Sunday, April 11, 2010

Circular

I've been reading back into my older posts both here on blogger and on my old blurty account and see plenty of areas where I discussed my life and beliefs.  Well, as I get a little older, plenty of my perspectives have changed.  To show a sample of where I'm at now, I just thought to post an edited version of my Toastmasters Icebreaker speech that I gave many months ago.  It's not my best writing  and doesn't go into a lot of detail, but remember this had to be a seven minute speech.
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Everybody has a different method to describe not only their own life, but of living itself. Some see life as a great quest to find fulfillment, whether that be spiritual, financial or intellectual. Others find life to be a big party…do as much as you can as fast as possible, and hope you don’t get caught. Some people travel the world in search of new adventures. Others never go further than the limits of their own towns. My own life I see as a Path of Adventure….I’ve had some wonderful experiences and some major setbacks. With each new event that occurs, my perspective in life has changed, not only to reconsider where I’m going, but to see in new light where I’ve been. I wish to share a few of these events with you…especially to show an interestingly circular route I took to get to be where I am today.


As a child, I didn’t really fit in with my peers. I was extremely emotional, and as I was easily provoked I was a target for bullies. But beyond that, I found that I didn’t like the regular classroom routine. My preference was in reading, which I gained a voracious appetite for. This of course, was just another area for the kids to identify where I was different than they were, as I didn’t follow the stereotype rules they thought I should follow. I remember being teased for reading the sequel to Mary Poppins, as that was such a “girl” book to read…it didn’t matter to me though. Reading was a sanctuary to me.

School’s at the time weren’t setup to accept this way of thinking. Bullying was a standard practice that was largely accepted by school administration…so going to school in Kleinburg I often snook off school property during recess to visit the library. It was a safe zone. I didn’t get in trouble as much as you’d think for this…I think the yard supervisors looked the other way as often as they could.

Eventually I used up my “Get out of jail free cards”. But then something else interesting happened. I was provided an opportunity to become a “tester” for the school computers. Other than for a video games system and a cousin’s Atari, I had no experience with one…but I took to it immediately. Soon it became a second obsession along. Now, this had a good and a bad side to it. One, it improved my grades…I had terrible handwriting and the teachers could stop guessing whether an assignment came from me or their family doctor. However I was now teased for being a computer geek, so there was to be no climbing any social ladders at this time.

As I matured and reached highschool age, my reading material changed with it. I was now reading some more advanced stuff, much of which had major philosophical or psychological tones. New concepts appeared on the horizon, and I wanted to find new ways to fit in…though couldn’t grasp the methods to do so.

What did I do? I dropped computers and found a new sanctuary in Theatre. Here was a new class of people who showed a different respect than I had ever seen. I had to work to earn it, but for once in my school life, I actually was rewarded for my efforts, and found a level of acceptance I had rarely seen. I was praised for my work, and actual considered auditioning for the National School of Canada. But I had a few setbacks that changed my direction. The largest was a discussion with a respected director at the Terragon Theatre in Toronto. I was doing a workshop there and she told us that to go into theatre for a living you have to take an “Oath of Poverty”. I was 17, with delusions of grandeur…that didn’t sound fun to me.

I took Radio and Television Broadcasting instead, but left before my first year was through due to conflicts with the curriculum. But the time wasn’t wasted. I gained two major focuses - More of my time was spent on a renewed and refocused interest in computers. The other, inspired by a friend and classmate of mine was poetry.  I ended up running a BBS (Bulletin Board System) in Scarborough called Counterparts which specialized in Poetry and while working for Canada's Wonderland as a roller-coaster operator would find myself writing new stanzas while waiting for each coaster to re-enter the station. 

My time as a BBS Operator ended up being the main reason why I ended up working for a computer store.  While in Scarborough, it was where I spent all of my energy...I would often work opening to close shifts, and absorbed everything I could.  I mastered graphic design, PC Administration and many software applications during my stint there.  But then I ended up moving up to Newmarket to work at the store there, and found myself re-united with my old community theatre group.  This I threw my entire energy into....in many ways detrimental to my job. I ended up losing that job because my heart just wasn't into it anymore. 

I continued to do work elsewhere, consulting with a different store for awhile, then doing some work for an employment agency...but it didn't feel like I was going anywhere...there was no challenge  Then the next big change happened.  My theatre connections ended up providing me a big break back into the computer world.

I good friend and fellow actor referred me to his boss who was looking for an entry-level analyst.  I landed that gig, and within a couple years had found myself mastering programming techniques.  But something was still stagnating...and I thought at the time that it was my locale.  I regretted not exploring more opportunities earlier, so I began looking for opportunities to work afar, like Bermuda and Boston. Since they weren’t panning out I jumped at a chance to work in Cambridge.  Sure it wasn't THAT far away, but it was something new.

That ended up not working out.  I didn’t find a good fit with the contract in Cambridge...and due to Nortel doing a big tank there were no other good jobs in that area to jump to.  So, after less than a year I found a new job back in Newmarket, and looked to move back. Friends set me up to share a townhouse in Aurora with a mutual friend. That friend would eventually become my girlfriend, and after 3 years, my wife.

This path I’m on has not been an easy one all the time…but what makes it a worthy journey is to see how I not only persevered but am growing as a person, a husband, a father each time one of these circular events happen.  I want to be able to make a worthwhile impact in this life on my own terms without having to sacrifice an adventurous spirit.

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Funny enough...the circular thing keeps happening with me.  Arts to Tech and back again.  Teaching ESL after a long stint as a programmer would certainly fit that pattern.

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