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.