The Sublime and the Ridiculous

My head has been awash today with distracting thoughts and atypical reminiscences.  I’ve contemplated – or rather I should say, I’ve cogitated on – murder, suicide, death and religion, admittedly a peculiar agenda.  This is especially curious as I spent the day blissfully cycling on the beach in the sunshine.


Perhaps it was because I was alone on the beach today that my thoughts wandered into these ostensibly dark recesses.  I say ostensibly because there really was nothing macabre or sinister about my recollections. It was nothing other than a factual recapitulation that during my lifetime those weighty matters have touched me or people whom I’ve known.  Just to dilute the strangeness of it all, first permit me to explain that the murder feature was somewhat disjointed.  I never knew either a murderer or anyone who was murdered.  What I did know was this singular chap whom I met through a friend (they were at one time neighbours in Ottawa South). Anyway the singular chap (with whom my friend has to this day kept in casual contact) ended up living in a different house in the By Ward Market in Ottawa. The police found the body of some hobo-like person buried in the chap’s back yard.  It was of course an ominous and highly publicized discovery, but apparently it had nothing to do with the singular chap who lived there though naturally the gossip at the time was rife with innuendo and dispersion.  The chap ended moving far away, somewhere in the South Pacific, which is how he has kept in touch with my friend (who also moved there much later and – I am quick to add – for very different and entirely unrelated reasons).

By coincidence it was this same friend who befriended another chap who ended committing suicide.  Again there is no connection whatever between the people and the event other than the commonality of acquaintance. The young suicide victim came from a prominent Ottawa family and there is no way of knowing why he did himself in.  I also knew a fellow who killed himself by taking an overdose of Aspirin at the Lord Nelson Hotel in Halifax. He decidedly had psychological problems; he had once expressed to me that people did not pay enough attention to him. And there was another fellow I met who insisted he was going to commit suicide but to my knowledge never did.  I was warned at the time by a Dutch Uncle to steer clear of people who threaten to commit suicide, mainly because they’re generally considered bad news and also because the talk is usually more bluster than anything else.

As for the subject of death (the next item on my list), I wasn’t thinking of the everyday occurrences of death by old age, mishap and diseases which characteristically affect aging people.  It was the death of men from AIDS, a scourge which – thankfully I suppose – has fallen off the radar lately but which at the time was unpleasantly current. I can count at least three people whom I knew who died of AIDS, each of them clever, good-looking and otherwise promising. One was an astonishingly handsome young man, the son of a lawyer in Quebec.  His mother had the look of a Patrician. The second was a gregarious, talented fellow in his late twenties.  The third was the nephew of a man who later became the Prime Minister of Canada.

Regarding my last topic of contemplation – religion  – that is something which has become increasingly annoying for me, the proverbial “elephant in the room” which for too long has been ignored.  It is not one of those silly things like wall-climbing or para-sailing which you can dismiss as a matter of mere choice.  It is a connivance which is daily proving to be more and more infectious and treacherous.  It may seem naive of me to suggest that the betrayal of religion is only now becoming commonplace.  Certainly there were people like Thomas Paine who in 1796 wrote “The Age of Reason” as an attack upon organized religion. But he paid the price for his logic.  He was jailed and disavowed by most of the influential people (including Benjamin Franklin) who knew him.  Recently however the American government has acquired the strength to give Paine the credit he is due (though I doubt very much there will still be much direct approbation of his thesis). Otherwise religion is incrementally strangling itself.  The clergy of the Catholic Church are doing a good job of that, assisted unwittingly by the startling neglect of the Vatican who had hoped that their silence would help.  They are instead now seen as co-conspirators.  And then there are the absolutely horrendous acts being committed by members of the Islamic faith against people who have afforded no provocation whatsoever other than to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. If those assholes think for a minute that there is any legitimacy to their so-called reasoning then they too are doing far more damage to their cause than anything else. Meanwhile entire countries are becoming fed up with religious rubbish and it is only a matter of time before someone comes along to champion plain talk and clear thinking, which will effectively permit the submissive masses to overthrow the hierarchy of self-serving religious zealots and their rapacious cronies.

Other than that, we began our morning very pleasantly by going to a diner for breakfast. Afterwards we did the aisles of the green grocer and supermarket to replenish our stores. To my eternal shame I have succeeded in the space of the last 12 hours to empty an entire box of chocolate trail mix brittle!  I rather doubt my two-hour jaunt on the bicycle this afternoon to Sonesta Beach and back will exhaust those horrid calories!  Oh well, the challenges of life!