Watching for yourself

I read an article a few days ago, by one of my favourite columnists. I have never met Jim Taylor, but may have criticized him once. It appears he experienced a heart attack while exercising outdoors and in the midst of his thanks to still be alive had some questions regarding the reasons he was still here and others are not. I have some experience mulling his questions for a much longer period of time and may be able to help answer them.

I am retired and spend my time hiking, hunting and fishing in Lake Country. I own a recreational placer claim on the Tulameen River, so I know the dangers of solo adventuring, especially as we gracefully age (or as my Dad said, go much slower). When he was alive, we canoed and fished the Crow River in Algonquin Park most years to open Brook Trout season. My first trip there with he and my younger brother was interrupted by the only sermon I ever heard him give on the subject of religion.

We had reached the only trestle we had to cross on the old CNR line over the South Petawawa River. This is where he always asked his personal deity, “The Great Speckled Trout,” to protect everyone until we returned home safely. Even a life long outdoorsman like he knew there could be situations where all his considerable skills and safety ethics would be useless, and a little help from whatever gods were out there would be greatly appreciated. I celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of his first trip into that incredibly colourful country, covered in reds, yellows, silvers, and browns in the fall, blazing green in the spring. He had been eighteen years old, on his first vacation from work with a colleague, guided by a book with an out of date map. The portages were not even marked. In all those years there were many close calls, but the Great Speckle always brought us and our friends back to our loved ones.

I will not foist my beliefs on you Jim, as it appears your own are working very well. Your years of healthy exercise and self-awareness have served you well. You realized you had a problem and did not panic, the first rule. You thought out your options and made a plan, then followed it. I know it seemed fortuitous that a surgeon met you on the loop that day, but it could have been anyone who decided to help you, knowing one day the ski could be on the other foot. I am glad the doctors and nurses did their jobs well, as they are paid to do with our taxes and insurance payments. I am glad you are still here with us, as you deserve to be. I do not know the people you wonder about, or the mistakes they made which cost them their lives, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or simple fate. That is not for us to know. While searching for answers on this topic for personal reasons I came across a quote from Art Linkletter, that remarkable person with an incredible talent for communicating with children. In his nineties and getting ready to take his last trail, he was asked what he had learned from his long life.

He replied “ Life is not fair, and it is not easy.”

I read a lot, and have never heard it said better. I hope this helps Jim, fare well, and as our northern neighbors, the Inuit, believe, there is only one great thing in this world, the dawning of a new day.


Doug Maves