Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom (And Whimsy)

Posted on February 1, 2023 under Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom with 5 comments

Longing for Inverness Beach


“But yah got to have friends,

The feeling’s oh so strong,

Yah got to have friends,

To make the day last long.”

Friends – Bette Midler

I am a pretty lucky guy.

At this stage of my life, as a 71 year old senior, attrition normally takes its toll. We’re shedding friends. Time is catching up to us and the runway is becoming shorter. It seems like almost every day, I hear about someone else passing away or in failing health. It can be quite depressing.

Many of you are aware that I went back up north AGAIN (!) last fall after swearing that I wouldn’t return after December of 2021. A colleague passed away suddenly, and I decided to go up and take over her class. I had planned to stay until the end of the school year, but fate intervened as it often does, and I returned home on Christmas Day. For good!

I experienced a heavy dose of trauma in the weeks leading up to Christmas with the deaths of three young students from suicide. When this transpired, I put on a brave face as I felt that I needed to be strong for my students and fellow colleagues.

After the Christmas holidays had died down and the reality of January set in, I noticed something. I didn’t feel quite right but I couldn’t put my finger on it. It wasn’t anything physical, but I was just a bit off. I’m sure you’ve all felt like this from time to time. I guess the best way I can describe it was that I was feeling flat. I had planned to start substitute teaching again but for many days in a row, I just couldn’t find my mojo. Finally, the light went on and I reckoned that I was having a latent reaction to the trauma I experienced before Christmas. I decided to seek help and went and had a chat with a therapist.

I found it both helpful and enlightening. After some gentle probing, I was able to articulate that I was quite angry and frustrated about the suicides. Most of my anger was, and is, directed towards the people who altered the course of the lives of indigenous people in the north. I won’t go into detail here, but the list of grievances is lengthy: colonialism; the shabby treatment of indigenous people by the Hudson Bay Company; forced relocations; residential schools; identification tags; the killing of the sled dogs… and more.

The book that I recently published is a lighthearted look at the north. It talks about my journey to the Nunavik region of Quebec and all the things I learned and experienced. I purposely decided to not go into the “heavy stuff”. But now, I feel compelled to address the heavy stuff head on. I plan to write a sequel to the book and try and explain what happened in the north and why problems persist to this day because of the tragic legacy of the past. I hope that some people will read it. I reckon that it will be therapeutic for me.

“Len. You’ve wandered off topic. You do this with shocking regularity.”

While I was in the north, I made a couple of hundred new friends. Back here at home, substitute teaching has put me in front of hundreds of students. So, I’m still in the accumulation phase of friendships and I’m starting to think that this may be a key determinant of good health. Yes, we need to eat properly, exercise and get plenty of rest to keep the chassis lubricated and firing on all cylinders but could there be anything more important than friendship?

Because I didn’t get home on time at Christmas, thanks to the weather and my friends (?) at Air Canada, I didn’t get to properly launch and promote my new book in the lead up to Christmas. When I checked book sales at the two local outlets right after Christmas, let’s just say that sales were tepid. That’s an understatement. Underwhelming is a more apt description. As I stared at boxes of unsold books in my apartment, I decided to use one of the oldest tactics in the books: direct sales.

Now, because I have accumulated a lot of friends over the decades, I have a long list and I started contacting them one at a time. I have been feeling like one of those door-to-door Electrolux salesmen from a bygone era. I am certainly gratified by the response that I have received and am happy to report that I have had to place two more orders for books. I haven’t sold quite as many as Prince Harry did on his first day (1.2 million) but when all is said and done, I should make enough profit to buy a Wheel pizza!

The happy by product of this initiative has been reconnecting with old friends. It has been a blast sharing old war stories and fond memories. I started offering a free delivery service in my hometown which has spawned many wonderful conversations on the doorstep and in living rooms.

I am feeling very fortunate making all of these contacts (and millions of dollars!) which has helped immensely to get me out of my funk.

I am happy to share a slice of pizza with you once all the books are sold!

Have a great weekend.


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