Thursday, September 14, 2006

The lucky one

It's really easy to be willfully-blind up here. I no longer have access to a daily newspaper, and I've cut off my cable television since June. I keep in touch with the happenings in the world through the several minutes of radio I listen to in my half-sleep state in the morning before work, or through clicking on news-sites over the Internet. Yesterday, other teachers were talking about the incident in Montreal where a gunman went and shot twenty college students, killing one and injuring nineteen others. My throat just tightened and my mind froze. After work, I decided to take my mind off the horror and go and have a barbecue. It was chilly, but it was perfect: The air was crisp, fresh, and inviting, as though it commanded me to breathe deeply. We saw the most perfect jet-stream from a plane. It was heading west in the most gorgeous arc, and it was etched in the beautiful evening light. In this willful blindness to the world beyond Inuvik, I've grown more attuned to the everyday beauty that is everywhere around me.

Monday was the fifth anniversary of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Centre. One of my students was obsessed with replaying footage of the plane crashing into the second tower when she was on the classroom computer. She was just fascinated, while I was sick to my stomach. That footage was of the moment of many deaths, the ends of lives no different from mine. When I read about Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, or Sri Lanka this summer, I was disturbed not as much by the numbers killed, but by the personal accounts that put faces to the nameless victims. I was devastated by the accounts of the American-Lebanese woman who decided to turn down aid from the embassy in order to remain in the chaos of Beirut. After keeping up with her story for about two weeks, I forced myself to stop reading.

On Monday night, there was an ethereal piece of music on CBC radio; it was of vocalists performing the first movement of Mozart's Symphony No. 40, the “Romantic.” That symphony had been familiar to me since I was eleven, when I studied it in music class. Later, when I taught music history, it was the piece that I could talk about with my eyes closed. I knew every theme, every modulation, every section. Listening to human voices take the place of orchestral instruments carnivalized the familiar to me, and brought out a strange beauty. I want to remember September 11th as the day I discovered this piece, the day that brought back memories of my eleven-year-old self, the self that was confident that everything (that I, my family, my friends, and the world) would turn out to be all right.

There might be a cat living under the house. I heard it mewling outside while having supper two nights ago. My friend saw it, and said it was a spitting image of my darling kitty, but skinnier and scruffier. I was going to put out food for it tonight, but I had not heard it all day today. Perhaps it has moved on. My thoughts have been with that cat these past few days, all alone in the cold and dark underneath the house. At night, I've been snuggling my own cat extra-close, nuzzling my face on that soft coat and telling her repeatedly, “You're the lucky one.”

My digital piano arrived today. The middle C is defective, so I'll be exchanging the whole thing for another. Hopefully, it won't be too much of a hassle. Despite being distressed over this minor detail, or perhaps because of it, I realize that I'm also the lucky one.

(I have a new student. Rather, she is a student I had before, one who has returned. And she broke/breaks my heart. Yes, I'm definitely the lucky one.)

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