Feeling pretty thoughtful this evening and grateful to Gord and all the guys for making it so Hip to be Canadian.
Last night a bit after the Tragically Hip’s final concert started in Kingston, I shared this photo adding the caption “It’s Hip to be Canadian!”. Two and a half hours later the band sang their last song and left many audience members and viewers watching the live broadcast deeply moved and quite literally in tears. I was one of them, watching the CBC live feed from the comfort of my living room, having backed out of joining Daniel F Berg andEsther Jane Scanlon in the square in Kingston… intimidated at the thought of the huge crowds.
And to digress for a moment I would like to say a big THANK YOU to the CBC for the uninterrupted (even when it went over the scheduled time) commercial free 3hr primetime show. Truly an amazing Canadian thing to do!
But back to the Hip and why their final performance left me deeply touched, disturbed, saddened, confused, inspired and pondering how to connect the dots…
Gord Downie held nothing back, performing with passion and flamboyance, giving everything of himself almost to the point of collapse. And the outpouring of love, from the other band members, the crew, the audience…well it was beyond palpable and certainly transcended my television screen. We got heart rending glimpses of the very human side of his incurable brain cancer but also of the poet and activist, the consummate performer in his element.
At times he seemed almost manic, the epitome of Carpe Diem… though seize the moment, not the day, is probably more accurate. He seized every moment, every breath…and therein was the devastating reminder and the inspiring example, all in one. Our mortality is something we don’t truly consider until we are faced with the unexpected reality of it, often through tragic circumstances or through the mirror of another’s struggle. How to truly live like every moment is a gift, embracing life not fearing the possible bumps along the way?
That is the practical question I was left with when faced with such courage and passion. We cannot possible know Gord’s daily struggles but last night he was one with the thousands of Canadians across the country and around the world who tuned in to share his final gift to us all. A legacy of music for sure but a thought-provoking gift of hope.
His strength of will transcended the occasional glimpses of pain the cameras caught along with his searching gaze as it locked onto the numerous teleprompters around the stage. But those moments tore at my heart, leaving me deeply saddened by the inevitability they foretold. It was not pity but the unresolved frustration of a situation beyond our human control.
I’ve never been very good at accepting “no” for an answer and here was a man faced with the ultimate “no”! So while I was in awe of his strength and determination I couldn’t help but come up lacking when I thought of how I had handled some of the challenges I had faced in my life not to mention how I might handle ones in the future. I had to remind myself that we each have our unique path and it most certainly is not a competition…certainly no room for comparisons!
So Carpe Diem! There is no way to know what tomorrow holds or even how many tomorrows we have. So for me it’s time to figure this out…time for the evolution of thought into practice. We are not alone in this life even when we think we are. Time for gratitude to be the foundation upon which all is built… the rest is all stuff that will come and go, some more important than others but not the foundation of gratitude and love that forms us and holds us from birth to death. Nothing else even comes close…
Gord Downie said to us “thank you for that”, for listening, for all the love…but I say thank you Gord for your legacy that will remain with so many of us…