Friday, 18 January 2008

In an Instant

In only one instant she could lighten a moment
Brighten a circumstance and bring out your best
She was goofy and fun - she made everyone laugh
With the way that she acted, the way that she dressed

In only one second your day was improved
Because of her smile, her inspiring craze
She could catch you off guard with one conversation
Your life could be changed - she's an intricate maze

In only one hearbeat your life's steady rhythm
Is thrown to the ground and the knife starts to twist
Impossible - not real - you're angry, upset
The finger gets pointed then turns to a fist

In the blink of an eye it all changes again
You're numb and quiet, reflective in thought
A silver lining peeks through the thick rain clouds
You begin to dwell on memories forgot

In an instant you get it, you know you'll move on
You'll learn from her life and help her friends out
Remember to love and be patient with tears
Because maybe that's what this whole thing is about

January 18th, 2005
For one amazing friend and three beautiful souls

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Curing the Common Cold Shoulder

Encouragement is a powerful thing. A supportive embrace, a kind smile and a hopeful conversation are expressions of love than can be found in many friendships, especially after a traumatic or upsetting time; but not everyone has someone to talk to. There are those of us who go for hours or days staring in silence at the ground as we walk through the city. Some of us are going through a depression, most of you are tired and everyone is busy. Are there people here that love you? Do you have someone that will ask you how you’re doing and wait for a real response? Is there a door you can knock on, a person you can call, a place to call home? If your answers are yes, I hope you understand the blessing; it’s a gift you can share in so many ways. If any of your answers were no, this article is written to you, as a simple word of encouragement.

To the lonely; you are not alone. Hundreds of people on campus are dealing with this problem on so many levels, and you are (ironically) united with others through your solitude. Tough it out, my friend... loneliness is temporary and it will pass in time. Being alone or single is not synonymous with being incomplete or worthless. Take the extra time to explore who you are. Pick up a new skill, find a hobby, do your homework! There are some things that you can’t do when you’re surrounded by people, or in a relationship. Smile, be inspired, and embrace whatever situation you are in. The silver lining is somewhere on those rain clouds – but sometimes you have to be right in the downpour before you can see it.

To the weary; take a deep breath. This is a cost-free, risk-free treatment for emotional, mental and spiritual infections. Just breathe. Forget for a moment the test you failed, the friend you ticked off, the shift you were late for, the bus you missed... and just breathe. If you need meds, take them. If you need sleep, get it. If you need a break, just sit. Take a walk instead of a rush, take a bath instead of a shower, watch TV for an hour or two, I won’t tell your professors. So much of the sickness we go through starts with us in the first place. Find and maintain some balance in your life. Take a few deep breaths – then see how you’re feeling.

To the rest of you; say good morning. Smile. Make some eye contact in the hallway. Look at the people around you and actually see them. Hand out compliments like they’re free. Talk and listen. Make a phone call. Read a comic book. Break your routine for a while and do something for the fun of it. Go out of your way to make someone’s day – It might just make yours.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Jesus, Socrates and Two Cups o’ Joe

[Jesus is ordering his medium double-double from Tim Horton’s when Socrates pipes up from further back in the line. After both retrieving their drinks, they sit down at a corner table to talk. It is true that these men did not meet in our reality and if a meeting were to have occurred it would likely have been in a philosophical arena and not a 21st Century coffee shop; however, if two historical characters as important as Christ and Socrates were to meet at random in our modern age, then Tim Horton’s is almost certainly the place. For the purposes of this script, both Socrates and Jesus will be speaking modern, Canadian English. Direct quotes are in italics, the rest is creative licence, historical speculation and original insight. Jesus quotes from Colossians 1:15-17 & Ecclesiastes 8:17. Socrates quotes from various places in Plato's Apology.]

“...Yes, and if you could double cup it for me, please. It’s a long way home. Thank you.”
“Jesus Christ! It’s been a while since I’ve seen you around here.”
“Well, well. Socrates, how’ve you been doing? Keeping yourself out of trouble?”
“Just the opposite, though it was not my intention. It seems that you can’t say anything anymore, without being tattled on to the ‘authorities’, or have someone twist your words.”
“Amen to that.”
“I really can’t believe how quickly gossip can spread through Athens. Dionysus would be proud of how dedicatedly the grapevine is kept up in Greece. Publicly criticize one religious or political figurehead and suddenly you’re corrupting the youth! I have many enemies of the worst and most dangerous kind in the public sphere of Athens, and unfortunately it is this that will be my destruction if I am destroyed in the long run. The people and not my ‘faults’ will condemn me, because gods know I haven’t done anything wrong.”
“Believe me, I can sympathize with you on that point. The Jews and Romans alike have been trying to kill me for years, but they could never settle on a good enough excuse. Finally they picked up on the fact that I claimed to be God, and got me to trial on that, though it was a wobbly prosecution throughout the entire proceedings, and almost got thrown out three times.”
“I’m sorry?”
“You said God – as though it was singular – you should have said demigod, or spirit, diamon, even theos.”
“No, I meant God: singular, all powerful and exclusive. And I am the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. By me all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by me and for me. I am before all things, and in me all things hold together.”
“Interesting idea, but I have a few problems with that little speech you just gave. It sounds to me like you’re speaking over your own head.”
“Socrates, your method only works to a point. I, unlike any peer or professional you have met and analysed so far, cannot speak over my head or beyond my years to the point of fault. I’m God. My breadth of experience is infinite, which is more than you can or have thus claimed.”
“You’re right... I neither know nor think I know. But you speak as though you know, but of things that are not meant to be known.”
“If you do not know of these things which I claim to know of, how can you be sure that I do not know of them? You contradict yourself, Socrates. You say you do not know and yet in your doubt of my wisdom and understanding you are automatically claiming personal knowledge. Tisk, tisk my friend.”
“Now this has become twisted gibberish and doublespeak.”
“Welcome to the proverbial ‘other side of the fence’ for is this not the exact type of logic you turn on others?”
“You’re good, Jesus. You can manipulate a conversation as well as I can and attract an unequalled crowd, it’s true. It seems whether in Judea, Athens or this little coffee shop, people like to hear the cross-examination of the pretenders to wisdom; there is an amusement in this for many. I am more than seventy years of age, and I have seen a few things in my time. I might, perhaps, fancy myself wiser than other men, but I have never claimed supernatural wisdom... because I have it not myself. Holding to this understanding, your argument is somewhat futile. You’re proving something I have already admitted true. How insignificant a position, to prove the obvious.”
No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all his efforts to search it out, man cannot discover its meaning. Even if a wise man claims he knows, he cannot truly comprehend it. I am just a man to you, Socrates. Unless you can ever see me as more than that, our conversation is a circular stalemate.”
“In that case, friend, my coffee has been cooling far too long and I really should go... people to see and all that. But I appreciate the conversation, even if we never get anywhere. For as long as I have life and strength I shall never cease from the practice and teaching of Philosophy.”
“Glad to hear it. Anything less would have been a disappointment from you.”
“So, the hour of departure has arrived, then. Until our next conversation, Christ.”
“Until then.”

Friday, 11 January 2008

Defeater of the Algonquin Bear

I have maintained the suspense of my story for far too long. My physical and emotional therapy has been quite the process and only now that I have broken through the shock of this traumatic event do I feel ready to give the full account of my face.

Last year was one of great transition and change in my life. Although the vast majority of this movement was positive, I was completely overwhelmed by the thoughts of my recent past that I quickly set out to clear my head the best way I know how – direct contact with the natural world – but I got a little more contact than I was expecting.

I drove up to Algonquin Park, borrowed the necessary cross country ski equipment and headed out on my thoughtful excursion. I am by no means a natural athlete, and before long there were some too-toned spandex-clad competitors quite ready to pass me by. I tried to get off of the trail as quickly and smoothly as possible when awkwardness got the best of me and before I knew it, I was falling sidelong into the snow. It is ridiculously difficult to put yourself upright after falling on skis, so to avoid adding unnecessary frustration to my already fatigued and hungry body, I unclipped my feet and stood on the path, thankful to be in just my boots again.

Not yet ready to return to the skiing, I played a short game of personal I-Spy until a cave, not 20 feet from where I was standing, caught my attention. Curiosity usually overrules common sense in my life, and so it didn’t take me long to decide that spelunking would be much more fun than another round of the park with my poles.

The cave itself wasn’t very deep – 15 feet maximum – but it was a good shelter from the snow and the sun, so I grabbed my granola bar and began to unwrap it when I was suddenly aware of a mysterious presence. It wasn’t a sound, per se, but chills shot up my spine and my eyes grew very wide as I turned, looking over my shoulder to the back of the cave. There, with dark, angry, wild eyes was a bear! A huge bear, at least three feet tall!

I was in such a state of shock that I began to think crazy things; the first was how bizarrely similar this situation was to the childhood song “I Met A Bear”, and the second, prompted by the first, was to run. I ran. I ran screaming, out of the cave, past my skis and to a protective looking maple tree. I would have continued to run, except trees require climbing and not running, so I climbed as fast as I could, which was, admittedly, not very quickly thanks to the slippery ski-boots and my out-of-shape shape. I don’t know if this has yet occurred to you, but bears can also run. This concept had eluded me earlier as it was not noted in the aforementioned song, and so I was unprepared for a pursuit of any kind, but less the frightening and violent one that followed. Though I thought I was high enough to be safely out of danger from the three foot tall beast, I was apparently still in range of its giant, clawed paw when it stood up and fully extended its reach. I was caught in the face by a bear!

Needless to say, my nerves were completely shot at this point. I was so stunned by my encounter that my consciousness was affected, at least in part, because it was a long time later that I came to my senses and found myself to be leaning no longer against the large trunk of the maple, but against my own van! The same two spandex skiers that had passed me before were now standing over me, offering blankets for my shivering back and towels for my bleeding face. They had called the park’s patrolman to help me home, but I assured them I was fine and after an hour of attentive supervision and some refreshing conversation, I drove the journey home.

What a traumatic event, but what an incredible story. I would be tempted to send it in to the Toronto Star... if there was even a grain of truth in the tale.

The real story is much less interesting, but I have been told that it is pretty good, as non-fiction goes: New years eve I picked a fight with a couple of 11-ish year old boys, who I have to admit are stronger than they look. I threw them into the snow a few times, but the majority of the battle I spent on my face in a snow-bank, or on my back with snow being thrown at me. It was one of these latter moments that another little guy friend of mine thought it would be a really good time to head down the hill on his toboggan. Long story short, I got my face run over by a seven year old and his sled.

So there you have it, folks. The fiction and the truth, for you to chose.

Props go to Tim Beckner for the story idea, to Tyler Ouderkirk for the scar tissue, and special thanks to Jamison, Bryce, Colin and Cammie for the take down. No wildlife was harmed during the writing of this piece. The author of this story does not condone the use of spandex in any way.

This has been a Fartoomuchtimeonyourhands Production.