Long Lost Scot

It’s odd to keep a letter from someone you hardly know.  Even odder to come across it twenty three years later.  When do you think this type of happening is serendipity and not just coincidence? Add in the Scottish connection and I could fabricate a full blown conspiracy theory!  OK, I’m kidding, no conspiracy here…

This weekend I found a letter sent to me in 1990 from a young Scottish lad that had been visiting Vancouver.  As I read the long note I started to remember the time we spent together.  A passing friendship with someone on vacation.

This was a time long before emails ruled our world.  It was a chatty note reminiscing about his time in Vancouver.  He thanked me for hiring him to appear in a television commercial I was producing at the time.  Apparently the $100 I paid him was much needed.  He also goes on to tell me in great detail about a new business idea he is working on.  I remember thinking the plan was crazy but it might be something so outlandish it could work.  I’m sure I also thought his young man was a little crazy.

Back in 1990 I had not yet discovered my own Scottish roots.  This was years before I opened my adoption papers and embraced my heritage.  Rick being from Glasgow was not a point I noted any more than it giving him a fun accent.  Meeting someone from Scotland meant I could talk to them about Billy Connolly.  The fact made no huge or lasting impression.

Last night I opted to do a google search on this long lost Scot.  A total crap shoot but his being from Scotland was enough to perk my interest.  It didn’t take long for the name to appear all over the web.  I discovered Rick E. from Glasgow is an infamous businessman.  At times he’s been worth millions.  All the indications show this is the same young man that wrote the letter.

It’s not so much of a leap to assume the savvy person with the great business idea back in 1990 is the same person to make big ideas become reality.

I wonder how many times we cross paths with people and never know what they become. I sit here and question if this is the same Rick I met so many years ago.

Serendipity?  Who knows…

Raise Your Hand

The only good thing about a loss is what it might teach you.  I hate that we are meant to look for the lesson when things go bad.  Fuck that.  When things go bad there is nothing good to say.  Bad is bad.

Upon reflection on how crummy you feel it might dawn on you how much crap there is all around us.  There is pain behind so many smiles.  People go through shit all the time.  Sometimes it’s easier to deal with and sometimes the pain will cripple forever.

I watch myself cry each day.  And I’ve done that for the last 97 days. No one else knows.  The world only sees me carry on. I work, I play, I write, I even laugh.  Then when I least expect it there is a flash of what I’ve lost and the tears come.  My grief has become a silent pursuit.  It’s not that I believe no one cares but I believe no one needs to be a witness.  My story has become boring and not worth the counsel or examination people offered three months ago.

I blanch when asked how I am. There is no need to tell the truth.  Lying is the way to cover the grief.  On my worst days I feel anger at having to carry on and pretend all is fine.  Quit asking me questions and forcing me to lie to you.  Please stop. My wave of self-pity can easily turn to thoughts of hate and revenge.

When is the line, “I will never be happy again” not a cry for help but a simple statement?

So what am I learning?  I am not alone.  At least I’m not alone in what I’m going through. Now when I look at people I try to grasp what devastation is behind their smiling face.  I can’t stop taking the extra second to search for a glimmer of truth of what is really going on inside each person I meet.  What pain are you hiding?  Have you had to cry today?  Is your heart so broken you may never be whole?  Is your loss stealing every ounce of joy?  How are you surviving?  And what the hell do you answer when asked “How are you today?”

One day I’ll ask for a show of hands of who is hiding their pain.

 

A List

“Do you have a list?”  She looked at me like I was a little crazy.  So I explained.  “You know, a type of bucket list?  Not the kind you make when you find out you are going to die soon.  Even though being a Buddhist I’m supposed to always be thinking I’m going to die soon.  But a list of the things you would like to do. You can call them your dreams.”

“No I don’t have a list”, and as she said this she still looked at me like I was crazy.

“Well make one.  It’s fun.  Just think of all the things you would like to do and write them down.  Keep the list someplace where you’ll always be looking at it.  And then do the things.  Its way easier than you think.  And you have money.  This will be no problem for you.”

“I wouldn’t know what to put on the list”, and she still looked at me like I was crazy.

I shook my head.  Not having a list was crazy.

But I was crazy once with my list.

One item was to see YoYo Ma play live.  Not outlandish.  But not something you could do every day.

Then came the opportunity. I read the notice in the paper that he was coming to town.  Tickets would go on sale the following week.  I sat in the office and told my friend about my list and YoYo coming to town and me not being able to afford the ticket price.

He started yelling at me.  Not a gentle suggestion. Not a strong conversation. He just let loose and started to shout.

“YoYo is on your list! He’s on your list!! It’s your list!! Go and buy the damn ticket!!  It’s your list god dammit!!”

Point taken.  I bought the ticket and went and saw YoYo live.  One of the best concerts of my life. And an item ticked off my list.

As I looked at this woman I realized the sadness in that she didn’t have a list.  And worst, she didn’t sound like she would ever make one.  Then I realized you had to dream your dreams long before you ever get to watch one come true.

 

Men In Kilts

A good looking man in a kilt.  This is a phrase I can say to almost any other woman and her reaction will be the same. A smile or nod or comment to voice her approval. I don’t know of many iconic images that evoke such consensus. Women love men in kilts.

I can say this even with my dismay of generalizations.

Last weekend I spent the entire time surrounded by men and women in kilts. The women don’t attract as much attention.  Not all the men were good looking. But even unattractive males wearing a kilt display manliness hard to ignore.

One of the perks of my work with the putting on Scottish events is that I attend many local Highland Games.  Those celebrations where you spend the day surrounded by bagpipes, dancers and people throwing cabers. There’s whisky tasting, haggis eating and enough culture to stir even non-Scottish hearts.

And then there’s the men in kilts.  Everywhere you look is the intoxicating sway as they walk.

Please don’t think it has anything to do with the humorous connotations about what a man wears under his kilt.  Trust me, it is not a factor.

On Saturday a young man competed in the hammer throw competition. Unlike the other contestants he wore a dress kilt. Each and every pleat in place, the heavy material hanging to perfection.  As he spun the 22 pound hammer high over his head he held his body in place.  His kilt flared out with each rotation. The hammer flew out into the field surpassing the hundred foot mark.  We all cheered his strength and the young woman next to me squealed her approval.

I’m embarrassed to say after he won the competition the cat calls started for him to throw again but this time to do it shirtless.  My goodness, aren’t we predictable. And isn’t it a little embarrassing to be so blatant.  It was all that and I stayed to watch.

The pipe bands, highland dancing and whisky tasting would have to wait.

It does not get better than a young, handsome, bare-chested man in a kilt putting on a show.

Indeed.

 

Plethora

A day and time when there seems like a plethora of things to write about and as I sit down at the computer nothing captures my attention.

I worry that this is the first time I am writing in the new apartment and for all my wants and needs the magic won’t be here.  I’ve tried to set up the entire environment to support my writing but what if I’ve been wrong.  What if I could only write at the old place, or Long Beach or any place but here?

Is this what being a writer is? Constant fear about the next word, let along the next sentence or paragraph.  The writing group will be here in an hour and nothing has sparked my interest.

Worst still, it’s the day to post a new blog.  I promised people I would write something happy this week.  Maybe that is the pressure I am succumbing to?  I don’t think I write happy.  Maybe ironic, maybe humorous, but happy?  I don’t think so. This might be the point holding me back.

I transformed a new place for me to continue my writing life but there is no way I ever thought this place would change the writer or person I am.

I also know this place will not make me happy.  I’ve shown people the pictures… there have been lots of oohs and aahs.  I keep my mouth shut and don’t comment back.  Well of course I’ve made a nice looking home…. You know me, did you expect less?  But a pleasant looking place will not be the medicine or life-saving surgery to fix what is broken in me.

You are fools to think it.

No, right now, at this point in time, I am left with an inability to write a story for my book.  I hope and pray it’s only because I’m too exhausted from the move and the massive list of issues still to be dealt with.  Taking time to go to the Buddhist welcoming ceremony for our returning teacher didn’t help the matter. I sat in the monastery listening to the prayers and probed my mind for something to write about.  As I bowed in front of Thrangu Rinpoche, waiting for him to touch my head and bless me, I was actually thinking if I could write about that. But no, there was no new angle to talk about… who needs another story about my Buddhist life?

Part of me is saying don’t panic.  I will be able to write here.  If I was able to write at Long Beach I will write here.  It’s not the place, it is my mind.

But here I sit without a story idea and the minutes are ticking away.  There won’t be any magic this afternoon.  This is one of those days when writing is just another task on my to do list.

 

Dad’s Treasures

May 1, 2013

Dad’s Treasures

What is it about moving.? You pack your belongings but spend more time sifting through boxes of old memories. I can get lost in the past.  Will this move cause my history to fall even further away?  Become more distant?

At one of our weekly lunches Dad told me he dropped off his prized childhood books at the local second hand store.  Sandy wanted him to clear stuff from their basement and she said the books had to go.  They were treasures to Dad and he couldn’t bear to just throw them away.  He didn’t think the shop-keeper was that impressed but he left them there instead of in a garbage bin.  Dad being sad made me sad.  I could see Dad had been crying.

After lunch I drove to the store and got the books back.  There was no way Dad should lose his books.  They would stay with me.  I would keep his memories safe.  I felt a little foolish explaining this to the guy at the store.  No matter, the books and Dad’s feelings needed to be saved.  I phoned Dad to tell him I retrieved the books.  He quietly thanked me.

Now I’ve pulled them from the back of my closet.  Dad’s been gone for a long time and there’s no need to keep them anymore.  My move to a smaller place means things have to be tossed.  I hate moving.  I love tangible evidence of thoughts and times past.  I chose one book to stay with me and gave up the others.

I hate everything about moving.  I want concrete contact of every precious moment that happened here.  I fear when I leave this place the people I have now lost will be truly gone.  If I can’t sit here and remember them sitting beside me then what will happen.  Will the memory just fade away?  I’m so afraid it will.  My heart breaks to even imagine this could happen.  Is it my one last connection with the people that made me so happy?  Am I moving on?

I fear I will never be happy again and leaving here will cement the condition.

Did Dad morn losing his childhood books as his last touchstone to his boyhood?  And does it really matter that I hold one for him now.  I just don’t know what makes our hearts yearn this much.  I only know we do.

Like father, like daughter.

Zombie

April 24, 2013

Zombie

Do you know the image of the dead zombie in those scary movies?  The camera slowly moves in and then pans down to the hand.  There’s sinister music creating a tense feel as the pictures holds on the frame. Then just as you take a breath and think the beast is finally dead a finger moves.  The music squeals and everyone knows the creature is alive.  It will come back for revenge!

This is how I view my life.

Too many times I have been there lying on the ground.  Beaten to a pulp. All resources gone.  Every defense exhausted.  Each avenue blocked. No chance for a comeback.  Over. Finished. Seemingly dead.

Then one finger moves.

This makes me laugh because it’s how I feel.  I’ve lain on the proverbial ground with no hope of recovery.  I’ve waited and wondered if this was it.  Sometimes it’s a long wait. This is where I have learned patience.  Out of nowhere the smallest switch is flicked.  It never fails.  I will move.  I will get up.  I will come back. You should be afraid.

I have so little faith in anything.  I trust nothing.  Hope is not an option.  The dead zombie, finger moving, revenge thing is what I know.  It’s worked so often I now foreshadow the moment even as others around comfort me at another defeat. I might be crying in a heap, unable to move forward.   I might have lost a huge battle or be crushed by abuse. I might be facing the worst odds.  It’s at those moments I can stand outside the scene and know the script.

One zombie finger moves.

(from the soon to be published “The Long Game” by Tricia Barker)

 

Intent

April 10, 2013

My intent is to start writing a blog…..

Intent

During a client’s session yesterday I stopped and wrote the word “intent” on my hand. A reminder to myself of how important the intent of my thought was.  I was explaining how we don’t always follow our own intentions.  She wanted to lose weight but wasn’t doing anything to reach the goal.  So clearly her intent to stop eating wasn’t strong enough to override her other intentions.  Like stuffing her face with crap food late in the evening… or the excuse of constantly having to eat at restaurants for her work.  She tried to convince me how impossible it was for her.

In my mind I felt that what we did each day was a huge indicator of our intentions.  I am clearly wrong.  We may have great intentions but never fulfill them.  This thought made me realize where we go wrong so often as human beings.  Our intentions are not always apparent.  Crap. This is not good.

This leads to confusion and too many arguments amongst people. Of course it does.  Someone does something and it pisses you off…. Do you calmly sit down with the offender and ask if that was their intention?  Never. We just get mad.

Assumptions probably lead to more break-ups than affairs.

There are two issues.

One is pretty easy.  We fully intend to do or act a certain way and we don’t.  Very straight forward.  There is a reason for you to get upset at yourself and for others to also get upset.  Yes, you can also throw forgiveness in the scenario and we should.  We are not perfect and life is hard.  We do the best we can.  We fuck up.  The only time I get pissed off in this scenario is when people give me long blablabla’s of excuses which can only mean they are entrenched in denial.  Every personal trainer has heard too many false claims to ever think it’s anything else.

The other situation is when you are working away, living your life, pursuing your intent with all you have and it’s misconstrued.  “What… no, I didn’t do that because I wanted to screw you around… I did it for a good thing”.  Even if you are intelligent, honest and have tons of integrity things can go wrong.  You can screw up with the best of intention.   This is the really sad scenario.  You are left broken.  You did your best with an intention of only good and things still fell apart.

This sucks.  It’s heartbreaking.  We want the people around us to give us the benefit of the doubt.

When I’m mad at someone I first try to say to myself. “Did they get up this morning with the intent to hurt me? Was that the goal, to make me cry or cause me pain?”  If the answer is no, I like to think my next question would be to ask what went wrong. I try not to judge.

We are only frail people and we make mistakes all the time.  Very few of us wake up wanting to cause someone else pain.

I hope I get the benefit of the doubt.  I want my friends to always know my intent is for their happiness.  A simple fact I don’t feel should be questioned.  It’s who I am.  It’s who most humans are.

As for the clients that abandon their intent to lose weight.  Make peace with yourself and your excuses and stop eating.  Your lack of intent isn’t working anymore.