Smitten

Sometimes I get a little dark and heavy here.  But today I share this.  When I’m dreary or weary or sad I sometimes just watch this video.  The quality is lacking but everything else about this video brings a smile to my face.  For six years Greg taught at the Sacred Heart School of Montreal – an all-girls Catholic school in the heart of downtown.  Here he is surprising the graduating class of 2006 with “It’s the End of Your World As You Know It”…it took many hours of practice to get all those words squeezed into his brain and then spilled out of his mouth.

I just can’t help it – this video makes me smitten with the boy all over again.

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Reconciliation

Something deep inside me keeps detailed records of wrongs.  Granted, I tend to keep more meticulous records of the wrongs done to me than the wrongs I’ve done.  I despise this part of me.  I am overwhelmed by the weight of carrying those wrongs.  I desire on the deepest levels of myself to release them.  But I get stuck.  Paralyzed. Unsure that there actually is a way to release the wrongs.  There’s that teetering-on-trite expression “I can forgive but not forget…”

I think I know where it begins – reconciliation, forgiveness, restitution, the “righting” of “wrongs” – I think it probably begins with “I was wrong. I’m sorry.”  I’m just not sure where it goes from there or if there even is an end to the process.

When Ariel Castro died last month just one month into his life-plus-1000-years sentence I wondered if his death would heal or rip open the wounds of those he hurt. Public reactions were messy, ambivalent and intense.

When Sharlene heard the news that there were charges being laid against two suspects in the death of her husband, Tim, I wondered if some part of her doubted that “justice” would ever stand a chance.  I wondered if she already admitted to her heart that “justice” wouldn’t bring back her Tim.

When Ian Mosby tore the veil off a shameful and horrific moment in our not-too-distant Canadian past I wondered if finally now we might start an honest reconciliation.  I wondered if all the words that have been launched, whether to slur or defend or excuse or placate might finally be swept away and a new conversation could begin.

When I messed up a few weeks ago and really hurt my friend, I wondered what I could do to make it all right.  What words could I say that would express how very sorry I was, how deeply I understood my screw-up, how desperately I wanted to fix things? And then I accepted that my words would never be enough. A rift had settled between us.

How do we fix the broken places?  How do we grow trust in places where trust has been vacuated?  Because it’s a two-way street.  Sometimes it’s a crowded Parisian roundabout.  Someone to admit wrong.  Someone to say sorry.  Someone to hear the sorry.  Someone to believe the sorry.  Someone to know that a word can mean more than the sum of its letters.  Someone to step beyond words.  Someone to initiate a new plan. Someone to accept that the past is over. Someone to hope that the future can be different.

In the weeks and months to come here in Canada we are going to hear stories that will make us weep and feel sick and likely despair.  Because buried in the closet of our collective past are some very heinous memories.

Where we will look for and how we choose to build reconciliation…that’s something I wonder about too.

The Why of My On-Screen Words

More than once I’ve been asked why I keep a blog.  I imagine somewhere there are some highly researched answers to this – why people blog. It must be nearly the same question as why do people write in the first place?  I get that blogging’s not for everyone – neither as writers nor readers.  The thought of spilling your guts on a screen in front of you and then sending it out for anyone to read can be terrifying.  I experience that panic too.  That’s why my home screen is full of Drafts that only I can see so far.

But here’s why I write at this cyber place.  I write because words form out of my fingers in ways they can’t out of my mouth.  If you’ve ever tried to have an in-depth conversation with me about just about anything, you’ll know that the spoken word is not my forte.  I can say things in writing, I can express myself on the screen, in ways I cannot anyway else.  And through reading and writing many, many words, I’ve come to believe that connecting, in whatever way we are able to connect, is better than not connecting.  And so I write.  Sometimes I hit the Publish button.  Sometimes it’s the Save button.  Sometimes it’s Delete.  Sometimes I surprise or shock people.  Other times I bore people to tears.  I’m pretty sure that once or twice I’ve even lost a friend over what I’ve written.  That part is harder than I like to admit sometimes.  But I keep going with this blog at an uneven pace, convinced that the risk of sounding self-absorbed is worth the reward of sharing my world with those who choose to read.

Oh, and for what it’s worth, I happen to believe that words have power.

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Nostalgia: The Treehouse

It’s one of those days when I need to be writing with my academic hat on but it’s being blocked by other thoughts and words and memories.  In order to find room on my head for that hat, I’m spreading the other words out here.

This weekend was filled to overflowing with emotion.  My parents have decided that it’s time to make the move into condo living.  It’s a good and healthy decision and as their children we want to support the transition every way we can. They’ve found a beautiful spot on the Bay of Quinte and we know that it will afford them a rich quality of life as they ease further into retirement life.  Truth be told, we may have experienced a twinge or two of jealousy as we toured the property on Saturday afternoon, wondering whether it’s appropriate to fantasize about moving back in with our parents at our age…  

But for me it’s also an important personal moment – the Kirkland Treehouse as it’s been called was also a place I lived.  It was my home base as I made that tricky transition from childhood into adulthood.  I spent my last years of high school there and every subsequent trip “home” from university.  And the nostalgia billows up all around me when I think about the “remember whens”.  Parties and dinners and sleepovers and late-night studying and wine-laden confessions and first cigarettes and long autumn walks and not-exactly-clothed tanning sessions on the deck.  And love.  The falling into love.  The falling out of love.  The falling back into love.  The falling back out of love.  And in the not quite so ancient past, there has been the renewal of childhood dreams as the next generation of Kirklands has experienced holidays with the never-quite-straight-Kirkland-Christmas trees or the badly hidden Easter Eggs that were never part of their parents’ childhood or the newly inaugurated Thanksgiving Football Revival games.  

It’s amazing how much emotion can be tied to a bunch of brick and mortar assembled on a certain plot of land.  And it’s amazing how many people were welcomed (and perhaps a few unwelcomed) there.  This weekend I allowed the memories to catch me up in a cloud of nostalgia.  Eventually I’ll have to settle my feet back on the ground of the here and now.  But maybe that can wait until tomorrow.  

If you have a story about the Kirkland Treehouse that you’d like to share, I’m hoping to compile a mini-anthology to accompany Marg and Kent on their move.  And don’t worry – we asked and then breathed a sigh of relief –  they are getting professional movers so you don’t have to worry about being roped into packing, carrying or loading boxes!

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