The Rink

Willie O’Ree Place, Fredericton, NB, Canada

To me, ice rinks are holy places. I have spent 35+ years in and out of ice rinks. I have had some of the best times of my life with some of my best friends in ice rinks. I have spent amazing times with my children in ice rinks. I have learned about myself. I have learned life lessons. I have experienced the whole gamut of emotions.

Every time I walk into one, that all floods back. The first thing that gets you is the smell. Every rink smells the same – yet different. It’s the smell of the ice. The sound is next. Is it silent and hallow? Raucous and rumbling? Slightly humming?

Some are huge, modern and will hold the population of a small city. Some, tiny, old and freezing cold – literal ‘barns’. And everything in between. Each has its own magic.

I think about the number of people who have experienced these same things. In the same buildings. Over great spans of time. And for an instant we are all united.

Amen.

Silence

Not the kind where there’s no noise at all, but the kind when the only noise is what’s naturally occurring at that moment.

Pleasant snowshoe in the UNB Woodlot a few days ago. It was dusk/getting dark so the photos are a bit dark. I also find that the iPhone throws way more blue into any snow photos – it’s like it can’t figure out what to do with all the white. I tried color correcting them in Photoshop, but it just wasn’t working, so left them as is.

You’re Going to Wash Dishes for the Rest of Your Life

Our dishwasher broke several months ago. We ordered one, then it was delayed due to Covid and/or other things, then finally ‘unavailable’, so we cancelled the order and are currently deciding what to do next.

I haven’t really been in any hurry to get the new one. Jason Isbell was kind enough to explain why for me.

Hat-tip to GeWilli for the find.

Passing a Note

I was reading the post Speak the Wild Words and it’s good, you should check it out. This stuck out to me:

Craftivism is a kind of anathema to slacktivism, which is the more common path of protest these days – yelling loudly into Facebook to try and effect change. Craftivism, is quieter and gentler, it generates art and artefacts, and is about creating a better world, note by note, stitch by stitch. It’s about putting something into the world that is more than just your rage or your despair – something that people can approach with curiosity, and engage with. 

– Lisa Richardson

One of the things that drove me off the social medias repeatedly on-and-off until I finally dumped ’em whenever-back-when was the constant stream of activism and advocacy posts – that were in many cases just “yelling loudly” into the void. Even if I agreed with whomever it was and whatever they were championing – it never really struck me as the most effective way to go about changing things – I think the comment threads attached often attested to that very point. Except for the very early days, I certainly never posted that kind of stuff, mostly because I didn’t particularly want to deal with the backlash and/or moderating other people’s bad behavior in my comments.

After getting off social media, I still felt strongly about certain things but increasingly felt that beating people over the head with those ideas was just not the way to go. Since then I’ve sort of been experimenting with and trying to find a ‘name’ for whatever it is that I’m trying to do those ends. Things like reading more, thinking more critically, trying to be present and do the ‘right thing’ – an often moving or seemingly mysterious target.

The above article’s discussion of ‘craftivism’ lit a bulb in my head. Though I’m not really creating anything tangible – no “art and artefacts,” what I am constructing is a life – the best one I’m able – and doing that seems the best way to champion what I think is important or feel strongly about. For me the concept has become one of ‘lived activism’ or ‘living advocacy’. Or ‘lived advocacy’ or ‘living activism’ or whatever. I’m realizing now that whatever it’s called really isn’t important at all. As my main man Brad Warner likes to say, “Buddhism is a philosophy of action.” So in one sense, it’s very much that.

My guess is someone already has created an academic term for this. In my case it’s mostly a mash up of Stoicism and Zen, with some Jocko Willink sprinkled in – no doubt there’s components of other things in there. Obviously, bikes.

In the simplest terms it boils down to ‘practice what you preach’, but in my case I’m leaving out the preaching and just practicing. In this way, I’m advocating to those I come into contact with – family, friends, strangers – all merely by example. That’s good enough for me. And I think it’s likely to have a deeper impact on one person I interact with than 40 people who read something on a social media post in a feed with 50 other peoples’ hollering – no matter how good the video I choose to embed is.

I know what you’re saying. “But my dude, you’re posting it here.” Yes. The difference is that posting it here is almost solely for the purposes of working it out in my own head. This is just my mental sandbox. I know that at any given point there’s probably only 5 people paying attention. I’m not “yelling loudly” into the void. If anything, this is the internet equivalent of going “Pssst…” and then passing someone a note.

It’s more about the real-world execution. My going for a snowshoe at lunch with my dog and then telling you about it in person via passing conversation is going to tell you everything you need to know about how I feel about the Environment, animals, and the importance of getting outdoors on one’s physical and mental health. Subtly, with less yelling – and less competing for your attention.


By way of shout-outs – I found the article I mentioned above via a platform I’ve lately rediscovered – ReadUp. They’re looking to change the way folks read and interact with others about what they read. Check ’em out if you’re so inclined.

No more events today.

Saturday was open. Up early and made coffee in the underground lair while listening to the Bosstones. Headed out for a walk with Titus.

Talked about nihilism and child prodigies. Sartre and the Stoics. The weekly menu and cooking rotation as an element everyday existence. Russian prisoner camps and optimism. Canadian Literature and its identity crisis. Drank coffee.

Later. Bike ride. Old haunts have changed color. Watched some light dance in the sky.

May, 2019
Same spot January, 2021

Soon I will eat my fill of instant-pot French-dip sandwiches and most likely fall asleep watching the Habs game before I pull myself up the stairs to collapse and sleep the sleep of Ivan Denisovich. I have a bed and some SkratchLabs for tomorrow so tonight I am the King of all I survey.

That’s it. You’re up to speed.

Younger Us, Deux.

My fingers are still all kinda cold-and-numby at the tips on the keys as I type and the Shad bumps in the speakers.

Here’s me rolling dark, deserted country roads in full effect with the dyno-hub light on the Troll. Dog above, what an amazing thing.

I rolled in the -9ºC, crisp darkness with stars in full burn, in my winter boots, jeans, lined work gloves, orange parka and home-made knit hat and found an unexpected flush of glee that had me thinking to myself what a weirdo I am.

After a stop at the ‘corner store’ for some Twizzlers to bring back for dessert, 12-year old me was definitely feeling it though and took the long way home. My fingers are feeling it a bit too.

History Lies

I’ve been asked at several points in my life by acquaintances and friends why I don’t write about past events, periods of life, etc. Was just reading this bit in The Paris Review by Karl Ove Knausgaard from his new book The Land of the Cyclops and it made sense to me.

As such, history always lies, it turns what was inconsistent, all over the place, perhaps even meaningless, into something consistent, systematic, and meaningful. The situations and events that occurred, the people who were there, and the discussions between them were of course real, it is not the case that writing about something is the same as lying or distorting, but the moment that reality is written down it is given a form that is basically abiding and unalterable, which pins it down in a certain way, whereas what was significant about it was that it was all over the place and could not be pinned down at all. To write about a situation is to take out part of its potential, at the same time as its remaining potential disappears into the shadows of the unsaid, the unthought, and the unwritten, in the valley of opportunities lost.

– Karl Ove Knausgaard

NYE 2020

An old friend of mine – I’ve forgotten which one – used to say he never liked New Year’s. He called it ‘forced fun’, like a ‘fake holiday’. People felt compelled to do something. I’ve tended to agree with the sentiment for the most part. The obvious idea being that the calendar – at least the one we’re using – is quite arbitrary and scientifically speaking with regards to ‘time’ no two years are exactly the same length anyway, but I’m not going to bother Googling links to all that stuff, you can do that yourself if you want, trying to stay up past an arbitrary deadline.

I posted a note last year about this very thing and I find it rings true even more so with each passing arbitrary time measurement unit (day).

So if I have a New Year’s Tradition at all, it’s that for the last at least 15 years or so – in the process of trying (with various levels of success) to stay up until midnight, mostly because the kids feel like this is a big deal – – I head out into my backyard to let the dog do his thing at some point and stare up at the sky and ponder my place in the Universe.

This year it turned out a little differently. After the wife and kids and I ate a whole bunch of little hot dogs wrapped in croissant dough, I wandered out as I usually do and said to myself, “well, Self, this is when you annually walk out here and stare at the sky and ponder your place in the Universe.”

Then I paused for a minute. Then I thought, “can I ponder my place IN the Universe, when I also AM the Universe?” Can you be IN something you AM?

Kinda stumped myself there.

And it’s only 11:16. Guess my new year starts now.

Might need a new tradition next year, but I’ve got some time to sort that out.