For whom the truth matters. Nothing deep. Just an everyday story. 2.3.


Yeah, but doesn’t truth matter? Of course! Bear in mind that “the truth matters” is not a well-formed formula. Matters requires an indexical, i.e. matters-to or matters-for. The truth of some things matter for me, notwithstanding they don’t matter to me. I don’t give one whit about whether the roof of the movie theater will bear the weight of snow falling on it while I watch the show. But if the roof starts to heave and sag, whether it will hold up matters very much to me. That the load-bearing capacity of the roof matters to someone else is good for me, and that it matters to the builder and architect because their income and reputations are on the line for their assurances is also good for me. But I don’t stop to think of the truth of all the things that are good for me, like that people are enforcing safety regulations or learning how to build a strong roof. I couldn’t, and probably shouldn’t. If I stopped to think about how I know roofs will bear weight, I’d lay awake at night looking at the ceiling. Sure, I can assure myself that I’ve seen rooftops my whole life, not a one caved-in. Not that I’d even think about roofs caving-in until asked. But once asked, I’ve the idea that roofs can cave in. (And perhaps confirm my fears on You Tube.) And if they can cave in, what makes me so certain that this particular roof (points up) won’t cave in?

Come on, how much do you really want to know? 2.2

If you really want to get detailed, and disturbed, about how much faith you put in the things that matter for your life, think of having a surgery. Just think about the doctor’s trust in the science she refers to, the variety and precision of the equipment she uses, the sterilization of equipment, the pharmaceuticals, the public and governmental watchdog organizations, that the doctor won’t be impaired by her looming divorce and undiagnosed Parkinson’s tremor, the cleanliness of the operating room, the safety of the building, the adequacy of the power source, the skill of the anesthesiologist and the safety of the chemicals she uses, and so on – with all the things that can go wrong, we should marvel at how often things work! And you. You just hop on the table. Come on, how much do you REALLY want to know?

We can’t fact-check every little thing — and still have friends. 2.1.

Can you imagine what a jerk I’d be if I insisted on fact checking everything everyone says to me?

Tammy: I went to the mall this morning.

Pam: Did you now. Which mall?

Tammy: THE mall. The only mall in town.

Pam: How do I know you went to the mall?

Tammy: I have a bag. From Stokes. In the mall.

Pam: But you could have gotten that bag on some other day.

Tammy: I got it this morning. When I went to the mall.

Pam:  This morning, huh?

Tammy: Here is a receipt date and time stamped from this morning.

Pam: And how do I know that your husband, Tim, didn’t go to the mall, and you just picked the receipt out of his bag? Can you get me some security footage?

Tammy: I’m going to punch you in the throat. F* you, Pam.

Now, maybe it’s so that Tammy wasn’t at the mall. Tammy dreamt she was at the mall, and unbeknownst to her, Tim went to the mall while she slept. Tim left the bag in the kitchen and then went to work before Tammy woke up. When Tammy got up, she saw the bag and, because of her dream, thought she went to the mall. Sure, this scenario is possible. Stranger things have happened. But you know, it’s a weird thing to fact check people’s every day factual reports. This behaviour is likely to thwart a conversation, and leave you bereft of friends.

Oh, come on — let’s give the blather about “tribalism” and “ideologies” a little kick in the knees.

I’ll be getting back to this topic. But I’ve committed to keeping my posts short (for the most part), so here’s a quick kick at what I’ll call “ideology-talk.” Whatever it is that some people think ideology is, it seems they think it something that keeps us apart. You know. I’m in one camp, you’re in the other. So, let’s push on that notion a bit, shall we?

If you’re a Catholic, you won’t show up at the Vatican to couch surf for the weekend. If you are a Red Sox fan, you won’t call up the manager and ask for his house keys. If you did, you might be slapped with a restraining order. And you might party with other Red Sox fans at a bar after a game, but you’re not going to pass around your hat for help with a down payment on a new home. If you’re a Democrat, you won’t show up at head office with a box of Kleenex to off-load your despair over your latest break-up. Nor will you hand your poo-sample to the guy wearing a PETA shirt just like yours and ask him to drop it at the nearest lab. You sleep on your best-peep’s couch because you have her house-keys. She cut them for you. She’ll give you everything she can muster toward your down payment, and she’ll cry with you over your break up. She’ll even take your poo to the lab and hope that the sample is normal. If you have cancer, she’ll be there shaving her head when you lose your hair. Your friend might wear a PETA t-shirt, you the slogan, I. LOVE. ALBERTA. BEEF. You both love animals. You’ve incorporated some ideas from your friend about raising cattle more humanely into your business, and because of you she’s become less aggressive in her advocacy. You’ve got some really different ideas about the way the world works, such as different politics and views on spirituality. But you make each other think, you make each other laugh, and your friendship works.

Some marriages work this way, too. Think of a couple where she goes to church, he doesn’t. Or vice versa. People who think differently about politics, religion, and these sorts of thing can — and do — procreate. It’s almost like we’re the same species or something. Sharing our lives together over time and building bonds of mutual trust can leave room for us to disagree without fearing the loss of relationship. Although, of course, disagreements sometimes go gravely wrong. But, I suspect there is far more “ideological” mixing and matching, and even match-making, than what those on the infotainment/edutainment circuits might suggest.







On aging.

Like this knocker, my hands have given so many years of service. They’ve been tireless and strong, standing up to water, heat, and cold. And, like this knocker, they’ve been taken by the hands of others.







A road sign for the labourer. Rewrite.

During our recent visit to the UK, I snap a photo of a road sign (see below). It catches my eye because British English is so delightful, with so many common words just different enough from my Canadian dialect that I have to do a little interpreting. Instead of ‘no waiting or overtaking’, I note, Canadians say something like ‘no stopping or passing’. And the ‘at any time’ is redundant.

The next day, we, my husband and I, arrive at our summer home in Italy. I’m sitting at my desk, tired from travel and a little homesick. In this state, I’m contemplative, subdued by waves of nostalgia tinctured with the blue-mood palettes of guilt and anxiety. I worry about how each and everyone is making out back in Canada, my aging parents, my kids, my pets, and my friends. And on the flip side, I wonder how and why this ‘girl’ from a rural remote sawmill camp is so privileged to fly to wondrous places? As always, my class sensitivity sits on my shoulder like a surly owl, its talons steadfastly gripping me with sharp reminders of where I belong. In this perfect storm of memory, emotion, and exhaustion I review my photos. And, lingering over the road sign, I see more than words.

Labourers, I think to myself, road construction workers, put the sign in place. And I wonder, What is it like for the labourers to work in such a big city? Where do they live, is it hard to get to work, and what do they do in their off-time? Maybe they have a union, decent pay, and good benefits, I conjecture. Maybe these are jobs people fight for, that provide a comfortable life. Or, maybe the pay scarcely covers the cost of living, holidays are rare, and the workers’ joints swell and permanently knob from manual labour. My current melancholy anchors me in this latter sympathetic, and certainly more pessimistic, possibility — closer to my own formative experiences. And it’s through this lens that I figuratively reinterpret the words on the sign to mean 1) ‘no waiting’ as in there’s no chance for rest, I can’t afford to stop, and 2) ‘no overtaking’ as in notwithstanding I’m working all the time, I just can’t get ahead (or get ahead of my betters). 

This sentiment was certainly common where I grew up, often expressed jokingly in phrases such as No rest for the wicked. But it was also expressed as a feeling of futility and frustration. Well, what do you do? What can you do? No point complaining. I use the past tense, but there are people right now, everywhere, working non-stop just to make ends meet. And my thinking about them doesn’t ease their burdens. As much as I wish it does.