You are, perhaps, curious as to how my decision to make fewer decisions and to just execute is going. Remain curious—curiosity is what keeps us young. I have, as of yet, nothing to report. One major decision made, but not executed. And the rest of life—not miraculously changed. Still. I am getting out of bed in the morning even though I don’t want to.
Today is Canada Day, and national holidays for immigrants and children of immigrants are a time not so much of patriotism but of reflection and gratitude. I am very grateful that my family landed here when I was ten. I am grateful for the closed border to the United States (sorry, American friends) and free public health care. I am grateful for Flora’s medication, Sean’s dental benefits. Cinder’s job.
All the self-help books are right, you know. Gratitude helps. “I am grateful” is a powerful phrase.
I am grateful.
I am an adult Third Culture kid with a twist, which means I was born in one country, spent my formative childhood years in another (three others, actually) and then finally landed in the True North (which I keep on leaving, because, Third Culture kids do that). I am grateful for all of those experiences. They make change and uncertainty the norm.
They normalize that nothing is forever.
Nothing is forever.
But we celebrate permanence, not transience. You know what I mean? On this July 1, we celebrate 153 years of the apparent permanence of the Canadian Confederation, not its fragility.
Not what it replaced.
I am grateful I am here.
But when I look at the history that brought me here, feeling gratitude gets harder. Am I supposed to be grateful for the 50 years of the Soviet-Communist oppression of my natal land that made my parents’ immigration a survival imperative? The germs-and-gun genocide that effectively cleared the Americas for the first waves of colonizers who established the nation that offered us sanctuary?
When I practice meditation and yoga nidra, I practice a form of intention setting called sankalpa. It’s a fancy Sanskrit name for affirmation—manifestation—intention. (Don’t mock me. You smoke week, she binges on Netflix, I future-plan while breathing in the moment. We all have different coping mechanisms.)
In the yoga nidra practice, before you set the intention, you are supposed to feel nothing but gratitude for all the things that brought you to this moment, this place.
That… instruction has always been a stumbling block for me. And it’s th ekey reason I stopped the practice in 2019. Grateful for my child’s suffering? Grateful for this pain? Fuck you, Buddha and Krishna, and don’t you dare say a word, Jesus, this is why I am an atheist.
I am grateful I am here.
I am grateful I am alive.
I am grateful my daughter is alive.
I am grateful we survived the various really shitty things that life threw at us. In 2020, 2019, earlier.
But grateful for the shitty things? You can take that fatalistic ideology and shove it up your left nostril. Then plug it.
So on this Canada Day—I am grateful I am here.
But I acknowledge that I am here in large part because of terrible historical injustices, driven by foul ideologies.
I am aware of the suffering these have caused. Continue to cause.
I guess I am grateful that I live in a time when we are, as a nation, as a people, becoming aware of the injustice of this suffering, and the need to address it.
At a time when global events (pandemic!) and personal stresses (don’t ask, but you’ve got them too, right?) make it difficult to get out of bed.
I am grateful for this painful awareness.
Happy Canada Day.
PS Enjoy this gorgeous rendition of O Canada by Calgary choir Rev 52:
And then–because the world needs more Canada:
But also–committed to change.