the spark (spärk)

Over the years, my desire to write ebbed as The Boil did it’s work on me; my Artistry became numb and then inert. The COVID-19 pandemic lead me to rediscovering that Artistry, and this post explains how it came to be reignited.

Thanks in part to both the warming weather and the decline in new daily COVID cases, by the end of June, locally we started to emerge partially from The Pause as our world reopened with restrictions. My partner and I identified we were wrung out of energy and joy. To address this, we elected to take some much needed vacation time. 

In the five months since our last vacation to Mexico, the world and life I knew to be normal faded away. My work days became filled with interacting with clients who needed answers to situations we had never encountered before. Questions were asked of me that I didn’t have immediate answers for, that required that I collaborate with my team to discover organizational positions on topics. It was a lot of work to stay current with our changing world, and our work was harder than anything we’d done before. I’m not going to dwell on my work world as a focus of this blog, so I hope it will suffice to say, that after five months of a routine that included daily Zoom calls to update on COVID’s impact and tackling the problems of the day that demanded consistency provincially, I needed a break, big time, and my volunteering endeavours had not reopened sufficiently enough to provide an escape from my frustrations and stress.

With borders closed, but national and provincial parks reopening, we elected to make an early summer trip to the mountains to enjoy Banff in a manner that we normally were not able to.  In the time before The Pause, the warming weather of summer caused the mountain parks to fill with tourists from around the world, driving up the cost of accommodation, creating long lines of traffic and crowds in restaurants that really turned my introverted self off; we’d normally wait out the summer and make our return visit to the mountains during the slower, fall shoulder season.

An unexpected benefit of the COVID-19 pandemic was that it provided a rare opportunity for many locals to visit Banff during the summer, discovering the only tourists to be Albertans like ourselves who were reclaiming our ‘back yard,’ and enjoying a less crowded, and a little less expensive retreat. This opportunity was short lived, as in the few short days we were there, we saw the visiting crowds grow, and made the unfamiliar sleepiness of Banff disappear as the crowds looked for an escape from isolation of their own.

Within a scarce couple hours of arriving, getting established in the hotel, heading downtown for a walk, a stop at our favourites pub, and then a visit to the liquor store to stock up on some affordable booze, we returned to our room. In a moment that remains very clear in my mind, my partner and lover made an offer to me that I can now clearly identify as a fork in the road of my life; a choice needed to be made, one that I had no idea what the scope or impact of the decision might turn out to be.

do I take the blue or the red pill?

I’ve always been of a straight arrow type by nature, not one who likes to rock the boat, and who prefers compromise and harmony over being confrontational or competitive.  Throughout my life this has allowed me to control my emotions and gave me the ability to influence my behaviour readily in order to maintain a calm, rational demeanor in stressful times, even when I’d seen others crumble under the same pressures and stress.  No doubt, this ability aided in my being able to cope with the isolation of lock down, but I do have my limits, and prior to taking this vacation I was nearing them.  The patience which I have prided myself in was eroded, as if my fingernails were trimmed too short and any resulting touch was too sensitive or caused pain. I grew tired of hearing about other people’s problems or answering their questions, I was just plain too worn out and miserable to care.

Prior to The Pause, my straight arrow nature rarely, if ever, allowed me to give into peer pressure or do anything illegal or of questionable morality. Allowing myself to drink alcohol underage, or to smoke anything, was not something I would allow myself to do until it was legal for me to do so. Even afterward becoming a legal, consenting adult, it was well into my thirties before I would smoke, and then only if it was a cigar accompanied by the company of good friends and very good drinks.  If it hadn’t been for the legalization of cannabis for recreational use in Canada on October 17, 2018, the thought of accepting the edible offered to me by my lover would never have entered into my mind as an option to consider exploring.

The COVID-19 pandemic had driven me to the point that I was willing to try an escape, and it was delivered to me by my partner on June 29, 2020, in the form of a 40 mg sativa gummy; without much hesitation, I took it.

my saviour? my muse? my downfall?

After making love and as I dozed in the mountain light streaming through the sheer curtains onto the bed that we both lay upon, the THC high revealed itself to me as my world blissfully lost it’s hard edges, my body relaxed in sensation, and my mind started to explore undiscovered territory. I started to feel things physically and emotionally, to think in ways that I either hadn’t in many years, never had experienced, or lacked the ability to understand or appreciate previously.

The start of the thaw to my numbness is owed to the influence of a chemical substance I had never partaken of before, THC, and it helped me to find some rest, true relaxation, and awareness. The chosen path chosen helped me to rediscovery my Artistry, which I have since learned it is a cornerstone of my health.

When I first started to toy with the idea that my art was grounded in writing (many, many years ago in high school), the first and last course I actually took on the subject suggested that allowing my writing to follow my stream of consciousness was the best way for me to empty my mind out and to create copy.

Now with my Artistry reawakened and as I start to explore writing again, I’ve identified that my method involves utilizing my stream of consciousness style to get ideas out, then through what is not always a quick editing process, I discover what elements will be included in a post, and what scraps can be preserved for potential posts later.  I’m learning that maintaining a collection of ideas will help me write and with some practice, I’ll be able to hone those scraped ideas and elements into enough material to generate meaningful posts. If I’m to believe the lessons that I’ve stumbled across on the internet from experienced bloggers, posts of no more than seven or eight minutes reading time are a critical factor in a blog’s success; what remains to be seen, is if I’m going to colour within the lines or not.

Thank you for being a part of my journey with this blog; I hope you’ll keep an open mind, continue to read it, and will that you will be rewarded in some small way as pay-off, as I am rewarded and made healthy in writing it.

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