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.

Anyhoo…

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.

Seriously.

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.

Yep.

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.

Brilliant.

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.

Cottage on the Bay

What’s up with the weather gods in TO?

Seriously.

Tuesday and Wednesday we were dealing with temperatures hovering around 40 degrees (that’s about 100 degrees Fahrenheit if you’re still using that quaint means of measuring) when the humidity was factored in.

Today?  Chilly north wind.  Tomorrow?  CHILLIER north wind.

And I’m going to be on a rock in the middle of the Bay.  About 2 degrees Celsius overnight.  TWO DEGREES.

I’m not ready for summer to end, so, despite the less-than-ideal temperature, I will do the true Canadian thing and head north this afternoon for an annual pilgrimage with some of my best peeps.

We try to do this every year.  A couple of nights away, sans spouses/significant others, to just hang out and catch up a little.

We have known each other for decades (as I both date myself and make myself feel old) and have been hanging out through thick and thin- camp, school, higher education, marriages, divorces, kids, houses, jobs, great gains and huge losses and, generally, life.  As friends, roommates, brothers, sisters, confidant(e)s…

We’re family.

We are privileged to have access to a family cottage/compound on Georgian Bay that SCREAMS Canada.

A September Gale by Arthur Lismer
We will likely experience a gale or two over the next couple of days

Georgian Bay is filled with landscapes that are quintessentially Canadian.  It was a popular subject of the Group of Seven, and such images are, internationally and here at home, as Canadian as toques and two-fours, poutine and politesse.  There will be certainly be two-fours this weekend, and toques might be advisable- given the forecast.  Poutine isn’t as likely, but the politesse is ingrained and therefore a given.

Of a sort, anyway.  Good manners and polite discourse are relative when you’re on an island and there is beer and barbeque involved.

And then there’s the Bay Cup.  That annual Risk Tournament that I mentioned here.  As I said, I will not participate due to a past traumatic Risk-related occurrence- except to occasionally pop my head in to goad or slander or critique the strategy of one of the combatants.  Unfortunately the defender of the Championship Title (and current Keeper of the Cup) is not able to join us this year, so it remains to be seen whether or not the battle can legitimately be waged.  It will be up to the Rules Committee.

Whatever.

I have my cottage book lined up (sadly, not Ray Davies’ new one- but only because it isn’t yet available).  Jian Ghomeshi’s 1982 is solid CanCon and highly appropriate for a real Canadian cottage weekend.  Plus I passed him on the street the other day as he was on his way into the CBC studio.  Reminded me that I’ve been meaning to read the book.

There will be food and games and talking and general shenanigans.

And there will be music.

The cottage weekend has to be finely mediated in the musical department.  No one person gets to control the selection for more than 5 songs at a time (this is veryvery necessary.  No one needs to hear 48 straight hours of Phish.  No one).  This keeps the peace- which is certainly required after the full contact Risk Tourney.

Early on there is all kinds of variety as we all offer up some of the newer stuff we’ve been listening to recently.  A lot of attempting to persuade those of, shall we say, established tastes to just listen to this song- give it a chance.  We start off with choices that are generally chill and part of the background to whatever else is going on.

As the stars come out (and there is NOTHING like a clear night under the stars at the Bay) music is the focus, and the selections become more nostalgic- and predictable.  The comfort in the predictability is palpable.  Years fall away as the selections are chosen.

The fire will be stoked (‘Stoke the fire again’, a quote from Commander Worf, will be heard ad nauseum) and the singalong will begin.

These are some of the songs of the Bay.

Donovan.  I have only ever met a handful of people who have actually heard this song.  Everyone knows Mellow Yellow and Hurdy Gurdy Man, but you can really tell a lot about a person by what they think about Atlantis.  If you don’t like it, I’m really not sure we can be friends anymore.

Harsh, but there it is.

(I’ve actually used this song in classes in which we were discussing myths of Atlantis.  The reactions of undergraduate students to hearing it for the first time is always illuminating- and pretty accurate in gauging how ultimately invested in the course they would be.  It’s a pretty solid litmus test.)

Futurama used a version of the song- sung by Donovan himself- about the sinking of Atlanta.  Hilarious episode.  I’m going to miss that show. Again.

History, life and love under the waves.

Ultimate cottage song.

Kenny.

This song is mainly included as a source of remembered silliness.  Short version of connected back story: it involved someone wearing a woven basket-like plant holder as a hat.  There might have been alcohol involved.

It IS filled with good advice though.  SO important to ‘know when to walk away and know when to run.’  Great inspiration when one is feeling like one is ‘out of aces’.

Simple Minds’ 1982 tune is connected with this year’s reading material and recalls summers past while reminding us of the wonderful things yet to come.  Like their show at Massey Hall in October.  Looking back and forward all in one song.

I’ve already referenced this song this month, so I won’t talk about it again.  But it will be heard.  More than once.

The Last Resort, also previously discussed and best played as the sun is setting, is especially resonant when appreciated in the beauty and quiet and peace of the Lake.  Its cautionary message- ‘You call someplace paradise kiss it goodbye’– makes my heart hurt thinking that THAT particular paradise could ever be lost.

This one generally ends the night(s).

Appropriate since it’s the song that never ends.  Don’t get me wrong.  I can appreciate Phish and all, but this song is sooooo very long.

(I will totally understand if you don’t actually watch that one all the way through.)

And, if we let them, there are those among us who will try to play back-to-back various live versions of the song as their 5 selections.  Not on my watch.

It will be a weekend of relaxation and shoring up of resources- something I very much need right now- with people I love and respect- and who never cease to make me laugh and think about things differently than is my day-to-day wont.

A weekend to remind myself just how fortunate we are.  How fortunate I am.  To live in Canada and to have the friends and family I have.

Hope your weekend is as restful and restorative as mine is sure to be.