Tag Archives: Ottawa

Different kinds of brave

You might be dismayed to learn the number of times that I’ve been told over the past year that I am “brave.”

My feat of daring? Letting my hair return to its natural colour.

On the weekend my husband was told many times that he was brave.

His courageous act? Performing a stand-up comedy routine for the first time.

If each of us were to create a “bravery spectrum,” we would place different actions in different places.

For those with a fear of public speaking, a stand-up comedy routine would be off-the-charts. For others, it might be more in the middle. Most people would agree that it takes guts to be vulnerable in front of an audience that way.

But my hair colour? Please. Let’s not even.

There are people who perform acts of bravery truly worthy of our admiration.

  • First responders who run toward danger. Firefighters, police, paramedics, and members of our military who put their lives on the line every day.
  • Volunteers who work in vulnerable countries around the world, healing the sick or wounded, building wells, providing food.
  • Refugees who leave behind everything they know and start over in a place where everything is foreign to them.
  • Staff and volunteers who work with the vulnerable people right in our own back yards, supporting the homeless, encouraging those affected by mental health issues of addictions.
  • Single parents who juggle work and family, doing their best to provide for their loved ones.

What do you think of as “brave”?

Stand-up routine at Absolute Comedy, Ottawa
It takes guts to do this.

Life well lived: A nail of gold

Into God’s temple of eternity,
Drive a nail of gold.

—The father of Raymond Moriyama, found in his book In Search of a Soul

Raymond Moriyama is the Japanese-Canadian architect behind the Canadian War Museum.

During the Second World War, his family was sent to an internment camp in British Columbia. But his father was separated from them and sent to a POW camp in Ontario. The family was eventually reunited and when Moriyama graduated from high school, his father gave him a hand scripted copy of the quote above.

The words have been popping into my head in recent weeks. Perhaps Remembrance Day prompted that, because one of Moriyama’s war museum design features was a shaft of light that shines on the tomb of the Unknown Soldier at 11:00 a.m. on November 11.

The inspirational quote makes me want to get off my couch. It makes me try that little bit harder to finish whatever I’m doing to its fullest extent.

To make whatever I’m doing a little bit shinier.

The new (ab)normal

After natural disasters, the landscapes around us feel decidedly unnatural.

I can only imagine how disorienting it must be for people recovering from catastrophic hurricanes, because I find the damages from our neighbourhood’s much smaller scale natural disaster bewildering enough.

Last fall, a tornado tore a swath through the Ottawa, Canada region. The twister uprooted trees and destroyed forests in the Greenbelt near my home and on paths where I used to walk my dog. For months the National Capital Commission kept portions of the path closed because they were too dangerous, and clean-up operations were underway.

Orange barrier fencing with the words "Temporarily closed for safety reasons."

I walked there for the first time two weeks ago, and I stumbled around lost. Paths that I used to walk on every day and knew as intimately as old friends looked completely different.

At one crossroad, I used to walk straight ahead into dark forest, but instead of dense trees and low light, the path ahead was bright with sky. I stopped and did a double-take. Was I in the right place? Had I somehow lost my way?

I retraced my steps to make sure, and I was not lost. The dense forest that used to lie ahead was just . . . gone.

Stacks of felled trees lay piled beside the trail. Ancient trees had lost limbs, and slender trees bent to the ground.

And then there was the swath.

Everything felt topsy-turvy and all wrong.

But, in the undergrowth, in areas suddenly bright with unfiltered sun, young trees sprouted. Buzzing insects had made a home in the torn-up turf.

Out of the new (ab)normal, life springs anew.

Sunrise, moonset

I awoke early on Sunday morning.

Well, I awake early every morning, but on Sunday morning, I decided that an early walk would be nice. I could see the sun rise.

When I walked out my front door, I turned west first. Above me, still high in the brightening sky, was the almost-full moon. I set out to watch the sun rise, but instead I watched the moon set.

A reminder that every end is a beginning, every beginning an end.

Full moon in the morning sky