I started to write this post in March 2021.
Heat dome and other disasters
Extreme heat in Canada, in Vancouver, in Lytton, made international headlines and my friends, scattered around the globe, were asking me if I was surviving. I lived in Adelaide, Australia in 2013 and it was the hottest place on Earth at that time. I was not expecting to be on the hottest spot on Earth again in Canada!
I was lucky to stay in my basement. Being half-buried is a plus: temperature is quite stable, a bit like a wine cave. The outside blasting light was instantly burning everything but it was tempered thanks to windows looking like horizontal loopholes.
What happened in Lytton was devastating. The small town was not only experiencing over 50°C but was also burnt to the ground by wildfires. The number of sudden deaths linked to the extreme heat is constantly growing, close to 700 according to the latest news. Victims are mostly elders. It is truly shocking for me. How could you lived, like anyone else, worked, had children, contributed to the build of society and just die alone because of heat? In Paris, in 2004, I was so shocked that I worked during Summer as carer for elders. It was an intense job, you need to have a strong mind but I do not regret at all the experience. Unfortunately, I have less time now but I would like to bring my contribution later.
The other current disaster in British Columbia is the finding of Indigenous children graves. This is a real trauma for the community and for all Canadians. Many churches are covered by words painted in orange (the commemorative colour of these findings) and/or in red but some of them are also burnt. Experts fear that it could lit another fire in the US.
The swimming pool
I’m not able to see a thing at the pool. It didn’t stop me doing competitions as a kid. But I couldn’t cope with the pressure. I cannot see underwater due to my very bad farsightedness. But I’m sliding in the water, the only place when I feel good.
One day, I swam later, around 8.15am. I was able to see a ray of sun in the water in my line and it was so beautiful.
I’m going twice on average. I would like to push to three times a week but my schedule doesn’t allow me to do so for now. Then, I forced a bit things and I keep swimming between 6.30am and 7am.
Everybody is quite impressed by my swimming time slot. I changed it so it would not affect my work. Then, it became a habit. There is a great quietness in the morning. The privilege to see the first rays of sun, to hear birds waking up.
When you regularly go at the same time, you meet some regulars, before becoming yourself a regular (probably). I consider these people like ‘my secret friends’. We never talk but we give way in the line and in a way, we look after each other. At least, this is what is coming to my mind. A silent community, united by the love of water.
Cherry bloom trees and the Spring light
From my perspective, light appeared at once. I felt the change in March: I had the feeling that the sun rose at once and that everybody went out suddenly.
Living in a basement and working in rooms without windows, I’m not used to light and even to the sun. First, it even gave me a headache and I applied sunscreen!
On the other hand, I walked in parks and it was glorious! I was fascinated by the 60 different types of mosses in the Japanese garden Nitobe at the University of British Columbia. It is a very calm place, quite close to what I’ve seen in Tokyo. All these mosses were like hundreds of tiny worlds.
This interest for mosses is not a complete accident: they grow in harsh condition and on tiny spaces, surviving in capturing microscopic elements, almost intangible. Would I turn into moss myself?! The Reunion Island motto is: ‘I will flourish wherever I will be planted/carried’.
I finally fell for it: I bought books. I prefer to go to the library but the opening hours are not matching mine, two weeks are two short and I’m lazy to extend the date. Then, there was a shocking event in the local community recently: a 20s woman was stabbed by a lunatic in front of her child next to a library in North Vancouver. I was going to the one downtown but this is incredible, in front of a library!
Then, I’m reading Balzac’s ‘Le ventre de Paris’.
I also got books from the Alliance française de Vancouver which was selling off old books for Spring.
I’ve got something special with my readings... I read René Barjavel’s ‘Le grand secret’ and it was fitting so much the pandemic situation.
I also read the gloomy Franck Bouysse’s ‘Né d’aucune femme’. Fortunately, no similarities with my own life but the author is coming from Corrèze, a French region that I like much because I visited it for years and I have many good memories there.
I’m currently finishing David Foenkinos’s ‘La tête de l’emploi’.
I’m going again to the public library downtown and I’m delighted to see again books ‘in person’.
I’m thinking back of my childhood in public libraries, a love instilled by my mother.
We went to the planetarium and I was very surprised to see an extensive documentary about the eye and its structure (sponsored by Zeiss so obviously about the eye). I was quite uncomfortable to see the different eye sections, bringing back to the many explications of my retinopathy. There was a special echo for me of a proverb I heard before but which was more vibrant now: ‘The retina is also called the mirror of the soul’. What was then my soul? Looking back now, it is making sense: it was a bit tearing, collapsing. The treatment was traumatic but life-salving. At that time of my life, I took years to re-build myself after traumatic events. It is crazy what our bodies are telling about us!
After few hours, letting this documentary settling in in my mind, this story about photons traveling across the universe made me reflect. Initially, this documentary called ‘Seeing!’ (quite a propos) follows the creation and path of a photon from one side to another in the universe, until it gets into the brain of a young girl on Earth. First, this documentary is offering a very active role to photons, something that I’ve never considered. Everything is emitting and receiving : people, stones, feelings? Secondly, I liked the humility highlighted in the story, telling that they travelled, these galactic fragments, up to us and it should awake our gratitude. I also thought of trillions (probably way more but my scientific vocabulary is limited) of light and information exchanges done everywhere and at anytime. It is making me think of the symbol of the infinite. Something else that came to my mind was the iris: when the soul is leaving the body, the light at the end of tunnel depicted by so many could ‘simply’ be what is beyond the iris? The iris being the tunnel...
My professional break has more benefits than expected! First, I looked after myself in facing my biggest fears.
Writing is clearly my Mount Everest. I’ve never imagined doing it officially. Of course, I’m writing this blog but it is not the same. I’ve started a writing workshop with the Alliance de la francophonie des femmes canadiennes in September and it is amazing! I felt a lot of support from the organizers and sharing with the other participants. These workshops brought me a lot and I’m now in the writing phase, before handing the final document in December.
I’m starting again writing this blog, left on hold because I was too busy but it is as if a gear has been set in motion. I was contacted to lead a writing workshop myself! Life is funny...
I’m also writing a mini-series of podcasts about intangibility but the project is still young. I’m thinking of something bilingual, maybe with a learning touch as I love to share my love for the French language.
I did laser surgery to get rid of my farsightedness. My recovery period was intense. I have documented the biggest step of my life. I’m currently writing about it. I don’t exactly know what will come out of it but I would like to share this experience with others. It is clearly a work about gratitude, a value which became the spine of my life, especially professional life.
I’m quite interested by the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. I have contacted again the French association Valentin Haüy, previously contacted in 2016. They were looking for ‘voice donors’. I heard an ad on the radio. I wanted to volunteer but my many travels were not offering the best conditions for recording audio books. Now that I’m finally more stable, I’m currently recording a test for them.
I’m part of projects such as ‘Les Éloquentes’, a project of theatre-forum with the local association Réseau-Femmes. I’m discovering the principles of Augusto Boal’s Invisible theatre and Theatre of the Oppressed with filmmaker Nathalie Lopez-Gutierrez.
I’m still writing for The Source and it will soon be two years that I’ve started this great adventure with the Vancouver newspaper.