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

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Some coincidences defy credibility

Author: Jim Taylor

It was Friday January 1, 2021. New Year’s Day. I thought I should start the new year by tackling some old business.

            For the last 20 years, Joan stored her growing collection of murder mysteries in our spare bedroom. One set of books caught my eye – by P.D. James, the undisputed queen of British murder mystery writers. A publisher’s promo calls her the author of 11 books, but I counted 20.

            Including her one foray into science fiction, The Children of Men, published in 1992.

            I had never read it before. I opened the book. On Friday the first of January, 2021, the opening words were, “Friday 1 January 2021.”

            What were the odds, I wondered, that Ms James would have chosen to start a book published 28 years ago with the very date on which I would open that book?

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Misguided mentality of a mob

Author: Jim Taylor

The world watched last week as a mindless mob took over the U.S. Capitol. 

            It was not an attempted coup, as many pundits alleged. If it were a coup, they would have been much better organized. 

            This gang had no plans beyond disrupting Congress. Desecrating the temple of government. Looting a few souvenirs. Putting their feet up on Nancy Pelosi’s desk. 

            For a second or two, those TV cameras caught a woman brandishing a placard: “Jesus Saves.”

            There, I think, is the overlooked key to this demonstration. 

            At last count, 82 people had been arrested and 13 charged, as a result of the riot. When – and if – they come to trial, I expect that some will invoke religious freedom as their defence. 

            They were only doing what Jesus did, they’ll argue, when he cleared the crooks and shysters from a courtyard of his temple in Jerusalem. He didn’t attempt to take over the temple either. He shut it down for a while, then cleared out. He had made his point.

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Putting good and bad in perspective

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday January 10, 2021


Years ago, I started writing a summary of the good things and bad things that had happened that year.

            At first, I had little difficulty separating good from bad. My two lists – good and bad – bore little connection to each other.

            But as time passed, I discovered that different aspects of the same situations were showing up in both lists.

            This year, the overlap is almost total. Bad things occurred, certainly, but part of each parcel included good things. And vice versa. Like Frank Sinatra singing about love and marriage, you can’t have one without the other.

            Take Donald Trump. Please. (A line borrowed from stand-up comedy.)

            How can his behaviour be a ”good thing”?

            Easy -- he proved I was right about him, all along. (I never said that the good and bad had to be equal, only that they were intertwined!)

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All by myself on a ski trail

Author: Jim Taylor

Between my wife’s death and Covid-19 isolation, I’ve spent a lot of time alone this last year. 

            There’s a difference between being lonely and being alone. Lonely is a state of mind; alone is a fact. 

            In the silence broken only by my skis swooshing along the tracks, I amused myself thinking of the benefits of being alone. 

·      No negotiating about where to go, or when and where to meet. 

·      No competition about who’s going to drive.

·      No disagreements over what to pack for lunch. No juggling menus to suit someone else’s dietary needs. 

·      No hurrying to keep up with someone younger and fitter. 

·      No reason not to stop, to catch a breath, to take in the view.. Or, in other settings, to pull off the road to read a historical marker, or to visit some natural wonder you’ve always rushed past before. 

·      No need to phone anyone just because you’re running a little late.

·      And in a broader sense, no interruptions in the middle of a thought, a moment of meditation, or of prayer.

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Crashing through an imaginary wall

Author: Jim Taylor

When he was still a young man, a friend of a friend had a job for a while as a movie stunt man. He learned how to fall off a cliff. How to survive an explosion. And how to roll a car, crash a car, flip a car, and still emerge alive.

            He learned how to work out all the calculations of speed and weight and lift so that he could safely launch a car off the end of a ramp and land without killing himself.

            And then one day he was asked to send a car crashing through a giant billboard.

            My young friend knew exactly how fast he had to be going, how steep the ramp must be, how far the car would fly, how it would land on the other side.

            But it felt different when he couldn’t see ahead through the giant billboard. Even if it was just made of paper.


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