Monthly Archives: September 2015

The marathon of life.

Last week was the Montreal marathon, a 26 miles running event. As they ran on my street, I was taken back 10 to 15 years in the past when I was still running these races. Nostalgia gripped me. Seeing all those runners grimacing in pain, I went straight to my closet and fished out all those medals that they give to the finishers. I pored over my diplomas certifying that I had indeed finished this mythical distance.

Most medals that I received have stood the test of time as they still look very good and were probably made with a bronze alloy. The medals that I had won afterwards fared a lot less well, as some of them darkened to a dark chocolate tint. This was no doubt due to the fact that the quality of the organization that organized the race declined somewhat. Money was tight.

Of course medals are nice but those who run these races do it for other reasons; to accomplish something that even today is considered hard or to exert persistence in the face of adversity. To show your mettle.

Once you finish the race you always think of next year, of setting new goals. However, I rarely was able to beat my times. But of course, one had to wait a sufficient amount of time for the pain to subside and the memory of it to diminish somewhat. The marathon is a beast that demands a lot and a good training for such an event demands 50 to 60 miles per week. A hard sell if you have to work physically hard as well, as was my situation for many years.

Of course I did my best, trying to cheat my way into better times by doing more cycling during my training period. But to improve in running you simply have to run more and more and better. No shortcuts there.

When you think about it, life is pretty much like a marathon race. You have to be in there for the long run. You have to persist in the face of pain, and despite all your best plans sometimes you do not make it to the finishing line.


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The fall of a giant.

It was a tall tree and quite old as I could not remember a time when it was not there. It held a lofty place in the botanical garden, right besides one of the ponds. People sat under its shade, dragging their long chairs to evade the sun.

It probably had died a few years ago but no one had noticed I guess, except the garden officials I suppose. I noticed one day that there were no leaves hanging from its branches. I assumed that it was dead but still, the surrounding wildlife made use of it. Birds of prey such as hawks and falcons would sit high in its branches surveying the pond. Herons would use it to probably look for the fishes in it. Ordinary birds of all sorts would use its branches. It was a big tree, and the shade it produced was enormous. Ducks would sit under it and sleep, with one eye open.

It all ended yesterday.

I had arrived at my usual time, around 07:00 in the morning. I passed by the pond and looked at the tree on the other side. It was there, looking massively as it always had. I scanned its branches for sign of wildlife but there was none. Perhaps the birds knew what was coming.

I continued my route walking along my favourite trail. At times I could hear a strange noise, as if one million mosquitoes were buzzing far away. Little did I know that the tree was being felled at that moment.

I returned around 08:00 in the vicinity of the pond and as I looked for the tree, I noticed an empty place. It was horrible, like a scar on the surroundings. The tree was no more. It was in the process of being pulverized by another machine specially used for that purpose. The noise was deafening.

I did not walk over to the area in question, preferring to continue on my path and silently cursing those who had authorized this desecration. Today however I thought that I should look at the stump and try to count the rings. I was amazed that even after 60 there were more rings. This tree must have been between 70 and 100 years old. At least it had been standing for that long.

Of course the administrators of the garden would have declared this a security issue. What if branches had fallen and had hit people? What if a strong gust of wind had uprooted it and killed someone in the process? All valid questions. But I would have liked a less radical solution. Perhaps a good pruning of the branches could have been sufficient.

It is probable that another tree will be planted in this exact location once the stump is removed. But I will never see it as it will be, except perhaps in my imagination.This will be a tree for future generations to enjoy.

I think that at times, some of us are very much like that old tree; looking still very much alive from the outside but dead from the inside. And yet, we still can be useful to society in general. All we need is a good pruning of our outlandish ideas perhaps.

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Letting go.

We always seem to be fighting yesterday’s battles. We remember that day when we came up with the short end of the stick and we are still trying to fix it, even if it is long past fixing. We try to imagine ways where we could have won this or that argument with someone, but that someone forgot that battle a long time ago and yet you have not. Losing that argument still rankles you. If only you had done this or that, or had said things differently.

We do the best we can at the time that things happen, and that is all. Letting go is essential if we want to move forward. Unfortunately for us our ego has trouble forgetting losing an argument. Of course, this depends on how big is your ego, for if some have it under control, others are beyond reigning it. Think Donald Trump for example. Some of us have long memories, and that is to our disadvantage.

I am no different than anyone else as I too, sometimes, have a long memory and unfortunately I seem to remember all too well when I was wronged by someone. I would say that it feels worse when it involves family matters. It is hard to forget and forgive in those situations but we must if we want to move forward. We just have to let go, and let the past be the past.

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Despicable, heartless and soulless.

By now everyone has seen the picture of that little boy, only three years old, dead on a Turkish beach. He was trying to find freedom from danger along with his dad, his mother and another brother. Only the dad survived.

When one looks at the reaction of the European countries, one can only feel revulsion. Who opened their hearts and their borders to these refugees? Turkey, Greece, and Italy. To which one can add tiny Belgium and mighty Germany. Turkey has already admitted two million of them. Turkey, a Muslim country, is stepping up to the plate and showing the way, shaming in the process so called Christian countries who only offer bureaucratic excuses. Shame on them.

It was most interesting for me to see the reactions of Britain, Hungary, Australia and Canada. Of the four, only Hungary is not a rich country. And yet, its Prime Minister openly despised these migrants. One thing to note, is that all four of these governments are conservative.

Britain until a few days ago was steadfast in its refusal to admit more people. Australia is in my opinion one of the worst offenders; it even pays those same captains bringing the migrants in to go back from where they come from. The policy of Australia is to refuse all these migrants. Shameful.

And what about Canada, my home country? I am ashamed of the reaction of my Prime Minister. We were supposed to admit 10,000 Syrians over four years, but so far, only 1000 had been admitted. The reason is simple; too much bureaucracy, the favourite tool of these deadbeat governments.

I am ashamed to be a Canadian when I hear my Prime Minister say that the best way to stop the migrants exodus….is to win the war against Isis! As if bombing from 30,000 feet will solve the problem. In the meantime people are dying on the open seas.

In the 1970’s Canada flew to the rescue of the boat people, those Vietnamese citizens fleeing their ravaged country. We even sent ships to pick them up. More than 40,000 thousand of them came to Canada, without even proper papers. And why was that? Because when people are dying, you don’t ask for paperwork. Only a mindless bureaucrat would ask for that. It seems that we have them in spades here.

One cannot pass over the fact that the Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar have accepted no refugees. None. Despite the fact that they are Muslims as well. All of these leaders are heartless and soulless. It hurts to see my Prime Minister in that group.

If you are a Canadian, you can change things by voting on October 19, vote for those migrants who would love one day to vote too in our country. Vote for change.

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