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Episode 37 ~ Elaine Young


Episode 37 ~ Elaine Young

“There is this word ‘neshama’ which is hebrew for ‘breath/breathing’. נְשִׁימָה. It is almost like when someone is a part of you. When you are breathing they are part of your very being. When I think of romance I think of this word which can also be applied to friends and family too.” -EY

This episode features one of Robert’s coolest and most admirable friends, Elaine Young. They met during Frosh Week to welcome the new eager students at the University of Toronto almost 2 decades ago. Elaine is many things, for this event she was the Event Conceptual Organizer bringing together music, design, dance, theatre and fashion. 

“At 23 I thought that everything I learnt, I had to unlearn and begin again. But at 23 you have had enough going on to know what you need to forget.” - EY

It is wonderful to have friends that through the thick and thin, dark and light years, they remain. Elaine is this person to Robert. Where respect, inspiration, joy and jokes all meet. 

“I’m grateful for having happy problems. Some people have some real problems. I mean I have all my limbs, I can speak, I can breathe properly, I could go to yoga this morning, I got off a plane yesterday. I have very happy problems” -EY

Elaine is a globetrotter having lived abroad in Europe and Asia for many years. She now finds herself in NYC attending the New York University Gallatin School of Individualized Study, close to completing her Masters. Robert is happy about this as Toronto and NYC are just an hour flight apart. However she has learned to be adaptable and realizes that home is wherever she is.

“I tell people how it is very important for my body to take me for a walk, and allow it to do what it needs to do without it being disconnected from my mind. I really need to do that, because it makes me harmonize. I think being physical is important”. -EY

Three key words that describe Elaine’s passionate focuses are the arts, sciences and fashion. She naturally is a curious cat and is excited to almost be done school. This will allow her more time and freedom to get back to the lab, to creatively cook up stuff and seeing what manifests. 

“Reaching infinitely higher than you want to be, or think you can be. Even if all else fails, you have still gone half that much, because you went for it, you went for the pinnacle.” -EY

She wants to be remembered for creating and loving ‘Critical Beauty’ and is reaching for more purposeful matching creativity with social change in a humanitarian way. Scientific images related to life such as cells, viruses and micro-biotic stuff reflecting parallels in us and the universe fuel her work. Forever curious yet calculated, grounded yet a dreamer.

“Just cause you can, doesn't mean you should. I think No is a really important thing to understand.” -EY

Things that are important to her and she wanted to share:

BLACK MIRROR Netflix Series: This sci-fi anthology series explores a twisted, high-tech near-future where humanity's greatest innovations and darkest instincts collide.

BBC’s PLANET EARTH DOCUMENTARIES: Dazzling, state-of-the-art high-definition imagery highlights this breathtaking documentary series featuring footage of some of the world's most awe-inspiring natural wonders -- from the oceans to the deserts to the polar ice caps. 

MANUFACTURED LANDSCAPES: This documentary reveals the gritty underside of industrial landscapes. Photographer Edward Burtynsky explores the subtle beauty amid the waste generated by slag heaps, dumps and factories. Memorable scenes include a Chinese iron factory where employees are berated to produce faster, and shots of children playing atop piles of dangerous debris. The contrasts between wealth and poverty are most striking in Shanghai, with new high-rises towering above old slums. 

PRESS PAUSE PLAY: The digital revolution of the last decade has unleashed creativity and talent in an unprecedented way, with unlimited opportunities. But does democratized culture mean better art or is true talent instead drowned out? This is the question addressed by PressPausePlay, a documentary film containing interviews with some of the world's most influential creators of the digital era.

SIDEWAYS: Sideways Film is a documentary and factual sales agency established in 2010 that specialises in worldwide Broadcast, All Rights, Digital, Educational and in-flight licensing. We work closely with our filmmakers to ensure that every title offers a unique perspective and gets the attention it deserves.

About Elaine’s creative focus and work:

The LAByrinth brand is inspired by the invention of the telescope and microscope, how it revolutionized the way we see the World and made it possible to observe phenomena previously invisible to the naked-eye, forever changing what we know as our visible landscape. The name LAByrinth is a combination of two meanings: LAB [abbreviation for laboratory], a place dedicated to scientific discovery and experimentation; and labyrinth, an intricate structure similar to DNA and a metaphor for the intricacies of Nature, that is composed of interconnecting passages, split paths and dead ends requiring decoding in order to understand its logic.

The theme of this ‘Weekly Quest’ is HEALTH. To source all your groceries this week locally. To know where they are all coming from. And/OR for all the meals you make this week to be made with no processed ingredients.

*Music featured throughout this QuestHands podcast is by Dj Shiva




Episode 34 ~ 夏竹 (Tommy)


Episode 34 ~ 夏竹 (Tommy)

“Through the theory of ‘incarnation’ my soul already knows all this is gonna happen, and so I gotta ride along with it. The ‘Soul’ is ‘God-like’, ‘Spark of God’. It does not feel anything, it can digest everything, it’s just experience. But my physical body as a person, Oh My God, it’s a nightmare, it’s been crazy. I’ve had a lot of dark years. Why? Because that’s the experience.” -夏竹

This episode features 夏竹 (Tommy). A wonderful young man with a vitality and wit like no other. He offered us the analogy of how the country of China is shaped like a rooster and so he is from the ‘stomach’. South of the Yangtze River, Huangshi, Hubei. Like most of my Chinese guests, their names have interesting meanings and stories. ‘Tommy’ was a self chosen name inspired by an Italian taxi driver character in a Mafia style game he enjoyed called ‘The City of Lost Heaven’, which he played from 14 yrs old. Tommy’s original name (夏克天)made him sick and turned heads when he introduced himself. Why? Because it meant ‘To go against the Heavens’. Where his mom is from has an abundance of bamboo and he loves bamboo; so he chose a new name ‘Zhu’ meaning bamboo at 6 yrs old. With the family name ‘Xia’ meaning ‘summer’, he is 夏竹 ‘The Bamboo in the Summer’.

“Just let me die peacefully. I want to go to sleep and die without any senses, and transcend myself into the sky. Wow, and touch the stars”. -夏竹

Tommy works as Youth Staff for ages 3-17 on the cruise ship which he describes as someone that guarantees their safety and ensures they are having fun. He used to be a teacher and so is good with kids, however does not subscribe to a mainstream traditional value system. What is common is to strictly ‘listen and follow your elders’. Tommy tells the youth:

“You need to do this because you want to do it, because it makes you happy. Not because you mom and dad say so.”-夏竹

You will notice right away how Tommy has the ‘gift of the gab’ but not in an empty chatter kind of way. It is actually the opposite. He is a thoughtful, philosophical, blunt, clear, and descriptive speaker. He has studied english for 15 years along with the help of movies and video games. Tommy’s Dad give him a serious blunt wake up call before an important University entry-level examination. Although this moment broke his heart, it inspired a resilience and ability to focus into his excellence during 4 years of college. It was there he learned major foundations of English, Physics and experienced an array of odd part time jobs in society. 

“Since our dimension and frequency is so different, you still exist, you live in the Universe I will never know about, you will expand my consciousness. I won't call you lower or higher, you are open to all possibilities just like different aspects and perspectives of a crystal.” -夏竹    (On talking to people you hate)

Tommy was not afraid to talk about shameful historic and current truths about China. He experienced lower standard medical practices when he was just a kid which caused stunted development of his muscles and bones, leading to two required surgeries. This also happened to millions of kids between 1970 & 1990. He mentioned how the ‘red cash envelopes’ which are a common gift at Chinese New Year, are used to have doctors and surgeons provide better care and surgery to the patient. This can sadly lead to bankruptcy and being shunned by some families. Another dark side is how most people are focused on the economy and making money as opposed to celebrating the rich cultural Spiritual heritage on Confucianism and Taoism. As insightful and revealing as Tommy’s disclosures were, Robert made Tommy state two positive things about China. This first being represented by the exquisite Lotus Plant. The roots being ‘Confucianism’, the stem being ‘Philosophy’ and the flower being ‘Buddhism’. This is the foundation and timeless rich philosophical knowledge that is respected and studied around the world. The second aspect Tommy spoke on was the vast diversity that China beholds. Four different races in the North, East, South and West along with their own cuisines, landscapes and agricultural offerings. He looks forward to a day where China can rise into celebrating their diverse abundance in a vital way attracting travellers naturally.

“I will always love you but maybe I don’t like you that much anymore. Because you can’t call it home if even with breathing it gives you disease”. -夏竹 (On his Love of China)

Tommy is full of life force energy. He is fast twitched, playful, and celebrates a diverse array of passions in nature, sports, consciousness and art. He is a natural born artist who feels a bit sad to have not pursued it professionally but believes there is still hope. He started painting since he was 2yrs old. At 4 or 5yrs old he remembered not having (or even knowing about) an eraser so he put sticky rice on the paper to cover his design and when it dried started again. In regards to dance he clearly remembers watching a street dance movie when young. He was so inspired that he started dancing along side with them, but when his grandmother saw him, she insisted he stop. In Chinese culture it is shameful to overact and show yourself out. One needs to be a good student. It is shameful to be lower than other students. Tommy has a strong body, mind and spiritual nature. It is enhanced with his open mind in gathering awareness through each experience and knowledge from other sources, especially Bashar (A highly respected controversial Conscious Being from another realm). Tommy is currently focused onbeing fluent in Japanese and practicing Vegetarianism. He has dreamed of travelling and made it happened. Robert has no doubts where his dreams can and will lead him next.

“You have to stand your ground, if you are not who you are, what makes you special? What else would make you able to say before you go to the other side, ‘I was here.’ -夏竹

“As long as you feel it will work for you, it will work for you.”      -夏竹

“I am very honoured and happy to say I did it my way, not their way” -夏竹

“When I workout it’s not just simple physical suffering. The thing is, the Spirit has to be there; and for the Spirit to be there, the Heart has to be there.” -夏竹

“I like demons, demons are cool, why not? They used to be Angels, don’t judge them”. -夏竹

With Google and YouTube being blocked in China, Tommy shared a great website for Mandarin speakers to understand. It summarizes all information together from Religions, Documentaries, Conspiracies, Extra-Terrestrial knowledge and more:

The theme of this ‘Weekly Quest’ is SELF DEVELOPMENT.  Try to talk to someone that you really dislike, hate or those who you don't completely agree with.Try to listen to them for a week and talk less if a good conversation cannot happen. Listen and try to make them be patient with you.  Be very rational about the whole process, record it mentally and see what you can find out and learn from that very person.

*Music featured throughout this QuestHands podcast is by Dj




Episode 32 ~ Agaar


Episode 32 ~ Agaar

“Agaar means ‘Air’ in Mongolian, but when it comes to names it means more like ‘Universe’. Something bigger than Air, that includes the Earth and Sky and everything. So it’s a pretty heavy name. A pretty big name given from my mom”. -A

This episode features Agaar. A talented friendly man from the countryside of Inner Mongolia. His parents still live there but he is now based in Northern China where it still can get as cold as -35c. A unique name that most people on the cruiseship defaulted to just call him ‘G’. Robert enjoyed rolling his R’s saying his name but enjoyed more getting to know someone from somewhere so different to Robert’s upbringing. Agaar lived in the countryside known as the grasslands with 600 sheep and 60 cows. A traditional life with no neighbours and lots of work.  He went to school with 200 students and 10 teachers. He knew nothing about being the minority until meeting Chinese people in middle school.

“Let me put it this way, I grew up in the country side, I grew up with over 600 sheep and 60 cows, they drink water every day and the water is not gonna come out by itself, it’s a lot of work. I did so much work everyday to keep them healthy and everything else as well”. -A

Agar’s role on the cruiseship is as Crews Staff which Robert describes as being the ‘cheerleaders’ of the ship. They host parties, go-go dance, lead lots of activities, have game shows and overall help the guests have a good time. An interesting place to end up after many different experiences around China and from being a musician and singer for many years. It does however sit well with his friendly confident personality.

“The Sky is everything, the Sky & the Earth are the two things that matters most, that I am grateful for. They give me everything & protect me everyday”. -A

Agaar has an amazing pair of ears. He can hear details of distinction that many cannot. Robert recalls being in a crew training with Agaar where he impersonated the officer of a western european country and was bang on perfect. So funny. He does have a future goal of cross training to be a Sound Technician which would honour his natural enhanced gift with sound.

“Get up where you fell down”. -A

What is amazing about Agaar is his open friendly nature. A patient, respectful person who has not been swept up in the internet technology craze. He firmly believes in face to face communication and celebrating laughter gathering in groups. He loves to travel and meet new people as well feels that we are all artists in different ways.

“Stay a little bit far from your phones. Have real conversations with the people you love. Just sit down and talk with your mouths, not with your fingers. I’m not really a fan of technology, maybe its because I grew up in the countryside”-A

The theme of this ‘Weekly Quest’ is WEALTH. To count your spending and access your needs and the moneys to not be left empty pocketed. Be prepared.

*Music featured throughout this QuestHands podcast is by Dj Shiva