Sunday, August 22, 2010

ACCEPTANCE of The Sandy Singer AWARD: 21st August, 2010

Richard: [wheels on, pauses, scans crowd for getting grounded in 'the now']
Thank you, the Awards Committee, I am deeply honoured by your selection of me for this year's award.

There are very many among you who could have been selected for this award tonight; may yet be selected as the years progress. It's a question of not being overlooked. Now, given my physical and geographical stature in this wheelchair you'll say it's easy to overlook me, ha!, but that's not the kind of overlooking I'm talking about. It's that you, who toil so diligently on behalf of us all, be not overlooked: The seamstresses, the prop gatherers, the set painters, the costume and stage and lights and program and production personnel. You are the ones who spend countless unseen if not lonely hours doing what you do, on behalf of us all. But more important than you yourself not being overlooked, is that you yourself do not do the overlooking.

We live in theatre for the reward of giving to each other, especially in amateur theatre. Almost every one of us here does these magnificent shows for the sake of collaboration with our fellows. We give to an audience who pays, yes, but who pays us only with applause. Audience money goes to the company, to the next show, never to us. So we give each other thanks, and every little card you write, every 'thank you' you give, and each time we award someone in this annual event, we show proof of our not overlooking another. Well, tonight it's my turn. I humbly accept your thanks, and I give my thanks too. I know I receive this award not nearly as much as a result of my own efforts, but as a result of all those who have supported me along the way. And that, as for many of us, includes also the, uh, fortitude of our significant others, as in my case: Linda Michelle-Pentelbury.

Now, given that I came into the Calgary theatre scene with Storybook in 1981, a listing of names significant to me is definitely going to leave someone out. Take, for instance, my own guest of honour sitting in her wheel chair up at the back, Hilda Doherty. Now almost 94 years old, Hilda at 80 was the brilliant star of my show Glorious and Free, back in 1996. Then too, only a few here were lucky enough to work alongside the brilliant and talented Jim and Tina Sarantis. Others, like Pasqualina, and Andrea White, and David Gagnier have gone to other cities. So too just think of the huge contribution of a Diane LeBlanc, of an Alana Gowdy, or a Gerry Hemphill, or, back in the 80's, Ellie Tims. Each have had enormous influence and impact on me. And right here there are people I've depended on year after year, like the incredible Cat Bentley, Dennis Daly, Tim and Linda Elliot, Joanne Sampson, Wilma Rothbauer, Frank and Faith and Angie and Margaret and Christine Horne, and then there's Richard Heyman and Mike and Caren Johnson, and Val and Greg and Jay and Lynette Newman, and Karen Iwanski, Paul Hilton, and the phenomenal Pat Becada. Where should I stop? It is Diane Le Blanc, as I recall, who was awarded the first Sandy Singer Award, followed by people we all know and appreciate, such as Paul Stanton, Bill Torrie, Amanda Chapman, Tim Elliot, and...

Well, there are two individuals I want to thank here especially, for they exemplify for me what our community theatre is all about. The first is my 1988 Grade 8 student, Mary Anne Wilson (now become Mrs. Wickerson). Mary Anne not only performs, but has served as musical director in countless productions since then. The second is my 1989 grade eleven student, Sean Anderson. After doing 12 shows with me Sean started Morpheus Theatre, 15 years ago, and thanks largely to him Calgary-Acts was born! Sean too, in 2005 (?), was a recipient of this prestigious Sandy Singer Award.

But for me the most important person of all, and I submit, to you, is Penelope. [pauses, looks at aisle]. Come up here, my dear. [mimes receiving her] Penelope is the actress upon whom our theatre foundations are built. She represents the brand new, untried, inexperienced, and first timer. Now, lest our want of these awards preclude the Penelope's of our world in our quest for only the best, I would caution directors at the audition table; we want to welcome new blood! As for her male counterpart? [indicates aisle] Well, come on up! [mimes a welcome hug, 'agh'] Allow me to introduce someone many of you may know: Harvey! Ladies and gentlemen, let us not overlook those who appear invisible. They may become the star! Let us see and thank each and every one of us. All for one, and one for? [cocks ear] ...One for? [audience:]...All ! Thank you. With this award you send me off to retirement with a heartfelt Bang, and nary a whimper, indeed. Yes? Good night. [wheels off]

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Hitch (being a discussion about Johari, You, and Me)

(Photo courtesy of Mike Jablonski)

The Hitch:

As soon as dawn begins to gild the African sky I jog, often with my thumb out at a passing car, alongside the highway for about an hour before a lone cream Toyota, a brand new 1975 model, stops just ahead of me. I get inside and the lanky driver, somewhere in his late forties and dressed in a business suit sticks out his hand, and says, "Ian. You?"

"Boe... Adam," I blurt, changing my South African accent to sound more British.

He glances quickly at me, then steers the car back onto the road. "You have something to hide, Boe... Adam?" His accent is foreign. Canadian?

I grimace, "No! Sorry. Just prefer my English name, that's all."

"Ah. So, you look only through one windowpane at a time, eh?"

I realize I'm in for an interesting conversation. There is something educated about the man, something classical. I respond with, "One windowpane. Ha! We have several panes in our windows on the world do we?"

The side of his eye crinkles. He nods. "Yep. I read somewhere that we're viewed through a four-paned frame. The Johari Window, it's called. One pane is the stuff through which you usually view yourself that others see too, the other is the pane through which others view you that you don't know, and the third is the pane you don't let others know about you." He drives on, keeping quiet.

Soon enough, I prod, "The fourth?"

"Ah!" He smiles briefly. "The insight you have yet to discover about yourself."

I chuckle, "We are talking about a 'p-a-n-e' here, are we, Ian?"

"Ha! Not always," he rejoins, "Not always."

As the car winds steeply down through the spectacular jungle of the Knysa Gorge we go quiet. The dense rainforest makes me uncomfortable with its shadowy reminders of my recent army involvement; I see snipers, and my eyes dart about for snares, and snakes; and my skin can feel the itch and crawl of ants. But then, as we emerge over the lip of the climb from the jungle back into the sunshine, I volunteer, "I guess the trick is continually to be aware of the whole window frame of oneself in the first place, isn't it? Ha! It would be good to remember to always look into others that way too."

"Ah! But others could always draw their blinds," smiles the man, his long face appearing sad. "Others do draw the blinds."

I look for a point of intimacy. "Blinds. Yeah. Say, Ian, I knew this old guy, a Meneer Venster. Ha! 'Venster,' it means 'a window,' you know. This old guy thought he saw clearly, but he sure pulled a blind one on me, poor fellow."

His chin rises. "Why 'poor fellow'?"

Suddenly I feel too close to revealing my headlong purpose; to revealing that I'm actually AWOL. I cannot afford to be stopped now! I have to hitchhike to the Cape, stowaway on a ship or work my passage if I can, but I have to...

"Why 'poor fellow'?"

"Ah... his intentions were good."

Ian grimaces. "Intentions, without insight, I think, are like a pecking chicken found suddenly without a head. Perk-perk. Flapping about. Ha! What'd he do?"

Somehow, I now recall George, the old goose of my childhood. Do we all get caught in the end? I become progressively uncomfortable. "Oh, nothing... he just thought he'd be helping me out, when in fact he precipit..., provided that doomed chicken its own ax! Ha!"

Ian grimaces, then, "Yeah," he sighs.

I keep my eyes on the road. "So?" I venture, "Someone had an ax to grind while you were too close?"

"Ha! Happens to all of us." He smiles with blue eyes, dips his head, and volleys back. "You?"

Again, I feel disconcerted. I'm aware that this gentle-talking man will easily pull my story from me; there is something of the seeker in him, the mentor, the consoler, the intimate. I fob him off with: "Me? Nah. Too busy getting out of the way! Ha! That's my motto: always get out of the way!"

"Getting out of the way, eh? Yes. Yes. So? That's what you're doing now?"

I nod.

"Want to tell me about it?"

"No! No. Thanks. Not yet. Maybe you'll read about it sometime. I'm think I'm going to write about it... someday."

He focuses on the road intently, and then says, "Promise."

"Promise what?"

"That you'll write."

I swallow. "I promise."

"O.K. So? I'm only going as far as Bredarsdorp. You?"

"Bredars..." Images of the nearby Air Force base overwhelm me. I cannot afford to have anyone who'd perhaps served with me in some capacity or other recognize me; I've got to get outta here!

Ian adds, "Or is that too far off the beaten track?"

"Oh! Well, thanks. I'd like to be dropped off at Swellendam then. I'm going to Stellenbosch. You know; the university and all that. I'm a student." I lie.

He looks quickly at me. "Great. Well, not much further."

We fall silent.

At our parting Ian says, "Adam. Look. Here's my address. Calgary. Write sometime."

"I promise," I say, again. And then he is gone, the sun glinting brightly off the back window of the hurrying Toyota.

Now let's get outta here, I keep hoping, as I set to flagging down passing cars. I gotta get outta here!

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Hole in The Whole (from a chapter of my novel)

                                                                        [photo courtesy of Justin Neway]

A boarding house friend's borrowed front wheel now on my bike, my old flat one tucked under my left arm, the spanner in my pocket, I pedal hastily through the lamp-lit streets. Only the moon peers at me occasionally from between buildings, or as I round a corner. At my feet the old stars of the reflector strips whirl and whirl until I come at last to the familiar wire-fence surrounding the Kimberley Big Hole, locate the old crawlspace that we boys have used since making it over three years ago, and stop.

Quickly, I exchange the front wheels and hide the borrowed one behind a big clump of prickly cactus, obscene in the silvery light. Then I push the bike closer to the wire fence that surrounds the giant crater, hoist the handlebars to a cling over the top barb-wired strands, and let it hang.

Next, I slide on my sweat-soaked back through the tight wire-gap. Carefully, I keep the old rusty slice-sharp prongs away from my face. Ha! I care. I still care! Given my plan, the subconscious one surfacing from within me, it is strange to care anymore. On the rusty wire, wobbling and jangling like a skeletal curve-horned buck, the bicycle and its reflectors blink. I shoulder and buttock and heel at the ground, then I’m through.

The diamond patterns in the criss-cross wire fence serve for toeholds as I climb to reach the handlebars. Then, as savage as a leopard at a deer, I tug. It's stuck! I try to wrench the contortions of the contraption up and over but it pulls heavily, then sticks tight, its saddle caught. I growl, clench tightly, and throwing my whole weight downwards, kick with my feet at the fence and wrangle at the writhing cycle until there is a sudden tearing sound as the spiked wire rips through the seat-leather, and the whole thing comes free, too instantly, and I fall with it nearly atop me in a loud clatter, its pedal-strips spinning brightly.

A dog at the houses on the other side of the road sets up a noisy alarm.

I grab up the bike up and scoot off with it into the deeper shadows of the humped and hardened mine dumps. But there is no sign of pursuit. I push the bike further through the soft gray-blue sand and the rubble alongside the ragged lip of the dark-throated crater. And I grit my teeth; the now dead boy who'd stolen it from me had pushed the thing just like this; and it had got him back! Thrown him into the path of a car. I just have to get rid of it!

At the edge of the pit I pause. The Big Hole gapes grimly. In the moonlight the cliffs at my feet descend and descend, then slope off in a shelf, before slicing straight down again. Like a rock-hewn funnel, the pit is more than a thousand feet deep, by more than a mile or so across. The black earthen humps around it can hardly account for the volumes of soil that had once been excavated. At the bottom is this great silvery gray-green lake, bound in by sheer rock, yet perhaps no more than an aggregation of scummy water collected over the decades. Some spindly looking trees clutch to the slopes here and there, like the sickly shadows of so many desperately clinging men. The projection of the slope below me is the problem; I need a free fall.

I loosen the knot of my school tie, and then shove the bike onward, alongside the lip of precipice, until I reach the distinct prominence that the other boys and I have at times stood on as the only likely platform from which to hurl stones all the way to the bottom.

Even now, as I take up and hurl a fist-sized rock into the blackness of the void and listen for the distantly muted, plop, I catch myself briefly wondering about the old problem. On the formula of speed-equals-distance-over-time, we’d tried to work out the depth by counting out the seconds as we listened for the splash. But always, the answers would vary, although we know the museum records to reflect the average depth at 1,335 feet.

I put down the bike, fasten the tail end of my school tie to the front rim, double-knot the wide end as a hand-grip for me, and then stand up. “Here we go, old friend,” I breathe at last, and feel tears run down my cheeks.

Dragging it first even closer to the edge, I begin ever faster sliding the bike round and around in the dirt, before it becomes airborne, and holding tight and whirling in the dust, I finally feel its centrifugal force take over, and I let go.

The bike sails flatly away from me and over the edge and into the blackness. As brief as flitting fireflies the spokes twinkle, and the pedals sparkle, and then the thing is swallowed down deep. I listen, it seems forever, for the expected splash. And just when I think that I’ll have to return in daylight to find some way of dislodging it from a shrub, or the face of the lower slope, I hear a faint gargling swallow echoing up from the well of that great dark throat. Hau!

“Eyah!” I scream back, loud and raw and ragged, so that it resounds over and over from the bowels of the cauldron. “Eyah; Eyah; Eyah!”

But it gives me little release.

I sit down on the rockledge over the darkly yawning abyss. Thick black silence issues in almost palpable densities from below. Away in the distance the dog still yaps unendingly. Above me is the leaden night, like a broad smudge of gray paint holding the beleagured moon up against the face of the universe.

Why not jump too?

I blink. And shiver. And need to stand. And struggle to rise on stiffened joints and aching muscles, and suddenly wobble and tip toward the gulping void.

“Whuh-ha!” I sit down quickly, and dig into the earth with my fingertips, my heart thumping. Then I laugh out loud at my own foolishness. Eyah! I very much want to stay alive!

I shake my head. The thing is over. But why do I not feel free?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sufficient Unto the Moment

We stand in stasis at our own peril. That’s what Sam does. He stands perfectly still; been doing so for years. A fairly ordinary looking man, except that he’s bronzed by time and stature, Sam stands permanently at the railing of a boardwalk that woodenly rattles at the rest of us on our way over the Victoria pond. Sam is not his real name, it’s Roy, but I call him Sam. He looks so serenely meditative that I’m sure he’d not mind, even if he were not a statue, for the sculptor has him captivated in a stasis not only of immobility, but of reflection for the rest of his years.
Sam’s stance has him leaning on the railing, most naturally. The pigeons leave their goo on him. The rain must wash it off. People pass by, and some spare him no glance; others will stop and talk around him, about him, poke him, prod him, even write on him, but I doubt that many speak to him. And I doubt even more that people stop and stay to listen to what he has to say. Or is that, to hear what he has to mean?

Sam’s very immobility is the art with which he lives. Arresting, arrested, the kindness of his face beaming out over the pond, Sam has no judgement, no censure, no expectations, and no defensiveness in play. He’ll listen to whatever one has to say, and he’ll appear to sympathize, to empathize, to hear, or at least to give back whatever projection one may ascribe to such a one as Sam. It is quite possible he may even only be pretending to hear, as trapped in his own thoughts as he is, but that too is the way of Sam.

It does strike me as selfish, this stance of Sam’s. He has no responsibility other than to himself. He has no obligations. He need not even make choices. He need not shift, move, decide, look left or right, nor even so much as take a seat; Sam stands in stasis, ready only to receive, and ready to give back whatever one may presume, assume, glean, garner, or perceive of him. But to demands he is immobile. One cannot threaten, cajole, bribe or jibe him into a response. Sam stands inviolate, at least, in his inner core. There are about him the markings of the rude, the crude, the lewd. There are about him the detritus of the uncaring, the messy, the selfish. And still, Sam stands and watches it all.

We stand in stasis at our own peril. But not Sam. Whenever I pass him, or even think of him, I wonder if he’s that much wiser for having so stuck himself to one spot that he, frozen in the moment, has extended that moment of presence to the full meaning of his lifetime, which, given Sam’s very stasis, is bound to outlive us all. And then again, I wonder if Sam is not a metaphor for the moments in all of us, caught up like photographs and extended into the multi-dimensionality of time and space; a moment in the now when everything that we are, have been, and will be, is sufficient entirely unto the moment.
Next time, Sam, I’ll stop and try to listen to what it is that you mean. And, now that I’ve given you this much thought, I’m resolved to calling you Roy, the name by which you go. In the meantime, stay well.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


“No value to me.” That’s what he said as I approached with my store of the steps I’d taken to reach him. He sat stolid, immovable. We once had been boys together; toiled side by side at lessons, books, on the playing fields, and under the masters. And now, he on his pinnacle of immutability, his right to make decisions for himself, his private reasons for disassociation, or even his ineluctable intractability brought out not necessarily by his own wants but by the dictates of his purveyance, his vocation, his location, gives him licence to be dismissive? Would that he said something of regret, but, “no value”?

Obligation is an awful feeling. We are each obliged to be at the meeting place, the crossroads, the bifurcation point, the intersection, the wedding of time and space; it is incumbent upon being human, a necessity of being part of the whole. But obligation engenders in us a different reaction to that of an accidental meeting; it requires of us a conscious presence however unconscious we may prefer in the moment to be. For it is a degree of consciousness that has us evaluating and judging and approving and disliking the moment sufficient to feel obliged in the first place. So we despise the family gathering, the birthday party, the celebration of precepts and concepts and concomitance that is not of our own accord. Obligation takes the ‘me’ of the moment and requires my ego to be sublimated to the needs of others. Moreover, it often dictates that I come attired in garb uncomfortable, unusual, or unnecessary to my everyday practice. Obligation expects if not demands the monetary contribution, the gift, the bottle of wine, the card, the smile, the pretence, the in-authenticity of chatter and light-hearted matter and polite but inane pleasantries that skim the surface of time and space. Yes, obligation is awful; until I care.

In caring I loose the sense of me to the welfare of others. In caring I loose the interest in myself to an interest in others. I do not lose! In caring I find myself entertained, invigorated, freed, and connected. And so the obligation of the event of our meeting becomes not about me, but about the other. That Christmas gathering, that birthday party, that graduation event, that office meeting, that forty year reunion; they all become part of the vicissitudes of valuing life as it is, as it was, as it will be. Caring practices integration, meta-cognition, giving.

We bring the past to each other cupped in our hearts as a thing of unique value to ourselves, for apart from the commonalities of being human, the marriage, the job, the children, the hopes and dreams, we each have a story of the whole that no other can have fully seen. And we bring the present to each other in a spirit of camaraderie, friendship, gratitude for each other’s interest, and a sense of contributing to the care of the whole. It will add to the future, to this meeting, to this offering up of the moment, obliged or not, provided that we care.

As the song might have sung it: “Regrets, I have a few, but then again too many to mention.” Well, at the very least, one may send regrets; but to deem our reunion of no value? A pity.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Deus Ex Machina

We appear suddenly from above. The angel and the alien. We do not see him, for we are tentatively approaching the very top of the steep concrete staircase that descends down to the harbour of Victoria. We are concerned with ourselves, for how do I get down there with my power-chariot? Poised above, we want to go down to be within the gather of throngs where the patient vendors are still at their multiples of stalls, where the colourful tourists wend and wind and stand and walk amongst them on the concrete bulk of the very large U-shape. Within it the yachts and dories and tugs and fish-boats jostle for space at the wharf, their masts and rigging a tangle of spider’s nets to catch at the stray clouds of this sun-lit late afternoon. But from above, caught in the golden patch of light as we are, edged up against the black silhouette of the iron-railing, we can see no way down. In my need of my mechanized chair I am machine bound, machine dependent, and the angel beside me, long blonde hair blowing in the breeze, blue eyes sparkling with anticipation at the wares below, is sorely put to find passage for my descent.

We gesture at the alternatives. On the extreme side of the U, I point out, farthest from us, is a ramp I know we can ascend, or descend, but here? Although these steps are fine for the average person, the normal person, the able person, the enabled being, they’re lethal to me. They’d hurl me off my steed, topple me topsy-turvy and roll my conveyance down after me! And I point at the great height of the close-by wall, where a small concrete courtyard way down to the left of the very steep staircase encloses a single tree, some people smoking, a bench, and… then I see him. He is waving directly at me.

No, not waving. He gesticulates. My glance takes in the hobo. He is brown and soiled and matted and dishevelled and alone on the bench. His face, grey bearded and scarred and crinkled looks up at me, way above, the alien in the machine next to the angel full of light, and he hails me with unintelligible pointing. And I look away. And then I look back, and his arm and hand continues to wave and weave, and even at that distance I see that he is smiling, and that his hand shows me the direction back past me, and then down alongside the inside of that great expanse of wall , as though I may discover a ramp. And then he points behind him, and slightly to one side, and I make out the dark crack in the smooth concrete, and realize it’s an exit or an entrance, depending on where one is at.

And indeed, once I’ve retraced my path, the convenient ramp descends in a steep spiral of some six or seven switchbacks before it emerges suddenly into the courtyard of the tree, and the smokers, and the brown man on the bench. And he even appears slightly startled when I wheel up to him, silent as my mechanical machine is, and I feel myself all clean and showered and scented within the proximity of such a one as he usually is taken to represent. “Very grateful,” I say, with authenticity, “Kind of you! Thanks!” His smile reveals a missing front tooth, a mouth of beige and stains. “Saw ya look-ing,” he explains, and seems pleased that I’d bothered to stop. His eyes then shift; check to see if my hands are moving. They flick to my angel, who now likely appears only human. I look deep into the brown of his pupils. He is surprised; then his eyes look back.
“Go with care,” I smile.

And we continue on our way.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


“Listen to this,” Clive says. He holds the mango-sized rock to my ear and gives the thing a shake, and I hear the unmistakeable gurgle of water. “Trapped,” he explains, his eyes twinkling. His accent like mine, he adds, “Millions of years ago. Try it.” Very carefully I take the rough rock with its crystalline surfaces from his fingers and gently joggle it close to my ear; I hear again the jiggle of water as ancient as all time enclosed within. “Found it while rock-hunting in Africa,” Clive continues, “and no, it’s not a fossilized egg.”

We are used to presumptions. Our brains search for patterns of identification onto which to append new information. Things in isolation, strange new things, can sometimes even startle us. Or fill us with wonder. And the entrapment of the very soul that gives each of us identity we often take for granted. That ancient water in the rock awaits reunification with all water. Its molecules and atoms will disperse from the centuries of its encasement and will transpire, evaporate, dilute, immerse, and otherwise become unidentifiable from what was to what will be. It takes only the shattering of its stasis, its vessel, its cage, its paradigm, its container; so too for each of us.

But no, not me! Oh no, we think. My soul is special. My soul is ancient. My soul will be worked upon and my soul will (or will not) “come back” as A-This or B-That. After all, my soul is housed in this body of my experiences. My soul, like the water in that rock, is individualized and transported beyond the exigencies of time and space and made special by the very name I’ve given it, the passage it’s undergone. While I can accept that my body (as old or young as the case may be) eventually will crumble into the proverbial dust to dust, I cannot accept that my soul so too will transpire, evaporate, dilute, immerse, and otherwise become unidentifiable from what was to what will be. After all, it’s mine!

Mine! Such is the isolation we perpetuate with our ego. What part of an immense water body (or otherwise) was the water within the rock not once a part of? And for it to yearn for release into the ether of All sounds so silly, seems rather anthropomorphic. Yet in the yearning of our souls to be released next as a butterfly, or a dolphin, or a stallion, or how about as the next King or Queen of the world we do not hold ourselves to be zoomorphic, misaligned, misled. We retain our need to go to some heaven. We retain individuality in that heaven. We retain our own sense of attainment and specialness and purpose and direction and even our very record of existence by such ideology. We are by this belief given purpose and direction while we feel our souls juggled within the rock of our being, and we protect and nurture and feed and influence that inner core of ourselves, whether by accident or by intention, toward the day the very rock of ourselves becomes crumbled to a release of the soul. No, we might argue; my soul is not like that water!

Clive has an ancient soul. It has its individual and particularized concomitance of energy with its gentle and conscious understanding that invigorates him beyond the boundaries of his physical age. Clive harbours an eclecticism that allows for preferences and evaluations and complicity and inclusion and integration, yet he knows his boundaries. And when he dies, his soul like mine will join The All. That, for me, is what lies within.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


“Thar she blows!” My companion exclaims. We see the great gray whale’s spout misting high and white against the Canadian blue of Oak Bay, British Columbia. “Wow! She’s really close in!” And hearing this much, I think that perhaps ‘she’ is not a she. Interesting how we give feminine attributes to overtly large things: Mother Nature; Titanic on her Maiden Voyage; the Feminine Mystique. But that whale certainly has caught our attention. For some reason cut off from the pod and staying close to Victoria’s coast, the whale has been sighted for weeks on end by the locals and tourists alike. I’ve spotted it several times now, but have not yet seen the fluke of its tail, nor much of its body, just the great grey-brown slivers of the flesh of itself it sometimes shows above the blue skim of the sea, belying the bulk of what lies beneath.

Our sentences are like that. They emerge out of the mind and carve out a slice of space that gives voice if not meaning to the entirety of our being that lies beneath the single phrase, the sudden utterance. We purse our lips and spout. We blurt. We articulate. We surprise. We obfuscate. We just exist. And we seldom reveal all. We seldom breach the atavistic boundary of the amniotic fluid of our lives. Our need is for sustenance in the sea of mankind’s acceptance for who we are, what we do. It is what keeps our survival intact; emotional, intellectual, physical, or social. To expose our whole selves, there’s the rub.

So we lurk with our true being beneath the surface. Or we shy away. Or we seek solace. Or we aggregate in pods, clans, clusters, hamlets, towns, cities, citizenships and nationality. And our essence is covered in the barnacles of our experience, some of us bearing the cicatrices of our misalignments like the historicity of our rites of passage, with its circumcisions and mutilations of ineluctability or of choice, for even the whale scrapes purposefully at its sides and orifices to get rid of the ever present cling-ons of the parasitic mites that plague at its existence. Such is our scrape and flail at the exigencies of life itself; we are immured in the vicissitudes of other’s intentions, needs, meanings, purpose, and direction. Ineluctably. And we swim along with them, or we get lost.

“That grey whale is lost,” is the standard phrase one overhears. “Shame,” is among the responses. Yes. We have an anthropomorphic attribution toward its state of loneliness. We feel deep in the bone that resonates through the flesh of our hearts that we and it ought to be connected with our kind, to be in communiqué, to be relational. And yet for it to yield up its weight to a lightness of being beyond bone and blubber seems so sad, however natural the process. We interfere. We herd it toward deeper water. We push it toward its element. We goad and prompt and castigate and cajole, but we want for the creature what we want for the soul of each of us, to belong where it belongs, amongst its own kind. Mother Nature’s instinct, we presume, is to nurture. It is not easy to let be what will be.

Yes. A single glimpse of the bulk of it all is what often might stir in most of us the excitement of our presentiments; we seldom take time to have revealed what really lies beneath.