Wednesday, December 18, 2013


There is the theory Robin Henig (Twentysomething) proposes that what people tend to regret most when they look back on their lives, are not the regrets of commission – the things they did, but rather the regrets of omission -- the things they did not.

In my life so far, I do have certain regrets.  On my passions, I did not work hard enough.

Since my high school days I have longed to be a free-lance writer.  When I attended university I was an English major.  I loved poems; I loved plays; I loved essays; I loved novels.  I loved Lord Jim!

When I graduated from university I became a high school English teacher, and I loved that.  I loved teaching poetry, plays, essays, and novels.  I wore sports jackets over t-shirts along with blue jeans and black polished work boots.  I shaved every second or third day, had longer hair and looked to be the cool and hip stereotypical academic. I loved it but … teaching is not writing.  (Nebbishly over the years I’ve scribed some words for pay, a few magazine articles, a couple books, and that’s about it.

FACT:  I am not a professional free-lance writer because I AM AFRAID OF THE DARK.  I have never had gumption enough to quit my phony-baloney jobs to pursue a career in writing.  

Since my middle-aged years I have longed to be a folk singer-songwriter.  I’ve been in several bands and have actually performed hundreds of gigs.  I have never gone solo as a folk singer-songwriter.  I began as a mediocre singer in a mediocre cover band, Sharie and the Shades.  We did several gigs; we were even on television!  Sharie and the Shades faded.  The bass player and lead guitarist exerted somewhat selfish controls, excluding other band members in the process. The dissent among the band members rose, and Sharie and the Shades dis-banded (pun intended).  Two of the dissenters set up another band, the GRAND TRUNK TROUBADOURS (GTT).   From the get-go, the GTT decided to be a community service band.  There have been differences but the band plays on.  The GTT has been entertaining on a weekly basis for over a decade.

I’ve written a hundred songs over the last ten years, performing not a one in public – save for busking.  I’m getting closer to become a folk singer-songwriter, having my first gig of original materials come this spring, with my friend, Darren, another singer-songwriter.

FACT:  I am not a professional singer-songwriter because I AM AFRAID OF THE DARK.  I’ve had ample time to get songs ready, just never the gumption to go solo on a performance.

I do regret not living permanently in any of my favorite places. When I was young I headed west to the mountains and worked pipelines.  I worked at the Noranda Goldstream mine, just north of Revelstoke, British Columbia.  I stayed in camp, drank and played poker with the guys, and shouted at the bears to go away when out peeing in the darkness.  I worked in the valley of the Coquihalla and Coldwater rivers , east of Hope, British Columbia, below the old Kettle Creek Railway bed, for MacWilliam, Whyte, Gobal and Associates.  We used to grab berries right off the branches and wash them down with water right from the river.  One winter I worked at Rainbow Lake in the North West Territories.  I have never been so cold.

Traveling and working around Alberta and British Columbia, I fell in love with two cities, Banff and Penticton.  Banff, situated in the Canadian Rockies is absolutely beautiful.  Penticton, situated in the heart of the Okanagan, too, is absolutely beautiful.  Banff seems European and Penticton seems Californian.

FACT:  I do not live in either Banff, Alberta or Penticton, British Columbia because I AM AFRAID OF THE DARK.  I’ve never had the gumption to just pack up my family and go.

I AM AFRAID OF THE DARK.  I am afraid to go into the unforeseen.  I have been afraid to abdicate the known. 

Common sense would dictate that I would not go into the dark unless I would have prepared myself.  I could have applied for jobs for which I knew I had the capabilities.  I could have only stumbled in the dark until I discovered the light switch of adventure and confidence.    

I could have been on the qui vive.  I could have split from the pedestrian peloton. I could have been that guy living at a ski resort.  I could have been that guy who skis only on sunshine days, and plays pool on the dark ones. I could have been that guy who strums guitar and sings folk songs in the evening lounges.  I COULD HAVE BEEN THAT GUY, BUT I’M NOT.  I USED TO BE ADONIS – NOW I AM AGED.

FACT:  In 1400 A.D. Chaucer died ... but not before retracting his irreverent and ribbald tales.  (He was AFRAID there just might be a HELL.)  Dear reader, this last bit is not at all a retraction.  In my imaginary alternative histories I could very well have been doing lots of different things in different places.  And even in my present imaginings, my behaviors are sometimes contrary to what they actually are.  Anyone who can do whatever he wants anytime he wants would be considered, at the very least, SELFISH.  As for real life awakenings, other priorities take over those that are personal.  I am talking children, career, and common sense.  I am talking about moving from SELFISH to SELFLESS.

Life, for me, has been copacetic, certainly not as lugubrious as I’ve presented. Being a busker helps me gloze over my past regrets.  Being a busker I am not so much benighted as I was in my youth.  

And being a busker … I am not so much … 

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