ONTARIO - I am now in one of the sprawling suburbs of Toronto. It is great to be with my family and see my friends. There is just something so familiar about it all. That familiarity reminds me, that despite my stint in BC for college and now being an official resident for 2 months, I remain very Ontarianized. It felt great to be on a highway with more than 4 lanes where you can drive 130 km/h and still get passed (and by passed I really mean cut off) by numerous business people in cars and multi-tasking hockey moms in minivans. And though it feels wonderful to have Pizza Pizza, Second Cup's galore, people who truly love the festive special and streets that do not resmeble mathematic equations, I must admit, I do miss the mountains.
In my attempts to remain connected to the Lower Mainland I have been watching the weather. We BC residents have had a rough go of it this December. While watching the news about the plight of Stanley Park, I was struck by how many people kept comparing the downed trees and damaged property to a war zone. One man even went as far as to say it looked like the Lebanese capital, Beirut. Now, I do recognize that this winter has not been fun-filled for BC Hydro crews. I too was without power for 2 days (I had honed my no-power survival skills during the great Ontarian blackout). And I admit that the Christmas tree I had was of my own doing and not because my neighbours 50 foot tree fell through my roof straight into my living room.
All of this made me question, how well do we Canadians, North Americans, Westerners etc. truly understand suffering? For a good number of people this unfortuante foliage incident will be their greatest hardship all year. In the global scheme of things, even those who are suffering in Canada are far better off than a large portion of the world's population (that is not to say we should neglect those in need here in our own home).
What does it mean to suffer?
At this time of year we all look at the things we do NOT have and that we simply can NOT live without - and then we tell our friends to get us them as a gift. Funny how we were doing just fine last month without it... Gifts are wonderful expressions of love so don't go trading them all in. But in the end, we must remember it is all just stuff.
Most of the people I would identify as not just happy (a state of excitrement which comes and goes), but who are truly content (not complaicent), are the people who often have the least. Being content would mean that I could lose everything and still be alright. Conversely, I could double everything I own and still be the same person. The amount of things I possess should not redefine whether I am happy or sad.
What does it look like to be content?
This Christmas I intend to take some time to evaluate my contentedness. May this Christmas be filled with family, friends, moments worth remembering, blazing fireplaces, songs, cookies and all of the simple joys that make life that much more special.