Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Finding "The One"

The other day, I visited a blog at, written by a fellow who lives in London and who works for a financial institution there (reminds me of myself when I used to work for CIBC, but I lived in British Columbia, not in the British Isles), and, there, I read a post from someone who asked GB how to meet "the one," the right person for him with which to built a long-term relationship.

This is a subject near and dear to my heart, because
1). I remember when I was single and desperate--yes, desperate--to find the right person for me;
2). I found the right person in June 1992, and we just celebrated our seventeenth anniversary together; and
3). I believe loneliness is epidemic in the world, especially in the gay community, and I don't want anyone, straight or gay, to be emotionally alone one minute longer if he doesn't want to be.

I returned to Gay Banker today to copy the comments I attached to his post--with the hope of saying something that would help someone find "the one"--and to include them here in my own blog, because I know that what I wrote helped me find "the one" in my life. I'll use my copied comments as the basis for this post, and, because I have the additional opportunity, I'll elaborate or clarify wherever I think necessary.
Here's what I had to say:
There is no better way to find "the one" than to work on yourself first. Low self-esteem often translates to "I'm desperate," and no one is attracted to someone who is desperate to couple.

I don't think anyone should feel that unless he spends thousands and thousands of dollars on counseling or therapy, he doesn't have a chance of improving his self-esteem and readying himself for "the one." There are other ways of getting yourself together, such as reading self-help books, journaling through your issues (both of which I've found very helpful over the years), and sharing with trusted family and friends. But, in the end, you can only change by wanting to more than anything else, by truly believing in your own self-worth, and by taking small steps in that direction.

Also, don't think for a moment you ever get to a place of having healthy self-esteem, and there's no further work to do. That's just deluding yourself. In some respects, you'll have low, or poor, self-esteem for the rest of your life. You'll go along thinking you've done the hard work to love and accept yourself, and then something will come up that returns you to the same self-loathing and insecure person you were years ago. It happens because, honestly, we never really get rid of that person inside--we only mask him over.

And you'll think you're right back where you were before, except that you're not. Because, this time, you live your life more consciously, more aware of the games you play with yourself. And, when you start to put yourself down, you'll recognize the old patterns, and you'll stop, and you'll tell yourself you won't do that again, and you'll change the mind talk to something more positive, or, at least, something not so negative and destructive. That's called, "living life consciously." It's also called, "doing yourself a favor." You don't deserve all that negative talk. You have value and self-worth, just by being born into this world. And you should stop all the negative self-talk at once. It's an utter waste of time and brain space.

Sometimes...sometimes you need outside help with your self-esteem issues, that manifest themselves in the most unusual and unexpected ways.

Late last year, I started having major problems sleeping. Some nights, I went to bed at 11:00 pm, or just before, and didn't fall asleep until 4:00 or 5:00 am. I woke up around 7:30, exhausted, and I was a zombie for the rest of the day. I dreaded another night rolling around, because I was certain I wouldn't be able to fall sleep. I got myself on a vicious cycle.

I saw my doctor numerous times. Eventually, he had to prescribe Ativan (which is hard on the brain and addictive, and which I took until only a week ago, having slowly weaned myself from it).

I also went to see a family counsellor. Initially, the issue was that I couldn't sleep, but I soon learned that my inability to fall asleep was directly connected to my ongoing self-esteem issues, which I thought I'd resolved some time ago but obviously hadn't.

During six intensive sessions with Susan, I cried my face off (to the point that I was exhausted from the purging of emotions and pent up anxieties related to growing up in a dysfunctional family and growing up gay), and I learned more about myself than I knew before. I left each session feeling cleansed, and refreshed, and strengthened to move forward with my life, including relaxing enough to fall asleep. I also learned techniques:
1). to breathe properly and to relax my body and mind;
2). to re-parent myself (since my mom and dad didn't always do the greatest job;
3). to change the negative script in my head;
4). to stop blaming the little boy inside of me for all the bad things that happened to me while I was growing up; and
5). to love that little boy unconditionally, the source of all self-esteem as an adult.
Did I solve every problem in my life through counseling? Of course not. But what a great help it was in so many ways.

(I hasten to add that counseling may not be for everyone. You must be in a position to accept counseling as a means of getting better, to trust your counsellor completely, and you have to be prepared to open yourself to another human being in ways that you never have before. But do I recommend it as a method of self-discovery, and as the means to get on with the business of living. Sometimes, counseling helps to unblock what prevents you from moving forward. It may be the only way to do it. But, as I said before, I don't think that you have to pay hundreds of dollars to undergo counseling in order to find the right person for you.)

Finally, I don't believe you can actively go looking for "the one." I do believe you can leave yourself open and available to "the one" when that person crosses your path. But, just like everything else in life, the right person for you will enter your life when it's meant to happen--and not a moment before. As cliche as that sounds, it's absolutely true.

In the meantime, the foremost task ahead of you is to work on loving yourself first. In the process, live your life fully and vibrantly, engaging in tasks and activities that you feel passionate about and that make you come alive. Prepare for how wonderful and incredible it will be to be with "the one," because, believe me, it is.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Homosexuality and Religion

Just before Chris and I moved to _____, I read a book called "Crisis: 40 Stories Revealing the Trauma of Growing Up Gay in America," edited by Mitchell Gold. Gold asked well-known and not-so-well-known Americans to write brief essays about either their experiences growing up gay or raising children who are gay.

For me, the book was compelling because, one, I'm gay myself and have a vested interest in the subject, and two, because it described in vivid, and usually heartbreaking, detail what human beings, like you and me, went through just because they are gay or because they raised gay children.

A common theme throughout "Crisis" was the role religion played in discrimination often leveled at gays and lesbians. None of us is unfamiliar with the impact religion has had in our world over the centuries as the source of many conflicts that resulted in untold deaths.

But I was stunned to learn the extent to which religion is used as a form of judgement against people who are gay. For many religious people, being gay is a moral issue--what's right and what's wrong--based on what they believe their religion dictates. Hence, there are plenty of instances where parents have disowned their children and thrown them out of the house, never wanting to see them again, simply because their children identified themselves as gay or lesbian. In extreme cases, gay boys and lesbian girls have attempted suicide, some of them succeeding, because they knew their families would never accept them for religious reasons, or because they were led to believe they were immoral because of their religious upbringing.

I was raised a Catholic. Until I was well into my twenties, I attended mass every week, and on special religious occasions, such as Easter and Christmas. Back then, I would have described myself as a religious person, who believed in the teachings of the church and who had a strong relationship with God.

But, toward my mid-twenties, by which time I'd come to terms with myself as a gay man and needed, more than anything else, to come out so I could live my life more fully, including finding another young man with whom to share my life, my relationship with the church had begun to crumble.

I was well aware of the Catholic church's unbending position on such issues as abortion, and contraception, and homosexuality, and, increasingly, I could no longer reconcile who I was with how the church felt about me. "Love the sinner, hate the sin" no longer worked in my mind, because I didn't consider myself a sinner as a gay man (although, unconsciously, I refrained from engaging in gay sex until I was twenty-six, because I still wanted the church to look on me favorably). Thereafter, I stopped going to church, even on special occasions, and I now define myself as a spiritual, not a religious, person.

I don't know how the matter of homosexuality is so cut and dried for so many religious people, especially where their own children--the human beings they gave birth to and raised for twenty or so years--are concerned. How can a strongly religious father or mother disown and throw out his or her gay son simply because of his or her religious convictions? How does that happen?

To me, in the end that means the parent has chosen the possibility of an afterlife with God over loving and taking care of their own flesh and blood on earth. Will God not stand in judgement of them for being so cruel and heartless to their own children? Will they not sabotage their efforts to join God in the afterlife because they rejected their children, turning off their love and compassion?

I guess for many parents, homosexuality is a matter of their son or daughter making the wrong lifestyle choice. They believe that people choose their sexuality, who they connect with emotionally, intellectually, mentally, and, yes, physically.

Were they ever faced with the decision to chose their sexuality? Did someone approach them one day and say, "Today, you must choose to be straight or gay. Make your choice and live the rest of your life with the consequences of your decision."

I know I was never given that choice. From the very first moment I was attracted to someone, I was a little boy, well under ten years of age, and I was interested in other males. I didn't understand the interest, and my connection to them made no sense to me, but my confusion become clearer as I grew older. I was just interested in other males. End of story. No choice there. I was hardwired that way.

So if there is no choice involved, how can it be said I wasn't born that way? That God didn't make me that way? And that, if God made me that way, I am not perfect in his image?

Of course, I could have submitted to the expectations of others, including the Catholic church. I could have chosen to turn my back on my homosexuality altogether. I could have chosen not to be who I fundamentally am by denying it totally and completely; by telling myself I was attracted to girls and women; by meeting the "right" young woman, falling in love; getting married, and having children. I could have succumbed to society's expectations of me, just to make everyone else and the church happy.

Plenty of people have done this. Plenty of people have played the role expected of them, only to discover they are utterly miserable, not at all the people they were born to be, and maybe even suicidal because they are not true to themselves. And, in the process, they've involved other innocent human beings, including spouses and children, because, as some would say, they didn't have the courage to be who they were in the first place.

I don't pretend to write anything different here from what hasn't already gone around and around ad nauseam. The point is that religion is not about judging other people, and thinking you're better than anyone else because you follow the strict edicts of the church, and discriminating against other people because they aren't like you. Religion should be about God and love and compassion and acceptance.

I don't miss the Catholic church. In many ways, I'm closer to God now than I was when I attended church every week. Then, I followed what my parents wanted me to do, and I didn't consciously know what I was doing. Now, I, as a fully realized human being, who happens to be gay, think for myself, have a relationship with God because I want and need one, and know He loves me just the way I am.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Connection, Part Two

Late in May 2008, I was in Kelowna with Chris to help my grandmother celebrate her ninetieth birthday. While she still lives in her own place and is mostly able to take care of herself, it's obvious she's deteriorated over time--she doesn't move as quickly, her short-term memory is not the best, she's no longer able to drive (and is dependent on others to get her around), and, with little else to do, she spends a lot of time sleeping (either getting up very late in the morning or napping on the sofa during the day). She's still the same grandmother I have known and loved dearly all these years, but age has had its way with her.

And she knows it. I've reminded her countless times how fortunate she is to be ninety years old, to still have her health, to still be able to get around, to still have her mental capacity, to never have spent a day in the hospital due to illness. I tell her she is an inspiration to all of us--her two daughters (one of whom is my mother), to her five grandchildren, and to her four great grandchildren. Hopefully, we're all fortunate enough to live as long as she has, and to be in the position she's in.

But she's old, and she knows it. She knows she's on a slow but steady downward decline. She knows she'll never be able to drive again, that she'll never have the same mobility she once had. She knows the affects of aging will never go away. She knows she's a shadow of the once vibrant and active spirit she used to be. And she knows, without a doubt, that the good Lord will ask her to join Him again soon.

Last May, my grandmother said something to me that I'll keep for the rest of my life. In relation to Chris and me, and our relative ages (I'm forty-nine and Chris is forty), she said, "These are the best years of your life. Live them fully. You'll never get them back." And, given how much I've felt the creeping of the years lately, the student was ready to hear the teacher. I was grateful for the reminder from someone I respect and love so much.

I remember my grandmother when she was around my age. In the early 1970s, when I was in my early teens, my family lived in Dawson Creek, and I took the bus to Kelowna, where my grandparents lived, to spend three summers with them. In late August, my parents and sister drove down from Dawson Creek, "camped" for a couple of weeks in a large Vanguard trailer in the back yard, and returned with me up north for the next year. (We didn't move to Kelowna until October 1974.)

Spending the summer with my grandparents I see now was a magical experience. I loved Kelowna and the blistering hot weather; the various seasons of fruit (starting with strawberries in late June and progressing through cherries and apricots, until peaches and plums in late August, when we had to return back home); the alone time I had with my grandparents--my grandfather working on construction sites by day and watching "Sanford and Son" and "The Sonny and Cher Show" at night; my grandmother working non-stop in and around the house--grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking, making jam and canning fruit, entertaining non-stop company (mostly her relatives, who lived elsewhere and now had an excuse to visit Kelowna); and spending hours and hours in her yard--watering, weeding, and tending flowers, shrubs, fruit trees, and her vegetable garden.

Sometimes, I drive by that house now, 780 Martin Avenue, the one my grandparents moved to in 1970, the one my grandfather transformed from a small bungalow to a large family home, and I recall with great fondness my times spent there. My grandmother was a lively and generous spirit, and I remember how connected I felt to her when I watched her complete her daily tasks, how we used to talk about anything and laugh continuously, how I admired her and her endless energy. What great memories. What a wonderful time of my life (outside of my life in school, of course).

A couple of years ago, when I went to Kelowna to visit my family again, my grandmother's driver's license taken away from her several years earlier, I got the idea to take her out in my car, to drive her anywhere she wanted to go. More than anything else, I wanted her to experience of the freedom of mobility again, but I also knew it would be great to spend alone time with her. On a warm and sunny day, I opened the moonroof of the car, and we zoomed down the roads in and around Kelowna.

Among the places we visited were Knox Mountain, on the outer perimeter of the city. I drove us all the way to the top. We got out of the car, walked to a panoramic viewpoint of the Okanagan Valley and Kelowna, and I took pictures of my grandmother there, while she sucked apple juice from a small box, the light wind blowing her bleached blonde, wavy hair just like that of a young girl seventy-five years younger. What fun we had that day, just the two of us, connecting again like it was the early '70s--talking, laughing, confiding in each other--feeling fully alive.

The days of staying with my grandparents in Kelowna are long gone, and my grandmother and I are much older people (my grandfather passed away in April 1992). She just turned ninety-one on May 31, and, as I've written before, I'll turn fifty this October.

Where did all the intervening years go? What happened to our lives while we were living it, too busy to pay much attention to the marching of time?

I've witnessed the slow decline in my grandmother over the years. I've seen how time and age have taken her from expanding in the world, to contracting now, as happens naturally enough when one grows much older. I put myself in her shoes at the age I am now, and see how I still have so much ahead of me.

And yet, I see how quickly it will all pass too. People and places and experiences will all come and go. And, if I'm really fortunate, I'll live to be ninety myself, complete with the ability to still get around on my own and to think coherently.

But let there be no mistake that, God willing, I will grow increasingly old, and I will lose some of my capacities, and I may even lose Chris, a thought that is more upsetting to me than any other.

That's why, when I have those moments of utter bliss with him, as I did at Save-On Foods yesterday, when I am one with him and everything around me and the entire universe for that matter, I need to drink that up to the very last drop. But I know for a fact that moments like that are fleeting, and so are circumstances in life.

I don't think you can force these moments. I don't think you can make them happen because you want them to. The only thing you can do is be open to them--because they happen unexpectedly, and because they happen during the most mundane of experiences, like shopping for groceries--and to suck them up completely, like you have the worst thirst imaginable.

The meaning of life is made of moments like these, one succeeding the other, perhaps with days or weeks or months between them. We must not let them go by without firmly placing them in our hearts, to draw on when we are much older, and our lives have taken us down roads we never thought we'd travel.

Connection, Part One

So yesterday, Chris and I were at Save-On Foods, completing the mundane task of buying groceries for the week. Both of us were in good moods--talking, laughing, and teasing each other. If anyone had been able to listen to us continuously, they would have thought we were part of a TV sit-com. The zingers flew back and forth--nothing hurtful or cruel, mind you--and both of us were completely in sync with each other. It felt great to be alive and to be me.

At one point, as I was pushing the buggy around the end of a shelving unit, Chris behind me looking at something on a shelf, I felt an overwhelming sense of complete and utter joy; of deep-seated satisfaction and oneness with the wonderful man in my life and with the universe, really; of total well-being within the context of my life.

I get this sometimes--not all the time--and the only way to describe it is that I receive a flash of awareness of everything I have, and I know, so much more than I usually do, how fortunate I am--and how grateful for all that I have been given. I mean, just think about it: I have my life, my health, my relationship with the love of my life; all of my daily needs are not only met but far exceeded; and I have the potential and the possibilities of the future. How can I not feel fortunate and grateful?

It's at moments like these when I'm reminded I could be in such a different "place" (there's that word again, Wendy) in my life, where I might not have everything I do now, or where some or all of it could be taken away from me. What if, for example, Chris were in a fatal car accident, and he were no longer a part of my life?

Not a pleasant thought, and one I know I shouldn't dwell on. But it's times like these when our awareness of what we have becomes so much more acute, and when we find ourselves saying as heart-felt a thank-you to our Creator as we are able, in our inadequate way, to utter. It's easy to say thank-you for what we have as we lay in bed at night and wait for sleep to overcome us; however, it's a completely different thing when we realize, fully awake and conscious, what our lives would be like without someone we hold most dear. That's when we say the thank-you we really mean.

Thank you, God, for Chris and the relationship we share. I can't imagine how different my life would be--how less worth living?--if Chris were not a part of it. Please keep us safe, please help us to grow stronger, and please keep us together for many years to come.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Seventeen Years Ago

I debated whether I should take my computer out tonight to write a quick post about Chris's and my seventeenth anniversary today. But, since this blog is all about our relationship as a gay couple, I thought I should mark the occasion by simply noting it.

We didn't do much to celebrate. That happened at last night's dinner with my mother at Kingfisher, which I wrote about briefly in a previous post.

My sister Debbie, and her boyfriend Brett, came to get Mom today, so Chris and I spent most of the day by ourselves, running a number of errands around Port Coquitlam, Pitt Meadows, and Maple Ridge. We shared greeting cards this morning and, on numerous occasions, wished each other a happy anniversary.

I won't get specific about what we wrote in our cards to each other, but Chris thanked me for being his partner over all these years together, and I wrote that I know how blessed I am to have Chris as my partner.

I'm proud of what we've achieved over seventeen years of being committed to each other. We've done it without having an open relationship at any time, which is no small accomplishment in the gay community, and which neither one of us believes in.

From the very beginning, we both agreed we wouldn't tolerate an open relationship. We don't believe in them.

I believe they are nothing but a big excuse to indulge in sex with whoever you want to, yet still be fortunate enough to have someone to go home to. That's unacceptable conduct in my book. It's immoral and selfish, even if it's agreed that both people can have sex outside of the relationship with whomever they want. In this case, you can't have your cake and eat it too.

I believe strongly that sex must be shared with that special person in your life, the one you are committed to and that you build a life with, not with every attractive person you see. On this subject I'm completely unbending. In fact, even the thought of open relationships makes me angry.

In general, gay men need to get their act together and stop being such pigs when it comes to sex, especially when they are in relationships. Open relationship or not, if you want to play around, you don't deserve to have a committed partner. Get sex out of your system before partnering seriously with someone.

How in the hell did I get from the wonderful subject of celebrating our seventeenth anniversary together to expressing my puritanical position on open relationships and promiscuity in the gay community?

Happy anniversary to us. I really value what I have with Chris, and I am blessed beyond all measure to share my life with such a wonderful human spirit. (I can't conceive of having sex with anyone else while I'm with Chris, and I can't believe that works for anyone else either.)

Here's to the next seventeen, and the seventeen after that, too.

Friday, June 12, 2009


I'm ashamed to admit this, and it's completely superficial, but what the hell? Perhaps if I write about it, I'll understand it better. Or perhaps I just need to get it out of my system.

Near our house in ____________ is a high school. Around 3:00 p.m. every afternoon, I see students walk by our front window, on their way home from school.

About three weeks ago, I saw a couple of young men walk by the house, obviously friends, talking among themselves and enjoying their camaraderie. I'd guess their ages to be around sixteen or seventeen.

With the hot temperatures we've had over the past several weeks, a number of men in the area have gone without their shirts, including the two young men. Over their shoulders, they wear knapsacks, filled with (I imagine) their school books and other supplies. Their backs are covered, but their torsos are bare, the first hints of chest and abdominal muscular development evident.

As they walk casually along the sidewalk, confidently displaying their fledgling masculinity, I can't help but be reminded of my own high school days, and how different I was from them all those years ago.

See, I was teased a lot in high school--had been since I was in grade six or seven. Other students picked up on my effeminacy, labeling me a fem or a fairy or a fag, before I knew what I was myself. By the time I got to high school, I had no ego whatsoever. I felt lower than low, unworthy of positive attention from anyone, even my parents. I hated myself, mentally, physically, in every way. The last thing I would ever have done was go without my shirt walking home from high school. I had no confidence in myself to do that. The less people noticed me, the better.

I had a friend in high school by the name of Rob. We were quite the couple. He hated himself because he was overweight, and I hated myself because everyone thought I was gay. Together, we bonded, but, for many reasons, we were not good for each other. Neither one of us built up the other's ego, or made the other feel better about himself. Neither one of us had the ability to do that because we didn't like ourselves enough, and we didn't have the tools to do it. We were the exact opposite of the two shirtless, young men.

When I saw these two young men on the sidewalk recently, I felt a pang of misery for who I was back in high school, for who I wish I'd been, for the school experience I wish I'd had. I can't imagine what it's like to be young, attractive, straight, and bare-chested, walking home from school, feeling good about yourself--or, if not consciously feeling good about yourself (which I imagine must be the case when you're courageous enough to walk in public with your shirt off), at least not feeling badly about yourself. I can't imagine what it must feel like to be free of your shirt and free of your hang-ups about yourself--in other words, to feel like a real human being, with value and self-worth.

I've seen the same two young men walk past the house on two additional occasions since the first time, again with their shirts off and their knapsacks on, and I'm curiously drawn to them, not because I'm attracted to them--which I know is wrong--but because I wasn't them when I was sixteen or seventeen years old. Because I believe my school experience would have been so different had I been fortunate enough to be them. How different would my twenties have been had I been them way back then--my thirties, and my forties.

I feel I missed out on something big all those years ago because I was so different from them, because I was treated so differently from how I imagine they are treated now. Even if they are gay (which I doubt they are), I'm hopeful that being gay now is different from being gay then--less of an issue, less of a reason for other people to tease you, to make you feel badly about yourself, to change the course of the rest of your life, really (although I'm sure this isn't the case at all).

And now, I'm nearly fifty. My body is not as young or as beautiful as theirs are now. It never will be. I will never have their experience of life shirtless. I will never know what it's like to grow up straight, to feel good about myself at twenty, at thirty, at forty. And even if I feel good about myself at fifty, which I do, I'll never have a part of myself that I wish beyond all reason I'd had.

I mourn for the young kid I was back in the late 1970s, who was a product of what other people thought of him, which was not positive or life affirming. Whenever I see the two shirtless, young men walk down the sidewalk, I think of what I missed out on, and what I'll never have, no matter how much I've worked on liking myself over the years.

I'm so envious of them, and what they symbolize, and how they look, and who they are, and what their lives must be like, and what lies ahead for them, it hurts. My youth is gone, and I know I have something now that is precious and that they won't have for many years to come--age and wisdom and perspective, and all the other good things that come with growing older.

But, honestly, I might give up all of that to be young and beautiful and self-assured and shirtless and straight, with my entire life ahead of me--even if only for a moment. What would that feel like? I can only imagine.

The Day Before


Is that a booger in my nose?

Is there spinach in my teeth?

Today, June 12, 2009, is the day before Chris and my seventeenth anniversary. I cannot believe the two of us have been a couple for that long. That's longer than many heterosexual, married couples.

Some people ask me from what point I count our anniversary. I've always taken it from the very first night I met Chris at the Odyssey in downtown Vancouver--an occasion that would change my life forever. From that point forward, we spent virtually all of our time out of work together, even though we both lived in different apartments in the West End. Not until ten months later did we move in together in one of the brand new high rise condo buildings in Yaletown.

Tonight, with my mom visiting us from Kelowna, we went to Kingfisher, a restaurant on the Fraser River, beside the soon-to-be-defunct Albion ferry to Langley. The sun was brilliant, the company was good, and the food was delicious.

I must remember to do this more often, but I brought our digital camera with us so we could snap a few pics throughout the meal. Some of the pictures were so silly that I need to share them with you.

This is Chris and me at our absolute best. I hope you enjoy these as much as we did at dinner. I still haven't stopped laughing at how ridiculous we were.

Life is made of moments like this. We can't let them pass without marking them in some way and keeping them close to our hearts. Tonight, we went out for dinner, but we got so much more out of the experience.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Questions of Life

In my last post, I asked the question, Who am I? But perhaps an even more pertinent question is, What do I want?

This question came to me a few days ago when I was in hour eighteen or nineteen of painting the living room/dining room, and I knew I didn't want to be where I was? At the time, I felt the temporary inconvenience and discomfort--especially in the unrelenting heat lately--of being in a place I didn't want to be, doing a task I didn't want to do. But it was then that the bigger philosophical question of what I want most in my life came to me. And you know what? I don't have an answer.

I suspect I'm not the only one who feels this way. How many of us really and truly know what we want most passionately in our lives? I'd guess not many. Just like me, I think most people bounce around from one event in their lives to another, thinking they have lots of time to discover what they want, or they'll fall into that happy discovery by being on earth long enough and bouncing around enough from one thing to another.

And then, one day, the question of what you want most in life occurs to you with such clarity and such immediacy that it scares the living hell out of you. Like when you hit a birthday milestone, for example, just as I will this October when I turn fifty--a long way from being a kid, well into mid-life, and no closer to knowing what I want most.

Here's why having the answer to that question is so important: Because if you don't know what you want most in life, you'll probably never get it. Makes perfect sense, doesn't it? As silly as that comments sounds, the fact is that when you don't know what you really want, you can't rally all of your time and energy and life force toward achieving it. Which is likely what it will take to be successful at it.

I really admire people who know what they want and go after it with a single-mindedness and passion that all but guarantees they'll get it. Or people who were born with a talent that is so obvious and so magnificent that there can be no question they must pursue it, and that they will be successful beyond their wildest dreams doing it.

I still remember one young lady I went to school with in grade seven. Her name was Kelly Gerloch (I'm not sure of the spelling), and her talent was fashion design and drawing. Seemingly without any effort whatsoever, Kelly, drew fashion pictures of beautiful women wearing designs she had imagined. On several occasions, I watched her draw, and the self-assuredness of the movement of her pencil across the page stunned me. How, in grade seven, at the age of, what, fourteen years, did this young lady possess a talent so defined and so extraordinary that there could only be one direction her life could go in? I've long since lost contact with Kelly, but I sincerely hope she is a highly successful fashion designer somewhere. I certainly think she had the talent and ability to succeed in the field.

Anyway, I've given thought to what I most want in life over the years, but I've never come up with anything that fills me with a passion that lasts over time, and that motivates me to pursue it no matter what. Perhaps not even writing, although I've wanted to be a successful writer since I was a little boy, when I asked our babysitter, Cheryl, to help me write a short story with a Western theme.

Maybe I need to change what I just said. I've had one constant in my life since I was a child, and that is writing. Many years have come and gone, and I've done many things in my life, but I've always returned to writing, in one way or another. I probably have almost two hundred writing books that I started to accumulate when I was in my early teens, and, while I've let go of a lot of things in my life, I've never parted with one of my cherished writing books.

But, of course, writing books do not a writer make. To be a writer, one must sit one's ass down and write, consistently, over time, whether one wants to or not, writing every type of writing imaginable. Hence the reason why I've tried my hand at short stories, personal essays, travel articles, a memoir, and now this blog.

So I know (perhaps) that what I want most in life is to be a writer. And perhaps I fulfill that goal to some degree just by writing this blog.

But is that enough? Shouldn't someone who wants to be a writer write non-stop, anything and everything, submitting constantly for publication, knowing in his heart and in his mind and in his soul, with an astounding single-mindedness, that not only is he good enough to be a published writer but that it's inevitable that he'll be published? That's just his destiny.

This is what holds me back. I don't have that single-mindedness. I don't have that confidence. I don't have that drive. And that scares the hell out of me because I'll be fifty this year, and I don't have forever to get my ass in gear and write as though there were no tomorrow. Because there may be no tomorrow for me, and I've wasted my entire life riding the fence and lacking what it really took to do something with whatever talent I was given.

I wish I was the writer equivalent of Kelly Gerloch. I wish I knew in my heart that writing is what I'm meant to do. I wish I believed in myself more. I wish I knew for a fact that I really have something worthwhile to say to other people. I wish my ability to write was obvious and unmistakable and incapable of being ignored.

And because my ability doesn't have these characteristics, I continue to doubt myself. I continue to question whether I should even bother to pursue writing. But if I don't pursue writing, what will I pursue? What other undiscovered talent or ability might I possess that would allow me to make the biggest contribution to society, that would allow me to make a difference?

All I know is that I have a hunger to create, and the only way I know how to create is through writing. How much more convincing do I need to know for a fact that I must write, that it is my destiny to write, and that there is no more time for me to waste not writing?

Once I get that, will I know for a fact what I should write? Because, for me, that would be the next big question: What do I want? To write. hat should I write? I don't know. I just don't know.

And it's that indecision that paralyzes me and prevents me from being all that I can be.