Showing posts from August, 2011

Integrity and starting fresh

Many times - maybe more than that - in the past months, people have encouraged me to consider making a fresh start. They have meant two things by this: 1) sometimes it is more trouble than it is worth to continue something and 2) sometimes starting fresh seems like a way to escape painful memories. I have responded in different ways, sometimes by explaining why I was holding on, and sometimes just saying that I don't believe there is any such thing as a fresh start. We all choose to carry some baggage into our future.

People are reluctant to carry their baggage, and furious when airlines lose their luggage. Think about that for a moment. If you don't want to arrive on vacation without the resources you have packed, why would you walk into the future without everything you have gained through experience - especially the kinds of experience that cost you something? The baggage I took on my last holiday was a little the worse for wear - it had some bumps, some stiff spots, and …

A friend asked me for a love story about a bear

The native peoples of the west coast tell wonderful stories about bears. Some of them are love stories, and they are beautiful and also very sad. The bear is wise and noble and loving, and the people are limited and fearful. A princess is captured by a bear who loves her. She is rescued by her brothers - perhaps because she is loved, perhaps because it is the right thing to do. Her children grow up between two worlds, sometimes choosing to be human, sometimes returning to their father, the bear. The bear gives his sons a song to teach their people, so that they will always be safe from bears.

I have been to the Rockies and heard the warnings about bears. It would be a good thing to have a song to sing to keep one safe. Certainly better than lying on the ground playing dead and hoping the bear goes away on his own.

Bears are frightening. That's why they make such good guardians. When my first son was born, my brother arrived from the Rockies with a stuffed brown bear we imm…

Spiderman in your mind

I had a friend once who became a brilliant hypnotist because he walked in his sleep as a child. Eventually the sleep-wallking led his mom to take him to a hypnotherapist. The hypnotherapist must have had a positive impact on the sleepwalking, although the story he mostly told was of how she let him watch whole episodes of Spiderman in his mind.

It sounds a little like the beginning of a novel, only a little less improbable, perhaps than the story of the most famous hypnotist in Canadian literature (Paul Dempster/Magnus Eisengrim in Robertson Davies' Fifth Business trilogy). That novel begins with the determination of boys to overcome childhood struggles and achieve power as adults.

Did the man I knew become a great hypnotist because his mother took him to a hypnotherapist, or because his mind was so restless and so curious that it was wide awake even in his sleep? If it were a novel, the writer might know for sure. In Fifth Business the lines of influence are clear and elegant. H…

The whale and the osprey

This is a retelling of a west coast Native legend about the origin of the Orca.

A large black whale floated near the surface, singing and watching the clouds. The whale loved the way the clouds looked against the blue and the gray of the sky. Sometimes the whale jumped high into the sky, reaching towards those clouds. But the clouds stayed in the sky, and the whale fell back into the water.

One day, the whale watched as a piece of cloud separated and dove down, down, through the sky and into the water. A moment later, the osprey bobbed to the surface and floated for a moment, watching the whale. The whale began to sing. The osprey flew in lazy circles, watching and listening. The whale sang again. The osprey flew in higher circles. The whale gathered speed, leapt high into the air, and crashed back to the surface. The osprey waited for the water to calm, and then landed.

You wouldn't think two such different creatures would have a future, but you would be wrong. The whale…

Listening Like a Bird

She was good at hiding in plain light. When you radiate enough light, people see the shine and not the shape under it. They weren't distracted by her; they looked around and saw more clearly because she was there.

Underneath, she was darker. Light casts shadows and she had to be good at navigating under the light, as though her path lay always behind a waterfall or through a thick forest. She learned to listen for the sounds under her feet and over her head. The dark was mostly soft and alive. It is, she thought to herself, where we all started.

There were days when she needed more light, and then she had to turn down the shine so she could find the sun. One day, she wrapped herself in soft, dim clothes and set out to find something in the light to give her focus in the dark. She did not know where she was going or how long it would take. She packed water and fruit and nuts and chocolate and she set off on foot. Walking is the best way to see where you are and she knew tha…