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The truth

Wed, 2012-02-08 14:29

Early morning, coffee in my hand. Sun breaking the horizon. My trusty dog sitting at my feet, counting the hours until he gets to eat the same meal he had for dinner and breakfast the day before. The house is silent, Really silent. No cars on the street, the birds are sleeping deeply in their nests on a frosty morning. My slippers are on, my robe is tied tightly around my waist. This is the holy hour, before the world stirs. Before the cattle begrudgingly awaken and complain about their upcoming day, lack of sleep, unhappy marriage, sketchy co-workers or their disengaged children.

I take a sip from my coffee. I stare at the screen in front of me, the blink of the curser waiting for me to type something. To share my thoughts. To write. I wonder to myself quietly “Do I have the right to share my thoughts?” Have I learned enough to share what I think. I type two words…

I remember

The damn curser flashes. It’s wanting more. It’s not satisfied with the effort. What do I remember. What is it I am trying to say?

I sat in the car alone. There were no other travellers around me. The officer escorted me from the car into a small room told me to sit in the corner.

“We are going to search your vehicle.”

It’s a rental, there’s nothing in it. What’s happening. I didn’t mean to do anything wrong. I just wanted to help. I should of just told the truth. I wanted…

That’s not it. That’s not where I want to take this. I take a sip of coffee and hold the delete key down.

I remember

I am back to the same point again.

I was 8 or maybe 9. It was a typical unexciting family dinner. Rouladen, a german dish of wrapped beef filled with pickles, onions and mustard. Not a 9 years old’s favourite. There wasn’t a discussion about other menu options. You ate what was in front of you. I pushed the meat around my plate like an uninterested city worker shovelling sand into an already full pot hole. Somewhere between the chewing and struggled swallows food flew past my eyes. Then my brother made some sort of stupid comment. I was grabbed by the back of my shirt and tossed to the corner of the kitchen.

“Hit him! If you want to show your a big man, hit him!” My father screamed at my brother.

Is that honestly what my dad wanted my brother to do?

My mom jumped up and covered me like the invisibility cloak in Harry Potter. Hoping to God that I could really disappear. Go away. Never be seen again.

The disbelief in my nine year old mind was overflowing. This is what dinner was in my household. This was a tuesday or a wednesday. This is why…

I can’t begin this way. I need to start when it all became clear, when it hit me like a ton of bricks. This time I just highlight it all and hit delete. It’s quicker.

I remember

The ripple that I felt for weeks. The pain that ripped through my heart. My wife had left a year earlier, the following year I discovered that my good friend had been having an affair with her. I had found out that this had taken place through his wife, not mine. There was other revelations as well. Some that would change lots of peoples lives. Forever.

I spent a week in disbelief. I couldn’t figure it out. I wasn’t trying to answer any specific questions. Just the ones that hurt.

As I walked through the door, the smell of freshly ground coffee in the Starbucks filled me with a sense of familiarity that warmed me. The smile from that Barista that I had seen so many times before reflected on my face. I ordered my Chai and proceeded to wander the book store attached to the coffee shop. Maybe a good “self help” book would be able to answer my questions and give me some perspective, some peace. I found it. There in the discount bin it was. A small grey paperweight. One quote.

“If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything”

A simple quote from Mark Twain written in 1894. Almost 120 years ago. I picked it up. 75% off. So it was about $2.50. I held it in my hand. It was like a lightning rod of reality. My life had been made up of lies. Made up of moments that weren’t real. Had we as a society discounted honesty so much that we took seventy five percent off it’s value? Had I?

I’m not sure if this is the starting point either.

I open a new page. I type two words on the page.

“The Truth”

It’s what the book is about. It’s about the lies that should have been truths, the stories that were just that stories. It’s the struggle we all face. The lies we tell others to protect them or to avoid them. It’s the dishonesty that we show to our co-workers or to our family. It’s the lie you tell yourself when you can’t face the truth. It’s a story. One of fact and one of fiction.

My father was a compulsive liar. Dishonest and un-trust worthy. He told me stories of adventure that never happened. He was like Albert Finney in the movie Big Fish. How many stories were true and how many were lies. Have we discounted the value of honesty to the point it’s 75% off? Do some of us feel a need to share our story on facebook to make others feel less or jealous? Do some people no longer care enough to worry about the ripple that comes from a lie or what they say?

I’m not sure. I’m not sure why I am writing this book. I think it’s therapy.

If I learned anything at 21 it was how silly I was at 11 and how mature I had become. If I learned anything at 31 it was that I was so very naive at 21 and really learned what I now wanted in life. If I learned anything at 41 it’s that I didn’t realize how much I had yet to learn at 31 and how I missed the wisdom of the 11 year old. If I am learning anything today it’s that I honestly have so much more growth to embrace.

That’s the truth.

I remember

  • Student Conferences

    We brought 40 students, mostly juniors, and the layout of the conference space and dorm space made our staff feel comfortable with supervision. The college also made it super easy for meals - everything was in the same complex. I HIGHLY recommend trying out this conference for those schools who haven’t yet. Top notch leadership experience!

    ~Bob Kline - Teacher - Huron Heights Secondary School, Kitchener, ON
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    Thanks so much for an amazing conference. We’re already looking forward to EOSLC 2018!

    ~Riley McMullen - Tagwi Secondary School - Avonmore, ON
  • Student Conferences

    I want to thank you for giving my students the opportunity to attend EOSLC!! On the drive home, they were discussing how wonderful the speakers were, and the spirit leaders, and the venue, and the whole experience!!!

    I know they have taken with them new insight as to what it means to be a leader! I thank you for that! You must be so proud to have so much positive influence on the youth of tomorrow.

    Thank you, thank you!!

    ~Jennifer Neville -VALOUR SCHOOL - Petawawa
  • Training Centres

    We had such a great time! Your camp is aMazing. The students loved it, and did things they never thought they would have! The slide show at the end was the cherry on top!!!

    ~Amanda - Teacher - Huron Heights Secondary School
  • Stu Speaks

    Students were very engaged, enthusiastic and excited. Stu is hilarious…seriously. “Humour is never a bad thing” said one student.

    ~Annalisa Varano - Vice Principal - St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School
  • Stu Speaks

    They say a great presenter “leaves them wanting more”. Well, we loved your presentation and the entire team asked me when you will be back! You are truly STUpendous!

    ~Nancy Klensch - Founder of Summit Kids
  • Stu Speaks

    Stu is an energetic, entertaining and dynamic presenter. He captures is audiences’ attention and keeps the room engaged for the entire presentation! His stories in his presentation captures everyone at different points, even the teachers!

    ~Sara Meaney - Cobourg Collegiate Institute
  • Stu Speaks

    Stu was great! Staff and students felt it really broke the anxiety in the building and we even got cupcakes today from one of the students.

    ~Carrie Rowlandson - William Aberhart High School, Calgary Alberta
  • Stu Speaks

    Stu was fantastic. There is nothing better than seeing 600 adolescents laughing their heads off. He delivers a terrific message and has the entire audience engaged, thinking, listening and most importantly laughing within seconds, and he keeps it going for over an hour. Thanks again on behalf of the Shores!!

    ~Doug Woods - Vice Principal, Nantyr Shores Secondary School
  • Stu Speaks

    Stu’s speech did exactly what I hoped it would do when I tried to bring him in: it brought the school together for a good laugh while empowering the student body to be the change they wish to see in their classroom. I feel he hit this goal perfectly.

    ~Steven Fotheringham - Oakville Trafalgar High School
  • Stu Speaks

    I really liked how the speech really just seemed like Stu was telling us funny stories, but he always related it back to the overall message. It didn’t sound like a speech at all, it was as if he was just talking to the crowd. I would say that he is excellent in connecting with the audience and keeping them entertained. There was not a two minute period in Stu’s speech were nobody was laughing. He kept us amused throughout the entire presentation. I thought he was perfect.

    ~James Palloto
  • Stu Speaks

    I would highly recommend Stu, his engaging personality was a real hook for the students and his messages were ones that many of them could identify with. The humour was great and the students shared that they enjoyed the presentation.

    ~Teresa Fowler - W.H. Croxford High School, Airdrie, Alberta
  • Stu Speaks

    Stu is personable. Students are willing to listen to him. They enjoy listening to him. He has a message, but he is also entertaining. He is fun to listen to and students don’t feel talked down to or preached at.

    ~Tanya Lacey - McKinnon Park Secondary School, Caledonia, ON
  • Student Conferences

    OSLC has played a pivotal role in the growth and development of our Student Activities Council leadership group over the 10 years we have been attending. The chance to get away together, bond as a group, meet other awesome leaders and advisors from across the province, and be challenged by some of the best speakers in the world has made a huge impact on the enthusiasm and effectiveness of our leadership program.”

    ~Jeff Gerber, Waterloo Oxford District Secondary School, Baden, Ontario
  • Training Centres

    “Just want to thank the Pigeon Lake YLCC staff for another wonderful experience. My Grade 7 class just returned from their overnight with smiles on their faces and singing ‘pizza man’. I have taken a group for a number of years now and I never tire of the experience. YOU rock!”

  • Youth Camps

    “Thank you Stu and Ornj and the AMAZING counsellors and staff for making the past two weeks amazing for Noah. He sobbed when we left, and can’t wait to return. He showed me his journal and we compared it to last year’s - what a difference a year makes.”

  • Youth Camps

    “Nothing makes my heart sing more, than to see my kids having the most amazing life experiences together. YLCC makes this happen every year. Pure Gold. ‘Thank You’ can’t really cover it …”

  • Youth Camps

    “Thank you for the best summer I have experienced to date. YLCC taught me how to embrace my values and to express opinions. The entire camp and amazing staff believed in me achieving any goal I were to set. “

  • Student Conferences

    OSLC to me is family, period.

    ~Hayley Press
  • Student Conferences

    OSLC showed me through the people I met what it was to be a better leader by how you act and what you do.

    ~Ben Arnold
  • Student Conferences

    OSLC is an experience where you can literally go and see 1000’s of other teens that have the same desire as you to lead and make a change in the world. The energy is electric, the movement is massive and the memories are completely unforgettable. The experience is one you fully cant understand without going there, there is an indescribable and irreplacable feeling that is created there, and it sticks even after you leave.

    ~Brittany Roney
  • Student Conferences

    OSLC changed my life. I have never felt so alive in my entire life. I met so many people who I will be life long friends with. The energy is amazing and the inspiration is indescribable.
    If there was one memory I could remember it would be OSLC.

    ~Maddison F
  • Student Conferences

    I don’t even know how to begin or where to start telling you how amazing OSLC was and how amazing and incredible you are! This event was truly life changing for me and my council, thank you so much for this, for OSLC and for you. You are truly an inspiration and have shown me so much and have lit a fire inside me.

    ~Joshua McCallum, Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School, Strathroy, Ontario
  • Student Conferences

    I have been bringing students to the Ontario Student Leadership Conference for over 10 years. Our students clamour for a spot at the conference because they have heard about it and want to be a part of it. They always come back from the conference excited and motivated to make positive changes in our school and community. The speakers are always world class and the workshops inspire and educate the students, I look forward to being part of this incredible conference for years to come, keep up the great work.

    ~Kyle Pope, Oakville Traflagar High School
  • Student Conferences

    This conference consistently fosters, in the students who attend, a sense of community in leadership that I’ve yet to see generated to this degree anywhere else. Former students have told me, years later, that the OSLC was the highlight of their high school experience. I believe them.

    ~Ross Thomson, Craig Kielburger Secondary School, Milton, Ontario
  • Student Conferences

    I have been attending OSLC a number of years with our Students’ Council Executive. There is no other opportunity that I am able to offer my students that leads to such enthusiasm and ideas for the school year. Many of my students have worked as Spirit Leaders at the conference, and more than once students have told me how OSLC has changed their life. On top of that, OSLC is one of the very few conferences that allow for PD for staff members who work in student leadership. More than once I have had my own commitment to student leadership refreshed through workshops at OSLC.

    ~Tanya Lacey, McKinnon Park Secondary School, Caledonia, Ontario
  • Stu Speaks

    I was at the OCA conference on May 6th, and I just wanted to thank you on being such a wicked keynote… you definitely put me back in the camp mindset and reminded me of what’s truly important about the up-coming summer. Once again, a job very well done.

    ~Emily Summers
  • Stu Speaks

    The students really enjoyed Stu’s humour and low-key but critical message about getting involved and getting the most out of their High School experience. I would recommend Stu as a speaker who relates well to students, is funny, and gets the message out without preaching.

    Thank you,

    ~Lynn Toye