" SpiritofSaltSpring:BC:Canada:GulfIslands:SaltSpring:Salt Spring:

September 17, 2012

C'mon Vancouver: A Zucchini shouldn't be your Best Friend

Poor Vancouver. I often find myself walking down the street, well, okay, it’s not Vancouver, it’s New Westminster. Same diff. The Lower Mainland all feels the same to me now. Cars. Malls. People in a hurry who aren’t smiling.  

Often, let’s just take a stab at it and say at least once a day, I’ll pass some poor waif who has lost his or her humanity. They've forgotten to acknowledge other human beings, even when one has passed within a shoulder’s length, even when I’m the only one on the sidewalk for blocks. Sometimes I say "Hi" to try and force them to acknowledge me but if they seem like a lost cause, like I can tell that someone or some thing snatched their soul a few years back, then I just bore my eyes into the side of their head and hope that some seed of collective consciousness might sense my animosity and awaken; come to their defense.

People can’t connect in Vancouver. SFU is hosting a forum called Alone Together: Connecting in the City.  The Vancouver Foundation has discovered through research that people are alone more than they want to be. But, c’mon people, take some responsibility. Don’t pretend it’s the “city”.  Are you saying the concrete buildings downtown are causing this state of mass anomie? What about Vancouverites taking responsibility for themselves, one isolated little lost E.T. lookalike at a time, and changing their own behaviour on a daily basis with just one stranger. I'm not saying acting like Steve Martin as Rupricht in that old movie, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels but the occasional friendly acknowledgement surely isn't asking too much is it?

Here’s a brilliant idea. Wonder if anybody has tried it? Look at one person. Look them in the face. Smile. Say Hi. Take off your personal technological isolation device a.k.a. your iPod or whatever your lonely brain cells are currently wired on and just look at someone, up a bit if you're a certain type of guy, that's right, into their eyes. Try it just once a day. Their face isn’t a camera. It won’t break.

PS: I can’t be held accountable for my hostility towards the lonely city. I just returned from the Fall Fair on Salt Spring, which during the Fall Fair weekend wouldn't know isolation if it jumped out of a hay-filled stall and layed a big fat slobbering calf's tongue on the side of its cheek.

September 12, 2012

Walking Back to the Love of a Beautiful Place

Have you ever experienced the way the light dissects leaves, noticed how a yellow daisy turns slightly green at its petal tips, or how earth shades become stronger under sunlight, strong enough to overwhelm by a bittersweet purity that feels like your past, present and future in a single glance?

Yesterday was like that. In spite of the brilliant fall sunshine,  I'm hyper aware of the proximity of the rains. They're coming. And, that means no time now to spare inside, better get outside, on day's like yesterday, this couple, caught napping in solidarity would surely agree.

So I drove to Stanley Park. First time there, since I returned to the Lower Mainland 10 months ago and that surprised me.

The route I took to get there was unusual for me.  Over the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge, up the upper levels, down Capilano road hardly any traffic mid afternoon, no slowing down across the Lion's Gate Bridge which once across, a quick right hand exit deposits into lushness, stops quickly and delivers Prospect Point. A freighter slides below, glides so wide and tall, might as well be a toy boat taking up the whole bathtub; float planes trade places with ravens.

I parked the car near that pool. Is it Second or Third Beach? I should know that by now.  I set off on a walk that I've done countless times before, when I lived on the park's rim, and as I began to walk it didn't take long before I began to feel fantastic. I was smiling, really smiling, inside even, and I realized how few people really smile because I was looking at them, directly into their faces, even when they were avoiding my gaze, which was mostly. Feeling that good exaggerated the contrast of how I've been feeling lately and how hard my body has been trying to catch my attention; to communicate what's missing.

Here, I must drive for miles to find a place to wander where the trees and the grass and the flowers feel like company. Too much inside, alone, just me and my computer screen, without daily wandering in beauty, observing how the shadows dance across a tree trunk, the wind tickles the surface of the ocean or how waves bursts throwing up silent explosions of beaded gauntlets. No stopping to pick up a shell or a black rock on a beach, and really examining them before gently placing them back down again or absentmindedly tossing it, contented.

You and I are not the only living things capable of changing each other. Natural surroundings can do that as deeply; and the loss of that affects the heart every bit as much as any other lost love now gone.

That's some of what I was thinking yesterday as I walked.