W00t! Me taking a picture of them taking a picture of me.
Seems multi-tasking is not as useful a talent as I like to tell myself.
People often start multi-tasking because they believe it will help them get more done. Those gains never materialize; instead, efficiency is degraded. However, it provides emotional gratification as a side-effect. (Multi-tasking moves the pleasure of procrastination inside the period of work.) This side-effect is enough to keep people committed to multi-tasking despite worsening the very thing they set out to improve.
If I had to describe my brother in one picture, this would be it. Talk about speaking a thousand words… Oh, and it’s important to know he’s at a sailing comp…
—Facebook, September 2014
There is so much ‘Dale’ in this picture I just had to reshare it on Facebook and then snag it and post it again here. And, as my comment above says, this image speaks volumes about the way I see my eldest brother. In it I see the middle-aged dude he is now and the stubborn teenager he was when we were mere kidlings. It is, at its core, an image of a well-lived life wrapped up in a couple of hundred-thousand pixels.
I love my brother. And you have to understand that intonation is everything with a sentence like that. It can be said in oh so many ways. Certainly in the traditional sense: he’s my brother; we’ve shared an entire world that is just ours and we’ve been there, no questions asked, when it counted. And of course there is the Hollies’ take on it: “He aint’ heavy, he’s my brother.” We all of us make up this world and we all, no matter our differences, owe each other a little love. I have also admired him for many, many years — in between the fits of eye-rolling and exasperation — for things that are very hard to explain if you can’t grasp the gestalt of what makes him him. And, of course, I love him because his is generally better (or worse) than anyone else’s brother depending on the goal of the conversation.
And that’s what makes this picture so damn perfect. Because you see, I do love my brother (so there, Mom): who he is is a source of amusement and wonder, chagrin and despair, horror and envy. He is a treasure trove of stories, a bank of bar tales and always good for the win in the ever-present one-upmanship contests of life. And just know he’s there is a source of stability and comfort. And this picture, taken on the shores of a mountain lake in early September, vividly encapsulates the person I see in my head when I think of Dale.
So let me break some of it down, so you can start to parse the picture the way I do.
Dale is dishevelled. He has been since I can remember. While I tended to the self-conscious, fashionable following of trends and style, Dale is, was, and always will be, balls-out determined to be comfortable. Screw style and what the hell has grooming got to do with anything?
Dale is stubborn. All my best Dale stories are based on a stubbornness that precedes and transcends the mere fact that he happens to be in a wheelchair. Seriously. In any comparison, I will win every time. Stubborn.
Dale is singular in his focus. If sailing is on the schedule, then sailing is damn well on the schedule; snow is not relevant. Neither are any of the other considerations most of the rest of us use to prevent ourselves from succeeding.
Dale is in a wheelchair. This is often more obvious to us as observers than it is to Dale.
Dale is generous, kind, giving, and a good soul. It might be a stretch to say this picture expresses that, but I can see it, and I’m guessing anyone that knows him can as well. But there wouldn’t be a Disabled Sailing Regatta without him so…
Dale like things simple. While most of us would be more interested in a warm, double mocha-frappa-chinno around the fire at the point the picture was taken, beer is simpler, readily available and the obvious choice. Of course if a good scotch was readily to hand, then…
Dale like to sail. Hobie cats, Martins, he’s on it… Newfoundland, Kananaskis… that’s what trains and trailers are for. Heat stroke, frostbite… meh, whatever.
Dale is a pain in the ass. He’s my brother; I get to say that. Look at him. He’s going to be wet, track snow all over the place, potentially freeze something, skid his damn wheel chair down a cliff and break yet another bone… But I am going to guess that at the moment this picture was taken (and frankly most moments in general) he doesn’t give a rat’s ass.
So much of it is wrapped around understanding of Dale-ness and intensity of Dale-nicity that is inexpressible without having experienced him and that’s what delights me about this picture. Truly I would need tens of thousands of words to express it.
Dale, if you ever read this, which I doubt you normally do but Mom may just make you: Cheers dude! Keep on, keeping on… I could never be you, but sometimes I might just wish I could.