How to spend a sunny day

July 13, 2023   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

They say the night is darkest just before the dawn- the hour of the wolf in some cultures, isn’t it? They say that we are at our clearest just before death if we see it coming, visions and insights into the existential questions. People who have chosen or been persuaded to opt for the Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) program rather than suffer a path of incurable pain to death or even the degradation of a life that can only experience impoverishment and hopeless disability can have a painless ending. There is even an advertisement about it with dreamy people on a beach smiling and peaceful at the thought of a beautiful ending with a cocktail of drugs that induce coma and halt respiration.

People, we are told, enter a stage of true clarity just before accepting the assisted end of their lives and become emphatically philanthropic about their organ donations, which has led to a satisfactory increase in the number of life-saving organs available to waiting patients.

A new dawn all ’round, so it seems.

Sometimes, during the night, when my psyche and self opt for staying awake and as a collaboration, one might say, between the bits of my brain that want to review our past, riding Patrick (my horse), scuba diving in the Canary Islands, elegant soirées in London, England; conversations with loved ones, one no longer sees; memories of the travels we made to create those memories – sometimes the clarity is stunning and well worth sacrificing a few hours sleep.

For those ruminations are a healthy exercise into what the dawn and day may bring – the next week or months. They are not moments of planning necessarily but looking for the morsels of what was good, what was great, who we were at those times versus who we are now. Like any recipe, presentation is important and once the last dregs of night give way to the new day, the best place to begin it is within nature.

Crazy, isn’t it, how we are so fond of city life? All that crummy air and artificiality of badly designed vehicles pouring out fumes to make us ill; buildings erected with little thought to what else their jobs should be besides shelter; how they should also have gardens on their roofs and efficiencies in their systems of light and heat. Yet, herd creatures that we are, we cling to the company of others, even those to whom we never speak but only see or hear them walking, breathing, chatting.

The most important parts of any city, town or village are the parks. A Toronto-based friend of mine takes a walk instead through the cemetery nearby, where his late wife’s ashes are interred. Like the rest of us probably, he talks to her, bemoaning the fact that she died, leaving him to live without her. He may gossip with her, may tell her something funny as if hoping for a hint of humour, even laced with a phantom’s breath.

Otherwise, time amongst trees, bushes, grass, the virtue parks and cemeteries share, is essential to our own health, physically, emotionally and intellectually, because we are part of the earth, whether we understand that or not. Our most healing holidays are those spent in non-urban centres – hence the weekend rushes to the cottages, day trips to the beach, scaling mountains. Think about the last time your holiday was to a city: you had a wonderful time, so much to see and learn but, likely, you came back tired.

Sometimes, my nocturnal wanderings take me back to times as dark as night, back to days of death, when those I loved lay cold, their eyes covered by their lids where some other hand than mine drew them down. They have come to me often enough that the tears stay dry and leave me with the simple facts on which to reflect. We all go through it and could be the pain brings its own surprises. Our reactions to some things cannot always be anticipated. What did we learn at the time? What has that very moment taught us since?

For me, the messages are to love my days in the sun, know how every hour matters, especially alone, especially with others and as a human being – to protest:

In this era of obscene wealth, which my Toronto friend excuses and points to the value of wealthy people’s inclination to build arts centres and hospital wings – carrying their names, of course; in this era of price gouging, with the cost of gas driving everything else up, there are way too many people suffering in inexcusable poverty, very often combined with disabilities and even homelessness.

There is way too ready an inclination to accuse them of laziness and criminality; a tacit agreement to bulldozing tents in the parks housing the homeless, of arresting them and trashing their few poor belongings – of talking forever about “building affordable housing,” of “lifting people out of poverty.”

Once the edge wears off the talking, too little or nothing is done, except offering them the option to an unsupportable life that is not going to be given the support it needs: a beautiful ending, just as the ad on the beach tells it.

Readers Comments (0)

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.