You’ve gotta have friends

While in Buenos Aires I am often struck with how fit everyone is.

People there put a lot of pride in their physical appearance, and are more active.

On my runs in the parks of Buenos Aires, there are a lot of outdoor gyms and they’re always packed with men and women. Perhaps the sun and the warm weather motivate Argentines to look their best, but it is something that is sorely lacking in Canada.

I haven’t even been back a week and before I landed at Pearson International Airport I prepared myself for not only the poor weather but for the bad attitudes of the Canadian people.

People here really do self-medicate. I don’t know what it’s like to get up in the morning to smoke a joint. I’m not a pot smoker, so I cannot relate. And also, I’m happy I can’t relate. I don’t want to be that person.

But it’s not only pot smoking. Canadians are heavily in debt because of addictions to online shopping, they eat too much, move too little, abuse alcohol and drugs, engage in risky behavior that impacts not only themselves but their families. The list goes on.

A lot of people I talk to claim that COVID restrictions are to blame for their weight gain, but I lived here too during that period and I still managed to be active. Whether that’s riding a bike, going for a run, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking, home workouts, I did it. Rather than ordering Uber Eats everyday like some people I know I was still able to make my breakfasts from whole foods, as well as my lunches and suppers. I didn’t watch Netflix 10 hours a day, or play video games (as I’m an adult) or drink copious amounts of alcohol to escape the realities of my life!

I always say this, but I like my life, I like reality, I don’t need to escape from my life by abusing substances.

Yesterday afternoon I went to my local pub for a beer (nice segue, eh!?) and after a few I had to go home to decompress. So much negativity, just really miserable people dissatisfied with their lives. I needed to get all that out of my head. People in Toronto are very angry, whether it be about their lives or that others don’t agree with them on political issues, they’re simply just angry. I was speaking to a gentleman seated next to me yesterday and he managed to blame Donald Trump on the whole Will Smith Oscars fiasco and I grew uncomfortable with how he was incapable of tolerating any dissent, so I stopped talking to him.

They also hold these hostile views on those who express themselves differently, whether that is through social media posts, or even in conversation, they’re angry that people are different than they are. But why would anyone want to be like them, when they’re glum all the time? Why are unhappy people so threatened by those who aren’t, and why do they spend so much of their time trying to break those people down? Often this is accomplished through rumors, spreading gossip based on falsehoods and assumptions.

I often wonder why Canadians can be so miserable because they are so lucky to call a place like Toronto, Ontario, Canada home. This is an enormously wealthy nation with a lot of comfort and security and opportunity as well as a robust middle-class. There’s no excuse to be unhappy when you have so much opportunity to be the opposite.

And then I think about Argentina where 50% of the population lives below the poverty line and inflation is also at 50% and they’re happier than Canadians who have so much more. Argentines even go so far as to care about their bodies, linking happiness to physical well-being.

I notice this every time I return from a vacation. It never ceases to astound or amaze me that those here believe they are so helpless when they are not.

You have this one life, spend it doing what makes you happy, not wallowing in self-pity and misery. Don’t like your life? Change it. Make positive changes that will bring you closer to being content, at least.

Believe it or not but we are all responsible for our own lives. No one else is. There is no one else to blame but ourselves when something goes wrong. It’s strange how often I hear people blame others for their perceived misfortunes. You put yourself there, no one else, and you can get out.

North Americans are becoming more juvenile with every passing year. They want to be protected from opinions they don’t like, labelling dissent as ‘dangerous.’ They’ve infantilized themselves and others to such a degree that COVID-19 restrictions were readily accepted by those finger-wagging scolds who just love to tell other people how they should be living their lives. But those who do that aren’t happy. They cannot be happy if they want everyone to be as miserable as they are. They cannot be happy when they marinate in resentment at those who are.

I used to be friends with a woman I met in my first year university, whoa those many years ago. I liked her at first but through the years came to discover that she was in fact quite miserable. She wore her misery on her body, being morbidly obese and not conventionally attractive. I know this sounds mean, but sometimes to make a point one has to be clear and yes, plain-spoken. She spent a considerable amount of our social interactions talking ill of our friends who were not present, and she would constantly make passive-aggressive comments about me to my face. I would always think to myself, “you know Franco, she’s insecure, just let it go.” But you can’t keep letting bad behavior slide and then blame it on insecurity. I personally didn’t like spending hours bad-talking those who weren’t there to defend themselves and then calling them friends, when they clearly were not.

If she was talking shit about them to me, she was talking shit about me to them. I found her rather untrustworthy. There are many incidences with her I could discuss but the one that put the nail in the coffin for me was when I went over to her apartment after living abroad in England for two years to discover how she lived. The filth she accepted as a living situation was beyond disgusting, indescribable even. This was a truly unhappy woman, possibly clinically depressed, and it was not my job to be her therapist. I learned in that moment that someone who hates themselves cannot love or even like anyone. And I mean, anyone.

For myself I have always maintained that I have one life, and I only want to surround myself with beauty, and with people whom I love and whom love me. It’s not always rosy, life often isn’t that easy, but my goal is to remove those types from my life and focus on those who deserve to be in my company. You have to respect yourself, you can’t accept disrespect, even from so-called friends.

I am certain she is still an unhappy, toxic person. I do think of her at times, not because I would want to reconnect with her, but because I spent a considerable amount of time showing her respect without a healthy return, and wondering why I accepted such treatment from someone who didn’t deserve me. What did all that say about me at the time? If she is somewhat better, good for her, but I can’t ever take a risk on someone like that ever again. Life’s too short to accept people like her into my orbit.

Also word of advice: anyone who sets up decoy social media accounts or the like to catfish you, is fucked. Trust your instincts and cut them out for good. They are not well people.

In my many travels I have often found that the unhappiest people are those in countries that are more economically prosperous and I can’t for the life of me figure out why. Maybe it’s true that if you have no real problems you start to invent them.

I’m about to turn 43 years old and I can count my closest friends on one hand. Long gone are the days of cliques and large groups of people at birthday parties. I’m far happier than I’ve ever been in my life because I carved it out for myself by making challenging decisions. I wish more people could see that sometimes the path to wholeness is to accept that change has to happen, and tough choices need to be made.

That’s my lecture for the day!

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