A lot of folks seem to be under the impression that Canadians say 'eh' a lot eh. I suppose that could have some credibility if you spell out the word 'Canada'. It would go like this: C 'eh' N 'eh' D 'eh' Well how about that eh!
So there I was in Vancouver. First thing to remember was that traffic proceeds on the right side of the road. Always a good idea to be wary of the way vehicles travel when you decide to cross the road. So focused with that thought I ventured out for a stroll. Safety first is the key to any trek out.
Walking along the sidewalk I tripped on the curb (kerb), slipped on a diaper, fell into the parking lot, spilt my potato chips into a puddle of gasoline, bumped into a tire (tyre) and nearly broke my cell phone. Ofcourse the preceding sentence was a load of garbage, that didn't really happen, but it does illustrate some of the differences in the way the English language is used in North America.
When it comes to differences, the difference in me from the last time I visited Vancouver was immense. When I last journeyed there, in October 2005, I was a shattered man, mentally and physically. My overwhelming illness was plainly and painfully obvious. Years of negative situations had almost destoyed the last remnants of my sanity.
That trip in October 2005 was the catalyst in my own personal road to some semblance of recovery. I so desperately wanted to get better for my family, my friends from the past, and for the sake of my own mental health wellbeing. That trip was the turning point in my life. Realising that I had a choice, I chose to seek positive alternatives. Why should I let a negative environment dictate my life? I went back to England determined to distance myself from factors that had undermined my right to happiness.
During the next two and a half years, I made a commitment to become active, to pursue positive possibilities. I challenged my anxiety and got involved with people and Organisations that revealed a great power, the remarkable power of empathy. Finally, after many years of personal torment, I embraced positive options. I met people who genuinely cared, I like to think that I demonstated my own sincere kindness in return. At long last, I was a part of something special.
May 2008, I returned to Vancouver revitalised. Yes I still had great anxiety, yet I knew that inner resolve would master unrealistic sensations of panic. The first big challenge was to have the courage and order something at McDonald's. (Some might say ordering and eating food at McDonald's takes courage anyway). In 2005, I was too scared to go in and order. Some irrational fear prevented me from having the 'audacity' to 'bother' the staff. This time, I found the courage to go in and place and order. "That comes to $6.92, have a good day." Said the dude behind the counter. Wow, I did it, a triumph in confronting my bizarre anxiety issues.
Now I was ready to face my next anxiety test. I was ready to go on public transport in Vancouver. This involved getting familiarised with a method quite different from what I was used to in Stoke. In Vancouver, you are required to put a transit card into a machine. I panicked over the thought of putting the card in the wrong way. If I did that, would the people on the bus laugh at me? Would the driver kick me off the bus for being such an idiot? Well I did put the bloody card in the wrong way, luckily the driver just smiled and indicated the correct method. Phew! No public humiliation and I used what works best for me. I had a good laugh with the driver. "You'll have to excuse me, I'm a bus virgin!" The lady driver responded: "There you go." This exchange of pleasantries was significant, last time in Vancouver, I was too scared to joke about.
Somehow I knew that this adventure in Canada was going to be thought provoking, highly emotional and of tremendous benefit to my ongoing progress towards an even better life. As the trip unfolded the experiences were even more profound than I would ever had dreamed. In my next blog, I shall tell a story of great human courage and resilience in the face of adversity.
So you might now have the impression that Canadians say 'eh' a lot eh? Well, what can I say eh? Oh yeah...how's it goin' eh?