Take a minute

When Jian Ghomeshi gave his preamble on CBC's Q the other day - set, as always, to evocative Enya-like music - he talked about the season, why it's magical, and why we should make it a time for reflection and gratitude. A time to look beyond the frenzy at the mall and take stock. He asked that we hear him out, lest we assume he’d simply fallen prey to the seasonal warm and fuzzies. He noted that the grumblers were likely grumbling, and indeed had reason to grumble. What he felt was lost was a sense of wonder. Grumbler though I am, I do agree.

But what struck me were three words, tossed in among the others: take a minute.

Sure. Take a minute. But as a society we rarely take a second, never mind a minute. I’m not suggesting it’s better to take nothing at all, just that there’s little we can do to change ourselves, or the world, in a minute. Unless we all took the same one, or started to see “a minute” as a metaphor for the time required to do something fully.

If we believe that this is truly the season of giving, reflection, goodwill, we might ask ourselves, like with the concept of a minute, why only a season? a week? a day?

Taking stock is a prevalent media activity this time of year - best of, worst of, saddest of. We turn to the year-to-date lists of the world’s tragedies, bloopers, overthrows and undertows – because God knows we can’t remember them. They passed by in the flurry of e-mail, articles, YouTube videos, jokes and thoughtful messages. What the hell did happen this year? Didn’t that guy die years ago?

Maybe we should wrestle reflection back from the journalistic realm. Sit with things a little longer. Start with one minute, then make it two, then double that. Sounds like a meditation exercise, something my A.D.D. and D.C.D. (Distraction Compulsion Disorder) selves have resisted. But as Jian suggests, wonder might come of it.

If I am to take my minute or two to think about what I’m grateful for in 2011, aside from the obvious - my family, our health, my friends - it’s the privilege of a year full of taking far more than a minute.

This writer’s life, that is now impossible for me to leave, may not be one of great financial gain or privilege, if any at all. But it is one of reflection, of grabbing a pen when a word or two strike me, of biting into ideas and experiences - mine or those of others - chewing on them a while, and spitting them out in some new form to be consumed.

Sorry if that sounds a bit like chewing someone else’s cud.

So I’m standing on the edge of 2012, with a big pair of scissors, looking back at security, salary, tech-support, pension, benefits, ready to leap with none of those strings attached. This is my minute.

Happy Old Year! I’ll remember 2011 as the year that didn’t get away.

Happy New Year!  2012 be rough with me, be gentle with me, throw me what you’ve got, then catch me if you can.


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