Names have been changed to protect identity.

I met Ali at a youth community center.  He was running film making workshops and I was doing some creative arts workshops.  Both of us were targeting youth at risk.  He was needing some help to get his NGO off the ground.  I was working for two other NGOs at the time and volunteered to help him.

I was at every project watching him work.  He was always focused and passionate about what he did.  His wife suppported him in every aspect and her voice seemed to be the only one that he would listen to if his passion was taking him away and she felt he needed to come back to the present moment.

I feel, and this is my opinion only, that he seemed inattentive to his two sons.  One of them liked making films and I feel he identified with him more but still his mind was on creating a picture for a message.  Ali was so involved he could not see past his art.  He lived and breathed it. He was very gentle with his family.  Not a yeller.  Always kind but you could tell his mind was busy creating something all the time.

I left the NGO world to enter the world of the public service.  Which means to say, I took a government job with more money. Then I left the government job to find myself.  In the process I found Ali.  We stopped and had lunch together and I found myself asking him a hundred questions about how he knew he loved the arts and how he persisted through it.

He told me that as soon as a photo camera had fallen into his hands he knew.  He took pictures of everything and became the elementary school newspaper boy although there was no newspaper.  He posted all his pictures and writings up on the hall of his school in the middle east.  He tells me about this with such depth.  I feel nothing could have stopped him.  Not only did he need to take pictures and write about events, he also needed to share it.  It was a force or energy working through him and could not be stopped.

Out of school hours he sold potatoes on the street corner for money to buy black out material to make a dark room in his childhood home.  A young boy at this time, his parents saw that he was different than the rest of him but they never prevented him from doing what he wanted.  They gave him a room to convert to a dark room.  (How many of us would do that?)  He tells stories of him and neighbourhood kids running down his street with building materials.  I was impressed, but not surprised, at how he recruited others to work towards his campaign.  I too had been swept up in his passion.  It is not just his art but his ideals that are appealing to me.

Highschool continued his passion.  He took photographs and wrote stories for the school.  His ideals becoming more grown up and clear.  He was someone with strong socialist beliefs and it was clear that he was going to have to leave his country.  He was on opposite ends of the government of the time.

He came to Canada and stumbled on the opportunity to work in graphic design and then film.  Always trying to portray a higher message with his art.  Even how his story ‘stumbled’ together is by a design that one could not have planned but came so easily.  While he talks I think life takes us on a journey.  We ask and the pieces fit together if we believe.  And Ali believes.  It never seemed to come to his mind to question what he was after.  He moves towards it like he is absolutely sure-footed in every step.

His art eventually moving him from Ontario to Saskatatchewan this is where I met him.  Both of us trying to get youth to become themselves and giving them opportunities to explore who they are free of charge.  His opportunity is one allowing them to speak out.

As we talked I sensed he was getting anxious to move back into the arts.  He has been teaching at the university for some time and really wants to create art again.

I ask him about his sibling and parents.  I recall him being distant with his own children and wondered if he was like that as a child.  He describes the same story.  He feels he was always off doing his own thing and never felt he got to know them. He also never saw them again after he left at the age of 18.  He is now in his 50’s.  His father has since passed on.

We go our separate ways but I wonder if he still has a message to get out to the world?  Or has he already?  There were a few youth that made films and won awards at Film Festivals under his inspiration.  Maybe he is meant to inspire many people or maybe just one.  Maybe he was meant to meet up with me so I could tell his story and it would impact someone else.  Or does he need to create a masterpiece film?  It doesn’t matter if it won’t make him famous.  He just needs one person to see it to make a difference.  I wonder, what is his life purpose?  Just doing art or is it a message?  Or perhaps it is a change in society even if the shift is ever so slight.  We move with small adjustments and not big ones.

Surely his purpose is in the arts or at the very least it is his medium.  He has a message to bring and I do believe he wants to bring it internationally through the arts.  I don’t think he is done yet.  He wants to make a difference.  With his focus and determination I do believe he can do it. I don’t think anything can stop him.  Do we know when we have accomplished what we are suppose to accomplish?  Do we sit back and say, “This is it.  This is as good as I will ever say/do/be what I came here to say/do/be.”   Will it be a feeling inside us of fulfilment?


The Scheme of Things – Introduction

The Scheme of Things is about discovering and understanding life.  My current mission is to understanding the concept of life-purpose.  This part of my blog, or website, will share other people’s stories and my biased thoughts of them.  Feel free to share any comments or thoughts on the subject matter.  The more feedback the better.

A Bit of Sunlight

“At home I felt like a used cat toy that was ripped apart but expected to keep giving. I was not valued. I was not consulted on many decisions. I couldn’t even boil water at the right temperature without being told I was doing it wrong. I doubted many of my decision that I did make. I had to ask for validation for many things, “Could I go to the bathroom now or would it be better to wait until Teela was distracted?”

My home life was the complete opposite of my work life. There was no team work, no support, no appreciation. I had to do everything while all of them got to sit at the computer and/or watch TV. Did no one even notice I was evaporating?

Despite being respected at work and feeling ripped apart and broken at home I knew the answers for my anxiousness and disrupted self were at home. I wanted to take the time to make sense of my home life and find a balance. I would never find the answers to my problems in a place that wasn’t right for me. Home was where I wanted to be despite it sucking the life out of me.”

The “place that wasn’t right for me” was my job as an academic coordinator.  I loved my job but I felt like a fraud.  I was always pretending to be something that I wasn’t.  While I held this position, and the positions that led to this position, I felt I was watching me wobble around in high heal shoes.  Finally I fell from those heals.  What a relief my disguise is over.

Have any of you ever felt as though you were in a job or place that wasn’t quite right for you?

Crazy Or Not?

I have been thinking about those crazy moments where everyone in your life tells you to not do something yet you feel compelled to go ahead with it anyway.

Maybe you are dating someone and everyone tells you to leave him or her. Or perhaps you want to move back to your old home town where there is nothing. You feel compelled to move forward with your crazy schemes yet those closest to you say don’t do it.

Maybe you make a career choice that is a bit of leap. Once again, friends and family expressed concerns.

When is your idea or desire genius and you need to break free from the group and when is it crazy and you should follow your friends? Can you tell the difference beforehand or is it your journey regardless of it being a good or bad decision, perhaps you have some karmic lesson to learn from the decision or action?


The Golden Age

I am driving the car doing my best to appear invisible.  I am listening to my fourteen year old daughter Emily, whom I unschool, talk to her friend Risa who attends the local public school. They are planning their future, well, more so Risa. She seems concerned about her future more than Emily. Since my journey in Sunlight I am fascinated with how people figure out what they are going to do for a career, how they are finding and living their purpose. The social, institutional and parental pressures that our on our youth as they feel they need to plan the rest of their lives by the age of eighteen. The golden age.

I listened Risa tell Emily that when she was choosing her electives she was not able to take what she wanted, home economics, because her mother felt she needed French. I noticed disappointment in her voice wrapped in a sense of responsibility towards her parents. I see Risa as a pleaser and not someone who would show her parents any disrespect by not taking their advice.

After everything I uncovered about purpose in my book Sunlight, finding yourself and living your life seems very important. Those feelings of being lost and pleasing others can grow and be so overwhelming. It can spiral out of control leading to depression and health issues. It saddens and frustrates me to see yout not taking a path that interests them now due to so much pressure out there.

“Do you know what you want to do after high school?” Risa asks Emily. I turn to look at Emily because I am curious to know her answer. Then I think, here I am putting indirect pressure on Em simply by looking at her waiting for answer.  Like the answer to this question matters right now.  Does it? I wonder. No, I don’t think so.  Emily has just begun her exploration of herself since we pulled her out of public school at the beginning of the school year.  Emily is still a bit raw, a baby exploring her craft and herself.

“No …” says Emily with a bit of curiousness in her voice and a smirk on her lips. I wonder what that is about? I know she is aware of what her passions are but not sure where to take them yet or what to do with them.

Risa seems more tense about the issue of picking classes now, entering her Grade Ten year.  Decisions that could impact the rest of her life.  Oh the weight we put on these decisions.  Weight that comes from institutions and society wanting the best, wealthiest, people out there.  Tension and doubts rest in her thoughts about making the right choices. Choices that seem so big and overwhelming that often one looks outside of themselves for answers when really, anyone outside of the seeker can only give guidance.  I guess that is what Risa’s mom is doing.

How many of you got close to your dreams when you were planning your classes and future in senior high? Any classes you wish you took or are thankful your parents talked you out of?