Judith Timson: Don't fret the Moods of March, spring is on the way
Welcome to the Moods of March. Well, my mood anyway, which is politically grim but still personally hopeful.
I think I’ve reached, until the next bit of enlightening or explosive news, my own personal Justin Trudeau-Jody Wilson-Raybould -SNC-Lavalin analysis limit.
Instead I can offer an insight from a family elder who told me not too long ago that we seem to be living in “an age of dopes and dictators.” Yes, but the real trouble is telling them apart.
And I am also reminded of a quote from the poem that another embattled Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau, father of Justin, coolly referenced when his Liberal government ran into trouble and lost its majority in 1972: “The universe is unfolding as it should.”
Which nicely covers just about every eventuality.
March break seems to mean everyone but me is either at the beach or off on an interesting vacation. That’s not at all true, but March has a brutal way of inspiring envy of anyone who can take even a week off from experiencing yet another whiplash weather shift as we stumble toward spring.
We still have mounds of snow—piled up in our front and back yards refusing to melt, making me worry about a flood when it does.
And ice. I’ve never gone through a winter in which more people of all ages have expressed such a deep personal fear of falling on uncleared or uneven icy streets and sidewalks.
It’s remarkable that in Toronto and other Canadian cities, where winter does indeed come every year and has always been a public health and safety issue for the homeless, the elderly and the disabled, that the fear –and the reality-of not being able to get around is becoming much more pervasive. Cleared streets safe for walking should be a right and not an intermittent privilege.
Last Saturday though, finally it was sunny and ice-free enough to go for a long walk. We strolled Toronto’s Queen Street West, picking up on a more optimistic mood from fellow passersby who appeared to be uncurling themselves from that classic winter posture—shoulders hunched against the cold, face in a grimace, the only goal getting from A to B. Instead there were smiles, and chatter. Lingering in front of store windows.
It always amuses me that this is the time when people traditionally start misplacing their gloves, scarves or hats almost as if we are subconsciously trying to hurry winter out the door. Way too soon for that. We had an ice storm last April.
However the weather experts do promise spring is coming early this year.
In the meantime, if you’re in the mood for literal uplift, there’s the fascinating Todd Miller documentary , featuring some previously unseen footage from the 1969 NASA space mission that placed American astronaut Neil Armstrong on the moon.
The movie is straightforward but surprisingly gripping given that we know how it all turned out. It reminded me a bit too nostalgically of a time that in a positive way, people seemed united and enthusiastic about an adventure that truly inspired wonder.
Maybe the spectators cheering it on were naive. Or faking it. Perhaps if social media had existed back then, there would have been the usual soul destroying snark.
But maybe today, even with poisonous social media and a gotcha culture, we’re just desperately waiting for another great unifying moment. Only one that would include a much more diverse group of people and not, as also shows, many many white men with brush cuts, white short sleeved shirts and heavy black horn rimmed glasses.
Somehow I’d prefer that moment of wonder and unity to be here on earth.
Like many people I thought the 2008 election of Barack Obama as the first African American president was the early 21st century’s universal unifying moment but apparently not, as racism continues to grow deeper and more unpredictable than some of us could have possibly predicted.
So why is my March mood personally hopeful? Because the days are getting longer, the sun is getting stronger and the political crises, at least in this country, are manageable.
Don’t let anyone tell you they’re not. Our country is not falling apart, and the voices we hear today are more diverse and interesting and promising than at any other time in our history.
Stay tuned for more uplift. Or at least less snow.
Judith Timson is a Toronto-based writer and a freelance contributing columnist for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @judithtimson