Monday, December 28, 2020

Taking stock as a new year looms

 I did something today I rarely do. 

Looking to copy a New York Times recipe for fried chicken and looking for a medium on my iPad paste the recipe into, I opened Pages, the Apple word processor. 

It was like opening a chest in the attic. Bits and pieces of draft correspondence, work-related memos from a time that has lost most of its relevance. Like a trove of old snapshots of infants long since adults, cars that are no longer, homes that have drifted from view.

Among the litter was an introspective piece I wrote that was intended as the landing page of a new blog that never saw the light of day. There is nothing I wrote that is not still absolutely true. Other than the dragon blog that never became more than a passing fancy. I did write here about dragon themes. You can find them with the help of Google, or click here where I have done the search for you.

Now I remember that I also used my iPad to create an image for the would-be blog. A dragon, for reasons that will shortly become apparent. I tried to find the image, but somehow. all my content in the app I used has somehow been blitzed into oblivion.

All that was in the fall of 2013, just over seven years ago. It turned out that the horizon I imagined where my world would change in a slow dreamy whirlwind was only two years away, events that I barely could have imagined at the time, with extremely positive outcomes I could never have foreseen. I wrote about that here.

I am struck by the candor of what I had proposed to publish for the world to see back in the fall of 2013. So struck, that I am publishing it here. I am setting it in italic to delineate past from present. 

“What's up?

I'm up!

I'm moving up, moving out, growing up, reaching out.

I was born in the year of the Dragon, but I didn't know it.

My mother gave me a Chinese autograph stamp one Christmas.  Made of jade, its base served as a pedestal for a dragon.  She told me my name was engraved in Chinese characters on the base and that it was a dragon stamp because I was born in the year of the dragon.

I no longer remember when that was, but it was many years ago.

2012 was the year of the Dragon.

For a long time, I didn't have a firm sense of who I was.

I recognize my mother's shy little boy in me.  That boy became a teenager, then a man.  A faithful husband.  A loving, caring father.  Not in any sense a dragon.

Somewhere along the way I struggled to understand who I might become.  Confidence was elusive.  Success was hard won.  I often felt that others achieved more easily, more certainly.   When I look back, I see a tentative me.  Some part of me always holding back.  Wary of committing myself.  Content to accept what was on offer.  Cautiously keeping to the middle of the road. 

My outlook was deeply coloured by my earliest experiences in school.

When I think about this (and I have to say that I thought about this many times in my life) a memory often comes to mind.  The flaming carrot-top, outspoken, goody-two-shoes, earnest-to-a-fault, whip-smart, front-row-sitting, teacher's pet, first grade class president.

And there I was, lurking in the back rows, one of two non french-speaking kids in a sea of glib easy-speakers, unable to understand, barely coping, a fish out of water, isolated, wary, sometimes mocked, usually ignored, I might as well have been on an alien planet learning to breathe water.

I consoled myself by thinking that carrot-top had made the critical error of peaking too early.  In first grade.  I liked to think that by sixth grade he was slowly cruising to the bottom, headed to the back of the class, washed up, soon to be expelled.  I am now certain that he excelled all along. 

That early French immersion challenge my parents tossed my way was the right thing for me.  Eventually, pretty quickly in fact, I became fluent in my father's mother-tongue and the culture of Quebec.  A critical skill that serves me well to this day.  It was a harsh way to learn though.  No mercy.  Thrown into the deep end to learn how to swim on my own.

Those early years in school coloured my life.  They made me a believer in the importance of surfing the life-curve, moving slowly and warily to find the right wave that would let me ride to safety.

At some point this strategy began ebbing, threats loomed.  By then I had responsibilities to shoulder.  It wasn't just me.  My family depended on me.  For food, for shelter, for lessons.  If I was content to live quietly, it wouldn't do for those who depended on me.

In time, facing my fears, forcing myself into the unknown, I began to find confidence that I never had.  I found it easier to venture out when the objective was to serve others.  To ensure I was a reliable source of support for my family.  To contribute to the success of my firm, my community, my profession.

Today, I can say this.  I have the curiosity and courage to meet challenges head on.  I have learned to walk, eyes open and looking forward, towards the things that intimidate.  I have learned to deal with the fear of the unknown that paralyzes, by reaching out to learn.  I have, more than once, found myself in challenging situations, when the risks were tangible.  I always felt that learning was the key.  That's my weapon of choice.

That attitude led me to volunteer.  

More recently, I have learned to reach out for things I want.  To assert myself.

All those lessons.  And here I am.

I may be close to becoming the dragon that was lurking in me all this time.

That is the theme I will explore here.

I'm in no rush, so don't expect a flood of posts.

I'm working on a huge project.  Although I have enjoyed a lot of success, and the beginning of an amazing adventure is in sight, there is still a lot to do.  I think of it as rolling a boulder up a hill.  I'm close to cresting the hill.  I have some momentum.  The rest, as they say, may well be a downward slope with less pushing and more guiding to do.

Time will tell.

One of the skills I have is that I can write.  I just don't know how well I can write.

Like many would be writers, I have a novel in the works.  So far I haven't had much time to devote to it.  I have too many full-time jobs at present.

I may decide to try some of the material from the novel out here.  Just to see if anyone likes it.  One of the harshest critiques of someone's writing I have come across is this: "That's not writing, that's typing!"  I sincerely hope never to hear any criticism quite that mean-spirited 

So there you have it.

The bare beginning of yet another blog.”

I like what I wrote back then. The novel? I haven't touched it. Still too many jobs. It's a little sad, if I have to maintain that soul-bearing candor.

Maybe 2021 will be a year that sees me return to the draft.


Coop a.k.a. Coopdway said...

Start writing. How long do you expect us to wait?? ;)

WhenIRide said...

To date, I have written 3 screenplays that never went anywhere. I have a 4th screenplay that is unfinished. I have completed one book, sat on it for a few years and started a re-write to make it more relevant, haven't finished it. I have four other books that are unfinished. Two Sci-fi, one political satire and one motorcycle travel book (which may see completion this year).
Like you, too many jobs in progress. Too many things I like to do. I've learned to enjoy the process myself.

David Masse said...

@Coop - Doug you are quite right. A lack of consideration on my part, for sure. I'll see what I can do about it. :)

David Masse said...

@WhenIRide - Ted thank you very much for that very kind comment. I had no idea you were also a blogger, a bicycle rider, an author, and a playwright, in addition to being the host of your amazing Motorcycle Men podcast.

I read the posts on your blog and I was very touched by how open and candid you are. One can never know when success will crown our efforts. I have read a number of famous authors' biographies. There is usually a trail of steadfast refusals from publishers, until that fateful day when someone goes out on a limb and takes a chance. J.K. Rowling comes to mind.

All the best to you for 2021 Ted, and keep up the good work.

SonjaM said...

You are quite the bilingual wordsmith. Just do it, David.

If you are not sure about being published... have a look at and be your own publisher.

Cheers, good luck and all the best for you and your family.


David Masse said...

Thank you Sonja.

You are right of course. I am reading Atomic Habits by James Clear. He too suggests that to nurture a new habit, like writing a novel for instance, the key is to just do it. Take the tiny steps. grab the low hanging fruit. Open the file, read what you have, add a paragraph. Tomorrow add another. The day after do the same. The odds are that one paragraph will lead to two, then three, and in the fullness of time, the novel will be done.

I'll have a look at

Thanks for your kind words, truly appreciated.

The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.