" SpiritofSaltSpring:BC:Canada:GulfIslands:SaltSpring:Salt Spring:

November 30, 2009

Are you a Guru in Training?

sculpture by Peter McFarlane

Some time between 1999 and 2003, I lived in a teeny weeny bachelor suite  in the West End of Vancouver in a building called The King George. It had a lot of character. In fact, the biggest character in it was the landlord. His name was Dave. He was this short, wiry, three-pack-a-day, tattooed guy with a long grey beard. He always wore one of those boxy caps that are usually sold in stores that sell stuff from developing countries. His long scraggles of grey/black hair would hang out from under the cap.

When I first met him and I sat talking to him in his kitchen as he looked over my rental application. I was a little afraid of what I might be getting myself into if I rented from this guy. I thought he might have some Hell's Angel's connections. He had a really scratchy smoker's voice and he talked in a way that gives new depth to the meaning of the word cynical. He knew the entire neighborhood and he walked in a way that's hard to describe but imagine the letter I leaning kind of fluidly from one side then the next.

It was a pretty small building with only about 25 suites and my suite was right next to his. Well, it was right next to his before he moved out and took up residence across the hall from his girlfriend, about 5 feet from mine.

I can't recall his exact words but usually when he was doing some really shitty job like picking apart the recycling which too many people are too lazy and stupid to sort accurately (ya that sounds negative but it's accurate) or cleaning up some mess that some derelict had left behind when they moved out in the middle of the night, he'd comment on how it was okay. It was okay because this was the work of the soul and how he'd learned everything he needed to know about human nature and himself because of the worst paying job he'd ever had in his life. It didn't pay well. He barely survived himself but he was in daily reality guru training. My term not his.

He didn't have a big office. He didn't have a car. I'm not sure he even knew how to drive. He didn't have any degrees. He used to say that he'd lived as a monk but I always wondered what he meant by that exactly. I never quite got the full story. He also said he worked as a social worker with street youth which I believed.

In contrast to his own appearance, his apartment could have been in an architectural digest magazine It was medieval heaven. Dark wood. Rennie Mackintosh designs. Embroidered pillows. It was spotless and full of interesting artefacts from another time handcrafted and often adorned with brass.

On more than a few occasions when I was going through some rough times, Dave just seemed to materialize, sit down, have a cup of tea with me and listen. He's one of those people that come across your existence that will never know how much you appreciated them.

I was thinking of Dave today.  I was thinking of him as I listened to someone who couldn't stop talking about herself; all her accomplishments, none of which were all that interesting and I thought to myself, there's something to be said to be of that age when you don't really give a shit anymore what someone else has or hasn't done because it has nothing to do with you because your journey is not theirs and their accomplishments, however impressive, are rather meaningless to you if you know what I mean.

Life is no longer about what the outside world sees.

There is something about looking after someone as a parent or as a caregiver -  in relationship in all its complexity - that any artificial job title or accomplishment that all the world can see seems so uni-dimensional in comparison to what they can't see in the tiniest moments between two people - in conflict, helping, kindness -the interpersonal connections that act as the invisible sands on the road to the pearls of self actualization.



Ben Anderson said...

wonderful piece, Gayle. One of my favorites.

Keep up the good work, and happy Holidays and all that good stuff.


Gayle Mavor said...

Thanks Ben. Always so kind to me! Glad you liked it.