William Matheson (nova_one) wrote,
William Matheson

3. Life in the Slow Lane

People ask me if I can handle the slow pace of life here. But really, it often seems like I don't have a minute to spare. There are crazy bursts of activity just like there'd be anywhere else. Though when there's down time, I'm forced to either relax or do only one thing. That part is different, and so far I like it.

It is good not having the Internet much*. While a few people might miss my political headline Tweets, they were in general incredibly taxing because almost every time I posted I just knew someone who disagreed with me was going to try to lop my head off. Most people seemed to be admirably civil, if the proportion of constructive comments is any indication. But still, there was always the risk. It stressed me out to no end. Down here I read the newspaper most days, but I follow the comics as closely as anything else and I resist the urge to find the online versions of the editorials / reports I find noteworthy and Tweet them. The media machine will continue satisfactorily without me.

* - You may have noticed that I still Tweet, though. I have a phone that texts to Twitter. It's strictly one-way. My phone, already outdated when I purchased it second-hand in 2007, has only rudimentary web capability, so I can't (easily) even read replies until I go to a computer. I suppose I could get those texted to me, but my phone has a teensy inbox that can only store 50 messages at a time. It'd fill up fast. I'd rather stay unplugged.

I've been thinking. That's it, that's my complete thought - I've just been thinking a lot. I highly recommend this activity. You can quite literally conceive new realities. You allow yourself to see revolutions in the making. These are amazing times.

By contrast, in the mid-to-late 1990s I was usually just craving the next episode of Star Trek. It was to some extent all I had and all I was. For some reason I wasn't really thinking, and I could and should have been (were my environment more encouraging in this regard). I was living a full-blown fantasy life. It was enriching in its way, but in the sense that a prisoner of war has an enriching fantasy life.

I've now realized what happened to me in my mid-childhood (especially with the advent of grade school). When I was very young, I had a licence to say whatever I wanted. Kids Say The Darndest Things. The licence was suddenly revoked, and in the words of my own father I was perceived by much of the general acquaintance as a "juvenile delinquent". Now that I'm 30, I'm working on getting the licence back! Oh, I want to be considerate, and that's something I've had to learn - it wasn't instinctive for me. But I think there's value in sharing what's real, rather than (only) the things we're supposed to say. And sometimes the things we're supposed to say run roughshod over the things I suspect we would realize if we allowed ourselves the liberty of free thought and a night or two to sleep on it. I am choosing to follow what I think.

A high school chum wrote in my yearbook (I'd love to transcribe exactly, but I don't have it with me) something along the lines of "If you go through high school and make only one friend, that is okay. As long as that friend is the person you see in the mirror (ie: yourself)."

I resisted the idea. I was like, why does it matter what I think of myself?

What a tragic attitude! I don't think it's too much to say that our life is our thoughts! Our senses and perceptions are mediated by our psychology. If your self-image is negative, life's daily trials will hurt you more. But I learned all that much, much later (in fact, about 15 years later).

In the end, I'd say that my takeaway lesson from his writing is this: Never be ashamed of who you are.

* * *

Another cousin was down on Friday night, so of course we went into the village and stayed at the aformentioned cousin's boyfriend's place until after 3am. I wonder if a pattern is being established here. Last time a cousin came, it went until 4 (though she herself only stayed until 2:30 or so). Usually I'm on the road around midnight or 1. I very much look forward to the next visit by a cousin.

How'd the night go? Well, we started off at the on-site cottage (two beers) and then we made a pit stop at the end of the driveway at the cousin/neighbour's house (two glasses of whisky), and then we went down to the usual place (more beers). For me, this was not a harmonious mix - I felt myself becoming sick even while I was in the studio having a chat with the family-friend's boyfriend's best friend.

The pit stop was in some ways the highlight of the night because it was really comfortable to just sit and chill there. However, down in the village was also great because I met a bunch of new people. We also collectively played / sang some Tom Petty songs, like "I Won't Back Down", which really moved me for this reason: In my early teens I was imprisoned by evil forces and one of the only things I had was a cassette of Tom Petty's Full Moon Fever. (What also sticks out is the book Killobyte.) I listened to that album over and over again. I should probably seek out tracks from it next time I sing karaoke.

On Saturday morning I wasn't afraid I was going to die, but I was afraid that I wasn't going to die. A close relative once told me that he hadn't quit drinking, but he'd quit paying for it. I now see the wisdom in this statement. I enjoy beer and wine, but getting truly drunk isn't really all that great in and of itself, except maybe for the first few times. Your mileage may vary, but that seems to be how it's going for me.

In the afternoon we had a funeral to go to - the first cousin once removed of my uncle's wife. I did not really know the fellow, but I knew his first cousin through whom I had the "connection". Anyway, the fellow who just passed away - he may just about have been the oldest living man in Sherbrooke. At any rate, he was an institution - my grandparents knew him for 41 years. My grandmother played the organ at the funeral (in the beautiful old Presbyterian church - no longer with a congregation, but still a key part of the historic museum-village), and she assembled a choir - that part was almost an embarrassment of riches because the choir benches were virtually stuffed.

The reception was at the Lions' hall, and there I read about how the Lions support the training of guide dogs and how some of the dogs are trained to help children with autism. It works astonishingly well - in addition to their ability to sort out important stimuli for the handler, they might even be able to help kids to go verbal who otherwise couldn't - that is, they might be able to be coached by a third party in conjunction with handling the dog. It all makes me wonder about how Temple Grandin sees what animals see - maybe we are linked by our comparative dearth of frontal-lobeness compared to our fellow primates? Here is a TED talk with Temple Grandin - you should watch it.

We met a business acquaintance of the deceased who was a great talker. He is one of those people who are just going from one thought to the next. It is great when you are being driven by them on a long road trip and when they are gifted speakers. My dentist is like this. Anyway, he started talking to me. I mostly just listened. One very interesting thing he said to my grandmother: "I think music is a preview of Heaven." I wonder if the same could be said about other interests. It might depend on who you are. For my part, I wonder if perhaps I am a musician pretending to be an actor pretending to be an IT guy.

* * *

On Saturday evening we watched the Belmont Stakes. We placed toy bets and wore funny hats and drank extravagant drinks. The actual race really was more of a thrill with something "in" it. It is probably much better than betting on a football game because your stress levels only have to be high for a short time. My horse ended up in sixth, but at least he looked like a threat at times. It was an incredible rush. I may try this again for real, just to get that feeling.

I wrote this instead of watching the hockey game. I don't really find them fun to watch these days. You feel like you could sit out an entire period and potentially not miss anything. When the intermission is over, you're like, "Oh God, now I have to feign paying attention again."

The worst part is that sometimes you figure some goalkeeper in Junior C could, if only he were there, win the Conn Smythe. The lack of scoring makes it too easy to inflate the performance of the goaltenders. They can't all be Patrick Roy. And when every darned 1-1 or 2-2 game needs overtime(s) to decide it, what's so magical about "Overtime Magic"?

I'd like it if the refs called the games like they do regular season games. The attitude should be a little more like, "My call isn't changing the outcome of the game. That boneheaded move is changing the outcome of the game." They can't be perfect and they can't do the physical equivalent of calling unsportsmanlike conduct if a player looks at another player the wrong way, but I'd like to see how good they could really be.

Still, hockey as it is currently played is far too dependent on power-play scoring. It seems like the only goals are PPGs or flukes. There aren't nearly enough breakaways or odd-man rushes.

New Jersey's comeback, if they succeed, won't be as truly memorable as the Boston Red Socks', because the games are a pain to watch. But I will try to watch on Monday night.

The Stanley Cup. It is pretty awesome, really. Just a great emotional thing to get caught up in. And they do the right thing - the team captain gets to hoist it first. Owners and coaches are important too, but in the other pro sports it is a farce to see the billionaire owners get the privilege of first-touch because it really should be more about the players - they are the ones we watch and celebrate, not the owners. Generally, anyway.

Also, is it time to make the nets and the playing surface bigger?
Tags: family, sherbrooke, summer 2012

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