On the last day of June – the day before Canada Day on July 1st – the public atmosphere is noticeably clamorous. The opening today of personal service industries – hair salons and nail spas – has as well engendered uncommon activity and with it no imperceptible degree of optimism. The thread of a familial theme promotes a decidedly domestic flavour to the energized commotion. It is an occasion for us to reunite within the sphere of our ambitions. For as long as I can recollect we’ve abhorred the ribaldry of a statutory holiday. So we secure ourselves contentedly within our compass. It has thus inspired the stock nutritious features; viz., literature (Thomas Babington Macaulay’s “The History of England from the Accession of James II“), music (Giacomo Puccini’s “Tosca“), food (garden fresh vegetables) and smug anticipation for what is on the horizon.
The French playwright Victorien Sardou wrote more than 70 plays, almost all of them successful, and none of them performed today. In the early 1880s Sardou began a collaboration with actress Sarah Bernhardt, whom he provided with a series of historical melodramas. His third Bernhardt play, La Tosca, which premiered in Paris on 24 November 1887, and in which she starred throughout Europe, was an outstanding success, with more than 3,000 performances in France alone.
Puccini had seen La Tosca at least twice, in Milan and Turin. On 7 May 1889 he wrote to his publisher, Giulio Ricordi, begging him to get Sardou’s permission for the work to be made into an opera: “I see in this Tosca the opera I need, with no overblown proportions, no elaborate spectacle, nor will it call for the usual excessive amount of music.”
As astounding as it may seem, every holiday I can recall was occasion for celebration and abandonment of ennui. Which is to say that I take this business of holidays very seriously. Indeed the application merits the sometimes ignored virtue of pleasure. By that I mean a devotion not to sybaritism but to the determination to look at the bright side of things. And as regularly as possible.
Any other formula for resolving life’s complexities, just getting your head around the latest angst, is doomed to failure. Life goes too fast to sort through its details with any hope of mathematical precision or accuracy. But one only need be reminded that the object is the same; and by that token alone the scheme is guaranteed successful. The analysis requires only resolve to accept and move on. The train ain’t waiting for anything or anyone; so unless you’ve got a quick and brilliant insight, it’s by far more rational to rely upon the axiomatic truth. The look at one’s past or one’s future likely have more in common than we care to admit, clearly not because they’re the same facts but because we soon learn how to regard life. Besides there’s no chance anyone other than you will figure it out.