Friday, February 25, 2011

Stepping Back to Move Forward

It might have been as far back as last October when I mentioned that I still had a small handful of Peacebus art to share with you – my readers. These remaining artworks were created by just one of my students. I was so impressed by Andrea’s creative ability that I wanted to showcase her art while I commented on each of her peaces. Her attention to detail and the tools that she used reminded me of … well… me! I had many conversations with this student where I would talk to her about some of the design concepts that she had used and I would show her some of my art and point out that we both had used the same ideas when designing.

I will be using Andrea’s peace art to add a splash of colour to this story, but I won’t be commenting on her works. I have a different story to tell, today, and I think that it is most fitting that I’m sharing some Peacebus art, at the same time…

I started driving school bus in the spring of 2009. My 13 year long ‘career’ as an artist had come to an end and at this point in my life I simply needed a job to pay the rent. For many years, I had worked with children in a classroom setting (part time, here and there, whenever I could) and I was looking out my window wondering what kind of steady paying job I could find where I could continue to be around children. At that moment a school bus drove right past my apartment. I smiled. I had glimpsed at my future.

I had no thoughts in my head about creating what would soon be called The Peacebus, but over the next months that is exactly what happened. I came to view my ‘failure’ as an art teacher as a blessing, for now I was working with more children than ever before, creating more artwork than ever before and influencing - in positive ways - more people than ever before. For the first time in my life I felt like I had found ‘me’ and I was happy.

The job didn’t pay that much, just enough to keep a person honest, but it was more than I had made for many years. I didn’t know how long I would continue with this position, but for now I didn’t really care. When it was time to move on it would be time to move on. Somewhere deep inside my heart I knew that I had something important to accomplish and I simply let The Peacebus take me for the most wonderful ride.

Last August, nearing the end of the month, Joanne and I were talking about some of the things we needed to save up for – our first ever vacation (see last blog and tune in for my next blog as I finish that story), home renovations, etc. I spent a while trying to figure out how I could find another part-time job to increase my monthly income. I couldn’t think of anything that would fit with my present schedule. I started wondering if this was to be the end of The Peacebus cuz maybe I’d have to find another full time job that offered more hours.

I decided to give a few other transportation companies a call. Voyageur had me in the very next day, for an interview and two days later I had been hired and two days after that my training had begun. I didn’t have time to blink let alone think about how quickly this change was taking place.

Over the next several months I dug into the new job. There were many things that I enjoyed about the work that I did – I found honour with being able to help so many people with mobility disabilities. The mini-buses were fun to drive and I had fun sharing silly jokes over the CB radio from time to time. The dispatchers quickly learned that whenever an extra hand was needed to complete an extra task that I could always be counted on. Like ever job I’ve ever had, I strove for excellence and worked very diligently.

I was very sad to see The Peacebus come to an end. Ohhhh the plans I had for the coming year had me very excited and suddenly – like the ebbing tide – I watched as my dreams began to fade into the distance.

I had to overcome the feelings of loss that had filled my heart and after a couple of months I thought that I had won this inner battle. I kept thinking about evolution and how this process involves continuing from one of life’s stepping stones on to the next. I explained my situation in metaphors comparing this new change to the turning of chapters in one’s book of existence. These thoughts helped in many instances and soon it was winter and a new year was just beginning.

In the first week of January, I received an email from a Facebook friend who told me the story of her completed quilt that she had created using artworks by the students of The Peacebus.. A must read story - A deep river of memory flowed through my mind and I began to see how so many people (around the world) had experienced so much joy because of The Peacebus. My inner battle to find peace and worthiness in my life kick-started again with even more resolve. My mind twisted over these feelings for some time.

I woke up in the early hours of the day, quite restless and feeling very isolated in my mind. I made a cup of tea to help warm me up. I glanced at the clock on the stove and the time was 3:21am. 321 was my old employee number at Murphy Bus Lines. I cringed. I almost cried. About half an hour later, Koly and I found ourselves in a nearby park. I spent time trying to distract myself by throwing snowballs that Koly loves to chase and eat. The sky was very dark because of all the cloud cover and I closed my eyes and prayed for clarity to direct my thoughts. I looked up at the clouds and just for the briefest of moments the sky cracked open and a full moon stared straight down at me. And then it was gone.

In that flash I saw a thousand smiling children’s faces and I felt a whisper creep along the length of my spine telling me that my work as The Peacebus driver was not yet finished. But how?

On our walk home I stumbled and tripped on some ice. I found myself on my knees, covered in snow… and the most simplest of answers. I would work for Murphy’s during the week and on Saturdays and holidays I would work for Voyageur. Koly came over to me and licked my face and I told him that I had been so blind for not being able to see what was right under my nose, the whole time!

A decision was made. It was time for me to take one small step back into my past so that I could continue – with a smile – into my future.

Over the next few days I had two telephone calls to make. Yes! Murphy’s would take me back. Yes! Voyageur was glad to keep me on part time so that I could find happiness surrounding myself with smiling children. Everything was falling into place. It was two weeks before Joanne and I traveled to Mexico and this was enough time to organize my new work schedules. When I returned from my vacation a new chapter in my life would begin. My first day back as The Peacebus driver was fittingly to be the day of Peace and Love – Valentine’s Day!


1 comment:

Shawn Jason said...

Peaceman, do not underestimate the amount of inspiration you have poured into this world... so far ;) The ripple effect of your presence in this life is far reaching... in ways that you nor I can possibly even begin to grasp or understand.

May you continue to shine more brightly with each passing day, and may you find peace in knowing just how much you have already helped change the world... and the ripples continue ;)