On being … the year in review

By Ingrid Sapona

As I’ve done the past few years, I’m ending 2013 with an alphabet-inspired list of thoughts, events, and news items that I’ve reflected on over the past year.

A is for Aleppo  Though for many of us it’s just the name of a city in Syria, it seems appropriate to start a list of reflections on 2013 by thinking about, and praying for, people in Aleppo (and elsewhere) who are suffering as a result of conflict.

B is for beautiful, breathtaking, and Banff  If I were compiling a thesaurus these would be synonyms. My sisters and I experienced the splendor of Banff this past summer. If it’s not on your list of must see places, it should be.

C is for Crack Smoking Mayor – Sadly, this is the phrase that folks around the world have come to associate Toronto with.

D is for doorknobs  Vancouver has amended its building code to prohibit use of doorknobs on all new construction. Doorknobs are considered a partial barrier to entry so lever handles will have to be used on all new city buildings beginning March 2014. Interesting, eh?

E is for Edward Snowden  For me, the biggest surprise was not what Snowden “revealed”, it’s that so many people didn’t realize – or pay attention to  – the fact that, in the name of the war on terror, many laws have been enacted that expand the U.S. government’s powers.

F is for foraging  The slow food movement is so yesterday. Foraging is the next gourmet wave. Mind you, I can’t imagine how well that’ll work out for those of us above the 44th parallel from about November to April.

G is for government  The founding fathers definitely didn’t agree on everything, but they realized that governing is about compromise and working toward the greater good. Why have so many politicians forgotten that? Why do people re-elect people who have forgotten that?

H is for typhoon Haiyan  A few years ago I met a couple (friends of a friend) who had a place on an island in the Philippines. I recently heard that typhoon Haiyan wiped out that whole island – not so much as a palm tree was left standing. I can’t even imagine that.

I is for icewine  I urge anyone who likes icewine but who questions the high price of it to spend a morning picking the frozen gems. The precious nature of the nectar will become obvious.

J is for judging  I’m not Catholic, so I’ve never paid too much attention to what popes have said, but Pope Francis’ “who am I to judge” comment revealed an outlook and way of being that I wish were universal.

K is for just kidding  The recent “tweet heard around the world” by the PR person en route to Africa is a good reminder that inappropriate behavior or comments can’t be explained away with a simple: “just kidding”.

L is for lottery  A commentator from the U.S. had a particularly positive spin on the odd story of the Ontario woman who won $50 million but didn’t know it until provincial lottery investigators tracked her down. The commentator noted that it was refreshing to hear of government employees (whose efforts are usually focused on investigating fraud and denying prize claims) putting equal effort into rewarding an unsuspecting winner.

M is for Mandela  Even for people with seemingly little in common with him, Nelson Mandela provided an example.  

N is for Naheed Nenshie  He’s the mayor of Calgary -- you know, the mayor the rest of Canada wishes it had.

O is for Obamacare  I truly believe that in time it will be remembered for more than just clumsy web design. It will take its place alongside social security and medicare as a program that Americans can’t imagine living without.

P is for puzzles  I’ll bet I wasn’t the only one surprised to hear that crosswords have only been around for 100 years!

Q is for quiet  Something we need more of in our lives. (Especially if the government or airlines are crazy enough to start allowing folks to use their cell phones on airplanes!)

R is for rain – Last summer’s record-breaking flooding in Calgary and Toronto was terrible for many and I can’t help wonder if it’s like the canary in the coal mine – a warning of something – I’m just not sure what…

S is for scandal  As hard as it may be to believe, the crack smoking mayor wasn’t the biggest political scandal to hit the Canadian landscape this year. That dubious honour goes to the senate expense scandal. Though, on the surface, the story was about outrageous housing allowances and travel expenses claimed, some of which has been re-paid, nothing is being done to address the roots of the problem: a sense of entitlement and a lack of accountability.

T is for texting  In the fall I took a road trip through New York State and all along the highway (not just along the Thruway) the rest stops have become “texting stops”. I guess folks don’t need to rest any more…

U is for unlikeliest – The now famous “butt goal” is surely the unlikeliest way a goal has ever been scored in the NHL. The incident happened when a Sabre defenseman – who ultimately was credited with the goal – flipped the puck up and on its way back down it dropped into the pants of the Phoenix Coyote goaltender. When the goalie backed into the net he – and the puck – crossed the goal line, resulting in a goal for the Sabres.

V is for voice – This year I discovered Microsoft Word’s Speak function, which is especially helpful for typo-prone writers like me. You select and highlight text and click on the Speak icon and the program reads the text out loud.

W is for war  Sadly, I know there are wars going on that many of us haven’t even heard of. That’s shameful, as well as tragic. 

X is for xtreme (well, it is if you’re a bad speller)  In so many ways 2013 was a year of extremes. G, H, and R above provide prime examples but, thankfully, so does B.  

Y is for yikes – At over 1000 words, yikes is this column long! Thankfully there’s just one more letter.

Z is for Zen – given that Zen is a type of Buddhism that emphasizes meditation, it seems a fitting word to end this column with, as I hope that over the year one or two On beings … has given you something to think about.

© 2013 Ingrid Sapona 


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