Sailboats On The Sea

Sailboats On The Sea

The day is sunny but cool, yet I find it juicy with promise. There is only the occasional cloud to harry an aspiring sun on this Spring day. A sprightly breeze is agitating the newly-minted leaves, stirring them from their quiet contemplation of the season ahead. The trees are full of enthusiasm, no thought of the hot dry days ahead when they will be parched, or the ultimate loss of their leafy children which the distant winter season will demand. Do the trees weep at their losses each year?

Sitting on my balcony with a view of the sailboats skipping along in the Bay, I am also in contemplation. I am overwhelmed by a sense of gratitude to be here in this peaceful place. I am reminded that here in North America we have been blessed with hundreds of years of peaceful existence, realities not present in so many other places in the world. There have been wars, terrible conflicts that have affected us deeply, but they have not taken place on this ground. I remember how I felt in Montreal, when the War Measures Act was in force in the face of the terrorism of the FLQ in Quebec. We huddled in our homes afraid to venture out into the streets filled with soldiers, rifles at the ready. People in many other countries have lived with that for years. In those places, at those times, life was as cheap as a bullet, a piece of rope, a scrap of wood with paper as kindling.

How must it have been for people in Europe where war was an almost constant threat and reality over the centuries? How must it be for the people in the Middle East where they are now reaping the rewards of a religious philosophy that bills itself as a religion of peace, in which people worship death? How must it be in Israel, with the people daily vigilant in the face of similar forces, immersed in this environment? Often, when I see the ads for Viking River Cruises into the heart of Europe, I am reminded that these are the places where hundreds of thousands, millions, of my people, helpless, were murdered, recently, and over the centuries, and I lose any appetite for travel at the thought of visiting them.

The world has changed and we are learning that we are not necessarily safe within the ramparts of our citadel, seemingly so peaceful. We too require a vigilance which was not a necessity in times past. To the south, the aberration of misguided interpretations of the Second Amendment, fanned by profit motivations, is placing weapons of mass destruction in the hands of the mentally unbalanced. The magic of the internet and social media is being perverted to fan the flames of radical Islam in the heart of communities that came to our shores, often to escape this very danger, something they wished to leave behind them in the Middle East. I wonder then why they insist on repeating the lifestyle here? These things are doing damage to our glorious dream of “America, (our) new-found land”*.

I will go back to the pleasures of my present, cocooned in my conscious illusion, my encapsulated virtual reality built of denial, an existence untouched by all these forces careening into chaos out of my sight. I will turn my head away from all the bluster of alternative facts too often filling my television screen. I am sick to death of all the lies being dispensed to the gullible at the behest of monied interests. I will read books and do simple puzzles. I will doodle on paper scraps. I will wrestle with the mysteries of a nearly incomprehensible stock market, (why on earth do I do that? I must be mad!) where it is so difficult to sort out who are my friends and who are my enemies masquerading as friends. I will be fierce in search of small adventures, and tiny pleasures.

I will pot my plants on my balcony and strain to make out the mountains through the misty clouds. I will drink whisky with my Bride in splendid solitude. I will dine with friends and family in small intimate groups. I will sweat and sway with others in my cardio classes. I will seek to be a pretzel to amaze my yoga group. I will stroll under flowering trees. I will fix my eyes on the sailboats in the Bay.

I have resigned my commission in the ranks of the shock troops who are fighting the larger battles. I cannot fail to recognize and give credence to those being fought around me, but I am no longer even in the Reserves. The world I inhabit, selfish though it may seem to others, was earned by dint of hard labour, and I demand my right to eke out my years on the sunny side of the street. I may live in a world of illusion, but I insist on continuing to dream my dream. My own battles will be fought on the boundaries of healthcare and eldercare.

Oh look, there’s a boat with a red sail!

*“Elegy XIX: To His Mistris Going To Bed”, John Donne, (1633), published posthumously in The Harmony Of The Muses, (1654)