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  • A chance meeting with a stranger on Cascade Head, Oregon, prompts a story about love and loss.


    This story is part of Monarch Spirit, the tale about my walking journey from Canada to Mexico. See my website,, to learn more.


    A few years ago I was a paramedic working in Maryland, and while responding to a call I had a catastrophic crash in the ambulance. I took a turn too fast, lost control, hit a telephone pole. I was pretty sure I killed my partner. They came out alright. Everything… they took a day off for a hurt wrist. When it came back time to get behind the wheel and drive again, man that was…that was tough. It was really, really difficult.

    So as a result, if I wasn’t driving, I couldn’t work my way up the promotion line. I had to be a driver to earn more money and promote and what not. A wife and three kids… Promotion equals income which equals support for the family and this, that and the other. I had a long stretch where I just really, really couldn’t get past that barrier. So I talked to one of our employee assistant programs and they referred me to one of their head shrinks, a psychiatrist.

    And he – very nice guy, super interesting and what not – he says “Here’s a technique dealing with rapid eye movement. What you do is you watch my hand move back and forth at a speed around 100 times a minute, back and forth, while you think of that particular event.” Apparently it kind of helps your mind wrap around certain ideas that are holding you up. Athletes use this technique for getting off the starting blocks when they run. So there are all kinds of applications for it.

    He says “Hopefully we can talk about the crash but first, before we go down that road, I want to make sure it works for you, make sure it is an effective way… So I want you to think of the most beautiful place, your favourite place. When you get stressed, you put it in your mind’s eye. It’s what you see.” That’s right here at Cascade Head. This.

    This is what I thought of, my most favourite place in the world to be. So many memories of the summer camp down below, hiking up. And as I got older I’d bring dates up and what not – how could you not? It’s beautiful up here. So I start thinking about it and I started watching his hand back and forth; back and forth; back and forth. And all of a sudden I am just crying, tears streaming down my face. I’m just like “Holy man, what just hit me?”

    So he gives me a minute to get myself together and he asked me “What happened?” I said “Well, Cascade Head is Oregon Coast. You know, I miss my home in Oregon and what not, and my dad and I use to fish all the coastal rivers. We’d drive out. The drive out was beautiful, hanging out with my dad and fishing. Cascade Head reminds me of that.

    I lost dad a few years ago to cancer. And just miss him still, you know? He never got to see the twins. He saw my oldest. Grandkids were high on his list. So long story longer, my hang up in driving and not promoting would be a disappointment to him for not providing as well as I could for my family. That’s a long path to kind of link together and figure it out but you know, it was right, just working through that and getting back on track. Making my dad proud makes me happy. That’s my love story.
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