John & Anne Wiley



A wonderful friend used to enjoy sharing one of his favorite jokes: “What do you call a man with no arms or legs in a swimming pool?” You’ve probably heard the joke, since it was one in a set of similar quips that were really quite crass and cruel but we seemed to laugh anyway. In case you haven’t heard that joke, the answer of course is the name of this post and the reason I snapped this pic flying the vast expanse somewhere between Red Deer and Edmonton.

5401 Bob

5401 Bob

I thought of Bob Zitzer when I saw this, then wondered what was going on for the Bob who presumably scrawled his name with a tractor. There is an immeasurable bleakness in the landscape we traversed that could give this message a pathetic quality. At the same time, the people we’ve met have such a depth and strength of character it also conveys a sense of boundless and courageous playfulness.

As you can see, the sight also got me waxing philosophical (doesn’t take much 🙂

How many times did I once feel like the hapless swimmer of the joke? Limited in the ability to keep my head above water, encouraged from the shore by a helpful suggestion. It seems so long ago, before meeting delightful Anne and studying (and painfully practicing) interpersonal tools like NVC.

Now sometimes I glide effortlessly above what would once have seemed daunting or insurmountable and seeing signs of someone struggling, want to help. To share what I’ve learned. To shout a suggestion. Of course, most often unsolicited advice is less helpful than simply empathic silence. As I tipped Tripp back on course, I wondered if Bob were down there somewhere looking up at the sound of our passing and smiling as I once did at the musical hum of passing small planes.


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