Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Collapsed in the act of just being here

"Wanderlust." by my new friend, Aleks Rdest

It's been a dreadfully long time since I posted last. I think this blog has become a sort of cross-section into my thinking, which has lately been like a swinging door. . . (a phrase I steal from Sarah Harmer). Work has consumed most of my time, but I've managed to fit life into the holes and craters it leaves in its glacial retreat.

I read in George Orwell's Why I Write, of a simple adoration of the world: "So long as I remain alive and well I shall continue to love good prose, the surface of the earth, and to take pleasure in solid objects and scraps of useless information."

~Here, a scrapbook of recent moments, favourite and found~

I am in a park by my house, at 37th and Prince Edward. One of the city's many parks, dogs running free, flurries of white, black, brown. Above me a metal sculpture bearing these words:
"This city now doth like a garment wear
the beatuy of the morning;
silent, bare.
Ships, towers, domes, theatres
and temples lie open
Unto the fields,
and to the sky."

The harshness of steel and chain-link grasping those jewels so humbly. There are many hidden treasures here, artistic flourishes, as if Vancouver were a great canvas.

An old man pushes his walker towards me, and slows down, as if to indicate his plea for company.

"I do this every day if I can," he said.

Those words will remain with me, I will carry them through my day. He was speaking of his daily amble, his morning mustering of strength. I am speaking them now as a collective mantra. A reminder to be grateful for even our footsteps. Life, something we do every day, if we can. And when we can't, there's a host of help at our bidding.


I am on my bike, riding towards Stanley Park. It is the two-week anniversary of my acquaintance with this ocean-skirted city and I have not yet dipped a toe in its hem. I come off the Burrard St. bridge, dart under a loud overpass, and am met with a vast blueness. The sun shoots off the rippling waves, the brightness staving off the hunger of my eyes. I cannot look until they adjust.

I've picked the perfect music for this occasion--Air's Talkie Walkie album. The ocean is mine, the tourists disappear and the afternoon sun leaves my skin tasting like the ocean.


A few days later I have the chance to see the city from the sky. A friend visiting from Toronto joins me for a climb up Mt. Seymour. I feel for once as if there's been a reversal. Place envelopes us, but up in the sky, it becomes ours to hover over.


Malani and I were recently priviledged enough to have an honourary 3rd wheel for a week. Aleks is an artist in Toronto, and her beautiful ethereal paintings can be viewed at www.aleksrdest.com. Aleks introduced us to the Vancouver art scene as we tagged along with her to SWARM, an open-house festival of sorts, of small artist-run centres. The evenings we spent roaming back-door galleries and drinking free wine reminded me of the truly healing effects of art. Standing before it, endeavouring to speak of it, to defend taste and beauty, to simply appreciate what most would never take the time to create. One local artist in particular, Leah Bridges, mesmerized me with her monochromatic series of dream-like scapes. The way she celebrated solidity and airyness at the same time reminded me of how we often try to shape or understand the present with the smudgy shapes of the past.


St. John's Shaughnessy Anglican Church, Sunday, Sept. 18th. I have gone from worshipping with a family to being on the outskirts once again. I now look into the ring of fellowship from a place of uncertainty, rather than dance around the fire at its centre. I wonder how we've come to the point where "church (s)hopping" is so commonplace, so acceptable, so encouraged, even. We are hestitant decide, to commit, or, heaven forbid, to stay too long and not be challenged anymore. I realize there are times to move on, and I have done it many times myself. I can't help but wonder though, at the effect of being exposed to so many faith options. Something in it seems flat, empty, random.

The congregation is at worship, a lively mix of two traditions I have known intimately. Hymns are sung in a celebratory timbre, choruses welcomed with upraised arms. I am a solitary individual within this community. I am a marble rolling slowly into the game. I am a wisp sunk a little lower than the canopy of puffy clouds.

It is ok to be on the fringe. Centers here are always shifting, centers evaporate where I am a minority every day. Where all are newcomers. I hear the Gospel read in English, Cantonese, and Japanese. The sound of the words tickles my eardrum. They are seagulls on a sandbar, flying away when I run into their gathering.


I am thrilled by the feeling of not knowing what's next. Of not knowing who I'll meet, or what I'll see. There is a woman I work with who is preparing for what "the scientists' say" is a massive earthquake due to hit Vancouver. Shall I stock away some extra chickpeas, or as Eliot says, dare I eat a peach? or should I just keep living. Later that night I am listening to a singer-songwriter I love from my home city. He sings "did you know the west coast is gonna fall, into, the ocean someday." The irony of coincidence. A great cosmic joke. Like the tenacious fall flowers, still blooming here, I turn my face to laugh at the sky.

"He is a sane man who can have tragedy in his heart and comedy in his head." - G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles

Post title courtesy of the band, Stars.


therichjerk101 said...
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mandybrooks6721 said...
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Ruth said...

Hi Jen. I found your blog through the Minstrel and Preston's blog. You write beautifully. I've never been to BC, you describe it and your adventures so poetically. I may frequent your blog on a regular basis, if you don't mind. You can stop by mine if you'd like... although it's much less eloquent! You can link to it through my profile or on Preston's blog ...Beauty in Chaos...