Sunday, August 22, 2010


Wow! What a great summer this has been: full of excitement, exploration, and new endeavours. I’m exhausted now, however, from packing so much into such a short period of time.
Back in January when I turned fifty-two, a privilege my father didn’t get a chance to enjoy, I decided I wasn’t going to let fear stop me from pursuing my dreams. Every day I lived was one more than he had, so I began to treat each as a gift and make the most of life.
For a long time, I’d thought of writing a musical for stage so decided to start small and write something for The Minden Fringe. It was titled: “And the Word Was...” and was about how words can be misinterpreted, misused, and misleading, but if you went deep down through the words to the primal feelings, you’d find truths that were universal. In the piece I explored what the feeling at the base, the platform, of all life was – well, one possibility.
In a moment of paralyzing terror, I panicked about having to perform it as well. Did I really have to do it all alone? Never, so I reached out to Gemini award winning actress, Brigitte Gall, and after reading the script she signed on excited about the sonic element it was rooted in. Wonderful, I just had to polish the script.
Meanwhile, I had several functions to plan for and carry out, including a business dinner for twenty, a family reunion for forty-five, another one for fifteen, a ten day holiday with our grand-daughter, kids’ visits, friends’ visits, my book group’s visit, rehearsals, re-writes, plus work on various committees. So now I’m exhausted: exhausted with a smile on my face.
I first noticed this kind of exhaustion on our holiday. We were awed by the mountains in Banff, entranced by the horses and riders at Spruce Meadows Equestrian Centre, and overwhelmed by the harmonies of the Canadian Tenors. I felt spent by all that beauty which surprised me, because I thought it should have been uplifting. Maybe that’s how the saying: “it took my breath away” came to be: like a balloon, we can only take so much before we lose it all.
And then I looked out my window and saw acorns, some on the trees and some on the ground, and realized a similar pattern in nature. I was reminded that it was the juiciest, ripest fruits that fell to the ground, and from there, new stories would soon begin. How perfect it was that the decaying flesh of apples and peaches would fertilize the hidden seeds. It was all so wondrous, so perfectly conceived: out of death came new life.
Funny, we’re afraid of death but it’s actually happening around us and to us all the time. All the time the wheel of life is turning; all the time it is filling, filling, emptying, emptying; all the time the old gives way to the new; all the time, all the time and it’s bittersweet. Life is bittersweet: the joy and the sadness together. Is my cup half empty or half full...or is it both at the same time, the joy and sadness intertwined? Inhale...full, exhale...empty. How do you hold both emotions?
As I looked up at the wall and pondered this question, I saw a poster that said “Make Art Not War” and who knows, maybe that was the answer. We could take sides on issues or we could create space to honour both. Is it good or is it bad? When we mature, that question no longer has relevance because there’s no more need for judgement; it’s all life! Underneath, there’s just one song.
In the East they talk about the three parts of the wheel of life: the rim, the spokes and the hub. If you live on the rim, you get crushed each time the wheel goes around. If you live on a spoke, you get dizzy from all the questioning – should I go up or down, say yes or no. But if you live in the centre, you are unmoved by all the comings and goings. There no longer are highs and lows because nothing is judged, everything is appreciated; the heart is always open. People aren’t being ‘good’ or ‘bad’, they’re just being true to their experiences: “we’re all on a path and each place on that path is honourable.”
I’m tired. My mind is wandering. Does this make any sense? Perhaps next summer I shall pace myself better. Perhaps next summer I shall sit in the centre with a smile and a full heart opened to and appreciating all that life has to offer. I am the seed and I am the decaying flesh. It’s all so bittersweet...and that’s okay. That’s the song of life.
Wow, what a great summer this has been. What a gift!