Way Back Then

And so you who knew him long ago in the past, you who remember him as wild, free-souled, and somewhat careless in matters of the heart. Would you have guessed he would leave the 1960s glory that was Winnipeg? Would you believe that he had studied and actually worked hard in university to become a 30-year-high-school-English teacher?

Perhaps that he would go on to musically entertain thousands on many stages? That he would write hundreds of poems and songs and lead several bands of musical friends playing the pop catalogue of the 1950s to 90s? That he would marry and have two fine kids and would be married for over 40 years to the same special woman from 1967? Would that have been remotely predictable then, in our shared youth of the 1950s and ’60s?

Did you know that he had worked as a nursing orderly in a hospital, as a letter-carrier for Canada Post, and as a film classifier for Alberta? And what about his other lives as a happy grandfather, as a literary historian for his country’s literature, or his career as a textbook author, writing and editing books that your children used in high school, regardless of where you now live in Canada? Did you have a clue that he would go on to write for and educate millions of young teenagers across the land? Did you know that he would become a successful writer with over 60 educational book publications? That he would still be standing up in front of audiences at age 66 to read from his work? (66 seemed so far away once upon our time.)

Could you have foreseen  that he would speak to thousands of teachers, too, over a 30-year-period, about how to teach different aspects of high school English or that he would reinvent himself in the digital age to write thousands of blog entries about personal consciousness, his life, and his love and knowledge of Canadian literature?

Yes, that same strange, wild boy, Room 42`s `most promising playboy`, that poor, overly-confident, but blissfully ignorant boy and teen. That kid who lived the crazy possibilities of all he dreamt of along the pike. That ‘neat guy’, that obvious nonconformist, that blatant show-off. That uninhibited youth who lived on nothing but hopes and dreams still lives on today, still remembers, still connects, but now accepts, understands, and appreciates how dumb-lucky he was that so much went well, that he had had more than his share of lucky breaks and fortunate flukes, and that he went as far as he could go.

Well, did you? You didn’t? Well, he didn’t either.

Today he looks back and wonders about your changes and fate. And whether you acquired a comparable knowledge, awareness, fulfillment, self-actualization, success and relative happiness after all this time between us. And what stories would you tell? Would you as surprised as he is, looking back at what he once was, what you were, and what we all were so long ago way back then?

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