The pursuit of possibilities
Some people say success in life is about inheriting good genes, getting an education, finding the right partner or just plain hard work. While all of those contain kernels of truth, life is nothing without possibilities. I attended a 100th birthday celebration today for Helen Oldham. Her son, Peter, was my friend while we were both growing up in Guelph.
Helen and Bob Oldham’s home was always a warm and welcoming place for me where interesting and mind-expanding things happened. Bob operated a ham radio; I listened to him talk to people around the world. Today that’s a daily event; then it was dazzling and evanescent. Peter and I dug a basement under a playhouse in the back yard and created an imaginary world that had never before existed.
This week David Somerville died. Another Guelphite, he was the lead singer for The Diamonds and the opening falsetto voice on their 1957 hit Little Darlin’ – Yaaaaaaaa, ya-ya-ya-ya. Somerville’s cousin, Martha Wilson, was in my class. She suddenly became very popular.
At the time, my hopes, dreams and aspirations were limited. I desperately wanted some Beech-Nut Spearmint, a gum heavily advertised on American Bandstand. The brand was unavailable in Canada, but my father went to Chicago on a business trip and brought me a brown paper bag filled to the brim with Beech-Nut. For one day I was as popular as Martha Wilson as I shared my bounty with classmates.
Somewhere along the way, I realized that if a local boy like David Somerville could have a hit record, I stood a chance of achieving something impossible, too. I look back on my life and realize I did exactly that. I’m a lucky man. Even now, I look forward to more possibilities to come. Without such pursuits, life would fade like the flavour in Beech-Nut gum.