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

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7

Feb

2021

Professional silos risk patients’ lives

Author: Jim Taylor

            It’s hard to realize that the first COVID-19 case showed up in Canada barely more than a year ago. A patient came to Toronto's Sunnybrook Hospital after returning from Wuhan, China, where the disease apparently originated.

            COVID-19 was a brand new disease. We didn’t know how it started, how it was transmitted, or how to treat it.

            We learned as we went.

            Initially, too, we saw ICU patients propped up in beds. Now I sometimes see then lying face down. It looks awkward, but apparently it helps to drain the fluid building up in their lungs.

            At that point, I wondered if anyone in the COVID-19 camp had contacted the cystic fibrosis community about postural drainage.

            Because nobody, but nobody, knows more about getting fluid out of lungs than the people who treat cystic fibrosis.


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7

Feb

2021

Christmas all year long

Author: Jim Taylor

I’ve been taking my time putting Christmas decorations away.

            Long ago, everything came down on Twelfth Night, January 6 -- when, tradition says, the Magi from the east visited Jesus and brought gifts of gold, and myrrh, and incense. 

            We put them all away. Somewhere. That wasn’t part of my job. 

            My job was to take the tree and any evergreen wreathes outside. To burn them in the yard. A single match usually sufficed to demonstrate the combustibility of coniferous forests. 

            This year has been different. 

            Some of my Christmas decorations have come down, and been tucked away in boxes in the basement storage room. But some are still out. 

            Because I think, I don’t want Christmas to end. 


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7

Feb

2021

Amanda Gorman gets four stars

Author: Jim Taylor

Ever since 22-year-old Amanda Gorman delivered her poem, The Hill We Climb, at President Joe Biden’s Inauguration, people have asked me how I reacted to it. 

            To respond, I have to distinguish between me as a sentient human being, and me as a technician with words. 

            As a human being, I endorse her message 100%. I’m inspired by WHAT she said, and the context in which she said it.

            As a technician with words, though, I have to deal with HOW she said it. So I approach her poem, any poem, differently.


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7

Feb

2021

Simple gestures show our faith

Author: Jim Taylor

“God in a stranger’s hello, God in a raised hand of greeting…” So begins a short daily prayer recently published by the Corrymeela Community in Northern Ireland.  

            The prayer recognizes that COVID-19 restricts many interactions we used to take for granted. 

            It goes on, “Those simple gestures, be it a glance toward a passer–by who looks back with a nod, or a friendly question about what breed of dog you’ve got there, give us moments of connection.”

            As a dog walker, I relate to that prayer. That’s how I too experience life these days. 

            Corrymeela anticipates a return to normal, whatever that is: “When instead of passing by or getting only as far as small talk, we will be able to draw close and learn more from each other.”

            I don’t see that happening. Not anytime soon. COVID-19 will not go away.


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7

Feb

2021

Watching soldiers between speakers

Author: Jim Taylor

People all around the world watched the inauguration of the new president of the United States of America.

            Most of us, I expect, watched mainly Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. We watched Biden take his oath of office with his hand on a family Bible. 

            Biden is only the second Roman Catholic president; the first was John Kennedy. That speaks volumes about the dominance of one branch of Christian religion in American politics. 

            We watched Kamala Harris’s radiant smile as she became, not just the first non-white woman to be vice-president, but the first woman. Period. That too speaks volumes about American politics. 

            But I wonder how many of us watched the troops, occasionally visible in the background. 

 

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7

Feb

2021

Discovering the essentials of life

Author: Jim Taylor

We had a mighty wind one night. It sounded like a freight train rumbling by outside – loud enough that I assumed the snowplow must be coming down our street, dragging its blade along the pavement. 

            But it wasn’t. 

            When I woke, I looked outside. No snow. 

            The house was eerily quiet. And chilly.

            No power. No light. No heat. 

            And no phone. Not even the hard-wired landline had a dial tone. 

            Plus, the battery on my cell phone was down; I couldn’t recharge it.

            No internet, no email – the cable modem needs plug-in power. 

            I thought I could at least have a shower. No water.


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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: light, water, power

17

Jan

2021

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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17

Jan

2021

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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9

Jan

2021

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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9

Jan

2021

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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