I grew up in a small village in St. Margarets Bay, Nova Scotia. Guess you could call me a “Bay” boy at heart. After graduating with my Electronic Technologist degree, I worked for the Telephone Company (called MT&T – Maritime Tel & Tel back then) for about 24 years. In 1991, I moved to Ottawa on assignment with Telecom Canada, which later became Stentor Canadian Network Management. I enjoyed working with the many wonderful people from the member telephone companies across Canada and in the USA that were part of the Stentor alliance. In 1999, the Stentor alliance was disbanded. I decided to take a severance package and stay in Ottawa, instead of moving back to Nova Scotia. In 2000, I started to work for the Federal Government in different positions and at the end worked in the IT field, as an IT System Analyst. In 2020, I decided it was time to retire, after 20 years service with the Federal Government.
Throughout my life I enjoyed volunteering, starting as a teenager, helping out as Assistant Cub Leader with Scouts Canada. In 1975, as I started my first full time job with MT&T, I decided to take a one week leadership training course (called WoodBadge II or Gilwell course) with Scouts Canada. I came from the one week in-residence course full of energy and on a natural high. I decided there were so many more personal skills to learn in life thru volunteering, so continued volunteering and taking additional training with Scouts Canada. During my 45 years of volunteering with Scouts Canada, I have taken many training courses, volunteered in numerous positions and went on to be part of the teams that lead these different Scouts Canada leadership courses. As well, I had the opportunity to travel the country and the world (Denmark, Sweden, Holland, Chile, Thailand, England) attending Scout Jamborees, which were truly amazing experiences. I truly appreciated the many friendships and happy times leading action songs around the many campfires.
When I moved to Ottawa, one of my staff talked me into volunteering for Canada Day. Now 25 years later, I have enjoyed the many wonderful people I have met thru volunteering for Canada Day, Winterlude, Christmas Lights and Special Events, now hosted by Heritage Canada (formerly run by the NCC). I never regretted my time well spent in volunteering and working with others in the many teams I was part of. As well, over the years I have had the opportunity to volunteer for Music festivals; Centrepoint Theatre; City of Ottawa Canada 150 celebration; and JUNO Award ceremonies to name a few.
In 2008, I attended a workshop at the Bodhi Manda Zen Center in New Mexico. It was here that I learned about Japanese Zen Buddhism and went on to attend some of the Zazen sessions over the years under the leadership of the 103 year old Roshi. Before this, I had visited my good friend Cheryl, who was teaching English in Japan in the 1990’s. It was thru her, I learned many aspects of Japanese culture on my many trips to Japan. As well, I learned about the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage.
As I researched more about the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage (Ohenro), I met Dara from Ottawa, who had done the pilgrimage and spent many coffee sessions with him explaining his experiences. Thanks to Dara for the many pointers, which gave me the courage to try the pilgrimage for the first time in 2014.
I guess by now you have figured out that I am a Ohenro Pilgrimage junkie, having done the pilgrimage 4 times and wanting to do it again. I can’t explain the peace one finds while walking the pilgrimage; the friends you make; people who appear and disappear in your life; the many blessings of osettai and the friendliness of the people of Shikoku.
When I retired in January, 2020, my plans were to walk the Camino pilgrimage in Spain with my friend Bob. Walk the Ottawa to Montreal pilgrimage (Chemin des Outaouais) with my friends Bob and Linda. Walk the 88 Temple Ohenro Pilgrimage again. Of course, this all came to a crashing halt in March, 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Everything had to be cancelled and put on hold.
In the meantime, while we wait for things to get better from this pandemic, since all my other volunteering activities have stopped, I have started to volunteer with the Ottawa Hospital (TOH) COVID vaccination clinic. Here too, I have met some wonderful people and have enjoyed working with the professional TOH team in doing my part to help support the efforts to beat this pandemic.
So, one day I hope to continue with doing my walking pilgrimages and enter more blog entries. Until then, just remember, the most precious gift a person can give is their time. Enjoy life and every day to the fullest.
Ganbatte kudasai (がんばってね)
“Do your best” in Japanese