Full Circle

I was 12 when I started my first job. It involved selling popcorn and cokes on a Saturday at the football stadium in Winnipeg. I was excited about the opportunity as I could make some money and also watch the Blue Bombers play.

My job involved carrying around a tray of soft drinks to sell to people watching the game in the stands. When I was almost finished one tray, I asked some of the other kids if I could leave a few of my drinks with them while I got another tray. I only did this because I saw the other young people doing the same thing to maximize their opportunity to make more sales early in the game.

When I came back to get the drinks I’d left, the other kids pretended that they didn’t know what I was talking about so that they could sell these drinks without having to cover any of the costs. When my father picked me up after the game, I had to tell him that I’d made no money as I had to pay the stadium back for the drinks that I’d lost. I’d worked for hours with nothing to show for it. My dad never let me work there again, so my first job only lasted one day.

When I was growing up, I was naïve and overly trusting, but experiences such as the football stadium job helped toughen me up so that I could protect myself from those who might try to take advantage of me in the future. It’s easy to take this toughness too far, though, and become cynical and distrustful of others. Now that I’m in my mid 40s, I’m finding that I need to allow myself to be more vulnerable and trusting of others, as this is a healthier and more fulfilling way to live. Yes, I will be taken advantage of at times and likely hurt by others, but it’s better to assume that people are good and generous than to expect the worse of them.

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Sandwiches

“Sandwiches are beautiful, sandwiches are fine
I like sandwiches, I eat them all the time.”—Fred Penner

This morning we took our children to a Fred Penner concert held at the outdoor stage at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre. It wasn’t as crowded as I expected—probably because it was cold by the lake—but every parent seemed excited to be there, even more so than their children. Many of us grew up with Penner’s music and TV show, so there was a deep appreciation in the audience for his positive influence on our lives.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the concert. After four decades of performing, Penner is still a great musician and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Earlier this year he even won a fourth Juno for his latest album Hear the Music, which we bought after the concert and got him to autograph.

It’s inspiring to observe someone who is so passionate about his profession. Not only is Penner’s music highly entertaining, his songs also help children and adults learn how to better love themselves, others and the world around them.

I have no desire to be a musician, but I do wish to work at something that I’m passionate about and that will enrich the lives of other people. But mostly, I want to have a hundred sandwiches and eat them all at once.

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Faith in Humanity

As much as possible, I try to focus on what is good in the world and to appreciate the generous and thoughtful actions of others. Sometimes, though, it’s hard to understand what motivates people to do the things they do.

For example, today the following happened:

  1. Someone decided to leave a disgusting mess all over the toilet seat in the washroom at work and didn’t even bother to flush. Surely the person must have known that wasn’t appropriate, so why do that in a place you work with others?
  2. A man ahead of me on the sidewalk deliberately tossed a food wrapper on the ground and kept walking without even looking to see if anyone was watching. He was metres away from a garbage container.
  3. I made the mistake of reading the comment sections on some online news sites. There are very few activities that can destroy one’s faith in humanity quicker than reading the online comments submitted by anonymous trolls.

On a positive note, two strangers running by on our street helped us to corner our puppy who had escaped from the house. They didn’t even bother to stop their watches first (that’s a big deal for runners).

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Smash

In Grade 9, I went on a class trip to a camp located near Thunder Bay, Ont. I have many vivid memories from this adventure, such as canoeing across a lake to see a beautiful waterfall, going on my first solo trail run in the woods, and attending a scary séance led by a strange girl who had recently transferred to our school.

On the final night of our stay, we were treated to a raging bonfire that was surrounded by a circle of old cars and trucks. I’m not sure if we were given permission to do this, but at some point in the evening many of us started jumping up and down on the cars and trucks and smashing in the windows and metal frames with large tree branches that been cut down for the fire. This night remains the wildest and most reckless experience of my life.

Now that I’m old and boring, I spend my days focused on protecting and repairing my employer’s brand and reputation. Sometimes I wish I could regain the freedom to simply smash and destroy something large and breakable with complete abandon. Perhaps I should consider changing my hobby from running to home renovation.

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