Lately, at least for me anyway, I’ve seen it advertised to “Not use anything to clean the inside of one’s ears”! Well, too little too late, as I’ve been doing just that since childhood with either a hair-pin or a Q-Tip. But, that’s not the whole story, which began thus…


When I was just an infant, our mother was at work and my sister was was a babe in someone’s arms, somewhere. As I was on my own, I was to discover I had an itch I couldn’t reach to scratch. It was an itch situated deep within my left-ear canal. Subsequently, I felt I was tasked with solving this problem and, with no one around for consultation, I took matters into my own hands, literally.


After attempting to use my little finger on my little hand, it became clear my ear was likewise little and, therefore, too small for the little finger I attempted to use to get at whatever was so irritating inside my ear. I looked about and, finding no hair-pin to use, I elected to devise an implement from paper. I rolled a section of a piece of paper into a cone-shaped instrument and proceeded to work it down into my left-ear canal. Wait, maybe it was the right-ear canal?



2. Early Walking phase



Upon attempting to remove said cone-shaped-instrument, I lost hold of it and it became buried in my right-ear canal. What to do. I thought I could somehow remove it, by either gingerly prying the end tip of the paper-cone against the side wall of my ear canal, or using the blunt end of a pin to acquire said same result. Both attempts only resulted in sending the cone-shaped paper device further into my ear, resulting in me feeling despondent to the point of panic setting in.


After exhausting possible avenues of resolution, I elected to come clean and reveal my dilemma to an adult in the vicinity who became more alarmed than I, panicking at possible scenarios of which I had not even considered to be aware. Our mother was called, and I was taken to the hospital, a familiar place in recovering from periodic asthma episodes. The doctor arrived, looked into the problematic ear and proceeded to acquire a suitable apparatus to remove said piece of paper.


He removed the cone-shaped paper, saying something about my curious effort to scratch an itch in my left/right ear-canal, showed it to me and our mother who was relieved at my escaping more serious injury. The doctor placed the cone-shaped paper in my hand, I thanked him and home we went. Along the way home, all I could do, as I looked down on the cone-shaped paper in my hand, was think about the itch that opened the avenue to my hospital adventure which no longer existed, and that was just the beginning of my upcoming life experiences.



It is my contention that throughout Life humans are walking encyclopedias of helplessness. Occasionally, whether through natural or unnatural circumstances we encounter peak issues which indelibly stain our consciousnesses reminding us how vulnerable our living is.


You may disagree, and I’ll not dispute your beliefs because it is not my place to ruin the level of comfort you have devised for yourself. I will simply relate a few of my ‘peak’ issues that have led me to this assertion, after my timely emergence into this Time/Space Continuum called Life.



3a. Round About '54



One issue occurred early on during my childhood, I was about six years old. Many parents would be institutionalized if they were aware of the shenanigans their beloved offsprings experience when out-of-sight. That said, on this occasion I had climbed out of the upstairs window and onto the roof of the two/three-story house where we lived, while our mother was at work. My sibling was otherwise engaged in her solitary endeavours inside the house while I scampered about the roof imagining I was some adventurer. I was venturing toward the edge of the roof thinking I would leap off onto a nearby tree. It occurred to me that the zinc-roof was a mite slippery as I made my way to its edge.


Undaunted, I calculated that if I was unable to stop before reaching the edge I must be prepared to jump. Luckily, my sliding slowed and I was able to jump/fall onto a strong, load-bearing branch and climb safely down to the ground. Lesson learned, I did not repeat that adventure.


Being helpless in the face of gravity and material conditions doesn’t mean giving in to the fear of demise.



8. Gunboat Beach c.'61

Another Turning Point



On this second occasion, I had another lesson-to-learn. I was twice as old, twelve years, and rarely went near water since where I lived required adult accompaniment by bus or motor-car. During our year’s stay with our extended patriarchal family, our neighbour gathered the children of our two families for a day at the beach. We were all a-glee with the idea and a fun time was expected.


While we all frolicked and played on the beach and by the sea shore, I ventured to the dock area for a dive and swim to shore. I was never taught how-to-swim. I did however have experience in holding my breath and crawling along the sea floor until I reached safe standing level. This I did and was quite pleased when I accomplished the first attempt. As I repeated the process I became quite confident in my routine, until I miscalculated by forgetting where I was in the process and surfaced-too-soon.


Not feeling the sand beneath my feet and not knowing the rudiments of swimming I began to falter and flutter like a butterfly. I didn’t realized I was under the watchful eye of our neighbour. In due time he was beside me, lifting me to the surface and telling me to relax, “I’ve got you”. I instinctively felt confident in his claim and gave way to his instruction, as he ushered me to shore.


Upon ascertaining I was alright, he was back to his watchful enjoyment and I returned to the dock to ‘get back on the horse’ so as not to develop a fear of the water/swimming. Such was my thinking. This lesson: being ever alert to environmental conditions even during ‘fun’ experiences.




In Time…



Skip ahead a three decades into adulthood, still learning of Life’s insinuations through mistakes by other’s evaluations. On this occasion it was estimated that being a world class athlete I would handle an excursion of white-water rafting on an olympic training river.


A lot was lost in translation during transmission of information due to the fact that my host, and his companions, had often experienced the type-of-rafting I was to experience with them. I, on the other hand, had experienced white-water rafting in a different manner. So, when ‘white-water rafting’ was mentioned there were two discordant images imagined.


It was not until we were acquiring our equipment did the first level of miscommunication set in. Next was seeing the river as we drove up to its point-of-entry, where I was given a rudimentary rundown of how-to-use the equipment before setting raft-to-water. Oh, I must relate that there was a proficient kayaker acting as guide/life-guard, while our ‘kayaks’ were individual zodiac-styled inflatables.


To make a long story short, we were on the river three-hours. I almost drowned thrice, until I determined the ‘lessons’ I received were best ‘practiced’ in a pool setting, so I went with my instincts to reach our disembarkation point. On this occasion, one of my rescues was reminiscent of my dive/swimming experience, with a twist. The guide’s first effort was unsuccessful and would have resulted in catastrophe. He instructed me to ‘let go’ in order to reposition and approach from another angle. Again, I attended, trusting in his experience, and was ushered to shore while my equipments were gathered and returned to me in order to resume rafting on the rapids.


This lesson: get as much information as possible, never presuming that what others are thinking is in line with my experience, regardless of kind intent.


How were these examples of ‘helplessness’?  True, my first experience was closer than the other two, seeing I was rescued by experienced others. I surmise, they were there for me, as others were there for them in previous helpless situations.






My recent peak experience occurred recently, notably with more lessons than one. I lost control of a vehicle I was driving, where ‘helplessness’ screamed aloud and I was to not give in to panic, as that would have ended badly for my passenger and I. Good fortune favoured us; it being summer, the road was dry and oncoming traffic was next to nil as the car skidded, swerved, eventually plummeting. I attempted to gain control, dominate its movement and direction. That was not to be as it went from the right-side to the left-side of the road without the effect of the breaking I was attempting.


I watched/felt a force of energy take over the direction and flow of the vehicle, putting us over to the other side of the road and into the ditch where it then slid, flipped and hit a tree coming to a stop. The sensation and image inside could not be imagined by anyone on the outside. I had seen a movie with a similar occurrence weeks earlier and know the difference. On this occasion, as with the white-water rafting experience, first hand experience carries a weighty sensation that takes one beyond the academic and vicarious, in spite of the efforts for ‘4D’ movie experiences being devised.


In realtime, not slow-motion as many have described, but a surreal motion whereupon consciousness remains while coming to a complete stop; then, inquiring to assess the health and well being of of all present. The thought of what to do next with the resources at hand only brought to mind the realization, “I’m in another ‘helpless’ situation”. It was as previously, temporary, but not without its insights.


Rescue was imminent, voices from the outside inquired as to our well being and efforts ensued to get us to safety and hospital care, as needed. What resonates with me, still, is the precariousness of Life even when I am not taking it for granted. Being so doesn’t mean everyone else is as mindful. And, rightly so, because priorities do not always coincide and neither does attention to details.



Certain aspects of my life has been as much, and may continue to be until/unless timely forms of ‘helplessness’ balanced by ‘helping’ cease and herald my demise, if it hasn’t begun already, all things considered. I replay these, and other such incidents, to remind me …

I have survived ‘the slings and arrows of outrageous fortunes’ to engage in the time honoured practice that comes with age, ‘reflection’, and the ‘insights’ it engenders!


This includes the ‘tiresome’ feeling that accompanies living alone; especially, if one realizes how childhood conditionings result in being unable to cultivate and sustain intimate, one-to-one relationship throughout early adulthood.


Interestingly, no one was ever aware of this conditioning, its true formations and causalities, including myself. All the while, engaging others from within their cultivated, biases or through their simple self-possessing visors vision of me, tailoring their focus-of-affection as a philanderer/womanizer.





Well, it is what it was; but at least, I now know most if not all the intricacies that have placed me on this long recovery road that may only be netting me knowledge and wisdom, without the notable companion I so desire.


Such is Life. Enjoy your Life-Gifts! I do so appreciate our paths crossing from which I’ve learned so much, least of which is how life foundations differ and intertwine to create what is euphemistically called the ‘Fabric of Life’.



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