I’ve spent most of my life working behind the scenes. It’s what I’m paid to do and, really, it comes quite naturally to me. Whether working for a politician or a volunteer board, it was never my job to be the front person but rather to help those I worked for appear in the best possible light. I’m quite comfortable in that position. Even in my artistic life I’ve gravitated towards behind-the-scenes roles — a director rather than an actor. Lately I’ve been doing more editing than writing.
I’m not uncomfortable in public. I perform quite well despite certain inner trepidations. But when the performance is done I want to fade into the shadows, go back to the places where I am most at ease.
So the last week has been kind of weird. Fate has thrust me forward, made me a witness to terrible events and, as a witness, I am obliged to tell my story — not just to the police and authorities but to my friends, my family and to the public.
So I’ve given a half-dozen media interviews, mostly to journalists in the Northwest Territories where I lived for nine years and where I’ve visited for work for many more. But I also wrote an article for the Ottawa Citizen and have been quoted in the Globe and Mail. I even had my picture in the Globe, captured accidentally while giving my statement to the police.
It is an odd feeling, to be a witness, to be, even a little bit, in the public eye. It is somewhat of a burden if you don’t mind me saying so, adding a little to my anxiety when I walk up to Parliament Hill to do my job.
But it won’t last. The eyes of the media are wandering eyes and already they are beginning to shift to Jian Ghomeshi, to the results of municipal elections in Ontario (no more Ford!) or by-elections in Alberta. Ebola is back in the headlines and, over the next few days, the media and then everyone else will forget that I was there in Ottawa at the War Memorial bearing witness.
They will forget but, for now, I won’t or can’t. Though, eventually, even my memory will fade and my thoughts, already drifting to other issues and other problems, will no longer return on a regular basis to those 10 or 12 seconds that have been my life for the last five days.
Time passes and wounds heal. But the one thing I will never forget is what a wonderful country I live in. It’s a wonderful world despite its flaws or maybe because of them.
But that’s ten minutes.