I don’t like to make a big deal of it, but I have been blue of late – for a combination of very normal human reasons. Stoicism is worth having in your toolkit (and a vanishing art worth demonstrating, in any case), but I know that we do ourselves no great favour when we toughen-up too-far and just say, “plenty of others have it far worse.” Even though this is both true, and also a good thing to keep in mind, it won’t ever obliterate, and certainly does not on it’s own heal any persistent heaviness of heart.
Catherine is really awesome and supportive (another reason I feel an ingrate, if I complain) and I’m lucky enough to have a couple of really great friends as well, but no matter how much Catherine and Nada have told me I’m okay or worthwhile lately, I’ve found myself more skeptical of their judgement, than reassured as to the matter in question.
The big tree (top photo)
Not my first blue period, of course, and I’ve learned some stuff. Everything you can do for yourself that boosts your physical state, improves your mental state as well – but it’s hard to bother when you’re low. Having a friend to give you an excuse to get out and active, helps a lot!
Today, without any planning (just our customary excellent luck) Nada and I had an extraordinary Christmas magic sort of day, such as I considered long behind me. You know how it is – skeptical by temperament anyhow, low at the moment – and then on comes all that false cheer, commerce and avarice! Dangerously easy to get into a species-loathing spree – but that’s by no means the only possible recipe we can concoct with those ingredients.
This Christmas tree (the tallest in Canada) is set up right in the middle of the Eaton Centre – our busiest downtown shopping and ‘destination’ centre. But despite the onrush of the season, the crowds were actually quite civil and friendly today – except, that is, for a staggering (almost frighteningly-unending) parade of pre-teen girls all dressed in rainbow unicorn outfits, who were being herded in their thousands by piercing voiced security guards, endlessly repeating the same four-word admonishments at their particular station in the line, – all there to see a celebrity whose name we never could catch, even though we asked several people and got answers of a sort which, try our best, we could not seem to decipher or recognize (perhaps the name was one of those sounds too high of frequency to be heard by anyone over the age of thirteen?)
Nada has been a good girl
But we found even better enchantments (and happier crowds) when we swung-through the Christmas market at Nathan Phillips Square – which includes hand crafted gifts, mulled wine and cider – kiddy rides – and quite wonderfully, Santa Claus himself – raising money for epilepsy. We took pains to point-out that we were in fact opposed to epilepsy, and the attendant girls duly giggled to one another about it.
Nada has great and impressive skill for uninhibited and fully-enthusiastic participation – I’m good at this myself when it comes to practically anything creative, but I can be a bit of a grump about some especially popular pastimes. What can I say? When practically everything seems to be unravelling, ornery is not only a precautionarily-sensible stance, it’s also kind of fun.
But there is definitely such a thing as talking yourself out of joy, with reason (and that rule applies at least a thousand-fold, when it comes to rationale).
Here’s the thing. When Nada said I should go up and sit with Santa too, I almost said no – came very close – and then I thought, why not do it, and get a silly photo to share the day with Catherine when I get home.
But I have to tell you – having this genuinely and radiantly sweet guy welcome me into his sleigh with a smile, saying, “It’s been awhile, hasn’t it?” – exactly like an avuncular pastor, too glad to welcome the returning prodigal parishoner to scold him unduly – cast an instant and profound spell on me.
And when he put his arm around me for the picture – and told me he knew I had in fact been a good boy, I actually found myself believing him on the point – completely – for the first time in what feels like years.
One of these days, I am going to have to finally compile all of my scattered and semi-coherent notes about the perspective and philosophy of curiously costumed working professionals. It is a subject I enjoy thinking about while in-costume, doing my own best to radiate a character which will be of some value to others.
Big note to self: Santa goes right at the top of the pyramid. Maximal magic-points!