Stream of Consciousness

Thank you for the Dream

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This has been a long time coming and while the (crowd) dream-funding platform isn’t officially available (to the public anyway,) it’s currently in what I guess I’ll call, beta. That being said, behind the scenes, there are some pretty amazing dream campaigns being created and by some pretty exceptional dreamers. These dream campaigns are being tested and the dreamer’s experience is being followed prior to opening it up to the masses so that I can perfect and ensure the platform is ready for a larger release. There’s still a great deal to be done as I tweak and perfect things based on their recommendations and I suspect these sorts of adjustments will have no end.

Nevertheless, today marks a significant milestone for No Years Lost. The journey and creative process leading up to this earliest release has been, well, long and difficult, yet, I don’t wish to cover that here, because it’s not only been well-documented over the last year, but also, because much of that can be found in the deep corners throughout this site. For a deeper look into the platform and service I would recommend reading this.

As it goes, with any significant journey, there are those who’ve contributed, and or, influenced it, prior to, throughout, and in most cases, well afterwards. As such, I wanted to take a little tine to thank and acknowledge the many people in my life who have offered support, or at the minimum, whose influence in my life might never have resulted in the completion of No Years Lost. The concept of team, family, or in the case of No Years Lost, tribe, is deeply imbedded in the No Years Lost platform. I did this because aside from ones own passion and determination, there’s perhaps nothing more valuable to the dreamer in seeing their dreams through to fruition than the support they receive from those closest to them.

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It’s likely that the following list is incomplete. I’ve even had simple interactions with complete strangers throughout the last few years that have impacted my journey, and so, if I’ve forgotten anyone, I offer my sincerest apologies. Moreover, each person listed below could each have an entire piece specifically dedicated to them, however, I’ve tried to stick with the basics and tie in at least one memory that was special to me. Regardless of acknowledgment or lack thereof here, there’ll always be a piece of you that lives on with No Years Lost.

Before beginning this journey, I hadn’t touched a line of code and I knew nothing about building a web or mobile application, today I’m a little better versed in all of it. That’s the how, however, and in reality, the less important part of the journey. Why I built No Years Lost is substantially more important and that came from the years of life experience, lessons and opportunities I’ve had because of all of you. So, thank you from the bottom of my heart, for 30 incredibly blessed years.

The last 3 years of those 30 have been my darkest yet, and if it weren’t for the light in all of you, I might never have found my way here.

You can certainly read every mention below as it forms a complete narrative, but if you’d only like to read what I had to say about you, just click on your name.

My Tribe

[toggler title=”Rebecca Andrews” ]

First and foremost, I need to thank my loving partner without whom No Years Lost might never have been possible. She’s provided unending love, understanding and support, during a time in my life that was mostly devoid of those things. All the while, she endured some of my darkest moments, ridiculous work hours, expansive geographical distance, and a variety of personal turbulence that perhaps, only the two of us will ever know. She’s witnessed first hand, every obstacle and setback this journey has presented, and more importantly, stuck through it all to have been a part of overcoming those things.

I’ll never forget very early into the relationship (about 3 months in,) the two of us were having dinner at a pub in Oxford, and she asked me to explain what No Years Lost was since I’d only ever really briefly and topically spoken of it with her. I did so, at least what little I knew of what I wanted it to be at the time – it had still yet to fully take shape. While it was nothing more than an idea back then, she not only understood what I wanted to achieve with it, which was very rare, especially since it was still in an otherwise infantile stage, but also, more importantly, she believed that I could pull it off. That was a year and a half ago now and it will be a moment that I’ll hold onto for the rest of my life.

In such a short period of time, she’s grown into everything I knew she’d be and more. At only 25, she oddly resembles much of what I’d originally envisioned in an ideal member for the No Years Lost tribe. She follows her heart, her dreams and she’s been highly successful at both. I couldn’t be more proud of her.

She’s proven time and time again to be my counterpart and there’s no other person with whom I’d want to have so close with me on this journey, for now and forever. She truly is the first lady of the No Years Lost tribe, which I’m certain would’nt exist without her and I couldn’t love anyone more than I love her. She’s my soul mate and the greatest gift this life has ever given me.

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[toggler title=”Spencer & Krista Shaw” ]

For as long as I can remember, it’s been the “Shaw Brothers.” My brother and I did virtually everything together while growing up and we’ve always supported one another, no matter what ridiculous thing we were going through, and or, undertaking at the time. We’ve seen the upsides and downsides of those things, in fairly equal amounts, and from about as close a perspective as one can get when having to do with another person’s life. Without a doubt, it’s been one of my life’s greatest joys being his older brother.

I always keep two books near my desk that he gave me in his second year of undergrad, so, about 8 years ago now. It was during a time in my life when I had just started exploring the notion that perhaps the traditional educational pursuit and subsequent career was not for me, and instead, wished to explore some different endeavors with my life – in other words, my dreams. The books are of course related to those dreams, which is special, in and of itself, however, inscribed inside each cover are the following two notes:

For my brother,

The creator.

Love,

Spence

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Steve,

Some dreams are worth pursuing.

Love,

Spence.

Between then and now, life’s had its geographical pulls, placing the two of us in different cities, and often at great distances. There’s been heartache, loss and incredible sacrifice, but, throughout that time, we’ve both achieved our dreams. Dreams, I believe, or at least the prospect that we could do something a little more with our lives, has always been embedded in our relationship and at the heart of who we are. We’ve journeyed the world together and having had one another on those journeys has always offered dual perspective. Because of Spencer, who is so much like me, but also so different, has allowed us to in a way, live two lives, which I’ve always thought was such a unique blessing.

I look at him now, alongside his wife, Krista, who has many times been roped into our journeys and endeavors throughout those years, and I couldn’t be more proud of the two of them. They each have managed to achieve their individual dreams which give back greatly to society, as well as, their combined dream of being together despite all odds being weighted against them. They’re in my opinion, the apical modern couple, and my life would be very different without their love and support.

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[toggler title=”Clyde Shaw” ]

My father holds a unique place in the No Years Lost story in that its very concept was initially built upon a tragedy that befell him several years ago and has since taken over his entire life. Having dreamt of flying commercially as a boy, he indeed lived that dream for his entire life, until he was suddenly diagnosed with Early Onset Parkinson’s disease. He had a lifetime left of flying to do and then one day, he was simply told he couldn’t do that thing he loved anymore. As a young and able-bodied man, it’s hard to imagine what that helplessness must feel like, I can only observe.

Every year, the observing becomes more difficult as the disease slowly takes over more of him, and while he remains optimistic that he might fly again, it’s witnessing the loss of even the simplest freedoms that becomes ever more heartbreaking. I find it difficult not to break down in tears every time I’m with him now.

His life has had a doubling effect in my own. First, teaching me to pursue my dreams at nearly any cost. I watched him live his own dream for most of his life and I’ve known few men who were as happy or proud. It was a hard thing to comprehend when I was younger, flipping burgers, slinging fries and the like, how a man could be so happy going to work. However, now that I get to live my own dreams as an adult and those dreams also provide my livelihood, I get it. He always pushed my brother and I to pursue our dreams and offered support wherever and whenever he could. Second, through his tragedy I learned the harsh reality that there are a handful of things in our lives that really are outside of our control, which can literally take everything you’ve built in a lifetime from you, and all in a single moment. In that, all I can ever see, which in some ways ironically, is what my father always encouraged in me – make the most of every moment and take care of your own happiness.

While No Years Lost has grown beyond its initial walls, which were first constructed to pay homage to my father and that very legacy. That being, life is short, its journey hard and unpredictable, but by all means, own your place in it and pursue your happiness, inasmuch as possible, and for as long as you can – this is the path to fulfillment and happiness. I’ve tried with No Years Lost to create an environment that might help more people be able to own their lives and pursue their happiness so that less years are lost. I hope this aspect of No Years Lost, its roots, are never forgotten as it branches out.

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[toggler title=”MaryCatherine Poste” ]

I probably don’t give my mother enough credit sometimes with regards to just how much she’s influenced the man I’ve grown up to become and the man I continually strive to be. There’s this temporal division that occurs in life, especially as one grows older, wherein things begin to fall into stages, the earliest ones often being forgotten or diminished. I do try as often as possible to let her know how much I love her, but I certainly fail at times in letting her know just how much I appreciate her.

My mother gave me my humanity, which is perhaps the greatest gift of character I’ve ever received. Throughout my childhood, and even now, I’m still softened by her influence. Life is this really tough place sometimes, and it’s easy to become jaded, if not hardened. I can be a bit of hardliner with a flair for the dramatic once in awhile. I suppose that’s partly due to my creative passion but I’m also confident in who I am and what I believe in. Nevertheless, the reason I’ve been able to get there’s because I was able to always approach life with openness and understanding which allowed me to navigate many circles and experience many different things. She taught me to love unconditionally and to be empathetic. As a result, I’ve developed open networks, which cross many borders wherein I’ve developed many strong relationships.

It’s hard to truly understand the world without having an open heart and attempting inasmuch as possible to approach every situation with compassion. I’ve experienced much of the world and its many sides, I’m stronger for it, but I never would’ve made it through to the other side without my mother’s love, as well as, the way she taught me to openly love others.

The core of No Years Lost is comprised of compassion, understanding and love. It’s nurturing the very best in others, while accepting their worst. Even if I’d managed to build a similar product without having had my mother’s influence in the man who I became, No Years Lost would be a colder product and the worst off for it. My mother has this expression which I laugh at occasionally, and shouldn’t, because it’s true, especially here in the west, which is, “my glass isn’t half full, it’s overflowing.” I think we could all think about that for a little while, be thankful for how much we have, and perhaps allow a little of what we each have to offer, to spill into the glass of another.

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[toggler title=”Andrew Poste” ]

Divorce is this kind of awful thing, but there’s almost always a silver lining in everything. In my case, I was fortunate to not only grow closer with my brother, but also, gain an exceptional stepfather through divorce. I accredit much of my creativity to Andrew. Before he came on the scene I think I was relatively one-dimensional. Andrew’s quite creative and talented in many ways himself, so witnessing him engage in those activities, opened up my eyes to new things. It also taught me that it was okay to be creative as a man. He always included me when I wished in whatever he was working on at the time, he never forced anything upon me, and he helped facilitate the tools or tutelage when I wished to pursue my own creative interests. It was complex stuff too. In high school, we built a one-man hovercraft from scratch.

One of the things I appreciated most throughout those experiences is that he didn’t baby me. He would teach me the basics and then push me to create and follow through with something on my own. I think that approach really made me feel confident in my abilities and helped me to discover new methods of problem solving.

One moment that I’ll never forget was one particular Easter Dinner. I’d just announced to the table that I was dropping out of university to work for Janet Jackson, and fairly, my mother protested that decision. Andrew on the other hand, told me that life is about exploring unique opportunities, and more importantly, that he believed in me. Then, speaking on behalf of the whole family, that they would be supportive of my decision. That’s a very special memory for me.

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[toggler title=”John & Judith Andrews” ]

John and Judith have already given me my life’s greatest gift by raising an incredible young woman and love of my life. Neither her, nor a loving father-in-law and mother-in-law, were ever something I thought my life might be blessed with. Such things, felt like such a distant possibility for me, not only because of what I’d learned from my previous life experience, but also, because the wild pursuits I often engaged in, including No Years Lost, took such a toll on everything else around me. As such, I thought there was no way in which I could healthily include those things. As it turns out, I was wrong. Finding out that a basic assumption you’ve made of life, especially your own life, is not only wrong, but also has a shockingly positive outcome, is miraculous.

While I think of John and Judith as my parents and they offer me the kind of love they’d offer a son (which they have,) they tend to treat me more like a peer, which I greatly enjoy. Because of that treatment, I’ve always felt completely at ease in their presence – I’m never fearful that John’s going to chase me off the porch with a shotgun so to speak. They’ve bent over backwards to make things happen for Rebecca and I, in addition to, looking out for our happiness at every juncture. I’m so appreciative of this.

I’m a very observant person and I try to learn from others as much as possible. I wondered from the onset, how two people could not only raise three incredible children, but also, maintain a healthy marriage, which to be sure, is a rarity. As it turns out, the answer is pretty straightforward. I think it’s hard for others to understand and I’ve fallen to the same false premise myself, in that love wasn’t enough to keep it all together, but it is. The problem I believe is that most people don’t really find love, only a false understanding of it. When you have true love, which they have, it prevents you in a sense from not acting a fool. In essence, you love another person so much, that you don’t act on your own self-interest, but instead, look out for your partner’s interests. What I learned from them was that if you take care of your love, it’ll take care of you.

I try to do this in every aspect of my life and relationship with Rebecca as we begin our own family, and I’m so happy and appreciative to be a part of theirs.

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[toggler title=”Scott Lemke” ]

If you’re very lucky, life offers you friends that more closely resemble family. Scott is the very embodiment of this. Throughout nearly every stage of my life, Scott has been more like a brother to me than anything else. We’ve had the great fortune of being classmates, teammates, colleagues and even roommates. In high school, I wore his jersey number in hockey when he was injured one season. In university we played varsity lacrosse and studied for the LSAT together, he went onto law school while I pursued other things. Through youthful break ups and turmoil he lived on my couch, and I on his. We gave heartfelt advice and encouragement. He’s been there when I’ve needed him and I’ve tried my best to be there in return. Ultimately, we’ve experienced a great deal of life together, and much of it’s just been absolute fun.

He’s this kind of larger than life personality and definitely the kind of guy you want in your corner. I’ve witnessed him go through some hardships, as he has with me, and I’ve little doubt, in likely the same way he feels about me, that we’re on the right path toward great things. Back in high school, he used to tell me he wanted to be an undertaker, well, the owner of a funeral home, possibly many. I always thought that was unusual, if not morbid, but it’s definitely a business with an unlimited customer base. I guess what I like when thinking back upon that is that while our friends at the time were always focused on the sorts of things you might expect of kids at that age, he was already seriously considering the next steps in life, his success and uniquely, non-traditional ways of getting there. I believe he’d have done a great job helping the dead, but I think he’s doing an even better job helping the living.

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[toggler title=”Jeremy Pleasant” ]

I was fortunate to meet Jeremy through Scott. They met in law school, became roommates, and when they graduated, the two of them moved to Toronto and the three of us got a house together. JR has always been a bit of a mystery, which I quite like. It isn’t in the sense that he’s a closed book, in fact, I’d say he’s very open, but more in the sense that there’s depth to him, that as a friend, you have to unveil, if not earn, if you want to get to it.

I was at his place a few weeks ago, I’ve been busy with No Years Lost, and thus, haven’t had much time to really stay caught up. We were doing just that, and he tells me he might take the exams to become a chartered accountant. Why I thought, he’s a successful lawyer. Turns out he’s bored and feels he needs to be learning something new. In that same conversation, he tells me he wishes to visit 30 countries before he’s 30. A few weeks before that, he tells me he bought a house back home for his brother to live in.

We’ve about two years between the two of us, so occasionally, I have to stop myself from getting that older brother feeling, but I must say, in the same way I get proud of my own brother, I tend to do this with JR. Many people make it their life goal to become a chartered accountant, and to be sure, it’s a very difficult thing to do. JR, if he follows through with it, will no doubt do it with a certain kind of ease and it’s mostly for his personal growth and enjoyment – a kind of lossless entertainment.

For several months now, I often joke with him, that I am holding a position for him at No Years Lost, hopefully, the first position. As much as that’s a bit of joking around, I couldn’t match his salary right now, nor could any amount of equity in an unproven startup likely sway him away from his firm. However, I also like that a lot about him, it isn’t that he isn’t a visionary or can’t see the potential in No Years Lost, he is and he does, he just isn’t an idiot and knows his worth. The fact of the matter is that he deserves a matched salary and then some, as well as, the equity in a PROVEN company. Hopefully, one day I might be able to offer that to him and he’ll accept. We’ll have to wait and see.

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[toggler title=”Matthew Castel” ]

I’ve known Matt since I was 10. He’s two years younger than I, and he and my brother have been best friends for just as long, so for that reason I always think of him as a little brother. I think Matt’s probably the first friend we made when we returned to Canada from Sweden, and like Scott, has been around for just about every stage of my life. Like many of my other friends, he’s a bit of a renaissance man, and certainly, multi-talented.

He’s always been an influencer, even before I knew the meaning of the word. I listened to Kanye for the first time in Matt’s car before Kanye had ever released an album. Most of my other friends were still listening to Blink 182 and the like. Remember Blink 182? Perhaps. Remember Kanye? Thought so. Because of his early adoption however, in high school, when different isn’t necessarily accepted, and certainly not praised, people occasionally attempted to go out of their way to give him a difficult time. I always snuffed that out as much as possible, because I not only thought of him as a little brother, but he’d already opened my eyes up to the possibility that different is good, and more importantly, something to be valued. I’d little tolerance for bullying and I’d zero-tolerance when it came to my loved ones.

Matt always did well in school, better than most in fact, while also managing to balance a variety of interests and succeeding at those things as well. When I was making preparations for higher education, Matt, my brother and I, had come up with this fanciful plan, that I’d go to Trinity College in the University of Toronto, and they would follow me there soon after. As it turned out, Matt, always being his own man, developed an interest in Huron College at Western University. For my brother’s part, he didn’t get accepted into Trinity, but did get accepted into Huron, so he went there as well.

As such, our paths deviated away from another for a time, and I actually think, that was a dramatic turning point in my own life with regards to my interests as I moved away from a school-centric approach to that stage of my life. Nevertheless, we still found ways to link up every few weeks, which I think were some of the best weekends of my life.

In essence, my life might have looked a lot different without some of the decisions Matt made in his own life. I’ve always appreciated how he’s his own man and he’s typically one of the first friends I go to when I need advice because he not only approaches things differently than most others, but he’s also very honest with me. Uniquely, special thanks are in order for Matt, because when I was seeking a name for my new endeavor, 3 years ago now, it was Matt who came up with, No Years Lost. I believe it embodies the company perfectly and never would’ve existed without his unique insight.

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[toggler title=”Luke Willms” ]

I met Luke through another longtime friend (also mentioned here,) sometime after university. Luke’s something of a modern renaissance man, which is the sort of person I tend to gravitate towards. He’s a musician, a philanthropist, an entrepreneur, an athlete, and really, just an overall good-natured person. Moreover, he’s sincere and passionate in everything he engages himself in and that kind of character’s not only infectious, but is also, increasingly hard to come by.

In many ways, Luke was the one who really allowed me to not only have my first crash course in coding, but also, pair that up with a lifelong dream of being involved with a charitable organization. I’ll always be thankful for that experience and look back on it fondly. It’s another one of those unique opportunities in my life, that without it, No Years Lost might never have come to fruition.

I don’t have many, call it, later in life friends, or people with whom I’ve met in the last few years or so and then formed incredible friendships with. Most of my friends are kids I grew up with. Luke fits in wherever he goes and I genuinely appreciate how easy and uplifting his presence is. Just turning 30 this week, he’s already given back so much to the world, and I’m excited to see where he takes his leadership and diverse set of talents into the next stage of life. Without a doubt, his journey is just unfolding, and it’ll be an exciting and benevolent one.

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[toggler title=”Ian Graham” ]

Several years my senior, Ian’s always been like an older brother to me, and someone whom I’ve always looked up to. We get along on just about any front and carry ourselves in a similar manner, in that we’re confident being ourselves, and know very well who we are.

I’ve learned quite a bit from Ian over the years. He’s very entrepreneurial in nature, and also, highly creative. Basically, he has a lot of interesting things going on at once. I tend to be like that as well.

Two years ago, I was seriously considering moving back to Los Angeles, but I’d be between places for a few months. Ian opened up his doors to me. I had a great friend and mentor for those months and at a time of need. I also came to some unique realizations about No Years Lost through Ian who’d been supportive of it since the first time I spoke about it to him a year earlier.

Admittedly, those months were heavy for me and I was going through a lot, in many ways, I got off track. Ian, like a good older brother should, gave it to me straight, basically, “you need to move out and get your shit together.” It was the best thing anyone could’ve done for me at that time. I decided to stay in Canada, moved up to my cottage, taught myself to code and got back on track. I think more so than at any other point in time, I was about to give up on No Years Lost, he saved me from doing so – he saved No Years Lost from just being another idea.

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[toggler title=”Chris LaRoque” ]

Chris moved to Toronto from Paris nearly a decade ago now. We’ve been friends basically from the beginning of his time here. We became really close under the most unusual of circumstances, I’d opened up to him about a relatively serious manner, and he felt as though I’d been the first person in Toronto that had not been shady with him.

He’s several years my senior which makes for an interesting dynamic sometimes because even though we treat one another as peers, occasionally I go to Chris when I need some older brotherly advice, if not even, fatherly advice. Importantly, without fail, he’s always there for me.

Perhaps that’s because he’s one of the best and most sacrificial father’s to his actual children that I’ve ever encountered. Life throws us all kinds of unique circumstances and Chris always seems to just allow things to easily roll past. He’s an incredible talent, and also, one of the most well rounded, intelligent individuals I’ve ever known.

In some ways, Chris was a kind of first investor in No Years Lost, and I’m sure in the future, he’ll become more heavily involved. Chris, like Jeremy, has believed in No Years Lost and my ability to finish it since day one, but wants to see results. I like that a lot about both of them.

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[toggler title=”Patryk Pawlowski & Paul Tran” ]

These Australian fellas right here are my mates. I met Patryk first, then Paul sometime later through Patryk, and under the most unusual of circumstances. Patryk had just moved to Canada and was looking for a place to live, he needed something immediately and I was a few weeks out the door from the place I was living in at the time. We managed to work it out that he’d stay there at the same time and because of that, we were able to get some valuable time together right from the onset.

He and I hit it off immediately on a variety of fronts and found that we had similar creative interests. Patryk is a graphics designer, and a great one at that. I took a keen interest in it, so he showed me the initial ropes. Without Patryk, I’d never have learned graphics design, which is such a huge part of my creative output now, as well as, a form of therapy. Moreover, I think it’s the shift in my creative life that started to swing my interests in the direction of beginning to learn code. Patryk did a lot for me in fact and really helped with the initial tools I’d later require for No Years Lost.

Sometime later, his best friend, Paul, made the move to Canada as well. He fit in with our group of friends just as easily as Patryk had before him. Both are very interesting guys, but mostly, extremely generous and caring. I tried my best during a relatively tumultuous time in my life, to give back to them as much as they gave to me, but I know I fell short of the mark. They were really there for me and in a way I don’t think anyone else will really ever know.

I’d taken Patryk home for thanksgiving weekend with my family the first year he was in Canada, and then again with Paul, the following year. Looking back on it, I think that weekend in fact, was the bleakest and hardest transitory point of my life. The guys took me out of the house, we road bikes on the trails near my mother’s, got drunk, swam in a nearby quarry and just generally acted like teenagers. I’m really not sure where I might’ve gone or what I might’ve done following that weekend had they not been there for me when no one else was.

I haven’t seen either of them in a long time, Patryk moved back to Australia last year. I really hope one day, now in a much better place in life and largely having to do with them, to tell them both in person, just how much they mean to me, perhaps, even balance out the score.

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[toggler title=”Josh & Christine Cairns” ]

Josh was my best friend in high school. He was my go to for everything and we did mostly everything together. He’s in my opinion, the very embodiment of what it means to be the best kind of human being. I get such a kick out of recounting the many special memories and early life experiences I had with him and he always had this profound ability to make you laugh, just being himself.

University was a particularly special time for me in our friendship. I helped him move into his first home, my brother and I, through the oddest of occurrences, helped bring him and his future wife, Christine, together, and just after graduation, I helped get him an interview for his first job, which would become his a career. Despite all that, Josh has given far more to me than I’ve ever given him.

There are few individuals whom I respect more than Josh because in a world so filled with ugliness and temptation, he has consistently through his adult life, managed to be the best of everything. That’s a very hard thing to do. His ability to lead by example is unparalleled.

He was the first of my friends to get married, and it was such an honor, to be in his wedding party, as he became, the first of my friends to really grow up. I don’t think he’s ever looked back, nor should he, because he’s on such a great journey. I always feel like he’s years ahead of me in everything he does.

A few years ago now, he took an opportunity to move out west and start his own business. Since then, I haven’t been able to see him that often or be exposed to his leadership in the way I used to take for granted. Two weekends ago, I got to see him and Christine, for Josh’s older brother Mark’s wedding. As the best man, Josh was mostly detained, but I did get caught up a little with Christine.

That being said, they’d just recently given birth to the most beautiful baby boy. In what’s perhaps one of the most special moments I’ve had in a longtime, I held this perfect little creation in my arms for about half an hour alongside my future wife. He was all smiles and giggles the entire time, and as I looked down on him, all I could see were my two perfect friends and what they’d given to the world. So, as it goes, Josh still gives to me in ways I can’t return, and for those perfect moments, I’ll be eternally thankful.

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[toggler title=”Ryan Williams” ]

Oh, how I fucked up this friendship! I don’t really have what I’d call regrets in life, and admittedly, had any part of my life been different, so too would my current position. Because of that, it’s hard to say that there’s a certain portion of your life or a certain decision you’d made in it that you’d wish to omit. Nevertheless, what I did to Ryan’s one such time I wish I could turn back the clocks on.

We first met in in our second year of university. Abercrombie & Fitch had just come to Canada, and we were hired to be those shirtless monkeys you’d see standing at the front of the store who you could take pictures with. I’d say for the next four years of our lives, we did everything together. He was my best friend. There was one year in that mix where he basically lived at my house.

We were on a roll, I’d been picking up momentum in my endeavors, and we felt unstoppable. One of those endeavors had to do with film and television, which suited Ryan just fine because he’d aspirations of becoming an actor, and I obviously wished to include him in that. As it goes, young men who fly too close to the sun with wax wings, fall suddenly back to the earth. I was ill prepared for my new responsibilities, and worse, I’d become arrogant about them, and unlike this journey with No Years Lost, I’d selfishly forgotten, not only to remain the person that had gotten me there, but also, to not forget the people that had helped me along the way.

That being said, I landed this beautiful person, a perfect friend, a most devastating blow, one that would not only rip apart the friendship, but one that would effectively kill what we were working on at the time. In one swift move, one poor decision, I’d lost my best friend. There were a lot of lessons in that and a lot of growing up to do. More so, Ryan’s dream of being an actor had been sidelined for a time.

To his credit, he’s stuck with his dream, and I’m so proud of him for that. He’s always been a bigger man than I. He taught me forgiveness in its truest sense, and while, I’ve asked for forgiveness many times, and he’s given it, I don’t think the weight or guilt of my actions will ever truly subside. We remain friends, but will likely never return to how things were.

As it’s been for 7 years, I’m truly sorry, and I’ll always be grateful not only for the years we shared as best friends, but also, for showing me what it means to be a bigger, better man.

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Gil was really my first mentor. He opened the door for me to explore my dreams. He taught me the ropes of an otherwise hostile industry. He guided me in both business and personal matters in much the way an older brother would. I don’t think I ever really knew who I was until I met Gil. He allowed me to enter a really diverse world and gave me the security to find myself there. I’m certain that without having Gil in my life, it would look dramatically different than it does now.

I learned so much under his tutelage over the years. He’s easily the most creative mind I’ve ever met, and I will be forever thankful for the many late nights we shared talking through just about everything – I was like a sponge in his presence.

Because of Gil, I found my creative voice, and realized that like him, I was a part of what I would call, the “fuck you” class of creative directors. Gil has given so much to me, whether he knows it or not. I still hear his voice or see his vision in much of what I create today, and I know, I would not be a creator had it not been for his influence.

I try wherever and whenever I meet a young creator, or even those who are unaware just yet that they are creators, to help them uncover the real potential within. When doing so, I always hear Gil’s voice in the back of my head. Sometimes it makes me cry just thinking about it and I often pull on it for myself whenever I’m experiencing self-doubt. It’s this kind of, go do you kid, you’ve got this, fuck what they say, silence it, hear your own voice, learn it, now go out and shout it.

I think if there was any kind of ethos behind No Years Lost, it’s just that, that last sentence, so again:

Go do you kid, you’ve got this, fuck what they say, silence it, hear your own voice, learn it, now go out and shout it.

I think the heart of No Years Lost belongs to Gil.

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I met Keith at the same time I met Gil. He’s perhaps the coolest guy I’ve ever known. Most creative types don’t like to admit it, but each has someone, or someone’s style they look to for influence or inspiration when creating their own work. For me, this is Keith. EVERY SINGLE FUCKING THING he does just sings to me.

Much like Gil, Keith has been a mentor, and was largely influential in helping me find my creative self. I love whenever I get to get see Keith, but also like Gil, that doesn’t happen that often anymore, and while his influence remains, it’s generally from a distance.

That being said, two years ago, it was a conversation I had with Keith that directly and dramatically shifted No Years Lost into a different heading. I’m not sure he would even remember it now. We were in the sound booth at a concert, there was a lot going on, but as he does when he gets in the creative groove, he gave me his full attention. His clarity and excitement with regards to what I should do, and how I should do it, cleared a path for me to finally and wholeheartedly pursue it. It made sense when he said it, it wasn’t terribly different than what I’d envisioned, but it was different enough that it would set the destination for this journey.

Now that I’ve arrived, he was right, as he always is, and I’m so thankful for it.

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[toggler title=”Naomi & Elijah Andrews” ]

I’ve always been so thankful for my own brother, as previously mentioned, and to be honest, never thought I’d have any more siblings in my life. Nevertheless, I’ve been blessed with two. Interestingly, they are both much younger than I, around a decade or so each. This distance in age makes for a unique relationship and I’m fortunate to have a long look back on what it means to be a young adult of that age. Topically, I’m thankful that my long-shot prediction that there were in fact young people worth bolstering up was proven to be true in each of them, because until they came into my life, I was losing a bit of hope. Most importantly, I’m thankful for their love and acceptance, and for my beautiful growing family.

I don’t give either of them advice unless they ask for it, in much the same way, I wouldn’t force opinion or judgment on my own brother. He’s an adult, and in most cases, makes better decisions than I do. Yet, between the two of us, there’s only 2 years difference, and so, he’s lived much of the same life I have. As such, given the age difference between myself, and the two of you, I’d like to pass along some older brotherly wisdom. Some of these things I managed to figure out on my own, sometimes someone had to tell me, sometimes I had to fuck up, either way, the revelations always seemed a half-second later than I would’ve wished. Regardless, you are you, and what you are is beautiful, so take it with a grain of salt.

Embrace your youth because it vanishes quickly. While you’re young, fuck up often, but don’t break the law. Always acknowledge when you’ve fucked up and swiftly apologize. You should fuck up often because it means you’re continually pushing boundaries. You’ll fuck up outside of your known boundaries because you don’t know better yet. Sometimes the results of fucking up will feel heavy, they aren’t. You have no real responsibility yet. I’ll repeat that, you have no real responsibility yet. Nothing comes easy in life, but that’s why it’s important to fuck up often while you’re still young, it’s how you’ll figure out the world and your place in it. Ultimately, it’s how you’ll discover where to focus your efforts when you do have responsibility.

Time is the most important thing in your life, now and forever. Don’t give it to those who don’t respect its value. There’ll be many people in your life, even those who appear close to you or those who appear to have your best interests at heart, that’ll wish to take it from you, but don’t let them. Anyone who doesn’t value time, doesn’t understand life, and will not only detract from the total sum of your present self, but also, and more importantly, your future self. As such, spend your time with people who really want to share it with you. Make every minute count. This is a hard one in today’s world. Challenge yourself everyday. Push your boundaries. Push your knowledge. Self-improve. Every minute is an opportunity to grow or positively impact your life. Be self-aware so that you don’t miss out on the opportunities.

Travel as much as possible, and to culturally different places as well. The rest of the world is so very different from the one you know. You’re spoiled in every possible way. Go to these places with an open heart. Go to these places for more than entertainment or your personal enjoyment. It’ll affect you. It’ll change your life. It’ll make you want to change the world, you can and you should.

You’re both incredibly talented and in so many ways. You’re smart and savvy, more so than I was at your age. Use it, but use it effectively. Don’t be anything less than your full potential. You’ll want to give up sometimes, don’t. Pushing through the hardships, life’s valleys, and there’ll be many, is the only way to transcend from average, to excellence, neither one of you should be anything less than what you are, and that’s excellent. If you’re feeling low or discouraged, call on others for help. Help will come without judgment, and yet, don’t be afraid of judgment. The fear of failing is life’s greatest hindrance. There’s no such thing as failing, only, one step not taken toward success.

You’re both beautiful inside and out. External beauty, however, quickly fades, so take the time everyday to foster the beauty within. Surround yourself with people who do the same. Tell the people you love that they’re beautiful everyday but do so for the beauty inside, you’ll find you’ve a lot more love, and a lot more “I love you(s.)”

Take care of your happiness because no one else can do that for you. If you depend on another for happiness you’re destined for letdowns, if not, heartache. You should however, experience heartache. Allow yourself to go through it, mourn, but not for too long, because believe me, there’s opportunity afoot. The longer you mourn, the more you’ll miss out on life-altering experiences and opportunities. You can and you should make others happy though whenever you can. A simple smile can change a moment, a day, or even a life – perhaps, your own. Smile a lot.

In case you missed it, my first true mentor, Gil, passed along the following advice and encouragement:

Go do you kid, you’ve got this, fuck what they say, silence it, hear your own voice, learn it, now go out and shout it.

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Special thanks are in order to Sara Rusell, Guilliume Viau and Matt Faskhoodi who’ve been supporters of No Years Lost since before it even launched.

No Years Lost probably won’t be for all of you, and that’s fine, but I’d encourage you to look around and see what you’ve helped to influence and build. There’s a bit of each of you in all of it.

Currently, there are several ways you can participate if you wish to go further than just browsing, you can sign up for the web app, and also, download the iOS app – the two are not connected and do different things, so don’t get it twisted.

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WEB

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IOS

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Additionally, you can write for No Years Lost on the yet to be released publishing platform, and also, if you have a dream you wish to have funded you can do so on the yet to be released (crowd) dream-funding platform. So, if you have any interest in either of those things, please talk to me and I’ll get you set up.

Publishing Platform

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(Crowd) Dream-Funding Platform

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From the bottom of my heart, thank you for all of the years, the love and the memories.

No Years Lost

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