The Sunday Letter | 2016.07.03

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July 3, 2016

This week we looked really good. First there was the touching New York Times article on how Canadian families are getting in line to sponsor Syrian refugees. Then there was the adorable reception from Canadian Parliament in Ottawa for President Obama, then Friday was Canada Day, where we turned 149 as a country (next year’s the big 150!). In the global popularity contest, Canada is creating a good impression for itself.

via GIPHY

Here’s to more multicultural three-way handshakes in our government’s future.

Book of the week

This week I read “When Breath Becomes Air,” by Paul Kalanithi.

This is the autobiography of a neurosurgeon who discovers in his last year of residency that he has lung cancer that will kill him. This causes him to suddenly reconsider his life, a life that has largely been built on investing for a future that will now never come.

Get ready to cry. (Mel Hattie/Mel Had Tea)
Get ready to cry. (Mel Hattie/Mel Had Tea)

I bought this on a rainy summer Tuesday, expecting to pick it up and pick through it during the week. When I got home I picked it up and started reading on a whim. Three hours later, I had finished it. I only stopped once, in between Part I and Part II to make a salad for lunch and text my friend that I was in the process of having my heart shattered.

Here’s the January 2014 op-ed piece he wrote in the New York Times after his diagnosis that spurred the writing of this book.

Sadly, he did not live to see it published.

You may not think a neurosurgeon would be able to write such human and heartwarming prose, but Paul was a lover of literature all his life and a bit of a philosopher king. This shows in his writing. His wife’s epilogue about Paul’s final days alive also destroyed me. I was just balling on the couch.

After I finished reading it, I went for a walk and bought a brownie and ice cream to bring me out of the sad state I was in. Much like the patients in psychogenic comas he describes in the book, I was a bit of a zombie afterward.

Was I failing his moral quandary of what it means to be alive as I shovelled chilly vanilla ice cream and warm brownie into my mouth?

Maybe yes, maybe no. But if no then I quickly forgave myself, becauseif one thing is certain, it’s that when compared to regret, time is better spent eating ice cream.

Classic Nova Scotian dusk — the colour of moon mist. Looking across the Northumberland Strait. PEI is out there somewhere. (Mel Hattie/Mel Had Tea)
Classic Nova Scotian dusk — the colour of moon mist. Looking across the Northumberland Strait. PEI is out there somewhere. (Mel Hattie/Mel Had Tea)

Good on the internet

What happens when your investigative journalism is labelled a North Korean version of Eat, Pray, Love. I love this article on how Obama works at night – getting a Words with Friends invite from him is my new fantasy. Where athletes learn to be physically umcomfortable, intellectuals must learn to bear mental discomfort to advance their careers. Reducing decision fatigue also helps; here’s how Obama does it.

Haruki Murakami has a new non-fiction book coming out in November (!!!). This comic about a woman who discovers her feminine side through dance. Female explorers who didn’t get enough credit. A supercut of John Oliver freaking out.

The Ebola crisis in West Africa might be over (for now), but people are still dealing with the aftermath. This man survived his own lynching in 1930 Indiana – scroll down for the haunting photo of the mob. Notebooks are making a comeback in the Instagram era. What LGBT tourism looks like after Orlando (hint: not Bosnia). This 19th century Scottish scoundrel changed the way we visualize data. How 30 year olds are traveling better than 20 year olds.

Wisdom of the Week

“If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.” – Mark Twain, from Mark Twain’s Notebook, 1935, p.240

Wisdom by Mark Twain, photo of path by me. (Mel Hattie/Mel Had Tea)
Wisdom by Mark Twain, photo of path by me. (Mel Hattie/Mel Had Tea)

Hope you’ve got a great week coming up. This morning I’m waking up in Nova Scotian cottage country smelling like a bonfire and bug spray, watching friends play a game of Fluxx, listening to the sizzle of bacon and looking forward to french toast. So far, I’m off to a pretty good start. Be good to yourself, and I’ll see you back here next Sunday! If not sooner. Happy Canada day weekend.

Happy little Canadian lupins. I’ve been watching a lot of Bob Ross lately. (Mel Hattie/Mel Had Tea)
Happy little Canadian lupins. I’ve been watching a lot of Bob Ross lately. (Mel Hattie/Mel Had Tea)

 

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