Thursday, January 10, 2008

But It's Mine

Everything was fine yesterday at 5 when I was up and on the computer. I had written my blog and then had begun to work on a project for Vita. Everything was not fine a few hours later when Joe came into the office while I was writing. Joe knows not to talk to me when I'm writing but he broke into 'the zone' and said, "The basement is flooded."

I made a couple of phone calls to insurance and to contractors and then went back to work in the office. Joe was busy downstairs trying to get stuff out of the water, saving some things and being ruthless with others. Some boxes down there moved with us ten years ago and are still unopened. Those, after a quick glance, were simply thrown out.

In one of those boxes, Joe found a wack of stuff from our university days. He found the leather pouch where he'd kept our passports, international student IDs and international drivers licences - all stuff from our trip to Europe back when we were students. Along side those were our student cards from UVic where we attended in the very early seventies. Those pictures of a much younger me, a me with hair on my head and muttonchops on my face, stared out at me.

Joe noticed me looking at the pictures and said, "Remember the carefree days?"

Now, at that moment, he was rushing around in a basement full of water so didn't understand what he was saying. I looked at that guy, "Carefree" is not how I'd have described him then, and certainly not how I'd describe him now.

Suddenly I remembered one of the classes that I had taken at the University. It was one of those 'touchy feely,' active listening, discover yourself, faux psychology courses that was all the rage at the time. We'd go to class and have to do relaxation and visualization exercises - discover ourselves (or the self the professor wanted us to discover because we were marked on this shit). In one of those exercises we had to imagine putting all our worries into a big bag and leaving them at the door.

I dutifully did what was asked. My worries were huge. If being gay at a time when that was exceedingly not cool, wasn't enough - being a Christian at the same time and knowing the condemnation I'd experience should my friends ever find out, certainly was. Hiding our relationship was something Joe and I got very, very good at. So along with all the other youthful insecurities and fears, my bag was pretty damn full. I pictured it straining to contain all fears within.

Then we were supposed to go on some kind of guided imagery journey. But I couldn't go. I couldn't take my eyes of the sack holding my troubles and woes. Suddenly I could see a hallway full of bags of worries, all left by other students. Some huge, some small, some misshappen, some tidily packed. There mine lay amongst them. All I could think of was that I wanted this damn guided journey to end (I've never much liked EITHER meadows or beaches) so I could get my bag back.

Those worries, concerns, fears, they defined me in some odd way. They were what drove me during the day and woke me during the night. I didn't want to lose them. I didn't want someone else to grab my bag by mistake. I wanted them back.

This is what I wrote about for the professor. I got an 'F' for missing the point of the exercise. I gave the professor an 'F' for missing the point of the exercise.

So I looked at that guy in the picture yesterday. I know he never imagined being 55, and he certainly never imagined being me. He was just trying to get through the day. Making tomorrow, without dropping his bag of worries and woe, was his goal then.

Oddly, it's still mine now.


Anonymous said...

I had forgotten about this, but also underwent a similar assignment. we had to actually lie on the floor, close our eyes and the prof spoke softly - we were floating on the ocean on a beautiful day - "your completely relaxed, your troubles flowing out of you, the waves taking it away...blah blah. I remember thinking I don't want to be floating in the middle of the ocean on my back, I am going to drown or be eaten by a shark with everyone trash crashing into me - I was told I couldn't relax and visualize. I was on the school swim team so there was no excuse why I was uncomfortable in the water! he didn't seem to get that we all have different "vision"

Casdok said...

I can relate to your bag at the moment. My disabled son has to leave school soon and go into a full time home. Everyone is telling me i will then beable to have a life. (not quite sure what people mean by this!)
I dont see it, he is still my son and my bag that i will carry forever and willingly.

Kei said...

Sorry to hear about the basement. Still, it made time for your reflection.

and, Yeah... F to that prof.

lina said...

wonder if that prof ever figured it out?
And to Casdok, good luck to you and your son on this part of your journey - I hear you about living your life, just from your comments to Dave I'd have to say that you and your son live a pretty cool life!

Anonymous said...

Dave, One way to look at a guided imagery experience like this is not as a requirement to pretend you don't feel what you feel, but to see if the burdens you are carrying are ones you choose to carry (like casdok;s devotion to her son), or of there are things in your bag that you may be able to work through, express, or let go of IF you want to do any of those things. Of course, if your collection is precious to you, you keep it, or even add to it. Good luck.

Shan said...

"Joe and Dave", to me, is a pair of graduation photographs of two solemn and studious young men in maroon caps and gowns, Joe bespectacled, one above the other in a cutout portrait frame in the living room on Peterson Road. You live in Toronto with a pair of rescued cats, one of which is blind.

I have trouble putting my bag down too. I've gotten used to the weight of it.

Unknown said...

Only yesterday I've been thinking that problems and "heavy" or troublesome things in our lives, may lead to positive things, like strength, and even...happiness, but we only realise this later, when we look back. Certain problems shape you, guide you, become a kind of motor for your behaviour.
From the moment you know about this paradox, (negative leads to positive) you can of course accept almost anything in life.
I'm very glad and thankful you write in such an open way about things that matter, Dave!You give your readers some value above all price.

Anonymous said...

Ah Dave, those early seventies courses. One is still a source of intense embarrassement to me and has a lot to answer for. It was one of the ones you are talking about, and in groups we had to describe our particpants as a musical instrument, fruit or vegetable and give them a name we thought suited them more than the one they had.(What was with those courses!). Anyway like you,we thought it was all so ridiculous we just took it and ran with it, and we ended up in tears of laughter.Years later I was asked to do a similar thing at a staff meeting in the small country town where I lived.Remembering how it turned out to be memorably funny, and thinking that we never get enough tears in the eyes laughter in our lives, I attempted this "exercise". It went down like a lead balloon.A big fat lead balloon. To this day I think what the f"*% was I thinking.No escape from the people either when you live in a small town.Maybe I should have stuck with "after you've wrapped up your troubles in the wool bales,can you small town hicks imagine yourself floating gently on the local dam??" Whatdya think Dave? Think that might have worked for me?? from p.t. in Australia.