Circular Motion

A few millennia ago, back when I was a first year undergrad at university, one of my housemates (he remains one of my very best peeps) and I shared a tradition on Saturday nights.  Before we headed out for whatever fun and trouble that might find us, we started things off- just the two of us, generally- with a little time spent with a beer or two and some of our favourite music.

We called it Celtic Hour.

Okay- it wasn’t actually a tradition originating in Antiquity.  But I have been feeling the weight of the years a little of late, so thinking back on old times involves more taxing of the brain than once was the case.  First year uni seems like a longlonglong time ago.

The ‘all grown up’ tasks at hand seem to be multiplying exponentially and that To-Do list is stubbornly refusing to get any shorter.  New stuff keeps adding itself to the bottom before the top-most items have come close to being completed.  I’m sure that there’s some sort of reasonable explanation for this, but I have really started to feel like it’s a function of the perversity of the universe right about now.

Add to that the fact that the temperatures refuse to rise and the sun is playing shy… there’s been a real dearth of energy in my general vicinity.

It’s hard, even with best intentions, to stay motivated when loose ends that need tying apparently multiply by the hour.


Celtic Hour.

Fletcher and I would pop on some tunes by those Scottish and Irish troubadours we so love, and have a wee sing-along.  Although the songs varied week-to-week, the one that kicked it off always remained the same.

As the first notes of the traditional folk song- She Moved Through the Fair– led into Jim’s beloved voice, we would take our seats and raise our glasses to the week past and the one ahead.  The lyric’s of Belfast Child evoke a terrible period in Ireland’s long history, while still offering up hope for return and rebuilding (and the flip-side of the single was Mandela Day– another great song that has seen a resurgence in the past while.  Talk about an incredible double bill.  How freakin great are Simple Minds?!).

Sure the arrest (and subsequent release) of Gerry Adams last week brings up its own share of unpleasant reminders and debates that continue to rage in certain circles (I’m not touching any of that, so don’t even go there please), but the real reason I was casting my mind back to the song- and its Celtic Hour memories- is because there’s this one line

‘Life goes on…’

It won’t stop popping into my head.


Jim seems to be permanently in situ dans my tête (how’s that for a random mixing of languages?  And please forgive the unintended allusion to a Céline tune.  Snuck in there, it did.).

Generally, at least as it’s heard in my skull, the repetition offers both reassurance and admonition.  Although the critical reproof has been on the ascendent as the myriad tasks aren’t completed as quickly as I’d like.  I’ve been very focused on them- but said focus has also had something of an overall debilitating effect as well.

I’m not sure I’ve been coping all that well, to be honest.  I’ve been putting up a pretty good front, but despite some overwhelmingly positive things happening in my life I’m still reeling and trying to find my footing in the Dad-less world.

Meaning has been a little bit harder to find, and exhaustion- mental and physical- is almost ever-present.

Then… on Sunday while sorting through things at Dad’s, amongst some other extremely cool things we had never seen before (like a circa 1895 stereoscope with lots of neato pictures- who knows where THAT came from), I found some of Dad’s business envelopes- from wayway back when he worked downtown, before the company headquarters moved outside of the city’s core.

I remember visiting Dad at work as a small child- on days off from school and such- and I knew that his building was in the same general vicinity in which I am spending my 9-5 hours these days.

But the address on the envelopes?  The VERY building.  Where I work now.


Same building.

Do you have any idea how many office towers there are in this town?  I don’t.  Not exactly.  But there are a lot.

I’ve written before about synchronicity and connections.  I believe in these things as manifestations of the reality that we all go together– as human beings who share a planet and biological origin.

But that kind of blew me away.

I have to admit, odd moments of grief aside, that I’ve been riding something of a pretty substantial high at my new employment gig.  I honestly love going there in the morning.  As I’ve been getting to know the people I work with, I grow ever more impressed with their commitment and professionalism and sense of community- and fun.  This is a group of people- and a company- that is affecting positive change every single day.  I’m loving it.  Did I mention that?

It’s a place that Dad, with his incredible and developed sense of social justice and drive for equality and equity of opportunity, would have felt at home.  Turns out he would have been right comfortable in the building itself.  Seeing as he spent a whole lot of time there 30+ years ago.

Since Sunday, I’ve been feeling him close to me more than ever.  I have one of the envelopes on my work desk, now- as a kind of tangible manifestation of that feeling.

It’s like something has circled round again.  Two of us in the same place- if removed by a couple of decades.

There’s this other song…

(Speaking of Scottish music/musicians)…

You know I love Donovan.

Not only is the song about happiness- and how it runs in a circular motion– it is a round.  A form of music featuring at least two voices singing the same melody but beginning at different times- and fitting together in harmony.


Since the sun actually deigned to make an appearance today, I took a long stroll home, through the park, after work, thinking about the counterpoints- those independent yet harmonious lines- that make up our lives.

There were people out and about- riding bikes and skateboards, walking dogs and children- enjoying the sunshine.  I saw a woman stretched on the grass on her stomach feeding a pigeon Sun Chips from her hand.  A young man sat on a picnic table playing his guitar.

I thought about my new place of employment and the opportunities it affords- which now include a connection to Dad- and the fact that one of my other housemates from first year uni works in the building across the street.  We’ve had a couple of quick lunchtime encounters to try to catch up on more years than I care to count, and there will be a better opportunity on a patio sometime soon.

When I got home and checked email there was a message from that wonderful Being who spoke so beautifully at Dad’s memorial.

I woke up this morning and was very much aware of your presence. So…. this is me following up. I trust that you are OK and that all is well with your new job. I also trust and hope that you are finding your way thru this grief process.”

I’ve been feeling Dad’s presence all week.  It seems that someone was also feeling mine.  Someone who has recently circled back into my life.

Life goes on.

In a circular motion.

And it can be pretty damn beautiful.

P.S- There’s one more song that kept running through my head as I finished this post:

The great Harry Chapin.  It’s a song from my camp days, and it’s the tune that is ending my evening.

“It seems like I’ve been here before, I can’t remember when
But I got this funny feelin’ that I’ll be back once again
There’s no straight lines make up my life and all my roads have bends
There’s no clear-cut beginnings and so far no dead-ends…”

Sleep well, WordPressWorld.

20 comments on “Circular Motion

  1. LindaGHill says:

    Serendipity – isn’t that what they call it? I love it when something like that happens. 🙂

  2. Rick says:

    I didn’t know Donovan was from Scotland. You learn something new every day.

  3. quiall says:

    Loved your post. Love the music. Interesting about you being in the same building as your father. In 1978 my father was in a plane crash, he survived. Many years later I was traveling to Washington with my mother for an Irish wedding. Her side of the family. We flew Air Canada. I was originally told we would be in a 727 we ended up in a DC eight, the same kind of plane that my father was in when it crashed. I was not amused. When we returned home I told my father about it being a DC eight and he looked a little odd. He asked me what my seat number was. It was the same seat that he was in when his plane crashed. Circles within circles. What a lovely way to see the world. And yes death is part of life and life must go on.

    • colemining says:

      That’s a crazy story! There are just so many examples of the many ways in which we are connected to one another- and they still provide wonder and whimsy when they pop up at you.

      We do continue- and, in so doing, we hope that we can live up to the positive examples of those we love, but who are now gone. Hope you’re coping as well as possible after your loss. Thanks for reading! xo

  4. bethbyrnes says:

    You are obviously in a very good place, now, Cole, despite your beloved Dad’s passing. That makes me happy as I identify with your ideas and feelings so closely most of the time. I love what we call here in the US, “Traditional Music”, the kind that at one time in Europe was played on the lute. Here it is connected with the mountain dulcimer, which I learned to play decades ago. Being half Irish, with a half-Irish SO, I love the haunting and lyrical quality of Irish music above all other. As for the synchronous connection to your Dad, I have had experiences like that. Now, doesn’t that make you wonder for a second, if there is an afterlife of some sort that perhaps our limited human brains cannot grasp? Somewhere where other souls are able to pierce through to our subconscious (like through what can be termed, for lack of a better one, the Akashic Records, etc.)? I always keep a small part of my cosmology open to that possibility when things like this occur. Great post, as always and a cheerful one to start my day! ❤

    • colemining says:

      Thanks, Beth. The whole unfolding of the day made me feel cheery- glad I could pass on some of the good vibes.

      My worldview allows for the fact that I’m not ever going to know everything, so I’m okay with (some of) the mysterious things that crop up now and again. They continue to demonstrate the overwhelming power of community and foundational ties that provide so much meaning in my life. My mind is always open to possibilities like the collective unconscious and the Akashic Record- especially since these ideas reinforce the reality of our human interconnectedness.

      I love the traditional Irish music- we get to see a lot of it up here- especially in the Maritimes. I love the stories in the songs and the melancholy harmonies that invoke love and loss in often-equal measures. It reminds me of my childhood- and has nurtured my appreciation of the artists who play with and build upon the form(s) of the traditional songs.

      A dulcimer player! You are constantly revealing more and more layers of talent! Thanks, as always, for reading. xo

  5. I remember the odd and rather surreal feeling I got when I took a job in the financial district in San Francisco nearly 20 years ago and learned that my office was just a few blocks from where my grandfather had worked during World War II building Liberty Ships exactly 50 years earlier. The site was vacant by then, but I walked by it daily after getting off the commuter train. My grandfather was still alive at that point and it gave me an opportunity to talk with him about his experiences during the war.

    Toronto, of course, is a huge city and I find it rather amazing that you’re in the same building your father once worked in. If I wasn’t a big tough guy, I might even be a little moved emotionally.

    I hope knowing that you’re spending part of your days in the same place your father once worked helps recalls the good times you had together and a brings you a measure of solace. And thank you for helping me to recall my own special memories.

    • colemining says:

      CBC- another great story! There is such wonder in feeling a part of a place- both due to the relationships and memories we form and because of the historical connections we discover through our parents and grandparents. Going through the photos and documents at Dad’s has been like leafing through the history of the city (on Dad’s side we’ve been Torontonians for generations).

      This is really the place I most belong. I feel it all around me as I walk through town and I am able to identify places and buildings and streets and parks with memories of family members and friends.

      You’re right- it’s a pretty substantially-sized burg, with a whole lot of office buildings. It’s a little surreal- but in a very good (and admittedly emotional) way.

      The little things do help- and the fact that I feel a part of a positive and truly service-focused work environment (for the first time in far too long) which just happens to be in the same physical location where my Dad spent his working days providing for us and making difference in his own sphere of influence, well that’s just a little staggering in its awesomeness.

      Thank you for sharing some of your special memories- and your kind words. xo

      • That you for helping me to recall that special moment when I found out I was working just a short distance from where my grandfather had toiled two generations before. He and my father were/are the two people I respect most in the world so it was a special connection.

        Perhaps it’s not surprising that the position you recently obtained, in which you feel you’re making a truly positive contribution to society, is in the same building your father once worked. Sounds like the old building has a lot of good vibes, as my West Coast friends would say.

      • colemining says:

        There are certainly some pretty good vibrations in the ol’ building, CBC.

        Happy I could trigger some great memories of your connection to such an important person in your life. Love of family is one thing (and a wonderful thing, to be certain), but respect can be too easily overlooked. Like you, I was so veryvery lucky to have had both a father and grandfather who taught me the true meaning of the word.

  6. I just had to check with hubby there and, yup, memory served. I remembered him telling me that he had gone to see Donovan when he was in his twenties. Donovan would have been about six years older. According to Frank, Donovan came out, sat down on the floor near the front of the stage and played his way through a set, audience either totally silent or singing along with certain tunes. Almost like he had been sitting in your living room having a sing-song. Quite a different sort of concert.
    Simple Minds was my youngest sister’s favourite band for a long time and she was madly in love with Jim Kerr. She was just a teen at the time. She decided to ‘go off’ them for Lent one year, as that would be a major sacrifice for her! On the way home on the train she was listening to the radio or reading a paper and the news stated that Jim Kerr had married Chrissie Hynde. She came into the house very sombre-faced and announced that she was ok but that she wouldn’t have been had she not renounced him for Lent. She did make much of the fact, right enough, that he had been snatched by an older woman!
    It is so strange, Cole, the way the world turns and it’s incredible that you’re working in the very building your dad did. There is a marvellous synchronicity at work and it blesses in a wonderful way.
    Please be careful over the next wee while as grief has a strange way of resurfacing very strongly when you least expect it. And can take the feet from you.
    I’m so glad your job is proving to be so positive and making you happy. You deserve to be in a place where differences are made by action and words.x

    • colemining says:

      Oh Anne-Marie- I’m SO jealous of your hubbie! I’d LOVE to see Donovan live. I can imagine it would totally be like a kitchen ceilidh!

      Chrissie got the good ones- both Jim AND Ray Davies. Must have been some substance there. We still wax reminiscent about the Simple Minds show at Massey Hall this past September. Up there pretty high on the list (and it’s a fairly substantial list- I’ve seen A LOT of concerts) of all-time fave shows.

      It is strange- but there is such a comfort in the strangeness. As I said to CBC, this little episode of synchronicity/serendipity/coincidence/whatever has really reinforced the rightness I feel at being here, in Toronto. After so many years exiled from the stomping grounds, I really feel centred and ‘at home’ in my city by the lake. Idiot mayors notwithstanding (he’s in ‘rehab’, now. Did you hear? Still giving interviews though. After being denied entrance to the States… sigh. NOT going to let him ruin my good mood).

      Your concern is so lovely- and I’ve taken it on board. Having been through this with Mum, I remember how the moments can creep up out of nowhere and grab you by the heart. And it does knock you off your feet. I fully expect to spend some time as a basket case at some point. I’ve already warned my sisters about that little inevitability.

      It’s a good place. And there’s a sincere push to make it a great place. I’m hoping I can contribute to that growth and the underlying mandate that works for the betterment of all of us.

      Your stories and insights are wonderful and welcomed with arms wide open. And we’re getting a titch closer to setting the plan for our Fall visit… will keep you posted! xo

  7. So wonderful to be able to be in the presence of your dad during the day. Yes, serendipity was the work I was thinking of, too. Either way, I don’t think it was an accident that you’re there. Call it whatever you want, look at it from whatever world view, you were definitely meant to be there. So glad you seem to be finding passion and joy in your work again. Oh, and Donovan and Harry Chapin brought back lovely memories. Thanks!

    • colemining says:

      Thank you, Susan. I agree. It was a long time coming, but things are starting to move in some amazing directions- and the timing of all this is very much dancing ’round the ‘meant to be’ category. There is joy to be discovered- we just have to really figure out how to recognize it when we see it.

      Those are some incredible songs- by some incredible songsmiths. Glad they evoked some memories for you. xo

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