Memories

On a recent motor trip across Canada my wife and I stopped at a small restaurant in Medicine Hat for lunch. After we ordered and were waiting for our lunch the waitress came back to our table and said “The cook has a question for you.”

“Yes, what is it; a problem with the order?’

“No, he wants to know ‘if God is all powerful can she make a rock so big she cannot lift it’?”

Now that is not the sort of question you expect from a short order cook in a diner in Medicine Hat, or, let’s face it, anywhere. But for me it meant that the cook had to be a former philosophy student from my years of teaching philosophy at Malaspina University-College on Vancouver Island.

And indeed that was the case. We had a great lunch, and then talked briefly with the cook about the past and his time in my classes. As it turned out the puzzle about omnipotence was one that came up in a discussion about the nature of god or gods in a first year philosophy course and the cook was a most memorable student who had contributed greatly to our discussions.

I had asked the class one day what properties an all-knowing, all-powerful being would or should have and they had kicked that around for awhile before my soon to be a cook said “The most important property such a being would have is transparency. He or She would not hide, but be obvious to everyone. In fact if I were such a Being I would announce my Being loud and clear at least once every month by speaking from the heavens to everyone.”

As we got back on Highway 1 to head for BC, we talked about the many experiences we had from our many years at the college in Nanaimo. Karen and I came to the brand new Malaspina College in 1969 when it first opened in an old hospital near downtown Nanaimo.

In the first year we had gathered together a small cast of readers to put on a reading theatre production of “The Bald Soprano” in an open space on campus in what had once been the hospital laundry room. That production was reviewed in The Vancouver Sun with a note stating that the review was “completely objective since the reviewer and the director are the same person”. All of our family was involved in the production in some way or another. Our youngest two kids handled front of house duties and our oldest son was our lighting “director” and sound effects guy. We had purchased a three way floor lamp which served as our lighting. And it was fun.

A couple of years later when I was teaching Imaginative Writing in Parksville to a great group of mature (in age anyway) students we finished off the year with a production of five one act plays written by the students from the area. Several faculty from the college joined in to help with acting, directing, and administrative duties. The Errington Community Hall was filled with people, many of whom had come to see what their neighbours might have written about them. The venue was perfect and it was packed. It was fun.

We drove on – reminiscing together about the years Karen had spent working in the College library. She told of her duties maintaining the reserved book lists for all faculty and which of them were kind and professional  and which treated her like a slave of a lower class. But to be surrounded by books made it all worth while.

We focused then on what lucky people we are. Our lives had been filled with books and stories.

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