, without a home, with uncertainty, darkness and a lack of heat, all contributed towards new experiences which I tried to re-create for the readers of this blog.  If success depends on the total number of views reached over the past two years (23,000) or by the number of lives affected (quantity immeasurable), then this project was a success.  This post is for those who live in Vancouver, but if you follow the links which I give below, you will be able to follow along.

When I returned home from my experiences, I contacted all media outlets and received the first response by my University’s newspaper.  I was also asked to discuss some of my experiences to a group of children at the boys and girls club in Delta.  Next, a radio and TV station asked for an interview with me.  A week later, I was able to send my message across all existing media outlets available in our time: TV, radio, newspaper and the internet.  Last but not least, I helped to set up a couple of field trips in the Downtown Eastside for high school students, both of which were extremely effective.  I was very impressed at how much interest there was for this topic.  This also provided me with further proof that it is possible for one man to make changes in our current environment.

Eight months later, the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) decided to take on a similar project.  Given that three different police officers took down my blog’s address on three separate occasions and the fact that their blog started eight months after mine – with the same web format and style I use for my blog – it must have influenced The Eastside Story’s creation.  Unfortunately, their main aim was to improve their self-image with regards to the public’s eye.  They decided to appoint a journalist, who goes by the name of Steve Addison, to document his experiences as a Beat Team police officer using taxpayer’s money (The Eastside Story).  The Beat team is a group of VPD foot-soldiers who walk around the Downtown Eastside and give care to the community.  They are well-known in that region and some of these officers essentially end up being social workers during their shift.

I’ve been asked how I felt about Steve’s blog and as I have alluded to above, I believe that this was a publicity stunt to try to improve the image of the department.  The Police Department’s image was recently tainted when Robert Dziekański, a Polish immigrant, murdered in 2007 and when 12 police officers stomped a man in the Downtown Eastside.  That stomping never reached the air or any tabloids along with the other violent and unjust Downtown Eastside stories which remain untold to this day.  You can check my blog for details.

In the same way, Robert’s story would not have aired if a bystander had not released the film footage to the public.  Even though airports are heavily equipped with video cameras and have constant footage of every square inch – at least I hope so since the 911 attacks – it took a local man’s videotape footage to contradict the officer’s original version of the story.  These negative images of the Police Department tainted the public’s mind.  Therefore, to override this negativity, their good deeds became a large spectacle for others to see.  However, their work had a positive impact for our community even if their original motive was different.

To change gears a bit, I’d like to restate Newton’s second law here: Force is equal to mass times acceleration.  In this context, writing positively about the Downtown Eastside creates a force that can actually start a movement.  Like a piece of ice breaking off a mountain and gathering speed as it moves down, it can create an avalanche.  Even though Newton’s equation was referring to physical objects only, I am hereby extending his theory to also apply to the movements of mental objects as well, such as thoughts and ideas.

As a matter of fact, why I decided to go homeless for Christmas was so that more energy can flow into that space and close the gap between the East and West, rich and poor, powerful and weak.  Our stereotypes disappear by opening our minds and communicating with those who we understand the least.  The reason why we understand them the least is two-fold:  One, most do not experience homelessness, just as the most do not experience being rich.  Second, our society shuns different opinions especially those coming from lower-income classes.

The purpose of this project was to give a voice to those who we neglect in our society.  The ones neglected often practice life differently than what society expects from an individual; and so these people are by definition, not normal.  The word normal represents the common viewpoint of a population, which is often branded through government-sponsored education, news, TV, movies and advertisement.  People are told what they like and what is acceptable or not, since these are just merely social constructs.  However, it is never normal people who shape society, create movements or are the most imaginative and free.  In fact, it is those who dare to step past the confines and borders, which we created for ourselves, who shape our universe.

As always, I have and will encourage all the readers to take a minute and re-evaluate our entire society from the ground up.  Then, evaluating one’s life with respect to one’s dreams and aspirations becomes the forefront of mankind’s existence.  It is through constructive thinking and not through the simple re-telling of stories that help build a society.  As the ancient Zoroastrian religion states, “good thoughts, good words and good deeds” are the most important principles of life.  Now, granted that we assume language as given, positive thinking sets into motion good words and then finally good action.  Therefore, the seeds of change are present in our minds. We also are able to influence one another.

WhSingle Room Occupancyen it comes to keeping in touch with some of my friends in the Downtown Eastside, it is often extremely difficult to keep a healthy relationship going.  For one, they live in horrid living conditions.  If you enter a Single-Room-Occupancy (SRO) offered in the Downtown Eastside, then you will know exactly what I am talking about.  The SRO, which the politician Jagrup Brar stayed in, was among one of the more expensive and cleaner spaces available.  The media rarely releases footage or pictures of these “livable” spaces some people have to call their home; for if they did, you would find them atrocious.

For those interested in how other parts of the world deal with homelessness, you can email me and I will gladly offer facts and current successful systems implemented in other parts of the world.  That is one thing that Steve Addison’s blog completely sidestepped and did not address.  Even though his point of view was empathic, it lacked practical and possible solutions to cut the existing problems there.  I do realize that this was not the purpose of his blog though.

I am working on starting a couple of new projects.  My recent commitment towards completing a second bachelor’s degree has changed my focus and energy in life.  In a few months’ time, I will be able to write more often about God, spirituality, science and other topics which I have promised to do in the past.  I look forward to hearing feedback and taking part in more discussions with all of you.  I wish all my readers the best in the upcoming New Year.

Happy New Year,

Nima Farzaneh

The Day After

Start from the beginning

Going Home – 8AM

When I awoke the next morning, I gathered my belongings and headed for the door.  A tray of muffins were near the exit – I took one.  This was my breakfast.  Last night’s sleep was a bit unusual for me, because I am used to sleeping on hard surfaces now.  Aside from a few groans of pain made by one of the occupants and the change from concrete to feather; I slept reasonably well.

Nevertheless, it was now time for me to go home.  My project was successfully completed.  To be more precise, only a part of this mission is now complete.  The next step is to translate my entire experience into words and re-create what I saw, felt and heard.  Making the transition from experience to language is a near impossible one, but I will do my best to convert reality into symbols.

I used public transportation to get home.  Before boarding the bus, I pulled my bus-pass out of my pocket to show the driver.  I am officially the old Nima Farzaneh again.  I am not sure if the last statement is true, because this new experience gave me a new appreciation and perspective.

When I opened the door to my apartment, I sat down and started meditating.  Not long into it, I broke down into tears.  Why are some of the homeless mistreated for things they had no control over?  And why are there so many injustices against the people who were nothing but kind to me?

Seeing people go through severe mental or physical pains every day of their lives, while accepting this mistreatment, disheartened me.  They have come to accept this as their reality, but why does it have to this way?  While we cause a lot of their pain and grief – due to our judgmental behavior towards them – this disease is easily preventable.  The cure is to become more open-minded and accept people of all races, wealth status or disabilities – physical or mental.

Once I was able to control my out pour of emotions, I was thankful for being kept safe over the past seven days.  I was in the right place at the right time.  This perfect timing gave me the ability to write such a compelling story of the Downtown Eastside, one of the poorest communities in North America.  After visiting my mother, I will contact all media outlets for publicity, because these stories and experiences can’t be kept silent.