Category Archives: creative non-fiction

Be Brave… if you feel like it.

Pfizer Canada Inc. has a new campaign.  It’s called “more than medication” and it intends to be instructional on improving your health and wellness beyond just the use of medication.  It’s a brilliant philosophy; one I wish I’d come up with myself!   The site offers a plethora of interactive tools, informative articles and everyday tips that are prepared and presented by an Advisory Board of doctors who are considered leaders in their chosen fields, and on behalf of Pfizer.

You may have seen the commercial for this campaign on TV; with the teenage boy who paints the “Be Brave” graffiti outside the small girl’s bedroom.   It’s a very touching sentiment and truth be told I get a lump in my throat each time I think of his gesture toward her. 

As touching as it is, I also feel some bitterness about the message painted.  We are led to believe that this little girl is quite ill, possibly terminal, and we are telling her to BE BRAVE.  Not asking – commanding.  Basically, buck up little beaver, suck it up and put on your happy face because it’s much too difficult for us to deal with if you’re sad or afraid.  It’ll just be harder on everyone, so it’s better if it’s just harder on you.  (That’s not Webster’s definition but its close) So we force a cloak of courage over her and we throw this little girl into battle as a warrior.  Does she always have to be brave?  Are you always brave?  Is it even healthy to always be brave and courageous?  By toting this jargon over and over again to the ill or downtrodden we imply that to have fear or show sadness is cowardice and weak.   It is implied because we have all learned some associations to our emotions – some are good (positive) and some are bad (negative). 

Really they just are what they are… emotions. We determine what we consider good or bad or acceptable or unacceptable.  There is no great Emotions God in the sky dictating that we treat some emotions with open arms and that we turn our backs in disregard to others.  Granted that some are fun to feel while others are not so much fun, but that doesn’t mean they are bad; or not worth having.  We need to stop deciding for other people what is acceptable for them to feel and what we are willing to tolerate from them.

These associations have been around a lot longer than us, and there are plenty more unconscious associations that we make every day.  Why does it matter?  Each day that you go about your unconscious life you may be unaffected by these associations, but be sure that you affect other people, and sometimes in devastating ways that you aren’t even aware of.

I think I will write to Pfizer and suggest they change the words “Be Brave” into “Today I will be brave for you” or “We’re here” or “You’re loved” or something that doesn’t require our egos dumping a burden of guilt on someone who just might not feel so brave today.  It’s OK to be afraid sometimes, let’s tell her that.

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under creative non-fiction, non-fiction, projects & events

A woman with no nose.

As a young girl, I would hang around in my grandfather’s workshop daydreaming the hours away.  Above his bench there was a small black cast iron plate that read “I once complained that I had no shoes… until I met a man with no feet”.  Even as a young girl that resonated with me.   My grandfather and his bench have been gone for 30 years, but that simple quote still plays in my head. 

The other day I stood patiently in line for the cashier at the corner Dollar Stop.  An old woman in front of me (moving impossibly slow) had far too many packages and bags for her cane to allow, and not near enough nimbleness of fingers to find her wallet and count out her total in coins, which I knew to be inevitability.  With her back to me, I passed the time imagining her haggard features and the events of her life that led her to this moment in time where she now stood before me and my ultimate freedom from the store.

In one quick second the old woman lost her wallet to the floor and the coins bounced and rolled in all directions.  Instinctively I dropped to the floor to begin the task of retrieval.  I quickly gathered her entire payment into the palm of my hand and gently extended my hand to the woman …whose back was still facing me.   She turned slowly and deliberately, (only later did I consider it a mustering of courage) and the old woman looked me in the face with the gentle eyes of a long lived life. 

There was a white surgical bandage running the length of her face, starting at forehead space between her eyes and stopping just short of her thin and chapped lips.  More startling than the presence of this white bandage was the absence of the bump from her nose.  The bandage was neatly placed, without wrinkle, and placed as smoothly against her skin as it would have been upon a tabletop.  I could hear the insensitive gasps of shoppers behind me and I squared my shoulders to block them from her view.  I kept my eyes locked on hers and with a genuine smile I took her small hand and placed her coins into them.   Her hesitancy broke my heart and in the same moment I suggested that if she was interested in throwing her money away that she might give me a moment to prepare a bag for catching it.  With this small joke the cashier giggled and the old woman smiled and spoke to me for the first time; an offer of thanks and an explanation of age for her clumsy nature.  With that, the old woman was gone and I was left with my silent curiosities and a total abandonment of my earlier impatience.

On the ride home the old woman dominated my thoughts.   Again I considered the events of her life that had led her to this moment.  The courage and strength she must wear out of the safety of her home like a coat and the sheer pleasure of a simple outing to the Dollar Stop.   This was a teachable moment for me.

What I take for granted can sometimes be as obvious as the nose on my face.

~uberscribbler

1 Comment

Filed under creative non-fiction, non-fiction

This bridge is for you.

I’ve been asked recently, by more than one individual, why I’m doing this project.  The answer to that runs much deeper than a one or two sentence reply.  I do aspire to help people, to be available to them in whatever capacity they need from me, and to educate on the simple cleverness of just being.  However the full truth runs deeper still.  It’s who I am, it’s who I’ve always been.  I’m a traveller… an explorer of humanity and mortality. 

When my father was a young man on the cusp of his adult life, he came across a poem written by Will Allen Dromgoole.  This poem opened in him the truth of who he was and who he wanted to be.  Like my father, I am a bridge builder.

An old man, going a lone highway,
Came at the evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm, vast and deep and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream had no fears for him;
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.

“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,
“You are wasting strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again must pass this way;
You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide-
Why build you the bridge at the eventide?”

The builder lifted his old gray head:
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followeth after me today
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building the bridge for him.”

 ~Will Allen Dromgoole

Leave a comment

Filed under creative non-fiction, non-fiction