Now is the winter of our discontent, made glorious summer by this son of York.

Do you ever have one of those days – or in this case seasons – where everything seems to go wrong, when it seems like all your hopes and dreams are dashed on the rocks of despair and misfortune? Okay, so I’ve been suffering from a pile of first world problems but it still seems wearing.

It all started with my impending 60th birthday. It was really a lot of fun and it did seem to mark a transition to the next stage of life. I wasn’t retiring to a beach or anything – I’ll still be working for a little while yet – but I could hear the crash of waves from where I was standing and we had planned a series of fun events culminating with a dinner at my favorite restaurant on the day itself.

Then the night before – as a way of saying good-bye to the 50s – I tore the meniscus in my knee. This has since evolved into a ruptured Baker’s cyst and a grossly swollen lower left leg. The pain isn’t enormous but it is steady and it makes walking a chore rather than the pleasure I usually found it. Pain is wearing and, while I suppose I can take comfort that I am gaining empathy with those who have suffered a lot more than me, it is one lesson I might have tried to learn more intellectually than physically.

Of course that is neither the beginning nor end of my spring of discontent. My mother-in-law broke her hip and this has led to a lot of worry and a certain amount of unexpected expense as both my wife and I have flown out to Alberta for a visit. Not that I mind the money – I learned long ago that there are things that money can buy and peace of mind is one of them. I only wish money could lead to miracle cures. I am pleased to report that Dorothy is improving though her health remains a source of worry.

Every family has its worries and we are not immune in that field either. Nothing out of the ordinary — except that several seemed to emerge simultaneously. But on a bright note, my triplet nieces and nephews have all been accepted at the Universities of their choice so even a bad spring can have some bright spots.

And did I mention that my computer died, eating up tons of my time and reminding me of the many swear words I know? And of course there is all the fun at work – the Auditor General’s report at the Senate and the usual struggles of keeping a small press up and running. As I say, first world problems.

So what to do? Keep on keeping on. And read literature.

Richard the hunchback prince or Oliver Twist or Frodo Baggins all have something to teach us about suffering and what you make of it for good or ill. They all have lessons about perseverance and about loss. It’s what I’ve often done when life has failed to serve up champagne and roses – dive into books to put it all into perspective. To paraphrase Richard: A book, a book, my kingdom for a book.

And that’s ten minutes.


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