The Future in Retrospect

It’s happens sometimes when you’re sitting alone at 2 am watching the last embers of a dying fire – your life passing you by. Being the observer, it’s still you, only it looks different in retrospect. Instead of years, it’s measured in feelings and faces and opportunities won and lost. With the past being so long, how short does that leave the future?

John Lennon, at 40 years old, said that people fear the future because it’s unknown, but because it’s unknown, anything is possible. As I put another log unto the fire, I asked myself: why do we wait to celebrate the lives of others – until sometimes it’s too late? Are we that busy?

With a simple acknowledgement, we can confirm to those closest to us that they are loved. Encouragement, only takes a minute; yet, it can make all the difference – like reaching into the hand of God.

Especially with family, we know that we would do anything for them, but often we need to be reminded that they would do anything for us.

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At home we have an old willow tree that’s decades old. Our children grew up with that tree towering over our old farmhouse – sharing its beauty, shade and protection. Recently, during a freak storm, it snapped in two – crashing to the ground.

It seemed unbelievable that something so integral to our lives could be downed in an instant.

We checked with an arbourist and he advised that even though it may look odd for a while, there’s probably lots of life in it yet. So, we decided to give the tree a second chance… figuring we owe it that much.

Today, people seem to be valuing nature more – even as we watch it increasingly slip through our fingers. When I was twelve, I remember asking my parents if the toxic sludge being discharged from a factory into the city river would kill the fish. I was told that it was okay because it would just end up in the ocean… simple times, simple answers.  Maybe, as Michael Moore said, that’s why we love non-fiction – because we live in fictional times.

   “Don’t it always seem to go/ That you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone”                                 Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell

Today, I’m asking: why are the butterflies, honey bees, turtles, wild birds and bats disappearing? There’s not a simple answer for that. Life, like a tree, interconnects us all. So, it seems prudent to strengthen the things that remain.


Photo by Anindya Chowdhury

Paraphrasing Canadian award-winning scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster, David Suzuki, it’s like our world is heading full speed into a brick wall and yet people are more worried about the seating on the bus.

“But the kettle’s on the boil/ And we’re so easily called away”                                                      Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey by Paul McCartney

To me the future is a reminder of two things: not to take life for granted and not to give up on life – which is in everything.


Fred Parry

 www.fredparry.ca (August 2013)

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  1. This blog certainly made me pause. I saw that tree and the devastating blow from Mother Nature, and felt such overwhelming sadness . But there is still much life in that magnificent tree. We should all be so strong and tall and have such love for life. Thank you Fred for the reminder

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