There are some special places that many of us go to recharge, reconnect with self, relax, commune with nature, call it what you want. This is one such place for me. This is the beach at the head of Howe Sound, in British Columbia. This is where I live. This was taken at around 7AM one day. The wind was calm. The place was empty of people and dogs. As I sat on one of the wooden benches, I just sensed an amazing peace flow through me. I knew then that this was a place of significance for me. A place to come and connect with self and meditate. The past ten years have been incredibly tumultuous for me. Messy divorce. Loss of religious faith and a belief in God. Leaving a church community and support network. It was nice to sit and listen. Waves lapping the shore. Birds singing and calling to other birds. A Light breeze rustling through the trees. For the first time in many months, I felt at peace.
We all need places like this. Places that we can just sit and be still. I hope you find yours.
If there is an official religion in Canada, it’s Hockey! Nothing else comes close to bringing this country to a stop, especially when Team Canada plays for Gold. Last night, Canada’s Junior Team played the Russians for the Gold Medal at the World Junior Hockey Championship in Toronto. I was only able to catch the Third Period, but what a finish! As I was watching the final minutes tick away, it took me back to those days in the ’70’s and ’80’s, before the Iron Curtain fell, and the Russians were a complete mystery to us. I remember the Canada Cup series’ between 1976-1991 (my family had not emigrated to Canada in 1972 – the year of the famous Summit Series). For the most part, European teams were a complete mystery to us in North America – especially the Soviets and Czechs. Today, those players are no longer a mystery. Most of them live and play here in North America. The magic of those years is gone. Still, when Team Canada plays for Gold, the country stops. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Olympics or World Juniors.
Most of the young men playing in this tournament will never make it to the NHL. For many of them, this tournament, and winning Gold will be the pinnacle of their hockey careers. It took a tremendous amount of dedication, practice, combined with skill to get there. Those are things that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives as they move on. That kind of dedication can only bring success in whatever they move on to in life – be it hockey, or some other career. Congratulations, Team Canada!
As I look out of my window, yesterday’s snow has turned to a steady, heavy rain. The sky is grey, the clouds hang low, and my little town is socked in. A typical Canadian West Coast winter’s day. One of those days. My mood is a reflection of what it is like outside today. Actually, not so much my mood as how my physical body is feeling. Those who live with depression understand the feeling. There is an ad that runs on Canadian Television that talks about mental health and depression. It says, “Depression hurts”. It’s also physically exhausting. Combine that with a years long affliction with chronic pain and a not too healthy relationship with the bottle, and, well you get the picture. Some days it all adds up the perfect emotional storm. Today, it’s not so much an emotional downer as it is just a tiredness. It has taken everything I have just to write these few sentences. But, I did it. That’s a small victory. Actually, for me, it’s a big victory. Normally, I would throw up my hands and say, “Screw this!”, and give up defeated.
Small victories like this add up.
I love taking the dog for walks, whether it’s just a short walk around the neighborhood, or a trip to the local beach, or letting him loose on a field so he can chase his ball. One thing I especially like to do when we go walking is to look around on the ground. I am always hoping to find something unusual. Or, like a friend of mine did in a local store, as he approached me to say ‘Hello’, find money. (My friend saw me and came over to say ‘Hi’. As he got closer, he looked under the stand that was holding the cards I was looking at, and said, “Hey! What’s that?” THAT was a crisp $50 Bill!)
One day, I was with another friend at the local beach, again, looking for unusual stuff – I am hoping to find a glass float ball that often break loose from Japanese fishing boats across the Pacific. This particular day, I thought I had hit pay dirt as I caught the sun reflecting off glass. As I went to investigate, it turned out to be a bottle half buried in the sand. As I pulled it out, I could see that the bottle definitely contained something unusual! There was a message stuffed inside! Was it a love note from some long since forgotten lover? Was is a message for help from someone stranded on some desert island in some far-flung corner of the ocean? Turns out it was something more mundane. Someone had stuffed the label from the bottle into the bottle, but I will never forget that initial rush of excitement that came when I was fishing it out!
This new year, I want to continue looking. But I want to look inside myself and find the beauty that lies within. Sometimes we become disconnected and lost. We lose a part of ourselves. I have spent too many years in that state – lost and disconnected. This year is going to be a journey of rediscovering myself. I hope that whatever you are looking for, you will find it this year!