Monday, June 28, 2010

Share The Road... Please!

Once again bicycling season is in full swing. In recent years, more and more cyclists of all ages are taking to the roads for fun, fitness, and environmentally friendly active transportation. The “Share the Road” campaign is raising awareness among motorists that cyclists are out there in increasing numbers and that we are entitled to be there.

There is a small segment of the population however, who seem to find it amusing to “buzz” by cyclists as closely as possible, blasting the car horn at deafening volumes and laughing at the results.

As you read this, the Nova Scotia Government is amending the motor vehicle act, making it mandatory for motorists to leave a minimum of one meter between the motor vehicle and the cyclist. This means that if it is not possible to pass safely, the motorist must slow down and remain behind the cyclist until it is safe to pass. Given the capabilities of motor vehicles to accelerate rapidly after passing a bicycle, this should present no problem. The same motor vehicle act already states, “Cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists”


so motorists cannot reasonably state that we do not belong on the road.

As well, it should be noted that today’s bicycles are very efficient and some cyclists are capable of reaching speeds in excess of forty kilometres per hour on level ground. Taking a fall as a result of being forced off the road at such speeds can result in serious injury, including broken bones. Collisions with motor vehicles most often results in death.

I know nobody gets in their car and says “I wonder how many cyclists I can injure or kill today,” but “Oops, I didn’t mean to do that,” will not bring a human being back to life nor will it ease a motorist’s guilt.

As a member of Velo Cape Breton, I ride with people of all ages and backgrounds. Among our members you will find people of all walks of life, some including members of your family and friends. All are part of the community in which we live.

So, motorists, while I recognise that you may feel bicycles are a menace and in your way slowing you down, I ask you to recognise that we are people just like yourself, and mean you no harm. Please do us no harm.

And cyclists, I urge you to know and follow the rules of safe cycling. Treat your bicycle as you treat your car. Ride as you drive, using proper turn signals and predictable behaviour and wear an approved helmet. Avail yourself to the Can-Bike 1 and Can-Bike 2 courses that are taught locally.

“Share the Road” means so much more than just sharing space; it is also sharing responsibility and respect.

Ride and drive safely everyone and have a great summer.

~Still Wandering...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Musical Memories

Our senses are very powerful forces. Taste, smell, sight, hearing all can serve to alert us to danger or reward us with pleasure. Our sense of touch helps us to perform tasks and seek and give pleasure as well as provide comfort. Our senses combined with our memories can remind us of experiences, good or bad.

My senses remind me of my younger days.

I was born during the best of times; in the height of the “baby boom” following World War II. The war in Korea was over and North America was in a time of great optimism and financial affluence. Cars, televisions, and refrigerators were no longer for the middle and upper classes but for everyone except the very poor.

However, the great depression was not such a far away memory. Many of my cousins had been born during the depression and WWII, and my aunts and uncles had all lived through the worst of times in the same way as I had arrived during the best.

My families, relatives of both my Father and Mother, were very different from each other, yet held many similarities such as the music they listened to. Due to the close proximity of the Great Depression, many old 78 RPM records of the music from that time existed in the various households I would visit with my parents. Even as a pre-schooler I was attracted to music and can still remember those old records and the way they sounded.

In recent times, some of those songs have begun to appear in movie soundtracks rekindling those old memories in me. I can remember so clearly that I can actually feel the sensations again of being in those homes. I can smell the food cooking, the pipe my Mom’s older brother smoked, the grass freshly cut on another relative’s lawn, the gas and oil on yet another uncle’s clothing. I can remember the darkness of the highways and back roads as we made our way home; my Father carrying me, half asleep into my bedroom and tucking me in. All these memories reawakened by the sound of a song.

As a teenager, I was introduced to a different kind of music, and the people who enjoyed it were as different from my family as they could get. My new friends taught me to rebel against the age-old norms held so dear by my parents and their siblings. The war in Viet-Nam sparked protests and we rebelled against pretty much everything our parents’ generation stood for as well as the war.

Something about our music still rings true, despite the forty plus years since its heyday. We had such great optimism; we believed not only that we could change the world, but that we would! During my worst period of darkness, I would turn to the music of my adolescence in the vain hope that I could re-capture the joy and hope it gave me back then. What I inevitably accomplished however was to cause myself more despair.

Today, I can listen to the music of my generation; The Who, The Beatles, Deep Purple, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Janis Joplin etcetera, and enjoy the art and the memories without being trapped in the nostalgic quicksand of emotional instability that once resulted from trying to bring back the past.

Ultimately we cannot preserve nor retrieve the past, not even five minutes ago. Once it leaves our present experience, it is gone forever.

But occasionally it’s fun to hear the old songs and remember our departed friends and family members who were such a big part of who we have become.

“...Oh I'm bound to go
Where there ain't no snow
Where the rain don't fall
The winds don't blow
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.”
-Harry McClintock

~Still Wandering...

Thursday, June 17, 2010


I once complained of having no shoes...

Until I met the man with no legs.

For years I searched for Ultimate happiness. I had once been a member of a successful musical act, touring, recording, television appearances and radio interviews. I continued on in other groups with varying degrees of success for a number of years, and when suddenly it all ended, I had no idea how to deal with it.

I suffered for many years with depression, searching always for a way to regain my equilibrium; I thought that if I were back on tour, in the studio, or in any way active in the music business, that I would find happiness. I did not seek medical help with my depression because medication is often addictive and can cause greater problems later.

Everyone I know asked, "What do you have to be depressed about?" My response was that it isn't a choice. Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain. If a baker adds the right ingredients to a cake, but in the wrong quantities, that cake will not turn out right. Depression is really that simple. My ingredients were all there but the quantities were wrong.

In time, through self-examination, Meditation, a couple of eye-opening events, and the love of dear friends and a very patient woman, I regained my equilibrium.

While depression is an imbalance, it can have triggers. In my case it was caused by job losses, but the loss of a relationship, an automobile accident, dropping out of University; any stimuli can bring it on.

Last night I read the story of a young woman who suffered great loss. I will not repeat the details here out of respect for her privacy and the nature of her suffering. I will say that she is one of the dear friends who showed me amazing love, tolerance and compassion through my depression, and I had no idea she was suffering so.

How can someone give so much to another and when in need, not ask to be consoled? How can one not turn to someone and ask for help after giving them help in the past? The answer to that is simply one word; Compassion.

Compassion can be described by a dictionary as, "A feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering." It is better described by the example of those who exemplify it: Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, Mahatma Ghandi, and so on.

And one special, compassionate young woman in my life who means a great deal to me.

Today, and every day, if you see suffering in someone, show compassion. A simple act of kindness such as opening a door for someone or simply offering a smile can make a world of difference to that person and give him/her hope when all hope seems lost.

~Still Wandering...

Windy Day

Monday, June 14, 2010

Scene From a Bicycle Seat

Wandering into better self-expression.

In the past, I have posted blog entries on the power of our words, the meanings and the effects they can have. Last week I sent a You Tube video of myself to my niece and asked her to show it to my mother who does not have a computer. My niece sent me an e-mail the following day, commenting on how much Mom enjoyed that short video clip and she (my niece) also mentioned that I am well-spoken; something I don't readily agree with. I think I write much better than I speak, something Mom also mentioned to my niece.

In writing, I find I can read and re-read my words and change what I think may sound different from what I intend to say; I can remove the "sting" by choosing different ways to phrase my thoughts and I can correct ambiguities before they occur. These are luxuries we don't have when speaking, either into a camcorder, on a telephone, or in person. Once said, our words are out there, and any hurt they cause is also out there, sometimes with devastating, permanent results.

Having said all that, I have noticed a trend since the beginning of 2010 to be somewhat scattered in my thoughts. As I re-read my blog entries a few weeks ago, I felt a definite shift in the tone, from relatively articulate to average, and determined that my scattered thoughts had resulted in an inability to express myself as well as I once did. I vow to change that, and in a sense, have begun to make those changes.

When I returned from New Brunswick after what had become a somewhat less than expected experience, I pretty much literally dropped what I had brought with me and decided to deal with it all later. As it turns out, much of what I dropped and did not deal with were my emotions surrounding the situation. Therein was the cause of my scattered thoughts. In recent days, I have begun to re-arrange the clothes in my closet and the accumulated clutter in the garage and my thoughts and emotions have begun to clear.

In the ancient Chinese practice of Feng Shui, (also known as Hotei in Japan) it is said that a cluttered home leads to a cluttered mind and with that I can certainly agree. As my life gets increasingly more organized and my thoughts follow suit, my words, both written and spoken, are sure to also follow.

KEEPING things neat and organized... Well, that's another matter altogether!

~Still Wandering...