We Are What We Give



I return to the top, look at the image, read what it says, and think how selfish I am to consider only myself.  I am not just me.  And that, somehow, answers most of the questions I have just addressed.

Nevertheless, consider this:

Sometimes we have to go look behind us to know where we are. Three years ago I thought I had it all figured out. Last year I lost everything and I thought I had it all figured out in that my life was over. Now I don’t know where I am again. Life seems to be a constant process of tearing down and building up, getting lost and seeking.


We are constantly assessing and re-assessing ourselves in an attempt to give a positive spin on the events in our life.  If we make the mistake of thinking we know something about ourselves or about life we run the risk of coming to a negative decision about our life and making a bad choice.  A condition of searching is a preferable state of affairs.

This is a mystical point of view.  It is also psychological and political.  It works on so many levels.

The best we can do is begin with the assumption that our life is good – “Tracht gut veit zein gut”, “Gam zu l’toiva” – even if we initially think it is not, and then we have to figure out why it is good.  What are the things that are good in our life?


It is my life which I consider.  But, by extension, I think there is a commonality of experience between myself and the rest of the human race, so the solutions I come to might have some universal application.  Nevertheless, I look at my life and try to figure things out for myself.

Now I am 51.  I am divorced with shared custody of a child and feel as if I have lost much.  Two years ago, when I was married with a child and living in Finland I had a beautiful apartment and a balcony and sauna and library and garden and two cats and I felt like I had everything.  But was I happy then and am I happy now?  I look back.

When I was 40 I was living in a single bedroom apartment that overlooked the harbour.  I had just graduated from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and I was working on a film about autism, The Other Voice, because I felt like I related to “the other” in society.  I discarded a potential career as a struggling independent director to marry a beautiful intelligent woman and I moved to Finland to have a child and raise a family.  I look back.

When I was 29 I was living in Niigata, Japan, teaching English as a Second Language.  I hated my employer.  I was living with a blond French Canadian jazz dancer.  She had a fantastic body.  So did I at 29, of course.  I had everything, I thought.  I couldn’t believe it.  I asked her constantly what she saw in me.  Eventually she asked herself the same question and we began arguing terribly.  When I felt I couldn’t take it anymore I left her in Japan and returned to Canada.  She took my job, my apartment, my friends… replacing me as if I hadn’t existed at all.  I was a zombie after that, dead inside for years after.  I look back.

When I was 26 I was lost.  I thought Nova Scotia was the only place on the planet and if I could not succeed there then my life was over.  But I had a University Degree.  I had won contests.  I had had plays produced and stories and poetry published but I could not see past my own fear of myself and I could not appreciate what I had already achieved because I regretted what I had not yet achieved.  And then I went to India with Canadian Crossroads and that led to me living and working in over seven different countries.  I look back.

When I was five I had an accident.  I was unconscious for a month and it took me a long time to recuperate.  And in some ways I never did.  The person I could have been – the genius, the athelete, the businessman – died and never was.  I became an inhuman monster with a disability who was struggling to be normal.  I look back?  No, there is no looking back from there.  From here.  Here is where I circle.  Trapped in a timeless accident that circles inside my head and has destroyed everything I could have been.

And I struggle with psychology and religion and metaphysics now because I am looking for a way out of an endless nightmare.  Well, at least I know where it started.

So I jump from the past forward to the present and I look to Chassidic Judaism which tells me things like: All people have value.  We all share a common Divine Spark.  Be positive.  Help others.  The world is recreated every instant and there is the constant possibility of rebirth if we think positive.

And I believe I am beginning to find in myself somebody who can bring good into the world of my child and my friends and family and myself.  I can allow them to bring good into my life.


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