You wanna know what I think?

I think we’re born free,
and sold into slavery.

I believe we have the right to choose,
but no right to dictate the choices.

I wanna love everything and everyone,
if only to balance all the hate in my heart.

I understand I’m a prisoner of my own devices,
and some of your devices too.

I feel like I’m drowning in sand,
and it’s spilling through the needle-narrow neck of an hourglass.

I fear there’s nowhere near enough time to do the things I need to,
but there’s too much time for the things I want.

I yearn for peace and quiet,
while running riot and screaming my head off.

I know nothing about everything,
a little about some things,
and this bothers the hell out of me.

I accept it all, and this is what sets me apart.

I think we’re born free,
and sold into slavery.

I guess it’s just the drudge in me.


It was raining. This was the Vancouver morning I’d been waiting for for nearly 5 years, wet and dark and cold.

It was perfect.

I sat in a small café near my new apartment, surfing the Internet and plugging away at minor creative endeavours. I could feel the engine of my creativity re-igniting, cycling up as it usually did around this time of year. It was fall, October 20, 2008. It was Monday, the day of my orientation into Vancouver Film School for a year of Foundation Arts. I was ready.

I’d gotten up at five, two hours earlier, and done my routine. Those days it consisted of an hour’s worth of Ashtanga yoga. I’d put a couple of cups of brown rice on to cook and lit a candle, and immersed myself in the golden and nutty scent of the boiling rice as it mingled with the tart apple of the burning candle, and the sharp cut of my own clean sweat.

Each morning I was taking the time I needed to feel alive. This particular morning I’d taken it nice and slow, allowing my body the space and freedom it needed to release all the stress and tension I’d been carrying up to that point.

After the yoga I’d taken a leisurely towel-bath, massaging Doctor Bronner’s Magic Peppermint Soap into every pore of my body. This not only conserved water but also gave me an extra fifteen minutes of relaxation, and more time to get in touch with where I was at at that point in time.

I’d then swallowed half a serving of protein powder mixed with cool water, and brushed my teeth with aniseed paste.

I’d dressed, choosing from the limited selection of clothing I’d managed to bring over from Japan. Cargo pants, a loose t-shirt, a heavy hooded pullover, the winter hooded jacket, and a pair of heavy boots, all blacks and deep navy blues.

I’d put an old rubber tension ball into my pocket, along with my keys and wallet, armed the portable music player, and stepped out the door.

It had been raining, and I’d turned my face up into the dark pre-dawn sky and let the drops fall on me. Taking a deep breath, I’d turned and headed up the dim rain-slicked street to the café.

And there I sat, at a table near the window, watching the traffic, the weather, the people, and the screen. Feeling my anxiety ebb and flow through my nervous system, and not buying into it. Letting those emotions run their course.

I was ready.


I didn’t know better, and that was the perfect excuse. Ignorance was the ultimate crutch whenever it was a true lack of knowledge that kept someone from participating or conversing or what have you.

It wasn’t that I’d lived in a bubble, or a vacuum. Quite the contrary, my parents had provided for me very well. A library stocked with all the essentials, great works of literature and books on the various sciences and magic of the world. I’d spent a lot of time in there, at least as a youth, in the years before the actual schooling began, and had filled my head full of the information contained therein. But like nearly all recorded knowledge it was dead, dead words on dead pages, a snapshot of things that had been and theories about things that might be. It had always been left to me to synthesize new thoughts from the old ones I read about, and unfortunately I lacked the requisite imagination.

My old gran had overseen me on many an afternoon, knitting and rocking in her chair near the stone hearth. The click-click of her needles had been like a metronome for my mind, each tick marking a certain number of words read, pages turned, books consumed. The old woman had often extolled the virtues of reading and book learning, about how the mind was the most amazing playground a young person or any person could ever hope to explore. Endless discovery awaits, she would say, her rheumy eyes ever fixed on the loop and thread between her wrinkled and bony fingertips.

“Great grey whales, roaring green dragons spouting fire from their fanged jaws, secret agents skulking in the shadows. Can’t you just picture it, young Jack?”

No, I’d wanted to say. No I can’t, Gran. Is there something wrong with me? But I never asked. I knew in my heart that it was a shameful thing, to be unable to see with my mind’s eye the words on the page made real from the fabric of my imagination. So I’d kept silent, reading the words with a stubborn plodding, like a prisoner treading the same track around the exercise yard, marking the hours and days of my sentence.

My parents had left various art tools for me, should I ever have felt the need to express myself in that fashion. Clay and picks for sculpting, paints and brushes for painting, pastels and charcoals for sketching. I never touched them.

“Wouldn’t you like to draw?” Gran would ask.

“Maybe later,” I would say, or “perhaps after this book.”