The long version
I have walked many paths in my 76 years of living. I was brought up in the white culture in British Columbia, Canada, and early learned from my parents to respect Native traditions. For 33 years, I worked as a chemical engineer, finance manager, and human relations counsellor.
Then about 20 years ago I discovered the joys of being truly myself as a drum-maker and Pipe Carrier and Sweat Lodge leader, in the company of my friends among the Anishnabe people North of Superior. I have travelled from Owen Sound east to Kingston, to Goose Bay, and west to Winnipeg and Kamloops, doing ceremonies, and helping people make drums, read our dreams, and explore our world of spirit, always writing, always seeking a good way, a "right way", of speaking.
Thinking of all this, I realised that my life is more like path than a field. While I studied the field of Chemical Engineering, and worked in it for a while, I left that work to follow other interests, and so have done several times since. In my first year at University, UBC, 1951, I was enthralled by the poetry being taught by Thorleif Larsen in our English Literature class. Found I had a lot of validation in my exchanges with him about the poems. I remember he was quite disappointed to hear I was bent on becoming an Engineer. Well, I did become that engineer, Chem., Eng. 1956, winner of the WA White Student Contest Award for the best Student design submission in North America. But I never lost my interest in poetry. Whatever I was up to in my life after that, I often tried writing, kept journals and so on. Finally, around about 1985, I began to write every day, two hours every morning, seven days a week. And have accumulated 24 books and a total of about 1050 poems. Add to this a developing passion for photography,and poetry readings accompanied by original piano music with a talented colleague, plus the photos amalgamated into DVD's, and my creative life these days seems unlimited and very satisfying.
On graduating in 1956 I went to work for Shell Canada in their Montreal East Refinery, starting there after a training period and as refinery scheduler, as their first Engineering computer programer (IBM 650 in 1958). I stayed with Shell for 14 years, mostly in Toronto, in computer programming (every application from credit card accounting to sales forecasting to refinery and transportation optimisation), then corporate planning and budgeting. I got restless and quit to follow a brief spell in an electronics firm that failed, then joined Manulife in 1970 to install their first budgeting process and corporate planning process. Got interested there in sales and in human relations training and spent a few years freelancing doing training in human relations communication and teamwork and designing sales training programs. Taught management skills to over 3000 women. I imagine I was among the first to try to do something practical for equality in the managerial workplace.
Along the way I married, in my last year at UBC, to Penelope. Our marriage quickly ended, (though one beautiful girl child, she a forerunnerl of the creativity that would one day in the future visit me, never to leave, was born of it), in an annulment by act of the Federal Parliament two years later. Then a beautiful and capable Italian woman, Luciana, found me attractive enough to marry, and we stayed together that way from 1960 to 1980, before breaking up. We had one child who died within a few days. Together we did a lot of travelling in Europe, the USA, Mexico.
Then I met Suzanne, who was to become the mother of our three children, Michael, Julia, Jonathan. We moved out of Toronto to Owen Sound on Georgian Bay, in 1982, where the children grew up and from where they finally left home to chase education and love lives, and adventures in work, sports and travel.
There I began to drift away from the corporate work world, to explore the Red Road of North American native spirituality. My first book, on the Medicine Wheel, was written with Suzanne, in those days, and has been through seven printings.
Another turn of the Wheel and another lovely woman, Basha, partnered me for a while, then went her way, although we are still very good friends, truly like brother and sister. So I am learning how to handle this stuff, and am grateful to all these lovely women who gave so much of their time and life to me.
Now with my last and truest companion, Lisa, I have settled into a steady daily rhythm of writing, exploring new ideas in poetry, painting, photography, electronic publication, being with my loving partner part time at her house near Oshawa, and alone in my place in Owen Sound, then Durham, Ontario, now Peterborough. Some day we will live in the same place!!
For the past 15 years I have met every two weeks with a group of 16 men to do some drumming, simple rituals to get in touch with our place on the earth and our space of love for each other, and share the joys and sorrows of our lives, including yearly retreats and canoe trips. So I have plenty of good company these days on my path.
I often write of the beauties of natural life and friendships. I am just as often extremely annoyed at the drift of our society away from healthy connections with the earth to dull indulgence of food and consumerist addictions, which are eroding the habitat for all of life on the planet. Not to mention the failure of our various political and religious "isms" to find any outlet for the passions of millions of young men and women except in bloody warfare against each other and their communities, serving only the megalomania of their older leaders.
I refuse to be indifferent to the plight of human and other life on this planet, endangered as it is by the use of science almost exclusively for the weapons of war, and for providing ever cheaper ways to indulge consumerist addictions to unhealthy foods and the medications needed to try to control the resulting disease epidemics. My children's generation faces an epidemic of people, epidemics of their diseases, and epidemic destruction of planetary life systems, all made possible by science without morals allied to the world's human populations addicted to the North American Lifestyle.
More poetry and less profiteering is my prescription. January 2012.