This post contains scenes of nature therapy, art therapy and memories of teenage love.
First, let’s pay tribute to a talented actress and songbird, Olivia Newton-John who recently passed away at the age of 73 after a long battle with cancer.
The summer of 1978 was one of adventure and romance for me and my best friend. We met cute boys whose families owned cottages on Georgian Bay. The days and nights were full of giggles, kisses and hopes. I remember exchanging letters and pining for my American boyfriend months after his family returned home and everyone fell back into weekly routines. I held onto the sweet memories for months until they were buried and cooled by the winter’s snow. We saw each other the following summer, only in passing, exchanging polite greetings.
Fast forward to summer nights occupied with glamorous household chores, mellowing out with TV sitcoms, and adjusting fans to cool off my sweaty, menopausal body. Some of the perspiration is caused by frustrations with a geriatric Cat.
Closing off a well-appreciated vacation week, I recently joined members of my Rotary club and a dear friend for a forest therapy guided tour of nearby woods. It was refreshing to get outdoors plus meet people whose faces I had only seen on the screen during Zoom meetings.
I admit to hugging a tree during this event. I struggled to quiet my busy mind that constantly needs to identify and classify my surroundings.
One daily activity this past week was to evolve a piece of art as homage to one of my favourite, underappreciated artists. It also provided me with mindless dotting of colours while watching TV or listening to music with a really good beat.
With water bottle, granola bars and sun hat ready yesterday, I set out on public transit to cross the river to la belle province – specifically to Gatineau, Quebec.
The Jacques Cartier Park lineup to get in and past security was very long. I didn’t realize until after I took what looked like a clear passage on a side road that I was cutting into the line. I apologized to the people beside me, using my confusion as an excuse.
It was an impressive exhibit.
There were dozens of sculptures artistically made with plants, depicting different stages in Canada’s history. The exhibit took us back in time to the First Nations, the voyageurs and early settlers.
Due to the crowds of people in the way and my short stature, I could not find the time or patience to stop and take photos of all the displays. I adored them with my eyes and stored the images, my reaction and appreciation for them in my short-term memory bank.
Crowds of humans adoring Mother Earth
The main attraction, pièce de résistance was Mother Earth. As I took shaded shelter under the trees before merging into that long queue, I overheard a security guard saying to people resting on the grass, “Move faster. Move faster!”
I can understand that they wanted to keep bodies moving and make room for the hundreds of others waiting at the entrance. It just seemed ironic that we were being rushed and not allowed the time to stop, to reflect and appreciate the magnificence of the scene.
It was ironic to see Mother Earth set with a backdrop of high-rise buildings. Perhaps it was complimentary in that we can learn to balance our desire for progress and modern expansion with a respect for nature and the ancient traditions.
Mother Earth in the city
Did I achieve my objectives?
I pushed myself to venture into a crowded public place. Alone.
I took pictures with my smart phone but I also took time just to admire the art, to observe other people and eavesdrop on their conversations, their reactions to the exhibit.
Since I went alone, I was on my own schedule and was able to set my own pace (except when getting swept into the flow past some displays and jammed still at others).
Today it’s raining. I shall stay in my humble home to putter with houseplants, to reflect and write, to cook a batch of meaty pasta sauce.
I changed the C cell batteries in my Zen Alarm clock. Once again it makes a loud and proud chime in the key of E rather than a dull thud. It had been almost three years since I coveted and acquired it.
When I look back at my observations, writing and personal growth since then, it seems that things haven’t improved in our outer world. It’s like we’re stuck in some ambitious, testosterone-fueled cycle. I know I have been working on myself. What about the rest of the world, for Pete’s sake?!
I changed, edited the quote on that poster from:
“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.” — Dalai Lama
“We can only obtain peace in the outer world once we make peace with ourselves.”
I felt the quote could use a positive injection – for so many reasons.
That’s a bold prediction from someone so naturally fair of skin and hair.
I am okay with that possibility.
First, I can say that because I have brown offspring from a mixed marriage. In my eyes and their doting Aunties’, these children were beautiful, intelligent and well-behaved.
I was often oblivious to the colour of my children’s skin yet experienced some strange looks and comments when we were out in public. The most humorous and innocent was when a child at the local park asked if I was their babysitter.
Yes, they have met challenges with finding their identity, their place in society. They adapted. They survived. Some of them identify as Black or POC (Person of Colour). None of them have adopted urban stereotypes nor have they been in trouble with the law.
To me, they are beautiful humans, the next generation. I raised them to be positive contributors to their community and to society. They know how to speak up when they see injustices. They too will make beautiful babies if they so choose or can afford to raise a family in this precarious economy.
In the 90s, I grooved to this song from Michael Jackson. It spoke to me – except for the beginning featuring a loud, dysfunctional family then the parts where MJ is grabbing his genitals, smashing up a parked car and vandalizing empty store windows. Apparently, the main body of the “Black or White” short film reflects the song’s lyrical plea for racial and cultural unity. That message was lost on me into the eight minute mark. I think MJ also wanted to express issues with father figures, the automotive industry, consumerism and colonialism.
You will be thankful I found the shortened version.
My second posit is that my white, blond son from an earlier relationship chose to marry a lovely woman of Asian origin. I see that he inherited the “non-conformist” gene as well as the blond one.
Their children are beautiful. My grandchildren are beautiful.
It was comments I heard years ago from a stand-up comedian that stuck with me and inspired me to draft this blog entry.
Quoting Paul Rodriguez, “One hundred years from now, our children’s children… everybody’s going to be Filipino”
(Start at 1:30)
I’m okay with that.
Regardless of their skin colour or which version of the Creator they honour, I have hopes for my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren and those to follow.
I hope the shared traits of humanity such as compassion will calm the fear and hatred of those feeling threatened. Is it possible that the good ole boys are scared? Are they trying to protect their heritage, their culture?
Why did it take public outrage at his initial comments for Tweetle-Dum to finally denounce the white supremacists?
Let’s remember that this continent was occupied by other people thousands of years before those European colonizers and immigrants arrived with their ships.
The first people had a respect for the power of nature, the seasons, the animals they hunted for food. They hunted out of necessity, not for sport. We could learn from the First Nations about living in harmony with nature and planning seven generations ahead.
It’s going to be a struggle but people will learn that harmonious survival of the human race and Mother Earth is more important than skin colour, religious dogma and power. At the basic root, we need to ensure clean air, water and arable land.
Here are some changes i would like to see in our gently blended future:
Muscle cars and air-polluting auto racing will no longer exist. Neither will fossil fuels.
Reusable energy from the sun, wind and oceans will power our needs.
People will be educated, active and civil. We will see a return to public discourse and philosophical discussions.
Artists will be respected and supported regardless of their eccentricities ;-^
The fashion industry will reuse materials and will not be so frivolous and wasteful. We will do away with stilettos, latex and skinny jeans.
There will challenges with how we define culture.
Some people may still want to pierce their body parts, tattoo their skin and dye their hair to stand out, to show their individualism or create a sense of belonging in some form of neo-tribalism. Some may try to appear so unique as to bleach their hair blonde. I hope the chemicals don’t harm their brain cells or our ecosystem as a result.
If we deplete and pollute this planet to the point of no recovery and have to spread out into the galaxy, to meet and rely on other species, I just hope we can still celebrate and respect diversity.
What was the point of the series? Celebrating diversity. Here’s Star Trek creator, Gene Roddenberry, explaining: pic.twitter.com/toaFoGQNXx