I wanted to begin to interview different people who inspire me, and share their light with you as well.
Peter Paul was born in New Brunswick to a close-knit family of four, with parents who were both kind and wise. He grew up in Ontario, but spent summers in the maritimes connecting to the rural and coastal landscapes. After school, he linked his interest in geography to mapping work which continued for the next thirty years. He met his wife, Betty, on a canoe trip in the 1980’s, and had two children (I was fortunate enough to be one of them).
Q1. Peter, it’s impossible for others not to notice your indomitably positive spirit and generosity. Are these a reflection of an inner choice?
For most people, the way we see ourselves is different from the way others see us. There are several people in our family and our group of friends whose positive spirit and generosity have served as models for me. This has also been true of some strangers in my life – people whose names I will never know, and whom I will likely never meet again, but whose actions I will always remember and appreciate.
Q2. You seem to prioritize getting out in nature, such as taking long walks on a daily basis or biking to work. What impact has nature had on your life?
Nature has provided a way for me to step back from the details of everyday life, and to appreciate the beauty and rhythm of life which has ‘stood the test of time’. On the grounds of the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa, there is a beautiful red oak tree which was planted in 1911, and which I would see on my bike trip to work each day. Sometimes when day-to-day problems would seem overwhelming, I would look at this oak tree which had faithfully continued its yearly cycle of life (new spring buds, summer leaf growth, acorns, falling leaves in the autumn) for one hundred years, in spite of the day-to-day upheavals in my own life, or the latest world news.
Q3. When you reflect back on your life, what is the first memory that comes to mind when you think about your proudest moment?
When I was in Grade 5, we had an hour and a half for lunch – time to walk home for a meal with Mom, and still get back to school for a game of pick-up softball. At that time, a boy attended our school who was a particularly gifted athlete – as a softball pitcher, he threw with speed and accuracy beyond his years. None of us could hit his pitches. After a series of strikes as the batter, I decided to swing before I thought I should – to see if I could anticipate the location of the pitch. It worked.
Q4. What would you tell a younger version of yourself, if you had the chance?
Remember that school is only one way to learn about the world.
Q5. Finally, with all of your experiences and knowledge, do you think there is hope for the world to solve the current social and environmental crises that it is currently facing? Do we have the power to change the world for the better?
I believe that there is hope for the world, because each one of us has the ability to contribute to the solutions – if only we decide in our own minds to do it. The force of people working together towards something worthwhile, towards a goal for the common good, will be unstoppable once it gains momentum.
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