What did he and Brian talk about on the road to Breezy Corners?

Here’s a photo I took on this day, five years ago, May 31, 2019, at Dharma Sushi in Halifax. We’d just rendezvoused with Olle and Luisa, freshly arrived from Sweden, in advance of the Crafting {:} a Life unconference.

A photo of me, Luisa, Olle, Catherine, and Olivia in Halifax in 2019, eating supper at Dharma Sushi.

Five years is recently enough that it seems just like yesterday.

Five years is long enough that it seems like a lifetime ago.

I recognize myself in that photo: “hey, that’s me, but with different glasses.”

I don’t recognize myself at all in that photo: “oh, that’s the actor who played me in earlier seasons of the show.” 

Dick York, Dick Sargent. Did anyone notice?

I’m feeling nostalgic because it’s 25 years ago today that I made my first blog post.

By happenstance, my friend Paul wandered into the coffee shop just now, and we had an interesting chat about life and death and legacy.

As a result of the conversation, I realize that, “hold on, no,” I’m more interested in what comes next than what happened to this point.

My friend Pedro wrote this in his thesis, The Way We See:

John O’Donohue defines two different time realities: surface time–where everything runs at high speed, and where our senses and perception will capture a fraction of what happens.
And the second form of time, which he calls the deep below surface time, where stillness happens and where things move slower–”if you take time not as calendar product but as actually the parent or mother of presence, then you see that, in the world of spirit, time behaves differently.”

I told Paul about how my father kept a journal every day for 53 years; for 29 of those years it was one big Word file. Here’s Dad’s “post” from May 31, 1999, the day I started blogging:

  • skipped the Y
  • called Paul Mudroch, he has received but not yet checked the RoxAnn map
  • returned call from HP about box for printer, told them no longer an issue because to be returned
  • call from library, want 2 copies of my harbour report
  • spoke to Pat about moving the Port Dalhousie survey from June 28,29 to June 21,22, should be OK, Tod as coxswain
  • Marilyn fanfolded the Oshawa sounder records, she will discuss Michigan GIS problems with Carolyn, left her the hard copy maps, she also noted that there was an error in the UTM coords, Carolyn had used the same grid for the four areas
  • Marilyn will also check or rework Brian’s surfer files for Michigan thickness
  • Marilyn willing to work some of July/August, discussed with Liz, contract will have to be revised
  • told Marilyn to prepare for Tim and give him an intro to some of the work to be done
  • phone message from Racca, Sting not received, was to be returned collect by FedEx, sent by truck instead, left him a message about its likely arrival date, shipped by TST Transport, our bill lading number iis 8579735, tracer number is 0016497436-3
  • message from Don Woodrow, IAGLR went well, wants to speak to me about something, called and left message
  • message from Peter Forbes, house proceeds will be sent to me directly
  • Oshawa weather not promising but Dave has to go to move Puffin so we decided to go, left at 1000, arrived at 1140, somehow sprained my side loading the boat
  • on first tv site at 1310, dead calm, worked several sites by 1430 and then ran back to marina to pick up phone
  • called Maciej and left a message that I would be in tomorrow
  • Dave called the Quality Inn to cancel our reservation
  • continued tv survey, complete by 1545, wind now freshening but waves still small, back to marina to pick up shipek buckets, completed 9 shipek sites by 1700
  • GPS check at OSHA
  • at gas dock by 1725
  • packed and loaded the Puffin, picked up the GPS and left at 1815
  • found I had a bleeding cut on my head of unknown origin
  • called Maciej again at home and left a message
  • ran the Tecra on the way back to CCIW on the 12V power supply bought for the Satellites
  • arrived CCIW at 2000 and unpacked
  • drove Brian to Breezy Corners for pickup and had my dinner there
  • home by 2130
  • called Doubletree in Portland and found that we had a reservation there
  • received corrected files for Michigan from Carolyn with more errors than before, printed to check the colours and emailed her about the problem
  • running baudtest on the Toshiba 460 seems to clear up the problem with recognizing the second serial port
  • added two more sites to those to be checked by divers at Oshawa

What if I fed 29 years of Dad’s words—supper at Breezy Corners, getting gas for the lawn mower, running baudtests—into a large language model and created a Lou Reed-style chatbot: what would chatting to that Dad look like?

I suspect it would be nothing like chatting to alive-Dad at all: none of his wit, imagination, contrarianism. None of the stuff, in other words, I’d really want.

Did you love me?”

Like Dad’s journal, I realize this blog is, has been, mostly, about “surface time.” It’s been slices of my life: nerdy noticing, travelogues, documenting projects.

Not only, but mostly.

I was here.” 

Underneath all that, unseen, is the “mother of presence” time.


I wrote above that Paul and I “had an interesting chat about life and death and legacy.” I can imagine words like that as a bullet point in Dad’s journal. “I was here.”

But what’s missing from that is how it felt to sit here with Paul, to invite him to take a seat, have him settle in, to talk about something more and deeper than sowhatareyouuptothesedays. How it feels to have known Paul for as long as I have, the trust I have in him. How good it felt for him to say that, since Catherine’s been gone, I’ve grown in ways that he can see. How I appreciate his depth and creativity, his wisdom.

How did Dad feel on May 31, 1999? What did he and Brian talk about on the road to Breezy Corners? How did Dave feel when Dad sprained his side loading the boat? Why was he still working after he got home at 9:30 p.m.?

When I wrote about the 20th anniversary of this blog, or the 10th anniversary, my focus was analytical and nostalgic.

I was here then, and then, and then, and then.” 

I recognize the me who focused that way: there is comfort in remembering supper at Breezy Corners, and recollection of the workaday events of surface time can be a warm bath of the known and predictable.

What I resolve, though, on this day, 25 years in, is to spend more time dwelling in the places ”where stillness happens and where things move slower.”

Three years ago, about six months before I met Lisa, I read the book Needing to Know for Sure: A CBT-Based Guide to Overcoming Compulsive Checking and Reassurance Seeking, and took a photo of this passage, which I found helpful at the time:

Living Well Although Bad Things Happen and We All Die

It is possible to know that none of us gets to avoid eventual death, and that most of us suffer losses, mishaps, and mistakes, some severe-—and to still live with joy and meaning. We can know things, not deny them, and yet not become preoccupied with them. We want lasting health, lasting pleasure, lasting security, but the world is constantly changing and dynamic. Wasting time on preparing for unknown future catastrophes carries the illusion of being responsible and somehow more ready to endure what lies ahead.

I didn’t know it at the time, but that notion served as a pathway for me; it is, in a way, the central point around which most discussions, both inside my head and out, focus.

It’s a notion, too, that has served me well in building a life together with Lisa: she is an excellent partner in pursuit both of living well, and finding the places where stillness happens; indeed it’s the tensions between those points on the compass that make our life together interesting.

Because I know that, regardless of my intentions, the pull to nostalgia will forever be part of me, here’s a note to my future self: on this 25th blogaversary you are having a good day. The sun is shining. You had an excellent breakfast. You woke up with the woman you love. You are having lunch with your brother. You are living well. There is a taste of the stillness you seek. You are here.


Oliver's picture
Oliver on May 31, 2024 - 16:22 Permalink

Sounds like wisdom to me. Thanks for sharing, and congratulations!

Arleigh's picture
Arleigh on May 31, 2024 - 20:01 Permalink

I enjoyed reading all of this. Thank you!

Laura's picture
Laura on May 31, 2024 - 20:53 Permalink

Thanks for writing this- glimpses of things and events are convenient but it is important to talk beyond that. Here’s to deep reflections!