Back in the saddle (or is that welcome back to the jungle?)

I suppose to open my blogging career, I should tell you a little bit about my reasons for doing so, and where I want to go with it.

It starts with I read a lot. Because I devour literature, and love documentaries,  I have thoughts about many things. Politics. Sports. Music. Addiction. Recovery. Media. Philosophy. Spirituality. You know, all the things you shouldn’t talk about at a party.

Another reason I want to do this ties into the fact that I served my country for nine years, full time as a member of the Canadian Armed Forces. I was young, 17-26 years old, but my military experience fundamentally changed my life. Because of my time in, I know my history reasonably well, and I firmly believe one of the main results of the Second World War to us on the winning side, was the continued ability to express opinions, as long as they are not hateful or inciting of violence.

Simply put, I like opinions. I don’t need you to agree with mine and I reserve the right to disagree with yours. It really helps if they’re based on some sort of logic, some sprinkling of facts. But in the end, they’re just opinions, and mine are certainly subject to change if I keep growing and learning.

Still one more reason I think it is time to blog is, I’m actually comfortable on a keyboard. When I got out of the military, I went back to school and studied Journalism at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta. I followed my bliss and went into the Fourth Estate. After all, I had stories to tell. I’d been all over the world on warships in the Cold War, shadowing Russian ships and planes, making port visits in historic places from Nagasaki to Manila, from San Francisco to Panama. So, I’ve been published in newspapers and magazines across the country since the 1980s. Dailies, weeklies, newsletters, digital, print, you name it, hundreds and hundreds of times. For over a decade, I had an opinion column/editorial published in the Parksville Qualicum Beach News on Vancouver Island. I’m active on Facebook.

I need to tell you that I’m used to the criticism that often comes with having the courage to express opinions. I don’t like being shot at, but I get it. I will always believe it is a fundamental right of yours and mine to let those thoughts flow. Again, our ancestors who fought in wars to prevent the Nazi’s from taking over the world, come to mind. As do the men and women who went to Korea, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Rwanda, Cypress, the Golan Heights, and ports all over the world to show dictators and bullies they can’t shut human rights down. Perhaps you know some of these brave service men and women who wore the Canadian colors on their shoulders. I sure do.  One thing I know for sure is you don’t have to like opinions. But our history as Canadians includes defending the right to express them.

I’m also writing because I can. In 2012 I had a cardiologist tell me if I didn’t have a quadruple bypass immediately, I would have a catastrophic heart attack within the next six months. I survived that surgery, and realized to the depth of my soul that I am on limited time. I am also a father of a daughter, have been a stepfather to several others, and I don’t want to just talk about the importance of speaking one’s mind, I need to practice it. Like there is no tomorrow. And given the state of the world today, with climate change threatening the very existence of our human species, with democratic institutions under attack in the most blatant manners, with glass ceilings finally cracking, with the color of our skins and shape of our genitals being so flagrantly politicized, with wars being fought under false pretenses, the importance of expressing one’s truth has never been so important, I say. Legacy matters. What will our future relatives say about our silence if that’s the card we wish to play in these tumultuous times?

Of course, the most practical reason I am going into blogging is I am embarking on a new career. They say as an editor, you are only as good as your last column. Today, columns equal blogs.

My plan is to get into as many topics as I can. They’ll be relatively short, under 1,000 words, so you can digest them inside a few minutes. Some will may resemble sermons, some rants, some pondering rambles, some snappy, some in a spirit of love, some meh on the warm and fuzziness. No matter what flavor, I hope to avoid vanilla and always strive to be respectful and educational.

Oh, they’re just opinions, remember? I’ve got 32 years without drugs or alcohol running my life. I’ve worked in restaurants, warships, military bases, bars, addiction treatment centres, marketing offices, newsrooms. I’m half Newfie, half Australian, an Anglo-Montrealer, lived in apartments, duplexes, houses, barrack blocks from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Calgary, Alberta, to Victoria, B.C. and so many points in between.

I’m sometimes hot headed, thoughtful, aware and/or dumb as a tractor depending on what day it is. As such I reserve the right to say I was wrong, to change my mind, to contradict myself and be soundly brow beaten for it. One thing I know about my readers, you guys are like hawks and badgers when it comes to finding morsels of faulty logic or punctuation. Opinion writing and reading is always a two-way street. You get to choose if you’ll read it or not (sure hope you do), like it not, if you’ll respond in the comments or not. Me? I get to beak off and join you on the literary dance floor, me trying to get you going, and you trying to put me in my place. Gawd that sounds like Grease. Oh yes, there will be plenty of musical references.

In the end, as the great philosopher David Bowie so aptly said, let’s dance, shall we?

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