The source of wisdom

Dear January,

You took me by surprise, I’ll give you that.

You gave my life a good shake and tossed me onto your frozen shores. I’ll make a list of just a few of the major and minor events of the last thirty days…

Relationship turmoil. A wonderful middle-aged woman I know in the final stages of cancer. A blackout. Temperatures in the minus thirties. 1330 Palestinians killed in Gaza. A new Harper (right-wing prime minister of Canada) budget that, among other things, does not address the fact that half of Canadians are not eligible for unemployment insurance. The legislation of exploited contract faculty back to work after two and half bitterly cold months on the line.

I could go on. But you get the point.

Making a list gives some perspective. Life’s smallish pecadillos juxtaposed against disease, local injustice and international atrocity.

And not to get all Buddhist on you, January, but I’m thinking perhaps some of this brings knowledge and growth. People aren’t fooled by the news anymore (my students certainly aren’t). I think there is more awareness of the Palestinian situation than ever before. I think Obama, neo-liberal though he is, has a slightly different, more informed take on Palestine than whats-his-name before him. I think, since the coalition debacle, that Canadians get that Harper is a power-hungry despot. I’m not sure people get the festering problem of sweatshop universities but we’ll keep working on that one.

The source of wisdom is whatever is happening to us at this very instant. (Pema Chodron).

Turmoil, the shadows cast by disease and disability: if nothing else it can bring about openness, sow compassion. Or it can make you into a curmudgeon. Is there a choice?

All of that bad news makes me appreciate the small but significant.

The luminance of friends and their everyday wisdom. Students with limber minds, and their occasionally daring feats of intellectual acrobatics. A lovely impromptu dinner with academic colleagues. The slow, detailed, graceful work of revising a book manuscript. The late afternoon light, stretching itself gingerly into the darkness. The brilliant sun of an eastern Canadian winter.

Hello February.

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