Monday, May 18, 2009
The view from the other side
The other side of the water, that is. Yesterday I spent a good portion of the day in and around Vancouver's Stanley Park and English Bay. I biked across the bridge from West Vancouver and did 2 circuits of the park and then back across the bridge towards home. While I was there, I met a friend from my creative writing program, saw my home from across the water, and took lots of pictures of it and the park scenery in the brilliance of the Vancouver sun. It was a day to be thankful for living in such a beautiful place.
Then, later on that day, after a last minute cancellation of a meeting with a friend in Vancouver's West End, I picked up an ice cream cone and wandered on foot, among the hundreds of tourists and sun worshipers, along the seawall near English Bay and back into the edges of the park.
I visited the place where my grandmother's memory lies warm in the ebbing surf, took off my shoes and wandered, barefoot across the wet sand, letting the ocean lap at my toes and push my footprints down into the beach. I saw small children laughing and building fortresses in the sand, their imaginations creating impenetrable sanctuaries full of adventurers, villians, and heroes where my eyes saw only piles of sand and bits of driftwood and rock. And I marveled, as always, at the human imagination. It is so free and natural in children. And sometimes, when the creativity is flowing, and 'life' isn't rudely imposing itself on me, I catch glimpses of that childlike imagination within myself. If I am lucky, it will stay with me long enough for me to write my story, that passage of dialogue, that description that will have you seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, feeling the same things as my characters do. And then you, too, will experience the joy of an unleashed imagination, however fleeting it is for us 'grownups'.
I met some lovely, interesting people. Peter, an artist who draws in pencil, the thin etched lines building and building to create a picture, perhaps a local scene from Vancouver, so clear and life-like it resembles a photograph. Or, with the eye of a true 'wet coast' city dweller, he draws the scene complete with the slick distortion of the rain, washing down the city as it often does, especially in spring and fall.
While I was admiring the artist's work, an older gentleman struck up a conversation with me, asking me where I was from and, eventually, if I had a husband. When I replied in the negative, he invited me to go over to the bar across the street and have a drink with him so we could get to know one another. I looked at him, smiling mutely, unable at first to believe this man, who was easily at least 20 years older than me, was actually asking me out. And I wondered, for one insecure moment, what this said about me. Then I realized that what was more important was what it said about him. His charming confidence was endearing and it made me realize something about the way I go through my own life. If you don't ask, you never know. And what harm was there done? No, I didn't go with him. But I smiled and thanked him politely, impressed despite myself.
How many opportunities have I missed by not asking, not just in romance but in life in general? How many doors needed me just to nudge them so that they could fling themselves open and reveal the possibilities that lay behind? I'll probably never know but I do know that, in future, it doesn't hurt to ask for what you want. The already myriad possibilities I saw for my life before yesterday just expanded even further and now have become almost limitless. If I ask for what I want, I might get a polite, or even less than polite, no. But.... What if I get a yes? What if you do? What can it hurt to dream, to reach, to strive for your dreams? Surely it will be much less hurt than to let the potential for those dreams fade away, never pursued but only ardently wished for.