The photo above is from my 19th birthday. I don’t even really remember the circumstances that led me back to Chilliwack that weekend, but I actually do remember blowing those candles out, and being at the same condo where I graduated from high school. In that same condo I showered after a lot of rugby games, I did a lot of physics lab write-ups, and I even wrote my first song on my Fender strat after some girl stood me up. Sadly enough, I spent most of that night sitting in the dark on the couch in my mom’s living room and wrote most of it on my electric, completely ampless. My mom would swing by every half hour, asking if I were ok, knowing that inside I was obviously upset.
And here I am, my first birthday back in Chilliwack since basically when that photo was taken. Time flies, you know. My grandma used to tell me that it would, but as a kid you never believe those things. My dad told me a story about my great grandmother before she died years ago. She used to always say that even though she was so old, inside she felt like that same 16 year old girl she was when she grew up, and was only reminded that she wasn’t when she stumbled across a mirror. I suspect someday I’ll be confronted with that same reality, but for now I’m happy to be young-ish.
When you’re a kid, birthdays basically mean presents. But as you get older, you find that ever year you’re reminded of all the things in this world that make it worth living. Your friends. Your family. The sound of that first beer cracking next to the fire at Cultus in the summer. All the people who helped you get where you are, and the memories of those who are no longer with you.
I’ve lived a fairly charmed life. For a kid that basically never should have left Chilliwack, I count my blessings every day that I’ve accomplished some of what I’ve done in life, and met some of the people I’m fortunate enough to call my friends now. I’ve visited a lot of countries, seen the world from the 32nd floor of Asia, photographed one of the most public music events in Canada, hiked one of the coolest 75km stretches of land in North America, hung out backstage at Massey Hall with one of my favourite musicians (and coincidentally, one of my good friends), held my niece during her Baptism years ago, raced shopping carts in my friends Mazda truck, took my six year old nephew fishing for beer, and even started a company with an awesome guy who happens to have the same moral convictions I have. A guy really can’t ask for anything else.
So, today’s my birthday, and here’s what I want. First, I want to extend my condolences to Sandra Cantu’s family. I’m sure these kind of horrors happen every day, but since it’s dated April 7th, this one happens to fall on my watch. My heart goes out to her family — nothing can ever replace her. Someday, somewhere, I can only hope things will be made right.
Second, while it seems totally cliche, I ask everyone to do what they can to make peace with their enemies. Our time on this planet is so limited and so sacred, that harboring grudges is just so amazingly useless and tragic that I can’t even fathom the words to describe it. Maybe we won’t all end up as friends, but we sure don’t have to live our lives as enemies.
And lastly, I want to extend my thanks to all my Vancouver friends, to all of my Chilliwack friends, to all the people I’ve met through my blog and Twitter, to all the people who stood next to me during those two periods when I went through surgery, and to everyone who has shown me genuine compassion and honesty throughout the years. On this, my birthday, I sincerely want to thank everyone who has been there for me in my life. For everything I am in life, it is because of you people, and you have my sincerest thanks.