He came into our lives by accident nine years ago. After an exhaustive internet search for cats available for adoption, we had made our choice and found our way to Katie’s place, a wonderful ‘no-kill’ cat shelter in Maple Ridge that accepts all comers, to meet and adopt the handsome young lad who had caught our eye. Continue reading
death and dying
It’s already shaping up to be a record-breaking year for our overworked local search and rescue groups, as they pull scores of out of bound skiers, ill-equipped hikers and overly ambitious mountaineers out of danger. The local media have even developed a bit of a formula for reporting these events. Typically an opening shot of the rescue helicopter descending to search base, and disgorging a bevy of sheepish looking skiers or hikers, followed by a clip where the newly rescued blubber a few words of thanks, and ending with a spokesman for search and rescue gravely admonishing the public to be better prepared when they venture into the wilderness on our doorstep.
Inevitably there is a debate as to whether or not the feckless hikers ought to be charged something for their rescue or fined for their stupidity. The authorities of course are reluctant to introduce financial consequences into the rescue equation for fear that those in need of help might then be reluctant to seek it for fear of those financial consequences, and in the end creating a much worse result. The occasional hiker apparently does repay the favor with a donation to Search and Rescue, but most I suspect simply shuffle off, their fifteen minutes of fame having expired.
Against that background I can’t help but think of the incredible rescue effort recently concluded that miraculously saved the entire Wild Boar soccer club from a Thai cave. it was a rescue effort that had us all glued to our screens and shaking our heads in disbelief.
What really struck me in the aftermath of the Thai cave rescue was the announcement that upon discharge from hospital, and after a brief reunion with their families, the team will, en-masse, enroll as novice monks and will spend a week as such in a nearby monastery, doing penance in quiet prayer and contemplation. That they would do this shows a deep respect for the enormity of the miracle which with they have been blessed, and towards those who made it happen. It is a fitting, and elegant gesture.
As my thoughts stray back to our local North Shore mountains, the concept of penance following rescue develops a certain resonance. Should rescued parties be subject to something a little more onerous than the loss of their lift pass privileges ? -such as a week of silent navel gazing in austere surrounding?
We don’t have a lot of monasteries in BC , but it strikes me that we do have a number of boarded up correction camps- relics from an age where boot camp style training was considered the panacea for youth corrections. So, imagine if the price of rescue was a week spent as a monk in a re-purposed correctional camp, contemplating the error of one’s ways ?
Back in the 1950’s a fixture on my parents’ bookshelf was “Emily Post’s Etiquette”. It was the definitive guide to everything involving manners or decorum. If you needed to know which knife or fork to use at a state banquet, or how to properly address an ambassador or a bishop, Emily was your source.
I am told that the book is still around, now into its 18th edition, and updated for the digital world by Emily’ s descendants, but somehow it seems to me that the world has become so incredibly complex that propounding rules of etiquette may no longer be possible. At the very least, a new set of rules is sorely needed.
What triggered these musings was a spat of obituary announcements that have shown up recently in my Facebook feed, and my consternation as to how to deal with them.
The first was the easiest, as it announced, not unexpectedly, the death of a very dear family friend, at the venerable age of 101. The announcement, via Facebook was tasteful, and welcomed, since those of us affected by the passing are scattered across the continent. There was no question that I would post a comment, but I baulked at clicking the “like” button as well. Surely one should not “like“ the announcement of someone’s death?
The next was a bit more difficult, a guy I had paddled with on an extended trip two summers ago, and a last-minute no-show for this year’s expedition. He passed suddenly, a day after our last Facebook exchange, bantering about the missed trip. He died with many friends and acquaintances, but little in the way of close family, certainly no-one that I knew. Not knowing the actual circumstances of his death I didn’t want to blunder in with an inappropriate comment, and certainly didn’t want to appear to be applauding his death with a big thumbs up. To whom was I paying my respects m and, would it be disrespectful to say nothing at all?
Then a business acquaintance posted an announcement of his father’s passing. I had met his father once, years ago, but didn’t feel that my tenuous connection to him made any type of comment appropriate, although I still wanted to reach out to the son. What to do? Barge in with a post, or simply “like” the announcement, or use a silly emoji to try to express myself.? Again, I find myself resistant to the idea of using an emoji to recoqnize someone’s death.
The last was more difficult yet, It was a local politician, whom I scarcely know, except via social media, and the odd political event. She was announcing, in somewhat coded language, the sudden and devastating loss of her son, whom I had never met. My suspicion, from the language of the post (later confirmed) was that the child had perished as a result of a drug overdose. How to respond, in order to comfort a very nice lady, using the limited tools in Facebook’s toolbox ?
It is, I suggest, past time for a new tome on etiquette, to help those of us who struggle with using social media in a respectful and caring manner. Perhaps Facebook needs to expand its repertoire of available responses, to include some which are a bit more formal than a contorted happy face. Or perhaps, we should just eschew social media entirely in such circumstances, and dust off our copy of Emily Post. Emily, I’m sure, would counsel a kind word, a handwritten note, and a comforting hug.
As a newly retired guy I’ve developed a couple of new pastimes:
1. I now check the obituaries every day, just to see who I know, and
2. I daydream a lot about devising a sure-fire, low risk, high return money-making scheme to supplement my meager pension. Continue reading →