Community Living

A tragic event, even at two or three degrees of separation, has the effect of sweeping away the inconsequential and irrelevant annoyances in life.  That has certainly been the case in Calgary after the recent tragic and inexplicable slaying of five young people.  For those of us who have daughters and sons attending university in this city, this event struck very close to home. A shock.

Too often, in the daily grind, it’s easy to focus on small matters and lose perspective about just what’s important.  Given that it’s spring, with all the promise of new beginnings and new growth, it’s a good time to let go of old grievances.  Here’s one – our tiresome, retired neighbour who regularly uses his leaf blower at 4:30am to clear his drive of a skiff of snow.  After the first time this happened, our daughter came out of her bedroom in full sail – ready to confront me for blow drying my hair at such an ungodly, ridiculous hour of the morning!  Nope, not me, it’s the high whine of a landscaper’s tool – tool being the operative word.  (Ok, so it’s a bit easier to let this one go as the days of relentless snowfalls are behind us.)

Life’s just full of aggravations and slights from unattended yapping dogs (of which there’s always one or two in close proximity), rude people, inconsiderate drivers, unreciprocated invitations, to a host of other issues and complaints associated with community living.  Life can be filled to the brim with dissatisfaction, but it doesn’t have to be; it’s also true that our neighbours, with only a few exceptions, are interesting, helpful, friendly people, and several are close friends.

In the course of the day, I can usually find as many examples of decency and friendliness as the opposite, but it’s the bad behaviour that rankles. When that happens, it’s time to reach out to family or friends and laugh at the small matters that can darken any day, because they are small matters, and you know that when real tragedy strikes close to home.

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Maintenance – Mid-Life

When a grinding noise began to accompany the action of braking my car, I didn’t wait too long before making an appointment at a garage.  Like anyone else, I was hardly anxious to find out that an extensive and expensive repair was in order, but the estimate was straight forward:  new brake pads, rotors, and calipers – front and back, plus the labour charge – ca ching.  Goody.  Those unexpected, big expenses are always unwelcome.  And, while I value safety and understand the benefits of regular car maintenance, there is simply no frisson of joy in such an expenditure.  It’s not the same as getting new furniture, jewelry, or a perfect new purse –  or a motor cycle, fishing rod, or electronic device (to be gender neutral).

But more and more, maintenance is the order of the day.  Usually, however, it’s of the personal kind – exercise, mindful eating, hair colour, nail care, magic creams . . . it’s a rear-guard, stop-gap, wish and a prayer exercise to keep ahead of time’s ravages.  Wrinkles, lines, spots, sags, fat, grey hair, wattles, and weakness – ah, middle age.  I don’t have all the symptoms, but I certainly have most, and what is surely the common denominator –  mid-life maintenance is both time consuming and expensive.  Dealing with grey hair takes a couple of hours while a concoction of chemicals does its work; this is the calm and restful period of a process that is followed be a sharp jolt of sticker shock – the bill that follows the cut and colour.

Any cream that promises to smooth away wrinkles, age spots, or any other unwanted age-related affliction is bound to be costly.  Staying the hand of time cannot be done on the cheap.  No, if we choose to address the signs of ageing with dyes, creams, pills, and such, we must pay with time and money.  Of course, there is an alternative.  Acquiesce to our life stage; embrace the grey, celebrate the wrinkles (we’ve surely earned them), and eschew the fruitless quest to remain youthful.  So here is some sound advice – exercise, eat well, and enjoy life.  Having said that, I’m off to the salon tomorrow.