Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Total Eclipse of My Summer 

Betwix Signal Hill and Cape Spear…

A post shared by Peter Rogers (@peterrogersesq) on

It all began after a late work day and heading to Toronto Island where I was immediately handed a cold beer in front of a beach bonfire. Someone played an ukulele, someone else talked about D&D, and someone splashed in the Lake. A few hours later I was on a ferry heading into Toronto’s sparkly skyline and a few hours after that I was on a plane headed east.
“under artificial lighting, chilled by artificial breezes, occupied by artificial deadlines”

What did I want from this vacation?
Fish and chips
Lobster roll
Local Beers
Instagrammable moments
Bike Rides
Ocean Views
Catch Up With Family
Meet Up with Old Friends

I mean, it had it all didn’t it? Yet, I can’t put my finger on it. I got to sleep in. I had ice cream. All my flights worked out. I barely opened my wallet. We’re so close to a “cashless society” that I left Toronto with $35 in my pocket and still had $10 when I got back (taxis in Toronto are still very debit card adverse). I really should have no complaints.

But still, it was strangely… unfulfilling. At times, usually Christmas, a holiday where all I do is drink, eat, sleep, and watch television is as close to being a zombie as I get. This wasn’t like that. There was only a single rainy day when I did nothing but read and nap. Over ten days I hiked, walked, ran, and biked and burned about 4000 calories (I checked my Garmin stats). I did everything from eat huge meals, to make huge meals, took in nature (a hike to Cape Spear), history (a bike ride to Fort Amherst) and art (a Gerry Squires retrospective), to a game of pool and a night of endless debate (note to self: avoid arguing with people who make their living by arguing). The end result? Unfulfilling. I don’t think I realized how listless I was until Monday morning when mining through a mountain of e-mail I found myself fighting afternoon apathy, which at this point feels like a chronic condition. Why wasn’t I tearing through work like an industrial shredder? Why couldn’t I dispatch my tasks with ease and clarity? Why did I leave the office late again? Am I a sucker for punishment? I repeated a pattern of behaviour so devastating that it has robbed me of the entire summer season – I got home late, collapsed into a heap, woke to make a meal, cleaned up, watched an hour of television, went to bed late. Rinse, repeat.

Part of me worries that is what retirement feels like. If so, I can’t do that. At the same time, my current work isn’t so fulfilling I would define myself by it or want to keep doing it. If anything this trip put a focus on a dilemma where work isn’t gratifying and neither is not working. If I’m not enjoying doing the things I like doing, then what am I doing wrong? Am I so busy making myself too busy to see the problem?

The thing is, I think I’m really done with this whole clocking-in/checking-out routine. Two full moons passed and I found I missed everything about the summer I like. Swimming outdoors, farmer’s markets, beers and meals on patios, long bike rides, runs through new neighbourhoods, time on the water, time looking at clouds, late night movies, massive breakfasts, new recipes, decadent desserts, new beers, old favourites. All missed under artificial lighting, chilled by artificial breezes, occupied by artificial deadlines. Of course, there's technically still more than a month of "summer" left, but in a week or so all of Toronto's outdoor pools will close, The Ex shuts down, TIFF starts and kids go back to school. The summer will be done like reheated leftovers. When the solar eclipse took place, a lot of people remarked how it made them feel so insignificant and humbled. I didn’t need the cosmic blotting out of the sun to feel insignificant. All it took was a ten-day holiday and four hours back at my desk.

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