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inspired by Suzuki

“I’ve been waiting for a new post, Miss Lazypants,” wrote my friend Chris. Jeez! Take a few days off from blogging and they’re on your case.

Chugging along here. Keeping busy. Went to the symphony Saturday night to hear Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt play Bach and Mozart piano concertos, conducting the symphony at the same time. My parents used to go see her in Ottawa in the seventies and admired her enormously, and so do I. She’s lithe and graceful with hands that move at lightning speed; she effortlessly commanded that vast beautiful room. The music was a banquet. (Photo below before it started.)

On Sunday I took Sam, his girlfriend Amy and Wayson to dinner at the Pearl Court, the Gerrard street restaurant that’s Wayson’s mainstay. They know him like family there and chatter in Cantonese which he speaks haltingly but impressively nonetheless. And then back for “The Durrells in Corfu” which Sam had taught me how to PVR – save on the TV. Barely understood how but managed to find and replay it, to the delight of my older friend and me. The young ones had gone by then. The Durrells in Corfu definitely not their kind of show.

On Monday, a huge treat: I went to hear David Suzuki speak as a guest of Ryerson’s Chang School, the school of continuing studies where I teach. He’s an extraordinary speaker, fiery, funny, his speech apocalyptic yet warm with personal asides and details about his own life. He showed that we have known since the seventies about the perils of climate change and yet our western world has done nothing. Harper is his great villain – “He should be in jail,” he said, and I agree. He spoke of how happy he was when Trudeau was elected, immediately dealing with gender parity in cabinet and setting off for the Paris climate accord. But, unfortunately, “He gets a big fat zero for action.”

The problem, he said, is that the changes needed to save our species from extinction are longterm, and politicians simply want to be re-elected and are unwilling to take the courageous risk of making them. Also, they’re in thrall to corporations. He said: Where is the place for the sacred in our
society? We value all the wrong things. We value the economy, the market –
created by human beings. We do not value the things that keep us alive: air, water, the good soil and sunlight that produce our food. Earth
air fire and water – sacred to First Nations people, meaningless to
us.

We must be warriors for the coming generations. No fossil fuels, he said. Eat locally and seasonally. Change the electoral system. We need to get involved in the electoral process and elect responsible politicians. And STAY PUT, he said. Put down roots. 
I lined up to buy his new book, but more, to have a few moments to chat. It’s a great thrill that because he and my father were best friends, that friendship continues with me today. I left inspired and moved, thinking about my footprint on the earth. I’ve tried to be a good ecological citizen, only had two children, no car, not wasting food, buying second hand, staying put and putting down roots. But – I travel a lot. 
Monday night and this afternoon, the end of my teaching term at the universities. Both were spectacular this term. Have I said that before? The Ryerson class was enormous and yet fabulous; the U of T class was much smaller and also fabulous. At the last class, nice words were said and gifts were given to Teach – flowers and wine, two of my fave things. I hope you don’t mind if I reprint a few of the nice things. A friend noted that I “post a lot of self-congratulatory stuff” on my blog. And it’s true. I wrote back that it’s because I’m advertising my wares – showing people what my teaching means, in the hopes of attracting more customers. But perhaps it’s also because I’m really conceited.
I do not think a class (group of total strangers) comes together like that sharing their most vulnerable selves unless they feel safe and respected and considered — and you as the teacher and fearless leader did that for all of us. I looked forward to your class every week and I shall miss it dearly. I am hopeful that the journey has just begun and that writing will become an important part of my life going forward.

My friends and family commented  that it was obvious my writing course was doing me good. A lighter, more content version of myself. Managing better with my peaks and valleys………….. (mostly valleys). I’m on to something with the writing and think it will keep me in the sane category of life, so I’ll continue.

Best of all, in one class was a doctor whose brother recently died of cancer, leaving her so bereft, she was unable to do her job and had to take time off. She told us the class had renewed her love for humanity, and she was going back to work. And a woman in her eighties read us a story today about having a personal article published in the newspaper a long time ago when she was 18; her father flew into a rage when he read it, telling her to keep her “lunatic rantings” to herself. Which she has done all her life, writing in diaries, many letters, in local newspapers, but never committing to writing until now. And now, she said, her face bright with joy, I want to start and hope it is not too late. I told her about Diana Athill with her first best-seller at 92 and her next book out at 98. Never too late, I said, but don’t delay. The same for all of us – don’t delay.
Of course, good advice for Teach too, who is dallying as always. A student asked me, with all I do, how do I have time to write, and the correct answer is, really, I don’t.

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2 Responses to “inspired by Suzuki”

  1. theresa says:

    Diana Athill is certainly a role model for so many of us. To continue on with such style and grace and humour — and a vast intelligence to aspire to. Mary Wesley, too, writing those funny sly novels in her 80s. And if there's still a planet when I'm 80 (some days I despair of that being so…), I hope to still be writing. You too, Beth!

  2. beth says:

    You'll be writing in 2030, Theresa, and I too. The world will survive, she said confidently, fingers crossed.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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