Friday, January 2, 2009

NY2009!

This post was written on January 1st and I meant to wrap it up later. So much time has passed since that I gave up on continuing it, but here it is anyway...

It's difficult to believe that we've been in Vancouver for a year already. 2008 proved to be a very refreshing year, full of new faces, places and lots of little "ah!" moments. We celebrated the anniversary of our arrival with a little trip to Mt Seymour, where we took snowboarding lessons and managed to get our muscles properly mangled up.

I'm sitting here in our sweet little apartment, in muscle pain, inspecting the fresh snow that fell on our painfully lengthy way home from the New Year's Eve bash. This quiet moment feels so very much like this entire city: full of amazing possibilities, but little action unless you get up and make your day.

My physical condition is making me acutely aware that there are people who are seriously roughing it out there. The new city council is promising to end homelessness; the critics say that they are just slapping people into human zoos to give the city a cosmetic makeover. I really don't know how that is going to help the young guy standing at the Broadway station McDonald's. On my way to the grocery store, he was smiling and making eye contact with every passer-by, attentively begging for change. By the time that I had made it back from the store, his eyes were glazed over and rolling back in his head, as he had managed to score a hit for the money that the mother of two had given him. There's only so much you can do to combat free will and the personal choices that this guy is making. Objectively speaking, his opiated oblivion may indeed be preferable to the sober facts of his existence, but who is to draw the line and say that enough is enough and his way of coping with issues is not conducive. The city? I guess so.

Living in a big city with as many issues as Vancouver makes you realize how small we really are as humans. Our way of running our sand castles is still quite experimental and based on trial and error. It's fine - it's the best we've been able to come up with, but the real problem is the follow-through. People fail to realize that their happiness is entirely dependent on the choices that they make. Sadly, there is still very little personal accountability and an expectation that the mother system will just magically take care of it all.

3 comments:

Zack Weinberg said...

(apologies for very belated reply) I'm not comfortable with the assertion that people's happiness is entirely dependent on the choices they make. To be happy it helps to make good choices, yes, but it's definitely not sufficient in itself; I know many people who have always made excellent choices and yet live miserable lives because of chance (health issues, natural disasters) or "the mother system" (it is incredibly hard to work one's way up from minimum wage jobs in the USA, for instance; I would not be surprised if a substantial proportion of the homeless in Vancouver in fact have jobs, perhaps several jobs, and still cannot afford an apartment).

On the other side of it, consider any spoiled rich celebrity you like; they make terrible life choices but are insulated from the consequences by virtue of who they are (again, chance).

Anonymous said...

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