Thursday, 26 May 2011

Highway To Hope.

It's a cold, dark, rainy early morn in the sleepy little town of Hope, British Columbia.  And I listen to the rain as it taps and dances and splashes upon the bedroom window.  In this moment of quiet solitude, I reflect  upon the ongoing significance of my journey back to this other world, my other home, my other reality.
I'm staying with my dear friend Heather and her husband Wayne, a gentleman I've known for a very short time.  Yet, time enough to understand that through all the adversity he has endured, flickers the flame that will not give negativity permission to dominate and overwhelm his life.  With the ongoing support of his remarkable wife, Wayne has understood, that through trauma and tragedy, we have choices.  Wayne knows he can and he must give himself permission to be positive.
A few days ago, Wayne and I went off to the local shop.  We got to talking to the lady behind the counter.  During our good natured chat, she mentioned that her husband was in a tribute band that did 'AC/DC' songs.  Naturally, the name of the tribute band is, 'Eh C/DC'.   "Ah yes", I mentioned, "AC/DC the band that did a song  titled, 'Highway to Hell'.  Well, I suppose we're on the highway to Hope."
Wayne and I headed back down the road and back to their beautiful home.  A home nestled amongst the breathtaking beauty of Mount Hope and Mount Ogilvie.  I walked along and Wayne wheeled along.  Yet, I do not see this man now confined to a wheelchair.  For, I see beyond the wheelchair and what I see is Wayne.  His eyes tell the story of a man trying to move on from the shackles of his physical restraint.  And deep down inside, I know he senses that the magic of imagination, the spirit of creativity, can never be allowed to be stifled.  Through such a trying time, Wayne will become a stronger man, a better man, for he knows he can make it so.
I'm not here for a holiday.  I'm not here for a sightseeing trip  No, this is a deeply profound and inspirational experience that I believe is clear demonstration of humanity at its finest.  Through transparency and the desire to create a positive environment, Heather and Wayne, you and me, can find a way.
Indeed, life is truly about choice.  We choose the highway that determines how we travel through our lives.  So, do we choose the highway to hell, or do we take take the highway to hope?

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Customs To Customs.

I knew it was time for me leave.  Walking by my son's bedroom door, I gently whispered, 'goodbye' to him and to Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet star.  It was with a sense of anxiety, mixed with excitement, that this reluctant recluse headed out his front door.  Time, once again, to challenge my uncomfortable comfort zone.  And thus, off I went on Saturday morning, May 7th, to travel to Manchester airport, destination, Vancouver, Canada.
I stood there at the check-in counter, waiting patiently for my turn.  Whilst waiting in the line, I was approached by an official representative of the airline.  "Are you travelling alone, sir?", the lady inquired.  To which I replied, "Yes I am.  Why, is it that obvious?  Do you feel sorry for me?"  The lady smiled and stated, "Sir, we are offering you 400 Canadian dollars to take a different flight."  'Hmmmm', I thought to myself.  'Does this mean that the other passengers have got up a collection to keep me off the plane?  Do I look like some kind of deviant undesirable?'  Well, it turned out that someone was wanting to travel with the rest of their family and didn't have a seat on my flight.  The offer was for me to take the money, take a flight with a stopover in Calgary and arrive in Vancouver 2 and 1/2 hours later than I would have.  If it wasn't for the fact that I was being met at Vancouver airport at an anticipated time, it would have been very tempting.  I've no idea if anyone took up that offer.
Finally, our plane took off, and 9 and 1/2 hours later, we arrived in Vancouver, 1 and 1/2 hours after we left.  Yes, that does sound confusing.  Upon arrival in Vancouver, we endured the long wait to get to the customs officer.  If you are not familiar with the wait to get to the customs officer at Vancouver airport, it makes for an overwhelming visual.  In front of you is a vast sea of humanity that follows guide ropes that snakes back and forth, back and forth.  After about 30 minutes, these two ladies from Manchester, complained to me about how long it was taking.  I said, "Ladies, look on the bright side.  This is indeed a long wait, but you have gained 8 hours."  They laughed and then asked me how long it took the ferry to get to 'Victoria' Island.  I corrected them and told them they meant Vancouver Island, which has the capital city of British Columbia, named 'Victoria', located on it.
After 40 minutes, it was finally my turn to talk to the customs officer dude.  "I see you are going to be here for 35 days, sir.  What is the purpose of your visit?"  I responded, "Well, I'm here to visit friends, family and hopefully watch the Vancouver Canucks make a bit of history."  He smiled and we talked hockey.  "You better get going sir, the game starts in less than an hour."  Only in Canada, eh.  Only in Canada.
So, I grabbed my luggage, got greeted by my mum and step-dad and headed back to their home.  Had a quick chat and then proceeded to sit in front of their television to watch the game.  Priorities, eh.  Only in Canada, eh.  Only in Canada.
I spent five days with my family in the seaside town of White Rock.   Even did something that is a bit of a Canadian tradition.  Yep, my brother took me for a coffee at Tim Hortons.
And now I'm typing to you from the town of Hope, British Columbia.  A small town about 100 miles east of Vancouver, that is surrounded by majestic mountains.  A town I wrote about in my second ever blog.  A town of great significance in my life and if you would like to read that posting, you will understand what I mean.  Tribes and Tributes.  You might be familiar with this town.  For this was the town used in 'Rambo First Blood'.  So far, nobody has mistaken me for Rambo.
I'm living in Hope.  Staying with two remarkable people who live in hope for a better future.  Their story, their inspiration, their continued belief in positivity, in the face of adversity, leaves me with no doubt that this holiday is going to be a deeply profound and powerful time for all concerned.  Upon my return to England, I shall do a detailed posting about this experience that I know will touch your heart.
In conclusion, I apologise that I've not been as interactive with you as I normally try to be.  This reluctant recluse got away from his computer and truly challenged his fears, his apprehension, his 'inner critic'.  I went out my front door, embraced humanity and had this sense of elation, a, 'what the hell I can do this', feeling.  That, my friend, is a result.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

And, Before I Go.

And, before I go, one last look, as the sun rises and shines upon my English country garden.

And, before I go, one last look at the glowing lights in my English country garden.

Time for one more late night stroll and note the magic amongst the leaves.

Goodbye for now, my 'wee folks' friends.

And 'Scarecat' shall watch over the garden.

And thus, in just a few hours time, I shall be heading west.  West to my other home, my other life, my other reality.  One last glimpse of my English country garden.  One last sleep and then it will be time to go.  My friend, I shall see you on the other side.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Blog Air: Destination Vancouver.

On Saturday, May 7, I shall be heading for Manchester airport to fly on the blogger's favourite airline, yes indeed, I'm flying on 'Blog Air', destination, Vancouver, Canada, eh.
I've no doubt that someone will notice me with my luggage outside my house and comment, 'Going somewhere nice?'  Why the f**k do folks say that?  I will probably reply, 'Going somewhere nice?   Of course not!  Why the f**k would I go somewhere nice when I can go on a world tour and visit the best sewage treatment plants on the planet!'
And where oh where shall I be sitting on 'Blog Air': destination Vancouver?  Will I be sitting with the self-obsessed bloggers?  Nope.   Will I be amongst the self-promoting bloggers?  Definitely not.  Will I be in the section of the plane where the 'hey lets have yet another competition on my site, because I love y'all and it has nothing whatsoever to do with me trying to get more bloggers to follow my blog, bloggers'?  Of course not.  Will I be sitting beside a blogger who links into every blogging site they see and has like a thousand 'followers' after a week, because other bloggers notice their icon and thus link into their blog?  Umm, no way.  Will I be sitting amongst the blogger 'sheep' or as I call them 'Bleeps', who go to sites and heap praise and worship the self-obsessed blogger?  No chance.
I suppose, based on the above paragraph, you might assume that I would be sitting in the cynical bloggers section of Blog Air.  Me cynical?  Never!  Me sarcastic?  Never been sarcastic in my life, ever!
No, this shy and humble blogger on his unassuming site, will be down in the cargo hold.  Down there with the exotic animals, an iguana named Fred, a kiwi named Marvin and a couple of bloggers who do nothing but blogs about cats.  Help me!  
Of course, piloting the Blog Air plane is the true star of this blog, yep, Penny the Jack Russell pilot dog and modest internet star.

Ah yes, I can imagine the following announcement on Blog Air,  'This is your captain speaking.  Captain Penny.  Would you please fasten your seat belts.  We are experiencing turbulence in the self-obsessed section of the plane.  Apparently too many Bleeps are hanging around the self-obsessed bloggers and their excitement is causing the plane to shake.....'
And, upon my return from Vancouver?  I've absolutely no doubt that some idiot will say, 'So, how did you find Vancouver?'   Why the f**k do folks say that?  Of course, I will reply, 'You stupid f**ker!  I didn't find Vancouver.  I left that up to the pilot.  Penny the Jack Russell pilot dog and modest internet star.'

Sunday, 1 May 2011

A Hint Of Sunshine.

To the west, I see the setting sun.  A hint of sunshine, obscured by clouds.  And through my cloudy mind, I see my hint of sunshine, of better times to come.
Off to the west, far, far away, is the land that was once my home.  Soon, very soon, this man, this reluctant recluse, will return to his other life, a life he almost forgot.  Here, I sit alone, alone and oh so scared.  Almost all I treasured, vanished with no answers to my questions of why it had to be.  I return a humbled man.  A man ravaged by a mental illness that pursued me, cornered me, almost killed me.
Yet, despite it all, I return as a man who knows that the hint of sunshine in my cloudy mind, grows ever brighter.  Through the murky and foreboding clouds, the reassuring glow of the warm rays of hope, will be treasured, will be nurtured, will see me through the most important journey of my life.   Indeed, a hint of sunshine, of better times to come.

And, most fittingly and thoughtfully, I have received the 'sunshine award' from Madeleine over at this wonderful site:  Scribble and Edit    If you have not had the delight and pleasure of visiting Madeleine's site, I would highly recommend that you kindly do so.  There, you will discover her superb haikus, poems, prose and interest excerpts on her interactive site.  Thank you, Madeleine, I am very grateful for this timely award.
I shall now forward this award onto three bloggers who may do with it as they so wish.

1.  Reverie Sanctuary :  My dear friend, Shanaz, writes beautifully and her stories are poignant, moving, uplifting.  A ray of sunshine.
2.  DC RELIEF :  Dixie, over at her wonderful and thoughtful site, has been of great support and encouragement to me through some very dark times.  For her kindness, I'm most grateful.  A ray of sunshine.
3.  W. M. Morrell's Musings From Down Under. :  Although Wendy, at this interesting and informative, superbly written blog, is not blogging, just now, due to her concentrating on her writing, I want to thank her for all her inspiration and encouragement in my ongoing writing endeavours.  I am most thankful to you.  A ray of sunshine.