Prince Albert Voice
This past weekend I heard news regarding one of my Aunts. She is one of those special people who has a knack for making each person in the room feel like they have an incredible connection that no one else has with her. She has a way of making me feel like I am her favourite person in the world, even though she’s never actually said those specific words. It’s been there in every look, every hug, each conversation and every kiss. These weren’t just stolen moments, they have always been poignant, intentional and significant amounts of time where we invested in one another to catch up and create new memories.
Every day, the Ellen show concludes with the advice to be “kind” to one another. It’s good advice, especially during these challenging times when people seem really wrapped up in their own world as they either try to stay healthy or ignorantly attempt to prove the virus doesn’t exist. Little do the latter care they are actually perpetuating the side effects of the pandemic including mental health issues and filling up hospital beds with people with their negligent actions as they compromise their own wellbeing and that of others. These actions hardly demonstrate being kind to one another. Lately, as people start to receive the COVID vaccine, I’ve heard that we should all be “kind and patient” with one another as we await our turn to qualify for the vaccine. And I started to think about the one person no one ever speaks of being kind to… ourselves. In all of the months where we’ve been practicing social distancing, wearing face masks, hand washing and various other activities that promote good health I’ve heard very little about how to take care of our personal self and to be kind.
Sometimes people are moved to do things that are just inspiring and so incredible it hits a person right in the emotions. It’s difficult to not want to find a way to become a part of the kindness being extended to others by complete strangers, just as a way to say “thank you, you’re appreciated” or even, “I hope you have a wonderful day.” I think I didn’t realize how kind people were being when they “passed it forward” in the Tim Horton’s drive thru line. The person ahead paid for the order of the person behind and it kept going until someone broke the chain. I first learned of this kindness when a Tim Hortons in Winnipeg reported 228 cars paid it forward until someone smiled, said “Thank you!” and drove away… without paying it forward to car 229! As 2020 came to a close, people in Prince Albert were thinking of ways to pay it forward and I wrote about a busy young man who owns and operates Reid’s Baskets and Things out of his home. When he and I talked back then, he had some days ‘blacked out’ on his calendar as he had seventy gift baskets to prepare.
I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready to write this particular column. When I first approached Josh and asked if he’d let me write about him, he was surprised and a bit taken aback. Sincerely humbled he tactfully asked me what there was about him that I thought people would want to know. And then I began listing things about him off the top of my head... and he quickly interrupted, embarrassed but pleased, and said I could but to give him some time to wrap his head around the idea. I teased him about being a celebrity already and that he may have to hire security when people read the article. He laughed and responded with a sarcastic zinger ... his humour usually had a bit of spice to it but always was laced with humour. And his sense of fun was right up my alley - either you got his jokes or you didn’t. I’ve found people react the same way to my humour and there has been more than one occasion where the only person amused by my wit is me. Josh understood that and his response was to turn up the one liners and puns a notch. His sarcastic, intelligent wit was intended to make people laugh and feel good - and it did.
The forest was vibrantly alive with song birds, insects and plants of every size and species native to our region. I quietly made my way through the brush and undergrowth, grabbing the low lying branches of trees, rose bushes and wild raspberry bushes to find my balance and gain my footing before taking another step on the uneven terrain. As I moved deeper into the boreal forest, I appreciated the way Spruce trees naturally grew among the Poplar, Maple and White Birch trees to form a canopy which protected the plants and animals underneath them while still allowing light to reach even the deepest parts of the forest. The lake nearby provided the perfect accompaniment to the songs of the animals and insects, as waves gently lapped against the shore, and created a calm ambiance, priceless to someone used to living in the city. I stopped for a moment to survey my surroundings and enjoy the moment. Content, it felt wonderful to have this time where it felt like I was the only person for miles, even though my family was nearby, quietly absorbed in satisfying their own curiosities. I had been feeling restless and needed this time away from the urban centre. Prince Albert isn’t large but it can still be stifling. Especially for someone who grew up with wide open space where there were no office buildings, emergency vehicles responding to calls or traffic running through the streets at any given time, day or night. So, being out in nature on this beautiful day, with the sun shining down warming my skin and a comfortable breeze carrying the smell of fresh water and sweet grass just made me feel grounded. Complete. Content. This was one of those days where it felt incredible to be alive. And then my day got even better.