Excuse me...but are these your rocks?

October 12th, 2013, 9am

“Please don’t look behind me. Nothing to see there, people.”

Why don’t people talk about the rocks in their life? I’ve got rocks, you’ve got rocks, the pretty girl standing next to you on the crowded subway who apologizes sweetly every time the lurch of the subway car swings her body into yours, has rocks, and your miserable neighbour next door, well, he damn sure has a few boulders behind him.

But often we all pretend, or avoid or just stay silent about the hard things, the challenges, the things that just went plain wrong. I suppose it’s because we are afraid (I know I have been). Afraid of the reaction. Afraid of what others will think. Fearful that after all is said and done, when your head hits the cool face of the pillow at night and your mind begins to spin over the day, that in the end you are only what went wrong, what you couldn’t do.


Came here when he was seven or eight. His family fleeing trouble in Afghanistan. Spoke not a word of english, had never been to school. Couldn’t even count. We call this city Toronto “the good”. It was not yet for him. Bullied. Isolated. Life in this new place hurt. These rocks made him a sad boy, an angry teen, “on the wrong path” he says. That he has made a good life for himself as a young man is not why I am telling you his story. It is that he is willing to share all of this without pride, without shame. I watched him do it once.

An audience of young boys before us. Rowdy, rude, bored, they were. Our charge, to mentor them. They didn’t want any part of us, and we had just about had it with them. And then it happened. Both of us angry, I stepped back, but he moved forward, and kicked his rocks right up front for them to see. They fell silent as he spoke, his voice quick, loud, hot. They did not move. I did not move. He spoke of things I did not know. He was vulnerable, but the moment was one of pure strength.

And right there he put the lie to what I had always thought was true: If you expose hurts or weakness you will surely die.

I won’t pretend here and now that I can do that. What my friend did. But I know now that those rocks behind me, they are just like yours. And if I speak of them to you or anyone who will stop and listen, I will not have lost a thing.

David Wade, Cassie and Shay said thanks.

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Mark Yearwood

Can a man remake his life? In the woods, no less? I am trying. www.kidsinthewoodsinitiative.org

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