“Do you like songs by Backstreet Boys?” “Do you enjoy practicing yoga?” These are the two questions that females anywhere will have no difficulty answering. If they were posed to North American men, the reaction might be different. Although they may enjoy Backstreet boys songs and practice yoga as much as their women do; however, most men in North America will feel slightly embarrassed admitting to the truth. It is not that they don’t want to be honest. The embarrassment that men feel has to do with their desire to fit in to the traditional and social expectation of what constitutes masculinity in the North American context.
Canada and US pride themselves on their freedom of expression. Having been living in North American culture for more than a decade, I find that it is very restricting being a man in this context. There are so many unspoken gender protocols that a man needs to follow so as not to be perceived as less than in the North American masculinity discourse. Contrarily, it is much freer being a man in countries that are not traditionally praised for their freedom of expression, like China. Men in that country will not have to worry about having their manhood questioned should they be interested in listening to backstreet boys or practicing yoga.
A song is a song. Yoga is a form of wellness practice. If we understand and experience firsthand the benefits from both of these things, why should we be worried about others’ opinions? Why should we put a gender label on it? We can never please everyone and be liked by all. Whether you are a man or woman, we should do our best to not let the gender binary culture that has existed for decades prevent us from living our lives to the fullest. At the end of the day, who cares about others’ thoughts on what constitutes a man or woman thing to do? A clever man will never reject the benefits of a practice just because it may be considered as something feminine in the traditional sense.
Street name has meaning. A street can be named after a well-known person to eternalize his or her contribution to the city. A street can also be named after a famous place or event in a country’s cultural history to commemorate a particular moment in time.
Toronto has many interesting street names and corners that come with their own eccentric identity, representative of the local communities.
Princess Street is the one, where graffiti, featuring aboriginal storytelling, shines light on a community, which has long been an integral part of Canadian history.
It is amazing that we meet different kinds of personalities each and every day when we are out and about. Although we can decide whom to be friends and have lunch with; however, we have no control over whom to run into around the street corners or to encounter along the way before our arrival at our destination. Synchronicity is such a magical factor in life.
Is our encounter with all these passing strangers already, intentionally designed in the grand scheme of our destiny?
Some of these strangers are there to teach us lessons. Some of them are there to reflect back to us our flaws. Some of them are just there to embody the neutrality of life. The curiosity of our inner child gets awakened in front of these strangers. Our ego gets inflated in front of these strangers. And, our true self-confidence gets tested in front of them.
There are billions of people on earth. In our lifetime, not all of us are going to cross path with each other. Like having a good family and friends, running into someone that we don’t know coincidentally can also be considered a blessing that comes only once in a lifetime.