I want to start with a bit of backstory. A prologue.
“I won’t kill myself, I’ll run away. It will have the same effect.”
It wasn’t much of an opportunity but I took it. And that was it. The thought that got me my life.
I was 16. I wasn’t running away from home. I was running away from school and the way the people there made me feel inside. I packed my favourite clothing into my guitar case, walked out to the side of the road by the school and put out my thumb.
I only had two fears at that point; big cities and needles. Those fears kept me alive through some terrible adventures. I’ve overcome one of them since.
The months that followed were a speeding highway of violently sexual truckers, drugs, crime, sympathetic prostitutes, day labour, Salvation Army hostels, wonderful people and music on a journey across the back roads and back alleys of Canada that ended in remand cells in the Victoria BC city jail.
That was 1980.
I’m writing this while on an office break from filming two new science and engineering TV series for Discovery Channel. If you look around my third-floor walkup office just a few blocks from my home, The Jubilee House in Halifax, you can’t see much about those old days. On the walls are masters degrees from London School of Economics, NYU Stern School of Business, and HEC Paris. There’s a framed certificate from the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry conferring the 32 Degree – Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret. There are fashion photos of my children 22, 19, and… 1 year old. There’s motorcycle memorabilia, vintage Volkswagen repair manuals, a gift case for a DOXA dive watch from the movie Sahara. There’s a National Geographic map of the world that fills one wall, covered with red stars of the places I’ve been – lots of them dive locations far into the ocean. There are awards piled in the corner of international film festivals. There’s a Juno award, a gold record and a big Canadian entertainment industry entrepreneur of the year award.
On a hanger by an old lamp is an Eton dress shirt, just back from the dry cleaners. It’s white, tailor fitted, with a spread collar. Business attire. Out the door and down the halls are dozens of offices filled with creative folks writing, editing, filming, and doing the work to make TV series like Hope For Wildlife and documentary specials that search for the world’s lost and hidden treasures which I produce.
On my desk is the little lunch that my wife Amanda just kindly brought so I could focus for a few minutes on writing even though she has work of her own to do. And all around are dozens of sketches of ideas that are at the core of my job. I sell ideas and tell stories on TV. Above my desk is a pie-shaped wheel. It’s a graphic depiction of the cycle of a story. It’s called the hero’s journey. It’s the tool I use to shape the interesting but random events I see in the world into factual TV shows and make them mean something for international audiences in over 100 countries with broadcasters like National Geographic.
It’s also the tool I’ll use within Timeless Life in this blog to fill in the big gaps in this introduction and share stories about the good life from politics to plaid and twitter to tweed.