There was a time in my life, when there seemed to be no limits, no limits to the places to go, the things to learn, the friends to make, the frontier. When you get a little older, we start to bump up against the edges of the frontier, then there is frontier no more, we are the United States of America, the Garden of Eden California awaits us, becomes an American state, become populous, then too populous, we are a tree whose roots run at last into impermeable clay deep below the surface, and our branches act out this underground play in the sky, stunted and twisting.
We trade the thrill of the limitless for the pressure of the limit, this makes us what we are, the path of weakness leaves us brittle and half-shapened, too much strain cracks us, grinds us to dust. You start to understand, perhaps you never will go to Tahiti, like you dreamed watching Lonely Planet as a 16 year old. You have to make money to travel, that takes time and effort, you have say two weeks a year and, how many years? 30 more where you can do a trip like that? If you are lucky, 30 trips? Not the life of a Lonely Planet guide, every day a new destination, a new beach, new friendly locals, dreamy soundtrack, perfectly edited.
Your Tahiti is an office. Your crucible is making the most of the gnarling of your branches, the same office every day, less friends than when you were a university student, years go by and you watch skyscrapers, buildings built around you, casting shadows where there were none before, the City of your birth doubles in size, your home soil, paved over, little old lady from the farm in Saskatchewan, lives in a bungalow with a big garden, they’re all gone now, the little old ladies who volunteer and remember the Depression and have perfect handwriting are in the ground, their bungalows are torn down daily and replaced by eight-plexes where people don’t know their neighbour and watch netflix instead going about their Netflix lives on the ground floor, uber eats for dinner, no room for trees in this new city (despite official City policy) no room for a garden or birds.
‘Housing diversity policies encourage the creation of a wide range of housing types, tenures and densities that help meet affordability, accessibility,…’ developers and City planners sing the same tune, one makes money and says goodbye, the other plays their own game of having the correct current year beliefs in a state of high refinement, and even making it happen in some sense. But there is only one direction for our lives, for trees, for cities and nations.
You only have so many springs left. Every summer only has so many weekends.
If it takes a year to learn a language how many languages can you fit in? What about a martial art? How many martial arts? A black belt? What about Church? What about fishing? Hunting in the fall? Time with your parents? Or your nephews? You see the beauty of the choice, the sweet mortal tragedy of closing a door on another possible you, it sharpens your energy, and you watch hockey after work, the Oilers are oddly compelling this year, you even listen to their playoff games on the radio in the bath, an Edmonton station, you’ve never done that before, yet it seems to fit somehow, it seems like the perfect wavelength to relax after the lawyering and the running and the emptying of the dishwasher.
The realization in itself is a new Spring. The faint, distant, scent of mortality in the air, the stiff white nosehair. Can we betray ourself just a little less this year? Can we love fully, can we outgrow our familiar fears? Or are they a part of us.