Sharing with you things that are on my mind...Maybe yours too. Come back to Wrights Lane for a visit anytime!

30 March, 2012



The motivation is that of a retired Coca Cola executive and one of his former engineer buddies from Haliburton. If you are tired of gas prices going up AND they will continue to rise this summer, take time to read further.

Phillip Hollsworth offered this good idea.  It makes MUCH MORE SENSE than the "don't buy gas on a certain day" campaign that went around last April or May!  The oil companies just laughed at that because they knew we wouldn't continue to "hurt" ourselves by refusing to buy gas.  It was more of an inconvenience to us than it was a problem for them. BUT, whoever thought of this idea, has come up with a plan that can really work. Please read on.

"By now you're probably thinking gasoline priced at about $.99 is super cheap. Me too!" said Hollsworth.  "It is currently $1.28 at SUNOCO and ESSO for regular unleaded in Hamilton and Ottawa and climbing every week.  Now that the oil companies and the OPEC nations have conditioned us to think that the cost of a gallon of gas is CHEAP at $.87 to .99, we need to take aggressive action to teach them that BUYERS control the marketplace, not sellers.  With the price of gasoline going up more each day, we consumers need to take action. "

"The only way we are going to see the price of gas come down is if we hit someone in the pocketbook by not purchasing their gas! And, we can do that WITHOUT hurting ourselves. How? Since we all rely on our cars, we can't just stop buying gas. But we CAN have an impact on gas prices if we all act together to force a price war", he added.

Here's the idea: For the rest of this year, DON'T purchase ANY gasoline from the two biggest companies (which now are one), SUNOCO (PETRO CANADA) and ESSO.  If they are not selling any gas, they will be inclined to reduce their prices. If they reduce their prices, the other companies will have to follow suit.

Hey, if you think that this simple idea has merit, talk about it with your friends and act on it whenever it is convenient for you.  It will at least make you feel good that you are making your own personal statement and if enough of us "buyers" do the same thing, who knows...

WHO: Healthy ageing -- adding life to years

24 March, 2012


With the approach of Easter, I was thinking about how religious holidays in particular bring back memories of the loved ones we have lost over the years.  Along with the natural joy of the occasions, a great deal of sentiment is attached to the celebration of Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Personally, I have to rationalize Mothers and Fathers Days too, for crying out loud.  Some of that sentiment is not altogether without mixed emotions.

I know a lot of people who struggle with their emotions at these times of year.  It has to be difficult especially for those who have lost close friends and relatives and certain happy times are gone forever.  Likewise for those dealing with serious health problems or the loss of employment and financial woes, it is equally difficult to capture the true spirit of the season.

So what can they do?  What can any of us do?

To answer that question I turn to Janice Badger Nelson, a hospice nurse RN, wife, mother, volunteer and writer.

"I don't blame people who have mixed feelings about coping with special occasions.  The holidays are tough enough without the awful and tragic realities of life," she writes.  "I am so grateful for the privilege I have to take care of so many during difficult periods in their lives.  They have taught me so much and I am forever grateful,"  To honor those of whom she speaks, Janice shares those lessons...  "Death has so much to teach us about life," she contends.

On the subject of death affecting one's ability to celebrate special dates and occasions, she offers the following:

"The only thing we can do is to get through each day as best we can.  Some will decide to bow out (of observing the day) and just stay home for a quiet meal.  Others will go to church or attend family get togethers, stealing themselves for the inevitable question, "So, how are you doing?"  Most people dread that question.  It is funny how most people only ask that of folks they know have had a rough time.  If you have won a million dollars in a lottery, no one really wants to know about that.  And when you verbalize your woes, many chime in with their own,"

So, what is the best thing to do?  Drop out of society for a period?  Still participate but sit quietly, maybe leave early?  Get inebriated?

"I guess the best thing to do is what feels right," Janice suggests.  "...Not for your mother or sister or friends.  So what if they will be disappointed?  They will surely get over it, but don't expect them to understand because they won't."
Everyone experiences their reality differently," she adds.

"Allow yourself to indulge in your own whims and tell others that this is how you best cope with the unfortunate event that has occurred.  Ask them to forgive you, but explain this is how you are protecting your heart.  Perhaps they will understand if you put it that way."

We all want happiness on Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.  We want free, light-hearted spirits.  We want them for ourselves, our loved ones, our kids.  We have a picture in our minds of how they should look and feel.  Of how everyone should act.  But they rarely turn out that way and many times we find ourselves sadly disappointed.  Janice advocates embracing tradition, but letting go of expectations.  "Or create new tradition -- one that allows you to include a relative that is no longer here, or one that celebrates new beginnings.  Let go of the expectations of others and create something new for yourself."

Special holidays are fraught with much emotion and memories.  There is also much associated work and preparation, much of it joyful, but it doesn't always come easy.  So, if you feel sad this Easter, embrace the sadness. Don't pretend it does not exist.  And if people do ask the inevitable question, "How are you doing?" love yourself enough to answer honestly...And let it go at that.

Be thankful for your life and show it.  You can be "catching" in a good way.

Grief can't be shared. Everyone carries it alone, his own burden, his own way. ~~~Anne Morrow Lindbergh

To spare oneself from grief at all cost can be achieved only at the price of total detachment, which excludes the ability to experience happiness. ~~~Erich Fromm

I still miss those I loved who are no longer with me but I find I am grateful for having loved them. The gratitude has finally conquered the loss. ~~~Rita Mae Brown 

23 March, 2012


The following is a revision of a post that I published on Wrights Lane in September of 2009.  At that time I indicated to readers that I planned to further research George Edwin Tackaberry's family connection to my hometown of Dresden, ON.  In due course, however, I hit an informational road block and the story has remained as I first presented it.

Like a bolt out of the blue earlier this week, I received a surprise email from a  Joan Beckley of  Toronto, introducing herself as the granddaughter of the famous hockey skate inventor.  Among other things, Joan listed a number of inaccuracies in my original story, the most startling of which was the fact that her grandfather apparently did not learn the shoemaker trade as an apprentice in Dresden.  In fact he and his young family were moved from the Dresden area by their widowed mother when George was only about five or six years of age.

I have carefully rewritten my original story to include the new information as provided by Joan.  As a result, Dresden now relinquishes a large portion of its claim to Tackaberry fame in favor of the town of Clifford, ON. where our boy George, as it turned out, eventually learned the shoemaker trade as a teenager working for a German immigrant by the name of Conrad Miller.

With thanks to Joan Beckley, here is the altered story with apologies to my readers for the inadvertent misleading information first published by me.  At least the record is now as accurate as it ever will be -- I hope.  The Manitoba Historical Society and CCM/Bauer corporations (primary sources for my original story) have also been advised of the new information.  The revised post follows.

"Tacks" were worn by hockey's best players
Most every kid who ever laced up a pair of hockey skates and batted a puck around an ice pad in the last 100 years has aspired to someday owning a pair of "Tacks'.  For the benefit of the uninitiated, Tacks were the best hockey skates that money could buy and all the pros wore them.
Much to my surprise, and others from my hometown of Dresden, there is a significant piece of information hidden away in a collection of biographical profiles compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society. The world-famous skate was the work of Brandon shoemaker, George Edwin Tackaberry, who just happened to have been born on a Dresden area farm in 1874.  Who knew?

Here's the story, previously unknown.

The Tackaberry family lived on acreage in Camden Gore, five or six miles north of Dresden.  The senior Tackaberry, Benjamin, died in an unfortunate mishap in 1878 when his team of horses apparently cut a corner too sharply and dumped him into a ditch full of water.  The load fell on him and he drowned.  Benjamin was laid to rest in the Dresden Cemetery. As granddaughter Joan Beckley puts it, this left his wife, "poor old Jane Moore with 8.5 children."  Young  George was only four-years-old at the time, having been born on the 6th of May, 1874.

After the posthumous child (Benjamin Jr.) was born in 1879, Jane sold the farm and moved her brood back to the Lansdown area to be closer to family members.  She would eventually marry her widower brother-in-law  A number of undetermined years later, George moved in with the Horton family (possibly relatives), on their Lakelet farm near Clifford where he eventually learned the shoe making trade while working as an apprentice for Conrad Miller.  He married the former Helen Weir in August 1897 in Clifford and soon thereafter moved permanently out west where he went to work in the Zink Brothers shoe shop in Brandon, Manitoba.

According to reports still not completely confirmed to his granddaughter's satisfaction, George lived next door to "Bad Joe" Henry Hall a professional hockey player who, in an "over-the-fence" conversation one day in 1904, complained about his hockey boots.  Hall was known for his rough and tumble style of play and was apparently very hard on his equipment, particularly his skates.  He asked the young shoemaker, who specialized in making orthopaedic shoes for the disabled, if he could make him a pair of hockey boots that would last the season without collapsing. 

"Tacks", circa 1930, with signature
enforced heel and toe.
George picked up the challenge and carefully measured Hall's feet.  The two then went to work designing a new boot made of kangaroo hide because of its resistance to moisture and stretching.  They also lowered the top of the boot nearly two inches and added a snugly fitting reinforced heel and toe and a much improved arch support and sole to accommodate the attachment of a blade.  

He continued working for Zink Bros until at least 1917.  By 1919 he appears to have begun working out of his home and in 1921 he opened his own business.

"Bad Joe" was so pleased with his new skates that other players soon began trying out the new design.  Among the first were Lester Patrick of New York Rangers and Art Ross of the Boston Bruins.  Eventually George was swamped with orders and the reputation of his high quality "Tacks" spread across the country.

George apparently also made skate boots for all seven of his sons and one of those pairs is in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

When George passed away in 1937, the Canadian Cycle and Motor Company (CCM) acquired the Tackaberry trade name and his many innovative techniques.  The Tackaberry boot with its CCM Pro-Line blade was eventually worn by virtually every player in the National Hockey League and thousands of others who just wanted the best hockey skate on the market.  I could never justify a pair of Tacks...The best I could manage was a Bauer Rocket Richard model skate which was about $100.00 cheaper than a pair of Tacks in the early 1950s.

George's accomplishments, oddly enough, influenced a Toronto area life-style publication, The Tackaberry Times, to adopt his name as a symbol of an era when trips to town were an event, neighbours depended on each other, and a frozen pond was a community's skating rink and gathering place.

In an obituary, the Brandon Sun newspaper described George as "a man of ability and resourcefulness, an outstanding figure in the community."  Bad Joe Hall, a victim of the influenza epidemic of 1919, died at a very young 36 years-of-age and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1961.

George's wife, Helen, received a small royalty from CCM for each pair of Tacks sold, until her death, July, 1954.  Joan Beckley refers to the royalty paid her grandmother as "a pittance" for the rights to the Tackabery name.   "Tacks" were CCM's signature skate until late 2006 when they were replaced with the "Vector" line, and now the "U+".

According to Joan, two of George's older sisters eventually returned to Kent County where they married and lived out their lives. 

21 March, 2012


Here's one that is too priceless to keep to myself.  It seems that a (let's say) mature lady was pulled over for speeding on a busy highway.

Older Woman: Is there a problem, Officer?

Traffic Cop: Yes ma'am, I'm afraid you were speeding.

Older Woman: Oh, I see.

Traffic Cop: Can I see your license please?

Older Woman: Well, I would give it to you but I don't have one.

Traffic Cop: Don't have one?

Older Woman: No. I lost it four years ago for drunk driving.

Traffic Cop: I see...Can I see your vehicle registration papers please.

Older Woman: I can't do that.

Traffic Cop: Why not?

Older Woman: I stole this car.

Traffic Cop: Stole it?

Older Woman: Yes, and I killed and hacked up the owner.

Traffic Cop: You what!?

Older Woman: His body parts are in plastic bags in the trunk if you want to see

The traffic cop looks at the woman and slowly backs away to his car while calling for back up. Within minutes five police cars circle the car. A senior officer slowly approaches the car, clasping his half drawn gun.

Officer 2: Ma'am, could you step out of your vehicle please!

The woman steps out of her vehicle.

Older woman: Is there a problem sir?

Officer 2: My colleague here tells me that you have stolen this car and murdered the owner.

Older Woman: Murdered the owner? Are you serious?!

Officer 2: Yes, could you please open the trunk of your car.

The woman opens the trunk, revealing nothing but an empty trunk.

Officer 2: Is this your car, ma'am?

Older Woman: Yes, here are the registration papers.

The traffic cop is quite stunned.

Officer 2: My colleague claims that you do not have a driving license.

The woman digs into her handbag and pulls out a clutch purse and hands it to the officer.

The officer examines the license with an expression of disbelief.

Officer 2: Thank you ma'am, but I am puzzled, as I was told by my officer here that you didn't have a license, that you stole this car, and that you murdered and hacked up the owner!

Older Woman: Bet the lying fool told you I was speeding, too

19 March, 2012


I fully expect that I will lose 50 per cent of the readers of this post when they realize the subject matter.  I urge you, however, to stick it out.  You will not be subjected to hell and brimstone, neither will anything be rammed down your throat, because that is not my style.  I do promise, however, very real common ordinary food for soulful thinking and in the end, some good news, if you are of a mind to accept it.

My take on human nature is that the average person does not want to feel flawed and imperfect, or that they were born into sin.  Any religion that preys on human frailty is, in itself, flawed and ill-conceived.  Perhaps it is the subtle assumption of guilt and the need for renewal through redemption that is chasing people away from churches today.  Today's generation looks for "feel good", upbeat spiritual motivation that they can understand and relate to, otherwise there is no interest.  There are simply too many other-worldly ways and distractions to feed personal needs and appetites nowadays.

Don't get me wrong.  I am a traditionalist!  I love the scriptures.  I cling to the old rugged cross and the faith of our fathers.  Gospel tunes and hymns are my favorite form of music.  I gravitate to musty old worship sanctuaries that agitate my allergies, give me a tickle in my throat and contribute to dry-eye syndrome.  I seek amazing grace...I am also a dying breed.  Along with a mere several dozen graying 60-plus faithful, I attend Sunday morning worship services in an elaborate, historic old Presbyterian church that sits on a million-dollar property in the heart of town.  I have been welcomed into a small close-knit church family, all of whom I am convinced are in touch with their inward divinity in the twilight of their lives, even though they may not think of it that way.

My children, grandchildren and their friends, do not follow in my footsteps.  Church for the average young person today is a place to get married (maybe), have children christened and baptized (maybe) and in the end, to be buried from (maybe). For them, there is nothing in between.  Church attendance, it would seem, bores them silly.

I cannot help but think that churches today would be well-advised to place more emphasis on incarnation -- the Divine within all of us.  That should not be an altogether novel concept.  A religion that is in tune with the current times, building up and bringing out the goodness within people is what is relevant today.   Everything else falls into place after the inherent divinity within is realized and understood.

I am all for Christian humility but not to the degree that it lends itself to a manifestation of a congregational inferiority complex due to human inability to be Christlike in all we think, say and do.  I honestly believe that the seed of God is planted in everyone and that is what young people in particular should be hearing today.  There is a desperate need for them to understand the importance of nurturing that seed.  In fact, if churches are to survive deeper into the current century, they must focus on ministries that appeal to the young parents of today, helping them get the most out of the God-given goodness that most assuredly exists within them.

A religion journalist who I greatly admire, once said that one of the wonderful things about covering religion over the years was coming to know and see God's likeness in people of every persuasion in the world.   "What's more, if I were asked for my basic sense of identity or place in the cosmos, it would be first and foremost as a human being, a dweller on planet Earth, and not as a Christian anyway," he stated.  "I am a uncomfortable Christian, perhaps, but a Christian all the same.  As the old country and western song has it: 'Everybody's got to be somewhere,' -- religiously speaking -- for me, it is within Christianity."

I understand what he was saying.  The core truths that are in the Bible and that speak to us, are not true because they are in the Bible.  They are in the Bible because they are true.  They reflect the deepest wisdom of the ages.  Properly understood, they are the foundation of human life itself.

Granted, there is much in the Bible that is confusing, contradictory, at times even immoral.  Indeed, it has been misinterpreted, or wrongly applied to justify gross evils from war to genocide, from slavery to misogyny, from self-mutilation to hatreds of minorities.  But, most of this has flowed from human stupidity in insisting upon literalistic meanings where 99 percent of it all is metaphor and imagery.  Some of it quite dated, of course.

Yet it speaks to us more powerfully than any other voice in all of literature, in all of human culture or learning.  It tells us the astonishing good news of who we really are, of where we originally came from, and where our ultimate destiny lies.  And best of all, it does exactly the same for every single individual who becomes a member of the human family.

Let's finally take a look at what the majority of Christians will recognize as a fundamental passage for the faith.  It is read every Christmas and it comes in the opening lines of John's Gospel.  It says that in the beginning was the Word (Logos) and this word was with God and indeed was part of God.  It explains further that this Logos was the true light that shines within every person coming into the world and adds further that the Logos "was made flesh" -- i.e. incarnate.

To win the masses, however, the church chose to apply this to just one role model -- Jesus, overlooking the fact that the heart of all religion is incarnation -- the aforementioned divine within; not just in one person above all others, but "enfleshed" in all homo sapiens, as written in the scriptures.

It bears repeating.  We all come from God.  We all carry the seed of the divine within and we eventually return to God.  That's the "good news" that should be reinforced and welcomed by young and old alike today.

It is how we learn to embrace and to utilize our divinity along the way that really matters.  In this our churches can, and must, play a vital role.  A real do-or-die marketing challenge if ever there was one.

17 March, 2012


Be honest now, we have all been kids, as far-fetched as it may seem to most of us now. We grew up as very impressionable young beings with dreams, fantasies and developing hormones that we really did not understand at the time. It was a wonderful period in our lives when the world promised to be our oyster and anything was possible if we believed and worked hard enough to attain it.

This is why I enjoy my exchanges with Margaret Rigsby and a few others on the Dresden Virtual History Group web site who remember growing up in the 1940s. With utmost respect, retired school teacher Margaret will no doubt be upset with me for revealing that as a 10 or 11-year-old, I had a crush on her (then a teenager). There, the cat is finally out of the bag. Come on, surely I am not the only one who ever fancied an older girl or boy! There was a bit of irony in one of my posts recently when I teased Margaret for not inviting me on walks with her parents along the old railway tracks in Dresden about 65 years ago.

I had crushes on other older girls too -- Pauline Elgie and Jeannie Simmons to name a few others. They were in high school and I was still in public school. Pauline and Jeannie were good friends and I used to sit with them in the stands at junior and senior baseball games. One day we were talking about the popular comic strip "Dick Tracy" and we began enacting certain characters. "I'll be B.O. Plenty," Pauline said, "...and I'll be Gravel Gertie," offered Jeannie. "Okay then, I'll be Sparkle," I chimed in. (Sparkle was the daughter(?) of B.O. and Gertie.) 

From that point on, Pauline and Jeannie called me "Sparkle" and I loved it. It made me feel that I had something in common with them. Pauline's mother passed on a funny story to my mother a number of years later when we were both married with families. As Mrs. Elgie told it, one evening Pauline said that she was going to skip supper because she was going to a baseball game at Kinsmen Park. "Oh, is Alvie playing?" she asked (Alvie being Alvie Lovell, a boyfriend at the time). "No," answered Pauline. "Dickie Wright is playing!". Sadly, Pauline passed on a number of years ago.

Jeannie was still in her teens when she married a local boy, Doug Pegg. They lived in an small apartment adjacent to Clarence Breaton's shoemaker's shop. They found the young couple still in bed one morning, the victims of deadly carbon monoxide poisoning and faulty ventilation. I had difficulty dealing with that one.

It is because of sentimental stories and memories like these, and countless others, that I cling to the nostalgia of growing up in my hometown. In many ways, I am still growing up I guess. Memories are the one thing that no one can take away from you.

Incidentally, I grew out of my "older women stage". My wife Rosanne is 10 years my junior. 

This too, is my "virtual history" reality.

13 March, 2012


Did you ever have someone come into your life as if predestined and then after time sadly leave it without you ever knowing anything about it?

I had not seen my old friend Grant all winter and I was beginning to worry about him, almost anticipating the worst. I found out earlier today that he passed away some time last fall.  I think that he died alone, as he had lived the last couple of decades of his life.

Grant was in his late 70s or early 80s.  I first noticed him on downtown Southampton streets soon after Rosanne and I moved into the community.  It was fair to say that he was a town fixture.  Everyone knew him, but very few took the time to know him, if you understand what I mean.

Initially I passed the time of day with him when we would cross paths in the coffee shops and restaurants that he frequented on a daily basis.  He was a slight, frail man who was stooped and walked with a laborious shuffle that was painful for me to watch.  As time wore on, and his health declined, he relied on a motorized scooter to get around.

He was always alone and I got the impression that he might enjoy company.  From time to time I would buy him a coffee just to have the opportunity to get to know a little more about him.  Eventually, I was able to joke with him and always enjoyed getting a laugh out of him during our chats.  One of our favorite conversation topics was fishing.  I even joined him a few times as he dangled a line from the Southampton harbor breakwater.  He was originally from the Maritimes and had worked for many years as a miner in Sudbury, before coming to Southampton to retire.  He lived in a subsidized seniors complex and in bad weather, he could often be seen trudging on foot across the cold and windy Saugeen River bridge, making his way to a favorite eating spot at noon or to a local grocery store on Highway 21 later in the day.

I picked him up in my car countless times and dropped him off at either destination.  I was, and still am, in the habit of grocery shopping in the late afternoon, around 5:30 or 6:00 o'clock, at least four times a week.  It was not unusual for Grant to hail me in the grocery store parking lot and to ask for a ride home on evenings when weather conditions were not conducive to scooter navigation.  His grocery purchases never amounted to more than one bag -- maybe a can of soup, some cookies, a left-over sandwich from the day's deli and always a couple of scratch-and-win tickets.

Even though I introduced myself to him on our first meeting some eight years ago, I don't think he ever remembered my name.  As a matter of fact, I never asked him for his last name either.  We just chatted, one old-timer friend to a younger one.  I enjoyed him, and I think that he enjoyed me too.  Whenever Lucy was with me riding shotgun, she also had a wag of the tail and a couple of licks for him. "How're you doing boy!" he would always say to her with an affectionate chuckle.

He once told me that he had a lawyer relative who managed his affairs in trust and doled out living expenses from his pension money on a monthly basis.  He may have had a daughter living elsewhere, but I was reluctant to ask him about that part of his life. I tried to impress upon him my willingness assist him in any way possible and gave him my telephone number on one of the last occasions that I gave him a ride home, some time last September or October.  He never called on me.

My neighbor, who just happens to be produce manager at the grocery store I mentioned, told me this evening that he thought that one of the Southampton restaurants held a wake in Grant's memory shortly after he died last fall.  I didn't know anything about that either. Too bad!  I would have liked to be there.

I am struggling with a feeling of melancholy as I type this farewell to an old codger I befriended along the way and who never really knew my name. I hope I occasionally filled a small void in his life...Now I kind of feel that I am the one with a void.  

God love you Grant.  I wish I could have been there for you in the end, but I trust that you are in a better place now.  See you anon, I hope!

08 March, 2012


I was teasing a Facebook friend the other day about the possibility that tomorrow may never come.  He had posted some sage advise on his site to the effect that the nice thing about today is that tomorrow is another day.

As I thought more about our good-natured exchange, the following heart-felt, yet simplistic soul-searching retrospective came to mind.  I have lived it many times.

If I knew it would be the last time that I'd see you fall asleep, I would tuck you in more tightly and pray the Lord, your soul to keep.  If I knew it would be the last time that I'd see you walk out the door, I would give you a hug and kiss and call you back for one more.  If I knew it would be the last time that I'd hear your voice lifted up in praise, I would video tape each action and word, so I could replay them day after day.

If I knew it would be the last time, I would spare an extra minute or two to stop and say "I love you", instead of assuming that you would know.  It is so easy to assume a lot of things, like surely there will always be a tomorrow to make up for an oversight and for things you either did or did not do.

Tomorrow is not promised to anyone, so I won't spend my life waiting for it.  I will hold loved ones close today.  I will take time to express my true feelings and will not hesitate to say "I'm sorry" or "thank you" when circumstances call for it.  I will never be too busy to grant a wish, because it may well turn out to be someone's last.  And if tomorrow never comes, I will have no regrets about today. 

Some times we just need to remind ourselves.

06 March, 2012


No one knows the author of the following story but Rev. Dr. Creola Simpson repeated it from her St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church pulpit in Southampton this past Sunday.  It touched me -- perhaps it will you too.

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room's only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. 

The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation. And every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window. The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside. 

The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance. As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene. 

One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn't hear the band - he could see it in his mind's eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words. Days and weeks passed. 

One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone. 

Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the world outside. Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it for himself. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall. The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window. 

The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall. She said, "Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you." 

04 March, 2012


In keeping with my recent theme of  "If only I knew then what I know now...", I feel motivated to restate my strong belief in self-image.  I have written on the subject before only from a self-esteem standpoint.  Once again I have young people in mind.

Self-image is basically the perception you have of yourself -- your identity, abilities and worth.  In essence, it is your mental blueprint that determines:

  • How you feel about yourself on a daily basis and under specific situations or circumstances
  • Who you think you are and your "role" in society
  • The kind and quality of results and outcomes you expect (and receive) in life
  • How you see yourself behaving and reacting in certain situations
  • Where your "comfort zone" is.

This thing called self-image is one of the most powerful parts of our personality, yet we generally pay little attention to it mainly because we are never taught about it in our formative years.  I have come to believe that self-image regulates everything we think, everything we feel and everything we do -- every day automatically. It is that important! I speak from experience.

Have you ever tried to set a goal that is larger than what you are currently used to, then quietly backed down returning to your former comfort zone where you fell into old habits again without realizing it?  That is because your self-image was regulating the amount of success you can achieve.  You backed off because deep down inside, it didn't feel like something you would, or could, do.

There was a time when I had very real reservations about going into a room of complete strangers.  Entering into unfamiliar territory intimidated me to the point of physically shrinking myself in the hope of becoming invisible in a corner somewhere.  I just could not walk up to people and introduce myself with a genuine smile on my face.  It was simply not who I thought I was and it was definitely a deterrent for the budding newspaper reporter that I wanted to become.

It took a self-actualization seminar well into my 30s to finally impress upon me that I was actually capable of effectively stepping out of my comfort zone.  I was like so many others who had accepted the self-image they had been given, instead of designing and installing the one they truly wanted.

With instructional assistance, I learned to visualize what I wanted to do and then to "step outside" of  my shy, inhibited shell of a body to boldly go about doing it with all of the emphasis and enthusiasm I could muster. The same principle can be applied to overcoming the fear of public speaking or taking on new challenges in life.  The more you practice the art of stepping outside of yourself in public situations, the more you force yourself, the easier it gets.  The more you take yourself by the seat of your pants and immerse the hesitant you into a challenging situation, the stronger you become.  And with each personal victory, the healthier your sense of self-image becomes.

In truth we all have times in life when we question our abilities and are uncomfortable in facing the unknown. When we learn to stop fighting against our poor self-image and start to change it, however, we take a major step in becoming the self-assured and confident person we always wanted to be.