Comrades!

A mosaic of impressions

Rostov-on-Don mosaic from Soviet Artefacts on Unsplash

Community, communes, communion, commons!

All this sharing of life, each another way of saying the same thing: we are together, supporting one another, sharing - but what is it that we share? How far does it go? What about that lonesome valley the old time country singers wailed about? You know the valley, the one you’ve got to walk for yourself. What about when that lonesome train whistle blows?

The simultaneous push and pull of community on one hand and solitude on the other is in the spotlight now as we go further into opening up from the lockdown. On darker days, I wonder if we are simply postponing an inevitable situation in which all get the virus one way or the other. In a brighter mood, I believe we are all doing our best and the regulations locked in place combined with our own full social compliance will turn the tide, keep it all at bay.

At the very least, I am so grateful Canada is not in the hands of the scientist-muzzling Conservatives as it was in our former Harper Government. If we hadn’t escaped their grasp, we’d have had a crippled health system by now and would be seriously playing catch-up with the rest of the world at this stage of our pandemic.

When I recollect the audacity of rebranding the Government of Canada into the Harper Government, named for the Prime Minister, it still shocks and upsets me. Part of me is still the obedient schoolgirl who fully believed in that pink country above the United States on our school map of the world. I was taught to feel a closeness with all those other pink countries in what they called “The Commonwealth.” Of course now I see the wealth all flowed to one tiny island country, the original pink place, with the remarkably fairy tale name of “The United Kingdom”. Sadly, that kingdom is not doing all that well these days, either.

Map of the countries near the Land of Oz

Sometimes it just all comes down to the heart. Is there enough of it to create a concord, an agreement to work together for the common good? Differences, bitching, picking apart, budget slashing and shortfall catching-up can all come later. But you can tell, always, if the party spokesperson can’t quite read the room, and instead reads an old speech, something written by a smarter someone else, a while ago, ignorant perhaps of the new information of the moment. At the beginning of all this, I saw pre-programmed tweets that had been sent out to post before the pandemic hit, making the sender appear to be tone deaf to the conversation. Even in real time, many make this same mistake - tone deaf to the situation.

Comrades! We must pull together! The sledge across the tundra - where is it going? Does it meet up with that lonesome train? Maybe that train ain’t so lonesome after all. It could be a party train, a poetry train, carrying very merry passengers across the land, smiling comrades raising glasses of home-made vodka, with the cheers, “We made it!”

Outside, at the edge of the forest, the deer stand still, observing the light from the windows as the passenger train speeds past. The deer turn back to their secret homes, unseen in the privacy of the thicket.

I’m like them, home is where I mean to stay for a while longer. It has become much more than a landing pad where we eat, sleep, do things and launch from. During this retreat from the world it has transformed into a personal sanctuary. Some of us have felt this way about home long before the pandemic. More of us now are making our home life very personal, deep, unique and significant, just for ourselves.

Home is our sanctuary or temple, and it is a bridge to the inner life. When the door to the outside world is closed, there is another door that opens to the sustaining force of an inside world. At home there might be no exterior validation or judgement from others. It is something to be relearned, something to get used to, so it could feel uncomfortable at first. But over time that discomfort can be shed, and soon this heart/hearth quality of home life begins to appear. We can become more ourselves than ever in this cozy place for rebirth. It is a warm sustaining space where we each evolve in our own way, and a healing place to return to.


Comrades! Be vigilant! Never let up! Fewer faces, wider spaces!


I’m writing now on Sunday afternoon. I’ve seen and wept at The New York Times list of names published today. I’m sure you’ve seen it. Here’s the interactive posting. As everything opens up, this is a stark memorial reminder of the toll of this virus, and doesn’t even include the many people who suffered and survived it. Today is sunny. After walking the dog in the park, joyfully watching the goslings by the pond, returning to the sanctuary of home, I’m struck with the exhaustion of cognitive dissonance. Too much happening all at once. What now?


Decades ago, Barrington Nevitt, an associate of Marshall McLuhan, said, “…our present hangups are due to the incompatibility of sequential thinking with the simultaneities of electric living.” (from ABC of Prophecy: Understanding the Environment.) I take the point, learn to move slowly to avoid the clashing of energies, and recuse myself for a little while from our electric environment. That’s better already. (More on electric living in a future issue.)


Listening to an old mystery at home! Even though James Joyce said, “There’s no police like Holmes,” The Moonstone, by Wilkie Collins on the podcast Phoebe Reads a Mystery is a great listen, so cleverly written in 1868. I still haven’t discovered who stole the moonstone, or why, but somehow find it calming to hear all about it.


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