Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Brick by Brick

A few months ago I awakened to the sound of bulldozers and tractors. A condo building, three storeys high, is going up across the street from me. This morning I listen to the tap-tapping of hammers as brick layers work on an entire side of the building. The process involves precision tools, bricks, mortar, heaters and plastic sheeting to keep out the cold. A wall the colour of faded autumn leaves is starting to emerge. In future I will see this wall when I look out my living room window, along with the faces of my new neighbours.

I have been dreading the construction, expecting to be inconvenienced by the noise and the mess. Yet every day I feel a tinge of excitement as I witness the progress. It is growing into a pretty structure with gables, white French doors and windows, and balconies which will be a tight squeeze for even two.

My novel, too, is progressing now beyond the first draft. A whole new dimension is pushing the story outwards, giving my main characters challenges which I have not foreseen. I look forward to writing out the scenes in my next draft and letting the story deepen. Not unlike the brick layers with their careful measurements, I am testing plot lines for balance and fit before laying down words.

I find it interesting how outside events often parallel what is going on in our lives. All we need to do is pay attention!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Bursting Walls Between Us

On my way home from an author reading, I follow a patch-work path of dry autumn leaves. The leaves crumble beneath my feet. Soon they will scatter to the four winds. They remind me how fragile we really are.

The reading was from The Glass Seed by Eileen Delehanty Pearkes. Her title alludes to the growth that can take place when the walls encasing us are suddenly burst open. She experienced such a release when relating to her mother and nurturing her through a lengthy illness. My own mother has succumbed to the same disease, Alzheimer’s, over the last nine years. As painful as it’s been to witness her loss of autonomy and basic functioning, I appreciate the bonds we forged.

I walk briskly, anxious to escape the cold. The street is quiet at this hour; most people safe behind closed doors, in for the night. High above, a bulbous moon shines its ethereal light. The author’s words echo behind me, “When we could no longer speak to each other, we communicated through the heart.”

Perhaps this is the purest form of connection – being together in silence. Because when we get right down to it, love is much bigger than words.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Running Track

Early this morning, in the cold, I see a solitary figure doing laps around the track near my home. Nothing unusual about that. Except this is an elderly man using a cane as he walks at a steady clip.

Montreal has an aging population. Many people get around with the help of canes, walkers or electric chairs. What makes this man remarkable is his refusal to be hampered by his limitations. He’s out there doing laps while others are still in bed.

Our bodies love to move; it’s what they were designed for. Working out boosts our sense of well-being, reduces stress and promotes good health. It also keeps us mentally alert. The hardest part is getting started.

For years now I make exercise a priority. I satisfy my love of nature when I walk along the St. Lawrence River or cycle outdoors several hours a week. I also practice yoga for balance, flexibility and strength. I can’t avoid growing older but I CAN do something about the shape I’m in.

What about you?