Archive for January, 2008

My Week

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I think its just one of those weeks…when you feel like nothing is going to work out and just get generally discouraged by life. Maybe it’s the time of year–so dark and cold–forcing me to feel this way. Or maybe the realization that working full-time and doing school full-time is stressful both relationally and financially. But for whatever reason I’ve been feeling blue the past few days…frustrated like I am running and getting nowhere. Funny how its so easy to lose focus. I’m the queen of that.  I wonder where I ever got the idea that life should be easier than it is. I guess for some people it seems like it is, even though I know better.

But on a more upbeat note, I saw two great films this week.

1. JUNO–hilarious and thought-provoking. I read a review in MacLean’s magazine about it criticizing that it promotes teen pregnancy. Maybe it does, I don’t know. But the truth is that it is a reality today, and not that uncommon. I won’t give anything away, but would love to hear your thoughts too.

2. Once–an independent Irish film about music and friendship. This movie has one of the most amazing soundtracks I have ever heard (http://www.oncesoundtrack.com/). The whole thing was filmed in 17 days and features the Irish band The Frames.  I highly recommend it (lots of swearing though, just to warn you). 

 Both movies had that “real-life” bitter-sweet feel to them. I think it’s interesting how more and more, movies like that are becoming more popular. I think our generation is looking for more than a good story with a happy ending. Because, as I mentioned before, life is never like that.

It’s hard for us all.

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My Old Man

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The past year or so I have been visiting an old man who lives on the outskirts of St. Stephen.  I originally got connected through Hospice, an organization I have been volunteering with but as I started back to school while still working full-time it seemed I could no longer give the time needed and I resigned. However, I asked if I may still visit ‘my old man’ as it seemed that we had become friends. They agreed and so, even though our visits were few and far between, I continued to see him. 

He was 82 this year. He had congestive heart failure and so was constantly attached to an oxygen machine. He never left his small bungalo house in the country and his younger wife enjoyed the chance to get out to the grocery store when I came to visit.  We would sit in his living (which smelled rather like a hospital) and he would tell me his stories.  He had immigrated from Eastern Europe with his family at a young age and settled out west. During WWII he joined the Canadian air force (he said it was because he noticed that the girls went after the guys with uniforms), and eventually became a pilot and then an aero-mechanic. Airplanes were his whole life.  He particularly like to tell the story of when he learned how to land a plane on an aircraft carrier. He was sent to Florida for training and learned along side a man who later became very famous. His name was Bob Barker! Then he would say “of course he was nothing special in those days.” 

After the war, he moved to the states with his family, though reluctantly. The Korean war was just beginning and he was afraid he would be conscripted.  Sure enough, he was and spent his time as a combat pilot in the war.  Painstakingly he would tell me about a day that would change his life forever.

He was given orders to bomb a village. He and another comrade weren’t given much hope of coming out alive.  He was given the coordinates and somewhere in translation something got confused. They dropped the bomb on the village only to find out a short time later that it was the wrong place.  His eyes would fill with tears as he related his responsibility in killing so many innocent people. I don’t know if he ever forgave himself for that mistake.

After dropping the bomb he was quickly pursued and shot at.  He remembers hearing his comrade radio him saying there was a guy right on his tail and then before he had a second to think his plane was shot down. The entire back end was blown off and he was ejected. He remembers nothing more but apparently he landed in the ocean where he floated for 20 hours before a Japanese ship picked him up and took him to Tokyo.  

He stayed in Tokyo for 11 months, most of the time he was in a coma. It took many more months to get his memory back.  He would speak bitterly of the US government often to me, and it seems with good reason. For when he immigrated to the US he had to sign a declaration saying he would not be a liability to the government for five years. He also had to give up his Canadian citizenship. This all led to the US government refusing to accept him back into the country and without a Canadian citizenship he was stranded. His parents ended up having to move back to Canada in order to sponsor him back into the country. He was forever grateful to the Canadian government for the good treatment he received. 

If you can imagine, this is just a small part of his story.  82 years gives you a lot of life experience!  The last time I saw him was just before Christmas. He told me he was going to build a plane piece by piece in his basement. He got out the blue prints and went over them with me (I pretended I knew what he was talking about). His mind was as sharp as ever! Unfortunately his heart wasn’t and just this last weekend he passed away. 

I am so grateful for the time I got to spend with my old man. I wish I spent more time with him and his stories and his wisdom. I wish I didn’t let my life become so busy that squeezing in an hour here and there was so difficult.  It is sad to me how we let the wisest people in our society waste away without notice.  How after so many years of triumph, struggle, action & adventure a man can sit in his living room day and night alone, just waiting to die.

I think the elderly are our greatest treasure, our biggest asset, and our best resource. I think that we are a lost culture in part because we have lost our connection with our past, choosing Wikipedia wisdom over personal relationships.  We have a lot to learn if we could only take the time to learn it from the people who know best.

 To my dear old man, thank you.  May you fly fast and high in your new plane.

Belated New Years Blog

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I have been meaning to write my first blog for 2008 since…well…Jan.1, 2008. Unfortunately, due to an enormous amount of essay writing, copious amounts of reading, and Gaelic lessons to complete, I haven’t had a chance to put my thoughts online.

 But here I am, second week of January, and finding I have a few minutes to update Easy Silence which has been under severe neglect for some time now.

It has so far been a most-eventful turn of the year for me. With the arrival of some friends from the west coast who have FINALLY realized that you can’t beat the east and have moved back, the beginning of a new term here at SSU, and recooperating from lots of socializing over the holidays I can hardly believe it has been two weeks already since I was on my lovely Prince Edward Island.

The holidays had me doing a lot of thinking. This happens to me often when I step outside the SSU bubble and I actually have a second to think about the important questions.  As usual the normal “what the heck am I doing with my life” question reared its ugly head and I have decided to make a plan. For those of you who know me well, you know I am absolutely NOT a planner. I am not a type “A” personality, I am not a visionary, I do not care about the future (well, i care, but i rarely think about it), and I do not worry about tomorrow. Most of the time I am so absorbed in today that I can’t imagine trying to figure out something out for later.

But what I have realized is that without some kind of planning, you often never set goals for yourself, and therefore never feel a sense of accomplishment. You never get to see your dreams realized and eventually you begin to feel that you are only the things other people want you to be–the people who do plan and decide they want you to play a role in accomplishing their goals.

So I have made a plan to do something I have always wanted to do which is to live in Ireland. I don’t want to go for just a week or two visit. I want to REALLY experience the country. So I am saving and saving and saving (because Ireland is expensive to us Canadians) so that I can plan to travel around and see the country, as well as the Scottish Highlands, and write a chapter of my final thesis while I’m there.

That’s it. Those are the only details I have so far. I hope to be able to do this in about a year and a half, and I hope to stay for a couple of months at the least, and forever at the most.

The thing with plans is that life happens and the truth is that anything could happen between now and then. But I figure if I tell people and I pursue it then it is more likely to happen.

Well along with that, my only other true new years resolution is to be the best secret keeper I know. I have realized that in small circles gossip is the worst enemy and I am pretty sick of the mentality that “your business is my business.” I assure you, its not. Unfortunately I cannot change other people, only myself so I’ll start there.  No more contributing to the rumor mill.

Alright, those are my thoughts for what they’re worth. Now back to the books…


Good Advice

"Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things"

Currently reading…

"'Tis" by Frank McCourt

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