Tuesday, 3 December 2013

UNDERSTAND


When weak, imagine strength;
When down, see yourself up there, shining.
If you are weary, find rest in each breath;
If cast aside, see humanity in the other.
For when we strive for peace, for healing,
For deepest, deepest, deepest;
When we see forever in another,
Then we might understand love.
 
 
 
 
 
By Bob Paris (c)
all rights reserved

Thursday, 14 November 2013

In This Moment

 
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I stand here, in this moment of my life and say, thank you. For the good, the bad; the splendid and the messy; for all of it, I give sincere thanks.
 
For how would I measure my life on this plane without a full understanding of complex beauty, of jagged hopes, of dreams leaving the station without me, of dreams fulfilled beyond wildest imagination?

Should any of us count our days other than by way of the cauldron? Through the forge of reaching out, of half-understanding, ...of hearing words, yet not their meaning. The explosion of love; the murmur of ghosts crossing in the three a.m. hallway. The first cup of strong coffee. The poplar out in the yard, yellowing in autumn. The papery, bent hands of one we love, growing slow and yet holding tight. A smiling face, sharing a story from some forgotten cave.

In every moment of your life, seek the place of understanding, of compassion, of peace. Even if it seems impossible, seek love, because beyond all else, love seeks you. Are you ready?

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

This Time of Year



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This time of year often causes me to take serious and unflinching stock, to make a heartfelt attempt toward seeing (and I mean truly seeing) the long-view of things that are at once as material as lead and mud and flesh, and as ephemeral as breath and cloud and intimate whispers.  Perhaps it is the edge of Winter and the approaching Solstice (the darkness before the dawn, so to speak) that lands me in this place. 

As dusk falls early in this hemisphere, I listen to the rhythms of life as they beat, beat, beat in the cadence of a pulse of someone willing to look truth in the eye; I feel my own fragile heart there in my chest; and I see the fleeting beauty and unremitting oomph of it all, unfolding each day for all of us—all of us, connected here on this tiny rock that twirls and spins in deep, deep space. 

And all I can do is smile and say thank you.  Thank you.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Dream Life ... ?

I asked myself today if I was living the life of which I had always dreamt.

 
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My answer was at once simple and complex (Go figure!). The simple answer is, Yes, yes, yes, a hundred times yes: My present life is all I could have ever wished for and much more – especially as that nihilistic, romantic teenage man-child, projecting himself forward with jagged hope. On the other hand, the complicated aspect of the answer would require chapters. But the complexity can, I suppose, be boiled down to this:

The road each of us travels is comprised of topography both smooth and treacherous – and everything in between. In this context, I see the path of my own life as one that makes it’s way up and around a wild, ragged mountain, with hairpin switchbacks, crumbling ledges, startling vistas and gut-clenched, dirt-munched flights of amore and satori.

Right now – in this moment – ask yourself: Am I living my life to the fullest?

Now, read me plainly. I do not intend this question as a clich├ęd self-help-ish triviality (Me, I happen to find most self-help nostrums to be simplistic, Pollyanna drivel, doled out by those who could stand to take a bit of their own advice).

Rather, this question – today’s question– is aimed at the heart of your own journey, your own unique authenticity, creativity, compassion and true connection to your current experience, to the beating soul of now.

Are you traveling your best path, with open heart and eyes?

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Authentic Living: The Bookstore Test

I realize that I place a great deal of emphasis on authentic living.  Question is, how is one to discover, hone and follow the true path of their life?  I would suggest that it’s essential to identify what gets you up in the morning and excites your mind.  It also entails asking yourself some key questions, often in the form of imaginary play-acting.
 
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For example, because I’m passionate about books, I frequently perform what I call the “bookstore test.”  It goes like this:  Imagine you’ve just entered a vast and comprehensive bookstore.  Without giving the matter any conscious thought, which section would you be pulled toward, as if by magnetic force?  Me, I’d make an immediate bee-line for the “New Fiction” section and then spend hours reading random pages from dozens of novels and short-story collections.  This tells me something vital. 

Many years ago, playing out the “bookstore test” helped me confirm that it was time to leave the fitness business, to pursue more authentic ambitions.  Now, by sharing this example, I’m not trying to diminish my previous work; I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to share my experience with others.  It’s more a matter of keeping life elastic, moving and liquid – adjusting course as we evolve and grow. 

Have a great weekend. 
Bob

Monday, 10 June 2013

An Official Bob Paris Page

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Seek Truth. Strive for Growth.

Embrace Change. Be Authentic.


Friday, 10 May 2013

Thoughts on Jason Collins' Media Coming-Out

Many of you have sent me messages and emails regarding Jason Collins’ recent media coming out, making him the first male “big four" team athlete to come out in the media while still active in his sport.  I must say that I admire the man a great deal.

Bob Paris Official
Occasions like this make me look back at 1989, when I was the first male professional athlete (in any sport) to come out in the media while still competing in my sport—and it feels like it happened on a different planet.  I suppose in many ways it did.  It was, to say the least, an incredibly challenging time in my life.  But there was no other viable path for me.  I simply wasn't built for the closet.

As I have written many times before, I owe the relative safety of my own journey to the many LGBTQ pioneers who came before me, cutting a trail through a confusing and often dangerous wilderness. 

With this in mind, it’s heartening to watch the public reaction to Jason’s coming out, much of which has been so positive.  This says great things about our culture’s evolution. 

Yes, there are still many miles to go before we might rest.  It will take persistent vigilance to maintain our gains, but demographics indicate that this category of bigotry will fade away into an embarrassing memory.  Homophobes are on the wrong side of history and human evolution.  Period.  And, future generations will shake their heads at how clueless and violently mean-spirited many of their ancestors could be.

I wish you all peace, harmony and continued evolution,

Bob

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Joe Weider's Death

Several of you have written to ask my feelings regarding Joe Weider’s death this past Saturday.
 
It’s essential to start by extending my warmest thoughts and prayers to Joe’s wife, Betty (who was always so dear and sweet to me). I know that in her time of grief, she’ll be surrounded by loving family and friends. Also, to those who loved Joe and were close to him, I offer heartfelt condolences. It’s never easy when someone we care for fades from our material lives. Memories may be lucid and powerful, but physical proximity is primal.

It may surprise some to learn that Joe and I considered each other friends. And even though ours was a relationship filled with serious ups and downs, it was also a testimony to the ways in which we fragile humans can be like oil and water, can drive each other to absolute distraction and yet, in the end, respect each others’ underlying spirit. That was Joe and me: These two headstrong men, each trying to make his way in an often confounding world, who could argue one day and then sit down to share a meal and a joke the next.

I would also suggest to those who mainly saw a darker shade of Joe that there is extraordinary power in the act of approaching the day-to-day humanity of another person with humility and a willingness to forgive and move forward. After all, who among us wouldn’t wish that even our most ardent adversaries might cut us a bit of slack; might see the world through our eyes, if only for a fleeting moment.

I am eternally grateful to Joe for giving me -- a shy kid from the sticks, who was using bodybuilding as a tool to battle back nihilism and save his own life -- that first real break. Those were times at once innocent and complicated, and I’m glad Joe and I shared a bit of the road together. 

Travel easy, Joe.  You were one of a kind.

Monday, 25 March 2013

A Defying Gravity Clip

A fan recently forwarded this clip, compiled from episodes of the 2009 ABC show which was shot in and around Vancouver.  I was cast in a season one recurring role that (I was told) would expand in a second season.  However, the network pulled the plug after the first season -- to the frustration of the show's many fans around the world.  In any event, it was a fantastic -- and confirming -- experience.

 
 
As many of you know, I've been a theatre geek since boyhood; and I continued to be passionate about acting well into adulthood. 
 
In fact, during my first retirement from bodybuilding (from after the 1985 Mr. Olympia until mid 1988) I studied full-time in the advanced theatre program at the Stella Adler Conservatory; and those two years remain among the best and most fulfilling periods of my life. 
 
But when study ended, the real world of 1980s Hollywood had to be faced.
 
Unfortunately, back in the 80s, the road for openly gay 20-ish leading-man types in mainstream TV and film was -- to be blunt -- all but impossible.  Actors like me faced a stark choice: Stay in the closet (or in my case, go in to the closet) or spend years beating your head against a brick wall. 
 
Thankfully, during these last decades things have begun to change.  We see more young mainstream actors deal publicly with their sexuality.  For a while it seemed that we might be witnessing a handful of brave exceptions that proved an insidious rule.  But the pace of evolution now seems unstoppable.
 
For someone like me, now in my 50s and dedicated to the writer's path (which suits my personality exceptionally well), working on a show like DEFYING GRAVITY was a gratifying confirmation.  As I spent time on set, working with all those talented people, I realized something at once profound and healing: In a different era, I could have done this thing and killed it; all that study and dedication to craft had not been for nothing.
 
I acknowledge that each of us is born in a time and a place and a culture.  Ultimately, we must deal with life as we find it -- or as it finds us.
 
Sometimes just seeing a bit of what might have been can be enough.
 
I hope that all of us will continue to push the world forward in a positive and evolved direction.
 
Cheers and Namaste,
 
Bob


Spring

Well, Spring has finally arrived – or at least it has here in coastal British Columbia! And I, for one, can’t wait to shake off those Winter blahs (I tend to spend a lot of the dark and dreary months locked away in my writing room). I’m hungering to get back outside, into the air and the woods and out on the water.

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Hope you'll join me in taking life by the horns, each of us pursuing our own unique brand of authenticity, creativity, drive and compassion. Beyond all that, please strive to be kind to each other. 

Cheers and Namaste,
 
Bob