The Spur

"He/she was born to ........" (fill in the blank with the appropriate words). It might be any number of things ? run, sing, play hockey, write poetry, act on a stage, administer a large company, serve in the military, police a small town, run a small business, care for a family, etc. etc. etc. Many of us spend our lifetimes trying to discover what the words in the blank space should be. We switch jobs every few years, not because there is something better to go to, but because we're bored with what we're doing. When we fail to discover what we're born to do, the grass always looks greener in someone else's back yard. Some of us never do discover those few words that describe the niche where we belong. Many are just concerned with trying to "make a living." We have to eat, afford a decent place to live, buy the clothes and other necessities that we need. Concern about what we were born to do tends to fade quickly as we face the cold realities of life.

I was on a plane somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean when I had the first dream. As most dreams are, it was confusing, full of images and scraps of sound that, though vivid and realistic were disjointed and without logical sequence. I had another similar dream on the bus taking me to my hometown back in Canada, then another on the train north, taking me to the isolated fishing lodge where I was to work for the summer. The dreams were full of foreign scenes ? orange-tiled roofs and dark-skinned children from Spain, cheese shops and narrow streets from France, soaring mountains and towering cathedrals from Switzerland.

The trip from Lisbon to my destination in northern Ontario took about 36 hours. By the time I arrived I was disoriented, but had no time to think about it. I went to work immediately and didn't have a chance to relax until later that day when I went for a swim. Floating on a small raft, I soon was dozing in the warm sun. Again, dreams filled my mind with disorienting images and sounds. Then my foot slipped off the raft into the icy water. I woke with a start, staring at a landscape that shocked me. There were no red-tiled roofs or foreign languages, no Gothic cathedrals or cobblestone streets. My eyes opened to rugged cliffs and swaying pines. I knew I was not in Spain, but where was I? Then I realized, "Oh. Canada. I'm home." Home - the place where I was safe, where everything was familiar ? the landscape, the culture, the language.

How many times this week has someone asked, "How are you?" How many times have you answered, "Fine, but busy." It has become my standard answer these days and sometimes that bothers me.

There's a familiar story in the Bible that many point to when we talk about the hazards of being too busy. It takes place at the height of Jesus? ministry on earth. He was travelling about the country with an entourage ? twelve disciples and a crowd of hangers-on. He often stopped in a place called Bethany, where two sisters opened their home to him and made him welcome. It's in the home of Mary and Martha that this scene occurs.

I had to flick that tiny switch on the wall this morning. The one we here in Alberta forget about for a few months, from June to August, if we're lucky - the thermostat ? that wonderful regulator of indoor temperature. We have an automatic kind. I knew it was cold this morning when I heard the furnace rumble about six a.m. I guess this means summer is over.

Driving long distances alone has never been my favourite thing to do, but sometimes it has its benefits. I can sit alone with my own thoughts, giving me time to sort out things that have been on my mind. Short stories have been virtually written between here and Calgary. Essays and speeches have been fine-tuned. Sometimes it's nice to just turn the dial on the radio and find something worth listening to. I drove to Calgary early this past Wednesday and decided to see what the airwaves had to offer.

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