- - 24 January 2021 -

Mile Markers Wrapped In Brown

The pace of my entire day is determined by the visual marker of one random guy driving a beat up Honda Civic on my way to work. Seeing him, not seeing him, seeing him one point five minutes too soon, one point five minutes too late, on corner one, corner four, before the stop sign. He might be creeped out by my dependence on his arrival or perhaps, stimulated by my reliance on his very existence. He will never know that my infatuation with his morning routine is interdependent with the success of my day. Do I need to go faster, am I on time, am I early, am I ok today, is he okay today?

This stranger sets the tone for my next steps. How often do we use complete strangers as our benchmark, our pace setter, our goal marker, our end game, our cautionary tale.

In high school, my locker was covered in photos of people I had never, nor would I ever meet. Rachel McLish and Cory Everson – young female bodybuilders, icons to prepare and last the very body I had been gifted by the universe to care for. *alas, insert menopause body here* Alice Cooper and Pink Floyd, because every teen needs icons that tout School’s Out For Summer and We Don’t Need No Education. Bedroom walls suffered the same décor fate. Heavy Metal long hairs and excerpts of poetic lyrics, relatable to my moments. My pace markers. Images and muses and quotes and stories of strangers that would assist with my walk towards becoming the best me. The very biggest brightest me ever.

I was destined to be a Rockstar. I was certain of it. Or at the very least, an Emmy award winning video jockey on MuchMusic. I wanted to be Erica Ehm or Joan Jett or a combination thereof. I could not sing or hum or whistle very well. I was in the high school band. I played the flute and my repertoire included Sweet Caroline. I watched MuchMusic every day from my rural living room while eating Vachon cakes. That is as far as I got. My dreams needed to be tweaked.

Over time, my pace markers shifted. Today, that man in the beat up Honda is far more important to me than the famous that once covered the walls and spaces of my youth. Back then I dreamed extremely large. I dreamed extremely isolated. My dreams. My destiny. My free will. My determination. My perseverance. I dreamed in colour, as was expected. My dreams were autonomous. Just. About. Me.

Today, my dreams live in a collective, a consciousness of those around me and a full part of me. My dreams are relationships – the lasting ones, the fractured ones, the evolving ones, the developing ones. My pace setter is no longer the multi-millionaire singer, but is the guy driving down my road who gets me to work on time, the work where I commune with the lives of my fellow employees. My circle.

Have I lost sight of my large dreams? Perhaps. But through this evolution of time and space, I have come to recognize that large dreams have the capacity to soften and fit nicely in brown parcel paper. We are told to dream big at an incredibly young age – be an astronaut, be a dancer, be a brain surgeon.

Right now, I’m being a receptionist at a car dealership, and I am using a stranger in a car as my life mile marker. Maybe tomorrow or maybe never will I be a Rockstar. Don’t get complacent Joan and Erica… there’s still time for me to rip up the song charts or host my own YouTube channel. My teens would love that. *insert traumatized teens here*

This fresh chorus of Inspire girls and women replaces the famed icons that have since faded on my locker door. I much prefer the large and visceral dreams wrapped in brown parcel paper.

The people that we can reach out and touch make the best stewards of our dreams.