At the age of 10, he found out he has mild Asperger's syndrome, but he wanted to have a good social life.
He decided he would work 10 times as hard as others on his social skills.
His method was trial and error. He decided to practice conversation any time. Once, he initiated a conversation with a girl reading calculus on the bus, "this is not a light read." The conversation started, and she ended up showing him around town.
Since he was a child, he started practicing fencing. He mustered the courage to approach others to crash at their places for free during tournaments.
Throughout tournaments, he found that his passion for fencing is because of his passion for travelling and connecting with people.
So he quit his mechanical engineering degree at University of New Brunswick, started his backpacking tour around Europe and United States.
He watched a movie called Yes Man. He decided that saying yes will bring him the gift of serendipity of life. Saying yes is more risky, but it is much more fun. In Hawaii, some stranger told him that Australia is fun.
So he said yes to Australia, and came to Australia this February on a working-holiday visa.
He said yes to quitting. He gave the middle finger to a manager that he didn't like. And the owner gave him his business card with a smile, and told him he had intended to do that for a long time.
He said yes to love. He improved his dating skills by saying yes to all of his Tinder matches. Now he is happily in a relationship with a smart, beautiful, and artistic entrepreneur/singer. When he goes back to Canada next year, she will join him.
Even when the day after the tournament is over, he can barely stand up because of the pain.
Even when he hasn't been paid for 6 weeks and has only $11 left because someone makes a mistake in bank account details.
Even when someone gives him feedback that he is "being condescending".
His cheerful spirit, ability to connect with people, and willingness to experiment and learn somehow reminded me of Benjamin Franklin, the only man on the US dollar bills who is not a president.
Disclaimer: I do not receive any compensation from Salsabor for writing this article. This is purely my personal experience.
When I was a kid, I always got laughed at for missing easy passes during soccer and basketball games. Never did I see myself as nimble or flexible. During dance parties, I was usually a wallflower on the side.
One day Jackson told me about Salsabor, my childhood fear of getting laughed at kicked in. But Jackson told me, "People in the Latin dance community in Canberra are positive and supportive. Even though you are a beginner, experienced dancers will still dance with you."
So I signed up for beginner salsa and never turned back. Instructors at Salsabor are passionate. Amy Walker would always give me nice tips on improving the moves, "make sure your hands are holding up." JP told me, "basics are important." Other instructors, such as Hamed, James, Jenny, Jasmine..., impressed me with their moves. Their stories prove that it is absolutely possible to learn salsa at any age, regardless of background.
And the learning experience was fun. During lessons JP would substitute the music lyrics with his own improvisation while using Spanglish for steps "uno dos tres, cinco seis site". In ACT, there are a few Latin dance events such as the Thursday night social at Corazon, and monthly Salsa on Saturday (SOS) events.
According to the Paul Zak in his TED talk, dancing increases oxytocin levels. Plus it is much more fun to dance than to just sit and drink.
One thing is certain, I will keep learning salsa in 2016.