Tuesday, 13 August 2013


Personal growth is a thing of unpredictability. There are moments when we choose to grow and there are moments when we are forced to.  We challenge ourselves and are challenged by others. We jump head first into the great unknown or the unknown rushes towards us like a wave.  Though all of us will have to mature and become the men and women we are meant to be, the times when we ourselves choose to grow will change us more deeply than anything life could ever throw at us. These are often moments brought upon by self-sacrifice.  

After I had left High school I lost touch with all of my friends for a long time.  When they went to college and university I decided to travel. We never called or wrote and it was a strange parting now that I think of it. We had been close, spending nights drinking and talking of the future, but I always knew that as soon as school ended my time with them was finished. We had different views on life and religion and the cracks in our friendship had begun to widen into chasms. By the time I heard from them again, two had already been married and one, my once best friend, was having his stag party. They had heard I was in town, back from where I had been living in Ottawa, and thought they’d send me an invite. I was so happy and asked where and when.  They said that it was at a friend’s house and that I could bring my girlfriend as it was a stag/stagette party. So we got into my 86’ Celica and after a bit found the house they had described. I remember telling my girlfriend how good these guys had been and how much I regretted not seeing them after so long. I rang the door-bell and they welcomed us in. They were all there and we fell into conversation. I felt welcomed if not a little overwhelmed by their questions. What have you been doing? Traveling, working,  blah blah blah. Have you been to school? I tried but blah blah blah. How did you two meet… and so on and so on as questions often go with friends who have become strangers.  By the end of night we were sitting around the living room as they filled me in on their lives when I realized that we had to go. We said our goodbyes and walked out the door into the night. I looked at my girlfriend in the car and can remember telling her how good it was to see them and that it felt like old times. Moments later I could hear my cell phone ringing. I picked it up and I heard the voice of one of my friends on the other end of the line. Had we forgotten something? No. They began to ask me why I had acted so strangely with them. I was confused and said that I had had a great time but they said that I had not been myself. They told me that the girl I was seeing was strange, that it was strange how I still wasn't going to church and that I wasn't the person they remembered. I realized that I was on speaker phone and that they were all listening, having some sort of intervention for me. I couldn't believe it. I hung up the phone. We rode back to our hotel room in silence. 

Monday, 12 August 2013


 Christianity is a religion that is littered with the idea of death. The Old Testament is filled with murder, war and even a little genocide. The New Testament is martyrs, death upon the cross, and the Day of Atonement. As a child, the good book would leave me awake at nights, thinking of the enormity of what death meant and I would call out to my mother for comfort. This was often triggered by my fear of Hell. There was nothing more frightening to me as a little boy then the concept of Hell. Hell was a place where you would be tormented forever if the life you chose to live on earth did not meet the celestial requirements. Hell was forever and forever was a long time and the torture that awaited me there, if I made the wrong choices, hung over me like an unfathomable weight. Each day in church and school our elders would remind us that when we died we would be held accountable for our actions. Others may have ignored this or grown desensitized to their warnings but I focused on it like a tic burrowing through my skin. Why should a child be faced with his own mortality on a daily basis? How is this way to make someone believe?
                I recently had a conversation with my father where I told him this. He told me that he always raised us to believe that God is love and that he wants us to go to heaven. I can hear him say, "Christianity is a religion of eternal life through Jesus not death". This is fine because I heard these same words before and after each discussion of hell and our immortal soul. However, that was not what my little brain focused on. Death was a scary word. My faith was built upon fear and not upon love no matter how many people told me I was going to heaven and no matter how many told me God loved me. For a child, love is an easy concept to receive and to dismiss. Our parents love us unquestioning and we love them back. We love our homes and all we have. But love is always there and so we take it for granted when it is given and received. Fear, on the other hand, rears its ugly head and leaves a lasting mark; once burned by the boiling pot you never grab hold again. Fear is a strong motivation for a child. I loved God as a child because not loving him meant that I was damned and the fear of that was unimaginable.  My father would say that if I believed in God I should have nothing to fear, but when doubt filled my mind fear was always standing right behind it.

                As I have grown older I realize this is not the belief of most Christians and most will and do say that I had a miss guided view or feel sad I thought this way, but as a child this was my reality and not a far stretch for Christians to understand. I believe that all ways of life, be it religion, philosophy or lifestyle, are a personal adventure and that no one knows 100% what will come. Being afraid of things we have no control over (like the afterlife if it exists) is crippling and does not lead to a productive life. However, we do have the power to make these lives we live as joyous as possible. I agree with Christians that we should focus on love and not fear. Fear is often thrust upon from outside ideas or events but love is something that we must give. Love is an action where fear is a response. But here is where we may part ways: I think that we must try to make a world where love is an action only used to affect the world we live in. Love should be used to abolish stereotypes, racism and bigotry. Love should be used to bring people together, to heal wounds and to give comfort to those who live in fear. Love should be used to change the world we live in and not to save our immortal souls for one that may follow. 

Saturday, 3 August 2013


When I was first traveling on my own I struggled to meet people. I would sit at a hostel dining table, wondering what to say as conversations flowed around me. By the end of the night I would be the one sitting by myself with a book while other’s sat in circles with guitars or wandered into an evening of possibilities.  I made a decision one day: I would learn three songs.

Music is communication. It breaks all barriers and ties us all together. A single song can make us feel so many emotions and these emotions are the words that form a conversation with our soul. It is an inner dialogue that each individual may experience but that all of understand.  We may not always feel passion, love, anger or those emotions that cannot possibly put to words, but through music we experience these feelings as the artist reaches out with each note.  When we share music with others, that music we listen to in our rooms or behind headphones, we show others that inner dialogue that is so personal and intimate.  
If we take the leap ourselves, to create our own music, we begin to find a new way to express ourselves. No matter what language we speak we being to speak a language that all may understand.  Music and the passion it brings is the chord that ties humanity together. It is the voice of change. It is the voice of community. It is the voice of one. It is the voice of many. And if we allow ourselves to create music, we allow others to realize that they are not alone in the world. It doesn’t matter how well you sing, or what instrument you can play. It is something that must first be done for our own soul and then naturally it becomes for the soul of others.

Lyrics from a song I once wrote:

Wrote your epitaph on the window pane
They said you wouldn’t get better but I loved you all the same
Pictures of you, quiet letters to me
Sideways glances all the words that fall between

Spoke to your father about when you were alive
Spoke to your brother, couldn’t look him in the eye
We laid you to rest in your mother’s dress
I could love anyone, but all I want is you