The theme of revival at this time of year is inescapable whether prompted by springtime regeneration or the mixed metaphor of legal and spiritual extension of contract validity with the Holy Spirit. Either way the transition from winter dormancy is acute. The awakening this year is however noticeably diminished by the pandemic. The certainty of the natural and spiritual reinvigoration contradicts the pervasive uncertainty of the future. Already people are starting to talk about foregoing handshaking interminably! The fluidity of global acquaintance is under attack! And with it comes a blunt admission of our mutual interdependence though not exactly the familiarity we had anticipated.
Running into a problem is never welcome. We step back in anxious wonder at the event and perhaps seek to blame something. Permitting the dilemma to reduce our gusto is a miscalculation by any measure. What enthusiasm we have is better contributed to reactivation of what persists not what has fallen. Aside from the axiomatic truth of the proposition there are thousands of stories of people rising from personal disadvantage and succeeding to hitherto unimaginable heights. Very often the skill of doing so is not facility or luck but tenacity only. In that respect those who manifest an improvement are able to control their own destiny. And the irreversible truth of the past will never change. Nor as a result is the determination to adjust any less imperative. Imagining the proximity of the end is a careless summation calculated to confuse the renovation. Sometimes one is required only to allow the frazzle of the past wash downstream in its own urgent pursuit of another pool of quietude.
When I rode on my bicycle this morning I caught myself wondering aloud at the blue sky and the white clouds. Recovering my habit of cycling every day only began several days ago upon the completion of the mandatory 14-day quarantine. Cycling is a routine which legitimizes me and opens the horizons to what is before me. From the time I first began seriously bicycling at 18 years of age along the Ottawa River Parkway I have been stimulated and overwhelmed by the remarkable beauty of riparian cycling. The change in Almonte to the former railway right-of-way between Carleton Place and the Village of Pakenham has been an unanticipated benefit. For the first 35 years of my residency here I was accustomed to hear the sound of the trains passing through town as they had done for more than a century. The extraordinary advantage of the railway for Almonte’s erstwhile woollen mill industry has become a gem uncovered for all its citizens. Today for example there were many others enjoying the pathway – families on bikes, couples walking, foursomes walking and maintaining their social-distance, people alone with their dog and other solitary cyclists.
It is likely neither odd nor singular that I have the sense of revival from the suspension inflicted upon us all by the pandemic. Quite apart from the social distancing, there is an unmistakable blockage from which I am anxious to separate myself. The peculiarity of the global disease has struck most of us broadside and sent us staggering to regain our footing. We are naturally careful to observe the new mandates of convention. There is as well the necessity to adapt to the plans which may have been unceremoniously stifled. Limiting this recovery is the lingering uncertainty of the future although at least for the moment there is already talk of nations getting back to the way things were. This too may be more clearly characterized as an accommodation of the new way of doing things. Our introduction to the penetrability of global epidemic has left us cautious.
When confronting a misfortune of this pervasive nature it is perhaps easier to adapt to it or absorb its manifestations than if the dilemma were our own. Yet to distance oneself from a snag merely because it is not endemic does little to alleviate the weight of the concern. The Universe is ultimately personal. The problem – howsoever broadly drawn – is nonetheless ours.
Most of us if lucky enough will never suffer more than the memory of this current peril. I suspect none of us is especially more fearful of loss than we normally are. It is human nature to insulate oneself from the fear of personal harm. Otherwise we’d be in a state of constant anxiety. Accordingly when at last we are able to rise above the immediacy of the gloom – and hope for an improved state of being – I for one spend my time reorganizing my peculiar dominoes of the puzzle. My inherent goal of manageability compels me to summarize and organize like a bird reconstructing its windswept nest. Part of the operation is an abandonment of any part of the cargo which does nothing to advance the present or future. The object is not to alter the past but to cope with the present.
On the pathway of life there is one direction only, forward. If we’re fortunate enough to have happy echoes of the past which continue to speak to us, that’s great. But some experiences are irreversible and at times contaminating. This however is tolerable. We cannot expect to endure a lifetime without obfuscation. But a bit of discolouration doesn’t shut down the entire operation!