Friday 25 April 2008

Hermit on Holiday.

The other day someone asked me how are things. I replied that I was on the verge of becoming a virtual recluse, yet again. They jokingly responded: "Well that's an improvement." You know what? Even though the remark was made in jest, there was some credibility in their statement. For being a virtual recluse is my way of progressing from being a total recluse.
I do challenge my hermit-like state. So boy oh boy, am I ever challenging it now. For I am about to embark on one heck of a huge irony. For someone who struggles to go outside and face the world; what I'm about to do confronts my uncomfortable 'comfort zone', big time.
I am off on a paradoxical journey that will question all my fears. I fear being out there amongst the hectic sea of humanity. I fear being caught out and confirming my overwhelming sense of stupidity. I fear my negative thoughts will undermine the optimistic progress that I have achieved over the last year. I must have the courage to no longer have a negative environment created by others and compounded by me, sabotage my chance to relax and have some fun.
So I will say goodbye to the four walls that have dominated my life. I shall bid farewell to the 'deafening' silence that dominates my life. Out the front door I shall go, determined to head to Manchester airport and take that plane to Vancouver.
I go back to Vancouver a changed man. The man who returns to Canada has experienced many years of tremendous emotional upheaval and pain. I will see my family and dear friends from the past. I hope that through all my turmoil, they see beyond the pain and confusion. Under all those layers is the guy they remember. Although humbled by my mental illness, I firmly believe, that through my humility, they will observe a strong, resilient character.
Friday May 2nd, Klahanie will be the 'recluse on the loose'. Transported back to my other world in Canada, a world full of memories of deep sadness and euphoric happiness. Life's situations have taken their toll on me but I will never give up. What I do now is testimony to the undaunted nature of the human spirit. I have a choice, I choose to give myself the opportunity to live life. So to hell with my fears, I hold my head high and prepare myself for an adventure. Hermit on holiday...that's me.

Friday 11 April 2008

'Teenanger', 'Teenangel'.

We had a signicant event occur at the 'Klahanie' household the other day. My teenage son, bless the 'well ace' dude, actually found the 'on' switch to the vacuum cleaner. No wait, it gets better. Not only did he find the on switch, he proceeded to push the button and began to vacuum his room. Stunned, I rushed towards a chair. Good thing, because if I hadn't, I know I probably would have found myself slumped on the floor checking out my carpet.
Talking to my teenage son, I often say the following. "Hi son, how are you?" On a good day he may respond with a "grunt!" I must appreciate to acknowledge the 'old man' takes a considerable amount of effort. I mean, how dare I? What is how 'he's doing' got to do with me? I must realise that my concern for his wellbeing may be construed as the old guy being nosey.
On a thoroughly exceptional day, perhaps in a moment of weakness, my teenage son inquires of me: .."are you okay Dad?" Now the rules change and I respond to his question. Being ever mindful of my reaction, I reply (well usually) in a way that does not upset him. No I don't say: "You're asking me if I'm okay? Is there something wrong with you?" No that could possibly cause him to get right pissed off. So being such a wonderful Dad? I resist silly temptation and normally say: "Im fine thanks..and you?" "Grunt" he replies. Doh!
I have learnt to show a bit of interest in my son's achievements. Not too much though, for that borders on showing more interest than is allowed. I have discovered the balance in prasing him without embarrassing him. It is better to acknowledge his accomplishments, just a little bit, than be totally oblivious to his hopes and dreams. I try to maintain a happy medium in my home. Not always easy, but those special moments when teenage son wants to chat with his old man makes it all worthwhile.
My son's room is a 'no go area' for an old dude like me. It is pretty surrreal to think that there is his room just a few feet away from me. Yet dare I even have the audacity to enter his room? No bloody chance! However, I had a look in his 'tip', I mean bedroom. Did I sneak in when he was out? Well no. What I did was go on to Youtube and typed in his 'secret' nickname..lo and behold, there was his room! I think maybe, I should have not gone on to Youtube...but hey, he has some very interesting posters! What a nosey old git I am.
Ofcourse, I was a well-behaved, polite teenager. I'm sure my family would vouch for that? No, I was a teenager struggling with the realisation of leaving childhood and becoming a man. The teenage years are a complex, confusing time. I'm kinda' still a bit of a teenager at heart. My life is complex, when I desperately wanted simple. My world is confusing, when all I desired was a straightforward path. So to my teenage son, I do my best to understand and be there when you need me. "Hi son how are you?" "Grunt!" Doh!

Thursday 3 April 2008

A Sporting Chance.

Hello sports fans. Check out the dude in the photograph above. In high school that guy pictured was labelled as a bit of a 'goof', very much the 'geeky nerd'. He was stereotyped more so on his looks than his personality. I suppose you realise that the young fella' in the picture is me. It is a fresh faced seventeen year old posing for his high school graduation picture. Stigma in life knows many forms.
So based on perceptions, there was no way I was athletically inclined? I mean, guys like me were too busy hanging around the high school library studying up for the next exciting test in science class. So athlete and nerd in the same sentence? Some kind of weird contradiction..or maybe not.
At the start of every physical education class we would do a one mile run. I hung back with the really slow dudes. They were my buddies, we had a right good the back end of the one mile run. One P.E. class I made the following announcement to my pals. "Hey guys, today I'm gonna' try and win the race." So I wont be back here acting silly with you guys." "Yeah right Gary, like you can beat the guy who always wins the race!" "I can but try, I will give it my best effort." was my response.
Week after week, this lad won the race. He not only won the race, he won it by some distance. He was usually a good thirty seconds ahead of everybody in the P.E. class. A good looking guy, the envy of many and adored by the girls. Would this one mile run be any different? Would he, once again, coast to an easy victory?
The P.E. teacher blew his whistle and the race commenced. "See you guys later," I said, somewhat unconvincingly to my mates. Stride for stride, I matched him. He became quite concerned and proceeded to up this pace. As he ran faster, I ran faster. I was determined that he would not shake me off. Somehow, I had to make this my day.
We were on the last lap, just the two of us, way ahead of the rest of the class. The pain in my chest was excruciating, yet I found that last little bit of resolve to give this guy the race of his life. We raced uphill to the finishing line, it was close, oh so very close...
The end result? To the shock and bewilderment of all who had witnessed that event, I, the 'high school nerd', had won the race. My buddies cheered, my P.E. teacher was puzzled and infuriated. "Gary, why have you not put in this effort before?" "Well sir, I just couldn't be bothered. Today I wanted to prove something to myself. Next week, I will be back with my buddies at back of the race."
Not sure why I was like that. I guess I wanted to prove that I could do things on my own terms. I recall that year I had one more surprise for those who labelled me according to their own perceptions. In the high school gymnasium, we had an awards ceremony for people who had mastered various athletic skills. They read out name after name, all the usual suspects were called up to receive their award. Then they called my name and I was presented with a gold medallion for sporting excellence.
I had kept my achievement a big secret. Especially the one where I had broken the high school record for most sit ups in a minute. The gasps from the unsuspecting crowd, gathered that day in the gymnasium, gave me a rather strange sense of delight. Hopefully I demonstrated that you can't judge a person's potential by the way they look.
So I reflect back on those high school days with some fond memories. Okay, the fact I was the athletic 'nerd', did not increase my potential in the 'babe magnet' stakes. Yet I didn't mind because I stayed friends with those dudes at the back of the race. One of them became the best man at my wedding. That friendship was more important than winning some high school P.E. one mile race.