What Will Become of Us?

I was at the pool this morning, resting in the sauna following my aquafit class. As sweat poured down my face I looked out into the pool area. The place was full of happy, loud, exuberant kids — their year-end celebration at MacDonald Island Park. Seeing them made me think of my three grandchildren and I wondered what, if anything, they were doing today to celebrate the end of another school year.

Thinking of them made me suddenly wonder: what will become of them? Of us? Of this big, old, beautiful world?

Lately, I’ve been preoccupied with recycling, reusing and rethinking how I do things. How the things I do impacts the planet, impacts all the creatures I share it with. I try hard to recycle — have been for over 30 years. Sadly, I’ve come to find out that most of what I’ve saved from my landfill has simply made its way into someone else’s landfill. And, now, because there is such a glut of recyclable materials in the marketplace, companies are starting to refuse to take more. Municipalities are changing their recycling rules and reducing and restricting what can be placed in a blue box. I’m being forced to pollute.

When I shop I look for products that have minimal packaging so that I am not adding to the 8 billion tons of plastic that makes its way into the environment. I use cloth/reusable grocery bags, severely limit my use of plastic produce bags and when I do have to use them I generally reuse ones I’ve had forever. I try to make as much of our food as possible; try to remember to say “no straw, please”; carry my own water bottle, take my own travel mug when I’m on the road; wear my clothes til they’re rags, try to purchase clothes made from natural fibres, and on and on and on.

My point, now that I’m getting around to it is this: when I looked at those happy kids playing in this fantastic aquatic centre I saw how impossible it is for people to really change, to do what needs to be done if we are going to save our world for the millenia to come.

My bathing suit — and the hundreds of other bathing suits covering all those bodies in the water — is made of polyester and other man-made fibres. Billions of tiny microscopic fibres that will never break down were being shed into the water, then filtered out into the water system. Those tiny particles will make their way into our drinking water, our soft drinks, our beer. They will accumulate in our bodies. Maybe we won’t starve to death like the whales, seals, porpoises and sea-birds that we’re inundated daily with on social media, but one day all that gunk is going to wreak havoc on our bodies.

But what are we supposed to wear? Baggy, saggy cotton suits? Or, should we completely forsake things like public pools? There isn’t a square foot in the building that doesn’t contain something made of plastic. The slides, the lane markers, the flags, the diving platforms, the race stands, the nets, the life preservers, the whistles, the pool liners. It’s all made of some form of plastic. And if we were to decide that pools were verboten, then what? What do we do with all that stuff?

It’s not just public pools, either. It’s everything. All the advances that have been made to simplify our lives, to make them more enjoyable, more fulfilling, more meaningful, have contributed greatly to the slow and steady destruction of the very thing we wish to see and have more of — life.

Despite this gloomy outlook, I don’t feel completely hopeless. Everyday, people are waking up to the idea that this world and all it has to offer is finite. Entire countries are banning the use of disposable plastics like bags, cutlery and straws. Individuals from all over the world and from all walks of life are trying to effect change within their personal lives. They are writing companies and governments and manufacturers and demanding that changes be made in how products are packaged and sold. Entrepreneurs are starting businesses that are focused on cleaning up shorelines, trails and parks.

I hope, and I tentatively believe, that solutions to our pollution problems will be made. Probably not in what’s left of my lifetime, but not that far off, either.

Sitting there in the sauna, in my cute, but bad for the environment bathing suit, I thought I could envision a future where kids could still enjoy a day of fun at the local pool.

June 4th

Day 156 — A gorgeous, though windy, day.  Work went smoothly, though it’s getting harder and harder to motivate the kids.  They’re done.  They don’t want to be in school anymore.  Neither do most of the staff.  But it’s not that much longer — a few weeks — and let’s face it, teachers will try to get the kids outside as much as possible.  So, it’s not that terrible, really.

Spent an hour and a bit last night watching my youngest grandson at soccer.  These little guys are so cute.  They don’t actually play soccer — just run around with a ball and play a few games like “What Time is it Mr. Wolf? and Red Light, Green Light”. Honestly though, I think  the biggest attraction for them is when they get to break for snack.  You’d think they’d never seen a wedge of watermelon or a slice of orange before!  It’s hilarious.  But all part of that group social activity they need at that age.

It was a nice little break in my otherwise work-overload week.  I sat on the grass, smiled and even managed to read a few pages of my book.  Score!

March 20th

Day 79 — First day of Spring–hah!  But, at least it’s here.  Days are longer, you can feel the change in the air.

A bit of a disappointment today — the kids couldn’t come for dinner as planned because they’re all sick.  But nice of them to stay away so Tim and I don’t catch it.  Not with the Break coming up.

Silver lining — my sister in law Michelle called with an offer of a free ticket to go see Billy Elliot.  Couldn’t refuse!  Have been wanting to see the show, and an evening with her was long overdue.  Unfortunately, neither of us was really impressed with the show — for some reason it comes off very flat and emotionless, for a story that’s supposed to be so full of the joy and spirit of life and following your dreams.  Ah, well, it was still worth it.

February 26th

Day 57 —  Got to work with the Kindergarten kids today.  They are so sweet.  Found out my working partner is going to have twins — that’s so exciting!  Thrilled for her.  Stopped off to find out about our beef order — talked to a couple of the nicest people.  So glad I went out to meet them.

Gotta get back, gotta get back. . .

Some words borrowed from The Who.

That’s really dating me, I’m afraid.

I can just imagine some younger readers going The Who who?

But, I won’t be going there.  This is not a post about old rock and roll bands.

This is a post about old me.

Although, really, I’m not old.

But, man!  Was I ever starting to act like I was!

For a couple of years now I’ve been kind of free-wheeling in place, not really knowing what I was doing or where I was going.

Over the past 6 months or so I’ve really been doing some stock-taking, some re-evaluation, some soul-searching, some trying to figure out what the hell I’m going to do with what’s left of my life.

And, I’ve decided I need to get back.

Back to a place inside myself where creativity once reigned supreme.

I used to pride myself on my ability to creatively problem solve.  If we didn’t have the money for something (which was quite often) I could usually come up with some way to find it.  I thought outside the box.  It was normal.

As time progressed and money became less of an issue I began to find it easier to just buy whatever it was I/we needed.

Not creative.

Well, maybe a little.  Because, I always look to get the absolute best deal I possibly can — and that can require some small measure of creativity.

There’s another word for that, I know.  Cheap. I prefer frugal.

It sounds more creative.

However, I need to get back to what I was saying.  About getting back.  Getting back to a part of myself that I’d abandoned.

About a week ago I was talking with a friend and she mentioned how she sees herself doing something entirely different from what she is currently doing.

She envisions herself as being a motivator.  Talking to others, giving them inspiration.

And I know, that if anyone can do this, my friend can.  She inspires me.

And, after I got off the phone I started thinking:  where do I see myself in 20 years time?

Sitting in front of a TV?  With knitting or crocheting?  Waiting for a phone call from my son or my grandchildren?  Waiting for the community senior’s bus to pick me up so I can go play cards or do a jigsaw puzzle?

I was horrified.  This is not what I had ever imagined for myself.

No, the future I had imagined long ago, in the time before marriage and children and grandchildren was something entirely different.

I saw myself as an adventurer, a photographer, a writer.  I saw myself as living in a place that nurtured me and inspired me and fed me.

Somewhere along the way that vision was altered.

And, not for one minute do I regret the alteration.

I have had a wonderful life up to this point.

Marriage, family, grandchildren, love in abundance.

A beautiful home, a great job, money to pay my bills and afford a few luxuries.

But, now, as time seems to slip and slide around me and I become daily more aware of the preciousness of it, I’m beginning to wonder.

Shouldn’t I be doing more with my life?  Shouldn’t I be trying to live as creatively and beautifully as I possibly can in the years left before me?

Because, really, how many are there left?

As my favorite sister and brother-in-law pointed out to us this weekend it could all end in a moment.

You could step into the shower feeling strong and healthy and then, as you step out, have your heart falter and fail.

All chances to live better, live to your potential, live with creativity– gone.

And how you are going to be remembered is who you were when you stepped into that shower.

Maybe you wanted to be someone different.  Someone who ran marathons.  Someone who wrote poetry and read it aloud in small coffee shops.  Someone who painted.  Someone who took singing lessons. Or swimming lessons. Or bungee jumped.  Or sailed around the world.

We all have dreams.  We all dream that we can do and be so much more than who we really are.

Very few of us ever actually pursue those dreams.

Because doing that takes conviction and creativity.

And being creative takes work.  It means always thinking beyond what’s obvious.

It means being willing to take a chance.

It means choosing the road less travelled, risking failure, forsaking ‘normal’.

I don’t know yet what it is exactly I’m going to do, but I do know it’s going to be something great.

I don’t mean great as in President of the United States great (I am Canadian, after all).  I mean great in that it will make me feel great, make me feel as though each day I live has meaning and purpose.

It’s going to be fun and I’m going to do it with joyful abandon.

I’m going to get creative.

I’m going to inspire the people I love most in this life to live their lives the same way.

To their fullest, most creative potential.

That’s something I wouldn’t mind being remembered for.