EDITORIAL: Beyond the surface

There was much more to White Rock homeless man Ryan Ashe than meets the eye, as evidenced by those who spoke at his memorial service.

Few would dispute the notion that first encounters leave lasting impressions.

An unexpected smile from a stranger can brighten another person’s day, as easily as a judgmental word can ruin it.

But in a world where, more often than not, what you see is what you get, it is refreshing to know there are those encounters – those people – who don’t quite fit the mould.

Time and again, it is proven that it can pay to look beyond a first impression; to open the tattered cover of a tossed-aside book, just to see what the author has to say.

Such was the sentiment of those who came out last week to pay tribute to one of White Rock’s most-visible figures: Ryan Ashe.

Ashe lived on the city’s streets – at its bus stops, behind its shrubbery and on its corners – for more than 20 years, before lung cancer took his life Aug. 13 at age 56.

There’s no doubt Ashe made an impression on everyone he encountered. For some – faced with Ashe’s scruffy appearance, minimal hygiene and carefully tarped mound of personal effects – the experience felt intimidating, and they chose to keep walking.

Others likely felt nothing (at least nothing they cared to acknowledge) and they also kept walking.

Some, however, stopped.

This latter group – perhaps sharing little more than a healthy curiosity and acceptance of their fellow man – spoke to Ashe, returned his gap-toothed smile and discovered, perhaps, that he wasn’t all that unlike them after all.

He’d had a job, he’d had a home, he had a family. It was clear he had challenges – the most difficult chapter stemming from a severe head injury he suffered in a car crash 26 years ago.

It would be conveniently poetic to remember Ashe as he was when encountered only on his good days. Like the rest of us, he had bad ones, too – when his thought-process seemed unconventional, to say the least.

In news stories over the years that highlighted Ashe’s presence in the community, if the phrase ‘there but for the grace of God go I’ wasn’t mentioned, it most certainly came to mind during the writing, and – we’re hopeful – the reading.

But, as many people pointed out Friday evening, Ashe’s life was not a blight. Far from it. His outlook, his sense of humour, even his determination to pay exact change for the can of room-temperature pop he so enjoyed, had an impact on those who chose to stop.

Ashe may not have had the best of covers on his book, but his story was clearly a rewarding read.

Just Posted

West Coast Duty Free president Gary Holowaychuk stands next to empty shelves inside his store on Tuesday (June 15). (Aaron Hinks photo)
Revenue down 97% at South Surrey duty free as owner waits for U.S. border to reopen

Products approaching best before dates had to be donated, others destroyed

A handful of White Rock Divers qualified for Junior Development National Diving Championships after strong showings at virtual meets earlier this spring. (Contributed photo)
White Rock Divers qualify for junior-development nationals

Six divers make cut for national event after strong performances at virtual meets

Cover of the 32-page Surrey First Peoples Guide for Newcomers, created and compiled by Jeska Slater.
New ‘Surrey First Peoples Guide for Newcomers’ seeks to ‘uplift and amplify’ voices

32-page guide launched Tuesday by Surrey Local Immigration Partnership (LIP)

Popular event/party band March Hare will appear in an online streamed performance Friday (June 18) featuring their salute to music of the `60s and `70s as part of BEC Entertainment’s Grand Summer Virtual Concert series. (Contributed photo)
White Rock-based BEC Entertainment continues Friday-night virtual concerts

March Hare and California Surf Incorporated featured

Surrey City Hall. (File photo)
OUR VIEW: Surrey public hearing theatrics juvenile

They are called public hearings for a reason. Not public spectacles.

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
VIDEO: Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The Abbotsford International Airshow is back for 2021 with the ‘SkyDrive’ concept.
Abbotsford International Airshow returns for 2021 with ‘SkyDrive’

New format features a drive-in movie type experience, show set for Aug. 6 to 8

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens as Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents the province’s latest budget, April 20, 2021. The budget projects $19 billion in deficits over three years. (Hansard TV)
B.C. government budget balloons, beyond COVID-19 response

Provincial payroll up 104,000 positions, $10 billion since 2017

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Ocean debris is shown on Long Beach in Tofino, B.C. on April, 18, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Shoreline cleanup finds COVID-related trash increased during height of the pandemic

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup reports litter from single-use food packaging nearly doubled

Doctor David Vallejo and his fiancee Doctor Mavelin Bonilla hold photos of themselves working, as they kiss at their home in Quito, Ecuador, Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Doctor Vallejo and Doctor Bonilla suspended their wedding in order to tend to COVID-19 patients and in the process Vallejo got sick himself with the disease, ending up in an ICU for several days. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)
Love, sacrifice and surviving COVID-19: one couple’s story

COVID hits Ecuadorian doctors who delayed wedding to treat sick

St. Joseph's Mission site is located about six kilometres from Williams Lake First Nation. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake First Nation to search residential school site for unmarked graves

St. Joseph’s Mission Indian Residential School operated from 1886 to 1981

Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lotto Max jackpot goes unclaimed again

42 of the 64 Maxmillion prizes of $1 million were won, the majority were sold in Ontario

Most Read