Opinion » Maxed Out

Maxed out

Life lessons from the MIY road



I am not now and never have been a terrorist. Hopefully that statement will satisfy the Solicitor General, CSIS and any other spook on the national payroll who feels obliged to ask such questions when Canada’s new anti-terrorism legislation gets around to being rubberstamped. Oh sure, I’ve been accused of terrorizing the neighbourhood, being a terror in class and looking terrorized the first time I strapped on a pair of rollerblades but I’m sure that’s not what they’re after.

Still... there was a moment – only a moment – recently when I felt I was teetering on the brink, comically trying to keep my balance and not fall into the abyss from which one can not re-enter polite society. The life-changing choice I had to weigh was whether to swallow hard, choke back tears of frustration, disbelief and abject disappointment and do the "right thing" or reach for a nearby Buck knife and cut the cold, cold heart out of the Customs officer giving me no end of grief and no quarter of reason.

It was a tougher call than you might imagine. But for total exhaustion and a very real fear of what goes on in prison showers, I might have chosen the wrong path. It felt like a distinct possibility for unendurably long moments. It was like knowing something you were about to do was wrong but not being able for the life of you to remember why it didn’t make perfect sense, given the circumstances.

Now that it’s behind me, now that the blood lust has passed and I’ve gotten on in a very Canadian way – filling out paperwork and appealing the completely boneheaded decision – I can tell the story. For in it lie some important life lessons for these troubled times.

Stuff is stuff

Lesson number one is this: Anything you put carefully into storage nine years ago, no matter how valuable or seemingly important, is no longer treasure; it’s just stuff. Of course, nine years ago, I didn’t expect the REALLY IMPORTANT things I was storing would be squirreled away for almost a decade. Frankly, I didn’t know what to expect. Didn’t know whether Whistler was the kind of place an urban malcontent like me might fit into. Didn’t even know if Whistler was a real place or just some skier’s fantasy; all fluff all the time.

It took a couple of seasons to discover the funky town hidden under the resort was home to enough other malcontents of various stripes that I’d clearly arrived where I was intended to be. It took a little longer however to figure out the only people who lived in more than 700 square feet were realtors, retired realtors and aging hippie-jocks who’d been in town longer than the shag carpet gracing most of the rental suites I viewed. Short of turning to a life of crime to finance a real estate habit, I had to come to grips with the fact I would never have enough space in Whistler to house me, my Perfect Partner, Vince the Cat and the contents of what I euphemistically refer to as the Maxwell-Siemens Collection.

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