I sat in front of the television a while ago, watching a drama series about intrigue and politics in U.S. government. Sipping on a Canadian whiskey and munching on my post-dinner snack of Canadian wild-caught herring in wine sauce, I wondered why I had not been born in Canada. Why, I wondered, did my Canadian sensibilities spring forth in far south Texas, only to be imprisoned in a whirlpool that took me far, far away from a society I know, and knew, was good and proper? Why did I drift northward, living near the Canadian border at one point, only to boomerang south and end up in a state that voted overwhelmingly for Trump?
The answers to those questions reside in fear and reluctance to take risks. Just as I could have moved to Mexico, I could have moved to Canada. Or I could have taken the job of inspector/investigator with the Department of Agriculture when it was offered to me all those many years ago. My life might have been—almost certainly would have been—radically different had I opted to join that investigative team. But I was afraid I might have been assigned to New York City on a salary of $673 per month; I was afraid I would have been forced to live in a one-room apartment with eleven other young men just to be able to pay rent. But it would have been short-term; I would have survived. But I was afraid. Afraid of the idea that I might be expected to carry a gun; I took that as a symbol the job carried greater risks than I was willing to accept.
I find it odd that the vast majority of U.S. citizens do not know the name of the Prime Minister of Canada or the President of Mexico. (Justin Trudeau and Enrique Peña Nieto, respectively, by the way). We live in a bubble, a bubble that chokes our understanding of the relevance and beauty of the diversity of not only the physical characteristics of our planet but the social and political landscape, as well. We seem unable or unwilling to care; unwilling to invest sufficient time to learn about even our closest neighbors.
At what stage in one’s life does a person cross the point beyond which he decides rebelling against his own fears would be pointless? “It’s too late to live a different life; there’s too little of this one left for it to matter.” Even that assertion suggests fear has attached to his DNA.
I think I know why so few people enjoy reading my blog. It’s because I write such depressing stuff. People can stomach only so much of a depressive atmosphere before they begin to seek escape to clear air and oxygen. But that’s all right, too. I can’t let others’ need for oxygen sully my need for truth and exploration that uncovers methane and hydrogen sulfide and carbon monoxide.
But back to my Canadian lifestyle. I feel an affinity to Canadian whiskey and pickled herring. I relish hearing Canadians say “eh” and “aboot.” While I haven’t yet developed a natural attraction to poutine, I feel confident in my ability to acquire a taste for it. I suspect I could become enchanted with donair, the official food of Halifax, Nova Scotia.
I wish I knew people in Canada who might genuinely want me to visit them and would invite me to do so. I have a sense that I would be able to relax in Canada in a way I’m unable to relax in Arkansas.
[Dammit. I wrote several more paragraphs that were, in my view, beautiful tributes to Canada and, especially, Nova Scotia. And the real heart of the piece, a poignant summation, would have broken hearts. But it was taken by WordPress as it skipped ten beats. Dammit to hell!]