Rosemary Ganley The Peterborough Examiner September 24, 2020
Each of us in our personal circumstances is being called on to give up, adjust, work twice as hard, and worry a lot more these days. The dilemmas facing young parents are extreme; whether to send kids to school, earning enough to live, watching for signs of illness, and caring for others in the family, are just some.
For me, alone, in my senior years, vigorous, and on a pension, life is outwardly easier than for many. Prolonged isolation has its challenges too. I’ve been thinking about my coping strategies.
I’ve cleaned my living space, drawers, closets, and files, and given away a lot of excess. Vinnie’s is receiving donations again from Wednesday to Saturday. I’ve brought my will up-to-date and written out a page of bequests, those treasures acquired during 65 years of moving about, for cherished grandchildren: knick-knacks, jewelry, pictures and books.
I have attempted to improve myself; that always feels good. Cultural institutions have been generous during lockdown: the McMichael Gallery and the National Gallery in Ottawa have offered free tours and tutorials. The Metropolitan Opera in New York
dug into its archives and presented some of their 500 opera performances. There I got serious, and watched parts of 19 operas, having consulted the synopsis of the drama first. When the works began to run in together in my head, (something which happens when you don’t have followup discussion}, I gave the Met a rest.
I took a 90-minute course from, get this, Pandemic University, a startup in Calgary: on “Writing Opinion,” with a fine freelancer, Max Fawcett.
Success has been had with the family Zoom calls each Sunday. The five teens have kept hanging in. I watch for signs of depression. They have so many reasons to get depressed. So far so good. Jim, the son on Vancouver Island who has started keeping chickens, and built a coop he calls the Taj Mahen, has persuaded his 14 layers to produce an egg, even if it’s blue. The project was partly sabotaged by their dog, Gracie, who shook one of the chickens to death. Bad dog.
I have watched an inordinate amount of pro sports on TV. So desperate was I for sports, I began following Bayern-Munich in the European Bundesliga. Couldn’t find anyone in town to discuss it with. But there was a silver lining, seeing Edmonton soccer player Alfonso Davies, age 19, named rookie of the year in that league. I saw his dazzling footwork.
Then of course the Raptors returned, to our national delight. I wish announcers Matt and Jack would tell us the back story of that amazing player, O.G. Anunoby. Of course they are Americans and don’t have our sensibility. He is a 23-year-old Nigerian, an orphan now, whose father, a professor brought him to the U.K., then the U.S., where he started playing basketball His first name is Ogugua.
I walked a lot, especially pleasant on a warm day at Little Lake Cemetery, our treasure in the middle of the city, where the surroundings give rise to deep thoughts.
I learned Twitter, more or less, and completed my annual ambition to swim in Ontario lakes: Rosseau, Eagle Lake in north-estern Ontario, and the Oxtongue River in Algonquin Park.
I followed politics, too closely. I regularized my drinking to one a day, Appleton rum or red wine. That was probably from following the politics.
Socially, at four o’clock, I made my way over to the deck of one of three couples: Joe Webster and Casey Ready, Peter Laurie and Cathy Bolan, or Colleen Crawley and Steve Brown. It was the conversations I craved.
For this long haul, it is psychospiritual resources we must draw on. I’m rereading old Christian classics such as Teilhard de Chardin’s “Le Milieu Divin,” and Teresa of Avila’s “The Interior Castle,” finding them relevant to today’s challenges. Plus participating in prayer, and in two communal meditation groups, utter silence, via Zoom each week.
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