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Indian candy…

September 5, 2010

For a long time I searched for the black stone that cleanses the soul of death…

When I say a long time,

I think of a bottomless pit,

a tunnel dug with my fingers,

my teeth,

in the stubborn hope of glimpsing,

if only for a minute,

one infinitely lingering minute,

a ray of light,

a spark that would imprint itself deep within my eye,

that would stay protected in my entrails like a secret…

— in This Blinding Absence of Light by Tahar Ben Jelloun

Early this morning I woke from a string of dreams…

In one of the sequences I watched a chairlift,

and in each chair rode a young woman…

Each young woman wore a different habit…

I have no idea what the dream means,

but the feeling was of sweetness,


and virginity,

all tied up together…

The night before I had a dream about a former student who has autism,

and she was talking…

Telling me things in a new voice that she had just found,

or more like decided it was time to use…

She said that her family was moving to the home of the little red fish…

This surprised me,

but I was so happy that she had come to visit me in my dreams,

and I couldn’t wait to find out more about what she had to say,

from the world she had,

until now,

kept to herself…

Four years ago I went to Camp Jubilee with the grade six and sevens,

at my old school…

I’d always wanted to go,

because it was a way for me to reconnect again with students who I had worked with when they were five and six years old,

before they left for the big house,

and things were finally falling into place for me to do so…

On that trip,

which was my second time to camp…

I got a turn to wear the captains cap,

as we drove the boat out of Deep Cove…

The next day at the archery range,

a girl sat beside me and said,

with a grand sigh,

They spend more time here telling us what we can’t do than we have to actually do anything,

like she was reading my mind…

I feel exhausted by the end of all these instructions,

she added,

resting her head on my shoulder,

I need a nap…

I asked,

How do you think they could do this differently???

Well they could start by changing the language,

telling us what we can do instead of what we can’t…

she said,

offering the most simple solution…

And they only need to say something once…

Adults always think they have to say the same thing over and over…

They don’t realize the more they say the less we hear…


she said,

pointing to my watch,

We’ve been sitting here for 30 minutes…

I’ll bet I only get to shoot that arrow three times…

If I’m lucky…

In the pause I remembered the first time I saw this girl,

as a baby,

sitting in a shopping cart at Costco…

The image of her family imprinting on my mind…

Some months,

or maybe even a few years later,

I saw her in our school playground with her mom and her older brother…

Some time after that she was in my class…

Then one day,

when she was in grade six,

I was problem solving with some intermediate students during lunch,

I heard her say something from down the hall,

something about what she sees in me,

that I had never had awareness of before…

Offering a new lens,

and language,

I’d forgotten…

I get tired from negativity too,

I told her,

And I’ve been waiting for a whole year to do this…

Last Spring I pulled an arrow here,

and I had this beautiful feeling…

Like something was being activated in me…

Did you get a big shiver???

she asked,

Like you were remembering something???

Yes, exactly like that,

I confirmed,

Do you get that feeling too???

All the time,

she said,

People write that off as déjà vu,

but I know it’s something more…

Sometime after that revelation at the archery range,

I was walking beside a boy,

on the way to the kayaks…

The boy was defined with something,

like Asberger’s…

He’d never been in my class,

but his younger brother had…

The younger brother was quiet,

but could cut to the quick with his deadpan wit,

when you least expected it…

The older brother took his time to say what he did,

but when he delivered it was right between the eyes…

On our walk across the rocks,

I heard him mumble,

I guess we’re going to hear a bunch of rules now,

with a tip of attitude.

I asked him what he thought about rules…

Some are okay,

he said,

but most rules are unnecessary…

I asked him if he’d ever kayaked before…

Only once,

with my mom,

on Burnaby Lake,

he said quietly,

looking out,

over the water…

After what seemed to be the standard thirty minutes of wading through a river of rules,

in lecture format,

this boy and I shared a kayak…

And once we were in the water,

it was like we’d already done this a thousand times,


Our paddles swinging completely in sync,

as we dip, dipped,

into Indian Arm…

Three seals popped their heads up,

to watch us,

as we glided by…

A week or so after the kayaking,

I had was being interviewed,

south as the crow flies from Camp Jubilee…

One of the interviewers told me,

point blank,

If you want to get to all of the places you want to go in this district,

you need to put all of your cards on the table…

I didn’t know which cards she was talking about,

or the places she was referring to…

I was still in shock that I was sitting across the table from two people I didn’t know,

telling them things that I wasn’t yet certain of…

Then after the inter-view,

I paddled my red canoe,

up Coast Meridian Road…

And right at the very end of the road I got triggered,


Roofers are known to be a shifty bunch…

But three years ago I supervised the re-roofing of the six houses in my strata,

and everyday on the project I was faced with an honesty and integrity that was bar none…

Yesterday the roofers were called back to deal with a fiasco,

due to the failure of my direct neighbours to open a window,

and properly ventilate,

when they shower…

Pretty much a no-brainer explanation for why they have had a persistent problem with the skylight,

in their vaulted ceiling,

dripping black water onto their bed,

when the weather outside freezes and warms…

In the span of three years,

the roof deck,

in the circumference of the bathroom and skylight,

was black with rot and mould…

Work that was done well on the outside of the house,

was being blamed for negligence to the insides of the house…

A history that will keep on repeating itself,

in our public schools,

until we wake up and smell the coffee

This coming week a fresh new army of children will be showing up all excited for their first day of Kindergarten…

If I were in all of the places that I want to go in a school district,

I would be keeping track of how many children come into my schools,

with no signs of constipation,






tummy aches,

eye twitches,


and the myriad of other possible ways of sending up smoke signals,

and how many children are showing symptoms of P.S.T.D.’s,

by Thanksgiving

Doctor, doctor, give me the news...

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