Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Finally, we’ve had a bright, burning blue-sky day. I took a long walk after work without a coat on, donning my sunglasses and a smile. What makes the banal more bearable is the ability to see potential and beauty in everything, or “little altars everywhere” a la Rebecca Wells. That’s what life really is: the banal intermingled with the absurd and the miraculous.

As I come near the end of the school year and contemplate “going home,” I’m struck again by the gnawing feeling that I don’t really have a home, that I don’t really belong anywhere. Sometimes, I just tell myself that I belong to Canada, but our country is never truly ours. Where we feel a sense of belonging might be as small as a few blocks, a tiny part of a city. As we grow older, that sense of belonging only diminishes. Our world changes, our neighbourhoods change, and somehow, we are incapable of moulding ourselves to fit the new shape of our world. Everyone grows inward to compensate for this loss, and the result is that we are distancing ourselves more and more emotionally from each other. Even as we sit next to each other or reach out and touch each other, we are infinitely separate because we’ve all shrunk within ourselves, imploded upon ourselves.

I just read an article about the Zulu / Xhosa concept of ubuntu (furthering my obsession with Africa). It emphasizes that we develop our humanity from having a social consciousness. Maybe we don’t really have an essentialist self that is individual of our social connections, but we’re defined only by how we relate to others. It is in our self-interest to treat others with dignity and respect because we are all connected. When someone has done us wrong, we must forgive, because a failure to forgive leads only to our alienation from human relations.

Often, when I’m upset, I still tell myself that I can detach myself from everyone and find a peace that exists separate from all materiality and all external relationships. Perhaps I shouldn’t be approaching living from such an isolationist standpoint, and incorporate ubuntu into my life.

Here is my advice to myself today:

Don’t lament over losing people who have not been good to you. Be good to those who truly matter. Remember, be worthy of yourself over all else. Strive to be worthy of this life, of this world, and of the people you have. Everything else will fall into place. Remember the splendour of the day. Take it inside you and don’t let it leave. Yes, do love, but don’t forget to live as well. Love is not truly love if it suffocates. Choose those who let you shine and be free.

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