January 20, 2021 – I spent the day glued to the television watching the coverage of the Inauguration in the United States. It proved to be a source for hope that the soul of America will shine again and be driven by a moral compass we haven’t seen for the last four years.
As a proud Canadian, I feel so lucky to reside in a country which is such a wonderful place to live. I am from a middle income family and had access to a good education, a wonderful health care system, and employment which proved to be a source of pride and thorough satisfaction. As a retiree I find purpose in volunteer activities and family. I have lived a charmed life with opportunities around every new corner.
That’s not to say we don’t have problems and challenges. 2020 in Nova Scotia was the most miserable year I can think of. We bore witness to the worst mass shooting to date in Canada, the crash of a military helicopter from a base around the corner from where I live off the coast of Turkey with the total lose of life, the death of a Snow Bird pilot from Nova Scotia in the skies over British Columbia, the death of many residents of a Halifax retirement home early in the pandemic, the sinking of a Scallop Trawler and the lose of all on board, and a missing child in Truro. On a personal note, my adventure with cancer treatment leaves me as a palliative care patient with stage four esophageal cancer metastasized in my liver.
I wish that my remaining time on this blue dot we call planet Earth is well spent as a contributor to solutions for some of our problems. We all do better with purpose in our lives and when one makes an effort, it is easy to be the best version of yourself make a positive difference.
I titled this article Hope while watching today’s events in America. President Biden brought a vibe of hope that anything is possible when we put our mind to it. A couple of weeks ago, my wife Janet and I watched a tribute to Alex Trebek. He suffered terribly with his daily cancer treatments but continued to work. He found an inner strength to rise above how sick he felt to tape episodes of Jeopardy. He said that when the lights came on and he was introduced, an internal switch clicked that provided him the strength to cope. He added that he needed to continue to be productive and I believe it was having purpose in his life that helped him deal with the disease eating away at his body.
In recent conversations with family and friends, there seems to be consensus that today’s youth struggle with hope about their futures. As a student in the 70s, I had a job offer prior to graduation in a field related to my studies. In fact, I applied to teach in thirteen school boards across Canada and was offered positions in eleven. Today, students apply to hundreds of positions without success and take anything they can get to pay the bills. Burdened with educational debt and only able to secure part-time minimum wage jobs in service industries does not offer much hope for a secure future.
Along the same vain, I empathize with the desperation many residents of western Canada feel with the downturn in the oil industry. For such a long time this was a stable source of financial security for both white and blue collars workers but it is clear that we cannot continue polluting the environment with carbon based products. For any who suggest our fellow western Canadians ignored the writing on the wall, you’re right. However, expressing such sentiments is not being the best version of yourself or is an action that is part of the solution.
To be part of the solution, we need to approach the future with lots of new ideas. Some will work and some will fail. Those that fail may simply need time to tweak.
For example, 20% of the water on the planet is in Canada. There are many areas in the United States suffering droughts. Might we not repurpose the skilled workforce building the Keystone Pipeline to build a pipeline to sell and transport water to the US. I can’t image there would be resistance to such a pipeline as faced by the Keystone project. That could prove to be a huge windfall for many western Canadians.
I realize this article has little to do with my personal battle with cancer. I can assure you I’m doing okay. I truly believe we all need to have purpose in our lives and making a difference is a worthwhile pursuit. I think we turned a corner with the leadership change in America.
Our aging population still has much to offer. We don’t need to take jobs away from the upcoming generations but we have time, talent, experience, and wisdom to bring to the table. We still have much to contribute and will find purpose when we find outlets to share what we can offer with others.
There is much talk about the increase in those suffering mental health issues. I’m no expert but seniors can serve as mentors and support pillars for those who are struggling. As a member of the Board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Halifax, I routinely hear success stories about the positive difference mentors make in the lives of youth. There is a well developed model for mentorship of any age group from this organization.
This is a time for all Canadians to treat others as brothers and sisters. I think we are at our best when we are one.
I’m inspired by today’s events in the United States. I’m done rambling for now but I hope I’ve offered some food for thought.
As always, I thank you for serving as a support pillar during my adventure dealing with cancer. I feel the love every day from family and friends along with the touch of God holding my hand.
Peace, Love, Laughter