I grew up in a very safe, beautiful location in Eastern Canada where no one locked their doors, the taxi driver and my teachers would stop and ask me if I wanted a ride, where neighbours knew you and looked out for you, where the community fathers and mothers focused on their kids, and we had every sport to play one could imagine thanks to the historic Boating Club on the river, two rival curling clubs, and the awesome athletic association founded by our town fathers. Later I went away to university and didn’t need to worry about being conscripted into an insane war in a foreign land, and where I met people from around the world to expand my horizons and challenge old dogmas we’d grown up with. After university I landed a terrific pioneering job with a wonderful mentor/boss-Dr Don McKinnon-and lived in a house with an unobstructed million dollar view of the San Juan and Gulf Islands in British Columbia for over a decade as a young single guy. I became a dad with two very beautiful girls who really are great kids and who brought me great joy as I participated in their growth into early adolescence. Now they’re grown up and making their way on the West Coast that I only came to know and love in my early twenties. Life couldn’t have been better and as one of my family members confided in me years later my mother said that I was “living the dream.” Fore athletics came easy to me, went to a wonderful university, landed a terrific job unique in Canada at the time, lived on the West Coast surrounded by majestic natural beauty, a moderate climate, and many valued friends. Now I’m living near a couple of national treasures, the very diverse settings of the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains. To listen to a chorus of wolves in the Foothills of the Rockies at dawn with a blazing red sunrise on the near horizon or perch high atop a mountain peak breathing in the fresh, cool mountain air on a glorious sunny day or sit on the banks of a wild river of liquid glass running free to the sea under the constellatory eyes in the night sky or explore the vast expanse of the sun drenched prairies where antelope run and eagles soar. How blessed am I?
My siblings and I were fortunate, my parents really cared for us and provided us with life experiences that would last a lifetime. We grew up knowing we were loved by a big extended family on both sides of the family tree. Extended family gatherings in various regions of Ontario were always fun and much anticipated. I remember playing with my many cousins, uncles, and aunts. Family was always a central theme in our life growing up and for that I am truly thankful and grateful. Our summer cottage in Ontario where we played in the woods, swam, fished, and canoed on the lake, picked berries in the fields for our mother and grandmother who would then bake berry pies was a carefree life of joy and discovery.
Now in the last quarter of my life I’m still amazed it’s gone so quickly and there’s a touch of sadness that it’s coming to an end when I’m not ready for it to end-I doubt that I ever will be. It’s hard to comprehend the speed of change and the ‘Days of Summer’ are now the ‘Days of Winter’. No matter how hard I try to recapture those ‘Days of my Youth’ they’re always just outside my grasp and slipping through my fingers. I still do my gym workouts, ride my road and mountain bikes, skate and classic nordic ski, alpine ski, hike in the mountains, backpack into remote wilderness areas, and paddle wild rivers but never again will I ever experience the same pace or vigour I once had even just a few short years ago. My body is beaten up after years of repetitive activity and physical trauma from the many trials I’ve had on the river and in the mountains, and the trails of my life. Years of pushing the envelope to accomplish my goals as I chased my dreams of adventure yet to be lived. As hard as I might try “Father Time’ has one hand on my shoulder and as hard as I try to shake his grasp he clings to me. And so I push onward knowing I can’t stop nor stop Him, I must keep moving to live in the moment! Tomorrow is some time down the road we’ve yet to experience and the past is one more memory that eventually ceases to exit in the reality of the here and now. “Fore every man must die!” Dire Straits
My advice to all is to cherish every moment of your life and when things aren’t going well or as planned don’t make it worse by getting upset about the things you can’t control or influence because you’ll never Iive this moment again. Focus on the things you can control and within your Circle of Influence. Prepare for the Valleys in your life because rest assured you will see them and enjoy the Peaks when you are on top of your game knowing that they won’t last. As one of my former direct reports used to say when I asked him how he was today; he’d say, “Best day of my life!” Remember, tomorrow is not guaranteed in our world. And if by chance you have been one of the fortunate human beings to have had your ‘Day in the Sun’ then see yourself as one of the lucky ones…for many others, that day will never come!
And so I end by hoping my children will keep the good memories in their hearts and climb the many Peaks they have in front of them and prepare for the Valleys ahead because time will not wait for them to catch up if one lives in the past. Once gone, forever gone! “…more than all the stars in the sky!”
From the day we arrive on the planet
And, blinking, step into the sun
There’s more to see than ever be seen
More to do than can ever be done
There’s far too much to take in here
More to find than can ever be found
Elton John From the Disney movie Circle of Life
* I watched it so many times cuddled with my little girls on our big brown leather couch in the family room as the soft sunlight streamed in and wrapped us in its warmth…beautiful memories!