The Canadian Imagination

What it means to be Canadian; examining and reworking Canada as a nation.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Balancing on shifting surfaces

I wrote a thesis once: one of the chapters had that title.

There is an old concept which has been solidified into familiar spoken language as hubris, but the underlying instincts go back far beyond the Greek: reach too far, and you will be cut down. Display your fortune, and knock on wood. If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.

The old heroes of myth accepted this as an integral part of who they were. Cuchalain will be immortal in his deeds as no hero before him or since, yet he cannot live to count a single silver hair on his head. For them, it was the trade-off inherent in the action of striving. To try, to come close to succeeding, is to draw the lightning: but it is also the lightning that seals the heroic. All our lives contain absolute boundaries; all our strivings will be curtailed by death: but it is in how we live them that we -- and others -- find their meaning.

Me, I don't know about hubris, or fate, or even karma: but I do wonder about balance.

For some time now, the events touching on my life have been taking a series of strange lurches, first to one side, then the other: events that would seem to be outside even my conscious control. A piece of good fortune would be followed by a piece of worse misfortune. An unexpected windfall one day was followed the very next day by a combination of bank items which overbalanced it by a factor of ten. And the timing always would be within a single day, to the point that it has become oddly predictable: always something to be leery of, can I be absolutely positive that there is nothing in and of me, myself, that is causing events to come about in this fashion?

I don't know, of course. I can't know. I don't have the capacity to step outside myself and look at myself. I can only try to look at things through the eyes of others: and such attempted approximation of something "external" suggests to me that all these things have in fact been waiting to happen, to me sometimes, and sometimes just to someone -- which leaves the curiosity of timing alone as a question mark ... perhaps even the question mark that explains the universe.

I don't know what started me thinking along these lines. I do know that, as so many times before with such events, hearing of today's explosions in London UK, the news had not surprised me at all. My thoughts go out to those who were caught in this, to those who had family or friends hurt or killed in this. There really is nothing more I can say, here. I could wish no one ever had to go through such things.

But at the same time, I cannot but wonder at how such an harsh shadow has been cast over the very same day still brightly lit by that initial outburst of radiant joy and pride over having won the Olympic Games.


Post a Comment

<< Home