Getting there

Getting there

Monday, April 9, 2012


There are times when I question what I am doing, dear friends. This has been an incredible year in my life, filled with new people and new adventures. There have been many, many incredible moments - but it hasn't always been easy. Dramatic change and growth can come with pain as those around you struggle with the change, and as you find yourself struggling. You knew who you were, but not always who you are becoming. And, at times, you question yourself. I know I have.

And then there are moments when something happens - or you meet someone - that lets you know that you are on the right path. It is nothing short of serendipity when they appear in your life, and often at the moment when it is least expected. This happened to me in January when I met Wally.

I was attending a conference, and our seats for dinner that evening were assigned. When I went to sit at my table I realized I knew two of the people at it, but not well. And then an older gentleman came and asked if he could sit next to me, and I said yes, of course. And so Wally sat down, and we began to talk.

Wally is a First Nations elder from a community close to mine. In his sixties now he has led a pretty amazing life, but not all of it wonderful - not at all. In fact Wally has seen much pain, including an alcohol addiction that cost him several years of his life. But Wally got sober, and now counsels others about getting sober, too. He is involved with First Nations youth, and sentencing circles, and his community.

Wally asked what I do, and I told him about the blog I write about my community. I told him how I try to tell the stories of my community and the people in it, how I try to share those with the world with what limited skills I have. And as I told him Wally began to smile.

The more Wally smiled the better I felt. You see, I'd been feeling a bit down at that point, questioning some decisions I had made. I wasn't sure where I should go next, either, and feeling a bit directionless as my personal growth and change seemed to be outstripping my ability to cope with it. And then Wally said something to me, something that changed me even more.

Wally looked at me and said "Theresa, three weeks ago I asked the creator to show me someone who cared. To show me someone who listened to the stories of others with respect and without judgement. After three weeks I had almost given up. But today the Creator brought me you, and restored my faith."

I was speechless. Wally had just given me the greatest gift, and he didn't even know it. It all gushed out then, and I told him how I doubted myself and my choices and my direction. And Wally listened with respect and without judgement. Wally simply let me talk, and then Wally gave me a hug. And then he thanked me. For being me.

It was hard for us to leave that table that night, I think. In many ways we could not be more different, this First Nations elder and I, and yet we had connected in the profound way that rarely happens in this world. I gave Wally what he had asked the Creator for, and Wally gave me the strength and the courage to keep going - because, after just a short conversation, he believed in me. And it gave me belief in myself again.

I got an email from Wally just the other day. This summer I am going to drive down to visit him, to spend some more time listening to his story. And, well, because Wally makes me believe in myself. Every once in awhile I think we need someone like that in our lives - and I am so very, very lucky to have found Wally. The greatest part? I think he feels the same way about me, dear friends.