By the time my wife Heidi was nineteen, she had marched in anti-war protests in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver. During the sixties, they were known as “peaceniks.”
I had a lot of marching experience at that age as well, but mine was while I carried a rifle. In my mind, “The Flower Children” were a bunch of pacifist weaklings. The only thing worse than them were the cowardly draft dodgers and deserters that flocked to Canada in those days from the United States.
It was a good thing Heidi and I did not meet back then, but it was also fortunate that we did not meet when we were twenty-nine. She had trained as a nurse and was intent on helping people; I had moved on to working in Corrections where the feelings of animosity between me and the inmates was mutual. Early in my days there I was assigned duties in a tower with a rifle and a shotgun. My orders were to shoot anyone who scaled the first fence. Fortunately, the opportunity did not occur, but I was more than capable and eager to follow orders had it done so.
We met when I was 39 – the perfect time for both of us. My life had been totally turned around, I was well-liked and was treated with respect (even from inmates). I had re-vamped the Alcohol Awareness programme in a correctional centre, was gaining experience as a public speaker and had co-founded a food bank. I was divorced twice before Heidi and I began our journey together thirty-two years ago. We had much to teach and learn from each other.
Fifteen years ago, I built an arbour in our garden and trained a small climbing hydrangea around one of the legs. It now covers the entire structure with its beautiful flowers every year. Now that it has matured, the branches can no longer be bent. They would break with any attempt.
Unlike plants, we have been granted free will. We do not have to live our lives the way we always did because that was how we were trained. Heidi and I found common ground at the right time in our lives and helped each other to bloom in ways that would have been impossible otherwise.
Rigid thinking and Happiness and do not go well together.