"Out of this nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety." - Henry IV, Act II Scene III
And so, once again, I am changing my residence. Soon I will again be living in a luxurious but cozy condo in Kitsilano: one of my favorite neighborhoods in Vancouver.
Actually, truth-be-known, for me Kitsilano is the ONLY neighborhood in Vancouver. For most of my adult life, 'Kits' has been my only home and I couldn't be happier to again be living within her gentle shores.
The funky little shops, the content and friendly faces, the spectacular mountain views, the fragrant gardens of lilacs and roses and, of course, that clean salty waft of ocean air - really, it's like living in a postcard….a very nostalgic post card with lots of sentimental writing on the back. I'm going home.
But you know, over the past few years I have learned a valuable lesson.
While living in a greedy, small-minded little suburb of Vancouver called Richmond, I have watched the entire outside of the condo I was living in be replaced, upgraded and refinished. It was quite the ordeal.
For months and months I lived under a flapping blue tarp, listened to the drone of the buzz saw and breathed in sawdust. I endured the rasp of splintering wood, the gravelly scrap of spackle and the stiff, rhythmic thud of the nail gun.
I cleaned up after muddy boots, dust, more dust, mud and even more mud. I dodged falling stucco, flying paint splotches and the inevitable sting of unfinished bolts. And then I breathed in even more dust. And who knew construction workers could swear like that?
Coward that I am, I mostly listened to the rattle and boom from inside the safety of my own suite. On rare occasions, though, I would actually go outside, sit on a bench and listen to the building creak and groan as it was gutted, scraped and remodeled.
Then I began to notice something.
The inside of a building is a complicated thing. Wires and pipes and load-bearing walls and studs and electrical junction points and rivets and more pipes and foam insulation and cables and vents and drains and and….the list goes on and on. No simple thing, the inside of any building.
At the end of the day, however, all we see are the smoothly finished pale walls, the welcoming doorways, the faithful promise of roof tiles, cool efficient appliances and a clever thermostat squatting on a wall. A house completed, a life protected.
But I know now that it is all an illusion. There is no such thing as security…..none. It could all burn down in an instance. It could all be wiped clean by poverty. It could all be gone. It could…and will…easily vanish. Time and circumstance will, sooner or later, level that building.
It's a lie, that building; a trick of the mind…a pledge against nature, a fear avoided.
I have learned that there is no such thing as security in this life, there is only life experience…painful, obvious and complete.
I mean really, the lengths we will go to construct even the illusion of safety? It's a kind of madness; living outside of nature… it's a kind of greed; believing in the promise of good fortune.
Really, the best we can hope for in this life is to be comfortably vulnerable. That and maybe a really good coffee shop on the corner.
For October 16, 2014
(March 21-April 20)
Image: "In an abandoned monastery, a dusty prayer book"
Message: Enduring words.
Previously silent family members offer a candid description of their long-term aspirations. Expect home relations to steadily improve in the coming weeks. Loved ones are now willing to address private concerns, debate controversial decisions or take on greater responsibility. Provide optimism and encouragement.
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