“Things, Helen, the sad silly evidence of things.” He said, “We’re told that possessions are ephemeral, yet my God how they outlast us – the clock on the bedside table, the cough drops, the diary with appointments for that very day.” And the meaning ebbing out of them, visibly.”Â
I spent much of today writing the executive summary for the NASCA report. It’s very difficult to do specifically because I’ve read the thing so many times that I can barely access it as intelligible matter anymore. The temptation is to procrastinate, but I really want to jump this last hurdle and finally be done with the it. It’s not that the project has been unrewarding or unimportant – merely going on for far too long. Within that context, trying to extract the gist from the broader report – in a way that’s neither too discursive nor too truncated – is a less than thrilling way to spend a packet of hours.
While it is cruel to relegate a great book to the position of an item on a to-do list, it’s a transformation that strips away the guilt of reading, rather than doing something else on that dire list. This afternoon, I finished part two of The Great Fire while avoiding the executive summary. The book is now at that dangerous point where you are tempted to push forward right to the end, gradually leaving behind appreciation as haste grows into the space it once occupied. That said, knowing that I should have the summary done before I head across town for dinner with Kerrie and Nolan puts a cap on my ability to act on such urges.
Tomorrow, I am to have lunch on campus with Meghan Mathieson. I’m not sure if I can even remember where last I saw her. How odd that someone can move from a position of absolute centrality in your life to one out on the poignant periphery. I suppose that will be a lesson frequently repeated during these last days in Vancouver: days which I am trying to mark with short visits, at least, to all those who I will miss terribly. The craziest thing, I think, is that when I come back, Sasha will be starting grade 12 and Mica will be going into his 4th year at UBC. Most of my friends are pretty well established, in terms of who they are as people. Spending a few years separated from them won’t strip me of my ability to recognize them. Moreover, I have all manner of means of staying in touch with them, whereas my brothers and I have only ever communicated in person. I wonder what the effect of this choice will be on my future with them.
This Friday, I am planning to do a hike from the beach at Ambleside, in West Vancouver, up Capilano Canyon to Cleveland Dam, then up the road to the Grouse Mountain parking lot, and finally up the Grouse Grind and the final stretch to the summit. All told, it should take somewhere around four hours, being fairly generous about our rate of travel. Anyone interested in coming for either part or all of the hike is most welcome to do so. In the case of abysmal weather, it will probably be postponed. I am planning to leave from the beach sometime in the late morning. I am pleased to note that Alison is planning on coming along.
Kerrie’s sendoff dinner at Himalaya was quite satisfying: in the way that all-you-can-eat vegetarian curry buffets can be. After the equivalent of at least three Curry Point combos, I was very well sated. I was a bit surprised by how few of Kerrie’s friends I recognized, especially considering how many of them are in the IR program. Nonetheless, conversation was interesting and fun. The great majority of those present seem to have visited Africa, Asia, or both – all areas sadly lacking from my personal repertoire of wanderings. If I am going to continue to be serious about the study of IR, I shall surely have to visit both in the coming years.Â Â
I am sure that Kerrie’s year or two in Ghana will provide her with more of whatever combination of experiences and insights it is that continues to fuel her. It’s always impressive to see what kind of passion that mixture can evoke, particularly when its directed to railing against stupidity or hypocrisy.