The Canada geese are honking now in great swathes in the sky riding currents to where the water will not freeze over and there are bits of greenery to feed on. They are the harbinger of a winter coming and the sound of their farewells cause us all to huddle closer to the warm spots between the chilled air. Even in conversation we are cozy with benevolence.
We are brave and we are hearty. Most of us who’ve been here for more than a generation learned resilience from the generations before us who endured a bitter wild world to make some sort of hopeful life here when it seemed an impossible task—making the best of it as we always have and always will. As new generations will learn. There was and is no other way after all.
But winter comes. Winter settles into our bones like an old phantom jealously haunting our memories of hot sunny days spent languishing because it has not known such things for such a long time—a bitter phantom who chides and jeers and we will battle until Spring.
We will ski and skate and slide and laugh at the mockery. We will find a warm place and drink cocoa with creme de menthe and marshmallows. We do not then hear the chattering of old ghosts gnawing at our bones when the winds howl. We catch the snowflakes on our eyelashes and stomp our feet in the creaking cold. And we will endure. There is no other way after all.
But just before the winter comes and the geese are still flying there is that strange time. It is always the same. The humid languor of summer snaps and the world goes mad. Quite mad. And it is madder than usual this year. This very year it is maddest of all.
There is an urgency of action and a veritable cascade of events that could have just as easily happened in July but we were simply not paying attention because our winters gave us the right to reward ourselves with indifferent indolence. But winter always comes and truths always snap into place like a mousetrap on a piece of cheese.
Sometimes we even catch the mouse. And sometimes we can know the truth. If they let us.
The days of truth are disappearing. We will perhaps only know our own experience. The rest being propaganda. We are in times of war after all. That’s the rationale for all this deliberate confusion and obfuscation and prohibition. It is mostly made to make us afraid. We’ve reached a point where we don’t know exactly what we’re supposed to be afraid of most, with all that we are told, but all we know is that fear lives with us. We tuck it into bed at night. We listen to it snore. Sometimes it tucks “us” into bed and wraps its rough blanket around us with stories it cackles at us with its fetid breath.
And in the morning we wake up and make the coffee like we always do. To do it all again because we are hearty. We resent that we are perhaps but we are. We made the coffee didn’t we? And that is more than some can manage some days. We can call ourselves victims of so many things and so many fears but ultimately it does no good to whimper when there are things need doing.
You still have to make the coffee. Or buy it. At Starbucks or Tim’s or that other place. And if we can’t afford coffee, we make parsley tea or just hot water with a scoop of whatever we can find. It is the warm and the wet and the ritual that matters most. It drives away the fear in the daylight. It starts our day fresh under the silent sun.
The blank slate of our thoughts of the day will be filled with whatever it is they want us to believe now. Now that they are censoring debate and any meaningful content. We will be left with empty banal jingles and flat repetitive flavourless words and foolish rote praise for those who crave power.
For those who told the truth we will not know them anymore. They will be a stray thought inside the cage of our own mind, a vague memory of how to think. Perhaps those who pilloried and drove out the truth tellers believe it will also drive away the fear for us but we already know how to do that. We made our coffee didn’t we?
We lost all the freedoms when they took that away—freedom of speech. All of them. One by one. The right at the end of the day to be a unique being interacting, questioning and creating in a tangible reality with others. They took it all away and gave us nothing in return but a promise that we wouldn’t be afraid anymore. They who made us all afraid in the first place.
And for most that promise of safety was all that was required.
And, they in power who promised so much will grow more and more restrictive as they find themselves not knowing who their enemies are. Such truths once were obvious when we had freedom of speech. Now, the not knowing will drive them a bit mad with surveillance as if now we were “all” their enemies who snickered and plotted. They can’t know until they add yet another chain.
Each loop a fear, each fear another fear. They chain the world. Perhaps that way it will not fall apart.
But before it became so bleak that we ended up there in the chained world, we can still remember we had the truth tellers when they did not censor content. Even when they started our truth tellers found their secret words and gestures and symbols we all learned because as unique beings we craved truth.
Most of us. Maybe only some of us. It was in our nature. Some of us will not forget them, no matter how many chains we wear.
Spring always comes with its promise of summer and so we will carry on making the best of things as we always have and always will. We will laugh in the snow. And we will be brave. There is no other way after all.
This piece was written prior to the Middle East situation. On that issue I’ll need to think for awhile. Oh here’s an earworm just because I like it and we lost this immense talent this year:
Quote for the foreseeable future. (Thankyou monkeycircus):
“History says, don’t hope
On this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope & history rhyme.
So hope for a great sea-change
On the far side of revenge.
Believe that further shore Is reachable from here,”
The quote is from Seamus Heaney’s The Cure at Troy, after Robert Fitzgerald, a translator and interpreter of the Greek classics.
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