A few of my favourite things from past year’s columns

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, December 30, 2009

’Tis the season when Sound of Music is often revisited. With a coffee-cup toast to Rodgers and Hammerstein, I’d like to begin this year-end column with my own musical take on “My Favourite Things”:

Slumdog and Avatar and Harry Potter
Cycling through Africa, sandstorm and shower
Cinnamon buns and some java with zing
These are a few of my favourite things.

Nakoda heritage: words blessed with honour
Peace and true happiness lived every hour
And Kelsey’s story that gives us all wings
These are a few of my favourite things.

Though my beard’s white
Though my ears ring
Though my joints hurt bad
I simply remember my favourite things
And they make me feel so glad.

Yes, I must confess my addiction to motion pictures. I wrote about Slumdog Millionaire in my column of March 4. To the films mentioned above, I should probably add the latest interpretation of Sherlock Holmes. About the must-see 3D feature Avatar, be sure to note how it treats the “winning of trust.” A special word of thanks here to Murray Mitchell, organizer of Chinook Film Group, for bringing to town such challenging social commentaries as Food, Inc.

My April 1 column dealt with one of my favourite Cochrane coffee companion’s cycling journey from Cairo to Cape Town. Ernest Enns shared with us his thoughts on his cross-cultural experiences along the way: “We meet fellow humans whose cocoon does not overlap ours in any dimension – an experience in real diversity.”

And of course, all of my columns for the year have echoed one of my daily favourite things: mugs of friendship in genial coffee shops, with the occasional cinnamon bun, to boot.

Clearly, one of my very favourite things – not just for 2009, but for the past 44 years – is the beauty of the Stoney Nakoda language spoken in Morley and related communities. Growing threats worldwide to small minority languages like Stoney, however, have raised serious concerns about its survival (October 28 column).

Speaking of language, my two favourite words for 2009 are “peace,” based on meanings associated with the Hebrew word shalom, and “happiness,” especially as explained in Mark Anielski’s great book, The Economics of Happiness.

Closely associated with my favourite words is my favourite column – or in this case, series of columns.

You will recall that Anielski’s book was the link that connected me with Cochrane High Grade 12 student Kelsey Cartwright (September 16 column). She’s the award-winning 4-H gal, aspiring veterinarian and poet who penned the lines most quoted back to me from any column I’ve ever written: “You know there’s something more to life / When mountains make you cry.”

Kelsey’s also the young woman with epilepsy who allowed us to journey with her as she underwent brain surgery to correct the short circuit causing her seizures (November 25 column).

Many of our readers have followed her story with great interest and expressed their best wishes for her recovery. I’ve passed these responses on to Kelsey. To bring you up to date and as a token of her gratitude, she sent us the following note, just received:

“The entire process of brain surgery has been one which surprised me greatly. Not only in the context of the procedure itself, but in the sense of becoming aware of the community that I am lucky to live in. Prior to the surgery, during and now as I recover, I am still amazed at how supportive and caring the people of Cochrane have been and still are.

“The only curveball that was thrown my way came once I was home; I had a small stroke caused by a ruptured blood vessel behind my right eye. It resulted in double vision which is expected to resolve itself in a few months. Some may think of it a negative occurrence but I personally find it to be quite rewarding.

“All day, every day, I see double, which only means I see double the blessings. Among these blessings are all those for whom I am extremely grateful and would like to thank for their continued support during this life-changing journey – and especially the coffee companions I have met through this column.”

Thanks, Kelsey, for your kind words and positive attitude. As always, your inspiring example of peace and happiness gives us wings.

Which brings me to my New Year’s wish for all my coffee companions: May the wings of peace and happiness be two of your favourite things throughout 2010.

© 2009 Warren Harbeck

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