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Max Roytenberg


Max Roytenberg, Dec 1 2015, Vancouver, Canada







Sometimes when I think about our lives, the mysterious and the mundane, it makes my head spin. There are seasons in our lives, but we are impacted, at the same time, by the larger events in our world which sweep us in one direction or another. These can and do shape the context within which we exist. We, of our immediate generation, were spared the dislocation that wider events brought for the times of our parents. I am thinking about how very fortunate we were in that, and underlining that, I am tempted to tell tales out of school.


Recently, we fled the gloom of approaching winter that hangs over our hideaway on the shore of the western ocean during that season. Accustomed, even addicted, to sunny days, associated with our upbringing on the Canadian Prairies, we have gloried in the shining light peeking through the sheltering foliage that graces the fifth-floor aerie we have found and furnished in our new abode. Our joys in the new life we have found there, and their recounting to anyone who will listen, risk the malevolent attention of the evil eye.


But the sun is not there for this period of time. So, for the next few months, we will be living in the desert. In the beginning, the mornings and evenings will be cool enough to approach the temperatures that we left behind. However, during the day, we will be able to bake our bodies in the sun until they have roasted to a color more appropriate to our new surroundings. Little in the way of water, little in the way of lush greenery, palm trees and cactus adorn our environment.


This is a different time in our lives. We are part of that aging cohort, an increasing fraction of the population, not only in North America, but around the world. (Birth rates have fallen in the developed world.) We have, through our efforts, with our savings, personal and government-induced, earned a leisure that enables us to choose the climate we prefer. We can see around us, back home, but, particularly in our adopted community, that we, ourselves, are among the more fortunate. So many of our age bracket continue to work for their daily sustenance.


When we return home to re-capture the beauties of our Canadian springtime, we will be fleeing too much of a good thing from a temperature point of view. We appreciate and pleasure in the leisure we have to pursue the interests that fill our times with busyness and a sense of purpose.


We were, like most of you out there, at one time, fully bound up with the struggle to fashion a lifestyle, for ourselves, and for our children, that would satisfy our needs and aspirations. Educational attainments, career goals, child-rearing, (didn’t we seek to duplicate ourselves, and wasn’t that more complicated than we imagined,) each, segmented our lives into different times. 


Time after time, we adjusted to the new rhythms that informed the patterns of our changing lives. So often, we felt driven by the imperatives that commanded our actions. In a sense, we felt we were the servants of those drives rather than the masters of our own fate. It made us look forward to time when we might indulge our own particular interests, without too much concern for how it might affect others.


All of this is so mundane, …………. even boring. What else is new? What am I fussing about? A mountain out of a molehill? All this against a backdrop of a universe without end, worlds beyond our imagining, sentient life forms not of our own image, a history with no beginning which we do not have the resources to fully comprehend. A time after time, of which our own time is less than a tick of the clock? Beginnings and endings abound far beyond the conception of human time scales. 


Think about that! And we speculate about dark matter we can’t see that makes up most of our universe. And parallel universes that may make even our own irrelevant. And I have not yet gotten over the miracle of the eyes we have through which we see. And what about cell division and DNA? How come they mostly work the way they should? Forget the rest, where does all this come from?


The tiny bits of time that occupy so much of our consciousness pale to insignificance when consid

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