Everyone brings something beautiful


Music on the march (top photo)

This is an age of pettiness, and I know I’m not the only one heartsick about it. I’m still trying to find a nice rhythm with which to bring you some fine honest (non-delusional) optimism and inspiration, and also serious adult-level talk about where we are, and what we, as adults, ought to be doing about it.

I think both of these are not only necessary, but our simple responsibility. For today’s post – I’m going to try to do a bit of both, blended together.

Full-disclosure here. My ultimate baseline will-not-budge creed and faction? Honestly? KINDNESS! My wife and I have been on this side for a long time – it’s really simple and strong as can be, and we feel better, for trying our best to live there. I am still subject to all sorts of irrational tempers (like everyone) but my compass points toward understanding – and the one big family we are.

Everyone has a part to play

If you’re proud of your hatred – then by-definition, you can’t be a sincere progressive, or a person of humble faith – and this, we should all admit, is far too often the case today. It’s an age of easy incoherent rage and shameless hypocrisy.

And you know what? All of that chest-thumping we get caught up in, misses the point – because this world is both incredibly super-beautiful and frighteningly screwed-up at exactly the same time – and we either rise to the challenges before us with principle or else we fail, just like all of those who came before us.

Even the little ones are proud to contribute

I’m an atheist, but the next time I hear a snarky leftist laughingly sneer about how dumb religious people are, I think I might just scream. Same goes for religious folks who assume those without their particular point of faith, cannot be fully compassionate principled and humane.

Here’s the thing – and this is incredibly important. There is no ONE right-way to do life. No mere obedience to dogma, that on it’s own, confers virtue.  Even on the surface of it, such an idea is constructed of purest vanity and conceit – which again, are prohibited under all compassionate and adult moral programs.

Sure, some people do like to think that their team and only their team are the good-guys, but this is a damaging fantasy, and also a form of ingratitude. We’re one great big interlocked world now, and all of us depend on one-another far more than we think, for our special contributions to the whole.

I’m lucky, I’ve lived in one of the most internationally-blended cities in the world for my entire life, and honestly, it’s hard for me to imagine how sophisticated people can stand to live in those places where everyone doesn’t feel welcome to contribute their own special gems to the whole.  I’ve even had some folks attack me for raising the value of genuine multiculturalism, as if I’m trying to put them down, by showing that the whole world isn’t yet totally insane.  Really not my intention at all (and we’ve got plenty of work yet to do here still, too) but I will not apologize for steadfast multicultural and internationalism, nor ever cease reccommending it.  Because it works!

What – you’ve got something against street festivals, great music, food and joy?

Too cool – wind players, catching their breath

I’ve mentioned before, that even though I was out on my own very early indeed, many strangers stepped-up for no reason other than their own kindness, and taught me helpful things, (which is the reason my new writing is based solidly in kindness and gratitude).

For several young-man years, I lived in an illegal basement apartment around College and Shaw, where I gradually learned what it was like in a real family neighbourhood – everyone out on their porch, watching each other’s kids – bikes and balls and giggles. Surly teenagers too, of course – but curiously, in areas where someone who knows them is sure to be out and watching, even the bad kids go to other neighbourhoods, when they want to let-off steam!

My friend Vince, next door, was my introduction to the culture of the Azores, which is at root, Portuguese, but also a special thing unto itself, as well. Toronto is a great centre for those coming from the Azores, and they have contributed massively – many fine artists, lovely bakeries, restaurants, and especially impressively, to the building of our fast-growing city.

And boy do they ever know how to create a wonderful and welcoming festival!

Waiting for their turn to answer

Pictured (throughout) the annual marching-band parade – part of the celebrations for Senhor Santo Cristo Dos Milagres – at St Mary’s, at Bathurst and Adelaide – re-enacting the procession of a venerated statue of Christ (original lives in the convent of our lady of hope, in Ponta Delgada, on island of Sao Miguel, in the Azores), which was credited with calming an especially devastating series of earthquakes (their central worry) in 1700.

I have to tell you, I’m a cheerful and reasonably charming fellow, but I was still blown-away by the friendliness I got from young and old, blundering right into the middle of their joyous, but also sacred event, with my cluelessness and my camera.

Again and again, no matter what I said, or who I asked – the response I got was always a big warm smile and, “My friend, of course…”

My friend

Like I said, there were a lot of great bands at this event – truly fantastic to hear so many horn players, learning to play in ensemble, effectively. But this next group was the star of the show for me – not just for their great playing, but also their overabundance of style and happy camaraderie – every musical group should be so lucky! (and almost a ‘night-watch’ variety of faces, right?)

Earned a break

Not only that, but I looked on their website – and they are offering free music-lessons, to anyone interested in learning a new instrument, to help fill one of the vacant spots in their band – how awesome a deal is that!

This particular band has been going strong since nineteen seventy – almost a half-century now – making me smile every time I hear them – along with everyone else who bothers to get out for a walk, come downtown and soak-up the free joy, on the fifth sunday after Easter!

The exhilaration of a great performance

And I must note – one of them did take me to task, and said, “You can’t just take pictures of a few of us, you have to get one of the group of us together”

I agreed with the suggestion wholeheartedly – and then took the following photograph as a result. And I’m sending it along to them right now – as I post this. I bet you guys didn’t think I’d remember – did you? ;o)

(just part of) the fantastic Banda Lira Nossa Senhora De Fatima
Everyone loves a horn-player!

Cheers, folks – and thanks – for so many fine gifts – and for yet-again showing us mungicakes how it’s done!

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