Miss Woodhouse's Musings

…about life, the universe, and everything. Don't panic!

Trying To Shine Through

Tomorrow may rain, so I’ll follow the sun.

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What’s It All About?

A few months back, a friend of a friend died. Though I didn’t know him, I was sad for her and as a show of support Mum and I went to this man’s funeral.

I’ve been to a lot of funerals, and this one was unlike any other. No singing, no photo montages. No songs at all. Instead, the man’s son gave an hour long biography of his father, pausing only to invite certain key figures from his father’s life to come up and speak as well (my friend being one of these people). However, what really struck me was what an awesome life this man led. Really, he did things that most of us can only dream about. It was a good, long, full, exciting life.

Except, I found myself being really sad that I’d never met this man. I’d have loved to hear him tell these stories.

Then, I forgot all about it.

That is, until tonight. Mum and I went over to help our friend with moving some stuff out of the deceased man’s house in preparation for an estate sale. She gave us the grand tour of the house, ending in a room that must have served as a sort of study for this man. Hung all over the walls in this room are commendations, signed prints and pictures, and other documents recording the wonderful things that the man had done.

His family does not want them. They will be sold in the estate sale.

This knocked me sideways. This man devoted his life to a career. He worked really hard doing dangerous and crazy things. He earned rewards and commendations that few people do because of his hard work.

And they will be purchased by a complete stranger for…what use? It won’t conjure up memories of this man for them, they don’t know him. The buyer won’t know what this man did to earn that certificate, or how he was presented with this commendation.

The name on those documents means nothing to them.

What then, is the point of all this? Those things obviously brought joy to him, brought to mind good memories and proud thoughts. Now, they simply are an impersonal collector’s item.

Is this what life comes down to? All the things that defined this man’s life, all the things that made him proud…they are being assessed for their market value. And that’s that.

End of story.

Or is it? Thornton Wilder, in his book The Bridge of San Luis Rey, examined this idea of memories, life, happiness, and love. His summation of the novel is brilliant (SPOILER ALERT!):

But soon we shall die and all memory of those five will have left earth, and we ourselves shall be loved for a while and forgotten. But the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love. There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.

Perhaps he is on to something. Maybe the memories we leave behind are enough. No matter what we do or do not leave behind us, our actions still count for something.

I really hope Wilder is correct.

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Monday Blues

I have a video. A video that will make the worst case of Mondays disappear.

What? You don’t believe me??? Well, take a look at this:

See? I told you so.

You’re welcome.

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Ten Years

I feel like the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks deserves saying something here.

But the fact is, I don’t know what to say. In some ways I can’t believe that only 10 years have passed. With the war, the fighting, and everything else that followed the events on that fateful day, the passage of time did sometimes seem slow. On the other hand, sometimes it feels as though the attacks just happened, that we are still in the early stages of disbelief and grief over what went on.

So I don’t know what to say. I’m saddened by the loss of life on that day and every day after for the past 10 years. I’m sorry for those still grieving. I’m grateful for those who are fighting. I hope in all our remembrances of the WTC that we also remember the attack at the Pentagon and that field in Pennsylvania where passengers took down another hijacked plane before it could find the intended target.

Ten years is a long time, but it’s not been long enough for us to recover, to heal. In a way, I think that it’s okay. I think we need, as a nation, to remember feeling hopeless, feeling lost. Remember how quickly we turned to God and faith. Remember how much more patiently we dealt with each other. Remember how we banded together, and really presented a united front.

I guess I just hope that we really don’t forget.

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Growing, Growing, Gone

The story starts as any good story should, with Once Upon A Time. Only, this was not the beginning of a lovely fairytale, but rather the start of a horror story. And Once Upon A Time…it was the name of a little bookstore. In a tale worthy of a Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan movie, the little children’s bookstore operated well on a busy little corner in an area of town that only had one grown-up bookstore a little down the way. When it came to entertaining the literate child, Once Upon A Time was the place to go.

Enter the big, bad wolf. In this story, we will call them ZanyB. Or, how about ZBrainy? Either way, they moved in RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET. Poor little Once Upon A Time, it couldn’t compete with the megachain’s low prices, extensive retail line, and playhouse atmosphere. A short time later, Once Upon a Time came to an untimely The End. The only satisfaction I find in this sordid tale is that ZanyB went defunct in 2001. It’s only a slight consolation though.

Why, then, am I telling you a tale in which all the characters died over a decade ago? The answer is simple: it is happening everywhere…and it is happening in vicious force right down the street from me. In order to protect myself from the (unlikely) risk of a lawsuit, let’s set up some pseudocharacters. The pawns in this game of sale are as follows: PetshopA, PetshopB, and PetshopC. See? Nice and simple.

I have the honour of knowing the owner of PetshopA. He is a regular customer, and someone that we look forward to seeing at night. I love going into his storefront, and his store is where I take my puppy to be groomed. It is the quintessential local store: in a shopping center just a blocks from my neighbourhood, with good prices and a nicely varied selection of products. All good and well. Now, there is a superpetstore a few miles thataway (nods head vaguely in some direction), but we aren’t even going to worry with that now. No, the store we are worried about is thisaway (points in the opposite direction).

Just so you don’t get too confused, allow me to provide a handy diagram! Only the stores vital to your understanding are shown, so of course I pointed out where Starbucks is in the scenario. Just because you’re going to need coffee at the end of this.

Our Setting

Are we good? Good!

Continuing with the story…PetshopB has been around for a long time. A really long time. And it is a decent sized store too, several times larger than PetshopA. Because they are far enough apart, there isn’t really a lot-lot of competition. Some, but they have enough breathing room.

Enter PetshopC. They are building a new, two story monstrosity RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET from PetshopB. Anyone else remember reading the words RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET in all caps before? (Hint: see second paragraph.) But really, they are constructing a new building less than 100 feet from the existing pet store.

At first, my anger was directed solely towards PetshopC. How dare they pick that particular corner! We are already over saturated (oh yes, and there’s an Animal Hospital too, which sells pet supplies as well). We don’t need them in the least…and PetshopA owner assures me that there is not enough demand in this area to support yet another pet supply store.

However, as time went on I found myself getting more angry at city planning. Are they really so greedy that they would put a superfluous store on one of our busiest roads just to make a little more money? The answer is “apparently so.” This particular road is already a parking lot in the afternoon/evening as everyone jumps off the interstate and tries to come home. Plus, the main ingress AND egress for a neighbourhood is right at that intersection too. As is one of the main entrances/exits  for one of our largest shopping centers. The LAST thing we need on that road is more turning traffic holding up and blocking already congested lanes of traffic. Oh yeah, and we are in a recession. Perhaps someone should have informed city planning of that little detail before they agreed to this.

Not to mention that the building is ugly. And huge.

I told you it was ugly.

In talking with Mr. PetshopA last night, he predicted that PetshopB would last about another year. In all honesty I think that is being very generous, but I will bow to his expertise in this area. Besides, the holidays are fast approaching, so PetshopB may survive a little longer than expected due to holiday revenue. But one thing is for sure: no one is expected both businesses to last, and we expect that PetshopB will be the one to suffer loss.

I hope I’m wrong, really, I do.

(But I don’t think so.)

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