Week 18: Finding the Raven and new heroes

An event I attended at the end of March marked, for me, the beginning of the homestretch of my temporary appointment. It was the raising of a prayer pole and warrior canoe at the Cowichan campus in Duncan, where Megan Joe became my latest hero.

Her grandfather Harold was lead carver on the project: overseeing the pole carving and doing the work alongside a team of carvers on the warrior canoe. They’re very impressive – go see them if you get a chance.

He couldn’t be there for the ceremony, so Megan read his words to the 100 or so people assembled. She was visibly petrified of speaking in public. Shaking and near tears, bolstered by her family and her community, She did it. She stood up there and did it anyway. We patiently waited and listened to Elder Harold’s words spoken through her. She was a brave young woman among all the veterans on that day. I was almost in tears with her.

I wondered if it was simply the age-old fear of public speaking that 90% of the world has, or if there was an added weight on her shoulders to represent her family in place of her grandfather, in front of her whole community. I wanted to go up to her afterwards and tell her what a wonderful job she did, that public speaking gets easier, that it’s good to feel the weight of responsibility, that she’ll grow into it, because she’s got such a strong community behind her.
I was also acutely aware this was one of my last events as a VIU employee, and it made me a little verklempt. I’m a sentimental fool, as anyone close to me knows.

One of the speakers that day explained why the Veterans Prayer pole is Raven. “The shapeshifter – he changes. Warriors must change to go to war. Some of them didn’t change back when they returned.”

April was a blur – the realization that my term here at VIU is ending has spurred a different set of tasks: reports to write, files to hand off, vacations to plan. After my last day here, I’m taking three weeks off, then deciding what direction I want to head next.

I am going to miss this place. I chose to take this job despite the distance from my home and my family, because I knew it would be a tremendous learning opportunity – a chance to shift and change in new and productive ways. I realized that day in Cowichan: I’m always seeking to learn, to grow, to change. I’ll always be touched by new heroes like Megan, and I’ll always be on the lookout for The Raven.

Mystery package

The mystery package that arrived yesterday. It consists of a letter dated February 2000, and pages from a century-old play that was apparently banned. The letter writer exhorts me to “Please keep this safe. You will hold in your hands a piece of history, and it will be your task to show it to the future. You have our thanks.”

Hmmm. I have a spouse who has been known to concoct elaborate puzzles. He is strangely sanguine and coy about the whole thing.

I shall play along and enjoy the ride.

mystery package

Week 11: do your homework

This past year has been nothing if not a lesson in perseverance.

April 9 will mark one year to the day after my knee reconstruction surgery. I had no idea the pain would be that bad, or the recovery would be so difficult.

Spoiler alert: I’ve gotten through it.

Last year at this time, I had naively booked the first meeting with a client to start a contract a week after my planned surgery. I limped around the campus at Simon Fraser University on crutches, bandages still around my swollen knee.

My left leg has come to be known as “Frankenleg” as it is still slightly bigger than my other one.

Weekly physiotherapy also started a week after surgery. (No extended health benefits, that’s why I needed that contract!) I managed to move the leg back and forth on the pedal of a stationary bike for 5 whole minutes. A couple of weeks later, I ditched the crutches for a cane so I could get around easier. The first time I drove Ken’s car (manual transmission) to campus was painful but probably good for recovery.

Each slow step in recovery has been a huge victory for me. From the beginning, I knew I wanted to run again, to hike again. Maybe no more marathons, but perhaps regular 10Ks – I want that triathlon season back – the one I signed up for just before injuring my knee, and had to do as relays instead.

A few weeks ago, I realized this anniversary was looming, and said to Jonathan (my Physiotherapist) – “can I run 5K on April 9 and what do I need to do to get there?”

Complying with that homework has been extremely challenging, what with my schedule of hopping back and forth over the straight between Vancouver and Nanaimo for my current gig. Nevertheless, even with my uneven compliance, on Sunday Ken and I walked/jogged nearly 5 km around False Creek. It is slow, it is not continuous, but every day gets better and better.

I’m well on my way to reaching my goal.