Sunday, May 14, 2006

Much-Needed Humdrum

This past week has been strange: I've had so many highs and lows all jammed into a few days. On the positive side, I've gone to the pool five times this past week. It's been an excellent way to de-stress and to keep in shape. At about the same time last year, I got into the routine of exercising – either jogging or swimming, and sometimes even both on the same day. I had gone through a time of emotional turmoil, and was not eating well and was shedding weight unnecessarily. I might have been experiencing something similar this spring, but to a lesser degree. In the past few weeks, several people have commented on my strange mindset; I've been somewhat of a space cadet. A colleague even had the audacity to ask if I was on drugs.

I always feel such an ambivalence at this time of year up here in Inuvik: On the one hand, the bright days just lift my spirits to no end. One student noted earlier in the week that I was smiling compulsively non-stop throughout the day. On the other hand, as my school year winds down, I feel such an uncertainty. I just found out on Thursday that the dynamics in my class will change drastically starting tomorrow morning, and as much as I loathe these changes, there is nothing I can do about them. There has been a rumour circulating that I won't return in the fall, much to my surprise. (Then again, I should stop being surprised that there are always rumours floating about concerning me – at least this one is harmless enough.) This rumour might turn out to be true after all, for once, if my year turns out the way I imagine.

I'm afraid this is just one of those entries that is full of humdrum happenings; however, it's actually a much-needed break from the drama that I've been wrapped up in and that has consumed me for the last little while. Top five small blessings of the week, in the order that they pop into my head:

  1. Freshly-baked bread given to me by a great friend

  2. Getting my foot stuck in the mud while hiking the bypass

  3. Clearing the junk off my deck and basking out in the sunshine

  4. The arrival of my new computer

  5. My cat calming down and healing well after being spayed

In continuation with my current obsession with Africa, I've been reading Laurens van der Post's A Story Like the Wind. In the introduction, van der Post writes that stories are more vital than home and people. They are essential for both survival and renewal. He also writes that his book is part of the repayment of the debt that he has owed Africa. I am somewhat comforted by his perspective. After lamenting to everyone that I feel emotionally homeless, I think that van der Post is right. I have my stories, wherever I go. In some ways, by being here, I owe the North in the same way that van der Post has owed Africa. I repay my debt through working and trying to be part of this community. I also owe the North my story: The North has become the backdrop of my character development, and I'm repaying my dues by writing, both literally and metaphorically. By living and appreciating and putting my heart into my work, I am “writing” myself into this land, as much as the land is writing me.

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