How Did You Get Here?

June 26, 2020
Ed Beggs
Ed Beggs

“How did you get here?” This was a question posed to various creative people in our community last year. They were given a few weeks to think about this, and then created short one-person plays that were presented in various small rooms, offices, and hallways of a local church. As we traveled from presentation to presentation, we were entertained with a range of interpretations. Most were hilarious, a few quite serious. We can take the question quite literally – how did we get here? I was thinking about it in the context of how did I get to Royal Roads University, and how did I (more recently) end up moving to Vancouver Island to live? Some would answer “well, you took the ferry, didn’t you?” – and that would be true. But on the ferry, I had a car. And on the car, I had tires.

The tires came from somewhere, a far-away factory. I could not have gotten here without them (well, it certainly made the trip easier!), and the fossil fuels they were made from - and the work of chemists such as those who probably worked long into the night in Sarnia, Ontario, in the 1940s, at Polysar, to quickly develop synthetic rubber to replace natural rubber from trees, which had been used until then, but had become very scarce during World War II. 

I wore them down somewhat on the journey, as well all do, if we drive a car, or bike, or even when we walk on shoes with synthetic rubber soles. 

Particles were sacrificed to get me here. Where did they go? We never used to think about this much (or at all), but as I rode my bike this evening, and watched the front wheel go round and round, I do have to say I thought about this a little. The particles perhaps wash into the storm drains, or the ditches, then the creeks and rivers, and into the sea. Or they get thrown up into the air as fine particles. Either way, eventually, some end up in us, as they rise through the food chain, I suppose. I wonder how many tonnes of particles that is, from all those rotating wheels, for each rotation of the earth? And what happens to all those worn-out tires, anyway? 

“How did I get here?” can be taken another way – how did I get to Royal Roads? Yes, I drove my car onto a ferry, after driving from Ontario to the Interior of BC years before. All true. 

But also, after thinking about it some more, I realized that another type of long road brought me here. A fourth-grade field trip to a ditch, to look at things in nature close up, in a more formal way than kids normally do, writing down our observations. Many camping trips with parents. A high school environmental science teacher who was passionate about the subject. A girlfriend who got me thinking about many environmental and political issues I had not considered until then.  A year at the University of Guelph, then several more doing course work through the University of Waterloo… a chance to do a master’s degree that would not have been possible except for the way it was delivered at Royal Roads… and here I am. So now I ask the same question of you… “How did you get here?”