It is worthwhile to live
and fight courageously
for sacred ideals.
O blow ye evil winds
into my body’s fire
my soul you’ll never unravel.
Even though disappointed a thousand times
or fallen in the fight
and everything would worthless seem,
I have lived amidst eternity —
Be grateful, my soul —
My life was worth living.
He who was pressed from all sides
but remained victorious in spirit
is welcomed into the choir of heroes.
He who overcame the fetters
giving wings to his mind
is entering into the golden age of
~ Norbert Capek
composed in Dresden Prison in 1941, shortly before he was transferred to Dachau concentration camp, where he died in October, 1942
Exceptional, is it not? To think of someone locked in a dark cell, the air fettered with the acrid smell of human waste and sour,unwashed bodies. The mood thick with the certainty of what evil may lie ahead – and still, be able to create such a strong statement on the will to hold true to what one believes is right and worthy. To lay ready to face what may come head on, knowing your spirit could not be broken. I admire such minds, the brilliant lights who walk among us with the ability to overcome whatever walls are placed before them, whatever pain may wrack their bodies, or whatever ill will is thrust upon them.
Someone once asked me what it was that so compelled me to seek the story within the story – and behind it. What was it that made me so curious about people, their pain, their experiences. What need forced me to seek the truth in every situation, and know well that there is always more to the story than what is presented.
To be honest, while my own life experiences have driven me to admire and study the human condition, and place the truth above all, it was only after working with the poor, the addicted and the less fortunate that I really had – as Maya Angelou once referred to – a road bulldozed down the centre of my mind.
It was during that part of my career that I learned so many deeper lessons about true pain and suffering than the ones I had learned already from my life experiences, and occasionally discovered true heros whose spirits shone brighter than any you might ever find in Yaletown or on Robson. There were people who were victims of circumstance, people whose past was marred with pains so great that the only way to dull them in survival, was to embrace death through addiction. There were people who literally, had been forgotten and kicked to the curb into the gutter of life, invisible to those around them as if they were of no more signifcance than the cigarette butts that littered the sidewalks upon which they slept.
Often ,all it took for the real survivors to reveal themselves, ( those bright lights I mentioned above), was a warm smile and a bit of genuine acceptance by a stranger – in this case, myself. I learned that sometimes all people need to get a hand up, is for someone to listen to them, for someone to accept them for who they are, without judgements or punishments, and give them a bit of a dusting off before sending them on their way again. I suspect I was able to help far more people by simply listening to them for a half hour, than I ever did by providing them with housing. That is , without a doubt, the beauty of the human condition.
It wasn’t all good all the time – certainly not! I also learned that there are some people in this world who can never be helped, so embroiled are they in their own selfish wants and needs. I learned that sometimes it is better to show someone the door than enable their destructiveness any longer, and that there are truly evil people out there who are utterly incapable of good intention – ever. No matter what facade they conceal it in.
It was because of the people I encountered working there, that I came to really see what was important in life, and how important it was to help others when we can. When I won the now infamous talk show idol contest on CKNW, it was the opportunity of a lifetime for several reasons. Not only because it opened my eyes to the real power of media, but because it clearly demonstrated that there were thousands and thousands of people out there just like me – people who had something to say, people who were concerned about what goes on in BC, and more so, people who had no clue as to how manipulated – and manipulative – the press often are .
It was after CKNW that I started this blog, because I knew that there was an audience out there ready for an alternative and personal view to politics and life in British Columbia. I knew that people wanted to read something different, something not altered or edited by a political influence and I knew there were stories out there not being reported by the mainstream media. Turns out, I was late to the punch and there were already a host of other fantastic political and personal blogs out there, and yet so many of you embraced my views with open arms. ( Well, all of you except the Public Affairs Bureau : )
But, like all things worth having in life, it has not always been easy.
There have been times I’ve thought about not blogging anymore, and the last few weeks have been the hardest to date. I’m very transparent – which is why I don’t play poker but that is another story – and I think it started to show. I hold myself to a high standard and while it’s a good thing, sometimes it can play havoc on the mind. Some days, I just could not find the words.They were there, but the magic that happens between my brain and my fingers was gone.
I would sit down, read the press releases, the daily non-news and the drivel in our local rags, and even the good and often exceptional work among other bloggers and writers. There, before my keyboard, I would take a sip of coffee, let out a deep sigh and then think to myself: ” What the hell for? Does it make any difference?” Invariably, the computer was turned off.
Yes. Yes, it does make a difference, I would think to myself. Where did that magic go? Little did I know then, that it was a symptom of something amiss in my life, one of those rough, sad spots we all need in life to be able to appreciate what it means to be happy.
Still, I thought a lot about what it was that kept me at this for so long.I’ve earned credibility and respect among my peers. Ive made friends, not fortunes, but I would rather have the first than the latter anyways. Why do I care so much about what happens around me, and soldier on, despite being called down, slandered, made fun of and more than occasionally mocked?
Then it came to me.
It’s simple, really. It is because I don’t know how not to write, how not to tell the story.
I write because it is impossible to pass by the computer without feeling a deep yearning to sit and see what comes out of the inner recesses of my mind. I write because I must, because it was what I was meant to do and like those people who sing because they can, I write because my heart and mind know no other way.
I write because my words represent the voices of thousands of people in this province who love it as much as I do. I write because this land truly is my land, because I was born here and the trees and mountains and soil are as much a part of me as the children I have carried within my body. They are my birthright as a British Columbian. By nature of this gift to weave words into stories and present facts that are often different than the truth, I am obligated to share what I can, with whomever I can.
I can no more ignore the stories that need to be told and spread far and wide than I can ignore the rising of the sun. I write, quite simply, because…I must.
I must. If even one person reads something, and goes away having learned something they did not before they visited – and begins to question the status quo, I’ve done what I accomplished. If I make you smile when you were otherwise moody, or cry in sadness or joy, or become angry enough to get up and change something you’ve always wanted to change, even better. I thank you for the privilege of sharing this gift.
Remember Norbert Capek, who wrote the poem I began with.
” It is worthwhile to live and fight courageously for sacred ideals…”
Can’t think of anything more sacred than the land I call home.
14 thoughts on “” It is worthwhile to live and fight courageously for sacred ideals…””
Thank you so much, Laila! My work takes me through the Down Town East Side. I can’t help but feel the negativity and defence of the overwhelming feeling I try to develope a hardened crust, but then feel worse.
You see, I am a proud transit operator. My position is a stressful one in so many ways. The down and outters often times add heaps to the stress. Your latest entry just washed some of it a way.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Please continue with seeking out the truth and reminding us to be human once again.
Nice work Laila, please keep on writing as you do have quite an audience – some don’t agree always but they do read. Every little helps and if your comments stimulate someone else to write then it becomes a win-win situation.
Keep up the good work – both you and the other bloggers have an important role to play in this province – where honesty, integrity, accountability, responsibility seem to have been disregarded by the premier and his goonshow 🙂
I am moved by your passion and by your obvious talent for writing. There are many diverse topics, agendas and expressions streaming through BC Bloggers … your sincerity and articles add a valuable component to the overall mix.
you move me with your passion as well, Laila. You move me to tears when I read things like this, which is kind of embaressing when I am at my desk at work, because I’m supposed to be working and obviously brokering gems shouldn’t make one cry!
You have a beautiful mind, and it pains me to think of you being sad. Please don’t stop writing, ever. There may be other great writers, but there is only one you.
Lynn, I’m glad to be of service to you, and glad you feel a bit lighter in your heart. We are all not so far apart from the DTES, you know, in spirit. We are all from the same cloth.
workforfun, it’s been a while! Glad to see you again and thank you for the kind words. Honesty and integrity are hard to find these days, seems people prefer the easy way these days with no thought for the fallout that happens to others.
Robyn, I appreciate your comments. And BC Bloggers is a mine of wonderful, witty and eclectic blogs!!
Adam, so sweet, but just tell anyone who had a hot onion in your lunch..lol.. All I can say is.. thank you. thank you.
Hi there, I just found your blog through that same BC Bloggers the other person mentioned, and had to say what a differance reading this made to my day today.
It was rotten, as it usually is after a 10 hour day doing the same thing every day, 5 days a week. I am jealous that you are so passionate about almost everything because from reading through some of your Best Of, its clear to me that you are a very intelligent and diverse person.
Can you tell me, if you don’t mind sharing this, when you knew without a second thought, that writing was what you were meant to do? Any suggestions as to how I can find my passion?
I thank you in advance for those questions.
Good piece! Your sincerity always shows and that is a quality somewhat uncommon in the media, whether online or off. Despite your statement above, I bet you agree that creating the words is sometimes the easiest part. It is the effort to make the words informed that takes real study and diligent application.
Like you, I wonder if we end up talking to the same people with no more effect than people schmoozing in a bar. Harvey Oberfeld, the pro who brings added legitimacy to our blog world, says, “if we all keep exposing issues of concern on our blogs …it can catch on. And if people pass on our Blog locations… we can succeed in getting really good discussions going.”
So that’s the challenge to readers. Laila, Harvey and others put great effort into providing a view that is often different than that of the professional media that is slowly making itself irrelevant. The one percenters who own the main media are making moves to control web content by limiting access and download speeds. But, while we are still here, spread the word to your friends and invite them to participate in this important civic dialogue.
Many of us readily supply or own opinions but we’re happy to read yours too.
Sorry to hear you aren’t happy with what you are doing, been there, done that.
It’s really hard to say when I knew that writing was my passion, because I’ve always done it, even as a child and a teenager, this was something I did incessantly. I filled volumes of spiral ringed notebooks with stories and poetry and random bits and pieces. Maybe I was lucky that way.
As to finding your passion, I’m sure this question might help you. If money were not a driving concern in your life, what would you spend most of your time or effort doing? What would it be that you would indulge more often than you do now, simply because it makes you happy and peaceful when you do. That’s all I can say really, other than I do believe each of us has some special talent,gift or ability that is what we were meant to do .
Norman, thoughtful and well spoken as usual! And yes, informed writing is much harder than one thinks and often requires a lot of time and research in order to learn and understand key elements in the story. The Tercon story was case in point. Public procurement policy is not exactly something most people would have a clue about and I spent a lot of time with people in the industry learning how it happens and works.
And in the end, as you state, it is all about encouraging dialogue among readers, enlightening where there was once darkness, and making a difference one person at a time.
( May I say Norman’s blog is one of the best out there, informative and thoughtful, in addition to being very well written )
Thanks Laila. Your blog inspired me to be more personal in writing. Most of my life, I was involved in drafting boring business stuff.
Tom – Just do it. If you want to be a singer, you’d sing. If you wanted to be a dancer, you’d. . . . Well, with practice, you won’t write crap like that. But, its true. Writers write.
Blogging will cost you nothing. Come back here, and to my site, and tell us the blog address. Say something sincere, people will respond. There is a diverse group of readers waiting for voices to speak.
Bless you Laila, you always make me cry when you write on such a personal level. It adds a distinctly feminine perspective to our blogging community, some compassion, love and pain. These are the things that inform our lives with true meaning and purpose. Bless you, girl, never stop.
Thanx Laila,once and a while something comes up, like this poem and makes me think it is worth it ,for ones self ,if for nothing at all.
Laila, thank you.
Thank you, as Kim said above, for informing our lives with true meaning and purpose. I really think it is great you seem to embrace your whole self. Sometimes you are hard, and cutting and sometimes you let your emotions show and are not embaressed to do that.
Most of all, I think that by your unembarressed sharing of your fears and dreams, you make others feel safe to do the same, a real gift, you know?
Don’t change, ok? It is worth it. You have no idea how much your words mean to others. I hope you are well tonight. Thinking about you.
Just do it.
Powerful words Norm, Nike knew a good thing when they found it ,didn’t they ? Applies to all of life, for every person. Just do it..
Tom, if you are reading again,.. just do it. Whatever it is. Check out Gazetteers busking vidoes. Check out BC Mary’s years of work. Norm’s not one, not two, but three blogs( yes, I check them out too Norm! )
Just do it. Now. Not next week, not when ” we have the time..” Just do it now. Do you really want to be 80 and thinking ” I should have done it..” ? I think not.
Kim, thank you. I hate when I hear derogatory writing about women, because of the things that I feel are inherently female. Nuturing, caring ,love, seeking others to share our emotions with, empathy….
I love that you ” get” me. Thank you.
Genuine. I felt the same way when I read this. It hit me like a ton of bricks. It’s.. well, perspective. We only have once chance at it . Let’s do ourselves proud, no?!
If you, or any other person finds meaning or purpose in anything I write, I feel truly honoured. I do. Thank you for those kind words of encouragement. And I am far too old to change, in fact, I would say with every passing day that I feel more like me than I ever have.
With age comes experience, and thus, wisdom. And yes, I am well, thank you. : )
Nice upbeat words. I’m putting away my reading specs and going to bed.
Comments are closed.