Be Brave

I ran across this drug commercial a few days ago and it reminded me that each one of us, in spite of our challenges and insecurities, can make a difference.

No one knows your failures and shortcomings as much as you do. You don’t need someone pointing out your cellulite, or your balding pate, or the fact that you put your foot in your mouth. No one needs to remind you that you are not perfect. I often ask people, “If ten people tell you that you are beautiful and one person tells you that you are ugly, which one will you remember?” The answer is the same for all of us. We are a generation of people who wonder if we matter, wonder if anyone would love us if they really knew who we are. Many of us feel unremarkable and worry that we will never change the world, or even our little piece of it.

I have tried to do many remarkable things in my life, and usually failed. It is tempting, therefore, to think that we are somehow inadequate, or flawed, or “less”. No one is lining up to tell you that you are spectacular. There are all kinds of people who will remind you of your ugliness, or lack. Don’t believe them.

It has taken me most of my life to understand that I am worth it. I have never been famous (cable TV in Fort McMurray doesn’t count as famous), and will probably never be rich or on the cover of Time magazine. As a society we make a big deal about the pretty people who get handed movie contracts because of their photoshopped looks, or those who can hit a puck or a ball through a net or a hoop. Culture makes a big deal about someone who can sing, but not about those who can sing but don’t know anyone who will give them a recording contract. We tend to honor the rich, the connected; those lucky enough to be born into the right family with the right breaks.

This video is dedicated to the little people – to those who make a difference all the time even though no one is rolling the camera. Every one of us can change our world. Every one of us can make a difference in the lives of someone, even if no one else notices.

I have people who have changed my life and chances are you do as well. When I die I hope someone will say of me, “At least he tried. At least he tried to help someone, to give hope, to live sacrificially, to change his world.”

Fear keeps us from trying crazy and magical things. From attempting glorious failures and amazing screw-ups. So much of life is boring and mundane. I don’t know about you but living my life to make a living and pay a mortgage is not enough for me.

At least we tried…


She came in for needle exchange, “for a friend”. It was her first time here so I took the basic information. It was her 50th birthday today. The only gift I could offer was coffee.

Here’s the thing – she had no idea it was her birthday. October 3, 1963. She was turning 50, a milestone birthday. A time to gather your friends and have a few laughs and toast to a life well spent. She was at an addictions centre picking up needles and paraphernalia. There were no surprise parties for Shannon, no balloons and cake; only an alley somewhere and a needle full of hate.

Sometimes I forget how lucky I am to be where I am, doing what I am, with whom I am. I forget that, in spite of still having no jet ski, I am so incredibly blessed I can not even fully understand how much. I have a home and a family and dreams. Shannon has nothing and probably no hope at all.

Once in a while it’s good to remember that just being born in my situation is winning the lottery.



“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt

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I have been working on a personal project that has eaten up well over a hundred hours of my life in the past month. Saturday night, after it was over, it felt almost surreal. The event turned out moderately well, but as usual I was able to see a thousand improvements should we do it again. Turns out we will probably do it again.

Life really is about moments. Most of my life is very forgettable – the days spent going to work, getting groceries, cleaning up and making dinner. I cannot really remember what I did yesterday, but I remember vividly the moments of my life. I remember, like it was yesterday, reaching one hand out of the side of the airplane and pushing it through the solid bank of clouds that we were skirting under just before I jumped out of the plane. I remember sitting beside Little Devil Rapids. I remember parasailing with my dad in Florida, swimming in Grand Cayman, Ben’s wedding, Angus’s birth. I remember my honeymoon. I remember getting sick for five days when I found out I was going to have a kid, so many years ago. I remember the girls singing last Saturday night. Moments.

We all have moments. The goal is to have more than a few, I suspect. So much of life is spent doing things that don’t matter and driving places that we don’t really want to go. No one looks back at their life and wishes they would have done more laundry. For me, when I look back at my life all I will probably remember are the moments, good and bad.

Moments don’t always just happen. Sometimes we need to break out of the incredible momentum of the everyday and make things happen. It seems to me that the people who are the most successful, the most energetic, the most interesting to be around are those few people who step out of their boring lives and volunteer, or create, or dream, or become more than they once were. It is tempting to just live and let life pass us by, it is harder by far to live a life worth living.

Creating moments is inconvenient, especially if you decide to change your little piece of the world. Moments take so much time and effort, if they are audacious. I remember texting and Facebooking the people I am working on my project with several times in the past month with things like, “Is this worth it?”, and “What have we gotten ourselves into?” I was petrified that I would fail, or worse still, only make a poor effort. I wanted to pull the plug, actually tried to, on more than one occasion. Moments are not always fun, especially if you want to have a big one.

I tell my clients often, “You only have one precious and short life, what do you want to accomplish with it?” I realize that I am not done with moments and desire to make a splash while I am still able to jump in the water. Someday I will be too old to do much of anything and I wonder if I will look back at my life and wonder, was it enough? Did I live while I was alive?

What legacy will I leave?