Su­per serendip­ity

On­tario au­thor tak­ing rock art from Deer Lake on his first book tour

The Western Star - - FRONT PAGE - DIANE CROCKER

DEER LAKE, N.L. — Tara Pinksen has painted and hid­den a lot of rocks with her chil­dren over the past year.

The Deer Lake woman and her fam­ily had heard about the rocks ef­fort and thought it was just about spread­ing kind­ness.

So they’d paint the rocks, add nice say­ings and place them on trails. But when re­turned to find their rocks, they’d be gone.

“And we were so dis­ap­pointed and up­set that peo­ple had taken our rocks in­stead of leav­ing them for ev­ery­one to en­joy,” she said.

That was un­til they dis­cov­ered hid­ing the rocks so oth­ers can find them and hide them some­where else is what the rock art craze is ac­tu­ally all about.

Now Pinksen and her chil­dren — Talon, Harper and Greyson Pinksen and step-son Kaleb Watkins — are over-the­moon ex­cited one of their rocks is about to em­bark on a su­per jour­ney as it trav­els with au­thor Matthew Heneghan on book tour across the coun­try.

The rock is shaped like the iconic tri­an­gu­lar shield that ap­pears on Su­per­man’s chest.

It was Kaleb who first rec­og­nized the shape. When Pinksen didn’t see it, Harper put it up to her chest so she could vi­su­al­ize it bet­ter. At the kids’ prompt­ing, she painted the Su­per­man sym­bol on the rock and Greyson hid it on the trail at the Deer Lake beach.

That’s where Heather Down, owner of Win­tertickle Press, found it Aug. 25.

Down had been vis­it­ing New­found­land from Barrie, Ont., and was spend­ing a night in Deer Lake be­fore fly­ing home.

The find was a poignant one. Her com­pany is about to re­lease Heneghan’s mem­oir, “A Medic’s Mind,” and Su­per­man is a re­cur­ring theme in the book.

Heneghan is a re­tired army cor­po­ral who worked as an army medic for six years and then as a civil­ian para­medic un­til 2017.

The book de­tails his bat­tles with post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der, de­pres­sion, ad­dic­tion and the fall­out of sui­cide.

From his home in Mis­sis­sauga, Heneghan said his PTSD di­ag­no­sis came in Fe­bru­ary 2017 after his life took a down­ward spi­ral. Get­ting ar­rested for driv­ing while un­der the in­flu­ence was a huge cat­a­lyst that showed him he needed help.

“As a para­medic, I’ve re­sponded to so many ve­hi­cle ac­ci­dents that in­volved al­co­hol and then here I was do­ing some­thing as egre­gious and silly,” he said.

He started see­ing a ther­a­pist, who made the PTSD di­ag­no­sis, and he de­cided to stop work­ing as a medic.

“I started go­ing through a loss of iden­tity and not re­ally know­ing where I fit into the world anymore,” he said.

He wrote about his sit­u­a­tion on Face­book and was en­cour­aged to write a blog. Along the way, he made con­tact with Down, who asked him to write a piece for an an­thol­ogy she was com­pil­ing, “Brain­storm Rev­o­lu­tion.”

Heneghan was go­ing into an ad­dic­tions re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tre when his story was ac­cepted for the an­thol­ogy.

Down kept in con­tact with him dur­ing his stay and, on the last day, sent him a pack­age con­tain­ing a writ­ing con­tract.

“She thought I had a story to tell,” he said.

After a year and a half of work, “A Medic’s Mind” will be re­leased Oct. 15.

Su­per­man is a fac­tor in the book be­cause of the “rap­tur­ous ado­ra­tion” Heneghan had for the su­per­hero as a child.

“He was ev­ery­thing I was not,” he said. “He sort of rep­re­sented ev­ery­thing I wanted to be.”

Heneghan grew up in a tough home and, feel­ing that the world was bro­ken, he wanted to fix it.

Fond mem­o­ries of that time re­volve around a Su­per­man suit his mom, who died by sui­cide in Novem­ber 2017, made for him. He wore al­most all the time.

“Those mem­o­ries of those more in­no­cent times, of re­ally feel­ing like a kid, kind of be­came near and dear to me,” he said.

After Down found the rock, she sent a pic­ture to Heneghan. He said he’s not spir­i­tual or re­li­gious, but he does like the idea of sym­bol­ism.

“It’s sym­bolic of let­ting me know I’m not alone and it’s sym­bolic in that maybe I’ve got my mom’s bless­ing in do­ing this,” he said.

So Heneghan will take the rock with him on his book tour and will chron­i­cle its jour­ney through so­cial me­dia.

He and Down thought it would be cool to find the artist who painted the rock. Heneghan posted a mes­sage on the NL Rock Art Face­book page.

Pinksen doesn’t have a Face­book ac­count and would not have known about the post if an ac­quain­tance, who rec­og­nized her paint­ing, hadn’t seen it and con­tacted her through In­sta­gram.

Think­ing it was a bit weird, it took her awhile to re­spond.

After hear­ing of the sig­nif­i­cance of Su­per­man to Heneghan through some voice mes­sages, Pinksen is glad she reached out.

“I couldn’t take the smile off my face,” she said. “And I’ve been go­ing through a rough patch my­self and hon­estly it just meant the world.

“It’s so cool, be­cause we’ve been do­ing this for so long and a lot of times you never know where they end up.”

She sus­pects a lot of the rocks end up in Deer Lake, so it’s nice to see one end up some­where else other than New­found­land.

“We place them to put a smile on some­one else’s face, but in turn it ended up putting a huge one on mine and all the kids.”

“Those mem­o­ries of those more in­no­cent times, of re­ally feel­ing like a kid, kind of be­came near and dear to me.”

CON­TRIB­UTED/THE WEST­ERN STAR

Paint­ing and hid­ing rocks for oth­ers to find is a pas­time that Tara Pinksen of Deer Lake and her chil­dren en­joy. The kids, from left, Greyson and Talon Pinksen, Kaleb Watkins and Harper Pinksen, are seen with some rocks that are ready for hid­ing.

CON­TRIB­UTED/THE WEST­ERN STAR

This Su­per­man rock painted by Tara Pinksen of Deer Lake will be go­ing on tour with On­tario au­thor Matthew Heneghan as he pro­motes his mem­oir, “A Medic’s Mind.”

CON­TRIB­UTED/THE WEST­ERN STAR

This is just a sam­ple of the rocks that Tara Pinksen of Deer Lake and her chil­dren have painted and hid­den for oth­ers to en­joy.

CON­TRIB­UTED

On­tario au­thor Matthew Heneghan is about to em­bark on a book tour with his mem­oir “A Medic’s Mind,” and he’ll be tak­ing a bit of Deer Lake with him.

CON­TRIB­UTED

Tara Pinksen of Deer Lake is thrilled that a rock she painted will be part of On­tario au­thor Matthew Heneghan’s book tour.

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