6.28 Green Light

Last week, I was out with some friends down on Queen Street West. We were having a couple of beers out on the patio trying to enjoy what was surely one of the last times we’d be able to do this before the fall set in. There were two older gentlemen on the patio and I got to talking with them. They were German and one of them was here in Toronto putting on an art exhibit. We talked for a very quite a while and they told me about their art and how living as an artist had kept them young. The German Artist pointed to his friend and said, “Look at this man! He is 75 years old! Look at his face!” He did not look 75 years old. They guessed I was a writer and said I had the look of a writer and I should take advantage of this, although I didn't know what that meant exactly. They asked my name and said, “Paul Dore! What a name! The name of a writer!”

They invited me over to their table, but I returned to my friends, thinking I’d join them in a while. After some time, I looked over and they were gone. I didn’t get their full names or the gallery where The German Artist was showing his work.

This small experience reminded me how important it is to stay open. Open to people, to experiences, to the understanding that we are here for a short amount of time and should take full advantage of what is around us. It’s like we’re astronauts who have been sent to a new planet and we only have a limited amount of air, resources and time to explore this new environment. We should taste and touch and listen and look and smell and feel everything that is within our grasp.

The German Artist also reminded me that I still got it. A fear of mine is to close this part of me up, to get too wrapped up in the immediacy of my experiences and to not seek out new ones. I’ve heard this said many times before by lots of people, but it’s true: In order to be a good writer (or ‘creative person’), you need to live a life worth commenting on. It’s not about seeking out experiences in order to write about them, it’s just being open to these experiences and letting them happen.

This is the other thing The German Artist showed me: remember the green light. There were moments where something could happen, but I made the decision to go home. This is fine sometimes, sometimes it’s good to go home or pull yourself out of a potentially uncomfortable position. But I’ve tried to be the kind of person that pushes himself out of his comfort zone. Tried to be the person that when an interesting situation is presented to me, a situation that is unknown, I try to make the decision to say yes, to green light myself. By green lighting, it could be nothing but it could also be something. See what happens and more times than not, the decision to roll with it puts me someplace new. I green light myself, make the choice to push into the unknown. Chances are, these are the experiences that I remember the most. The ones that have helped shaped my mind and my life. The experiences I write about.

The next afternoon, I was heading into my office. Usually, I would bike but that day called for rain, so I decided at the last minute to walk. As I walked down Queen Street West, I was a few blocks away from the bar we were at the previous night. A man was walking towards me and he had that look that said, “I know you.” I thought to myself, “No, that can’t be. It’s The German Artist.” And at that moment he shouted, “Paul Dore the writer!” We talked for a while, I gave him my contact information and he told me more about his gallery. And I can’t wait to see The German Artist again when he returns to Toronto. Who knows what will happen?