Thursday, October 22, 2015

Runnin' errands

I haven't posted much lately. We bloggers come, and we go.

Some of the going is voluntary, some is imposed.

I have come to the end of some roads. Other roads beckon.

If I was a commuter, now I run errands. Like a run to Costco last week, to buy new cordless phones.

When once I had dedicated riding time, twice a day, over a fairly good distance, now all my riding is discretionary. Let me tell you, that makes a huge difference.

I am definitely at a crossroads. Picture the scene in North by Northwest.
Cary Grant's character is left at a crossroads in the middle of nowhere.
Kind of like that, only not with a murderous crop duster to threaten my life.

I am waiting. Waiting for our house to sell. Waiting to move to Toronto. Waiting to move past the crossroads. Kind of stuck in neutral, as the world around me slowly turns, as the leaves turn, as the sun becomes shy and tentative, and the mercury dips.

I need to re-invent my life. It's a good thing, really. But it seems to want a pause at the crossroads. A time to reflect, to imagine myself as just me. Not a cog in someone else's loom.

I don't think I have ever been this way in the past. Before I started school, I wandered the world wherever my parents took me. When school let me loose, I started a career that consumed more and more and more of my time. Now I am almost totally free. Free to choose a direction, free to spend my time as I wish. Free to devote myself in a way that fulfills my desires. To call the shots.

But I need to be still, at least for a while. My body and my mind need time to adjust. Getting here has meant a lifetime of work, and the last eighteen years have been the most demanding of my career. I'm not yet ready to launch anew.

During my downtime I have had to make good on some professional commitments: presiding a national convention, sitting on an expert panel in front of an audience of my peers, participating on a fact-finding mission, chairing a board of directors meeting.

My mind has resented the effort. Like a horse set free on the range might resent the bridle and the bit. Yet the thrill of re-engagement with the world of my profession is a prize that is more than worth the effort.

The resentment I felt at having to stand and deliver, is receding. The prospect of re-engagement is beginning to stir my imagination. I know I must choose wisely. Fifty-hour-plus weeks are no longer needed to pay the bills, and for that I am so very thankful.

Bear with me as I begin my struggle to re-emerge.

That is not the last word.

Politicians get the last word, as they often do.

I truly believe that Canada is the best place on the planet, truly I do. But we sometimes fail to live up to our enormous potential. Canadians have a tremendous ability to reach out, to stand as eloquent examples of the meaningful contributions to mankind that are possible when you dare to embrace possibility and face risk squarely, bravely, armed with principles and open to the future.

I speak out on politics very rarely.

I felt compelled to speak out against Quebec's sad flirtation with xenophobia and cultural isolation. The electorate slammed that chapter shut in the most compelling way and restored my faith in this province.

Our federal government had been treading down a path that was almost as dispiriting as that of their Quebec counterparts.

Divisive politics, attack ads, anti-Muslim rhetoric, deeply undemocratic behaviour that turned our federal government into a monolith hiding behind a wall of muzzled parliamentarians and civil servants bound and gagged. Claiming to be tough on crime, yet steadfastly handicapping and undermining law enforcement and the judiciary at every turn. Putting our armed forces in harm's way, then forsaking wounded veterans to the point where many could only find solace in suicide.

The Canadian electorate has restored my faith once more. We have vigorous new leadership, and Justin Trudeau, a prime minister-elect set to govern openly, with uncompromising principles, and the courage to do the right thing, rather than appealing to baser instincts.

The sun shines brightly both literally and metaphorically from coast, to coast, to coast.

Life is very good, and set to get better still.

O Canada!

28 comments:

  1. Good description of being at the crossroads in the middle of nowhere. I also really had few plans beyond a longish road trip through western Canada and the Pacific Northwest. I find my days busy enough.

    I hope change comes to your sooner rather than later.

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    1. Thanks Richard.

      Busy is always good. I need to decide on a path for the foreseeable future that will satisfy some modest financial needs, and allow me to make a contribution to society. The main obstacle is that the future lies in Toronto, and our house stands between us and the move.

      It's a good opportunity to recharge our batteries and take stock.

      Loved your road trip. I have something much more modest in mind. There are a lot of moving parts, and a number of people to enlist, including the relatively famous Mr. Williams.

      I have been dropping hints. Eventually I'll shift into actual planning mode.

      Your example is an inspiration Richard.

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  2. David, I'd say you had quite a bit too much on your plate lately, and it con only be good and healthy to sit for a while at the crossroads before making the next move.

    Enjoy your downtime, your mind will take you into the next whirlwind of projects and ideas before you realise it ;-)

    Good luck with selling the house.

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    1. Oh, and as for the election outcome: Go, Canada!

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    2. Thanks for the kind words Sonja.

      Thunderbird is now in storage at my Montreal dealer. I noticed that the Stebel airhorn has a case of Laryngitis. It has a slight forward lean that probably encouraged it to ingest some foreign matter, likely a combination of dust and water. Next spring I'll have a look and figure things out.

      Before picking it up in the spring, likely mid April, it will get a thorough tune-up and a new front tire. Probably engine guards and some driving lights.

      That gives you plenty of time to make plans for 2016.

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    3. Sounds great, David. Looking forward to next year ;-)

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  3. Hard to be patient when you are wanting the move so much.

    I was wondering what our neighbors to the north were thinking of the election results. After being in Oregon for nearly 15 years we are a little disconnected. If it wasn't so darn expensive I am sure we would have stayed, and every once in a while toy with the idea of a return.

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    1. Brandy, you are not the only ones toying with the idea of a return ;-)

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    2. Brandy, Canada is certainly expensive relative to the US, but, as with most things, you get used to it, and it just works. That wouldn't be a reason to return of course.

      The important thing is to maximize opportunities for happiness. In our case, we are moving to be closer to family, and crossing our fingers for some little ones in the not too distant future.

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    3. Sonja, it has to be a challenge to feel ties to places so far apart. You and Roland are now kind of citizens of the world. I envy people like you who have the ability to live wherever you like in either the EU or Canada. I know that there is more to the equation than nationality, and that acquiring the right to live abroad is not the biggest or most daunting hurdle.

      Still, you and Roland could play your hand wisely and establish modest bases here and there, and arrange your work so that location is less important.

      I look forward to seeing how it plays out for you.

      Know that you have a pied à terre here, and the means to get around. That's a start.

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  4. Canada’s recent political goings-on even made their way into the regular news reports here in the US: For a moment they miraculously rose above the demented noise from Hollywood, the thunder of various international implosions, and the nauseating drone of our own political circus and its bloated clown car of “candidates”.

    Xenophobia is one of humankind’s greatest ills, and it seems to lead too quickly and too easily to some of humankind’s greatest atrocities. The world now is simply too small a place for xenophobia to ever again be a successful national identity—it can only sink a nation, will never again be able to raise one.

    Best of luck with your crossroads, David… I’m interested to know what direction(s) you take.

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    1. Thanks Ry.

      The stumbling block here is women who wear the Niqab, a head and face covering that reveals only the wearer's eyes.

      I understand how unsettling that can be, especially since it's so rare here. Because it relates to women, and because it's related to Muslim culture, it raises all sorts of concerns, from the status of women and women's rights, through public security, and the extent to which anyone in western society ought to be permitted to routinely conceal their identity in public.

      The fact is that many of those concerns are overblown. They are legitimate issues, but there are concerns whether or not women choose to veil their faces. Veiled women may be suffering from a loss of autonomy and personal freedom, just as many non-veiled women may similarly suffer. The veil, in and of itself is little more than an artifact.

      We would do better to devote the state's resources to stemming the well-documented tide of violence against native and aboriginal women here, than ruling against the Niqab at citizenship ceremonies.

      Yet the Conservative government chose to rule on the Niqab and soft pedal the plight of first nations' women.

      Now that's low-brow, it's dim-witted, it's short-sighted, it's inhuman, and it allows a despicable culture of violence to claim ever more victims while the state looks the other way.

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  5. Interesting time of life, isn't it? I'm not there yet, but I'm at the point of seeing it on the horizon. Have to make plans too. It's wonderful to have choices, but....which ones?

    Hope you get settled well. Happy for you, with the exception of one less reason to vist Montreal. OTOH, Toronto is closer.....

    I was thrilled to see the election results. Seems like you got a good man. Maybe some Canadian sensibility will drift southward.

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    1. Dave it's always an honor and a pleasure when you drop in for a visit.

      I hope that one day our paths will cross. Perhaps moving five hours west will be a step in that direction.

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  6. Yes, we bloggers come and go :^) Changes. Always changes.

    I, too, was grateful at the election results. The insanity continues here. I don't see a happy end to it. Still, we go on.

    Commuting does keep one on the rode. I am riding my twice a day and loving it. Routine is my friend.

    I wish you well through this time of change. I have confidence it will sort itself just find.
    ~k

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    1. Keith you are a sight for sore eyes!

      I am so pleased that this post teases you out of the woodwork.

      Send me your e-mail address if you care to, and I'll add you to my short list of wonderful folks: david@masse.org

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  7. Welcome to the world of the retired. I found myself at those same crossroads some time ago, with lots of time on my hands, trying to decide whether to re-engage in the business world I knew so well, or look further afield for my inspiration. I chose the latter and have never looked back. But it took a good year or more to become comfortable with that decision.My only advice would be: don't rush it.
    As for the election, I avoided blogging about it here but was pretty vocal on FB and my other blog. Cost me a few friends I think, but Harper's divisive politics was so damaging to Canada we had no choice but to kick him to the curb. I'm looking forward to Trudeau's leadership and hope he can maintain his openness and vision once Ottawa sinks her hooks into him.

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    1. Dave I read your posts. Very well written, eloquent, and sentiments I completely endorse and agree with.

      If they cost you friends, perhaps the value of the friendships was something you can bear with equanimity.

      We'll see how steadfast Trudeau will be. I'll bet that he sticks to his guns. He comes from strong stock.

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  8. I've seen bloggers come and go. A lot go and I can imagine lots of reasons. I've entertained it more than once myself, especially when I lose track of why I'm blogging. I like standing at a crossroad -- literally and figuratively -- because choices and change make my life richer. And I enjoy the mystery of what's over the rise, around the bend and beyond the horizon. I know I may not always like what I find but I'm more alive in the process.

    Politics. I've grown cynical and disinterested over the years and more liberal at the same time. Having abandoned commercial television and cable over 20 years ago and a general avoidance of most of the news has become habit. And the rest of the time I'm suspect of the growing propaganda and misinformation from every side of every issue and simplistic views of the most complex issues.

    Oh well...

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    1. Steve I'm truly enjoying the crossroads. The irony is that I've been a little too busy.

      If there's one thing I really enjoy it's writing. The weird thing is that I'm actually writing less, just because other things have been conspiring to fill the days. I'm slowly making progress though,things are sorting themselves out.

      As for politics, I am more often disappointed than pleasantly surprised. That said, for perhaps the first time in living memory, Montreal has a great straight-shooting dynamic mayor, the Quebec premier is a good man looking after business without drama, and our new Prime Minister shows every sign of being truly exceptional.

      Things are definitely looking up.

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  9. Dave, looks like you got a few comments on this post, but since I am lazy and in the middle of the desert a 45C I am not going to read them all now.

    Just wanted to let you know that after we get Donald Trump elected and he builds that fence to keep you guys out of the States, things in Canada will back to the way they used to be.

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    1. Too funny Ken!

      From our perspective, all The Donald needs is a decent running mate. Rob Ford is free!

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  10. David, the early days of retirement can be tough, but soon you will find your way forward.

    I do hope your house sells in the new future. You have family in Toronto, and I am looking forward to being able to invite you to our place in Mississauga.

    It's always nice to be able to show new folks the roads around here, so let's think about that for the springtime.

    See you soon I hope.

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    1. Thanks Ed. We're getting a little more traction, but the holidays are looming and by early December we can expect the market to stall untill the new year.

      It's just a question of time though.

      I'll definitely take you up on your offer to show me where to find the GTA's best roads.

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  11. Don't know what to say. I'm just glad Canada has crappy weather otherwise there would be a 150 million sensible people clamoring for asylum from the madness down here. I think its been a couple of days since the last public shooting and my colleague who needs his tonsils out faces a $3000 bill- the part his insurance won't pay. Freedom!

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    1. Michael the US is still rightly seen as a place of great opportunity. The EU has an extremely generous healthcare safety net, and excellent vacation allowances as well. Canada is somewhere in between the two.

      I've heard people in Italy, France, Spain, the UK, and Switzerland moan about a lack of opportunity in Europe. And life in the EU can be very tough for the disenfranchized from south asia, the middle east, and Africa.

      It's true though that without much of a safety net, life in the US can turn against a middle class family in a hurry, which is unlikely to happen here.

      I'm still looking forward to riding to Key West ;)

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  12. David you are so lucky to be able to ponder the crossroads. So many Canadians don't have the resources or the health to do so. Enjoy it.

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  13. David, don't of it so much as a crossroads and more like intersecting paths. Relax a bit and eventually you will be just as busy as ever. Hopefully at some point we can catch up to each other one day. I've been so busy lately blogging has been taking a back seat to a lot of stuff. Also the election had me transfixed for 78 days and at times was making me downright mad, i have never seen such divisive politics and racism being played out. I am hoping for change, but the leader is only as strong as his party and the people who elected him and their continued support. PM Trudeau isnt going to get it all right, but I think he will try exceptionally hard. I faintly hear the music of the soft sounds of Camelot drifting through the air.

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