In Praise of Eccentrics   19 comments

Gift Card from PauIt’s easy to avoid or shun the eccentrics who wander in and out of our lives, but I learned a little lesson this week, so I am here to praise the eccentric ones.

For they have the courage to live their own lives as they see fit, without seeking approval from anyone. They remind us to be ourselves which can at times be the hardest thing to be. In this, they remind us of what it means perhaps to be human. When you get right down to it, they don’t give a shit, when too often a shit is given for that which is not worth a shit.

So here’s to those who have taken the road less traveled.

I was reminded of all this the other day when my life was touched by an act of kindness by a true eccentric (not the easiest thing to be in a conservative town like Calgary). He wandered into the coffee shop (Caffe Beano) where I writing in my journal. He approached my table and said, “Hi, how are you?” as he always does, then sat down by himself and I would have to admit that I was secretly relieved that our little “Hi, how are you?” didn’t go on any longer than it did.

I could see him out of the corner of my eye, as I continued to write in my journal. He took out some art supplies from a big seemingly bottomless pocket of his over-sized winter coat and then started working on some kind of project . . . even as I was busy working on avoiding any kind of eye contact with him.

I more or less forgot about him, as I ruminated on my wonderful day. (Not so wonderful really: for this reason we learn to write well, to disguise the stark truth.) But when he gathered his things and came and stood in front of my table, well, I could ignore him no longer, and so I wearily put down my pen and looked to the heavens and whispered under my breath, “What now?” and then condescended to deal with the man.

He apologized for invaded my space, you couldn’t teach a young actor to play low status any better than he was playing it. Then he gave me the little painting that I have posted above.

“Here’s a little present,” he said. “Sorry if I’ve bothered you.” And then he walked away.

Here’s what’s written on the back of the painting (it’s a water colour, 5 1/2 x 7”), as well as I can transcribe it:

To Master Eugene

$$Successful Writer

Thank you!

Merry Christmas New Year 2014

My goal is 10,001 Homemade Arts Cards made for the Guinness Book of World Records

God Bless

Pablo Paulo

Then stamped: PAUL SHYKORA

Artist, Writer, Explorer

Card #8, 838 of 10,001. Titled, An Island Season of Joy!

 It’s just early December as  write this and I think I have already received the best present I could possibly be given: a little reminder just to be myself.

I really don’t need anything else.

(Well, unless you already got me something, I wouldn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. But you know what I mean. And while we’re on the subject, I’m good in the owl department. Really I am. Thanks.)

‘Tis the season, indeed. If nothing else at this time of year, perhaps we can remember to accommodate the eccentrics and misfits who wander into our lives. And maybe not just tolerate them. . . maybe even celebrate them. What’s the worst that could happen?

Thanks for reading and here’s a great Who song with Bryan Adams that at least obliquely reflects on the presence of the eccentric in our world today . . .





Posted December 1, 2013 by Eugene Stickland in Uncategorized

19 responses to “In Praise of Eccentrics

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  1. Paul Shykora
    What a remarkable artist and dear soul. I was looking at a beautiful watercolour original from the 1970s hanging in my mother’s living room titled “Peasantry Delight” and imagine the joy that he has brought so many people with his art. Continue your explorations Paul. May the blessings be! Bob

  2. ..THANKYOUs for thios..Eugene….GOD Bless…eh..

  3. ..well naiive..??…My ..”ART-Cards…”…thousands have them…$$,,,,Lee Iacocca,ART BELL..gEORGE lUCAS.. pRINCE cHARLES…William and Kate.. Princess Caroline…romantic Alberta Oil Companies…on and on

  4. ..well..yhee…thousands of ..”” bookmarks”…THANK’s yous….The QUEEN.Willie Nelson.Garth Brooks..HARPER,..on and on…eh…GOD Bless…eh

  5. I agree “explorer of life”, so simple and true. I smiled when I read that on the back.
    Perhaps one day you and I will be in the same coffee shop and we can share our bookmarks. 🙂

  6. Hello Eugene,

    I felt compelled to send you a quick hello and comment on your post. We’ve never met but I found your post after my own encounter with this lovely soul. I had the pleasure of receiving a bookmark as a gift from this eccentric soul as I sat in a coffee shop in Calgary yesterday. When I entered and grabbed a comfy seat I smiled his way. I’m always aware of others and their stories and am open to sharing a smile with them. He seemed happy about this as he smiled back. I sat with my book and every so often looked his way. He was working away at something and a few more smiles were exchanged. He got up to leave but before doing so he came my way. He gave me a bookmark; a lovely water colour of the ocean. He told me he was a famous painter and it was the ocean with a whale there (he had added a little mark that resembled a whale tail) and he wanted me to have it because I was reading an actual book and everyone is too busy on their phones today. He said it made him happy to see me smiling and reading and wanted to share his gift with me. I thanked him and he smiled and walked away. I was left with such a great sense of connection (which fits with my beliefs that we are all one). I decided to do a quick search on him and found your post and thus felt compelled to share my story with you. Who knows if I’ll see him again but in that moment we both got what we needed and all was well. Thank you for your post as it gave me an opportunity to share my story and meet you :). I’m reminded of a fav quote:

    “We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share. This is a precious moment, but it is transient. It is a little parenthesis in eternity. If we share with caring, lightheartedness, and love, we will create abundance and joy for each other. And then this moment will have been worthwhile.” Deepak Chopra

    Blessings and Aloha…Jodi

  7. Hi Eugene, I know the guy you mean, he once painted me a mother’s day card, although I don’t have children. I kept it prominently displayed on my bookshelves for a very long time. After looking at it day after day for many years, I really started to appreciate the naive art and the message, for maybe I am a mother on some level to someone somewhere…. Makes you think…..

  8. “too often a shit is given for that which is not worth a shit”

    you said it, mister

    also, i love the card he gave you; beautiful colours

    and am moved that he did that for you


  9. Awww thanks Eugene.
    What a wonderful gift to receive at the beginning of this magical season of Christmas.

    I agree eccentric people enrich our lives and give us silent permission to follow their lead.
    Don’t we all relish that sense of freedom from societal scrutiny?

    Great choice of tune to accompany this blog…

  10. Hi E. What a great post! Good on you to tell a feel good story. With all this hype about Black Friday and everyone running over people to get a deal that is probably not a deal, I loved reading your happy moment. I hope you are well and your novel is going well. I, myself, had the very good fortune to spend two weeks at the Banff Centre in early November. But, back to reality now. I hope we can grab a coffee sometime when the Christmas season is over. Let’s keep that in mind okay? I have your article in Alberta Views but have not had an opportunity to read yet but will before I see you. Good scribbling, C.

    From: eugene stickland Reply-To: eugene stickland Date: Sunday, 1 December, 2013 9:25 AM To: Carolynn Hoy Subject: [New post] In Praise of Eccentrics Eugene Stickland posted: “Its easy to avoid or shun the eccentrics who wander in and out of our lives, but I learned a little lesson this week, so I am here to praise the eccentric ones. For they have the courage to live their own lives as they see fit, without seeking approva”

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