2019 - So What!




These are the questions ringing inside my head these days.

It is true, I was born in the year 1969, the year which witnessed 350,000 hippies dancing in the mud at Woodstock, astronaut Neil Armstrong making one giant leap for mankind, and also marked the Beatles last live concert in London. In 1969, the year my house was built (ironically), it probably was worth about $15,000 which was roughly double the amount that I might earn in that year (gotta love that math). And on April 16th, in the Calgary General Hospital, I was born to a young pair who weren’t yet ready to be parents and gave me up for adoption.

This past week my good friend David Legg, after a twenty-five year absence, moved back to Alberta to live out the dreams we talked so much about when we were twenty somethings. I had bright orange thick curly hair back then! As we caught up over cocktails and some hot wings, he quipped that I am likely the most intense person he has ever met. I think he meant it as a compliment, at least I took it that way - if nothing else, a backhanded one. Those of you who do know me, would likely agree with Mr. Legg in his characterization. Hell even I know it is true (what do they call me, oh right, a bull in a china shop). For the last forty-nine and three quarter years, I have found the intensity burning inside of me is at the same time a blessing and a curse. This past year was one of the most difficult years of my life thus far. I won’t bore you with the details, but it was nothing if not a disruptive twelve months. A year marked by my intensity breaching its containment shields and spilling out burning everything in its wake, but mostly just burning me. The year 2018 will go down in the history of Poul Mark as the year of deep self reflection. But more importantly it will be remembered, at least by me, as the year I first noticed that the path before me was shorter than the path a had already traveled. It will be remembered as the year that I seriously took note of my impending birthday.

I have much to be thankful for! I know that. If I am not one of the “one percent” I am at least one of the “three percent” on this planet. I live a blessed life. I have an amazing beautiful warrior wife and an awesome son. I am blessed with an education, relatively good health, and a career which I cherish and challenges me almost everyday. I have a diverse set of friends both near and far, and live essentially as did nobility in centuries past. In fact, I know that it is this blessed life that affords me the opportunity to spend time reflecting and writing; instead of simply toiling each day for my basic survival. Knowing all of this, what more could a man ask for?

And for almost fifty years I haven’t asked for much else. And yet, as I begin to crest that mid century hill, I also know that I have only half lived most of my previous years. I have lived incased a self made shell which has served to both protect me at times, but has mostly prevented me from truly entering into the joy, the pain, the emotions of many of those years. It is this forged suit of armour that I want to escape from; if not this coming year, then sooner rather than later. I get that many do not understand, do not see the effects of the armour that I wear. But nonetheless it is real, and my intensity is both the lock and the key to my emotional freedom.

This post, I realize is obtuse. My self assessment and reasoning, jumbled and likely flawed. But that is where I find myself on the eve of my impending mid century mark. I find myself in a state of inner turmoil, confounded with my many blessings, and at the same time, keenly aware of the many deficits I am in possession of. It is the beginning of a new year, and having never been a man to adopt a new year’s resolution, I won’t begin that fraught tradition now. However, I am committed, more than ever in my life before, to press in, and not fall back into the old habits of avoidance and deflection. I honestly don’t know how to unbuckle the armour I find myself incased in, but with the help of those in my life who love me, perhaps, this might yet be the year, that I finally can leave that gleaming pile of metal in a heap on the path behind me.