All Changes Great and Small (Advanced)

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Today we hear a short story written by David Avender about his life and his experiences of change. This is an advanced item and gives a chance to work on some less frequent English words.

As the Nasdaq did fall, and our tech stocks did crumble, I was one of many, who took that corporate tumble.

While partisans and peers awaited brighter fiscal days, On a new and noble effort did I soon turn my gaze.

Inspired by a linguist who brought teaching to the net, And showed this lad, computers had, merits still untapped.

With my focus now on teaching, across the globe from A to Z, Unlike Agamemnon’s fate, this Net will set you free!

A great success I’ve seen, though just a year it’s been, That a day’s good works, May offer infinite perks, And come in colours much brighter than green.

This may sound a dear too sentimental and perhaps a bit silly, but whenever I see the seasons changing I’m reminded of changes in my own life.

Not the little changes, like whether or not to closely shave my head leaving an army-styled cut for the warming spring and summer months, but the grand, important changes; the changes like those that have affected my life to this day, and the changes that may affect the course of my life for the rest of my life.

It was nine Springs ago that I entered University and four Springs following that when I left.

I gleefully tumbled down Burnaby mountain – an appropriate place (I thought) for an institute of higher learning – with a degree in French Literature under one arm and a pocketful of dreams under the other. What couldn’t a fellow do in this world with unlimited hope, unbounded self-confidence, great family support and a degree in French Literature? I was ready to take on the world: English and French-speaking alike, and the only decision I would need to suffer was choosing for whom I would work, and to whom I would deny my bilingual talents.

With my casual bangs falling about my forehead and into my eyes, I would treat myself to a celebratory haircut. Why not, indeed? The seasons were changing, the summer was fast approaching and the world seemed as bright as my dreams!

Four months on and following my mountain top epiphany, autumn approached and I found myself not wanting to be found. If others did happen to find me however, they would find me there, on the sofa, lounging in my pyjamas at 11:00 am watching “Divorce Court” or “The People’s Court” or watching Brad trying to court Ashley out of her fortune so that he might have better access to her estate’s tennis court. I had, it seemed, greatly overestimated the world’s demand for a bilingual French literature major.

For four straight months I was cordially turned down for work of every possible kind, and turned down, not in one, but in two languages: “No, thank you, Mr. Quinette” and “Non, merci, M. Quinette.”

Either way it was told to me, it proved me wrong on far too many counts. My unlimited hopes did have limits, my unbounded self-confidence clearly had well-defined boundaries, and my degree, such as the one I had struggled to earn, was not worth nearly as much as I had believed. How fortunate I was that my trust in my family’s support was not misplaced. They took me in – my mother and father – their crestfallen, crushed and sullen, French-speaking son.

To my grand disadvantage, it was the second peak of the internet age. The first peak being the one that captivated the 1990s and promised indulgent spenders they would be purchasing everything, from groceries to family pets, over the internet. This second peak was wise and more temperate.

It was a time when your worth was calculated by your knowledge of C+ and C++. I was, to be sure, well aware of such things. I had seen such symbols many times at university, most often found at the bottom of my essays on Voltaire or some such author, with a comment beside it in red pen telling me that my ideas “lacked form and insight.” Once again, I was on the sour side of change.

Authors I had worked so hard to understand were now of no consequence. Marcel Proust was all but forgotten, Jean-Jacques Rousseau had been sent his walking papers and the dear father of “The Divine Comedy,” Honore de Balzac, was summarily supplanted by various bits, bytes and binary code forms.

Like the language of Latin, my love of languages and literature was dead as far as human capital assets were concerned. Densely antiseptic and blithely Caucasian computer chatter was surely to be my future, if a future was what I intended to have.

But just as sure as seasons change so do capital markets! Months past, Autumn brought Winter, then Winter loosened her grip and gave-way to the first signs of Spring . I was dead right about computers being an essential part of this forthcoming economy, but dead wrong about the death of languages. As computers began to connect the world together, English became the language to connect the people found behind the monitors. Even the IT professionals had to admit that not everything could be so well expressed in mere zeros and ones.

And now, as this Spring proceeds toward Summer and further warms the world, this change I do now adore! I’m living and working a beautifully synthesized life while helping the world to learn languages by making the most of the internet. Finding myself on the better side of change, I shall be quite happy to make myself forever contented with immutable constancy. Be happy with what you have, and change not for the mere sake of changing – by these words I steadfastly stand.

Or perhaps I may allow just one small change – this sure-to-be-sweltering summer – and shave my head completely bald.

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