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It’s Been A Pretty Fine Dream Life

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Daydreaming is better than Daydrinking.

When I was 10 I wanted to be a doctor.

A rich doctor.

Don’t believe me? Here I’ll prove it to you.

LARRY SPEC CARRIER TIFF

When I was 20…

I wanted to be a singer/songwriter star. Maybe a Cat Stevens wannabe… again, let me show you.

When I was 30…

I wanted to be a blueberry and sheep farmer.

When I was 40…

I wanted to own a BunsMaster bakery franchise.

When I was 50…

I wanted to be an Entrepreneur that helped older folks write their memoirs for their kids and grandkids.

When I was 60 (now)…

I still harbour songwriting and rock star fantasies like when I was 20. Some of us never grow up, right Peter Pan?

Version 2

None of those fanciful dreams were ever totally fulfilled.

No doctor… no bakery… no sheep… no Groupies.

A lab tech… some cinnamon buns… a few chickens… and Open Mic’s.

Am I disappointed? Nope…

My happiness and success aren’t measured by the end result as much as the process.

A life of failure? Nope…

It relates to Robert Louis Stevenson’s quote:

To Travel Hopefully Is A Better Thing Than To Arrive”

Wants and dreams are the summer clouds that shift and re-shape in the sky when we lay on our backs in the cool, soft grass. One moment there’s a T-Rex, the next a leaping horse.

What’s wrong with chasing after dreams from cradle to coffin?

I’m very aware that life is finite.

Yes, Santa Claus is actually Mommy and Daddy, and yes, life ends… I’m sorry if I’ve burst your bubble…

Damn Adam and Eve screwed us and immortality all over one silly apple. Snakes.

Philip Roth, the famous, and infamously cranky American writer (Portnoy’s Complaint, The Human Stain) who died this past week said about death:

“Oblivion. Of not being alive, quite simply, of not feeling life, not smelling it. But the difference between today and the fear of dying I had when I was 12, is that now I have a kind of resignation towards reality.

Reality.

The idea that I’ll melt away into some bone meal fertilizer relatively soon is both scary and motivating.

Scary, well there’s nothing I can do about that… you know, Desiderata’s accept what you cannot change.

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But motivating, now there’s something I can participate in.

Reinvention and creativity and self-discovery are themes I come back to again and again in my blog posts because I need to remind myself ad infinitum that life doesn’t end at any particular age.

Signposts like age 65 or retirement are made-up constructs, kind of like legal drinking age. I know the law says no alcohol before 19, but that didn’t stop me and my little buddies from throwing up on homemade red wine beside the elementary school at 13!

I’m gobsmacked when I read of the young age of passing in many famous persons who imagined and created wonderful projects in such a short lifespan.

Sylvia Plath, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, George Gershwin, Martin Luther King, Vincent Van Gogh, Eva Peron, Avicii.

But I’m also energized and stimulated when I see those who created their best in later decades:

12 People who found late success

Staring out my window on this summer’ish sunny morning, a lemon-yellow Swallowtail butterfly lazily rests on a pale pink dogwood bloom, absorbing energy from the sun’s morning warmth before resuming its purpose. I’ve seen this a hundred, maybe a thousand times and it still invigorates my spirit.

These are the quiet moments that recharge my batteries and lower the temperature of the boil that sometimes brings me close to the exhausted edge. It’s like cross-training my muscles so that I don’t get crippled by laser-focusing only on one area until a hurtful flame erupts. Soulful respite.

Life and vigour move along hand-in-hand for as long as our bodies, and more importantly our minds, remain awake and enthusiastic for the passions that burn inside.

This week I’m reminded of mortality since I’m practicing some music pieces like Dust to Dust (The Civil Wars) and Angel (Sarah McLachlan).

It would be possible to feel despair but what I take away is inspiration to continue daydreaming, searching those fluffy cloud formations for ideas and visions.

Do you think it’s too late for me to become a rich doctor?

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Will Run, For Food… or Sucking Face

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BMO Half.jpg

Veni, ego ran, comedi…

This is a running story.

I came. I ran. I ate. 

It’s also a story about appetites.

It sounds pretty simple but it’s that middle part about running that always hurts. Sometimes the hurt is good, sometimes it’s the shits.

Either way, it’s a lot of work for a banana and some energy juice like Gatorade…

Actually… this year’s energy drink at the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon Aid Stations was called NUUN… as in NUUN of the good tasting stuff… it should be renamed … YUCK.

Finally, this is a story about different reasons for running.

CAVEAT EMPTOR: Not all of the words I write in this post will caress the politically correct or gender-sensitive #MeToo notes that will please you all.

Don’t shoot me, I’m only the messenger.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

Running Reason #1 – As a man, I figure it’s important to subject myself – as if I’m in the throes of childbirth labour – yes, to subject myself to a mere couple of hours of discomfort building into a major pain in my lower half by the finish. Surely this makes me more empathetic to the suffering of my female brethren who bravely bear little vernix-greasy ragamuffins.

Understanding in all its forms makes the world a better place, right?

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Running Reason #2 – One of the big reasons I used to run in marathons and half marathons and 10k races was for the food.

They say that running is supposed to make you a healthy stud but MY big motivator after the gun or horn sounded to begin the race was to drive a mad headlong rush towards the food table at the finish line.

In years past, the food table… sometimes called the refreshment or recharge zone, was an enticing spread: lots of fresh fruit and muffins and donuts and bagels, chilled chocolate milk, occasionally yogurt or ice cream, even pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream. Wine or beer. Guilt-free gluttony.

I’d walk the line, sweat dripping profusely and load my arms to the gunnels with carbs aplenty.

Who wouldn’t run 21.1 or 42.2 kilometres for this buffet of gustatory delight?

More recently, on a tragic note, my experience has been a dwindling of the repasts that greet us sweaty, smelling-like-The-Walking-Dead-zombies at the finish line. They boost entry fees ever higher while trashing the carb quotient… WTF!

In future, I’m going to stage a sit-in at the halfway mark and disobediently refuse to run further until the food situation is remedied… or… they institute a tradition akin to that at the Boston Marathon as outlined below…

Running Reason #3 – The Boston Marathon offers another type of buffet… another appetitic (my word!) temptation for the runners.

Thousands of young women from Wellesley College, scholarly ladies all, line the halfway point of the route in the renowned “Scream Tunnel”.

Kiss Me, I’m an International Student”; “Kiss Me, It’s My First Marathon”; “Kiss Me, I’m an Econ Major”; “Kiss Me, I’m Single”; “Kiss Me, I’ll Try Not To Puke”.

Yes, for decades now, freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors from Wellesley have mobbed and “signaged” the 21k. point of the marathon: screaming, high-fiving… and… kissing the athletes.

Like ghoulishly-garbed kidlets candy-counting their Halloween loot, the young women compare kiss counts at the end of the day.

And a large group of sweaty, blotchy runners get a joyful moment of reprieve from their discomfort.

OK, it’s maybe not #MeToo friendly, but I won’t judge!

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Running Reason #4 – the final, and for me, the most important reason for running is the endorphin-laced sense of achievement.

Crossing the final few metres of a long run where your Prussian blue New Balance shoes feel like they have gooey bubblegum attached, body caked in salty sweat, scanning the timing clock ticking off the seconds, hearing the cowbells and the announcer’s voice and the loud music is high on the heaven-on-earth scale of inner joy.

Running is a solitary challenge to the body, mind and soul.

Solitary while surrounded by thousands of other human passengers all in alignment with their personal dreams and goals, the joys and sorrows that brought them here to persevere through the taxing kilometres.

Solitary while jostling along the imagined food table line, angling for the freshest, yummiest, chocolate-dipped donut on the serving platter. The final endurance test.

Soul food for the soles.

 

BIG or SMALL, Some Have It All…

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Johnny CAsh

Dammit… Where are my pants?… no, not the beat-up, torn garden jeans. Although the rips would make me look like a fashion icon in today’s style.

I want the black ones that I wear with my black button-up shirt that make me feel like Johnny Cash… real bad ass… I Walk The Line…

Depending on the time of year, the pants will fit me either too big or too small. Winter small, summer big… spring and fall are the goldilocks just-right periods.

I know it’s all relative but I’m feeling BIG and small simultaneously.

I feel BIG because my world can be anything.

I can pretend I’m Tom Hanks in the movie BIG and do all sorts of adult stuff that makes me look grown up.

BIG.jpg

I can write a blog post each week that any person on earth with a modicum of technology can access and read. I’ve been to remote villages in godawful poor countries where there’s no safe water supply but they have cellphones and internet. BIG.

I can write songs, play guitar and sing on different stages all around my region. It’s like being a rock star on a tiny stage. BIG.

I can buy and sell stocks on any North American stock market just like a big shot Wall Street trader or even the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett. BIG.

I sometimes help others who, by no choice, were given a lower placing on the lottery list of life. I was, again by no choice, put pretty darn close to the top of the humanity heap for access to education and financial wealth. BIG.

BIG is good.

BIG is good

Is SMALL good too?

I feel small.

My impatience and my “seed growth are incompatible forces that thwart my dreams and goals.

My seeds grow way too slow for my taste. There are parts of ourselves – dreams, hopes, beliefs – that are the seeds waiting to germinate.

There are stories galore of small peeps like me who made a huge splash with their creativity and energy.

J.K. Rowling was small once. So was E.L. James. KD Lang. Samuel L. Jackson. So was Louis CK (maybe not such a great example)… hmmm… maybe if I go by my initials? LW Green? Nope, don’t feel the creative energy swelling…

Those folks have seeds that keep sprouting and growing in a seemingly endless flow.

Fortunately, I learned in my previous Microbiology lab-life that seeds (spores) can lie dormant for months, years, centuries.

They’re not dead.

But…

They’ll only spring to life if one day they perceive the conditions are right for them to survive. Then they split themselves open and take a make-it-or-break-it-risk.

It’s more than a sprint to be the winner of the Kentucky Derby… the risk is either success (LIFE) or failure (DEATH).

I think we all have seeds inside ourselves that can be germinated and grown.

seed germination

 

A whole lot of writers and musicians have had moderate popular success with appreciative audiences that adore their work and output.

Not every song needs to be played for 25,000 people in an arena to make it worthwhile and special. A hall of 200 admirers can be a lifetime achievement.

Not every book written need sell a million copies to make a complex, wonderful story.

Small movie? We sat through the quiet flick Maudie last year. Oscar-worthy, it was seen by a relatively small number of folks and yet had beautiful, heart-tingling imagery and a soulful message.

Germinated seeds.

In most cases, germination doesn’t really mean life or death… success or failure.

Merely making the effort to succeed is enough. There are layers to seed growth. Not every plant has to be a huge monolith, like Jack’s beanstalk.

But I still feel small.

I’m spending a good deal of time these days working with a Syrian refugee who is struggling mightily to make the unexpected, tumultuous transition to Canadian life.

His seeds of potential are buried deep inside the earth under layers of war and deprivation, and I fear it may take years to surface and germinate.

The relatively palatial lifestyle of native-born Canadians and other Syrians who came before him with higher levels of education are irksome and heavy on his soul.

He’s helplessly hoping impatient because he can’t turn off the images that bombard him in his new country.

He wants it all for his family, a wife and four young children. I want it for him too and wrestle with the discomfort and ache of watching his contest.

His desire to be BIG in a new land seems to barely match my small goals.

Here I am dealing with my 1st-world desire to channel my inner Man-in-Black Cash. On the other side of the fence, is my Syrian friend who merely wants enough language, education, employment and green cash to raise his kids to be good Canadians and become part of the dream he floats alongside of but isn’t part of, at least not yet.

I feel BIG, yes, but really I feel small.

Canada's PM Trudeau shakes hands with a Syrian refugee during Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill in Ottawa