Back in University, I had adopted the slogan “carpe nocht”. Thinking I was being relatively clever with Horace’s quote “carpe diem” and the approach to life the phrase espouses, the idea of seizing the night became more than what I ever thought it would be. You see, it was really just a way of justifying my desire to party all night long.
Little did I know that I would take it up as a mantra, and have it end up being a metaphor for my life.
You see, to me, December 21 is not the longest night of 2013. Sure, scientists will talk to you about the winter solstice, and they’d be right. But other nights in 2013 have been far longer.
The night following my wife’s diagnosis with pericarditis. That was a bloody long night.
The night after we discovered the piano component of the High River and District Lions Music Festival had a significant scheduling flaw, and I had to review and reschedule 250 entries. That was a very long night.
The night I discovered that I was no longer part of a profession that the Alberta Government was willing to negotiate with. That was a very long night.
One of the longest nights of the year was June 20, a night I spent until 2 AM in the Blackie evacuation centre following one of the most significant events in Canadian history, the 2013 flood. What made it longer was the hour and a half drive to my parents’ place in the dark, wondering what Waterworld looked like. And the thing that made it even longer yet … the dreams I finally had once I did get to a safe and warm bed.
The first night sleeping in my bed in my home in dank- and dead-smelling High River thinking about the thousands who still had no idea when they’d be returning home. That was an incredibly long night.
The night after a massive hailstorm that almost wrote off my car trying to convince my boys they were safe in our home. That was a long night.
The night I learned I had no classroom, and realized I wouldn’t for weeks, maybe months. That was a long night.
The night after a meeting with business people in High River where I learned that one of our more prominent businesses was struggling to make even a tenth of their regular income, 5 months after the flood. That was a long night.
No, December 21 is not a long night. Not even after an intense day of Christmas shopping is December 21 a long night. It does not compare to the Dylan Thomas kind of nights that we avoided going gently into this year.
But through my “carpe nocht” philosophy comes one realization; after each one of these nights came a day. Each day brought new rays of sunshine, new hope.
These days came because we wouldn’t go gently into that good night. My wife was very diligent in her recovery from her heart condition. I rescheduled the piano classes and made everything work for the festival. Teachers kept teaching. I helped wherever I could after the flood. My family, and many other families, worked tirelessly to clean up homes so people could return, and others who haven’t yet are still working hard to do the same. I found a hall to teach in while I waited for a classroom. Business people of High River are not hoping for handouts, they are working to return to success. Even our boys got involved in High River's recovery. In each case, we are all working to see a brighter day.
Then, perhaps after we’ve seized the opportunity that night has given us, we can then seize the day.
So, in this season of hope, I look back at 2013 as a very long night. And 2014 is going to be a very bright day. I know this, because it starts with my brother marrying a wonderful young lady, and the beginning of a new life together brings with it hope for the future.
I wish all of you for whom 2013 was a long night to seize the night and the opportunities it presents. Don’t go quietly into it. Then, having seized the opportunities, may the future days be yours to take.
Carpe nocht et carpe diem.
Stompin' Tom Connors passed away today. He had some final words for us all to consider, as has been posted on his official website:
Stompin' Tom's most important words here: "I must now pass the torch". Each of us has a duty and responsibility to this country and everyone in it. It matters not how you build it into something better.
Some of us, like Tom, are musicians, and can share Canada with our art.
Some of us are parents, leading the next Canadians to success.
Some of us are in the trenches, building a better Canada either in fields and houses, or in the houses of politics.
Some of us have always been here, and know best where we've come from to better know where we must go.
Some of us are new here, but love this country all the same.
Whoever you are, wherever you live in this country, and whatever you do, Stompin' Tom Connors has called you to service. How will you serve?
Calgary is all abuzz with the Canadian Progressive Conservatives selection of Joan Crockatt to represent their party in the Calgary Centre byelection. Many are expounding the "slam dunk" victory long before the byelection even gets underway. This is a marketing ploy for the Conservatives. They are marketing Voter Apathy.The Conservatives and their supporters want a low voter turnout. They want to make it so that the only people who vote are the 800 who just voted for Crockatt. In fact, they are counting on it.
And why not? It follows along the same line of contempt the Conservatives have shown for democracy this year. They attacked democracy with their omnibus budget bill, bringing sweeping changes to many laws without the appropriate opportunity for parliamentary review. Why not attempt to malign democracy by convincing non-supporters to simply give up?
Voter Apathy is a plague of our politics. It is perpetrated, as expected, by those with the power. We, as voters, must ignore this marketing ploy. We must not relinquish the right of governing to any individual. We must make each candidate earn their right to represent us.
Any provincial party that claims to value democracy would not lend themselves to this marketing ploy. Not one party, the Alberta Progressive Conservatives, the Wildrose, the Alberta Liberals, the Alberta NDP, nor the Alberta Party, should ever support Voter Apathy without due recourse.
Remember those who would attack democracy by predicting "slam dunks", and hold them accountable.