Early on, like most boys, I was attracted to sports, which was one way to test yourself and prove yourself to others. I played Pee Wee hockey around 9-10 and wanted to be a goalie. The community club team suited me up for 2 games, but I was not a great skater–never have been, and I went down too easily, stopping not enough pucks. My short hockey career. I did get more into baseball, playing second base and captaining the grade 6 boys’ team. No special memories there since I was an easy out at the plate. Around that time, I captained a community club team and played catcher. Again, I came up short.
Soccer, I quite enjoyed from grade 3-6, and, again, played goal. But man, those adult soccer goals are too huge to defend successfully for any kids! I also played football in grade 7, but not the position I wanted as an end. Instead, they put me in the backfield, and I was too easy to run roughshod over. I continued to play football informally with my friends in grades 8-9, but knew there were better players than me so I didn’t try out for the senior high team. I did try curling in grades 11-12 a few times, but the fine touch escaped me. I also bowled with a friend in grades 5-6 which was fun: five pin, but was never in a league.
And so we get to know gradually what we’re good at or not. Sports and physical play were ok for me, but nothing outstanding or promising long-term. In grade 8, I received a painting on behalf of the school, which was covered in the local newspaper. I also spun records at sock hops in grades 7, 8, and 9, but other guys had first dibs on student radio in high school. I also won a humor writing category for the gr. 9 yearbook, and was the narrator of that year’s operetta Tom Sawyer.
In high school, I was class president in gr. 10 and joined a group called FNAC–Friday Night Activities Committee–and did goofy stuff at the school’s Friday games. I also was in the chorus of the big costumed operetta The Mikado. I successfully auditioned for the part of Col. Purdy in the Drama Club production of Teahouse of the August Moon, which never got off the ground beyond rehearsals, unfortunately. In gr. 10, I started writing for the school newspaper, initially covering school sports, drawing the ire of a boys’ team for my honest coverage. I continued covering odds and ends into gr. 12 and my last column, about a fall hootenany at the school, is something I was very proud of. In gr. 11, I was in the chorus for the musical Brigadoon, entertaining the kids before practices with my folk and pop songs on guitar.
In gr. 12, I got a lead part (jury usher) in another operetta Trial by Jury. At the same time, I was the mayor of a comedy The Red Velvet Goat. That year, my friend and I performed in two friends’ collage of pieces at Manitoba Theatre Centre. I also played the butler in Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest in a drama evening. So, it was pretty apparent that, with my increasing knowledge of music and guitar plus my acting experience that I was headed in the direction of performance, not sports for sure. Plus, the only job I could imagine myself doing by this point was teaching English, thanks to two very inspiring teachers in the only high school subject that interested me–English.
In university, I bombed a drama audition which called for an improv for which I was unprepared. (Later, though, I would act in a church’s production of Gift of the Magi playing the husband. I also played Zeus in my first school posting’s production of a comedy Rape of the Belt and taught a drama course. Later, in a different high school, I directed and played Daddy in Edward Albee’s ‘The Sandbox”. In 1989 and 1992, I wrote for and acted in a teacher theatre group called The August Company at Edmonton Fringe and a teachers’ convention. In my first university, I began to perform folk music publicly as a single, in a duo, and in a group (1968-70). In my Ed year, I played a local folk club in Edmonton.
Once in the country for my first teaching position, I was in a duo, then a quartet, then a quintet, playing songs of the day in bars, lounges, halls, and clubs (1972-75). I continued doing music in schools after that for students and teacher parties up to 2002 when I played the Convention Centre. In fall, 2017, as a solo act, I played my daughter’s staff barbecue in a local park. But, beginning in university, I majored in English and trained to be a teacher, which I did for 30 years. I also presented to teacher conferences and workshops for 30 years. I have also read my poetry to audiences for 40 years. Today I still perform also through my continuing writing on my main blog Tothineownselfbetrue.ca.
And so I have been and was a live performer in the classroom and onstage from university on. That has been most of my life, certainly the core adult years. Roads not taken, but I can trace my trajectory into performance, after a misstart in sports. We all have our limits and limitations as well as our aptitudes and skills. These emerge as we go through our formative life experiences. One thing leads to another. Some things/roles work/fit and some don’t. But it is only by trying out different possibilities that we get to the life which we are destined to lead. And one certainly knows and can the rightness of an activity choice whether one might have a career and multiple career in it. Roads and choices that make one’s destiny. That and a lotta dumb luck.