Adventurers & Heroes

A boy stood up in my choir many years ago and made up a song on the spot: “My old bones won’t get me around! … So, I’ll just have to lie on the ground!” The song was hilarious in the moment, but became all the moreso over the years that I have sung it with children, because that boy, Donovan Tildesley, grew up to become a world champion Canadian swimmer at Pan American, Commonwealth and Paralympic Games. He definitely got around!

When he came to talk to the children at our Summerland Montessori School this week about being blind and achieving so many of his greatest dreams, some things stood out to me. He spoke of parents who were enormously supportive, who helped him take chances and try out new things. He spoke of learning to ski, guided, and how the greatest danger was not running into trees, but running into erratic snowboarders. And he talked about sometimes not minding falling off his bike when he was little, because it was “interesting” when something new happened.

The children will remember his gutsiness and humour, his description of his parents rearranging the furniture if they wanted to get at him for misbehaving - and for the time he spent trying to describe what it would be like to never have seen anything with his eyes. Which is impossible, because even he does not know.

An Adventurer is someone who does things for the joy of finding out what is “interesting”, what is new, what might change them, what might be a worthy impossibility. A Hero is an Adventurer who does this and makes us all better, richer, more than we were before, by doing it. Old bones or new, we start with what we have within us and our dreams, and we go from there.

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