Day 28 - Tom

Day 28 - Tom (1st person I approached)
January 28, 2015 - It’s been almost a week. I hadn’t planned this time away, and wasn’t expecting to not write for this long either. It’s like when you’re sick from work, and you take it day by day. After three days off, you start thinking how much easier it might have been knowing from the outset, you needed four days to recover. Not that I’ve been sick per se, at least not with a cold or 'flu. I just needed to give myself a break. I called it last week, when I said that sometimes giving myself permission sets me up for failure. A few people sent messages reminding me that looking after oneself is not failure. And so, I took some time to get some other things done, and watched a whole whack of really bad television shows I had recorded.


I slept in, met a couple people for coffees, and did some prep work for a couple of other projects that are in the works. I saw some (astounding) live theatre, met with the producer of the 'Not A Stranger' documentary, went floating (LOVE!) and, did I mention watched television? But I’m back now. I missed writing. I also got a message from someone this morning telling me she was ‘missing my morning read,’ so here I am, Judy!


Last Wednesday was the first day I didn’t post a story. I had gone out to see a live workshop presentation (a theatre piece that isn’t fully complete, yet ready to be in front of a small audience to feel things out). I walked home, taking about an hour, and ruminating over the performance I had just seen. It had some incredible imagery, combining theatre, dance and soundscapes. It resonated with me, and as good theatre should do, it stayed with me for a number of days afterward. And still it sits right here in front of me. 


As I walked along East Broadway, (Vancouver) I saw Tom, sitting by himself in a coffee shop. I went into the shop and walked over to where he was sitting and asked if he would chat with me. I noticed he had a mechanical pencil in his hand, and an open notebook, that had sketches of cartoon like characters on the pages that I could see. Tom was born in Kamloops, and told me he has always enjoyed drawing. He said he drew a lot of action-type hero’s reminiscent of those he read about in comic books as a child. 


“When I went to high-school, that’s where I had the first art teacher who inspired me. I got a lot of positive feedback, and started to believe that I could one day perhaps make a living from drawing. I’d do drawings that others might have deemed inappropriate and this teacher would put them up on the wall in class. They were muscle-bound action figure monsters, fighting and battling. That one teacher made all the difference to me though.” he said. 


After graduating from high-school, Tom worked in a couple of jobs.

“I worked in a credit card call centre. It was a job, and I was saving money to go travelling. But I could only stick it for a few months. It wasn’t really something I wanted to do longterm. There are some people that I knew from working there, who did stick it out longer than I did, which is great. It just wasn’t for me,” he said. He got another job, and intended to go travelling with a couple of his best friends.


“We were going to New Zealand, but my friends both changed their minds,” he said. Tom had been a huge fan of The Lord of the Rings trilogy of films, based on the novel written by English author J. R. R. Tolkien.

“The Return of the King was opening in Auckland,” said Tom. I admitted I didn’t know what that was - and of course, it was the final chapter in the Tolkien series.

“My friends didn’t want to go to New Zealand. I went by myself, so I could see the world premiere of Return of the King,” he said, with a satisfied smile on his face.

“I spent about three months there, backpacking all around New Zealand. I liked travelling by myself. I had taken a supply of notebooks with me, and I sketched whenever I had spare time. I did a lot of drawing on that trip.”


Coming home from New Zealand, Tom decided he wanted to go to school and study drawing and animation.

“I moved to Kelowna and went to school for two years. I studied animation, drawing storyboards and stop-frame animation. The program was three years long, but I got what I wanted out of the first two years. The third year wasn't what I wanted to learn, so I left,” he said.


Tom got a job immediately after leaving school.

“I’ve worked for the last eight years in drawing and animation. I worked mainly in gaming and drawing storyboards. I’ve been fortunate to work for a few different companies and have worked on some really great projects,” he told me.

“I’m at the point now where the next move might be trying another location, moving somewhere else. I don’t want to get pigeonholed into one dimension of the industry. Moving somewhere else would likely be a good step. I’m just not sure where, or when,” said Tom.


We didn’t chat for that long. Tom had left his notebook open on the sketch he was working on. I was still going back and forth, thinking about the show I had seen earlier. Now, six days later, as I write this I notice a couple of things. I sometimes amaze myself with how much i remember, not taking any notes from these conversations. I'm also aware that sometimes, I walk away or think later about all the other questions I could have asked. 


What this story reminds me of though, is to persevere. We all need to find that teacher, or that inspiration, listen to that feedback, and do more of the things we want to do. I need to keep going forward, seeking my dream. Follow 'what makes my soul sing,’ as Anne-Marie from Day 352 last year said (*Fact Check - see link below). 


Sometimes, you don’t even realize you’re playing within your dream, until you stop. I had a good week away from this, but it’s time to get my head back in the stars! The connection with others, writing these stories, and this project, feed my soul. It might be unconventional to some, and that's okay too. I’m grateful for the lessons. #notastranger

*Fact Check - see link below -