Land and Ocean: Finding My Animal Spirit

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When I was a young child I spent a great deal of time in the woods. One of my most private moments occurred when the blue jays would enter the small woods on the edge of our property. I was always struck by their colours and royal stature. Even though I wanted to capture a wing, like a native Indian chief of my imagination, I never really took aim for either the jay or the crow. With bow or gun, I still respected their lives more than the trophy of the feathers. Perhaps that still holds true: I value the beauty of the things I love so much that I do not force myself to take the killing blows; perhaps I love beauty too much to ruin it. I can kill, but I know that when I move forward there is no turning back.

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My afternoon was spent driving to the ocean with my mother. We spoke of our lives in true confidence that neither of us, at ages 39 or 66, knew how to get what we truly desired. We seldom could even speak of where our lives would take us next. I do know where I want my life to go next, but I am struggling with lining up that killing shot. I do not want to maim that which I am unable to eat; I would rather befriend the hunted and run with it, than kill it like so many others would. Perhaps that makes me a weak man?

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I have spent the last day reading The Story of B. It has made me question the validity of not pursuing my vision to the very limits; this philosophical novel has pushed me to re-evaluate what matters to me. As I went driving with my mother, we questioned our life’s choices. We gave each other honest advice. We stopped and watched blue jays, Canada geese, the tides of the ocean and llama in the fields. We went to the homestead where I grew only to realize that the entire landscape was now altered and gone forever. But we still go forward. As Ulysses reminds us, we must continue “to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

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Who am I? I am a good man. I am a teacher. I am a photographer. I am a culinary explorer. I travel the world. I question the world around me. I am a writer and musician. I am an iconoclast in an age where most men follow insane rules without question. I am willing to bleed for the people I love, and I am willing to protect my enemies when they are in need. I believe in a God, but I have yet to experience such a force except in nature, and I do seek the communion with nature.

When I sat in trees as a young boy, lost in the sounds of the woods, I knew that I was different than the other boys. I paid heavily for my differences for my entire life, but those differences are what now allow me to see the world with a different vision; those differences are what make me stronger than rivals when the push comes to kill. Tomorrow morning I visit my new shelter, my 16 acres of wooded farmland in Belmont, PEI:  Varjupaik. I will take photos, I will drink honey mead I made with my closest friend from a cup that my brother bought me, and I will open my final present of the year on site with almost every person I love in this world. Tomorrow the rebirth begins and I will need to reckon the quick and the dead.

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