Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Fable and Frame

History is in the eye of the beholder and everything has a story to tell. It is our purpose and responsibility to discover, understand and reveal the contexts that make the record worth reading, the art important enough for an audience and the simple pieces from the past deserving of a second glance. If this is true history, then every person contains within their mind a museum of memoirs and masterpieces; the only thing they lack is the frame.

The gallery of my life is filled with fables and frames. Each great hall is painted with memory and the displays within them seem to dance, being constantly restored and revised to tastes of the master curator in my mind.

The welcoming foyer introduces my life in a colourful presentation of material art; a pocket sized camera sits on a table that is so flooded with printed pictures that they seem to have spilled over the edges and onto the floor. This collection of photographs allows any attentive observer to witness the world through my eyes, which is certainly a unique perspective. This camera has followed me everywhere, capturing the beauty of the common and mundane. From bus stop to snowfall, these simple images are the tangible evidence of an artistic soul.

The second exhibition continues the theme of creativity that is found in all aspects of my life. A bookshelf filled with dusty books stands dramatically against one wall. Many other people have inspired my life in a variety ways, but none more, perhaps, than the written words of friends and heroes. Sherlock and Shakespeare have both influenced my thoughts and my vocabulary; however, there is a different book that has been opened much more often than the others. Simply bound, it is a story of mystery, history, comedy, romance, adventure and action. It is the only book in my collection that contains my own scribbled thought or emphasis in ink because there is no sense in maintaining the physical purity of such a work; unlike the others, this narrative was not intended to be read, but to be lived. Here, in the museum of my life, it lies open to a page that is both underlined and highlighted in florescent pink: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Perhaps this is my fable… or perhaps this is truth…

The focus of the final room is lighter and louder in nature than any of the previous displays. This room, like my life, is filled with music. In a cycle of forty-nine genres and eighty-three hours, the soundtrack of my life entertains everyone I meet; and yet, the goal of my life is not to entertain, but to inspire, teach, inquire, reveal, explore… to make history, true history, and share it.

Monday, 12 November 2007

Emotional Blither

So much of my world seems distorted today. My mind is blurred. My actions unmotivated and separated from me in an indescribable way. My imagination is rebelling against my schedule and what I know I must do. I don’t want to write, but all I can do is write. Write and think.

I feel restricted by my language; the limits of explanation have been explored by many before me, exhausting expression. And now, sitting here so still within my body and so unsettled in my mind, these words seem stale and insufficient. How can I even begin, when I am already frustrated, fighting for the words to articulate my thought? How can I speak with honesty when I am already so disappointed by my efforts? Perhaps it is my skill and not my language that is at fault.

Pero, en español, todas palabras explican más, simplemente porque cuando una persona escucha el idioma, hay un cambiar en el corazón y el alma, y no solo en su pensó. Hay comunicación de verdad. La persona a la persona, y palabras a palabras, tambien.

Why is it so impossible to relate to the world in my native tongue? Why do my words mean so much more to me when so few can understand what I am trying to say? There is no release from this kind of constriction. It’s like being tied in an artistic straightjacket. If only I could write with tone and action. If only you could read my emotions along with my words. Then I could tell you something. Then, perhaps, you could understand what I am thinking, and what I’m trying to say here. But it means nothing; all of these words mean nothing and have explained nothing, though I’ve said so much.

After reading through this, I bet you’re almost as frustrated and disappointed by my explanation as I am. But sometimes this is what words are... meaningless, disappointing, emotional blither.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Five Reasons to Build a Snowman

For a child, the idea of grabbing a toboggan or building a snowman seems to be a mandatory and automatic response to winter’s chill; but for some terrible and undefined reason, this instinct seems to leave during adolescence, and when a person is attacked by the self-awareness of maturity, snowplay is almost frowned upon. This attitude of anti-silliness is spreading like an infection through the veins of College and University society and has begun to affect even the High School subculture. If this continues unchecked, we are actively putting the children of our communities at dangerous risk of adopting the same “crazelessness” that has already rooted itself so deeply in our lives. If something doesn’t change, fun as we know it may be lost.

But there is hope. We can make a difference. If we act now, we may be able to preserve what little simplistic joy is left in our world. The fight against the humbug of winter begins with you. The fate of fun rests in your mitted hands.

If you remain unconvinced of the severity of this cause, please, read on and carefully consider the following medical and scientific claims supporting snowplay and its many advantages. Each has been cleverly fabricated to initiate a radical movement outdoors, so if at any point while reading this you are overcome with an undeniable need to don a toque and pair of gloves, by all means conclude this article at another time and go throw a snowball at your friend. Literature can wait. The world cannot.

#1. It’s good for your body – Hitting someone with a snowball is an excellent release of many kinds of stress, at a chemical level. (Being hit by a snowball increases your situational awareness and potentially primes your reflexes for a victorious reaction, which is something to keep in mind when ambushed.) As far as a cardiovascular workout is concerned, chasing and being chased are among the top motivational exercises, and the cold air works your lungs in a way that simply cannot be obtained on a treadmill.

#2. It’s good for your brain – Buildings are psychological prisons and seriously hinder the development of certain skills, such as creativity and mental flexibility. Deny your mind no longer! Sculpt, design, craft and build! Snow and ice are wonderful artistic mediums. Find the natural inspiration you’ve been lacking.

#3. It’s good for your love life – Romance is strongly correlated with the atmosphere created during a snowfall; therefore, spending time with someone outside in the snow will increase your seasonal attractiveness by up to 60%!

#4. It’s good for the environment – The ground is much more receptive to flowers in the spring if it has been moved around during the long winter months. Walking on (or digging in) the snow shifts the position of the grass and flower bearing land, softening it in a uniquely agricultural manner. When the snow melts, it is obvious which areas of a lawn or park have been played over and which have not.

#5. It’s good for the economy – When people spend time outside, hot chocolate sales skyrocket! Marshmallows and cookie mixes receive similar profit spikes; but without the recent demand created by outdoor activists, there is simply too much supply. Do your part to keep Christmas from becoming a confectionary Black Tuesday.

You’ve heard all of the evidence and you’ve seen the reports. Now, go. Give Jack Frost a hug and embrace the kid in you. For our culture, for the children, for fun: go and play.

Monday, 5 November 2007

More to Remember

Armistice. Do you recognize this word? Do you know what it means? Eighty-nine years ago, this word would have defined your future. It would have meant the end of torture and death and daily fear and unbearable heartache. This simple phrase, armistice, would have been your life.

Perhaps our generation is too far removed from World War One to genuinely appreciate the sacrifices made by those people, soldiers and families. Maybe we can’t understand Flanders Fields the way that we should. But we can remember – not Canada’s distant national history, but the heroes of our personal world. We remember what we can remember.

From the overseas terrorism in Iraq through the homicides of Toronto and even closer to home, we have modern enemies to fight and heroes to honour. Remembrance Day is no longer limited to the military because war is no longer bound to the battlefield. Ribbons and poppies have been transformed from a symbol of death to one of human unity. We are all affected by war of one kind or another. November 11th has become an opportunity to celebrate the victory and mourn the cost of all war, together, as a global nation. Yes, we still stand in silence and reverence at 11:00 every year. There are parades and ceremonies and trumpet solos and speeches. These things are important. But we have more to remember. This year these traditions are echoed by international prayers for protection and courage for the people around the world who continue this fight for freedom and peace today… and tomorrow.

The war to end all wars did not conclude every battle and conflict; however, the legacy of memorial celebration that began in 1918 has survived, blossoming into something much larger than the poppy.