Wednesday, April 9, 2003

I smelled a skunk cabbage today, and now I know why they're called that. I still like them, though, most likely because of the novelty of them. The whole woods filled with bright yellow stubs!

I smelled one on the side of the trail that runs from the village to Spruce Grove, the trail that Lara showed me the other day. She showed me on a bright sunny wonderful day, and today it was pissing rain, but it was still a good diversion. There were funny trees with lumps of moss only at the joints, and of course skunk cabbages, and little ponds with birches growing in them, and some of the birches had big black clawmarks from bears. Running chlorine-white beside the trail was the Fitzsimmons Creek, although I don't think it's full of chlorine. It may not be the healthiest river, but it ain't that bad. Looking at the funny lush mossy trees I thought about studying biology, and how I could surround myself with an ecosystem and learn all about its various parts; go live in some unknown little place and immerse myself in it, know the names of all the plants just by looking at them, have at the core of me the fact that everything is connected to everything else.

Then I thought about the hour I'd just spent reading the Globe and Mail at the library, and about how I'd adore history and political science. I thought, "you could do all that and still be a writer", and then I got to thinking about baggage, mental baggage, and emotional too. How you're never rid of it, and in relationships it feels like something heavy you carry around, but in reality it's just who you are. You don't wake up in the morning fresh and clean, someone new; who you were the night before stays with you. That's why it is possible to do so many different things in the course of your life, and to have a job that is not your passion, and still find that passion somewhere else. I can choose one thing to study and still learn about other things; I'm not closed off from biology and anatomy just because I'm becoming a historian or a teacher. These things seem obvious but they are not things that they tell you in high school. In high school the guidance counsellor (who is usually a very busy man, and sometimes a woman) sits you down and answers your college questions, and tells you some things, but not often the right things.

(I picked my guidance counsellor out of the three available because he wasn't everyone's favorite. That honor went to Mr. Neville, a man with flyaway grey hair and round glasses, who would rush around the halls of Memorial with his hair flat out behind him like a cartoon character. The other guy was too big and brusque and had too many other responsibilities, although he was nice enough. Mr. Rodriguez* was the third one, a grey man with grey clothes and a grey office, and for the most part a grey personality, but he was never too busy and I figured he had just as sensible answers to my sensible questions as the other two. And for the most part my suspicions were correct, he was pretty gray, but he was also a person, with stories, and we would get to talking. At first I wasn't sure how he would react to my plans to go travelling, but it turns out he was pretty supportive, and thought it was a good idea, although never did he say it was smart to give up my scholarship.)

Anyway. I came out the end of the trail, and walked up the steep gravel slope to the road, and thought about the fact, the cold hard truth, that I can't do everything, be everyone, see every place. I am just me, just this little being wandering around, looking seeing hearing saying feeling, with my biases and my past and my 'emotional baggage', my love of light through stained glass windows, my cooking, my preconceptions and my desire to be happy. This truth comes up a lot, but today I thought I should really accept it. I'm only part of the whole, there are millions of other little people like me running around. At this point an image of marbles was in my head. We're all marbles? That's the epiphany? And the world is one of those plastic mesh sacs that they come in? I wonder if that makes the universe the 1-2-3 Dollar Store.

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

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