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5 Things I discovered in Canada

5 Things I discovered in Canada

January 17, 2018   -   Scott B Harris

Recently I went on a trip to Canada with my parents and my partner Jasmine to spend time with her family and friends for Christmas. A year after Jasmine settled in Australia, we applied for a partner visa and from that moment on, my mother has been wetting her pants at the thought of going to Canada. ‘When, when, when the visa comes, we’ll go to Canada.’ ‘When the visa comes, I’d like to see your home town; where you grew up.’ ‘When the visa comes, I’d like to visit the magical land of Quebec City.’ ‘Hell, when the visa comes, Jasmine, we’re going on a holiday!’ ‘This will be our… yours and Scott’s reward.’

I guess it was like participation certificate you got, simply for showing up to house athletics in the third grade. THE REWARD. Ok, maybe that’s a bit exaggerated… more like that Ferrari your daddy bought you for completing college. THE REWARD… no? Ok, well you get the point. THE REWARD. A long story short, the visa came and it was ‘bon voyage to you Melbourne, we’re going to Canada.’

Contrary to popular belief, this is not a post about things you can discover yourself when you go jet-setting around the globe but in fact a post about things that I discovered about myself and my injured brain. You see, an injured brain is for life, not just for Christmas, and although nine years has passed since that fateful day, I am still discovering what it’s all about. If you read my blogs then you’ll know how important awareness is and that’s really what this post is about; awareness. Being aware of my body and brain at all times so that I can do my best to work with them both.

So, here are the things that I discovered on the trip:

Thing #1: Personal development

We all know what a self-help book is and many people I speak to believe they’re a crock of shit. Granted, most of them are a bit full of that stuff but I started one on the plane over the Pacific and I was pleasantly surprised. This got me thinking about how it is that I view myself. With an injured brain, many aspects of my life needed an overhaul and I’m so grateful that I can recognize that. I am always trying to improve the way I live my life and the way that I present myself to the world. Personal development isn’t just about reading books though, it’s about taking on things that other people say, things that other people do, how people react to certain situations, etc. It’s about recognizing your faults and trying to fix them. My eyes are always open (ok, maybe not always, I do sleep), on ways to develop myself on a personal level.

Thing #2: The power of reading

So growing up, I never read any books. This was part laziness, part stupidity and partly to do with the fact that I am allergic to literature or so I thought. It’s only been really since I started writing my own book that I realized what reading can do for me. One of the best times to read is when you’re relaxing on a holiday. I found myself reading at any spare moment and I loved it. I was seriously turning into a bookworm. I ended up surprising myself by reading two books and starting the third one. WTF? This got me excited because you see, reading a book uses multiple cognitive abilities, all of which I struggle with. When I first attempted to read after my accident, it was a shambles in that my mind could not keep up. I would have to read lines over and over again to understand them. Now, the more I do it, the more I am noticing the change. I’m getting so much better at it. One big change is my concentration. Go back a year or two and I couldn’t keep my concentration focused for more than one or two lines, now, I can nearly read half a page if I put my mind to it.

Thing #3: Get Your Ducks In a Line

Thing #3 is nothing about ducks; it’s just a metaphor for making sure that everything happens according to plan. It’s all about planning for the future so that the execution phase goes off without a hitch. When you travel overseas there are many more cognitive processes that come into play than when you just simply head down to the local Kwik-E-Mart to buy some bubble gum. So having our ducks in a line will help out all of those processes. This is crucial with an injured brain. I’ll give you an example of what I mean. It was super important for me to have my passport in the one location so that I always knew where it was. When I got my boarding pass, I needed that to go in the same location every single time. My computer, camera, itinerary, you name it, all in the exact same location every single time or else my head is just a mess. Look, these are the things that come natural to most sober adults but with an injured brain, it’s a must for me to be conscious of this. While I was traveling around the world in 2013, I made sure that everything was in two pockets of my bag and those pockets were always locked and that lock was always chained to my bed and that, that chain had the exact same number as every lock. With an injured brain, this was one thing that I needed to be thinking of on a regular basis, on both trips.

Thing #4: Oh What A Feeling

I want you to close your eyes and think back to when you were a kid. Ok, that’s silly because you can’t read this now, so open your eyes back up and just look up at the sky. I want you to imagine that you’re on a holiday with the family and you’re having so much fun. You’re down at the beach club every day, making friends, the suns out, guns out (you don’t actually have your guns out because you’re a kid and kids are sun smart but you are having a ball none the less.) You’re having so much fun that you don’t even realize, but the holiday is over. It felt like only yesterday that you stepped off the plane, ready to cause havoc with the other kids. That sinking feeling that you’re experiencing is what every human feels when something good is over. I’m sure you know the feeling. Well, since acquiring my injured brain back in 2008, up until now, I have not once experience that feeling. I have been on many holidays since then but I have not once been disappointed that they’re over… until this trip. This sounds really, really, really stupid to be excited about the end of a holiday, I know, but this is just proving to me that my brain is still mending itself… which is a good thing if you didn’t realize.

Thing #5: I need to set a time in stone

So the last ‘thing’ I’ll share with you today is about the way I view time. It’s hard for me to put this into words so bare with me for just a moment. Actually, I’ll tell you another story as to how this came up. So we were going out for the day and knowing that I clearly take the longest to get ready, Jasmine warned me that ‘we’re going soon’. Totally legit. ‘We’re going soon’ meant in my mind that there’s no rush because we’re not going right this second. My head was in lala land not really taking much notice of everyone else in the situation and, boom; they’re all waiting for Scott. Scott wasn’t ready yet and he didn’t even have his boots on yet (which are a mission in themselves to put on). This didn’t go down too well with the bystanders and I’d almost cause WWIII. Look, I don’t know why I’m always oblivious of time (this wasn’t the first and won’t be the last time that this little bad boy pops its head up) but what I do know is that to help myself I need to have a time set in stone. If I had have said to myself, ‘Scott, we’re leaving at X o’clock’, I know that this would have given me something to aim for. Luckily for me, no one died in this situation but it gives me a few more pieces of the puzzle to my brain.

Although these things aren’t a huge deal to most people, I’m just really grateful that I can in fact take all this information on board and do my best to learn from every situation I find myself in. I guess this is all about Thing #1 right? Personal Development.

6 thoughts on “5 Things I discovered in Canada”

  1. Nice post! As I mentioned before, these suggestions are good ones for “older adults” as well even without any specific traumatic brain injury. Benjamin Franklin mentioned in his autobiography that he was glad that when he was young he got into some of the habits you recommend because it served him well when he got older. When I was young, my memory was so good I never bothered to be “organized” because I never needed to. I still have a “pretty good” memory, but I am making myself getting into one of the habits you talk about: Put it in the same place every time. That way, I don’t have to search for cell phone, keys, glasses, etc.

    I have noticed another phenomenon. Sometimes, I am getting ready to go somewhere and I go around the house getting things I need and then I find myself staring momentarily at X. For many years, I would simply glance away and go about my business. But I eventually discovered that when I am staring at something there is often a very good reason! So, now, rather than simply ignore it, I notice that I am starting at something and wonder why — and sure enough, the reason comes to me. “Oh, yes, I am staring at these stamps because I need to mail my taxes today.” “Oh, I see. I am staring at this sweatshirt because I know it will be cold when I finish with tennis tonight and I should take this with me.” Etc.

  2. Hi Scott,
    Thoroughly enjoyed reading this piece, you really have a way with words, they seem to roll
    off the tongue, maybe this is your calling. Sounds like you had a great time in Canada!
    Welcome back.

  3. Beautifully written Scott. Have emailed it to ourselves so we can print it for keeps. Now about that trip to Port Lincoln……………..

  4. Everything I read from you Scott, really amaze me. You have a true talent to tell story, and to make those word almost tangible. Way to go.

    Take care.

    PS: I don’t feel “sad” about something ending no more either, I wonder if it could come back… maybe there’s just so much going on, that I know something else will fill the void.

    1. Hi Simon, that’s for the feedback, it’s great to know that people like to read your work, so thanks.

      I believe I can come back on this trip proved that to me.

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