Jim Taylor's Columns - 'Soft Edges' and 'Sharp Edges'

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25

Nov

2022

A porcupine teaches about true love

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday November 24, 2022

 

A porcupine waddled across the road in front of me the other day. It’s an ungainly creature. Little short legs paddle along underneath a jiggling haystack of quills, with its lethal tail flopping along the pavement behind it.

            Clearly, it sensed that it was in no danger. As long as it stayed right side up, that is. A predator can kill a porcupine only by flipping it over to get at its undefended underbelly.

            When I got home, my cat ran to greet me. It arched its back, rubbed against my pantlegs. And then lay on its back, all four legs akimbo, to have its belly rubbed.

           Whether we’re porcupines, cats, or humans, exposing our most vulnerable parts is a profound act of trust in another. 


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12

Nov

2022

A grocery cart burdened with traditions

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday November 10, 2022

 

 

For a week, a while ago, I was a person with “no fixed address.” My daughter was out of town for a university reunion. That made me the designated driver/chaperone/security patrol for her two teenagers.

            But I still had my own home, cat, and community responsibilities to tend to. 

            So I spent the week shuttling back and forth between two houses 30 km apart. 

            One morning, a woman pushing a grocery cart, piled high with all her worldly possessions, crossed the street ahead of me. 

            I felt sorry for her. At the same time, I must admit, I felt a flicker of scorn, maybe even contempt. 

            Then I felt shame. Because she and I were both in the same cart, so to speak. 


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12

Nov

2022

Domesticating our wildest mysteries

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday November 3, 2022

 

Another Halloween has come and gone. We’ve sent our children out into the darkness of night dressed as skeletons or mummies, ghouls and ghosties, and other things that go bump in the night.

            Now the costumes have been put away for another year. 

            And I wonder what’s special about Halloween that we’re dressing up our kids for.

            There was a time, of course, when people actually believed that the souls of the dead rose up from their graves and roamed the streets. The whole premise of Dickens’ Christmas Carol relies on Scrooge believing that dead still have a presence among us.

 

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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: Hallowe'en, ghosts

12

Nov

2022

A page I wish I had read years ago

Author: Jim Taylor

 

Thursday October 27, 2022

 

         About two-thirds through the book, I ran across a passage that hit me like lightning. Under stress, said author Daniel Goleman, “the amygdala commandeers the pre-frontal cortex, the brain’s executive center… As our brain hands decision-making over to the ‘low road,’ we lose our ability to think at our best. The ascendant amygdala handicaps our abilities to hold information in working memory, for reacting flexibly and creatively, for focussing attention…”

            Ahah, I thought, that’s what used to happen to my wife Joan. She was smart. She was tough. She ran a department with 40 staff. She handled the sale of one church property and the purchase of another, despite all the impediments that two levels of government could throw at her. 

            But she hated exams. 

 

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12

Nov

2022

Happy Birthday, dear Universe…

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday October 20, 2022

 

The universe will be 6026 years old this weekend. According to Irish Archbishop James Ussher, in 1650, the universe began on October 23, 4004 BCE (Before Christian Era).

            It’s easy to make fun of Ussher. Years ago, I had a part in the play Inherit the Wind, a fictionalized treatment of the Scopes “Monkey Trial” of 1925.

            During one rehearsal, the actor portraying prosecutor Matthew Brady declared, in a voice like God playing Spencer Tracy, that the earth had been created at “precisely 9:00 a.m.”

            And a voice from the audience cracked, “9:30 in Newfoundland…”

            The cast erupted in laughter.

 

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18

Oct

2022

Where did that memory come from?

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday October 13, 2022

 

I can picture it clearly. A heavy wood picnic table, cut from raw logs, varnished, perched on a point of land sticking out into the Skeena river. Four of us eat ham-and-lettuce sandwiches – me and my wife and our two children, both under six years age. 

            I can’t remember exactly when this happened. But I can date it fairly accurately. Because our car is a bright yellow 1962 Plymouth Valiant. 

            Why do I remember that? It has no relevance to anything in my current life. It simply exists in the hard drive of my mind. 


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18

Oct

2022

The value of going on retreat

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday September 28, 2022

 

There was a fad, a few years ago – maybe there still is – about going on silent retreat. Spending an hour, a day, or a week, alone, in silence. To get in touch with yourself.

            I’m not sure what that would do for me.

            I live in silent retreat. I live alone, since Joan died. I don’t have the radio or TV on during the day – I don’t like disembodied voices nattering away in the background. I don’t wear earbuds. I don’t sink into my cellphone. 

            How would a silent retreat differ? 


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18

Oct

2022

When invasive species prove irresistible

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday September 28, 2022

 

I took my kitten out for a walk, for him to discover the world outdoors. Something launched a filibuster at us out of the catalpa tree. 

            It took me a while to discern the source. A squirrel. It leaped effortlessly from branch to branch, uttering a stream of profanities that would make a teenager blush.


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18

Oct

2022

Help! I’m trapped in a business meeting!

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday September 21, 2022

 

Municipal elections are coming up. “Why don’t put your name in?” a friend asked the other day. “You’ve always got a lot to say.”

            I hope he was kidding. Because politics already has too many people in love with the sound of their own voice.

            Besides, if I got elected, I would have to attend meetings. I’ve missed four meetings in the last two weeks, unfortunately. I suspect that my forgetter is telling me that I don’t like meetings. 

            Perhaps I never did like them. 

            In the past, I tended to resent meetings. They took a block of time when I could have been doing something productive. I felt obligated to attend because feared the organization might do something catastrophic without me.


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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: meetings

28

Sep

2022

Trapped in a business meeting

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday September 21, 2022

 

Municipal elections are coming up. “Why don’t put your name in?” a friend asked the other day. “You’ve always got a lot to say.”

            I hope he was kidding. Because politics already has too many people in love with the sound of their own voice.

            Besides, if I got elected, I would have to attend meetings. I’ve missed four meetings in the last two weeks, unfortunately. I suspect that my forgetter is telling me that I don’t like meetings. 

            Perhaps I never did like them. 


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