Sunday, February 26, 2023


I listened to Bonnie Rait’s masterful song, Just Like That, again yesterday. I have yet to listen to it and not cry. But what an unforgettable song it is. The woman is a genius with lyrics and melody, and unlike many elder women, her voice still warrants recording. I always liked her music; I like the blues. But when I heard I Can’t Make You Love Me, I was hooked for life.

I can’t make you love me if you don’t

I can’t make your heart feel something it won’t

She does no wrong when she picks up a pen and her guitar. If you haven’t listened to her song, you need to listen to her story. It’s a beautiful melody with poignant lyrics, excellently sung. I love Bonnie.  

Why do I lovea song with such a poignant message so much—a message that makes me cry? Am I an emotional masochist? It deservedly won song of the year at the Grammys this year (regardless of the opinion of BeyoncĂ© fans). I recognize that Bonnie Rait and her kind of music fits well my generation well; we are the people who grew up with her songs.

It’s a miracle of a song. It has such a straight-forward simple, beautiful and warm melody, and an incredible story, told very elegantly. I don’t listen to pop music anymore. I’m a full-on CBC classical listener. If she hadn’t won the Oscar, I’d likely never have heard this song. Oh, I’m so glad she won. 

Dr. Shoja did not fault my parents, God bless her. The neutral way to state the reason for my neurological disorder, is to say that I failed to bond with the Tyrells. I have attachment disorder, she says. I know she’s correct.

My mother always identified me as her adopted child. She’d often unnecessarily corrected people who referred to me as her son in conversation. So, I always called their family members, their family members, and not mine. I felt that they were nothing to me, but if I liked them, they became friends.

When I was in college, I befriended a family through a science class, I think. We may have carpooled. Through her, I met her two sisters, and we had a blast when we were together. I loved having dinner at their house. Their father was a highly respected doctor who had a medical practice at Vancouver General and taught medical ethics at UBC.  Dinners were absolutely incredible! 

I remember many of those conversations. My experiences with Dr. B. were great fodder for conversation parties all my life. I learned amazing things at that dinner table. And one night, he talked about how transplant patients were having interesting emotional responses. I listened to every word he said. I was fixated, and when he finished, I told him why his story fascinated me.

The patients were struggling with identity and describing feelings like I had about being confused about my identity—a Tyrell by name, but not at all a Tyrell in my soul. (That’s why I began this bit talking about attachment disorder.) It’s the theme of my life, a part of me that hasn’t changed as I’ve aged. I’m glad I got the diagnosis. The diagnosis is a tool that has helped me to understand why things changed. I won’t die with questions.

I think I like Bonnie Rait’s song because the gentleman caller is driven by a confusing force to connect. He’s wants a bond.

I am very, very close to being perfect on the first 800 words. I’m really chuffed by that, but I’m going to continue rehearsing them until I’m perfect for many times in a row. Then I’ll take on another 200 words. It’s very exciting to feel improvement every day.

We’re didn’t have the big community dog walk this morning, because of the snow. Show is falling and melting out of the trees, all the icicles on my house are gone, and the sun is out and everything is beautiful, wherever my eyes go. And it’s much, much warmer. Thank God. I hope that is the end of Winter. I’m sick of cold, and I’m sick of having to keep a roaring fire to keep the house toasty warm, the way I like it in Winter.

Guess what. I’ve become de-facto chair of the communications committee. I’m acting like one, writing committee reports, budgeting, seeing my name on the agendas. But I’m functioning. Today, however, the Foundation circulated an email announcing that an Adminstrative Coordinator has been hired, part time. I knew, of course, we were doing that, but her job description contains most all of the things that I do now, except writing. 

I was hurt and my insecurities flared. I often feel inadequate for the position I have. On the other hand, I will have far, far less to do. Dyan is calling me to chat today at 1:00. I’m curious about what she wants to discuss with me.

One thing I love about being me, is what I might call my soul. That’s why I think that I love to parse the concept of intelligence.

When I was little, I thought the people with the highest marks were the smartest. In college, for a course I was taking, I interviewed my high school accelerate class as part of an assignment. I. had to assess education acceleration programs. I was stunned by some of the stories I discovered. I remember one of a guy who drank a small vial of a drug to avoid being arrested and he became psychotic. There were quite a few unexpected career progressions—careers that didn’t academically capitalize on their youthful academic enrichment.

I developed my “one decade to shine” theory of life after doing that assignment. Some waste their decade to shine on adolescence. I was very proud of my paper when I handed it in. My assignments often had creative embellishments. My paper had three sections. Each one had a cheeky title, but I can’t remember what they were. The first section contained, as well as I could write it out, my understanding of what intelligence was, based on my life experience. I dated the end of the section once I’d written it.

The Second section was an annotated bibliography of the books that formed my intellectual understanding of intelligence—the books that constituted my research. I time dated each entry to my paper. The third section was a critical evaluation of part one that included my “definitive” understanding of the term “intelligence.” And I time dated it.

And all that contributed to me having magnificent insightful experiences connected to the concept of intlligence, during my traveling years. I saw a man in India who appeared to be terrible poor, made money by sitting behind a simple bathroom scale betting with customers that he could correctly guess their weight. He defined correctly as being one of the three consecutive numbers that were his every answer. His customers saw him win once. Sitting there, I saw him be correct 8-9 times out of ten. All he did, with each customer, is gently feel their lower arms and wrist. I thought he was a shining example of practical intelligence.

Another was with the guide of a drive about in Africa. We’d come across a Chameleon one day, and I was besotted by the little beastie. Drivers want to get their day done quickly, but they also want to keep the customer happy. And tips. I spent quite a while with the little thing. I loved how he changed colours and how he moved.

Days later, we’re out having a great, great day of seeing animals, and we were late coming home, driving in the dark. Our guide remained on duty, sitting in the iron chair fastened to the frame of our Jeep at the front, and flashing his flashlight on the bushes on the side of the road as we rolled along the bumpy roads at 30 K.

And, non-judgmental me thought, he’s working me for a tip. I thought what he was doing was overkill—the whole flashlight thing. And then his hand went up and the driver quickly stopped the car and then backed up a little. The guide got off the truck and came to open my door and, with a big smile on his face, he invited me to come see something.

He took me to the side of the road and shone his flashlight on a plant and said, “Look at that!” 

All I could see was leaves, and so I asked him, “Is this some kind of interesting plant?”

“No, look carefully on the plant.”

I could not see anything. And then he moved his flashlight and I saw that a black place was a shadow and it moved. I saw a shadow of something barely invisible.

“It’s a Chameleon,” he said, and he put it in my hand.

We’d been going 30 K in the dark, and he saw the Chameleon. I couldn’t believe it. I had no interest at all in the second beastie, I was incredulous about the guide’s capabilities. Again: Extraordinary practical intelligence.

Another: I went to see some Maasai people with a tour. Alone later with my driver with whom I felt very comfortable and friendly, he revealed to me his horror of what we’d seen of the Maasai people all bedecked in their beads.  He said the beads mean something and what we were seeing was a mishmash of wedding, burieal, and circumcision beading that no Maasai people would mix, except for tourist dollars. So, with his help, I booked myself into a Maasai camp, where I could meet Maasai people without all the tourist pandering. 

While at the camp, I hired waiters and cleaners each day to take me for walk abouts and show me things. When I was with one of my daily guides, I left him to pee behind a bush in a very arid area. When I came back to join him, he said he had something to show me. We walked back towards the bush, and we stopped, and he pointed down, and then he asked me what I saw. I didn’t know what to say; I didn’t see anything striking. Then he pointed out a kind of light gully that I’d noticed but I thought I was looking for something alive or beautiful.

He got a long straight and flexible reed from a plant, and carefully folded it into the groove of the reed. He marked width of the little gully with the reed by pressing a fingernail into the reed where it entered and exited the bully. Then he folded the two ends of the reed over the measured section, and nipped off the excess pieces with his teeth. Now, he had a reed three times in length, the width of the gully, and he bent it into a circle, pinching it closed with two fingers.

“That’s the diameter of the snake in the bush,” he said.

I’ve watched Olympian achievements in sewers of costumes that humbled me, and read exclusively non-fiction for decades, most of it about people who did extraordinary things. Many of them were betrayed by their fellow men, psychosis or by other forms of mental illness. Sometimes, intelligence comes at a price.

From my own life, I’ve learned that creativity is a significant component of intelligence, as is visual acuity. I’m creative and I have a modest photographic memory. Some of my teachers and friends have said that they find me intelligent. If that is true, it’s largely because of these skills of memory and creativity, I think. 

Intelligence, like speech, is a complex activity.

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