Category Archives: narrative

What then is Love

What then is love, is the question of the ages, and is asked time and again by philosophers, by the wise, by fools and common man alike. It is on the lips, in the hearts and minds of Kings, courtiers, rich and poor. We dream about it, right poems about it, pine when we are without it, drive our selves crazy when we have it, yet does anyone of us really know what it is?

We all know the Hollywood version, because we have seen it time after time on the silver screen. It goes something like this, boy meets girl, boy wants girl. Boy and girl rip the clothes off each other, spend a torrid night of love, and live happily ever after. Nice gig if you can get it, but for the most of us it is never quite that way, never so cut and dried.

Love is a much deeper mystery than this; at least I believe it is. We’ve all been struck down by the arrows that cupid indiscriminately shoots among the crowd. We’ve all felt that first exhilarating rush of chemicals that starts our hearts beating like a trip hammer, that causes our palms to sweat, that make us invincible, and feel ten feet tall. We promise undying devotion to the dear object of our affection, build castles in the sky, and plan out our lives down to the smallest detail.

For a while we live in the fantasy of our creation, look at our love through rose-coloured glasses, but when the first blush fades, and they no longer measure up to our exacting standards, we fall out of love faster than we fell into it.

We pine, we sulk, we drown our sorrows in alcohol, swear off of love for good, but this only lasts until once more we see a face or some other part of the anatomy that sets us off down the road of heartbreak again. Is love really no more than feelings of lust, the desire to possess, a fleeting obsession, or can it be more these mundane things?

If it is more than these things, then what is it? Let us begin our quest with the authority on so many things, the Bible, and the teachings of Jesus. You may believe He’s the Son of God. You may believe that He was prophet, a teacher or just the son of a humble carpenter; or you may doubt that He ever lived at all.

No matter your opinion of who He was or wasn’t, you can’t deny the wisdom of the words He was supposed to say, because they have stood the test of time. Among the many profound things attributed to Him, is this simple, elegant, eloquent statement, and I paraphrase it a little, “No greater love has anyone than the person who would give up their life for a friend.”

Think about this for a moment, “There is no greater love in the world than the love someone would have by sacrificing their life for just a friend. Profound and thought-provoking words, aren’t they?

As a father of two grown sons, I think I can speak for most parents, if not all, and say that we would give up our lives for our children, without any hesitation at all. I do wonder though, how many couples that believe they are totally devoted to each other would willing die for their partner?

I came face to face with this question when my wife was dying from cancer, when her body was wracked with pain and wasting away before me. It was then I fully understood the words of Christ. It was during that time, I began to understand a little of what love is.

As parents, we will always love our children, no matter what they do, no matter if the never live up to what we expect of them. How many of you who are reading this article can say the same thing about your spouse?

Willy Shakespeare had his two cents to add to the topic of what love is, and I quote, “Let us not admit impediments to the marriage of true minds. Love is not love which alters, when alteration finds. How many relationships have ended when one partner or both wake up one morning, take a close look at their love of twenty some years, and think they never knew them?

Human beings fall in and out of love at the drop of a hat, but how many really ever care to know what love is? How many girlfriends and boyfriends are best friends? For the most part it seems that a woman’s best friend is another woman, and a man’s best friends are his beer buddies.

It is just my opinion, but I believe that in a marriage, a man and wife should be each-others best friend. After all they spend more of their time together than they do with anyone else, at least they should.

Here is another relationship question. How many couples genuinely like each other? This may seem an odd thing to ask, but think about it long and hard. Do you like the person you are married to? Personally I believe that it is just as important, or perhaps more important to like the one you are with as it is to love them.

It is a shame, but true, most people will put up with more crap from a friend than they will from their partner, and many friendships last a lifetime, but many marriages don’t. It is also true that most people like their friends and enjoy spending time with each other, while many married couples can’t stand looking at each other, and get their kicks by provoking fights.

Falling in love is delightful, wonderful and an experience we should all have at least once during our lives, but love is a thing that lingers long after ones partner dies. Love is selfless, more a knowing than a feeling.

As I end this, I have one bit of advice for you dear reader. The next time you fall in love and think about getting married, ask yourself these questions. Do I like this person? Is he, she my friend or are we only boyfriend, girlfriend?  Would I give up my life for this person? If the answer is no, or don’t know for certain to anyone of these questions, then perhaps they aren’t the right one for you.

Kisses are far sweeter
than the nectar
from a honeysuckle vine,
far more intoxicating
then any kind of wine.

Our lover’s gentle touch
sends shivers of ecstasy,
of wondrous anticipation
racing up our spine.

Loves new flames
burn brighter, burn hotter
than the fires of the sun.
Being in love consumes us
with its overwhelming desire.

We give into our needing,
to our hunger for each other.
We build our own world.
We build fairy castles in the sky.

We laugh as we lie,
encompassed by each other’s arms.
and when one of us is hurting,
both of us will cry.

But cruel time passes,
Bright warm flames dim,
until only a few embers glow.

Yet deep, deep within
there is a joyous remembering.
Though our memories fade,
love light still shines bright
in our lover’s eyes.

Love may be quieter now,
and yet its strength
still binds two as one.

Now at the edge of ending,
one may at long last wonder
what then is love?
Is it passions bright, burning flame?
Is it moments of glory,
moments of tenderness and lust?

Or is it that which now remains,
after age has cooled the fevered brow?
The answer lies before us,
waiting to be discovered.
Its sweet meaning at last revealed,
to those who are forever lovers.

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Filed under essay, Literary, narrative, non-fiction, Poem

Vancouver Sunday

I caught my first glimpse of that beautiful city by the sea on a mid-April Sunday. My great journey into the unknown had brought me far from my northern Ontario homeland, still clutched fast by winter’s chill hand, brought me through the Canadian Shield, over pancake flat prairie land, through passes surrounded by rugged snow peaked mountains, along the Fraser River Valley, past Hell’s Gate and into summer.

Bright blooms of flowers I never knew existed decorated the landscape. Pretty girls in shorts, miniskirts, and colourful dresses were everywhere I looked, adding their own perfect beauty to the scenery.

The sweet music of bells form churches, from cathedrals peeling throughout the city, echoing back from towering mountains, with jagged peaks clad in snow, greeted me when I stepped off that greyhound into my new life. I think it was at that moment I fell in love with Vancouver, and fore ever after, when I hear bells ringing out, calling the faithful to worship, I am transported back to not only to my first, but all of my Vancouver Sundays. I have tried to put my feelings about those special days into the following poem.

Beautiful city
girded by mountains,
your soft sandy shores
brushed by the sea.

Church bells ringing,
echo back
from snow hatted mountains.
Sunday blankets you
deep with its grace.

I look down
from my perch
high on Grouse Mountain.
down through wispy white clouds,
sailing over your beautiful face.

Stanley Park,
sparkling emerald green
in the distance,
beckons me down
from my towering place.

I leave my eyrie,
descend from the mountains,
journey once more
across Lions Gate.

I wonder through wild woods,
stay in their fastness.
Birds sweetly singing
brighten my mind,
and all of my worries erase.

Time flows
like water, from
a spring on the mountains.
English Bay
sparkles with
frothy foaming waves.

Boats, with sails
coloured like a rainbow,
prance across the water,
dance towards me.

The face of the sun
touches the ocean,
setting a great fire over the sea.

I linger until
the final fingers
of flickering flames
ebb away on the tide,
linger long after
a haunting, melancholy
loon call, fades on the wind.

With regret I turn away
from fairyland enchantment.
My mind fills with wonder
of this Vancouver Sunday,
as I walk east on Hastings.

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Musings of a Novice Writer’s Mind

If I had of known how much I didn’t know about the mechanics and art of writing fiction before I started my first, but not last novel, I might never have opened my lap-top or dusted off my dictionary, an old dog-eared one from my primary school
days, or spent money from my fixed income on a brand new thesaurus for the occasion. Like all amateurs, or most of them anyway, I plunged into the writing game headfirst, plunged right into the deep end of the pool, without taking a deep
breath, without holding my nose, without pausing for a second thought.

What I didn’t know about writing would drown the state of Texas, overflow into the Gulf of Mexico, flood Louisiana, submerge New Mexico, spill over its border and fill up most of Arizona and what I did know would fit comfortably into a walnut
shell, with plenty of room left over for Ontario, Quebec, the Maritimes and most of, if not all of Newfoundland.

The short list of my writing knowledge and skills at that time are too small a thing to waste words on, but I will give an
honourable mention, or a dishonourable one, as the case maybe, to the long list of things I didn’t know how to use and for the most part things I’d never heard about.

Ah where to begin, where to begin? I suppose punctuation because of its importance to create pauses, indicate stops
in thought, isolate dialogue, shorten phrases and indicate possession of something, like changing, “That is a sandwich belonging to Mary,” to “That’s Mary’s sandwich,” all quite useful things on their own, but when used together wisely, form the basis of coherent thought, is a good a place as any to start.

When I took the first toddling steps of my journey I didn’t know how to punctuate properly with a period, I didn’t know that it’s used to end a sentence and when it came to the colon or semicolon, I thought they were things a physician probed periodically under the most personal, most embarrassing circumstances, while the comma, the apostrophe, quotation marks and even the exclamation mark were things living under rocks in some unknown uncharted country and best left alone by the unwary.

Besides these fascinating and I might add useful and necessary things, there are and I dread dragging them into this essay,
but I must, there are the rules and tools of good grammar. Unfortunately for me, my Grammar died when I was quite young and never had the time to lay out her guidelines and even if she had tried to instil the rules in me, I never would have taken the time, or had the inclination to learn them.

That’s why for the longest time I believed that a main clause, being able to stand on its own two feet as a complete sentence was Santa and that a subordinate clause had to be his wife. I never knew what a metaphor was for, or what a modifier modified, if anything, and I thought a pronoun was a noun that went to the gym every day, worked hard, won a gold medal at the Olympics and went on to a happy married life, with a wife and two point two children, turned pro and ended up in a bestselling novel and a simple noun was a thing that never had the gumption or getup to work hard and stayed an amateur all its natural born days, lived in a park, smoked pot, drank aftershave lotion and cussed every time his popular rich brother drove by his bed in a red Rolls Royce and until I found out different I believed that a preposition was an improper proposition made by a pretty prostitute eager to
earn a few more pennies before going home to her pimp.

Not only didn’t I know what adjectives adverbs, antonyms, homonyms, similes, synonyms and verbs did, or were, but I couldn’t spell or pronounce them properly and since I didn’t know how to spell them, I couldn’t even look them up in the dusty dog-eared dictionary from my primary school days.

Now that I have ploughed my way through two novels, ploughed two thirds through another one and completed several short stories, I am beginning to understand what a sentence is. It is, and please forgive me for gloating or showing off, it is a clause with a subject and a predicate. Here are two basic samples. “The dog barked loud. The kitten and the puppy got ready for school.”

Not exactly earth shaking and not likely to ever win a Pulitzer prize, but and I don’t use but lightly either, if a few little things are added like a simile, a modifier or two or three, then our simple little sentence can take on a new life, a life that is more interesting,
a life of its own. I would love to show you how it’s done and since in some respects you are a captive audience, I intend to do so. I will use my second example and add some of the things I’ve learned through arduous and diligent work, but things I’m still not yet well versed in.

Tom, an aloof Siamese kitten, with a black circle around one blue eye and a white circle around the other one, always looking like an arrogant rock star, was nick-named Mouser by Mr. Roland Ferguson, who owned the rickety old brown barn with a red roof where Tom was born on a blustery December evening, with a bitter north wind blowing, shaking, rattling the dilapidated building, threatening to tear the shingles off the roof, howling around the eaves, slamming the door back and forth, screaming through the
cracks, sending shivers through the group of people gathered around Minnie, Tom’s mother, a group waiting expectantly for her to produce her first litter, which she did in due time and mewing proudly presented them for inspection, and a beautiful black boy beagle, named Bob when he crawled nose first into the world on a sunny June day, two-thirty in the afternoon, down by the gold fish pond, a pond surrounded by blooming lilac trees, trees filled with buzzing bees and birds in full song, birds that stopped mid-song, bees that stopped buzzing and lilac trees that stopped swaying and rustling their leaves when the miraculous moment took place, had their faces washed, had their hair combed and brushed until it gleamed, before they trotted down the dusty road on their first day of school.

Whew, please excuse me while a pause for a long and well deserved breather…………Well now that I feel somewhat refreshed, I can honestly say that I’m quite relieved to be finished with this example.

I admit that I am not as converse with the intricate thrusts and parries of riveting, stimulating dialogue or the delicate beautiful pirouette of scintillating prose as I want to be and perhaps I never will achieve my goal, but it certainly isn’t going to stop me from
trying.

I may never scale the Olympian heights and walk amidst such literary giants as James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway or F. Scot
Fitzgerald and I may never be able to scare the panties off a lady the way Steven King can, or mystify a reader with a mystery like Agatha Christie does, but just because I might never soar like an eagle high above the earth, drifting on a poetic or prosaic updraft from some sun warmed plain, doesn’t mean that I’m going to sit safe in some nest and never dare to leap off the cliff and try my
wings.

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My First Time

In April of nineteen-sixty-five I took Horace Greely’s advice and went west to Vancouver, the beautiful city cradled by the mountains and the sea. Along the way I met many interesting people; among them were a doctor and his family, leaving the political and racial upheavals of South Africa behind, to make a new home on Canada’s wide prairie lands. There was a civil servant from Ottawa, on his summer vacation, a young soldier returning to his barracks, and a pair of beautiful prairie princesses, one with hair, dark and shiny as a raven’s wing, the other, crowned with curls brighter than the sun.

To me, a wet behind the ears kid from a small northern Ontario village; who’s only experiences   in the big wide world up to then, were a few short stints in Toronto, this incredible journey of discovery across my beloved land was an eye opener.

Man years have flowed over the dam of time since those long ago days of wonder, but some of my memories are still as fresh as spring’s first violets, entering into Vancouver, a city I fell in love with instantly, and my first glimpse of the incredible Rocky Mountains. It is to that special moment I have dedicated this poor attempt at poetry.

In majestic splendour,
snow-capped peaks
thrust themselves deep
into the blue morning sky.

Towering, overpowering,
I am overwhelmed
by my insignificance,
by my mortality.

I turn to see, if others,
if my fellow travelers
are awake, I wish to share
this magic moment.

But they have their eyes closed,
still buried deep in slumber.

As I look in awe,
I wonder,
will it be like this for others,
when it is their first time?

 

 

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