Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Paddle Your Own Canoe

"You've got to love many and trust a few,
do as well as you can do,
give everybody what you think they're due
and always paddle your own canoe."

-an old proverb, also words sung by Charlie McGettigan in the song 'Paddle Your Own Canoe.'

I did not lay so much as a fingernail on a computer until I was nineteen and my brother brought one home to us. It was Christmas time and the house was cosy, lit with prismatic and shimmering coloured lights around a roaring fireplace.
It was a happy, magical time when we got that computer: within hours my brother and I had discovered a sample of "Prince of Persia," a popular game, on a disc that accompanied the wondrous machine. Precisely because it was the very first video game we ever played, it still holds an air of wistfulness for me when I recall how our mouths verily hung open in awe and our eyes widened to the size of teacups as we discovered the colours, the sounds and the various actions we could cause the animated figure to perform.
A few years on, and I know now that many children take possession of computers by the time they can walk. It was not that way for us and every new element we came to learn on the prodigious piece of technology was another memory for the bank of nostalgia.
Ah, but when I discovered the joys of e-mail my entire world took off like a galloping horse.
One of my first thrills was setting myself up with an address and developing my skills at contacting people who heretofore had not known of me. At the time, I was listening repeatedly to an album called "Family Matters" by Charlie McGettigan. The words he sang were thoughtful and gentle and particularly at that time in my life I treasured the lines "don't be nervous/do your best/you're as good as all the rest/the world is out there waiting/just for you."
I decided that one of my very first e-mails would be to Charlie McGettigan himself. My mother had related many a time over the years how she once attended a concert of his and to her delight received a polite kiss from the singer after the show.
Naturally I had to make mention of that. I told him that I loved the album and jested that he must, surely, remember my mother from a concert he performed more than ten years previously.
I felt inspired by a great measure of bravery as I wrote the e-mail, a mere couple of months after using a computer for the first time. I wrote it, I think, not for a response- I was far too shy to think of that possibility- but for some character building and to improve my social skills.
Less than a week later, I was astonished beyond words by an e-mail I received. Charlie McGettigan had responded to me and made a wonderful, witty joke that he of course remembered my mother, and I was to be sure to say hello to her.
I was flabbergasted. The e-mail process worked, but more to the point, it showed me that well-known people could be polite and very ordinary human beings. Which proved, in turn, that polite and ordinary human beings could become anything they wanted to be.
That was all I needed to hear.

No comments:

Please look around, explore my writing, leave a crumb:
I welcome comments and thoughts.