I Was Here

Chapter 2 (B)

Friday and bored to tears so I might as well capture a few more “thoughts”. This is really becoming more of a “time capsule” so future generations (if there are any) will understand I was here. There was a time (and I’m sure it still goes on) when teacher would collect memorabilia from each student and bury it is a canister to be opened fifty years later to see how far we had come. These blogs are my electronic version of my time capsule showing future generations that I WAS HERE. In keeping with my movie analogies I feel like the character from the 1976 movie “Logans Run” with me being the character played by Peter Ustinov the “old man”. Another blip in a different time.

Life is really a small blip on the continuum of time but it is how we live that “blip” that matters. Do we “live” it or do we simply exist with what is comfortable? There is no correct answer, each of us lives what we decide to live. It is a matter of how we move on that continuum and my living was full of movements that were diverse and anything but “normal”. That diversity also formed the foundation and ongoing development of my belief systems. Belief systems play a major factor in our lives as we advance along that continuum of life. Many of our life decisions are driven by factors buried so deeply in our subconscious that we usually fail to recognize how they impact our decisions meanwhile those decisions are driven by the “perspective” and experiences that helped develop our belief systems..

A meme of two people looking down on either the number 6 or number 9 with each observer standing at opposite ends of the diagram and worded "six", "nine" with the reading "Just because you are right does not mean I am wrong.  You just haven't seen life".  My caption in the meme footer "It's all about your vantage point".
It’s all about your vantage point

Some live their “blip” over centuries, others never travel further than the boundaries of Walton’s mountain. They limit their exposure through reluctance, and the comfort, of those areas where they are most comfortable. Growing up in a hospital teaches you to be either a survivor or a settler. As a survivor you learn to be adaptive and fight for change. As a settler, you lay back and let others keep you at a comfort level.

Although I speak of “growing up in a hospital” I did have my moments in the community. I say moments so I can maintain the “continuum” theme. It would have been around grade 4 that I did spend a brief amount of time in Thorncliffe Elementary. I remember that because my teacher was a women by the name of Mrs. Dory whose husband worked with my dad as a bus-driver with the Calgary Transit System. That also led me to my first exposure to a union movement. The Calgary Transit went on a strike in 1958 and I recall sitting on my dads shoulder while he walked pickets. I’m sure, looking back, despite the union issue, it couldn’t have been comfortable for my dad having a kid with 20 pounds of sprung steel braces wrapped around his neck but he never complained for a moment.

These are all little nuggets of materials that would be establishing my belief system for years to come. It has just taken over sixty years to fully grasp the impact of belief’s and where they came from. One thing that did come out of that experience was that the community wasn’t ready for the world of disability. The schools of the day had no “policies” they could fall back on. They saw the disability but they didn’t see the child, a factor that would play a big part in my life later on.

Anyway, a short stint in Thorncliffe Elementary and it was back to classes in the Junior Red Cross. Later in life I used that “seeing the disability and not the person” to my advantage. I did things and enjoyed experiences that the average person would think only happens in movies. I drank beer with Sonny Barger in 1967 while hitch hiking to the Haight-Ashbury area of San Francisco.

It was a biker bar on my road to Haight Ashbury, the 60’s Mecca for hippies. I was 17 and stumbled into this bar where I wound up smashing back beer with Sonny. He felt I was “one tough mother on crutches” so lets shoot the breeze a little over the watered down version of American beer. All I cared about was the experience.

Six years later I stumbled into Pierre Burton and shared a couple of glasses of sherry with him in Ottawa’s Laurier Hotel. Was Pierre drinking with the same person Sonny had, no. He was enjoying the company of my persona of the day, one I developed on my way from Vancouver to Montreal. He was another “experience” that added to my belief system. The ground work for that was the ability to adapt that had been drilled into me from growing up in a hospital.

Picture of a San Francisco biker bar with about 18 motorcycles in the forefront
A biker bar to the side

I lived life hard and adapted accordingly. You had to be adaptive so one could squeeze as much juice out of this lemon we refer to as life. I lived 13th century survival to the 21st century attitudes. Some of it was a mean side but the streets were not a place for compassion if you want to survive. That is where the dichotomy of life gets confusing, compassion is needed to build a better life. In those days I lived for the moment and planning for a future meant knowing which bar I was headed for tomorrow, not where I would be at 70.

Life is confusing that way and this “if only I had known then what I know now” is a nice adage, reality is “we can’t change our past”, we can only use it as a tool to, hopefully, improve what is front of us today. I am learning, and contrary to some of the bitterness I feel at times, I express it. I have gained a great deal of respect for myself based off of those experiences and you can’t expect others to respect you if you can’t respect yourself. I have lost some very close relationships because of that but I am much more comfortable with myself now.

Now I have one more Motts Clamato Caesar left in the fridge (not bad considering I bought a six pack two weeks ago which in my earlier days would have been gone before I even went out) so I think I am going to call this article the day and enjoy that can. More to come but for now…as the saying went, peace out and thanks for reading..

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