Light on the horizon in Kelowna, BC, Canada (photo: Paul Moxness, 2021)

When I was 22, all I wanted was to be 40.

This thought struck me as I left the tax office in Norway’s 4th largest city on a dreary day in 1982. When the letter summoning me to a meeting had arrived in the mail, I’d opened it with the fear that every immigrant faces when they receive unexpected mail from a powerful government authority. The fear that tells you this could be a step toward further marginalization or, worse, deportation. A year before the tax office called me in, the police had come done the same. The outcome of…

WHERE DOES DANGER COME FROM?*

2015 has been an incredibly challenging year. Attacks on the streets of Paris and Copenhagen, many more months of Ebola endurance in Sierra Leone, an earthquake in Nepal, tourists targeted on the beaches of Tunisia and, for us, the ultimate tragedy: a terrorist attack on one of our own properties when lives were lost at Radisson Blu Hotel Bamako, Mali last month.

When I sat down to write these lines this year, it was hard to know where to start. Should I focus on the tragic events or could I or should I try to…

A hand holding a red rose in its palm
A hand holding a red rose in its palm
Photo by Diego PH via Unsplash

I probably sang nursery rhymes as a child. If I did, I can’t remember. I do know that I was in the choir at school when I was 10 or 11 years old and in 4th or 5th grade. I remember this for two reasons. The first reason was that everyone in the class was in the choir. It was kind of a mandatory thing so when we had our annual recital for parents, friends and families, no one was left out. I also remember this because we weren’t very good. In fact, we were awful.

Our teacher couldn’t really…

In Belgium they brew the best beer in the world
It cheers every boy and warms every girl
Trappist it’s called and it’s brewed and it’s drunk
In an old cloister by an old monk

But in the new world there’s something a float
It’s growing quite fast and we’re all taking note
There’s beer on the menu, it’s really quite good
It soothes and cools just like good beer should

On a late autumn eve if you’re out and about
May I suggest a dark glass of tasty Tomb stout
Another good choice when the day has grown shorter
Is a frothy…

Maria and Alex from Top Delice. (Theo took the picture!)

This is the story of Top Delice at Aspria
Where Alex and Theo and super Maria
Quelled any hunger and quenched every thirst
Aspria’s the place where service comes first

After long days of profits and losses
And listening to unsatisfied bosses
It was off to the gym to pedal and sweat
And then to the bar where our needs would be met

A Grimbergen beer or a nice glass of wine
Did more than the gym to help us unwind
Sometimes we stayed to have a quick bite
Sometimes we stayed long into the night

Maria would smile and…

Les Garnements, our favourite brasserie in Paris

When cities are ranked, no city’s above
The city of lights, the city of love
Paris in Springtime, new life on display
Blossoming trees line the Champs Elysees

It’s quiet there now, there’s no one around
It’s quiet there now, there’s hardly a sound
I remember my friends from the city so great
I remember the times when we laughed while we ate

Digesting our dinner, drinking way too much wine
For a night it’s OK, for a night it’s just fine
Singing old songs, singing way out of tune
Those evenings have ended, they ended too soon

Cheers to our friends from near and from far
Cheers to our friends wherever they are
Cheers to our friends, till next time we’re there
Raise a glass for the guys, let them know that we care

Train Station and Mid-Town Station are in Kelowna, B.C., Canada

I met an old man down by the sails
He shouted out loud, “We’ve gone off the rails”
No worries for me or our glorious nation
We ain’t got the train but we’ve still got a station

When I was a kid, we had trains on the tracks
Carrying goods to the seaports and back
Rumbling and screeching they went rolling by
Some spewing smoke that blackened the sky

No tracks no more but we do have a trail
That follows the path from the day we had rail
Changes will come to most every nation
We don’t need the train, but let’s…

The Skinny Duke’s sign and an 18 year-old kid embarking on a gap year that lasted four decades

I had bellbottom jeans and fairly long hair
My shoes were plateaus under the flare
It was normal back then when I was a kid
It was just what we wore and just what we did

In somebody’s basement I’d get my groove on
I danced like Travolta with Ms Newton John
I’d have a few beers and look at the moon
Dreaming of lighting up Ms. Debbie Boone

I packed up my bag and went off for a year
Four decades later I ended up here
Back where I started but now with a wife
Back to Kelowna to start a new…

When you are little you learn little prayers.
They’re meant for guidance as you’re climbing life’s stairs.

Slowly you grow and you earn your own will.
Sometimes you forget, you need guidance still.
You follow a group, you’re part of a crowd,
The sunshine of life becomes hidden by cloud.

Yet the staircase of life has no rails at all,
When troubles arrive, you stumble, you fall.
Back to the bottom, way down below,
And still darkness reigns, you’ve nowhere to go.

You wander around all desperate and lost,
You keep breaking the rules and paying the cost. …

What if all paths that led leaders to rule
Showed life isn’t learned just by going to school
What if the life that all leaders live
Was less about take and more about give

Our world is so great in so many ways
We need all kinds of folk not just MBAs
We need people to think and build and provide
New ways to bridge across any divide

Dare to take paths that lead a leader to rule
While knowing that life isn’t learned in a school
Dare to take steps to make the life that you live
One less about take and…

Paul Moxness

Writer, Storyteller, Basement to Board Room Hotel Security Specialist, Author of upcoming book: The 4-Decade Gap Year - 87 Stories from the University of Life

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