Thursday, June 21, 2012

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes...and the Summer Solstice.

This morning, final scramble to the top.
My favourite rock musical is "RENT", by the late Jonathon Larson and based on Puccini's La Boheme. It's edgy, raw, and is the story of a group of struggling young artists and musicians in New York's Lower East Side. It's set against a backdrop of HIV/AIDS. The production is powerful and very moving, and, again, edgy. One of the most memorable songs, "Seasons of love" asks the question, "How do you measure a year in the life?"

How do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights? In sunsets?
In midnights? In cups of coffee?
In inches? In miles?
In laughter? In strife?
In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,
how do you measure a year in the life?

Today, June 21st, is the Summer Solstice. Scheduled to be an extremely full day, there would be no spare moments. But there was something three of us had to do, first thing. We knew that on this special day, we had to climb to a high place. It would be the beginning of a new "season", in many ways. And so the alarm was set for 0500 hrs - just moments before the dawn, following the shortest night of the year.

The closest "high" place to us is the landmark "cross" on Mount Tzouhalem, an elevated point over the fertile Cowichan Valley, very near where we live. The elevation gain is almost 1000 feet. The trail is familiar, having hiked / run that same route to the top well over 500 times since moving to Vancouver Island almost ten years ago. Each and every time, looking down over the Valley, the Gulf Islands and the Salish Sea, and across the water to the snow-capped Olympic Mountains in Washington, we have felt the exhilaration of fresh perspectives and renewed energy.

High over the Cowichan Valley, early on the Summer Solstice.
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes ago, Joan and I hiked over the Scottish heather moorland on rugged and uneven terrain to the Airlie Monument where the views of Glen Prosen and Glen Clova are simply wonderful. It seemed the most appropriate thing to do upon receiving the unexpected news of my mother's passing, from a close friend back in Canada. We shared stories and memories and felt deeply thankful. It was a healing "journey" and mum would have approved...and she would have smiled.

A chapter had turned on a "season of love", never to be forgotten and to be cherished forever. I look at the Summer Solstice now as the beginning of a new season in life. Summer is here, and the seasons of fall, winter, and spring will follow - as they always have. There may be, for us all, transitions and challenges, heartaches and joys, triumphs and days when things don't work out the way we would like them to - for all of these things are the very "gist" of life. But through everything, we can grow and achieve a depth of understanding in marvellous and meaningful ways.

How do we measure a year? In countless ways, and all very personal. And what about tomorrow? A Sanskrit proverb continues to have profound meaning for me. May it also touch you.

"Yesterday is but a dream, tomorrow but a vision.
But today well lived 
makes every yesterday a dream of happiness, 
and every tomorrow a dream of hope.
Look well, therefore, to this day. Such is the salutation to the dawn."

May each day, well lived, always be the measure of our lives.

And may your Summer Solstice be a "season of love".



  1. Awesome! Such an inspiring post and it was a very meaningful morning. Thank you both so very much.

    p.s. Love the pic!

  2. Thanks for that,L. There's certainly no better way to start the day than hike to the top of a mountain. Puts everything in proper perspective. Cheers. D.