Friday, 8 April 2011

I Saw The Figure Forty-Five

I am 45 today.  Perhaps not the Big 40, or indeed, 50 - or any later numero grande - but enough to make me wake up early and smell the coffee (then drink Roibos Tea instead).  It helps that London is undergoing a Mediterranean Spring - it seems we are facing days of full sun and temperatures in the 20s.  I have been taking stock lately, and I count myself lucky to be here, today.  I am pleased as punch to be at this mid-stage, and still standing.

Five years ago, we all went through hell in my family as my Dad died of brain cancer.  Shortly thereafter, three  of my closest family members died.  Then, three years ago, I received news that I had a rare condition (not one I want to write of here today, but suffice it to say I explore it in my poems these days) which changed the dreams of my wife and I forever.  My heart broke, and I became very ill with esophagitis, and depression.  Fortunately, my wife assembled a crack medical team, and after two years of treatment or so, I am able to work again, and write, and teach, and enjoy most things I used to.  True, there's no more caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, or orange juice in my diet, but I found replacements for those, and forged ahead.

At 45, I guess I once wanted other things - maybe a large family, maybe more literary success.  The last few years allowed me to mellow, and yes, mature.  I now realise a few things.  Be glad for whatever life throws your way, and don't expect any favours from fate.  And - anyone who writes poems for anything other than love of the art is barking up the wrong hat-stand.

I am turning in my PhD dissertation in the next few months.  I have a job I enjoy.  A fantastic partner.  A faith that is stuttering back to life in fits and starts.  Spotify to bring a million songs.  Great friends and contacts all over the world.  And several poetry collections on the way, in my native Canada.

In my darkest hours, about 18 months ago, I never imagined that I'd ever have two poems in Poetry magazine.  That I'd be jogging in the sunlight.  That I'd ever be happy again.

That's being blessed.
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