Saturday, 8 November 2014

What Makes Me Happy

I awoke this morning looking out the window of my Mom's bedroom. While I am visiting and she is in hospital, I am staying in her room. Outside the window there is a chestnut tree, it's leaves a mix of mottled yellow-green, gold, and the deep red brown that marks the end of the season. The branches are half-bare, quivering in the light breeze not strong enough to shake the dying leaves free to fall to the ground. Beyond the tree, through the screen of partially clad branches, the sky is a steel blue stretching to the horizon beyond the houses across the street. Light, bright, white clouds drift from the west, heralding another weather system here on the coast of BC, another pattern of rain and wind that will be snow in the high country, making the roads slick and wet for my drive back to Calgary.

When I see things like this, my mind is forced from reverie to wondering. I ask myself if this is the last time I will see this scene, the last time I will witness the colour march here in the fall. For so many things I am compelled to ask myself if there will be another time, if I will see this scene, if I will smell these smells and feel this way. It is a melancholy that forces itself into so many places in my life.

There is a consistency of advice around me these days. "Do what makes you happy." "Look after yourself first." "Do what you want to do." After a lifetime of doing what I think others need or want me to do, focusing on what I want is difficult. In truth, the thing I want to do, the thing that has for many years made me happy, is the first thing I truly lost to ALS - my ability to skipper my own boat to the tiny harbours and inlets that string along this crumpled coast. It is the ultimate cruelty of my experience with ALS, that the things I have loved to do are the things that are lost to me.

I have, of a sort, supplanted the boat with my truck. I like to be on the move. I like to see new places, or see old places again through new eyes. I like the moving panoply alongside the highway, the constantly changing cavalcade of trees and mountains and lakes, the characters of men and beast completing the show as I move along. I am inconstant, unable to stay in one place permanently or even the shortest of time, constantly seeking the next curve of the road, the next horizon line. I need to move; that makes me happy. I have itchy feet.

Of course soon ALS will steal that from me too. Soon I will lose my freedom to move, in my truck and eventually even in myself. This eventually is not long in coming; it's halfway here. I am already in the grips of battle with the thing that will ultimately win out, ending my wanderlust in hospital bound entrapment. When that happens, my only wanderings will be in my mind.

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