Friday, September 16, 2011

My Missing Perspective

The new monument outside BC Place
For months now I've been trying to clarify my perspective on the Terry Fox story for the piece I'm writing. I've really been struggling with what, exactly, it is that I'm trying to say...and honestly, it's been stressing me out.

Before I can really get into writing the piece, I need to know what it is that I want to convey; it's the first step in a long process and as February inches closer I've been feeling the need to move the process along. Which, in my experience, is impossible. As frustrating as it can be, I know that discovering the heart, the message of what I'm working on is something I can't rush, it comes when it comes.

Today the new memorial by Douglas Coupland was unveiled at BC Place Stadium, and it all finally came together for me.

First off let me say that the statues are fantastic. There's 4 statues of Terry that replicate the stages of unique gait, and are sized to appear as if the figures are approaching. It's beautiful, and I'll be riding my bike there this weekend to look closer. And the statues, like probably every statue of Terry, are facing West, towards the Pacific....and a goal that wasn't reached.

This is the detail that brought it all into focus for me, and what I'm trying to say.

Most retellings of Terry's story are centred on the miles Terry didn't make, the poetic bookend of dipping his leg in the Atlantic and the sadness of not reaching the Pacific. The Tragedy of Terry Fox is something that touched the heart of almost any Canadian that was alive in 1980.

And that won't be my story. This story will be all about what he did, and the insane levels of courage and dedication involved. It's about the details; the frigid days in Newfoundland, the difficulty of New Brunswick, the hell of Quebec and the change of fortunes in Ontario. It's about a young man entering the public consciousness through what he accomplished, not what he missed.

According to Leslie Scrivener's book "Terry Fox: His Story" (without a doubt the definitive book about Terry), when Terry was running through Ontario he was very sensitive about people talking about him reaching the 'halfway point' when, by measure of miles, he was well past the halfway mark. Even today, most people think Terry made it 'almost halfway'.

The Hero's Journey won't be a requiem for a dream that was cut short, it will be a tribute to a remarkable accomplishment.