Category Archives: Matt Harrison

O’ I Will Rise

By Matt Harrison

The following was written between September 17th and 30th, 2018

Not three weeks sober

Suppose I am doing fine

But it’s a long road


These countless mistakes

Hanging, trapped in a cocoon

Becoming wisdom


Nearly a month clean

Before that comes one month

Since the wheels came off


It all led me here

Chaos compounded by fear

The flower has blossomed


Mouthwash tastes like booze

I almost drank some last night

Perennial trash


An alcoholic

Who thought he had lost the thirst

That ache hasn’t left


Kick these doors open

Let the wind torment this place

Cast away what was


Sky ripe with darkness

With nothing left to be said

I am haiku’d out

5E

By Matthew Harrison

When I go visit my Grandma

Prairie fields turn to deep green forests

While paved roads give way to gravel paths

• • •

Life out here is different

Where every living piece plays a role in something greater

And at night the coyotes cry to the moon

• • •

When my Grandma laughs, she glows

And when she tells a story her eyes paint half the picture

While Wrestlemania plays in the background

• • •

I once bought a Ray Price record from a thrift store

I went home and had the record on before my shoes came off

The music took me back through time to the days of Shorty Bear

• • •

My life was salvaged by her love

Her voice alone could stop those running tears

She is the greatest star in my life’s sky

What One Can Expect to Find in the Work of Charles Darwin

By Matthew Harrison (@MattHurrison)

Most who read Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species for the first time will attest to their previous knowledge of the book having been based in pop-culture. What these references lead readers to expect are complicated diatribes about the impossibility of God coupled with chapters about humans being bipedal pieces of the animal kingdom. What is found instead is a modest and enthusiastic book that asks tough questions about what had previously been accepted about the development of species. This piece will dissect the aforementioned suppositions held by myself and others before reading Darwin as well as some of what a first time reader can expect to find.

It came as something of a surprise to me that Darwin makes no argument one way or the other regarding the existence of a Creator. At no point does he venture into disputes of religiosity as his focus never wavers beyond aspects of biology and geology that can be proven or disproven using data acquired through field observation and experimentation. Darwin’s research does not dispute the existence of God but instead that an omniscient Being created each species of bird, dog, or otherwise in their present form. It was by following the patterns of variation and descent Darwin was able to prove his theory, one which leaves theoretical wiggle room for the existence of a God to account for the origin of existence rather than the origin of each particular species. 

Another ignorant assumption made about Darwin is the depth to which he explains human beings place within his theories. There is a notable absence of direct human connections throughout, however it is continually explained that these theories -natural selection, variation, “survival of the fittest”- apply to all biological beings. The same examples of variation that apply to pigeons and dogs can also be found in roses and heads of cabbage. It is made clear that no biological being is exempt from these rules of nature. The fact that human beings are included in this equation is only ever inferred rather than explicitly stated.

The nearest Darwin’s theories are made applicable to human beings comes in chapter three, Struggle For Existence. Much of this chapter emphasizes the necessity of balance among life forms in an ecosystem. Simply put, if a species continually and rapidly reproduces with a comparatively and increasingly low mortality rate, all other beings will suffer due to the abundance of a single species. This particular idea lead me to the consideration of whether Darwin, having seen this equation prove itself in nature, foresaw the present day human population crisis and the effects of such a crisis on the global environment. While he does refer to our own capability of running these same roads of population increase, he only vaguely mentions it one day becoming problematic. He writes that “even slow breeding man has doubled [in population] in twenty-five years, and at this rate, in a few thousand years, there would literally not be standing room for his progeny,” a statement in which his vast exaggeration of the point seems to minimize the legitimacy of what was to occur in a more realistic time frame from whence he wrote. This emphasises the pattern in Darwin’s work of never binding humanity and the natural world together, but rather momentarily presenting the pieces side by side and allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions.

Finally, what few will expect to find is much of the scientific research in this behemoth text can be clearly understood from the layman’s perspective. To many, scientific studies are impossible to grasp due to esoteric vocabulary pertaining to already unfathomable concepts. Contrary to this, Darwin’s acquisition of evidence, as well as the explanations of the importance of what he found, is written in clear terms.

Among his experiments, Darwin left seeds to float in salt water to test how long they retained the ability to grow after having been sent adrift to another patch of land. He also picked seeds out of bird poop to run a similar test of life’s vigour after having studied the time it takes for a bird to produce excrement and cast seeds elsewhere of their origin. All of this was done to make sense of how plants can possibly cross lakes or oceans. Darwin measured the limitations of life’s potency after finding potential avenues of distribution from what he observed to be occurring in nature. Experiments such as these not only answer what was otherwise impossible to answer, they are logical steps toward comprehensible conclusions. This is clearly presented scientific data that can be understood by any literate person.

In conclusion, the truly most surprising part about Darwin’s work is the passion he creates in the reader. This book is unexpectedly engaging and works to awaken a silent introspective curiosity about human beings and our connection to the natural world. Charles Darwin was not only ahead of his times scientifically, but he was also the ideal voice to have written this vastly important book. Over 160 years have past, yet the fervor he wrote with remains alive.

O’ Death

By Matt Harrison (@MattHurrison)

Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash that claimed nine lives. The NBA and the sports world was shocked and depressed as the news reached its many corners. 

It felt right for me to commemorate the day by tuning in to a women’s college basketball game between Oregon and Oregon State. A 22 year old guard for Oregon, Sabrina Ionescu, was mentored by Bryant. The commentators spoke of how the two stayed in touch as he helped her perfect her playing style. Before the game she was told separate from the team about his passing. She sunk her first shot of the game on a run up jumper for two of her team high 19 points in the afternoon.

I tuned in to the Toronto Raptors game in San Antonio. Marc Gasol won the opening tip for Toronto and Fred VanVleet walked the ball across centre court where he stood and dribbled slowly as the 24 second shot clock expired. The Spurs offered the same nod to the fallen 24 before the game carried on.

“That moment, that made it real” Raptors play-by-play announcer Leo Rautins said of the unifying gestures.

As the game wore on I jumped back and forth between it and the updates breaking on TSN. They showed a tear laden interview with Doc Rivers about the crushing weight of the loss. As the day wore on, countless interviews with athletes from across the league aired, numerous reactions being broadcast live. This heartbreak, this tragedy, it was being mourned in real time across the world.

“This feels like a nightmare” Dwyane Wade said as he wiped away bitter tears on a video he posted to Instagram last night.

Through our endless social connectivity we shared this misery. By Sunday night, videos began circulating on Youtube of the NBA teams who played on Sunday, each doing something to commemorate Bryant. Trae Young wore the number 8 -Bryant’s original number in the NBA- instead of his typical 11. When the Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams scored a touchdown in the NFL Pro Bowl, he flashed two, then four fingers, twice in a row for the camera.

For most this episode will last as long as the news cycle. For the many who knew him the pain and the journey down this road of sorrow and recovery has only just begun. That is where my thoughts are now. I felt guilty for bearing witness to the agony of his friends in real time. It felt wrong to have a front row view of these people who have just lost a friend, a brother, a mentor. Such is the world of real time tragedy we live in.

The bitter strings of sympathy are woven deep into the fabric of my heart. It is worth nothing, but it is all I have. This horrible day has left me wanting to make no secret of my love for those around me. Perhaps that is the best thing any of us can take away from this tragedy. Life is unrelenting in its warmth and beauty while remaining cold and unpredictable all the while. It does not ask, it simply changes.

Abby

By Matthew Harrison (@MattHurrison)

My family recently had a visitor; a stout, old dog with a golden coat. Her name was Abby and she spent the week with us while her family watched the sunrise in Mexico.

January 3rd

A nervous old gal

Wanders after a green ball

Her tail gently wags

I watched her walk around the house, acquainting herself with the place and the people in it. I decided I would spend the week writing about her.

The morning after her first night with us, too early for the sun to have rizen, I heard Abby barking at the front door.

Brought myself downstairs

Soon enough she fell asleep

As the sun came up

She was only a bit lonesome. A little company was all it took for her to be right as rain. The next few days went lazily and happily by.

January 4th

Quiet afternoon

Doing yoga with Abby

Sit in the sunshine

January 5th

Stay up with Abby

The sun set too soon tonight

We will watch it rise

Soft, gentle breathing

Wandering through a dreamscape

Chasing the sunrise

January 6th

From your sweet, brown eyes

Two quiet blinks come my way

Before you drift off

It was my dad who first noticed her behaviour was different than normal. We made a group visit to the vet before dinner. Four of us waited together to hear what the results of her ultrasound were. 

The vet suspected she had cancer and that it was rapidly progressing. We told him the owners would be home in four days. 

“Four days is an awfully long time” was all he said.

As darkness descends

This house grows quiet and still

Oh, these long, cold nights

Sleep tonight

Spend your last days well

You are loved

Waiting together

For this endless night to pass

Sleep, my tired friend

January 7th

It was 2:00PM when she let her last breath go. After she passed, I held her paw and cried with the crown of my head pressed to the floor. 

Her head felt heavy

“Rest easy, little sister”

Your pain has ended

I came home that night to a quiet and empty home. Without her bed, the living room felt too big.

This room feels empty

There is no one keeping guard

Ever since you left

Gone too soon

Thy name has been called

Taken home

I stood on the patio that night, looking off into the darkness. I held an ear to the wind hoping to hear something to take my mind off everything. All I heard was a chilled breeze drifting by and the silent ache of loneliness.

Only cold silence

I wished to hear coyotes

In the dark distance


Life is beautiful but it is also finite and unpredictable. I won’t soon forget my time spent with Abby. From her I learned how precious life is and how love is the greatest thing in this world.

I wish you were here

Does a great beyond exist?

Come tell me sometime