Tonight is the eve of Remembrance Day and I’m struck by how grateful I feel to be sitting in the warmth and comfort of my own home – unafraid and with ample freedoms. Our country is one of the fortunate ones where people are not actively persecuted for their ideas and opinions, religious beliefs, political dissonance, or under constant threat of war and death.
It has been just under eight years since I was in Afghanistan. I wasn’t there as part of military service, but as a civilian. Upon meeting some of our Canadian troops at a Canada Day event the Consulate was putting on one year, the question I was asked over and over was “how can you be here as a civilian? I can’t even imagine”. Because you see, they couldn’t believe how people like me could go about our days working and living without protection (armed with firepower) – particularly in light of the things they saw and were exposed to on a daily basis. They were all too aware of the constant dangers that faced us all. However, the reality was that people like me were protected… by them. Because they were out patrolling, I got to sleep at night. As one of the protected, I never had to see or be exposed to the kinds of things our military personnel did.
One incident that remains vivid in my memory was a suicide bomber attack on an ISAF troop vehicle right outside my work compound, which resulted in us going into lockdown for over ten hours well into the night. It was the military personnel who cleared the roads, completed two more controlled detonations, and had to deal with the threat of additional suicide bombers who might take advantage of the situation. It was not me. The people like me were inside our compound in lockdown, waiting. Waiting for safety, and eventually, the escorts to take us home. And they did.
I’ll never forget.
And on this eve of Remembrance Day, it seems right that we think back and remember the current and other wars before us and all the men and women who gave their lives for our current future. I was so moved when I came across the news of the project “The Fallen” created by British artists Jamie Wardley and Andy Moss, along with hundreds of volunteers earlier this fall. Read more
I came across this video a couple weeks ago, and it’s given me much food for thought since. And now that we’ve arrived at the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday weekend, I thought it’d be a great thing to post in the spirit of the holiday.
So as you get ready for the time spent with family and friends, perhaps over a large feast of sorts, if you have time, check out this video. And for those of you not residing in Canada, it’s still a fantastic video carrying a great message and reminder of a special thing that carries a lucky byproduct: happiness.
I won’t say too much more. Just watch the video.
Happy Canadian Thanksgiving, everybody.
“It’s snowing still,” said Eeyore gloomily.
“So it is.”
“Yes,” said Eeyore. “However,” he said, brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.”
― A.A. Milne
We’ve all had those times when we feel at our limit. We’re not able to keep up, and the smallest things trigger feelings of frustration or anxiety. At times like these, it can be difficult to find the lighter side of life; and even with the knowledge that all things must come to an end, no solace or comfort is felt. Sometimes, it feels that there really is no rest for the weary.
Gavin Aung Than had always found his greatest inspiration and influence from Bill Watterson, the creator of Calvin & Hobbes. Although Watterson retired more than ten years ago in 1995, when Gavin was still young, in the years that followed, Gavin began to immerse himself in the world Watterson had created and still draws inspiration from his favourite comics. Recently, Gavin took words from Watterson’s 1990 commencement speech to Kenyon College and brought them to life in a comic done in a style that mimics Calvin & Hobbes, as a tribute.
Watterson’s words themselves are thought provoking and inspiring – particularly for anyone in the process of figuring out the famous “what do I want to be when I grow up” and carving a niche out for themselves… So, most of us? The journey of self reflection and the pursuit of meaningful work certainly doesn’t stop after landing the first job and starting a career post-graduation. Usually, it’s only the beginning, and Watterson’s words reflect that.
Gavin’s tribute is beautiful. And it seems the world and old fans of Calvin & Hobbes think so too. The comic has since gone viral and been shared globally. It isn’t available in print, as it would go against Watterson’s own principles around licensing. However, you can see more of Gavin’s art and read about his tribute on his blog at Zen Pencils.