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I Wear Red Socks on Fridays

December 24, 2011

Vanessa has been a friend of mine since we started playing undergraduate hockey together at UBC. We have a lot in common; she’s into hockey of course, studies and works within the health sciences, enjoys Star Wars to the nerdy depths that I do, has some classic and eclectic taste in music, finds a way to travel regularly, and is generally of an adventurous breed. We’ve kept in touch sporadically, mostly by facebook, since university. I watched Vanessa’s posts and photos over the last year or two, and many of them talked about Red Socks on Fridays or showed her in Red Socks in big places.

Kindly, Vanessa nominated me to win 12 pairs of Red Socks – and as it happens they’ll be waiting for me – and some worthy friends – when I return to Rankin. Why would anyone want red socks? On a Friday? Nothing to do with baseball. Yeah, red is my favourite colour but there’s a little more to this flaming foot- frippery focused frenzy:

I wear red socks on Fridays (Red Sock Friday) (@redsockfriday) is a movement dedicated to making a difference, being passionate, inspiring others and being inspired, staying positive, remembering friends and expressing yourself! It is a journey, a sentiment, a cause, a statement and a tribute – and it all began with two friends and an incredible story… [the story]

I’ll admit, I have had a hard time finding one passion. I’ve fundraised or volunteered for all kinds of charities (those related to children, health, art, sport, marginalized populations, foreign development, elders), dabbled in many sports, tried a few languages, am half-bad at most artistic media, pitifully attempted a few different instruments, but I’ve never found one cause singing out to me. All things are worthy and I just am not able to put all eggs in one basket. There’s too much to try! I know that if there was one thing that somehow captured me more than the others, my passion and fury would be put to good use. I still believe that something desperate and perfectly aligned with me might tap me on the shoulder and need my brand of effort, but I haven’t figured out what it is just yet.

I’ve always fancied myself a Renaissance woman, a jack-of-all-trades who was good at a lot of things but not great at any one thing. That’s probably why family medicine became the right career; we use our brains and our hands and our hearts and have to know a little bit about everything but not a tonne about just one thing.

The only thing I do with my whole heart is say “yes” to opportunity. It usually turns out well and if I’d said “no” more of the time, I can’t imagine I’d have arrived at as great a place in life as I am at right now. It might mean not knowing where ‘home’ is or not knowing where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing in a year. It can result in some unexpected difficulties – like walking to the arena in a blizzard or receiving a 6 page love letter from Paolo (who I went sight-seeing with for one day) under my door at the hostel in Berlin. Or maybe showing up at the airline counter during a revolution in Nepal rained-on, sweaty, teary-eyed from the experience of having guns trained on my head, and dripping blood from a gash on my arm. Or being 12 years old and crying as I skied when I accidentally found myself as a beginner in the ‘expert’ group who were cross-country skiing *surprise* up a mountain.

Saying ‘yes’ or ‘why not?!’ has let me enjoy weeks of eating with my hands twice a day in Nepal, allowed the wonder of unexpectedly spelunking in Cambodia, and put me in an open-cockpit acrobatic airplane after jump-starting it with my car. It let me share with my best friend the laughter of painfully sunburnt sleep on a beach in Mexico where thunderstorms raged every night, and it sunk the cardboard boat that 24 science-camp kids asked me to paddle in the university pool. I’ve met some incredible friends along the way of this “sure, why not?” journey.

It turns out that I’ve always been a red-socker. After I was born, I was kept for a week in hospital. I was brought home on Christmas eve in a big red stocking, made by the Ladies Auxiliary. Still have it to this day and will hang it out for Santa tomorrow. It’s gigantic really, for a Christmas stocking, and always appeared to give me advantage over my big brother who didn’t have anything but regular socks to offer – but Santa was a fair fellow, distributing goodies equitably. Anyway, I guess those Auxiliary ladies had no idea what kind of life they were setting me up for…

The Red Sock movement seems to me a simple one – and that’s why it is so easy to get behind it. Regardless of what you do or who you are, continue to embrace life and remember and acknowledge the people around you who also have adventuresome spirits. You can grumble about challenges if you regroup and tackle them head on. You can sit on the couch if you’ve just done a 9 hour hike up a volcano. Follow that ‘what if.’ Oh, and keep your feet warm.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. John permalink
    December 24, 2011 4:41 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this Jessica! Thank you so much for sharing! Happy Christmas and I somehow think one day our paths are going to cross! Have you ever been to Cape Town? Pack your socks and come! shoOops!!

    • December 25, 2011 8:52 pm

      glad you liked it John

      I have not been to Africa at all, let alone Cape Town (although I had a jazz-basist roommate from Jo’burg for a few years). I’d like to visit some day for sure, but next up are Maui, Montreal, a hockey tournament in Vernon (British Columbia), and wedding in a barn near Ottawa, all in between bouts of work in Nunavut.

      Hope you’ve had a great Christmas and that there are plenty of adventures waiting for you in the New Year!

  2. Vanessa permalink
    December 24, 2011 6:57 pm

    Jess. I loved the last tidbit about about your big red sock from the hospital. I raise a toast to you with my rum and eggnog. Cheers!!

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