Silence not over, but ebbing

It has been over two years since I’ve uploaded an actual blog post, or in truth put much of anything out into the world, apart from a few modest poems. Many factors come into it, not least the all-eclipsing pandemic slump. But my retreat from public commentary actually predated COVID, and came from the increasingly pervasive feeling that there is way, way, way too much opining, asserting, spilling, shouting, yapping, accusing, and just plain talking going on in the world — too much for me to feel comfortable adding to the noise, the confusion, the fast eroding sense of meaning. I figured the most useful contribution I could make to the cacophony was silence: not adding a peep, not even my own (I like to think) sensible thoughts and observations.

This was an adjunct to something else: a longtime use of the lower case in writing my name as greg blee. That evolved, in a nutshell, from a long-ago collision with Buddhist thought, and its questioning of both the egoic self and the importance of our personal stories, its assertion that those things are not who we really are. So a diminution of the proper name seemed to make sense, and I held onto that (as part of my story?) until a year or so ago.

At that point, something else came to the fore: that the cosmos has gone to an awful lot of trouble to create each of us, to craft each of a multitude of individual beings from amoeba to sparrow to human, in one-of-a-kind fashion. The world is full of unique individuals (though we usually only accord individuality to ourselves and maybe our pets). But it took billions of years to create, atom by atom, the raw materials that now form … us. Aeons more spent in evolution, building up the complexity of ourselves and the stunningly complex natural environment that brought us about, shaped us, and keeps us both alive and evolving further.

Greg Blee, Individual

That degree of patience and effort to create not just me but a bazillion other absolute individuals ought to be acknowledged, I thought, and celebrated. One small step was the re-upper-casing of my name to Greg Blee, a year or so ago. Another is the revival of this blog, where, for better or worse, I can toss my thoughts about the world out into the heaving maelstrom that is the Internet.

I still have a strong dose of Why bother, anything I put out will be immediately swamped in the raging info-storm. That used to be a complete showstopper. It’s still a disincentive, but now it’s counterbalanced by a sense that this is what we are supposed to do as functioning human beings — engage with the world. No matter how useless or hopeless it might seem to us, it’s part of being alive. And we never really know what butterfly effect our words and actions might have, do we?

So my silence is, if not entirely over, at least somewhat diminished. I’ve got a few things to say about the-world-according-to-me, and I’ll be tossing them up here in coming weeks. And as with everything these days … we’ll see what happens.

The Quinsam’s climate cost

How we get here

As a new Gabriola resident, i’m noticing things about my new home — like the marked weather difference between here and Tofino, my previous digs.

Another striking first impression for the visitor or new arrival is the Quinsam, and its central place in island life, and how dealing with the ferry — the oddball departure times; the godsend Ferry Cam; the line-up, with its stringent etiquette and elaborate positioning strategies; the pastimes whiling away the long waits — are all part of island life and lore.

Pretty much everything and everyone on the island come across on that ferry — every coffee cup and bean, every bag of chips, every litre of propane, band-aid and e-bike, along with every customer in every shop. The Quinsam is absolutely intrinsic to island life and economy. Continue reading “The Quinsam’s climate cost”

Hello, Gabe

Well, the die is cast: my “temporary” summer stay at my sweetie’s place on Gabriola Island (a 20-minute ferry ride from Nanaimo) has become my permanent residence, as of a couple of weeks ago, when i made the decision not to return to Tofino in September.

My reasons are many, but here’s the main one: After a year and a half doing the long-distance relationship, with Leah driving up to Tuff or me bussing down to Gabe every couple of weeks, it was time to get together and stay together. The regular change of scenery was stimulating, i’ll admit, but the travel was wearing. I don’t know how couples can do it long-term. Continue reading “Hello, Gabe”

Gentry then and now

Per my last blog post, i waltzed through Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion in a couple of weeks — pretty speedy by the standards of someone who does 95% of my reading on screen. But a chapter or two a day gets through the thing. At first it was like climbing a hill, frequently losing the sense of those long, wandering sentences, getting distracted, rereading. But as the story gathered momentum, and my literary perseverance developed, it became easier, and then a pleasure, to pick up the book. I even took to reading regularly in the evenings, something i rarely do.

It was also a vaguely disturbing book to read, in that pretty much the entire action is the British upper crust — landed gentry, with money and basically no useful function in society — struggling and scheming to occupy, amuse or advance themselves and their family, in fairly cut-throat fashion. Continue reading “Gentry then and now”