Sometimes the universe just unfolds in a way that makes you wonder if there’s somebody planning it or directing it or something.
Today I spent a fair amount of time thinking about Paddy Mitchell and how best to help get him back to Canada. I know there’s a treaty that allows for prisoners to be swapped between Canada and the US…but how do you invoke it? Who makes the decision? How does our side get organized enough to do it? I decided I should talk to Bob, who was my favourite professor at the University of Ottawa and who is an internationally acclaimed expert on prisoners’ rights (well mostly he’s a prison abolitionist, but rights are the next best thing). I looked for an email address, but couldn’t find one. I decided I would phone him on Monday.
I headed off to the Ottawa Folk Festival, and it was kind of weird – it was like I KNEW everybody. Even the people I didn’t know looked familiar. So who do I run into 20 minutes after arriving? Yup. Bob. He was talking to those two men in the photo, and I butted in. He gave me a hug and I told him how weird it was that I should run into him today, since I’d just been googling him. I told him about Paddy’s cancer, and how we wanted to help bring him home, and I asked how we would go about doing that.
Bob said he’d be happy to help, and he knew some other useful people who would likely want to get involved. And not only that – but the two men he was talking to: it turns out that one of them is in a unique position to help also. I can’t give details here, for reasons I can’t explain here, but I can say he comes from an interesting background and I’ve known him by name and reputation for about 18 years. This was the first time I’d ever met him. I ended up drinking beer and watching the concerts with the two mystery men. We also figured out the meaning of life during the Ian Tamblyn concert, and while I can’t divulge the entire thing, I can give you a hint: salmon, cicadas, and penguins.
The photo is of the two mystery men, with Steve Earle’s face on the big screen between them. The mystery men are huge fans and personal friends of Steve Earle, and they weren’t tolerant of anybody around us talking during the Steve Earle portion of the concert, even though we had talked throughout Ian Tamblyn’s set. (“That’s different,” said one of them when I pointed it out, “We were philosophizing and they’re just talking stupid.”)
And that was that. The universe opened up and delivered two key people who can help Paddy Mitchell get home, right on the very day that that was first and foremost on my mind.